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08/30/18 5:57am

One company, the Sackler family’s Purdue Pharma, has played a critical role in instigating an epidemic of opioid addiction in the United States that killed 72,000 Americans last year — more people than perished at the peak of the HIV epidemic or died in car wrecks or shootings last year.

Even now — as the failure to recognize opioid addiction as a chronic disease rather than a moral failing, and limits on insurance coverage keep people from long-term treatment — the painkiller industry is spending nine times more on lobbying to fight regulation than is spent by the powerful gun lobby. READ

11/10/12 3:00pm

Wading River resident Frank Seabrook has declared an interest in running on the Republican line for the Suffolk County legislative seat now held by Ed Romaine, who will leave it soon to take over as Brookhaven Town supervisor following Mr. Romaine’s victory in a special election on Tuesday.

A special election to fill the legislative seat is expected in early 2013.

“There are many interested in this position, all highly qualified and all really good people,” Mr. Seabrook wrote in a press announcement. “But having never held elected office before, I believe that I would bring a fresh perspective to the district.”

Mr. Seabrook, a member of the Riverhead Town Zoning Board of Appeals, is the publisher of the Suffolk County Liberty Report, a conservative blog.

“While we can all agree on the importance of preserving and protecting our farmland and open space, I believe of equal importance is the preservation of our people. Over the last 30 years, we have watched a mass human exodus off this once great island. And I believe a lot of that has to do with the policies that have been enacted by our county and local governments.”

He wrote that as “taxes, deficits, regulations, fees, fines, and red light cameras continue to rise, so do the amount of our parents, children, and industry leaving. It seems that our government no longer serves the people, it actually harasses the people.”

Mr. Seabrook, a New York City police officer who retired after 20 years, wrote that he is a construction manager for a large general contractor. He has been a resident in Wading River for 21 years.

He has been married 25 years, has two daughters attending Dowling College and a son in the Shoreham-Wading River High School. He holds a BS degree in architectural engineering and wrote that he is working on his masters in civil engineering and construction management.

11/10/12 1:25pm

“We are done dealing with LIPA Headquarters,” County Executive Steve Bellone declared Saturday, joining a chorus of state and local officials from Governor Cuomo on down who have decried LIPA’s slow pace in fully restoring power in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and the nor’easter that followed it this month.

Mr. Bellone said he had “cut ties with LIPA headquarters and has begun directing local assets to expedite restoring power.”

He made the declaration in announcing that he would hold a press conference on the issue at 2 p.m. Saturday at the parking lot of the LIPA-National Grid office in Brentwood.

TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone became the latest public official to speak out against LIPA’s response to Hurricane Sandy today.

09/15/12 5:00pm

CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL PHOTO | Lone star ticks in different stages of their life cycle, with newly hatched larva at right.

Anecdotal evidence suggests there may be a surge in the population of lone star tick larvae in the region, including Shelter Island. People who walk through a cluster of these freshly hatched ticks won’t know it until they start to itch and find red welts all over themselves — and perhaps in the center of a few of those welts they’ll notice a dot so tiny it’s smaller than a period on this page.

Hello, lone star larvae.

The good news is that the itching and the red welts are an allergic reaction to the tick’s saliva, not a symptom of some mysterious and terrible systemic infection. The welts and itching will go away but long after your ticks are gone; sometimes it takes a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, an anti-itch cream helps.
Even better news, larval lone star ticks are not known to carry any tick-borne diseases.

Lately, stories have been circulating of people finding welts all over themselves. Often they never notice any tiny ticks, all of which may have dropped off by the time the welts appear. These folks may be told by doctors or pharmacists that they’ve been bitten by chiggers.

We don’t have chiggers here, according to Scott Campbell, a Shelter Island resident and entomologist who heads the Suffolk County Department of Health Services Arthropod Borne Disease Laboratory. Since he went to work for the county in 1995, he says he’s never found a chigger anywhere on Long Island and he’s been looking. Chiggers are found to the south and west, in warmer climates, he says.

Lone star larvae begin to hatch in July and are active through late summer and into October. Chiggers are active earlier in the spring and into the summer, especially after wet weather. They lay scattered eggs, 15 to 50 a day in the soil. Adult lone star females lay hundreds of eggs in clusters. “That’s why people are coming in with dozens of bites,” Dr. Campbell said.

What to do? Besides the anti-itch cream, put all affected clothing and bedding in a hot dryer for 15 or 20 minutes to kill any live ticks. The ticks on your body will all fall off after feeding. Those that fall off in your house will die from dessication so they are not a health threat. Dr. Campbell said using permethrin cream is not necessary although it is one of the protocols described on some web sites  for lone star infestations.

Take preventative measures, including treating clothing with a permethrin-based pesticide and using repellents on your skin. Lone stars can survive in drier, hotter environments than other ticks so it may be harder to avoid the places they might be. Keeping clear of heavy brush and leaves and long grass works pretty well for dog ticks and deer ticks but it seems to be no guarantee the lone stars won’t find you.

It may not make it any easier to know you’ve been bitten by lone star larvae and not chiggers. But it is good to know, isn’t it, all that itching doesn’t mean you’re still infested with bugs, whether ticks or chiggers or any other little horrors?

This originally appeared as an editorial appeared in the September 6, 2012 Shelter Island Reporter, a Times Review newspaper.

06/02/12 3:43pm

BARBARAELLEN KOCH | Olaf and Stacy Vinje of Calverton at their booth Vinje Antiques and Imports where they sell contemporary and antique decorative arts.

“Antiques on the Riverfront” in downtown Riverhead featured more than 30  vendors and experts available to make free appraisals. The appraisers were Lloyd Gerard of Lloyd’s Antiques of Eastport, Terri Davison of Westhampton, furniture restorer Ken Ellis of Hampton Bays and Arthur Thomas of A1Aappraisers of East Hampton.

The event, which was staged for the first time last year, is sponsored by the Riverhead Business Improvement District.

The morning drizzle didn’t dampen the spirits of either the sellers or bargain hunters. Olaf Vinje and his wife Stacy of Calverton, owners of Vinje Antiques and Imports, said at around 11 a.m., an hour into the event, that “we are off to a good start in spite of the rain we have already done well.”

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03/03/12 6:07pm

BARBARELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Nick Bartolomeo, left, president of East End Marketing, with the Riverhead 7th- and 8th-grade lacrosse travel team

Nick Bartolomeo, president of East End Marketing, which operates a dozen Valero gas stations within 10 miles of Riverhead, posed for a photo with the boy’s seventh- and eighth-grade Riverhead Lacrosse  travel team on Saturday at the Jamesport Valero station. Valero donated funds to help the team with new uniforms and equipment and to pay fees for entering tournaments.

01/28/12 10:30am

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Members of the Shelter Island Deer & Tick Committee with a 4-poster feeding station. Pesticide is applied by rollers on four vertical posts as deer feed on corn contained in buckets between each pair of posts.

After many years of debate, political wrangling and scientific investigation, New York State has joined the rest of the lower 48 in approving for widespread use the permithrin-based pesticide that is applied to the heads and necks of deer as they feed on corn at “4-poster” deer-feeding stations.

The purpose of the device is to kill ticks and reduce the incidence of tick-related illnesses among humans.

The approval limits the pesticide or “tickicide’s” use to Nassau and Suffolk Counties, where Lyme disease and other illnesses associated with tick bites have become endemic. Special permits will still be required to deploy the 4-posters because they violate a state DEC rule that bans the baiting of deer.

The decision is nothing less than momentous to the people — spearheaded largely by Shelter Islanders — who have been lobbying for it for nearly a decade.

It follows a three-year 4-poster test program on Shelter Island and Fire Island conducted by the Cornell Cooperative Extension under a special state permit. Its cost of more than $2 million was funded by the state, county and town as well as private donors. The town continues to deploy 15 4-poster stations under an annual extension of that permit. Local taxpayers pay the $75,000 bill for that. The test program deployed 60 units on Shelter Island.

The three-year test was conducted only after Shelter Island’s Gov. Hugh Carey wrote the sitting governor at the time, George Pataki, to order the DEC as a matter of public health to allow a test to see if 4-posters could lower the tick population. Until then, the DEC in Albany had adamantly opposed the use of 4-posters in New York State even though every other state except Hawaii and Alaksa had no rules against then.

The DEC said that drawing groups of deer to baiting stations might spread chronic wasting disease among the state’s deer herd; it also said that the tickicide deployed by the 4-poster was not registered for use in the state. The state’s hunting lobby bitterly opposed the 4-posters, fearing the tickicide it deployed would taint deer meat.

According to a Cornell report on the test-program that was released last spring, 4-posters were found to be highly effective in killing ticks while introducing no more permethrin into the environment than can be found by testing deer on North Haven, which was used as a control site. There were no 4-posters there and yet trace amounts of permithrin were found in its deer, most likely from the broadcast spraying of private yards and lawns by pest control companies with permithrin-based chemicals.

The DEC’s Vincent Palmer, who oversaw the Shelter Island test program, announced that the state had “registered” the 4-poster tickicide in an email sent to 4-poster stakeholders on Friday.

He reported that the DEC had agreed to register the tickicide on January 9. It was approved “in conjunction with Special Local Need (SLN) Supplemental Labeling that is assigned the following registration number: SLN No. NY-120001. The SLN labeling specifies the restrictions, geographical use limitations, and conditions which must be complied with in order for 4-Poster Tickicide to be legally used in New York State. For example, 4-Poster Tickicide is registered for use only in Nassau and Suffolk counties, and may only be used in conjunction with a valid deer feeding permit issued in accordance with the provisions of 6 NYCRR Part 189.”

He wrote that “details associated with procedures involved with applying for a Part 189 permit authorizing the baiting of deer in connection with the use of 4-Poster Deer Treatment Devices are being developed. The NYSDEC’s Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources will provide details in the very near future.”

Shelter Islander Janalyn Travis-Messer, a real estate agent who was among those who lobbied for the 4-poster program, called the news “very exciting” in an email reply to Mr. Palmer that was copied to all the stakeholders. Her late husband Jim was a town councilman who suffered from Lyme disease.

01/12/12 5:00am

I happened to hear an interview on NPR last week with a journalism professor from Iowa named Stephen Bloom. I’d never heard of him and I’d been unaware of the reason NPR was interviewing him: an article he wrote in the current issue of The Atlantic questioning why the sorry state of Iowa — sorry as he describes it — gets to be such an important place in the presidential nomination process every four years.

It sounded as if his piece had hit a raw nerve. He told his interviewer that his family was getting death threats and people were vilifying him on the Internet.

He wasn’t defensive, he wasn’t ranting, he wasn’t whining. He said he’d written a fair and honest piece of journalism. If he’d been a commentator from one of the coasts, someone for whom Iowa was just one of the “fly-over” states, no one would have cared, he said. What he’d written mattered to Iowans because he lived there.

“You can chip away if you want at this story, but it raises some fundamental central issues that Iowans and Americans need to confront,” he said in an interview I found online. “I think America should sit down and have a collective discussion on the wisdom of how we select our president and how inordinately important Iowa is in that process.”

I read the piece. There’s nothing in it that addresses that issue. It’s just an exercise in Iowa hating. I wonder at how far off the track of real journalism Professor Bloom went and his editors at the Atlantic allowed him to go. Hmmmm. I can relate. But there are no two ways about it in his case, even if all that he says about Iowa is true.

“Observations from 20 Years of Iowa Life” is a blend of commentary and superficial reporting laced with a peculiar chip-on-the-shoulder attitude that Professor Bloom seems to have toward the people of his adoptive home state. The piece made me wonder why he had stayed there so long if he hates the place so much.

The tone emerges early. “Keokuk,” he writes, “is a depressed, crime-infested slum town. Almost every other Mississippi river town is the same; they’re some of the skuzziest cities I’ve ever been to, and that’s saying something.”

Ever been into the heart of Petersburg, Va., or Newburgh, N.Y.?

He reports that “Iowa conservatives in 2010 mounted a successful campaign to oust three of the state’s justices who ruled on behalf of same-sex marriage.” I recall a similar backlash in Vermont when civil unions were legalized there.

“Suicides in Iowa’s rural counties are 13.55 per 100,000 residents; New York’s suicide rate is 5.4 residents per 100,000,” he writes.

The rate is high all across the rural center of the country — so what’s the point that is peculiar to Iowa?

“The largest and most elegant house in many rural towns is the local funeral parlor,” he tells us. That’s unique to small towns only in Iowa? And so what, anyway?

“Men over 50 don’t leave home without a penknife in their pocket. Old Spice is the aftershave of choice. Everyone knows someone who has had an unfortunate and costly accident with a deer (always fatal for the deer, sometimes for the human).” Men with penknives bother him? And deer accidents? I presume he means auto-deer collisions. So unique to Iowa! I just spent a bundle on repairs after my deer hit.

“Rules peculiar to rural Iowa that I’ve learned are hard and fast, seldom broken,” Professor Bloom writes. “Back doors are how you always go into someone’s house. Bar fights might not be weekly occurrences, but neither are they infrequent activities. Collecting is big — whether it’s postcards, lamps, figurines, tractors or engines. NASCAR is a spectator sport that folks can’t get enough of.”

These broad strokes don’t reveal anything unique to Iowa. I remember bar fights at the Black Buoy in Sag Harbor, before the village lost its status as the “unHampton.” I know a former supervisor here who follows NASCAR. He’s a smart guy.

“Those who stay in rural Iowa are often the elderly waiting to die, those too timid (or lacking in education) to peer around the bend for better opportunities, an assortment of waste-toids and meth addicts with pale skin and rotted teeth, or those who quixotically believe, like Little Orphan Annie, that ‘The sun’ll come out tomorrow.’ ”
No comment needed.

There are plenty more examples of Professor Bloom’s bitter take on Iowa. I don’t completely reject the picture that he paints but I wouldn’t call it journalism. It’s very personal, based more on peeve and a parochial arrogance than on reporting. The piece includes, for example, a very strange anecdote about the professor’s effort to convince his Iowan journalism students (from a state he notes is mostly Protestant and where religion, he says, is the “in-your-face” kind) to say “Happy Holidays” to people instead of “Merry Christmas.”

Huh? This fits into a piece that’s supposed to be about Iowa’s role as the first state in the presidential primary process?

All that Professor Bloom finds failed, broken or wrong with Iowa (including people who like to say “Merry Christmas”) can be found all over the country, from New England and upstate New York to Oregon. So why brand Iowa a terrible place to start picking presidents? If the local electorate is all wrong there, it’s all wrong all over the country, except maybe on the Left and Right coasts where voters like me eat brie and organic arugula.

I was feeling sympathetic toward Professor Bloom when I first heard his radio interview. I sensed a kinship there, a fellow veteran from the inevitable battles that community journalism forces us to fight. Now I wonder how a journalism professor, one they say has done great work in the past writing about Iowa, could veer so far off track.

Writing in public can be a dangerous game. The more we reveal about ourselves (whether intentionally or not), the more perilous it gets. I hope the “raging bonfire” Professor Bloom says he started — and fears — subsides soon. In his case, though, I’m not sure the damage can be undone.

Peter Boody is the editor of The Shelter Island Reporter and Times/Review Newsgroup’s executive editor. He can be reached at [email protected] and 631-749-1000, ext. 18