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01/27/15 4:31am
TIM KELLY PHOTO  |  Lenny Llewellyn demonstrates snow-measuring equipment at his Mattituck home.

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Lenny Llewellyn demonstrates snow-measuring equipment at his Mattituck home.

Want to know how much snow fell in your yard? Don’t just poke a yardstick through it.

Who says? Lenny Llewellyn of Mattituck, that’s who. And as a cooperative observer of things meteorological for the National Weather Service, he insists on doing things right — a point he made in early 2011 after The Suffolk Times ran a photo of a yardstick in a snowbank. Last year’s unseasonably warm winter offered no opportunity to set us straight.

With the recent snowfall, Mr. Llewellyn established 10 separate measuring spots in a curving trail from his front to back yards. At each spot, a plywood square, 24 inches on a side, sits on the snow. They’re not heavy enough to compress the snow and they’re painted white to reflect sunlight and prevent melting, but their purpose is to create an even, solid surface. He does employ a yardstick, but only within the square.

When snow depth at all 10 spots is measured to within a 10th of an inch, the average provides a measurement as close to accurate as you can get, Mr. Llewellyn said.

He determined that the snow earlier this week measured 3.3 inches — on his property, anyway.

At times, he’ll take it a step further and measure the snow’s water content. The rule of thumb is one inch of rain equals 10 inches of snow, but there are wide variations in that ratio.

“A coastal storm will not only pull down cold air from the north, it will draw moisture from the south and the snow will be very, very heavy because of the water content,” he said. “But an Alberta Clipper, which comes down from Canada, is dry because it has no opportunity to pick up water.”

To determine the water content, he pulls the eight-inch aluminum tube from his rain measuring device and takes a core sample. He heats the snow and collects the water in a 2 1/2-inch plastic tube.

With a chance of more snow over the next several days, he’s ready to head outside again. But how, exactly, do you measure new snow on top of old snow?

The most accurate method involves clearing away the accumulation from the test spots, said Mr. Llewellyn. But if that’s not possible, he places a Plexiglas sheet on top of his plywood squares and measures up from them, averaging out the counts, of course.

Mr. Llewellyn has monitored the weather closely since 1988 and began sharing his reports with the National Weather Service in 2008. He said his wife, Marjory, “is kind of a weather bug herself. Her grandfather had a barometer and thermometer by the back door and he checked it every day at 6 a.m. until the day he died.”

As for the rest of this winter, Mr. Llewellyn says expect the worst.

“I have a funny feeling that we’re going to make up for what we lost last year,” he said. “I think this winter is going to be a roller coaster” with warm periods but then “Mother Nature will do a complete 360 and do a number on us.”

February is often the coldest month of the year and while March is a transitional time, Mr. Llewellyn says, “I’ve seen some pretty healthy snowstorms in March, so stay tuned.”

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07/27/13 8:00am

FILE PHOTO | A dog chases his owner in Orient during last week’s heat wave. They ended up swimming together under the causeway with the man’s two daughters close behind.

My son sent me a text the other day. As usual, he employed an amazing economy of words.

“I don’t remember this.”

“This” refers to summer weather in Washington, D.C., which he apparently does not recollect, although we lived there during his preschool years. He’d come into the townhouse after racing around the courtyard with his little buddies, face flushed, breathing like a racehorse, with T-shirt and shorts looking like they were spray-painted on.



His folks were wise enough to keep to the front door’s air-conditioned side and wise enough to move north. Much later, he and our lovely daughter-in-law’s career paths took them back to our nation’s capital, covered each July and August by a dome of equatorial heat and rain forest humidity. At this time of year the place is a swamp, infested not with gators, but guys in Brooks Brothers suits and Cole-Haan shoes, especially on Capitol Hill, a swamp in the non-meterological sense as well. Those creatures can be just as ill-tempered, and far more dangerous.

Last week we might as well have been back on the Potomac’s sodden shores — where the temps reached 98 with a heat index of 105 — what with the week-long heat wave and the back and forth dash from AC’d vehicles to AC’d buildings. And that makes me cross, vexed even.

As much as I’m not on speaking terms with the sun, it’s usually quite effective to slather up or cover up or simply wait for sundown. Except when you slather up and the stinging, burning sunscreen drips into your eyes. I’ve piped in many a parade where folks wondered why I looked like I’d just downed a glass of month-old milk.

You can dress in layers when it’s cold, but when Herr Heat comes to town there’s only so much you can take off — for legal and aesthetic reasons, that is.

Been to Florida twice, and if there’s never a third time that’s fine by me. Well, unless one of the offspring springs for a trip to Disney or the Universal theme parks. Wouldn’t mind seeing that Harry Potter thing, but not in July or August.

Perhaps there’s a genetic component to this aversion to heat. Some years back, at the beginning of an anniversary bus tour through Ireland, the guide intoned, “See that bright yellow thing in the sky? Take a good look now, for you may never see it again.” It being June, the weather ’twas grand altogether, as they say over there. Sunny and in the 70s when we rolled into Dublin, which is as far north as Newfoundland. In St. Stephen’s Green, not far from Trinity College, young people dotted the grass like dandelions in May. That’s hot for Ireland, where the highest temperature ever recorded was just under 92 degrees.

Ninety-two? Get outta here, will ya?

Over the years I’ve had to employ a number of heat-deterring strategies. During high school, my room had a 1920s radiator stuck in the full open position. You could pan fry a two-inch-thick T-bone on that thing during cold snaps. The answer? Grab a sleeping bag and head up to the attic.

Had a summer job at the Bohack’s (yes, that’s a real name) supermarket in Westhampton Beach and, walking back from lunch one day, spied this guy on an empty lot selling water bed mattresses — just the mattress — for 20 bucks each. He had me at “Hello.”

I unfolded it in the back yard ’neath a venerable Norway maple’s spreading canopy and stuck a garden hose in it. In no time we had a poor man’s trampoline for the nieces and nephews and a usually cool place to sleep for Uncle Tim. Since it was chlorine-free, the water tended to get a little gross late in the season, but as the plastic grew more opaque with age, who cared? You just didn’t want to be standing there in the fall when it was time to unscrew the cap.

My preoccupation with the State of Maine is based in part on the Pine Tree State’s summer climate, which can get hot, but not D.C. hot. It always seems to cool off at night, especially near the water. January to April? Don’t want to talk about it.

So what’s the answer? Sit by the AC tuned into the Cartoon Network until the pumpkin-pickers’ eastward migration heralds autumn’s arrival? Not a bad idea, actually.

Note to the Mrs.: If you catch me watching C-SPAN, grab the remote, turn to anything other than the Lifetime or Oxygen channels and throw it out the window. Certainly won’t be goin’ outside to get it.

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07/14/13 10:00am

SCREENSHOT | In 2009, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart ran a sketch on whether Long Island should secede, a comedic take on some of Long Island’s stereotypes.

Several weeks back the Kellys made their annual trip up to Boothbay Harbor, Maine, a place we fell in love with 15 or so years ago. On one sunny afternoon me Mrs. and daughter-in-law went into town looking for something or other. (I find it best not to ask.) That freed me son and me to, um, cool ourselves with a nice beverage at a little harborside joint called McSeagulls.


While sipping our dark and stormys we happened to chat up a gent several seats down as he labored at something on his laptop. He’d stopped for a bite on his way to East Boothbay, and asked if the road he planned to take would get him there. Nope, we said, and set him straight. He thanked us and said he was up from Massachusetts to meet up with his family. Where are you from? he asked us. D.C., me son said. EASTERN Long Island, said I.

Yes indeed, I put a great deal of emphasis on the word “eastern,” which judging from the gent’s lack of reaction carried absolutely no meaning to him. I’m guessing he thinks Long Island is Long Island, east, west or whatever. And that’s the problem.

I may be way oversensitive on this and really shouldn’t give a hoot, but I just hate the idea of being lumped in with what I fear is the less-than-admirable popular perception of Long Island by non-islanders. That’s not without some justification.

A little over 20 years ago the whole country was talking about a nearly 40-year-old Nassau County auto body shop owner — Joey Buttafuoco, of course — who was sleeping with a 16-year-old named Amy Fisher. As bad as that was, it got worse when Ms. Fisher went to the Buttafuocos’ Massapequa home and shot Joe’s wife, Mary Jo, in the side of the head. The media, those SOBs, dubbed her “The Long Island Lolita” and after she got out of jail became a porn star, or so I’ve heard.

OK, I was born on Long Island, in Nassau County, but, hey, not all Long Islanders have big hair and small morals.

Sure, that was a long time ago and I should let it go, but I just can’t. Maybe it’s a case of Irish Alzheimer’s; I’ve forgotten everything but the grudge.

Fortunately, these days the cable TV channel guide is largely a Buttafuoco-free zone. Ah, but then several years ago came the discovery of several bodies, believed to be of people who once worked in the sex trade, apparently dumped not far from the ocean, apparently by a serial killer, near Gilgo Beach in Babylon. Another wonderful reflection on our island home.

Ever watch “The Long Island Medium” TV show? It’s about this woman with hair a flock of chimney swifts could call home without her knowing it and a thicker than tar “Lawng Guyland” accent who claims she can communicate with the dead. Just great. Now “Long Island” is also associated with a person whose daily hairspray usage may be seriously depleting the ozone layer and who takes advantage of emotionally fragile people when they’re most vulnerable.

Now, I’m not a snob, far from it. As I’ve said before, my parents grew up in Yonkers (hardly a hotbed of snobbery, although it was the setting for “Hello, Dolly”) and migrated to Levittown after the war. Later we wandered east to a southeast Brookhaven community where Norman Rockwell would have felt right at home. My current abode is a three-bedroom ranch and in the driveway is a Ford pickup in which I carry my own trash to the dump.

If between bites of his lobster roll our friend from Massachusetts had offered, “You mean you guys are from Lawng Guyland?” No doubt I would have launched into a monologue about living amid wineries and farms, ospreys and egrets, a vacation paradise summer and fall without serial killers or porn stars — none that come to mind, anyway. No doubt he would have signaled to the barkeep “check, please” and me son would have hung his head in shame.

Let it go, pal, let it go. Relax and watch some TV. Wait, what’s this show? “Princesses: Long Island.” What’s this? “Chanel and Ashlee drive into the city to meet up with Casey. Joey confronts Amanda after the altercation at the pool party. Casey reveals her past with Erica, and is now trying to put the past behind her for the girls’ upcoming Hamptons trip.”

Heaven help us. Wonder what a three-bedroom ranch goes for in Maine.

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07/12/13 5:00pm

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Jennifer Maertz says she won’t run for Assembly this year, but plans to seek a state legislative seat in 2014.

There will be no Democratic primary in the fall to determine who will face Republican Tony Palumbo in the race to fill the North Fork’s vacant State Assembly seat.

Rocky Point attorney Jennifer Maertz, who after failing to receive the Democratic nomination that instead went to John McManmon, an Aquebogue attorney, had vowed to force a primary. But on Friday Ms. Maertz announced that she instead has her sights set on running for either State Senate or Assembly in 2014.

She said she did not submit the required nominating petitions to the Suffolk County Board of Elections by the July 11 deadline because she expected a challenge to her petitions from the McManmon camp. Mr. McManmon is the son of deputy Democratic Board of Elections commissioner Jeanne O’Rourke.

Ms. Maertz said she raised what she believes is a conflict of interest, but neither the state nor the county BOE took the matter further.

“It’s not worth the time and expense of litigation, particularly where there are conflict of interest issues that have not been addressed,” she said.

It’s unclear whether Ms. Maertz, who in challenging the leadership’s choice, could have filed the requisite 500 petition signatures in time. Southold Democratic chairman Art Tillman said his committee gathered 230 signatures for Mr. McManmon, but only 26 for Ms. Maertz.

Mr. McManmon called Ms. Maertz’s decision to drop out “really great news for our campaign. It allows us to move on and concentrate on the general election.”

He and Mr. Palumbo, a New Suffolk attorney, are seeking to serve out months remaining term of former Assemblyman Dan Losquadro, who left the office in March following his victory in a special election for Brookhaven town highway superintendent. A third candidate, Joan Sele of Rocky Point, filed petitions this week to run on the Independence line, according to the Suffolk County Board of Elections.

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07/04/13 1:30pm
KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | State lawmakers have approved a boat safety bill of their own.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | State lawmakers have approved a boat safety bill of their own.

A state boating safety bill awaiting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature would supercede the Suffolk County legislation set to take effect in the fall.

First District State Senator Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), who supported the measure, said he anticipates the governor’s approval.

“When you have counties involved already on a very high profile matter that’s got peoples’ attention, I’d expect the governor to sign it,” the senator said. “You don’t throw a person the keys to a car without lessons. Educating people on boating safety makes good sense.

The bill says that six months after its approval all boat operators younger than 18 must take boating safety classes and obtain a safety certificate.

Within a year anyone over 18 who is not a registered boat owner must secure a safety certificate before operating a vessell. After two years all boaters must be certified. Penalties for first offenders would range from $100 to $250.

The Suffolk County bill requires resident boaters to attend safety classes and pass a test before obtaining a required boating safety certificate. Non-county residents would not need a certificate before taking to the water.

Mr. LaValle said it is not clear if the courses offered by the Coast Guard Auxiliary in anticipation of the county law taking effect would satisfy the state requirement.

06/15/13 8:00am

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Ripe strawberries at Patty’s Berries & Bunches in Mattituck.

Did you know that strawberries are the only fruit with seeds on the outside?

Or that strawberries are a member of the rose family indigenous to every continent save Africa and Australia plus New Zealand? Or that if you took the more than one billion strawberries California produces each year and laid them side by side they’d circle the globe several times?

Are you wondering why in heaven’s name I’m prattling on about freakin’ strawberries?

That’s a good question, actually. But as Father’s Day draws nigh, that means it’s strawberry season, a special time for fruitophiles, meself included. Apples are awesome, grapes great and peaches, um, peachy, but none of those seasons are as highly anticipated or cherished as the one that gives us the red, red conical fruit of the Fragaria ananassa plant.

Sure, having strawberries available in the supermarket for most of the winter diminishes the excitement somewhat, like watching “Elf” or some other Christmas movie in August. And when I was a kid, Ma Kelly, born in Manhattan and raised in Yonkers, thought it great country fun to take us little ones out into the middle of nowhere to pick strawberries. To this day I wonder why we were punished so.

There we were, pale skinned and freckled, on our hands and knobby knees in the dirt, scrounging for tiny little berries because the farmer barked at us to stay clear of the rows with the enticing big, luscious, juicy berries.

My mother-in-law lived for strawberry season, punctuating every evening meal during those too-few June days with homemade strawberry shortcake. Over the years, the dinners shrank in size until one year meat and vegetables vanished completely and strawberry shortcake was the only item on the menu.

From what I’m told, no one objected — ever.

But nobody makes a bigger deal about strawberries than the Mattituck Lions Club, which this weekend will put on the 59th annual Strawberry Festival at the aptly named Strawberry Fields, um, field on the North Road. One of the highlights is the naming of a new strawberry queen.

I’m not a Lion, I don’t grow strawberries and I don’t reside in Mattituck, but my family is forever linked with that event.

Ten years ago, daughter Caitlin, then a very serious and studious high school junior, surprised me and the Mrs. by putting her name in contention for strawberry queen. Hey, why not? It’s not like the national beauty pageants that critics love to hate on as sexist, exploitive and demeaning to women. There’s no swimsuit competition and no one expects the contestants to pledge their lives with dubious sincerity to securing world peace. It’s just a fun, little retro North Fork event, a cousin to Riverhead’s equally popular Polish Town queen contest, a key component of the Polish Town Street Fair each August.

And wouldn’t you know it, Cait became a finalist! No, no, I don’t mean to sound surprised. It’s just that it was so out of character for a girl who, at age 9 or so, requested a Tarot card reading at a Renaissance Fair in Maryland and, when asked if she was interested in boys and clothes, deadpanned, “No, money and careers.” The card reader damn near keeled over.

But she donned a long white dress and attended the Lions Club dinner with the other finalists. The young ladies went from table to table introducing themselves to the people whose votes would determine the next queen. Later, each reached into a goldfish bowl and pulled out a question to be answered off the cuff.

When one young lady got “What’s your favorite cartoon character?” I thought this a cakewalk. Then Cait drew her question: “How would you describe a rainbow to a blind person?”

Hoo-boy. Yes, I’m biased (a newspaper editor?) but I think she acquitted herself well. Can’t say I actually heard her response over the sound of me nervously tapping my teaspoon against my front teeth.

Alas, she was not destined for strawberry royalty. Instead, the tiara went to some girl from Laurel. Oh well, she had fun and an interesting experience.

But wouldn’t you know it? Years later that girl from Laurel, Lindsay Lessard — whose mom, Diane, had been queen in 1978 — became family upon marrying our firstborn, Ryan Patrick Kelly.

Since both my kids are redheads and there are strawberry queen finalists and winners on both sides, it’s possible, if not probable, that any grandkids could be “gingers” and perhaps include a queen candidate.

We never did have a priest in the family, or a doctor, but I think Ma’s happy we’ve got at least one queen, and maybe more.

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06/07/13 3:11pm

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Assembly hopeful Jennifer Maertz addresses the Southold Democratic Party during its May 29 convention.

Rocky Point attorney Jennifer Maertz will try to accomplish through a primary what she couldn’t do through political conventions, namely gain the Democratic Party’s nomination in this year’s special State Assembly election.

The party’s official choice is Manhattan attorney John McManmon, who lives in Brooklyn but uses his parent’s Aquebogue home as his permanent address.

“Maybe it’s a get-your-feet-wet or get-name-recognition race,” said Ms. Maertz. “I’d hate to see this become a throwaway race, which it appears to be.”

Rather than have the county leadership make the choice, the party took the unusual route of leaving the nomination to the three local committees. For the 2nd Assembly District, that’s the organizations in Brookhaven, Riverhead and Southold. Mr. McManmon finished first with Ms. Maertz second.

The Republican candidate is New Suffolk attorney Tony Palumbo.

The winner will fill what’s left of the unexpired term of former Assemblyman Dan Losquadro, who won a special election earlier this year to become Brookhaven highway superintendent.

Ms. Maertz argues that she has far more government experience than the 28-year-old Mr. McManmon.

In the political arena, she ran unsuccessfully for a state Senate seat against Republican incumbent Kenneth LaValle in 2010. She replaced Regina Calcaterra of New Suffolk in that race after Ms. Calcaterra was disqualified for failing to meet the residency requirement.

Last year Ms. Maertz again ran for the state Senate, but lost a Democratic primary to Southampton Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, who then lost to Mr. LaValle.

Mr. McManmon does not concede the experience question.

“I’m younger than most people seeking public office, but I am extremely well qualified, have deep roots in the community and an absolutely the right person for the job.

He also argues that the residency question is a non-issue.

“Once people understand the facts they’ll know that I’m well within the spirit of the law,” he said. The attorney also rejects the idea that he’s waging a throwaway race.

“I am 100 percent committed to winning,” he said. “I wouldn’t be in it if I didn’t think I could win.”

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05/29/13 11:43am
McManmon of Aquebogue, NYC

COURTESY PHOTO | John McManmon outside his family’s home in Aquebogue.

It appears New York City attorney John McManmon has the support he needs to run for the state Assembly seat vacated by Republican Dan Losquadro last year.

Suffolk’s Democrats left the decision to the Brookhaven, Riverhead and Southold town committees and on Wednesday morning Mr. McManmon held a mathematically insurmountable lead for the Democratic nod.

The Southold committee is scheduled to hold its convention Wednesday evening, the last of the three to do so, but its numbers are not enough to change the outcome.

Other Democratic contenders included Cutchogue winery owner Jim Waters of Manorville, Rocky Point attorney Jennifer Maertz, East End Arts director Pat Snyder of Jamesport, Suffolk County Park Police officer Tom Schiliro of Manorville and Riverhead attorney Ron Hariri.

Suffolk’s Democrats gathered on May 20, but rather than select an Assembly candidate the party took the unusual step of putting the choice in the hands of the party committees within the 2nd Assembly District, which extends from north central Brookhaven east to Fishers Island.

Riverhead’s Democrats met first, holding their convention last Thursday night, and offering their support for Mr. McManmon. The voting was weighted based on the number of gubernatorial votes cast in each town in the last state elections.

The Riverhead committee gave 4,280 votes to Mr. McManmon. He picked up another 1,843.5 at the Brookhaven contention Tuesday night to give him a total of 6,123.5. Ms. Maertz received 2,196.5. Even if Southold gave all of its votes to Ms. Maertz, which appeared unlikely, she would still come in second to Mr. McManmon. None of the other candidates came close.

Although its votes won’t affect the outcome, Southold was expected to support Jim Waters, the owner of Waters Crest Winery and a Manorville resident.

“I think he’s extremely well qualified and we’re going to do all we can to support him,” said Art Tillman, Southold Democratic Committee leader.

Although it appears he’s receive the nomination, there’s been a backlash over Mr. McManmon’s candidacy based on his residency. Mr. McManmon, 28, works for a Manhattan law firm called Millbank, Tweed, Hadley and McCoy, and his address is listed as that of his parents in Aquebogue, although some have said he lives at an apartment on Dean Street in Brooklyn.

He said last Thursday that although he lives in Brooklyn during the week for work purposes, he still votes here.

Mr. McManmon’s father, James, is an attorney who works for OTB and who has made three unsuccessful runs at a state Assembly seat. His mother, Jeanne O’Rourke, is a deputy commissioner for the Board of Elections.

“If you check with the Board of Elections, John has been registered from his family address since he was 18,” said Riverhead Democratic Committee chairwoman Marge Acevedo. “His job is in New York City and he travels back and forth. His residency should not be in question at all. There are no real jobs out here and people should take that into consideration. Once everybody meets him they’ll know he was born and bred in Riverhead.”

Referring to the name of Riverhead School District athletic teams, she added, “He’s a Blue Waves kid.”

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