Monday Briefing: 20 Greatest, Mardi Gras and Horton Avenue

We began rolling out our list of the area’s greatest athletes of all-time Friday and announced No. 17 today, Keri Bettenhauser of Shoreham-Wading River.

I’ll be honest, I rarely look at the sports section in this or any paper, but it has been fascinating for me to read about the lives of these special sports stars and to learn what makes them great. Almost makes me wish I played sports in high school … almost.

Click here to see the running slide show of the athletes so far and check back every day to see when someone from Riverhead High School cracks the list (hint: you won’t have to wait very long).

I didn’t make it to Music Idol Saturday, but I heard it was a blast. Check out our photographer John Neely’s photos from the event. Samantha Scalfani looks like she is in the zone as she belts out Duffy’s “Mercy.”

I will, however, be at Saturday’s Mardi Gras Festival, taking photos, shooting video and writing a story. After watching HBO’s “Treme” and taking a trip down to New Orleans last fall, I am very excited to hear some soulful Louisiana-style jazz in person.

Check out this video from Treme if you want to get in the mood, though something tells me this Mardi Gras will be slightly tamer than anything you’d find on Bourbon Street.

Some might say the media is a business that focuses on the negative, but we reported on some great news Friday. After a year and a half of fighting, the flood victims of Horton Avenue will be receiving federal funds to purchase their now-inhabitable properties and the area will be preserved as open space.

I have to say nothing in my professional career has made me as happy as seeing the look on flood victim turned community activist Linda Hobson’s face at a press conference the day the news was announced. Linda has been fighting for her neighbors since the storm, doing everything from lobbying politicians to helping fellow victims find housing. No wonder we named her our Person of the Year for 2010!

But it was a bittersweet day for many of the residents, some whom have lived in their homes as long as 50 years.

The money will make them financially whole, but no dollar amount can replace sentimental value.

More on that in Thursday’s News-Review.

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