East End Digest – November 6

Posted on 06 November 2008

Looking Towards Christmas

Sag Harbor residents are already gearing up for the Christmas holidays with a planned afternoon tea and Christmas workshop. Last week Dolores Zebrowski, Sister Ann Marino, Michael Grim, Carol Ahlers, and Diana Brennan began planning the event, which will take place on November 29 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Southampton Town: 20th Anniversary

Officials from the Town of Southampton’s Department of Public Safety celebrated today as its Hazardous Material Team reached the 20th anniversary of its activation.

Started in 1988, the team was designed to supplement the local volunteer fire service with individuals providing advanced training and specialized equipment, and who could respond to incidents involving chemicals, fuels, biological agents, radioactive materials, and unknown substances. In doing so, the team can bring to bear guide meters, protective suits, computer mapping programs, and skills in “protecting the citizens of Southampton from the release of materials dangerous to life and health.”

“Many of the Hazmat Team members have background in the fire and emergency medical services,” said Supervisor Linda Kabot. Town Public Safety Officer John Ryan added that Hazmat participants have also been trained in basic chemistry, identification of unknown substances, transportation-related incidents, and monitoring radioactive material. There has also been instruction in subjects to meet the changing times in regard to terrorism — including weapons of mass destruction.

“Training, drills, and daily working partnerships help to keep the members in sync as a team,” added Kabot. 

Stony Brook Southampton: Ocean Issues

The School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences and Stony Brook Southampton will present a talk on how increasing ocean acidification is affecting ocean ecosystems in its “Critical Issues Facing the World’s Oceans” lecture series. Last month’s talk on endangered marine fishes was attended by over 90 audience members.

Dr. Cindy Lee, a SUNY Distinguished Professor, will discuss “Ocean Acidification and the Global Carbon Cycle” on Friday, November 7, at 7:30 p.m. in Stony Brook Southampton’s Duke Lecture Hall. A reception will follow. For further information, call 632-5046.

Global warming is just one of the results of increasing carbon dioxide concentrations. This gas also forms an acid when it dissolves in water, and is thus acidifying the oceans. Coral reefs and calcareous shells are in danger of depletion. One of the few natural processes that removes carbon dioxide from the ocean’s surface waters is the sinking of particles to the deep sea. These particles carry organic carbon with them that is derived from the surface plants and animals in the ocean.

 Professor Lee has studied the organic chemistry of the oceans for the past 35 years and has focused on the transport of particulate carbon to the ocean’s interior. She has participated in research cruises in the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian and Southern Oceans, with most recent work in the Mediterranean Sea. Dr. Lee will describe how ocean acidification is occurring, and how particle transport processes will be affected.

Suffolk County: Specials, Please

It’s not an uncommon experience to go to a restaurant and order a special that a waiter or waitress announces is available — and then later, upon receiving the bill, realize it had an especially high price.

A Suffolk County legislator has just introduced a bill to prevent that: a proposed law “requiring restaurants to disclose prices of specials.”

Lynne Nowick of St. James believes that consumers should have the “information necessary to make informed decisions”—and that includes the prices of food in a restaurant.

Her bill charges that “certain restaurants in Suffolk County do not recognize this ‘right to know’ when it comes to their policy for so-called ‘daily specials.’” These do not appear on the regular menu, and restaurants “in many cases fail to voluntarily apprise their customers how much these specials cost.”

As a result, states the resolution, “too often consumers learn when their bill arrives that the special they ordered costs far more than they anticipated.”

If Nowick’s bill is enacted, all restaurants in Suffolk County would have to “give their patrons adequate notice of the prices of all food items offered for sale including those items known as ‘daily specials.’”

This could be by including the price of specials on the regular menu or “on a printed daily specials page” or otherwise “posted in a manner and location so the price” would be “readily observable by patrons.”

The penalty for non-compliance would be enough to give a restaurant operator indigestion: “not less than $50 nor more than $500” for each violation.

The proposed law would be enforced by the Suffolk County Office of Consumer Affairs. It has gone to legislative committee for consideration.

Reported by karl grossman        

Suffolk County: Gang Seminar

Suffolk County Sheriff Vincent F. DeMarco will host the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office Second Annual Gang Seminar this Thursday, November 6 at 9 a.m. at the Smithtown Sheraton in Smithtown.

The seminar will feature multiple speakers with expertise in gang intelligence, including investigator Sheridan of the New York City Department of Corrections, Detective Gordon of the Chicago Police Department, Retired Investigator Valdez of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, Retired Investigator Harlin from the New York State Police, along with members of the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office Gang Intelligence Unit. The seminar is being presented with the support of the mid-Atlantic Great Lakes Organized Crime Law Enforcement Network.

“It is imperative to realize we are not insulated from the insidious effects of gang violence,” said Sheriff DeMarco. “Gang intelligence gathering and sharing is our best tool in battling today’s organized crime.”

New York State: Home Heating Assistance

Governor David A. Paterson announced on November 3, eligible New Yorkers can apply to the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) for this winter season, allowing them to receive as much as $2,500 to help pay for heating costs. Governor Paterson also highlighted recent changes to HEAP including an expansion in income eligibility requirements for New Yorkers facing an energy emergency. Additionally, Paterson announced an agreement between the state and utility companies, which will allow customers to pay their energy bills and keep service in place using HEAP money.

“Under the best of circumstances, New York winters can be difficult,” said Paterson. “With continued economic uncertainty, it is not just the poor and elderly who will have a difficult time paying for the cost of heating their homes this winter. With high energy prices still a concern, we have greatly increased heating assistance to low-income New Yorkers while expanding eligibility to those earning more but who are still struggling to make ends meet.”

The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) – the agency responsible for administering HEAP in New York – has implemented changes to HEAP that will allow New York’s most vulnerable residents to receive as much as $2,500 this winter season. Additionally, New York will take advantage of a one-time federal authorization to increase the income eligibility for HEAP emergency benefits from $45,312 to $56,635 for a family of four effective January 1, 2009. Income eligible homes without heating fuel that are running low on fuel or have heat-related utility service currently disconnected or scheduled for disconnection, may be eligible for HEAP emergency assistance.

New York State has received $550.9 million in federal HEAP funding, which has enabled the OTDA to allow for those earning more to qualify for an emergency benefit, while also making available a second emergency benefit for those most in need. The increased funding will also enable a $100 regular benefit supplement provided to all HEAP recipients who pay directly for heat starting in January 2009.

In September, Governor Paterson requested that an emergency utility summit be held to address rising energy costs. During the summit, all major utility companies in the state agreed that during the cold weather period they will accept HEAP payments from customers and offer them a fair and reasonable deferred payment agreement.

In addition to increasing eligibility levels for HEAP, the state has also increased HEAP’s regular and emergency benefits to $800 for those heating with oil, kerosene and/or propane, to enable them to purchase a minimum delivery of fuel, and has raised the maximum regular benefit to $585 for all other customers. The state has also received a $32 million increase in the amount of low income funding, approved by the PSC and provided by local utility companies and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSDERA), to improve the energy efficiency of homes. NYSDERA will also spend an additional $2 million this winter to help more New Yorkers reduce their energy while also keeping their homes heated. The state has also worked towards providing $5 million for weatherization and energy efficiency services, designed to enable HEAP recipients to realize immediate energy savings this winter. Ten million dollars has also been made available by LIPA to its low income senior customers for direct bill payment assistance. In addition, LIPA will be expanding its support for improved energy efficiency in homes for all of its customers.

For additional resources, visit HeatSmartNY.org or call 877-NY-SMART, or for HEAP questions, call 1-800-342-3009 or visit www.myBenefits.ny.gov.





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