Top Stories 2016: Our favorite stories from the past year

Sid Bail

The reporters and editors at the Riverhead News-Review have covered a lot of stories this year. We asked our staff for their favorites.

T“I enjoyed reading about Kate, a Wading River teen who logged diary entries about her daily life in 1854. I can just picture her in 19th-century dress, picking beach plums and pressing flowers for fun.”

Vera Chinese, northforker editor

T“The story of Byron Perez, which extended beyond his being Riverhead’s first Hispanic cop. It was a tale of family, personal growth and the value of serving your community.”

Grant Parpan, executive editor


“Riverhead’s Justin Walker taking his first steps years after nearly being killed in a car crash was a great read and a really good example of using video to tell a very moving story.”

Laura Huber, editorial assistant


“The story of how Dr. Rajesh Patel has performed lifesaving operations on hundreds of patients in countries like Kenya, Nicaragua, Myanmar and Tanzania was heartwarming. Compassion and faith have guided him through his impressive career.”

Jen Nuzzo, managing editor



Melissa Martin

“I enjoy small-town journalism and the piece about Dr. John Andresen of Mattituck Laurel Veterinary Hospital and his 50 years of service to the community was close to my heart as I had horses for over 20 years and he took care of them.”

Melissa Martin, community outreach

Lauren 2

“I loved the story of two brothers, Doug and Rich Bassemir, who took a cross-country trip in the same year and model car their grandfather took on a similar trip 100 years ago. What a great way to connect with their grandfather’s story and see the United States from a unique perspective.”

Lauren Sisson, senior associate editor

Massa_Krysten_C“The story about Ed Schaefer, the retired Laurel postal worker who received a heart transplant, was a great example of a piece about someone who made a difference in the community just by being themselves. It was great to see he got a new heart after his health issues.”

Krysten Massa, reporter

T“I believe the cover from the Black Lives Matter-inspired protest is one of the best this paper has ever run. We should always be listening to our community and hearing what they have to say. In this case, this was a national story that hit home with some people in our community.”

Sonja Reinholt Derr, sales and marketing director

Joe Werkmeister_2016“The generosity of donors who came together to give a million dollars toward the new Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field showed incredible sense of community. What a way to help keep Thomas’ memory alive.”

Joe Werkmeister, editor

Nicole Smith“It was truly inspiring to read about retired FDNY firefighter Steve Brickman’s work following the attacks of 9/11 and his optimism as he battles cancer related to his time at ground zero.”

Nicole Smith, reporter


“A woman steals a car in Riverside, leads police on a chase, gets caught, says she’s having chest pains, so they put her in the hospital with a police guard. She escapes from the hospital — wearing handcuffs — steals another car except she can’t drive a stick, so she steals an automatic instead. Then she gets a friend to cut the handcuffs off, crashes the stolen car, tries to steal another car, and finally she’s caught. Then she says she’s having chest pains and goes back to the hospital. Incredible.”

Tim Gannon, reporter


“I loved the multimedia coverage featuring 17-year-old Elvio Estrada as he prepared to compete in the world Brazilian jiu-jitsu competition in California. The writing, photography and video featuring Elvio and his coach and training partners at Vamos Mixed Marital Arts in Calverton was beautifully packaged.”

Andrew Olsen, publisher

Top file photo: Wading River Civic Association president Sid Bail in the tiny room where the diary was found 10 years ago; it holds Wading River Historical Society’s archives.