This Week in Riverhead History: Lawmakers oppose bottle bill, redistricting plan

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.”

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