Tag Archive | "Amagansett"

Exploring the Roots of the East End Suffrage Movement

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web Margaret_Olivia_Slocum_Sage

By Amanda Wyatt

Elizabeth Cady-Stanton and Lucretia Mott. Susan B. Anthony and Alice Paul. May Groot Manson and Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage.

While the last two may not be household names around the country, Mrs. Thomas L. Manson and Mrs. Russell Sage — as they were better known in their time — led the fight for women’s suffrage on the East End a century ago.

“The Suffragist Movement: Women Work for the Right to Vote” was a lecture presented by Arlene Hinkemeyer last Friday at Clinton Academy in East Hampton, in honor of March being Women’s History Month.

Donning an old-fashioned suffragist costume for the occasion, Hinkemeyer outlined the history of the suffrage movement in the United States and locally, including “amazing women suffragists right here in East Hampton, Sag Harbor and Southampton.”

While the movement started in the mid-19th century, the 1910s saw a flurry of political activity regarding women’s voting rights. And as rallies, parades and marches were taking place in cities like New York and Washington, D.C., local suffragists were also hard at work.

In Sag Harbor, the first major suffrage meeting took place in July of 1912. Sage, the benefactress of John Jermain Memorial Library and Pierson High School, paved the way in the village for the suffrage movement.

Ironically, The Sag Harbor Express was not particularly progressive when it came to women’s voting rights. Between 1915 and 1917, Hinkemeyer said, “the paper was filled with many anti-suffrage articles.”

Just a few miles away, Manson — a Manhattan socialite who owned a home in East Hampton — was also championing the cause. The chairman of the Women’s Suffrage League of East Hampton, she spearheaded a large outdoor rally in August 1913.

The list of attendees was “a veritable ‘who’s who’ of East Hampton and New York City society,” said Hinkemeyer. There were also 20 representatives from the Sag Harbor branch of the Women’s Political Union (WPU) who joined in the march.

Another major moment on the East End came in June 1915. As The New York Times reported, “relays of women carrying a suffrage torch to enlighten the state of NY upon the needs of its women will ride by automobile from Montauk Point, L.I., to Buffalo.”

“Mrs. Manson motored across Long Island with the torch, holding open air meetings along the way, and then handed over the torch to another woman…who took it New York City, and others in the relay who carried it up to Buffalo,” said Hinkemeyer.

Major suffrage rallies also took place in Southampton between 1913 and 1915, with women like Lizbeth Halsey White, the chair of the town’s branch of the WPU, leading the charge.

At the same time, the anti-suffrage movement was heating up. As Mrs. William A. Putnam, president of the statewide League Opposed to Women Suffrage, said at a 1913 rally in Southampton, the present position of women was “a much higher one as the queen of the home than it could possibly be when dragged from her high estate to the mire of political turmoil and politics.”

Still, suffragists eventually claimed victory in November 1917, when New York State gave women the right to vote. Two years later, the U.S. Congress passed the 19th amendment, which provided suffrage on a national level. The amendment was formally adopted after Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify it in August 1920.

While New York had been the fifth state to ratify the 19th amendment, some states were a bit late to the party. Mississippi, for example, didn’t get around to ratifying it until 1984.

Sadly, Hinkemeyer noted, some leading suffragists never lived to see their dreams realized. Sage died in 1918, before the 19th amendment was ratified, although she did see the passage of women’s suffrage in New York. But Manson, who died at a relatively young age, missed the passage in New York by merely two months.

“We in East Hampton can all be proud of the meaningful life [Manson] led, and of all she accomplished for the good of our community,” said Hinkemeyer. “We owe a great debt to her for working — and now we know how much work it was — to give women the right to vote.”

Thiele: Montauk Highway Rehab Clears Major Huddle

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New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. announced on Monday that the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) has granted his request and that of 10 other elected officials representing areas traversed by Montauk Highway, the key South Fork arterial. The agency has agreed to amend the State Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) to include reconstruction of a 10-mile stretch of Montauk Highway from CR 39 to Stephen Hands Path. The proposed construction would cost approximately $12.53 million. State DOT already had scheduled the reconstruction of a 2.3 mile stretch of the highway from SR 114 to Stephen Hands Path for the spring of this year.

“Congressman Bishop, State Senator Ken LaValle, County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, and every South Fork supervisor and mayor joined with me to request the reconstruction of Montauk Highway,” said Thiele, referencing a February letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state DOT. “Not only did the Governor and Commissioner Joan McDonald respond favorably, they were quick in responding so that this project can get underway in 2013. I thank them for their fast action.”

The project would be funded by federal and state funds. The comment period on the proposed amendment to the TIP will end on March 22. After that, the project will be included in the TIP and detailed design work will begin. The construction of the segment between SR 114 and Stephen Hands Path will begin this spring and the remaining work from Stephen Hands Path to CR 39 will commence after Labor Day this year.

“I urge all local elected officials and the public to weigh in with the State DOT before the Friday deadline,” said Thiele.

Comments should be submitted to the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council, Attn: David Drits 199 Water Street, 22nd Floor New York, New York 10038 or email davis.drits@dot.ny.gov

“The importance of this highway cannot be underestimated. It is the only major road bringing people to and from the South Fork of Long Island,” said Thiele. “There is no alternative route. It is the most highly trafficked road on eastern Long Island. It is essential for both local residents and the substantial second home industry. It is important for business and commerce in that the delivery of goods and services as well as the transportation of workers and tradesmen depend on this road.”

“Most important, local fire, ambulance, and emergency service workers depend on this road to do their jobs, particularly to transport patients to Southampton Hospital,” added Thiele. “Finally, in the case of an emergency or disaster, this road is the only evacuation route for the region. At a time when the economy has suffered from a deep recession, this project will mean not only construction jobs but will also foster the tourism/second home based economy of the region. Now, the entire stretch from Southampton to East Hampton will be repaved.”

Siegler Quartet Brings All That Jazz to the Parrish Art Museum

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By Emily J. Weitz

This Friday night, people strolling through the Parrish Art Museum will get more than a feast for their eyes. As the Richie Siegler Quartet plays jazz in the lobby of the museum, the music will float down the spine of the space and into all the galleries. While hearing the gentle croon of a saxophone, patrons will also take in the winding ribbons of a deKooning painting, and the bold sheen of a John Chamberlain sculpture.

“I believe music in general and jazz in particular is an art form and it belongs there [at the Parrish],” says Richie Siegler, who plays the drums in the quartet and is the founder of Escola de Samba Boom. “DeKooning and Pollock? Who do you think they were listening to? They were listening to Coltrane. It’s like a big circle.”

When Siegler came to the executive director of the Parrish, Terrie Sultan, he says she lit up at the idea.

“The new building offers endless possibilities for programming, including heightened potential for live performance,” says Andrea Grover, curator of special projects at the Parrish. “Richie is a talented and popular East End musician who knows how to inspire and mobilize a crowd.”

While there is a special performance space, the Lichtenstein Theater, the staff decided to set up the Richie Siegler Quartet right in the lobby.

“We wanted the music to travel through the spine and into the galleries,” says Grover, “reaching the ears of those experiencing the works on view. The building’s central corridor is a great delivery system for sound and more – it connects all activities in the building.”

Siegler has been playing the drums since he was four, and he grew up in Greenwich Village listening to jazz masters. Both at home and on vacations with his family in the Catskills, Siegler was introduced to Latin jazz, including legends like Tito Puente.

While Siegler can play the drums for any genre, it’s jazz, and in particular Latin Jazz, where he has found a following.

He founded the Escola de Samba Boom, a free, year round music school with Monday night workshops. During the summer, when the workshop is held at Sagg Main Beach, it turns into an all out party with hundreds of people crowding around a tight circle of 60 or so drummers. Siegler is often found in the middle, directing with a whistle and riding the sound.

“It’s like cooking a stew,” says Siegler. “We have all the ingredients – 12 people in one section, six in another. My job is to make it all gel. Maybe we need a fresh herb, or some pepper and salt. I make a little adjustment, and when it kicks in, it’s a high. Often we’ll go out afterwards, and we’re all buzzed from the performance.”

At the Parrish this weekend, Siegler brings together a quartet of local talents that includes Siegler on the drums, John Ludlow on alto saxophone, Jeff Koch on bass, and Max Feldschuh on the vibraphones.

“We do some straight jazz,” he says, “and Latin-influenced. We do our own arrangements. I like the group because it has a light sound. There’s no keyboard or guitar. There’s a lot of air in what we do, and I try to stay off the ground.”

Of these four instruments playing together, Siegler doubts it’s the first time a quartet has been comprised of drums, alto sax, vibes, and bass, although he can’t recall another group that had this combination.

“But jazz has been around a long time,” he says. “Everything’s been done.”

Because of the stark design of the Parrish, marble and glass, Siegler feels particularly strongly that there needs to be a good crowd.

“People are acoustical tiles,” he says. “They absorb a lot of sound.”

Siegler has ideas for the Parrish, and he hopes to ride on the success of this weekend’s performance to create a more lasting relationship. Siegler remembers growing up in Manhattan, spending Thursday evenings at MoMA, enjoying live jazz.

“I’d like to see it become a monthly thing at the Parrish,” he says. “People will be encouraged to walk through the galleries and the music will follow them.”

The Richie Siegler Quartet will kick off the evening at 6 p.m. at the Parrish. Tickets are $10 for non-members and free for members.

“Membership is an exceptional deal,” says Grover, “paying for itself manifold if you plan to attend just four or more of our events in a year. I feel lucky, and hope others do, too, to have a major museum in a small community – it makes the bonds of art and life even tighter and more meaningful.”

Quail Hill’s Scott Chaskey Named Farmer of the Year

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By Tessa Raebeck

As a student in England struggling to support himself, Scott Chaskey found a job as a gardener. Several farms and many successful seasons later, Chaskey will be honored as Farmer of the Year at the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York’s Winter Conference. Chaskey will also give one of the keynote addresses at the conference, which will be held in Saratoga Springs January 24 through January 27.

“I fell in love with using the spade and turning the soil over,” recalls Chaskey, now the farm director at the Peconic Land Trust’s Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett. Chaskey returned to the United States in 1989. His homecoming coincided with the national emergence of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), a locally based socioeconomic structure of food distribution that intends to narrow the gap between families and farmers.

In 1990, Quail Hill became the first CSA farm in New York state. At the time, there was only one other organic farm on the East End, the Green Thumb in Water Mill.

“They were wonderful to us,” says Chaskey, recalling how the farmers there helped Quail Hill get its start. The Green Thumb supplied the young farm with transplants for its inaugural season, which Quail Hill then grew and harvested.

In addition to supplying locally grown, organic food, CSA hopes to build community through education and support long-term sustainability efforts by connecting consumers to their food source. CSA farms sell shares of produce for an annual fee, offering consumers both awareness of where their food is coming from and involvement in its cultivation.

“I just loved the idea of not only growing food organically, but also building community,” says Chaskey, “My actual farming career has been entirely involved with building this community up at the same time that we were growing the soil to grow good food.”

For the past 23 years, Chaskey has helped to build community here on the East End through his work at Quail Hill. Education is fundamental to CSA, and Chaskey said he is dedicated to teaching the next generation of farmers.

“Besides providing food,“ Chaskey explains, “we’re also running programs to educate people about what we’re doing and about sustainable agriculture. Lots of different things, that’s what a community farm is about.”

Organic farming on the East End has come a long way since the only farms were the Green Thumb and Quail Hill. Through many successful harvests, Chaskey has had over 100 apprentices. Students can volunteer for a day or stay for a year, and many go on to start CSA farms themselves.

Former apprentices Katie Baldwin and Amanda Merrow founded Amber Waves Farm, also in Amagansett, with the guidance and support of Chaskey and Quail Hill, as well as The Peconic Land Trust, which leases land to both Amber Waves Farm and Quail Hill.Chaskey’s influence on the careers of Baldwin and Merrow is apparent in their commitment to education, sustainability and community building.

Through Peconic Land Trust’s Incubator Program, young farmers like Baldwin and Merrow are encouraged and supported to venture out on their own. In the model of a homestead program, new farmers are leased land to cultivate.

“The whole existence of NOFA is to educate not only farmers, but consumers to be aware of the importance of organic farming,” saysChaskey, ”Those years of educating, I think we’re starting to harvest the fruit of it now.”

Due to growing awareness of the health concerns of processed, unnatural foods, there has been a striking increase in the national demand for organic produce. That demand is especially prevalent here on the East End, where excellent soil and preserved land have not only allowed for the survival of the rich farming tradition, but enabled it to thrive in recent years.

“From that one farm, it’s amazing how it’s spread in the last 20 years,” says Chaskey. The NOFA Conference, he recalls, “used to be attended by a couple hundred people and now it’s almost 1,500 — and well over half of them are in their twenties.”

The influx of youth into organic farming has reinvigorated the business and heartened proponents of natural food.

“It’s very encouraging to see how many young people are interested in getting involved,” Chaskey says with excitement, “It’s amazing — the quality of people who have graduated with this or that degree and want to do some sort of meaningful work. And that’s happening not only here, but all over the country.”

Chaskey is optimistic about the future of organic farming, hoping to see the higher demand translate to higher acreage and larger scale farms. If the past 23 years of success are any indication, Chaskey’s optimism could be right on point.

Gayle Pickering Resigns as Chairwoman of the Sag Harbor Village Zoning Board of Appeals

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Sag Harbor Village Zoning Board of Appeals Chairwoman Gayle Pickering has resigned from her post, according to a letter she sent to Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride on Tuesday, November 20.

Her resignation will be effective December 31, 2012.

Pickering will be away during the December meeting, meaning last month’s session was her last on the dais.

“It has been an honor and a pleasure being a member of the Board, and I have enjoyed the opportunity to serve the village,” wrote Pickering in her letter. “At this point in time, however, due to personal reasons, I would like to resign my position.”

On Tuesday, Pickering said the resignation comes simply because her architecture practice is thriving and she intends to travel extensively this year, making it difficult to be able to attend the board’s night time sessions each month.

“I don’t feel that I can devote the time needed to the ZBA it deserves,” said Pickering on Tuesday. “I will miss the December meeting to go to Florida to visit my dad, and we are travelling over the February break as well. As much as I truly enjoyed the work, I feel that it is unfair to the village for them to have a board member that is unable to dedicate the time needed to make informed decisions, and that it would be better to let someone else have all the fun.”

Pickering began her foray into public service 20 years ago as a member and chair of the Sag Harbor Planning Board, before joining the East Hampton Town Planning Board. She left that board in 2006 and came back to Sag Harbor where after a brief stint as a member of the Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board she joined the Sag Harbor ZBA, becoming its chairperson in 2008.

“We thank Gayle for all of her service to the village and wish her well,” said Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride on Tuesday. “She has done great work and she will be missed.”

First East End GLBT Center Meeting This Friday in Bridgehampton

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The first meeting of the East End GLBT Center Advisory Committee will be held this Friday, November 30 at 6:30 p.m. at Bridgehampton National Bank on Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton.

The committee was formed in response to the bullying-related suicide of 16-year-old East Hampton resident David Hernandez.

Following Hernandez’s death, LIGALY (Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth) — an advocacy organization based in Bay Shore with youth centers in that community and in Garden City in Nassau County — held a forum at East Hampton High School. Chief Executive Officer David Kilmnick called for the creation of a GLBT Youth Center on the East End, noting the kind of support these centers offer are currently over 60 miles from East Hampton, leaving many youth without a support network.

Sag Harbor residents Beatrice Alda, and her partner Jennifer Brooke, have already promised a $20,000 matching grant towards the creation of this center.

According to Kilmnick, the meeting is open to the public.

WPPB 88.3 & Guild Hall Benefit Set for Friday

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Scores of local musicians are expected to turn out this weekend to support two local non-profit institutions at a benefit concert courtesy of Amagansett’s Crossroads Music.

On Friday, November 30 at 7 p.m. Crossroads Music presents On the Air @ Guild Hall: A Community Benefit for WPPB 88.3 FM and Guild Hall. Money raised from the concert will support the efforts of Southampton-based WPPB, the local NPR station, as well as East Hampton’s Guild Hall, a center for arts and theater in the community.

Hosted by Grammy Award winning recording engineer Cynthia Daniels, along with the WPPB team – Bonnie Grice, Brian Cosgrove and Ed German – the concert will be directed by Randolph Hudson III and recorded by WPPB 88.3 for posterity.

Performers will include drummer Corky Laing from Mountain, the Kerry Kearney Band, Black & Sparrow (Klyph Black and John Sparrow), Miles to Dayton, The Black Petals, K-O-S (Keeping Original Sound), Glenn Feit, Dick Johansson, Alfredo Merat, the Ross Brazilian Jazz Quartet and more.

Tickets are $20 for general admission, $18 for members and $10 for students. Guild Hall is at 158 Main Street, East Hampton. For more information or to buy tickets, visit www.guildhall.org.

Leaving the Dark for the Light

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By Kathryn G. Menu

Sometimes you have to experience the dark to find the light.

For brothers Alan and Jarrett Steil the last year and a half of their journey as musicians breaking into the Los Angeles music scene has been just that.

In 2011, Suddyn, the band the brothers formed in their native Montauk almost a decade earlier, had the promise of exposure in their own backyard through MTK — a world-class music festival planned for East Hampton.

But that festival fell apart without ever coming to fruition and shortly thereafter, the group’s Irish drummer Brendan Connolly left the band.

However, for Alan, the group’s lead singer, keyboard and trumpet player, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Alan was ready to move on from Suddyn, a band that had brought he and Jarrett success in Ireland, including a top-10 hit in 2004, and taken them out to Los Angeles in 2011 where they played sold-out clubs on the storied Sunset Strip.

“We needed to wipe the slate clean,” said Alan in an interview from the Montauk Bake Shoppe. His parents, Alan, Sr. and Celeste own the bakery and this week the brothers and the band’s manager — muse and champion, Linda O’Connor — were gathered to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.

Earlier this year, Alan and Jarrett regrouped and formed the indie-rock band The Rebel Light with 22-year-old drummer Brandon Cooke, a California native. With the success of a video for the band’s first single, “Goodbye Serenade,” which has earned close to 5,000 hits on YouTube, on November 13 The Rebel Light released a self-titled EP.

“The Rebel Light” EP features “My Heroes Are Dead,” “Goodbye Serenade,” and “Wake Up Your Mind.” It is available free to download through the band’s website, http://therebellight.com.

“I think our name, the music we are doing, and the way we are doing business is a lot more current,” said Alan. “I think our first year [in California] we were ignoring aspects of the musical journey in Los Angeles.”

“Whenever I thought about playing in L.A. I thought about the Sunset Strip,” he added. “But there is this great grassroots music scene in places like Silver Lake and Eagle Rock which is where we find ourselves a lot more now these days.”

Grassroots would certainly be a way to describe the recording of “The Rebel Light,” which was completed in a shed at Cooke’s parent’s home in Yuciapa in the San Bernadino Valley, as well as Alan and Jarrett’s bathroom and closet in Hollywood.

“I think people really respected that we literally did this completely on our own,” said Alan. “”We recorded it ourselves, we produced it ourselves and I think people have really liked the sound.”

With the addition of Cooke — who is not related to Alan and Jarrett despite a little joke the band played on an online magazine where they identified Cooke as a long lost cousin, a fib that has spread across the web — Alan said the sound he and Jarrett cultivated through Suddyn has also evolved.

“I think we have a little more of a retro sound,” said Alan. “I hate to use this word, but it really is more organic for us. It is more who we really are, less contrived and forced. Towards the end of Suddyn, I almost felt like we were too polished. We are a lot more relaxed now, less alternative pop rock and more indie rock.”

For Alan, some aspects of an evolved music business — which is largely funded through tours, rather than album sales, and includes the ability to produce a high-quality record without a major label or formal studio — are appealing.

“There is a lot more music out there and it is much harder to get to the top, top than it used to be,” he said. “But we also have a lot more control over our careers, and we can reach thousands through the Internet.”

“There are so many avenues for us to pursue our music,” added Alan. “For someone like me, I’ll give my music away because I would rather hand out 200 EPs, have people listen to it, love it and come see us at a show sometime than charge people $5 for some songs.”

For Alan, the possibilities for the future are both endless and bright, and you can hear it in The Rebel Light’s music — hope overcoming the angst melancholy Suddyn was often known for in its early years.

“It’s in our favor to continue to focus on the West Coast, promote the EP, record new music, just keep pushing forward,” he said. “Every band’s path is different and we are just figuring out what ours is. It’s hard work, but we are creating our own kind of luck.”


Gas Lines Continue Despite Promises of Relief

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By Kathryn G. Menu; Photography by Michael Heller

It began as a news report, quickly spreading to social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter and by last Thursday afternoon concerns about a gas shortage on Long Island had morphed into the real thing.

For a week now, getting gasoline for a car, or generator, has become a process sometimes lasting hours. Without the right intelligence, either from Facebook and Twitter posts, or websites like www.gasbuddy.com, it can also lead people on mad searches for an open gas pump, unsure where they will be able to find the next place to fill-up.

Last Friday morning, at Harbor Heights Gas Station on Route 114 in Sag Harbor, a line of more than 30 cars waited patiently, hoping to fill up the gas tank as fears of the shortage spread across the East End. Many gas stations started closing once they were out of fuel. At one point, the line to Harbor Heights on Friday snaked back to St. Andrew’s Church and began clogging the busy roadway, prompting Sag Harbor Village Police to monitor the situation to ensure Route 114 remained open to traffic despite the gas line.

“Everyone has been waiting nice, normal and patient,” said Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano on Friday.

According to station attendant Pam Kern, who had been working the pumps alone that morning after a full day of work on Thursday, once Harbor Heights Gas Station ran out of fuel it expected to receive a new shipment on Monday or Tuesday of this week. However, both the Sag Harbor Getty on the Sag Harbor/Bridgehampton Turnpike and Harbor Heights remained shuttered as of Wednesday evening.

But stations in East Hampton and Southampton have intermittently been receiving shipments of fuel, usually in the morning, leading to long lines of cars and trucks waiting to fill up for fear of a larger fuel shortage.

On Monday afternoon, the Shell Station in Hampton Bays offered customers 10 gallons of free gasoline, supplied by a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) fuel truck that arrived from New Jersey.

At the root of the issue is the devastation further west left in the wake of Hurricane Sandy — coined Super Storm Sandy — which made landfall in southern New Jersey on Monday, October 29. Because of mass electrical outages and the closing of key ports by the United States Coast Guard in anticipation of the storm, simply getting gas to Long Island became a challenge.

The pipelines and terminals providing gasoline to distribution networks on Long Island were also disrupted due to power outages that reduced flow capacity.

Last Thursday, Senator Charles Schumer announced the Port of New York would re-open for fuel services in an effort to bring more fuel into the region.

According to Schumer’s office and the Energy Department, New York Harbor is the busiest oil port in the world, receiving an average of 900,000 barrels of petroleum products per day. According to a Reuters report, the New York Harbor is a critical hub for the region, with some 75 million barrels of storage capacity that allows companies to import, blend and trade everything from gasoline to jet fuel before trucking it to airports or fuel pumps.

On Sunday, November 4, Congressman Tim Bishop’s office announced that the Energy Department has established a team to assist local authorities in efforts to get gas stations back online.

Congressman Bishop said the Energy Department has established a toll-free number at 1-866-402-3775 which gas station owners and managers can call if they need assistance restoring power or securing supplies of gasoline.

“The situation will continue to improve in the coming days as gas deliveries increase, but this new federal effort to link service station owners with the resources they need to serve the public is a critical step in returning the system to normal,” said Bishop.

Earlier in the week, Bishop also encouraged residents to report if they felt they were being price gouged at the pumps. Motorists are advised to hold onto their receipts and contact the Suffolk County Consumer Affairs Hotline at 1-800-909-5423.

On Monday, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr., a Sag Harbor resident, said residents should use resources like www.gasbuddy.com or www.hessexpress.com to find out where gasoline can be found in their towns and villages.

On Wednesday, Thiele lamented that while gas lines appeared to be getting shorter on Monday and Tuesday, with the nor’easter approaching, the shortage had become worse on the South Fork, although he cautioned residents that the shortage was by no means a issue he believed would be a long term problem for Long Island.

According to www.gasbuddy.com, as of 5 p.m. on Wednesday evening, only the Mobil Gas Station on County Road 39 and North Sea Road had gas reserves in Southampton Town. In Water Mill the Hess Station at Montauk Highway and Scuttlehole Road was also distributing gas, as was the Empire gas station on North Main Street in East Hampton.

“It appears like there is not as much gas on the South Fork as there has been in recent days, but suffice to say while there is some gas available, we are not back to normal and my conversations with the governor’s office have started getting a little tense,” said Thiele.

Thiele said particularly because of the nor’easter, and with some residents relying on gas supplies to run their generators, it was critical that government officials amp up their efforts to restore gas supplies and energy, not just to the East End but across Long Island.

“I know this was a monumental storm,” said Thiele, “but it seems to me while there was a great initial response, things are starting to plateau a little in terms of the response, and that concerns me. We need to redouble our efforts before the next storm hits. It’s November. There are going to be more storms.”


State Denies Grant for Local Schools Looking into School District Consolidation

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Several East End schools suffered a blow last week when they learned they had not been awarded a competitive Local Government Efficiency Grant, which would have examined the possibility of consolidating and reorganizing local school districts.

Despite this setback, State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele and State Senator Ken LaValle — who had written letters of support for the grant — are determined to move forward.

“Senator LaValle and I will find another way to fund this consolidation study,” said Thiele in an interview on Monday.

In a separate interview, LaValle echoed Thiele’s comments.

“I will keep at it,” he said. “I will pursue it. I will pursue some money, as I did, outside of the competitive grant process, to get the districts to talk about how they can share services or where there is interest in an out and out consolidation.”

Thiele said that he and LaValle would probably look into a legislative grant or “other forms of funding where the legislature has direct control over the funding, not funding that the Governor controls.”

The Sag Harbor, East Hampton, Southampton, Tuckahoe, Springs, Montauk and Hampton Bays school districts, as well Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), had originally filed for the grant back in March.

The grant is part of the New York Department of State’s (DOS) Local Government Efficiency Program, which seeks to help municipalities save money and operate more efficiently through consolidations, mergers, the sharing of services and other tactics.

According to a press release from the DOS, $4 million dollars had been allocated for grant monies, and municipalities could apply for up to $200,000 in funding.

The grants, said LaValle, were “competitively scored by the Department of State, based upon the quality of the applicants’ data and endeavor.”

“From what I was told, the [local schools’] grant did not score high,” said Thiele, noting that of the 21 groups that were awarded the grant, only three were school districts.

“Assemblyman Thiele and I cannot go beyond what we did, in terms of local officials supporting their grants, because it would be unethical to use — as people would say, ‘political muscle’ — to try and affect political grants,” LaValle added.

LaValle has been a strong proponent of consolidation of South Fork school districts throughout his tenure. He said in the past, local school districts had received millions of dollars in state aid, some of which they could have used to conduct things like efficiency grant studies.

“In the past, I had secured money and they never really went forward with any consolidation — or even any efficiencies — that they could bring about by sharing services,” he said.

However, LaValle noted the decision for school consolidation is entirely up to the community.

For example, if two school districts wanted to consolidate, both school boards would have to approve of it. Then, referendums would have to be passed in both communities.

By Amanda Wyatt

Currently, the Southampton and Tuckahoe school districts have recently begun discussing the possibility of consolidating their school districts.

“It’s a local decision,” the senator said. “I try to take leadership in pushing people to either do consolidation, or at the very minimum, to share services.”

The Sag Harbor Board of Education (BOE) also remains interested in looking into consolidation and reorganization. President Theresa Samot said the BOE would probably discuss the grant at its next meeting, which was scheduled for Monday night, but was canceled in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. That meeting has yet to be rescheduled, said Samot.

“We thought [the grant] would certainly be a good first step to see what the opportunities were,” said President Theresa Samot. “The board is certainly in favor of exploring any opportunity that might be valuable to the taxpayers, as well as the students. It’s something that we’ve certainly looked into, wherever we could collaborate to save money.”