02/07/14 11:32am
02/07/2014 11:32 AM
Tim Gannon photo | Clearing at Knightland started this week

Tim Gannon photo | Clearing at Knightland started this week

Clearing has begun on the controversial Knightland project in Wading River, where 32,500 square feet of retail space and a 4,900 square foot restaurant are planned in 24 buildings. It will replace the former Village Beverage store at the corner of Sound Avenue and Route 25A.

(more…)

02/04/2014 9:27 PM
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO  |  Shoreham-Wading River superintendent Steven Cohen.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River superintendent Steven Cohen.

UPDATE

The Shoreham-Wading River Board of Education unanimously approved the new contract for superintendent Steven Cohen.

ORIGINAL STORY

Shoreham-Wading River Superintendent Steven Cohen is expected to be appointed to a new three-year term at tonight’s Board of Education meeting.  (more…)

12/31/13 10:30am
12/31/2013 10:30 AM
JOSEPH PINCIARO PHOTO | In September, The Grind Cafe had a sign on its front door saying it would reopen soon. Four months later, it's reopening as Maryann's, a sit-down restaurant.

JOSEPH PINCIARO PHOTO | In September, The Grind Cafe had a sign on its front door saying it would reopen soon. Four months later, it’s reopening as Maryann’s, a sit-down restaurant.

Wading River’s popular Grind Café has been reinvented as a sit-down American restaurant called Maryann’s, owner Maryann Iacono said Monday. A soft opening is planned for Jan. 2.

“My two daughters and I opened the Grind together,” said Ms. Iacono, a real estate agent who lives in Wading River. “My oldest daughter now has an 8-month-old baby and my youngest daughter just went back to school, so I’m doing what I always wanted to do, which is open up a real, grown-up restaurant.”

When it opens Thursday, Maryann’s will only serve lunch, Ms. Iacono said. Dinner service will be added at some point in the future and she’d like to eventually offer weekend brunch. Menu offerings will include a “little bit of everything,” Ms. Iacono said, including burgers, chops, fish and sandwiches.

The Grind Café, which opened on North Country Road in August 2011, sold specialty breakfast sandwiches, gourmet coffee and catering. Located in the site of the former Wading River Post Office, The Grind Café sits a few doors down from Amarelle, an upscale restaurant that closed in January 2012.

Over Labor Day weekend, The Grind Café suddenly closed its doors, leading some to speculate it was going out of business. At the time, multiple attempts to reach Ms. Iacono by phone and e-mail were unsuccessful.

But while The Grind Café did halt activity at the front of its storefront this fall, business at the eatery didn’t cease completely.

“The Grind never closed,” Ms. Iacono said. “We were always doing catering out of the back [of the building]. I just didn’t like the way the front of the building looked, so we painted and refinished the floors completely.”

The refurbishment took around four months to complete, Ms. Iacono said.

“We’re ready to roll now,” she said.

The re-opening isn’t the only new commercial activity going on in the area, as North Fork Bacon & Smokehouse is in the process of renovating the space formerly occupied by The Pizza Pie. Co-owner Patrick Gaeta said he is shooting for a March 1 opening.

ryoung@timesreview.com

12/10/13 12:00pm

The Shoreham-Wading River Central School District is releasing its students from class 90 minutes earlier today due to inclement weather, Superintendent Steven Cohen said Tuesday.

Both Shoreham-Wading River Central School District and Riverhead Central School District have cancelled all after-school activities today due to the dangerous conditions.

The Riverhead School Board is still scheduled to meet tonight at 7 p.m. in the high school cafeteria.

12/06/13 7:00am
12/06/2013 7:00 AM

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | Saline Otieno (left), 13, plays a hand game with Heather Tepper, 11, during a recent visit to the Tepper home in Wading River. Heather is the grandaughter of Linda Nugent, a Rocky Point woman who volunteered this summer to be one of Saline’s host parents.

The moment she and her host mother, Linda Nugent, set foot in the King Kullen supermarket in Wading River, 13-year-old Saline Otieno made her desire for junk food abundantly clear.

“Oh! Chips?” the girl asked excitedly.

“No,” Ms. Nugent said, gently diverting the girl’s attention to the store’s produce section, where she paused her shopping cart in front of a display of shiny Red Delicious apples. “What else do we need?”

It’s an ordinary scene that plays out along Route 25A every day: family members deciding what groceries they’ll buy for the week.

But Saline, for all her youthful spirit, has had anything but an ordinary existence.

Born in a remote village in southwestern Kenya, Saline shared a mud hut with her mother and sister. Her father died of complications from AIDS last year, and she had another sibling who also died.

At some point in Saline’s life, probably during toddlerhood, her face became severely deformed by noma, a rare type of flesh-eating bacteria caused by malnutrition and unsanitary living conditions. In Saline’s case, the noma ate away the tissue surrounding her mouth and jawbone, creating a hole in her face that made eating and speaking difficult.

JEANNE NEVILLE PHOTO | Plastic surgeon Dr. Alex Dagum (left) of Stony Brook University Medical Center, with Dr. Leon Klempner, an East Setauket orthodontist, before one of Saline Otieno’s surgeries this summer. The two are donating their services to rectify a severe deformity Saline suffered as a child.

“Noma is usually fatal,” said Dr. Leon Klempner, the East Setauket orthodontist who learned of Saline’s case two years ago through his work with Smile Rescue Fund for Kids, a nonprofit that raises money to provide surgery for children afflicted with facial deformities. “She happened to survive.”

In late 2011, Smile Rescue Fund for Kids raised money for Saline to undergo two surgeries in Kenya. A skin graft was made to cover the hole in her face, but the graft, which lacked an adequate blood supply, failed.

To donate to the Smile Rescue Fund for Kids through PayPal, visit smilerescuefund.org.

This summer, Dr. Klempner, who is also a Doctor of Dental Surgery and assistant clinical professor in the Department of Children’s Dentistry at Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine, received the approval of the Kenyan government to bring Saline to Long Island for medical care. She arrived in June with her tutor and translator, a Kenyan government employee named Duncan.

Saline has undergone one reconstructive surgery at Stony Brook University Medical Center to close the hole in her face, Dr. Klempner said. She will need at least two more surgeries to shape her nose.

Dr. Alex Dagum, Stony Brook’s chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery, is donating his medical services to Saline.

“Her case was pretty severe,” Dr. Dagum said. “Reconstruction is usually complex because [noma patients] are missing a lot of tissue, skin and bone.”

In addition to his role at the hospital, Dr. Dagum frequently travels overseas to donate medical services to other children in need. He treated his first noma patient in China about nine years ago.

“I always wanted to travel the world and help people,” he said. “That was the main reason I went into medicine — I felt I could help people and do good in every corner of the globe.”

While she recovers from her multiple surgeries, Saline divides her time between three local host families: the Nugents, who live in Rocky Point; Mike and Kerri Tame of Selden; and Doug and Diane Muller, also of Rocky Point. Saline’s tutor, Duncan, recently returned to Kenya to care for his family.

Despite a language barrier — Saline’s native language is Dholuo, one of several dialects of Luo, a widespread language of east central Africa — she understands a fair amount of English and is learning more words every day, Ms. Nugent said.

“She wants to be a regular American teenager,” she said. “She wants to watch TV, play on the iPad and eat junk food.”

A shy, bright girl, Saline is skilled at crafts and delights in playing with Ms. Nugent’s grandchildren, especially 11-year-old Heather Tepper.

Heather, who lives in Wading River with her parents, Steve and Michelle Tepper, raised $900 in donations to help bring Saline to the U.S. in 2011 after learning about her story at Dr. Klempner’s orthodontic office.

“There was a jar [for donations] and I said, ‘Mom, I want to do this,’ ” Heather said.

On a recent afternoon, Saline visited the Tepper home with Ms. Nugent, Michelle Tepper’s mother. Saline’s affection for Heather was immediately apparent from their interactions.

At one point during the visit, Saline, dressed in stylishly patterned peach pants and a cozy-looking pullover, positioned herself behind Heather on the family’s living room couch and began braiding the 11-year-old girl’s long, dirty-blonde hair.

The serenity of the moment changed several minutes later, however, when, during a discussion about Saline’s medical condition, Ms. Tepper logged on to Smile Rescue Fund’s website and brought up a photo of the girl taken before she had any corrective surgeries.

Curious to see what was going on, Saline turned from her spot on the couch and glanced at the computer screen.

When she saw the photo, she covered her mouth with both hands and gasped.

Back when that photo was taken, Dr. Klempner said, Saline used to veil her face in public to avoid being socially ostracized. She was a recluse.

Not anymore: In the six months she’s been in the United States, he said, Saline’s self-confidence has markedly increased.

“She holds her head up higher,” he said. “She’s not ashamed of her face. There are almost four million children in the world that could benefit from surgery at any given time. We were just happy to be able to help one.”

Dr. Dagum, who said Saline will return to Kenya once she has recovered from her remaining surgeries, is optimistic about how her life there will significantly improve.

He plans to keep in touch with the girl via email exchanges with her translator, Duncan.

“Hopefully she’ll go back and be able to live a normal life and not be embarrassed about going out because she looks so different,” Dr. Dagum said. “That is my primary goal — to restore her face and sense of self.”

ryoung@timesreview.com

12/02/13 9:00am
12/02/2013 9:00 AM
RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | Stephen Prisco, the new owner of Wine Country Delicatessen and Caterers in Calverton.

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | Stephen Prisco, the new owner of Wine Country Delicatessen and Caterers in Calverton.

Location, location, location. Three delis in the Calverton-Wading River area have new owners and all of them say their locations have a lot to offer in the way of business opportunity.

“You’d have to be living under a rock to not know that there’s a lot going on in downtown Riverhead,” said Stephen Prisco, the new owner of Wine Country Delicatessen and Caterers in Calverton. Before Mr. Prisco took over in October, the deli, which sits on Middle Country Road across from Riverhead Charter School, was known as Farm View Deli.

“I’m assuming there’s going to be a lot of traffic on this road in the coming years,” he said.  “It seems to be an up-and-coming area.”

Mr. Prisco, of Manorville, has decades of deli experience and also owns Mastic Sports Deli and Caterers. He operates the new venture with his daughter, Kristina, who said they have added catering services.

“We’re a family business,” Mr. Prisco said.

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | Adam Nedvin, the new owner of Wading River Delicatessen on Route 25A.

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | Adam Nedvin, the new owner of Wading River Delicatessen on Route 25A.

Just a few miles away, Adam Nedvin is settling into his new role as co-owner of Wading River Deli, located in a busy Route 25A shopping center.

“Business is great,” Mr. Nedvin said while fulfilling lunch orders on a recent weekday afternoon. “It has a great clientele. People have been coming here forever.”

An Allstate Insurance agent, Mr. Nedvin, also of Manorville, has owned the deli with his brother-in-law, Thomas Rae, since the end of August.

“I’ve been coming here for years and thought it was a great opportunity,” Mr. Nedvin said, adding that he and Mr. Rae, who owned a deli a number of years ago, “found out it was for sale and took a chance.”

As co-owners, Mr. Nedvin and Mr. Rae have upgraded the deli’s look with granite countertops and new signs.

“We’re just trying to renovate it a little, bring it up-to-date,” Mr. Nedvin said. The menu at Wading River Deli will also be expanded.

“We’re going to have more specialty sandwiches and homemade salads,” Mr. Rae said, adding that nothing will be cut from the existing offerings. “We also have a brand new catering menu coming out.”

The theme of change continues at Angelo’s Bakery Pizza in Wading River, where Andrew Anker assumed ownership only a couple of weeks ago.

“We’re going to look at other things people in the community want,” said Mr. Anker, an East Patchogue native who expects to relocate to Shoreham after 30 years in Maryland, where he owned a variety of businesses.

“We haven’t cut anything from the menu; we’re only adding to it,” he said. “We’re going to expand our offerings to additional grocery items, healthy foods, comfort foods and prepared foods, like pastas and lasagnas.”

The desire to be closer to his Long Island relatives was one reason Mr. Anker said he chose to buy Angelo’s. The other, he said, was its location on Hulse Landing Road, across the street from Wildwood State Park.

“I was looking for a good opportunity to run a business and also be close to family,” he said. “Angelo’s is a great seasonal business.”

ryoung@timesreview.com

11/28/13 10:00am
11/28/2013 10:00 AM
JOE PINCIARO PHOTO    | Road work in Wading River just to the west of the Duck Ponds.

JOE PINCIARO PHOTO | Road work in Wading River just to the west of the Duck Ponds.

Brookhaven Town has begun a second phase of work on the Duck Ponds in Wading River, installing catch basins and underground piping to reduce the amount of pollutants carried into the ponds by stormwater runoff.

Town contractors dredged the eastern pond in April 2012, using a $170,000 state grant and $170,000 in town money, said Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner. The town also installed a water quality unit to trap road runoff, and prevent it from entering the ponds, she said.

Phase II, which draws on the same $340,000, includes replacing the culvert under North Country Road, installing catch basins along North Country Road to the west of the ponds, and installing a water quality unit to pick up road runoff west of the ponds, Ms. Bonner said.

“Since a significant amount of trash was found to accumulate in the northwestern corner of the pond, we will also be installing a trash guard unit at the pond outfall to prevent trash from traveling further upstream stream and entering into the remaining Wading River system, which eventually empties into to the Long Island Sound,” Ms. Bonner said.

Riverhead Town also had planned to commit $170,000 to the project for drainage and bulkhead repair work but lost the county grant it had hoped to use for the project, according to Supervisor Sean Walter, who said the town hopes to reapply for that funding.

Officials said that while only about 10 percent of the Duck Ponds site is located in Riverhead Town, rainwater from its roads funnels downhill into the pond — ultimately finding its way into Long Island Sound.

The work being done at the Duck Ponds has important ecological value, said Sid Bail, president of the Wading River Civic Association.

The water from the ponds, which lie at the heart of the hamlet’s historic business district, travels under North Country Road though piping that is being replaced, and ends up in Mill Pond, a large pond behind the former Pizza Pie on Sound Road and other stores nearby, he said. That water, in turn, runs into Sound, so pollutants that end up in the Duck Ponds as a result of stormwater runoff could be contributing to Long Island Sound pollution as well, Mr. Bail said.

“Lately, there’s been a bloom of invasive plants in the western Duck Pond that may be the result of the pipe under the road being clogged,” he said. “These are plants that thrive in stagnant water.”

Mr. Bail said he was told by Brookhaven Town officials that the work, which started last week, would be completed by Dec. 20.

“They’re doing a pretty good job of moving the traffic through this area while the work is ongoing,” Mr. Bail added.

tgannon@timesreview.com

11/27/13 9:00am
11/27/2013 9:00 AM
RACHEL YOUNG FILE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River Superintendent Steven Cohen.

RACHEL YOUNG FILE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River Superintendent Steven Cohen.

The New York State Board of Regents insists the state’s public school students are not “College and Career Ready.” They claim that public school students are not prepared for the rigors of college reading or mathematics. And, since these skills are thought somehow to be crucial to getting a good-paying job, New York’s public school students who do poorly in mathematics and reading are believed to be in danger of becoming unemployable (or at least underemployed).

However, what seems like a simple, straightforward notion — that high school graduates ought to be ready for college and the world of work — turns out to be something quite different. And by that, I mean the announced public school goal of graduating students “College and Career Ready” is yet another sleight of hand from the Board of Regents.

First, consider exactly how the Board of Regents defines “College and Career Ready.”

If a student passes an algebra test in 8th or 9th grade at a level that correlates to a C in freshman mathematics in college, and if that same student passes an English test in 11th grade at a level correlated with a C in freshman English in college, along with earning 22 credits in high school and passing three other Regents exams, then she or he is set and ready to go to college and into the world of work.

No music, art, advanced study in much of anything; no community service, no sports, no occupational training; no independent work in any academic or other creative field is required. In addition, to do well on these tests, it is not necessary to read entire novels or histories or write papers of any length or complexity. It is not necessary to develop a love of anything or demonstrate an ability to think on one’s own feet.

Second, note that 16 of the 17 Board of Regents members, in addition to the commissioner of education himself, send their children to private schools — ones that have not embraced the reforms the Board of Regents and the commissioner claim are needed to make students “College and Career Ready.” I mention this fact because its relevance becomes obvious once one understands what “College and Career Ready” means for the children of our educational leaders. You see, the colleges that the children of Regents and commissioners of education are expected to attend, places like Harvard University, define “College and Career Ready” differently.

To be “College Ready” at Harvard (and at other selective private universities to which Regents send their children) an 18-year old must have a “good high school education,” one that “do[es] more than prepare you for the next level of  education.” A “good” high school education “should prepare you to take advantage of future learning opportunities of all kinds.” Specifically, graduating high school “college ready” to enter Harvard requires “close and extensive reading of the classics of world literature,” four years of a single foreign language, three years of American history, European history and one other advanced history course, four years of mathematics including at least pre-calculus or statistics, advanced physics, chemistry and biology and one other science at an advanced level and “frequent practice in the writing of expository prose.” Art and music, though not mentioned specifically, are not to be understood as incidental to proper preparation for college.

So it turns out that “College and Career Ready” means two different things depending on whether you are a public school student in New York or a student at an expensive private school. “College and Career Ready” for public school kids means achieving at a decidedly mediocre level when compared to the expectations the Regents have for their own children. Perhaps that’s one reason they would never send them to schools that are benefiting from their wonderful reforms.

For “College and Career Ready,” once one digs a bit below the surface, suggests readying public school students for work that does not demand advanced learning in anything and is not oriented toward preparing students to “take advantage of future learning opportunities of all kinds.” No, these loftier expectations, and the courses and other resources needed to achieve them, are to be reserved for students not subject to the glories of the Regents Reform Agenda, students whose parents have the money and connections to keep them out of the public school system.

Most new jobs created in our economy are low-paying service jobs. We should be concerned that “College and Career Ready” actually refers to a curriculum that guides public school students to these jobs, leaving the few good jobs to students who receive a private high school education that prepares them to “take advantage of future learning opportunities of all kinds.”

Make no mistake about it, “College and Career Ready” is code for education apartheid. Do not let your children breathe the stale air of low expectations, reduced exposure to the arts and music, limited engagement with sophisticated science and little, if any, prolonged, deep and thoughtful contact with great literature.

“College and Career Ready” is a trap. Don’t fall for it. Your kids deserve better. Just like theirs.

Steven R. Cohen, Ph.D., is superintendent of schools for Shoreham-Wading River School District.