Letters to the Editor


All for the homeless

I am writing in response to last week’s letter by Dwayne Wagner, chairman of Peconic Community Council, regarding Maureen’s Haven.
I can assure the public that every dime raised at Rockin’ for the Homeless, an event graciously sponsored by the Lions Club, went to support homeless relief efforts, primarily at Mattituck Presbyterian Church.
While we did not contribute any money to PCC this year, we did in 2009 and 2010. This year, after lengthy discussion, our committee decided not to support PCC after several curious and questionable actions by the PCC board.
Our committee and homeless caretaker staff are volunteers. The tireless work of these numerous volunteers, in-kind donations and fundraising allows our program to function. Furthermore, we operate with the utmost in frugality to ensure that we can work within our budget. The committee could not justify supporting PCC’s hefty $400,000 budget for their administrative costs and felt the money would be much better spent going directly to the needs of the poor and homeless.
Caren Heacock, coordinator of the homeless program at Mattituck Presbyterian Church, met in October 2010 with Tracy Lutz, PCC’s executive director, Elaine Villano, who was a PCC board member at the time, and Kelly Holmes, who was serving as a PCC caseworker. During that meeting, Ms. Heacock explained the mechanics of our fundraiser, that PCC would not be a recipient. She also produced our advertising materials illustrating the absence of the Maureen’s Haven name.
While I can appreciate PCC’s concern over the use of their Maureen’s Haven trademark name, which the public sees as being synonymous with all East End homeless programs, PCC should realize that they play a limited role in housing the homeless. The participating houses of worship that house and feed the homeless also need to raise money to offset their considerable expenses.
I hope this letter erases any doubt in donors’ minds as to how their money is being used.

Tom Gahan

Editor’s note: Mr. Gahan is the organizer of the Rockin’ for the Homeless fundraisers.


Animal shelter fatigue

There is an article every week in the News-Review about the town animal shelter. On the cover of the April 7 edition there is another story on the shelter, but school taxes are on page 25 and a volunteer firefighter injured in the line of duty is page 4. I’m an animal lover, but enough is enough.
If the volunteers don’t like the way the shelter is run, then let them take it over. In one story there was a rumor that Brookhaven and Riverhead may combine their shelters, yet a volunteer objected because she didn’t want to travel too far to visit the animals. If she wants her own private zoo, then she should build her own kennel without public funds.
Please Mr. Editor, move on already.

Richard Park


Dog shelter continues to be uphill battle

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter and Police Chief David Hegermiller need to stop thumping their chests and do a reality check.
Yes, the Riverhead Animal Shelter has a low euthanasia rate, but giving town authorities credit would be like a rooster taking credit for the sunrise. In 2005, the euthanasia rate was 25 percent and earlier years were worse. But in November of that year the Riverhead Town Board passed Resolution No. 1095. Several changes were implemented at the shelter, including an advisory committee and volunteers. Prior to that, there was no oversight. Volunteers were then, and still are, persona non grata.
Volunteers were scheduled to begin the first week of 2006 but were told not to come. Why? There were no dogs. There were two ACOs, two kennel attendants, one chief of police and one sergeant running the facility and no dogs. Figure that one out.
In 2006, the euthanasia rate dropped below 10 percent and has remained low, but it has been an uphill battle every step of the way. The rate is low in spite of those in charge, not because of them.
Mr. Walter stated in last week’s article: “RSVP spends more time lambasting the town than they do working with the animals.” He failed to mention that two volunteers were unjustly banned or that other volunteers stopped coming because they felt unwelcome and/or observed adoptable animals being euthanized. How do you work with the animals when you are banned? How do you volunteer in that atmosphere?
Chief Hegermiller stated, “[ACO Lou Coronesi] pushes the volunteers to abide more closely to shelter rules.” But he failed to mention that Mr. Coronesi violated the town’s euthanasia policy, which states that dogs must be “aggressive and beyond rehabilitation,” and reportedly lied to the supervisor. Or that Mr. Coronesi has stated that rehabilitation is “not his job.”
Chief Hegermiller also stated, “You have two different mindsets, two different goals.” The goal of animal advocates is simple: they want a humane shelter staffed with people who care about the animals. What exactly is his goal? Public safety? That can be accomplished humanely, but not with the current regime.
Riverhead has a choice: change personnel or continue business as usual. The Town Board’s attempts to make personnel changes have been thwarted by the threat of legal action by the CSEA union. Unfortunately, they have chosen to kowtow to this bullying, despite the fact that they have the right to shift personnel if it is in the town’s best interest. The people of Riverhead need to convince them of their error, hopefully in November, if not sooner.

Sue Hansen


Lighthouse Mission is a blessing

Since November, Lighthouse Mission, a Christian group, has provided free food, clothes and words of hope to needy Riverhead families every Friday at the riverfront parking lot behind the vacant Swezey’s building.
Lighthouse serves people with real needs who are suffering through bad times. Lighthouse provides this service at nine locations throughout Suffolk County. For lifelong Riverhead resident Gail Jones and many others, it has proven a lifesaver. “The economy is getting very bad and things are getting very tight. This helps a lot,” she was quoted as saying in last week’s News-Review article titled “Free food and sermons on the river.”
How does Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter respond, according to the article? “… I think they’ve gotten a lot bigger than we’d like,” he said. “Anytime you have 200 men standing in one area waiting for something, whatever it might be, people may be frightened. So I’m going to ask them to relocate.”
Lighthouse Mission Pastor Enrique responds as such: “We do this for just one hour on Fridays, from 12 to 1. Everything is empty. I don’t know who we are bothering.”
“We want to be a blessing to the community,” he later says.
Where does Mr. Walter want this volunteer group to relocate? He hasn’t answered that question, but his statements make clear that anywhere out of Riverhead will do.
Mr. Walter, thank you for one more display of your lack of concern and compassion for those less fortunate.

Thelma White


Keep out

I am a proponent for school sports and extracurricular activities, but I protest the arrogance of the parents of the children who believe they are entitled to park on lawns or in driveways of homes in neighborhoods near schools, and even encroach upon neighborhood privacy by conducting conversations within feet of homes.
I will make sure I either post a “valet” parking sign on my front lawn and driveway to accommodate their audacity, or I can simply post parking meters. Or employ ancient warfare tactics by positioning spikes on my property’s perimeter.

C. Benjamin Tracy


Save the runways

Are we on eastern Long Island being dangerously short-sighted?
The powers that be should give some serious consideration to saving and maintaining the once important and highly functional Navy/Grumman facility at Calverton in Riverhead and get this valuable, available asset up and running once again.
We need to learn from the Japanese experience what can happen in a disaster and how we might survive in a similar emergency and its following crisis.
As we know, there is no credible evacuation plan for us East Enders. With that stark reality in mind, a nearby functional airport may turn out to be our only saving grace in a man-made or natural disaster.
Yes, let’s learn from Japan.

Jack McGreevy