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12/19/11 3:10pm
12/19/2011 3:10 PM

Well, this is it, friends and neighbors, the very last column of 2011. What a great year. I’ve made a bunch of new friends this year by writing this column and I appreciate those of you who sent me news or read what I had to say. I love seeing people out and about who tell me they read the column every week. It’s a good feeling but it also puts a little bit of pressure on me to keep it interesting and fun.

That’s not a problem this week though, I have some news from Phillips Avenue Elementary School, which held its first-ever Family Holiday Night on Dec. 16. More than 350 people attended the event. There were three holiday stations where guests could watch “Frosty the Snowman,” make a craft (thanks to Theresa Curry) or decorate cupcakes (thanks to Patti Horton for the all the supplies and cupcakes). Raffles for a girl’s bicycle and a boy’s bicycle, both with helmets, were donated by Flanders Little League and Fischer Landscaping, respectively. The winners were Kaylah Swann and Aiden Roche. Joyce Anderson won the 50/50 raffle. Thank you to everyone who helped organize or volunteered their time to make this a wonderful evening for all, especially Dr. Hudson, who wore his “I’ll do it” T-shirt, and Principal Rogers, who helped coordinate the event. Also, special thanks to the custodians for setting up/cleaning up and to Ginny and Lily in the office for all their help.

Phillips is hosting a warm winter apparel drive. Gently used or new coats will be collected at the school throughout the cold weather months. New hats and gloves are also being accepted. Please send in your items with your child if he/she attends the school. Those whose children don’t attend Phillips can drop off donations at the school. All donations are greatly appreciated.

Happy 4th birthday to Ethan Linker, who celebrates Dec. 28. Mommy, Daddy, Grandma, Pop-Pop and all your family love you very much and hope you had a wonderful time at your party on Dec. 17.

I attended a holiday party with some former co-workers from the county on Dec. 8. Thank you to Trudy McKillop for inviting me. I had a wonderful time catching up with Maureen, Helen, Ceil, Paul and everyone else who I saw every day for two summers back when I was in high school. Everyone looked fabulous and most remembered me. Great times with great people.

You know how some people make resolutions every New Year and usually give up on these resolutions within the first week? Well, this year I’m going to call them “rules to live by” and see how that goes. Some “rules” that I will try to follow are: Rule 1: I will not talk “smack” about anyone. Rule 2: I will not get involved in other people’s business or life unless asked. That shouldn’t be too hard, right? Rule 3: I’m not going to preach to people who don’t want my opinion. My kids are not included. I’m going to preach to them until they are 40. Rule 4: I’m going to stop eating fudge or anything else with the word “chocolate” in it for breakfast — unless it’s a chocolate croissant, in which case that’s OK because of the word croissant, which is a better word than doughnut. My last but most important rule: I will not talk on the phone or text while driving, a rule all should follow year-round.

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all those near and far who read my column. I hope your days are merry and bright and I hope 2012 is an awesome year with no worries and hassles — just happiness, health, joy and maybe a winning lottery ticket for each of you.

Take care, email me with any news you have for January and please don’t drink and drive. See you next year.

[email protected]

12/10/11 12:31pm
12/10/2011 12:31 PM

Hello family, friends and neighbors. It’s starting to get colder and I’m starting to complain again. I am not a cold-weather person. If it could be 80 degrees year round I’d be in heaven. The only plus is there’s only 96 more days till spring. Believe you me, I’m counting down the days.

I’m happy to report that as of Dec. 11 the Big Duck is lit up again. I guess someone forgot to plug him in for a few nights. Just kidding. I’m not sure what went wrong but I’m grateful the county fixed it quickly. He looks so good all decorated for the holidays.

Congratulations to the Riverhead High School Blue Masques for their solid performance of “Working” this past weekend. There is so much talent in our community. Those who had solos were amazing and the rest of the cast and crew were phenomenal. Thank you for a very entertaining evening. Thanks also to Jessica Guadagnino and Dena Tishim for directing and for working so hard with the students. I cannot wait for the spring production of “West Side Story.”

Many thanks and congratulations to Kim Wise, who was awarded Volunteer of the Year for Flanders Northampton Volunteer Ambulance. Our community is very fortunate to have its own ambulance district. I, for one, feel much safer at night knowing my neighbors and friends are available 24/7 in case we need them. It’s nice knowing that they are “there with care.”

Looking for something for the kids to do in January? The Town of Southampton Youth Bureau is sponsoring a ski and snowboard trip to Belleayre Mountain on Saturday, Jan. 28, for those ages 12 and up. $80 per person includes round-trip transportation, an all-mountain lift ticket, lunch and a beginner lesson. Equipment rental is $25 extra. The bus will depart from Red Creek Park in Hampton Bays at 4:30 a.m. and will return at approximately 9 p.m. Chaperones are provided by the Youth Bureau and families are welcome. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, call 631-702-2425. For a registration form, visit southamptontownny.gov/youthbureau.

Belated happy 4th birthday to Mykel Lennon, who celebrated Dec. 4, from Grandma, Pop-Pop and all your family, and to Cindy Barrow, who celebrated Dec. 13, with love from your husband, Horace, and all your family and friends.

Happy birthday to my friends Theresa Colon, Al Lopez and Michele Dupuis on Dec. 21. Before Facebook I never knew I had three friends who all celebrated on the same day. I hope you all have a wonderful day and the greatest year ever!

Welcome home JJ, Ann and John Lennon, who just returned from a week at Disney in Florida. Congratulations to JJ, who was recently elected second deputy chief of Flanders Fire Department. Mom, John, Ann and your entire family are very proud of you and know you will do a great job in the year to come.

I can’t believe Christmas is right around the corner. Are you ready? I’m nowhere near ready and at this moment I don’t even really care. I’m sure I’ll be singing a different tune this weekend.

Have a wonderful weekend. Remember to call or email with any news you’d like to share. The last column for 2011 is Dec. 22. You won’t see it again until Jan. 12, so if you have anything you need to mention, now would be a good time to let me know. Drive safe, everyone.

12/06/11 11:40am
12/06/2011 11:40 AM

Happy Dec. 8, friends and neighbors. Can you believe 2011 is almost over? Twenty-three more days and it’ll be 2012. I know a few people who have had a pretty hard year who are ready to say goodbye to 2011. I guess I’m about ready to start a new chapter in my life, too. It’s always exciting to have something to look forward to and this coming year should be pretty exciting for me and my family.

I received a call from a LIPA lineman who reads the column every week. Jim thanked me for writing the little reminders to slow down, put the cell phones down and drive safely on our area roadways, especially Route 24 (Flanders Road), which has seen such an increase in traffic in the last month or so. LIPA is doing some work on Flanders Road for the next couple of weeks so on behalf of my new friend, I’m asking everyone to please drive slowly through the area so that the workers remain safe. Thanks for the call, Jim, and for reading the column.

Did you attend the Big Duck Holiday lighting? I heard it went very well. I also heard a special guest showed up on a fire truck to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. Thank you to everyone who made the event possible. Don’t forget, the Friends of the Big Duck meet on the first Tuesday of every month at the David W. Crohan Community Center at 7 p.m.

My inbox and phone were really quiet this weekend. I guess everyone is out and about shopping or picking out their Christmas tree. I saw a lot of cars this weekend with trees strapped to the roof. I understand we’re all busy but please, friends and neighbors, I really need your help with the column and can’t do it all by myself. My life just isn’t that interesting to fill up this space every week. I’m hoping someone from either the Little League or one of the community organizations will put me on their list for updates regarding upcoming events. If you’re on the board of any of these groups, please make it a priority to email or call me with weekly/monthly updates.

’Tis the season for illnesses so to keep your children and yourself safe, the first rule of thumb should be frequent handwashing for everyone. Washing your hands with warm water and soap will keep those germs from getting into you. Also remember to eat right, with the focus on vegetables and fruits, drink lots of water to keep your system clean and get plenty of sleep. With the holidays approaching and all the kissing and hugging, the chance of catching a cold is greater than other times of the year. If you haven’t gotten a flu shot it’s not too late. Most doctor’s offices and pharmacies have the shot or the mist available and recommend that you get one. Call your doctor or pediatrician today to schedule an appointment.

Well, that is all for this week. I’m hoping to hear from all of you real soon with any news you’d like to share with the community. My contact information is above. Drive safely and slow down.

[email protected]

11/20/11 5:00am
11/20/2011 5:00 AM

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends, family and neighbors. At this time of year most of us feel grateful and generous and we show that by giving to local charities, toy drives, food drives, etc. Some friends of mine have a very touching story about generosity and selflessness that I’d like to share with you.

Horace Barrow of Flanders was born with kidney problems. By the time he was 21 he needed a kidney transplant. He received his first from a donor who had passed away. Fast-forward 17 1/2 years and Horace needed another miracle. His kidney started failing and he needed to be on dialysis for two years. Then a beautiful young woman entered in his life and changed everything.

Cindy was a friend of the nurse who had treated Horace at the dialysis center. One night Cindy decided to join her friend and a few others for dinner, to which Horace was invited as the guest of the nurse. During the course of the evening Horace and Cindy spent time talking and getting to know one another. Horace, though thoroughly smitten, was a bit shy and hesitant so he didn’t ask for her number. They parted and went their separate ways. A few weeks later another friend of Horace’s, who did not know Cindy, invited Horace to a restaurant in Centereach. Imagine his surprise when he walked in and saw Cindy. Not wanting to miss another opportunity, he asked her for her number. Well, many dates (including dialysis dates) and conversations later and their love still grows strong. Unfortunately, Horace went back on the transplant list. Although you can survive with dialysis, transplant is the best treatment. While at an appointment with Horace’s doctor, Cindy asked if she could be tested, to which Horace replied, “No”! However, Cindy finally convinced him that she had to know if she could be a potential donor. Turns out she was! After many discussions with doctors, clergy, a therapist, family and each other, Cindy decided to donate one of her kidneys to Horace. In May 2009, they both were operated on at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, where Cindy spent two days and Horace four. In October 2009 they were married.

Both Horace and Cindy made lifetime decisions in 2009. Cindy chose to give the gift of life to her fiancé and Horace chose to follow his heart and marry the love of his life. I’m very happy to report that both Horace and the marriage are going strong! I’ve seen happy marriages but I’ve never felt so much power and love from any two people. When I asked Cindy how she came to make such a selfless and scary decision, she said, “I didn’t extend Horace’s life, I extended both our lives … together.” God bless you two.

If you’re interested in learning more about donating a kidney or testing to see if you’re a potential match for someone who needs your help, visit kidneyurology.org.

The annual Big Duck lighting is Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 7 p.m. This free event is sponsored by the Suffolk County Parks Department. A special guest usually shows up, so bring the kiddies.

That’s all for this week. I look forward to hearing from more of you next week. When you’re sitting down to dinner Thursday think about all you have to be grateful for. Yes, times are hard, money is an issue for most of us, our kids are driving us crazy, the car needs a tune-up and the holidays are knocking at the door, but we still have things to be thankful for. I’m thankful for my family, my friends and for each and every one of you who are reading this.

Have a wonderful day. Drive safe.

[email protected]

11/14/11 3:43pm
11/14/2011 3:43 PM

Happy Thursday, friends and neighbors. The Good Book says, “Ask and you shall receive.” Well, that really works. Two weeks ago I was complaining that I had nothing to write about and this week I received so many calls and emails. I cannot wait to share them with you.

The holiday season is upon us and as always FRNCA is committed to helping those in our community with the FRNCA Community Cares toy and food drives. Both drives have begun and will continue for the next month. Donations may be dropped off Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the David Crohan Community Center. The community’s generosity has been phenomenal in the past but FRNCA hopes this year’s drives will be even more successful, especially during these bad economic times. All donations remain in the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton area and help the seniors and children in the community. Please help in any way you can.

One way to usher in the holidays is by attending the annual Big Duck lighting. This year’s event will take place at the Big Duck Ranch on Wednesday, Nov. 30. Let’s hope it’s not a crummy day like last year, when they had to cancel. I’ll have more information for you next week as I am writing this column on a Sunday, when the county office is not open.

Mark your calendars, card sharks. Flanders seniors are holding a card party at the David Crohan Community Center on Tuesday, Nov. 22, at 12:30 p.m. Admission is $3. All are invited.

My very good friend Charlotte Nelson, aka the sweetest woman in the world, gave me the names of the two winners of her annual Halloween costume contest that she hosts at her home with the local trick-or-treaters. Congratulations to Nyjel Dozier, who dressed as Spiderman, and Kody Bincob, who dressed as a devil. Each child won $5.

Ms. Nelson would like me to let her friends, neighbors and community members know that she is feeling much better. She was a little under the weather recently but has recovered nicely. I’m so happy to hear and share this news.

Belated happy birthday to some friends of mine: Kelly Fox, who celebrated Nov. 15; and Jennifer Normoyle and Ethel Delia on Nov. 16.

Happy birthday to my classmate and very good friend Horace Barrow, who celebrates Thursday, Nov. 17. Much love from your wife, Cindy, and all your friends. And finally, birthday wishes go to Ava Sumwalt, who turns 7, also on the 17th, from your mom, dad and little brother, Griffin. I hope you have an extra-special and exciting birthday!

Condolences to the family of Kristie Jeski of Flanders, who passed away suddenly Monday morning. A Celebration of Life for Kristie will be held Saturday, Nov. 19, at the Flanders firehouse from 1 to 4 p.m. All friends and family and neighbors are invited. Memorial donations may be made to Developmental Disabilities Institute in Riverhead or St. Jude’s Children Hospital. The family thanks the community for its support during this difficult time, with special thanks  to the Flanders Northampton Volunteer Ambulance and the Peconic Bay Medical Center ER and ICU doctors, nurses and staff.

Since Thanksgiving is just around the corner, the next column has an early deadline. All calls and emails must be sent to me by the eve of Thursday, Nov. 17, since my deadline is Friday, Nov. 18, at 10 a.m. Please make sure you call or email me right now while you’re thinking about it.

That’s all for this week. I’m very thankful with all the news I received. Please keep the calls/emails coming. Have a wonderful, and hopefully warm, weekend. Drive safely, everyone, and put those cell phones down. See you around the neighborhood.

[email protected]

11/08/11 5:29am
11/08/2011 5:29 AM

Can you believe it’s Nov. 10, friends and neighbors? I can’t. I also can’t believe Christmas is only 44 days away. I said I was going to start early this year and so far I haven’t done one thing. Where is the time going? I had better get busy as the days are slipping by much too quickly.

Speaking of time, I hope you remembered to not only turn your clock back last weekend but also change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. If you haven’t done so yet, make sure to put that at the top of your to-do list.

Congratulations to the first-place winner of the Friends of the Big Duck’s Autumn Antique Auto Show, which was held Oct. 9. The winning car is a modified 1929 Ford Model A owned by Ronald Dyke of Manorville. Thanks again for all who organized and attended this event. It was a great success and all proceeds benefit the Big Duck Ranch.

A blood drive will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 15, from 1:15 to 8:15 p.m. in the Parish Hall auditorium at Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, 168 Hill St., Southampton. Those interested in donating must bring ID. For more info, call Jim or Boo at 631-283-2431. Thanks in advance for giving the gift of life.

A fundraiser to benefit the West family of Cutchogue will be held at Raphael in Peconic on Dec. 11. Their 2-year-old daughter Morgan was recently diagnosed with an inoperable brainstem tumor. In addition, a 50/50 raffle will be held (winner need not be present). Event and raffle tickets are now available. Raffle tickets are $10 each and can be obtained through me (I have them at my office) or by calling Morgan’s aunt Erin at 734-2485. Also, you can call Erin for more information regarding the event at Raphael.

Happy birthday to my brother Frank Zaleski, who celebrates on Nov. 12. Frank is 10 years younger than me. Let’s just say he’s only 19. Only kidding, Frank. I won’t say how old you are because that will blow my cover. I love you, baby brother, and hope you have a great day.

Thanks to my other baby brother, Michael, for rescuing me last Wednesday when I had a flat tire. What would I do without you? Well, I’d probably have to figure out how to change a tire. But seriously, thanks from the bottom of my heart.

Birthday wishes also go to my good friend Sue Tocci Dispenziere, who celebrated Nov. 9, from your husband, Mike, your children, Tanner and Olivia, and all your family and friends. I hope your day was totally awesome!

Thanks for the help and news this week. I truly appreciate the emails. Please keep them coming as I can’t do this column without you. Please remember to drive safely and slowly (no talking or texting), especially from 2 to 6 p.m. Children will be getting off the bus during these times and it will be getting darker much earlier each day.

Have a wonderful weekend, enjoy the weather and enjoy life.

11/02/11 5:00am
11/02/2011 5:00 AM

Happy November, friends and neighbors. So, what did you think about that storm last weekend? I’m so glad it didn’t snow but I had to turn on my heat even though I said that I could hold out until Nov. 1. Yup, it’s November.

What a busy month this is going to be. The kids will be off from school Tuesday the 8th and Friday the 11th. Then again for three days for Thanksgiving break. Christmas shopping needs to get started. Yes, it’s official — the crazy season is starting. I’m going to try to remain a little positive. We’re one month closer to spring and that’s going to be my happy thought to carry me through the long winter road ahead.

This is going to be a shorter column than usual as I haven’t received one email or phone call from the residents with news to share. I’m putting out a plea to Flanders Little League to please send me some kind of information regarding registration. I’m sure it’s getting under way and I’d hate for anyone to miss out. If you are on the board, please call me or email me with the details.

Hello, FRNCA, I haven’t heard from you in a while. Please have your committee members who handle the press releases call me or email me with news that you’d like to share. Phillips Avenue School … is there nothing going on this month? I’m sure there is something you’d like us to know. Anyone who is reading this column, I need to know of any birthdays, anniversaries, vacation news, new baby or new marriage news. In order for this column to continue I’m going to have to write about things that are happening in our area. That said, if I don’t know what’s going on, what’s the point of this column?

In case you missed my column last week, pickup of loose leaves this year will only be for Southampton Town residents age 73 or older. All leaves must be bagged in biodegradable or paper bags, which are sold in the stores. If you are 73 or older, you will need to go to the highway department located in Hampton Bays to get a voucher. This is the only way the town will pick up loose leaves. You can also cart your own debris to the local transfer station or hire a contractor to pick them up for you. For more info, call 728-3600 or visit southamptontownny.gov and click on Highway Department.

That is all for this week. Please remember to drive safely and don’t talk or text while driving. Don’t forget to call or email me with any news you’d like to share. If you call and don’t receive a return phone call from me, please call me back. I live with teenagers who, you know, are not the best at delivering messages. I’ll also send you a confirmation email stating that I received your email. If you don’t get one that probably means I didn’t get yours.

Thanks, everyone. Have a wonderful and hopefully warm weekend. Take care.

10/19/11 4:00am
10/19/2011 4:00 AM

Hello, friends and neighbors. Has anyone seen where October has gone? It seems like only yesterday it was just the first of the month, yet here we are at the 20th already. One of my friends on Facebook posted that Christmas was just 74 days away — and that post was from a few weeks ago! It’s now 66 days away. OK, I’ll just drop it for now. But maybe we should start paying attention so that it doesn’t sneak up on us.

Southampton Town’s fall cleanup will begin Nov. 14. For more information, visit southamptontownny.gov and click on “highway department” or call 728-3600. Loose leaves will still be accepted but not brush this time around. Plastic bags will also not be accepted, just biodegradable paper bags.

Last Friday’s RHS alumni reunion at Diggers was a huge success! I had so much fun seeing and talking with everyone. Some people I hadn’t seen in … well, I’m not comfortable revealing how many years it’s been but it’s been a long time. It was great seeing a few friends from my graduating class who weren’t able to make it to our reunion in August because of the storm. Thanks to Dave Flynn and Dana Columbus for coming up with the brilliant idea of just having a “Reunion of Friends” and inviting all Riverhead alumni. What a great night. I danced and laughed and had so much fun. If you weren’t able to make this event, keep your ears open for the next one.

Here is a brief list of winners of Riverhead Country Fair’s pumpkin- and vegetable-decorating/carving contest. There are quite a few names from our area. See if you recognize any. Best of Show, pumpkin: Brianna Semb. Best of Show, vegetable: Katie Dunn. Decorated pumpkins, 4 and under: Peyton LaCombe, Allison Murphy, Sierra Semb; ages 5-6: Abby Rempe, Willy Dzvonar Jr., Aidan Tobin; ages 7-8: Jennifer Anasky, Cameron Seebeck; ages 9-10: Melina Notaro, Ciara Tobin, Hannah O’Neill; ages 11-13: Anastasia Stapon, Lauren Anasky, Joseph Russo; ages 14-18: Brianna Semb, Renee Dunn; adult: Danielle Rowley, Kristina Cervone, Lisa Fritz. Decorated vegetables: 4 and under: Savannah Frankenbach; ages 5-6: Alyssa Benton; ages 7-8: Ryken Kutner, Nicole Davis, Ana Malanga; ages 9-10: Lily Kutner, Ella Malanga; ages 11- 13: Katie Dunn; ages 14-18: Matt Gillan, Pat Gillan. Carved pumpkin and vegetable, ages 5-6: Nevaeh Laird, Sean Donohue; ages 7-8: Katy Donohue; ages 9-10: Shayleigh Tribuzio; ages 11-13: Kyle Donohue; ages 14-18: Laura Dautzenberg. Congratulations to all the winners!

The following people celebrated a birthday on Oct. 19: Fran Johnson (Michael Hubbard’s aunt), Samantha Jaccard and my former neighbor and classmate Carolyn Brower-Kemak. Tammy Mickoliger and Tracy Mickoliger-Flynn celebrate on Oct. 22 and Rebecca Gallo on the 23rd. Happy birthday to everyone! I hope you all have/had a great day!

One of the reasons I enjoy writing this column each week is hearing people tell me that they enjoy reading it. As much as I love to write it, I really need the community’s help putting it together. Please call or email me with any news you’d like to share with the community.

When out and about, please drive safely on our roads, especially Flanders Road, which has seen an increase in traffic since the county started working on C.R. 104. Also, please put your cell phones down while driving.

Thanks everyone. Have a great weekend.