Tag Archive | "Bridgehampton"

Personnel Salaries Capped in 2014-15 Sag Harbor Village Budget

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By Kathryn G. Menu

The Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees unveiled a tentative budget on March 19, highlighted by $91,040 in cuts made from a previous draft of the 2014-15 spending plan, primarily through the reduction of full-time salary increases across several departments.

What was originally an $8.59 million budget was cut between March 5 and March 19. Personnel cuts were made in the justice court’s budget, which was reduced by $7,610; the village treasurer’s budget was cut by $1,680; the clerk’s full-time personnel costs were cut by $1,050; central garage personnel was cut by $2,747; custodial personnel was cut by $5,305; and highway department personnel was cut by $14,181.

A line item for a proposed administrator for the Sag Harbor Ambulance Corps, originally budgeted to cost $80,942 next year, was reduced by $17,442 to $63,500, which, according to Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride, accounts for salary and benefit expenses associated with the position.

During last Wednesday’s meeting, Trustee Ed Deyermond asked about dock repairs in the village. That line item under Harbors & Docks was cut by $10,000 to $50,000 for the next fiscal year. Mr. Deyermond said that repairs would be necessary, not just for Long Wharf, but for all of the village’s docks including those at Marine Park. The village board is currently awaiting an engineering report on what repairs are necessary on Long Wharf. It has debated whether or not to tackle those repairs piecemeal or to bond for what will likely be a project that costs several thousand dollars.

Trustee Deyermond also raised concerns about the fire department’s truck reserve not being adequately funded. The fire department’s $401,406 budget does not include any money for the reserve account, which the department uses to purchase vehicles.

“We always put something in that account,” said Trustee Deyermond, adding the reserve has about $174,000 remaining, but the department is on schedule to purchase a new pumper in 2017. Without adding to the reserve annually, it will not have the funding to pay for that new vehicle.

“We have been down this road for many, many years and I think we have to plan for the future,” Mr. Deyermond said.

Mayor Gilbride said he would like to see a full assessment of the fire department’s vehicles made by an outside agency.

Trustee Deyermond replied that he had no issue with a needs assessment, but did want to make sure the truck reserve had adequate funding.

“I don’t see, especially with the tax cap we are all trying to stay under, us coming up with a big chunk of money two or three years down the road,” he said.

Kelly Dodds, president of the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce, also approached the board, asking it to reinstate some of the chamber’s $4,000 in funding, cut completely out of the 2014-15 spending plan.

That funding, she noted, helps the chamber pay the $11,000 annually it spends to staff the windmill at Long Wharf, which had 9,000 visitors this year all looking for information on Sag Harbor and the East End.

Mayor Gilbride questioned the money the chamber raises in arts and crafts festivals and HarborFest, noting it charges people who have booths at both events.

The Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit entity, noted Ms. Dodds.

“Our events are meant to break even,” she said. “The money we make from those events goes into publicizing those events, paying for insurance. We have the lowest membership rates on the East End.”

Ms. Dodds asked the board to reconsider.

On Tuesday, Mayor Gilbride said he expected little would change before the budget is considered for adoption, on Wednesday, April 2, at 4 p.m.

Serve Sag Harbor Traffic Study Fundraiser This Week

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Serve Sag Harbor, a non-profit founded last year to help raise funds for projects and initiatives that improve the quality of life in the village, will host a fundraiser this Sunday, March 30, at 5 p.m. at Page restaurant on Main Street in Sag Harbor, celebrating the new book by local authors Bob Drury and Tom Clavin, “The Heart of Everything That Is.”

The proceeds of Sunday night’s event are earmarked to support Serve Sag Harbor’s Traffic Calming Fund, which is being used to support a study currently underway looking at traffic solutions for 19 intersections throughout the village. The results of the study will be presented to the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees for consideration.

The cost to attend the event will be $75, which includes a complimentary raffle ticket with prizes including a seven-day stay at a home in San Miguel de Allende, as well as books signed by Mr. Clavin.

Reservations can be made by sending an email to servesagharbor@gmail.com.

The Cost of the Bridge

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Everybody, it seems, is against Southampton Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor’s plan to use federal grant money to replace the aging bridge that crosses Sagg Pond between Sagaponack and Bridgehampton. It’s not that people object to accepting the federal largesse, but they don’t like the heavy duty design being proposed.

Recently, the Sagaponack Village Board offered a solution: It will foot the $500,000 cost of repairing the bridge and split future maintenance costs with the town if Mr. Gregor foregoes his plans.

What’s not to like? On the face of it, nothing. But the town should enter any agreement with Sagaponack with its eyes wide open.

Ever since the village was incorporated in 2005, Sagaponack officials, despite having such a wealthy tax base, have made something of a parlor game out of using their leverage to effectively reduce the share of taxes village residents pay into the town’s coffers. Witness the agreement made last year whereby Sagaponack abandoned its threat to form its own police department in exchange for more regular town police patrols, which, given an equal sized police budget, come at the expense of other communities with more crime.

Sagaponack already has an intermunicipal agreement for highway services with the town. The smart money says if Sagaponack pays out big money now for the bridge repairs, its officials will be looking to recoup that payment—at the expense of road repairs elsewhere in town—the next time they sit down at the bargaining table to extend that agreement.

Congressman Bishop Seeks Medal of Honor for Haerter

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Heller_Haerter Medal of Honor Submission Ceremony @ American Legion 3-16-14_4129_LR

Christian Haerter, father of fallen soldier Jordan Haerter, speaks as New York State Congressman Tim Bishop Congressman, joined by New York State Assemblyman Fed Thiele and JoAnn Lynes, mother of Marine Jordan Haerter, announced a bill to advance the Medal of Honor for Sag Harbor’s Lcpl Jordan Haerter and to Cpl Jonathan Yale during a ceremony held at the Sag Harbor American Legion on Sunday. 

By Stephen J. Kotz; photography by Michael Heller

It started last year as a grassroots effort to have Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter and his fellow marine, Corporal Jonathan Yale, posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal Honor for their heroism in Iraq in 2008.

But it received a significant boost when U.S. Representative Tim Bishop, speaking at the Sag Harbor American Legion on Sunday, announced that last week he had co-sponsored legislation with Congressman Robert Hurt of Virginia, who represents the Yale family, seeking a presidential review to determine whether two marines should receive the medal, the nation’s highest military honor.

“We are offering this legislation so that Jordan and Jonathan receive every single consideration for the highest award to which they are entitled,” Mr. Bishop told the gathering made of Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars members, scouts and other friends and supporters Lance Cpl. Haerter and his family.

Mr. Bishop’s bill will be sent to the House Armed Services Committee, which has the option of sending it on to the Pentagon. If it passes that stage it will be forwarded to President Barack Obama.

Mr. Bishop was joined at the podium by Mr. Haerter’s parent, Christian Haerter and JoAnn Lyles, Assemblyman Fred. W. Thiele Jr. and Marty Knab, the Legion’s commander.

“These were outstanding young men who died in the service of their country, but first and foremost they were beloved sons,” Mr. Bishop said.

“In Sag Harbor we all know in our hearts he has already won the Medal of Honor,” Mr. Thiele said. “Now we have to convince the powers that be.”

“Time has gone by, but it is important that people haven’t forgotten your son and what he did for his country,” Mr. Thiele continued, “and how proud we are that he is a son of Sag Harbor.”

“It’s hard for me to believe that is coming up on six years that Jordan lost his life,” said Mr. Haerter. “I want to thank all the members of the community of Sag Harbor as a whole for their continuing support from the day he was killed until today.”

Mr. Haerter said he did not know if the review would result in his son and Cpl. Yale receiving the Medal of Honor. “We just feel that it will give Jordan and Jonathan a chance at a review.”

Congressman Bishop also said he did not know what the odds were. “I’m confident it will get careful consideration,” he said, “but I think the likelihood of success is modest.”

Phil Como, representing Sea Cliff American Legion Post #456 and VFW Post #347, who has been involved in the effort to get the two marines the medal, said in his mind they were deserving.

“In six seconds, they made a decision that their lives had to be sacrificed to save 50 other marines and Iraqi staff,” he said. “I feel there is a moral imperative here.”

“The surviving marines, to a man, will tell you that they are going to live the rest of their lives with children, grandchildren, graduations, Christmases and weddings” because of their heroism.

Lance Cpl. Haerter and Cpl. Yale were killed on April 22, 2008, shortly after they went on guard duty at a joint security station in Ramadi, Iraq, when a suicide bomber, driving a truck laden with 2,000 pounds of explosives, tried to drive through the concrete barriers separating the station from the street. The marines returned fire, stopping the truck, but died when the vehicle exploded.

Last year, an anonymous Virginia resident started a petition on the White House website seeking the Medal of Honor for the two marines. That effort has since been replaced by one on the change.org website that has collected 39,000 signatures, Mr. Haerter said.

Local Winemakers to Share that Delicious Creativity

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Event photo courtesy of Parrish Art Museum.

Event photo courtesy of Parrish Art Museum.

By Tessa Raebeck

Coming off one of the best vintage years Long Island wine has ever seen, three of the region’s leading winemakers will share what inspires them – and allow others to taste that inspiration.

On Friday, the Parrish Art Museum presents “How Do You Bottle Creativity?” a winetasting and interactive conversation with Barbara Shinn, owner/viticulturist at Shinn Estate Vineyards in Mattituck, Kareem Massoud, winemaker at Paumanok Vineyards in Jamesport, and Christopher Tracy, winemaker/partner at Channing Daughters in Bridgehampton.

Long Island’s moderate maritime climate, long growing season, concentration of small growers and proximity to the giant wine market of New York City have enabled the farmers in pursuit of their primary goal: making delicious wine. Long overlooked by connoisseurs and locals alike, Long Island wine is proving itself in tasting tests and on restaurant menus; three of the last four years have seen exceptional vintages across the island.

“It was really a beautiful year and we’re seeing that right now in the barrel,” said Ms. Shinn of the 2013 vintage, which many local winemakers heralded as the best they’ve seen.

“I think the adjective ‘epic’ really applies here,” agreed Mr. Massoud. “It was a truly epic vintage here, it was amazing. I already bottled six wines from 2013 and they’re all delicious. They’re all some of the best we’ve made.”

“Both the science and the hedonistic sides line up in a region like ours to allow for great diversity of varieties and styles of wine, which is somewhat unusual in North America,” explained Mr. Tracy.

Mr. Tracy came to Channing Daughters from a family “that drank wine and food and traveled and exposed me to those things,” and eventually purchased a California vineyard. Having attended school for performing arts and philosophy, he changed direction after exploring the Long Island wine region in the mid-‘90s, returning to wine via “life’s crazy circuitous route.”

A background in art and philosophy may not seem relevant to winemaking, but Mr. Tracy’s love for creativity and appreciation of beauty have enhanced his craft.

“The two things are deliciousness and reflection of our place,” he said of his priorities. “It’s important that we make things that are delicious that people want to drink and enjoy and excite them and their senses. And that it reflects the climate, terra, the place, the culture where we’re growing our grapes and making wine.”

“If we can provide that something that’s actually delicious and actually tells the story of the little piece of land where we exist and where we grow grapes and make wine, that’s pretty awesome,” he added.

The island’s first second generation winemaker, Mr. Massoud learned the trade from his parents, Ursula and Charles, who founded Paumanok Vineyards in 1983 and still own and operate it today. Named after the Native American name for Long Island, Paumanok Vineyards is “very much a family affair,” Mr. Massoud said, with his brothers Nabeel and Salim also working at the vineyard.

“My orientation as a winemaker, in terms of what inspires me, is not unlike what a chef probably experiences in a restaurant – and that is to just produce the most delicious wine that I can, it’s pretty much that simple,” he said. “It’s always about making the best wine and what does that mean? It means the most delicious.”

His inspiration also stems from the excitement of being a winemaker on Long Island these days, when recognition is rising for the region’s wines.

“Honestly, the quality of the wines in many cases has been there for quite some time already, but more and more people, I think, are beginning to sort of catch on to the reality that world-class wines are being made right in their backyard,” he said.

“We fancy ourselves artists as winemakers,” he added. “We basically have, on Long Island, a very broad palette of colors to choose from…It’s a lot of fun to be able to do all these different varieties and different styles and pair them with the local produce that the East End is so rich with.”

Having earned a master’s degree in fine art, Ms. Shinn also views her craft as an extension of her art, farming using holistic practices and keeping the farm “in tune with the subtleness of nature.”

“When David [Page] and I moved to New York City,” she said of her partner and co-owner at Shinn Estate Vineyards, “I was beginning to question making art and hanging it on a wall. When we brought this land and were deciding to plant a vineyard, I was so inspired by these 20 acres of land that had not been planted in vines yet. And the moment the first vine went into the ground, I was so inspired and this huge creative rush has just stayed with me ever since.”

“Quite frankly,” she added, “my art is now off the wall…it’s in the vineyard and it’s in every bottle of wine that we produce. It’s just incredibly inspiring to me.”

Hosted by the Parrish Business Circle and co-presented with Edible East End and Long Island Wine Council, “How Do You Bottle Creativity?” is Friday, March 21 at 6 p.m. at the Parrish Art Museum, 279 Montauk Highway in Water Mill. $20 for members and $25 for non-members, tickets include a one-year subscription to the Edible title of your choice. Space is limited. To make reservations, call 283-2118 or visit parrishart.org.

Sag Harbor’s Modern Day Rum Runners

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Mike McQuade and Jason Laan with their Sag Harbor Rum, photographed at Murf's Tavern in Sag Harbor on Saturday.

Mike McQuade and Jason Laan with their Sag Harbor Rum, photographed at Murf’s Tavern in Sag Harbor on Saturday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Annette Hinkle; Michael Heller photography

Since its heyday as a 19th century whaling port, Sag Harbor has built a reputation as a hard-working town with a penchant for spirits — in more ways than one.

So perhaps it was inevitable in this day of micro-brews and locally sourced food stuffs that someone would produce a drink that evokes the flavor of yesterday.

Business partners Jason Cyril Laan and Michael McQuade are doing just that with Sag Harbor Rum, a decidedly 21st century twist on that most sea-faring of beverages.

The inaugural batch of Sag Harbor Rum is about six weeks from release and is now aging in old bourbon barrels, having been infused with exotic spices and fruits like ginger, black cherry, vanilla, pineapple and a touch of walnut and coffee.

Expect Sag Harbor Rum to hit the shelves of local liquor stores, bars and restaurants sometime in mid-May. A 750 ml bottle is expected to retail for $37 and a total of 6,000 bottles are being produced in this first batch of rum.

For Mr. Laan, it’s about time.

“I’ve been a life-long rum drinker and part of the Sag Harbor sailing community and I felt Sag Harbor was missing its own rum,” says Mr. Laan. “Mike and I worked at Murph’s together last summer and we wanted to do a liquor evoking the spirit of Sag Harbor with its whaling tradition — it’s perfect for an amber rum.”

“We’re not in the liquor marketing business,” he adds. “We’re bartenders who felt the East End needed its own rum.”

“We’ve been coming up with the concepts and we thought about it for a while,” says Mr. McQuade.

Laan brings a fair amount of knowledge to the distilling process, having lived in Amsterdam for six years where he ran a bar with a friend and produced a private label vodka. For Sag Harbor Rum, he and Mr. McQuade are partnering with Baiting Hollow-based Long Island Spirits and Rich Stabile, who brings 20 years of his own experience as a master distiller to the process.

While many big distillers want consistency of flavor in their spirits, Mr. Laan and Mr. McQuade are hoping for the exact opposite with Sag Harbor Rum.

“We’re doing batch numbers and we expect each to be slightly different and have its own profile,” explains Mr. Laan.

Of course, any sailor worth his sea-salt knows rum is made from sugar — not exactly a locally sourced crop. In the old days, seafarers provisioned rum when their ships called at ports in the Caribbean, storing it in whatever empty barrels were on hand. Over time, the rum naturally took on the flavor of the barrel along with whatever fruit or spices had previously been stored in it.

Mr. Laan and Mr. McQuade are using pretty much that same technique in producing Sag Harbor Rum.

“We’ve imported the rum from Trinidad,” explains Mr. Laan. “It’s distilled five times —which means you’re getting the purest rum. We import it at a large volume and put it in bourbon barrels to age here for about six months.”

Mr. Laan explains that initially, the rum doesn’t have much flavor when it arrives from Trinidad and only gains that with time.

“Most alcohols — including whisky or bourbon — get their color and flavor from the wood,” explains Mr. Laan who adds that botanicals such as spices, peppers and fruit are often added in the process. “We’re setting ourselves apart. Instead of traditional tropical flavors, we’re doing nuts, coffee and ginger.”

While there may come a day when Mr. Laan and Mr. McQuade will be able to infuse their rum with locally grown botanicals, for now, the pair are just excited about seeing their first batch of Sag Harbor Rum make it to market.

“We wanted a rum that was a great stand alone — a great sipping rum that mixes well with cocktails or tastes good on its own,” says Mr. Laan. “Because we’re doing small batches and because of the aging process, we wanted that hand-made artisanal feel, which is a bit of a trend right now.”

That feel extends to the hand-drawn label design on the bottle itself — which sports a whale, naturally.

“We’re going around doing pre-sales old school style — door to door, bar to bar — asking people if they’ll take a bottle or do a tasting at liquor stores,” says Mr. Laan. “It’s nice to see these micro industries — that’s what we want to fit into.”

“We don’t want to go outside the South Fork in the first year.”

To learn more about Sag Harbor Rum, visit sagharborrum.com or find them on Facebook.

Sag Harbor Rum Scuttlehole Special 

½ oz Vervino Vermouth – Channing Daughters Winery

2 oz Sag Harbor Rum

2 oz San Pellegrino Limonata

Splash of Bitters

The Montauk to Manhattan – a Rum Manhattan

2½ oz Sag Harbor Rum

½ oz Sweet Vermouth

2 Dashes Orange Bitters

Shake over ice and serve with a cherry of choice

 

Tom Gilroy (and Lili Taylor, too) on “The Cold Lands”

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ColdLandsGilroy

By Danny Peary/Photo of Tom Gilroy by Danny Peary; Photo of Lili Taylor by Brad Balfour

The Cold Lands fits my category Movies That Should Play in Sag Harbor.  Tom Gilroy’s (pictured, left) second feature, which he wrote and directed, opens Friday in New York at the IFC Center, and there is nothing else like it in the city.  In the film’s production notes Gilroy (who has acted in numerous films) says he admires “people who live ‘off the grid,” and that these people on the margins and off the map are “rarely shown clearly and concretely…I wanted to make a film that was a snapshot of America right now, and wrote it to take place in the town where I live in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York.  I looked around me and the story emerged from the places and some of the people I see all the time.”  Here’s the brief synopsis of Gilroy’s story in the production notes: “When his fiercely self-reliant mother [Nicole, played by Lili Taylor] dies unexpectedly, eleven-year-old Atticus [newcomer Silas Yelich] is wary of the authorities and flees deep into the forests of his Catskills home.  His sheltered off-the-grid childhood is over, and a new life on the move has begun.  As Atticus wanders the woods in a daze, relying on whatever food and shelter he can find, the line between reality and fantasy begins to blur. [He has conversations with his dead mother, he pets a white deer.]  When he encounters Carter [Peter Scanavino], a scruffy, pot-smoking drifter who lives out of his car and sells necklaces [he makes himself] at music festivals, Atticus latches on.  The two form a wary alliance, and their dependence upon each other grows, neither is quite sure he is making the right decision [to stay together].”  On Monday in Manhattan, I had this conversation with Gilroy about his movie.  Following it is a very brief conversation I had with Lili Taylor, one of my favorites.

Danny Peary: I read that in the production notes that you and Lili Taylor have known each other a long time.

Tom Gilroy: Lili, Michael Imperioli, and I formed a theater company together in New York City about twenty years ago.  There were many actors from that company who are in The Cold Lands–John Ventimiglia, Nick Sandow, Andrew van Dusen, and Maggie Low.  I guess the last thing we did was Hamlet in 2000. Lili played Ophelia, Jared Harris played Hamlet, and his dad, Richard Harris, played the ghost.  Before and after, for a year, we did Hamlet, I was making my first film, Spring Forward, and since then I have been content to do only film work.

DP: It’s been a long time between features.

TG: Not for the lack of trying. Paul Mezey, who produced The Cold Lands [with Andrew Goldman] and Maria Full of Grace and Beasts of the Southern Wild, and I were trying to get a movie going on a daily basis after Spring Forward. I wrote several scripts and they were sent to various places and optioned and set-up to begin shooting, only to fall apart.

DP: But you got this one made. How long did this take?

TG: I started working on this one almost a year before we shot it.

DP: Did you know the title while you were writing the script, or did the material dictate that you call it The Cold Lands?

TG:  I was already writing it. Originally I was going to call it something like Run Away Split, a beekeeping term.  Lili and I live within half an hour of each other in upstate New York, and right before you turn off to her exit, there’s a rest stop. It’s just a place where you can pee in the woods, make a phone call, and stretch your legs. There’s a blue sign there that you can see in the film following the end credits. It’s one of these signs you see all over New York and the Northeast; it’s yellow and blue and states the historical information about the region. And what it explains is that this area was called “The Cold Lands” in the 1600s.  If you lived in the city, you referred to upstate as “The Cold Lands,” and often it was considered a place where people would disappear. If you got into some trouble down here–maybe you got somebody pregnant or the police was looking for you–your family would say, “Oh, he’s gone up to “The Cold Lands.’”

DP: I think your story could have been set in the 17th Century before there was colonization, or the 1800s and it could have been a Western, with Atticus and Carter riding horses on trails through the woods rather than riding in a car on paved roads.

TG: That’s part of what we were trying to get at.  We wanted it to be contemporary, but also be contextualized so it could have taken place 100 or 200 years ago.  A log cabin without electricity could be in any century. The drifter who makes necklaces could just as easily have been a tinker. That was all deliberate, because I wanted to dig a little into the on-going American mythology of pioneers. That’s why in the opening scene Nicole teaches her son Atticus about the Anti-Rent War that took place up there in the 1700s.

DP: Do people know about it there?

TG: In my time they do. All over Rensselaerville, where I shot the movie, there are signs that say this battle took place there. Nicole takes her kid to the actual place.

DP: Are you from there?

TG: I grew up in Richfield, Connecticut, which is where I shot Spring Forward, but I live in Brooklyn and been living in Rensselaerville.

DP: In the movie, we hear that the missing Atticus is from Richfield.  Did you mean Richfield Springs, New York?

TG: Actually it takes place in Rensselaerville but I called it Richfield in the movie, like the town in Connecticut.  I don’t even know why.

DP: You talk about this film being meditative and transcendental. I’m sure that’s what you wanted because much of it is set in the woods, and Atticus communes with nature. No doubt that was important to you when making this film.

TG: Not only important to me but important to American culture. If you look at the transcendentalists like Thoreau, Walden, Emerson, and the Hudson Valley painters, there’s a culture very rich in nature and spiritualism in the Northeast. I really wanted this film to resonate with American themes. And from a filmmaking standpoint–as films become more and more digitally shot, or everything is handheld and looks like it was made in two days–I wanted to film something that looked a little slower, a little more meditative, and a little more like art.

DP: With the illusions Atticus has of his dead mother and other unusual images in the woods, are you using alienation techniques so viewers will say, “This isn’t real, it’s a movie!” or do you want us to see it as real?

TG: It’s supposed to be real, but real can look like a Judd Apatow movie, too. This is real the way that I see the world, and because the kid’s a dreamy kid, there’s a dreamy aspect to it.  This was all consciously done on my part.  It’s certainly real in that much of what we see is happening and what Atticus sees he believes is real.  I don’t know if he actually sees a white deer, but he believes he does. It’s all deliberately presented in a way that allows you to project what you want onto it.

DP: Do you relate to this boy? Is this boy somebody you could have been under similar circumstances?

TG: I think in many ways, a lot of men could have been this boy. Part of this story is a young boy trying to figure out who he is and where he fits in. On a larger scale, I was interested in seeing the boy as a metaphor for the United States. We have come from this pioneer history, and if you look at what’s going on in the United States, in a lot of ways it seems to be dissolving.  States want to secede from the Union, people don’t want to pay taxes, we don’t want to have public schools, we don’t want to have unemployment, we don’t want to have social services…So who’s going to walk through all the rubble after it collapses? It’s going to be a young boy or a young girl, and that person is America. Make your own decision about what you want to happen to them while they walk through the rubble, but in general, that’s what the movie deals with metaphorically.

DP: I know you admire Nicole because she has such good intentions and does teach Atticus about the world, her good values, and how to be self-reliant, but is she 100% a good mother?

TG: Is there such a thing as 100% a good mother?  That’s the real question. I’m certainly not interested in presenting her or anyone else as an ideal.

DP: Is Atticus prepared for the world without her? Or, if she didn’t die, would he have had a good upbringing through his teenage years?

TG: Either. He was having a good upbringing and that would have continued.  On his own, he’s a creative, trusting, intuitive, industrious, self-reliant, smart child. And that’s a lot more than you can say about a lot of kids, you know? One thing’s for sure–he’s not going to spend three hours a day watching VH1. Instead, he’s going to be swimming or imagining or building beehives, or learning how to make necklaces, and all that’s pretty damn good.

DP: I thought it was important that you have him go to a party, because otherwise we’d think he was lonely and completely isolated because of his upbringing.

TG: Oh, absolutely, it’s also why I have him play the trombone.  He’s in the town orchestra.  His mother also mentions that he goes swimming at the lake in the summer, which is what a lot of the kids do in my town.  That’s where kids who are home-schooled meet the kids who attend school, and all the kids get to know each other as they swim and dive and play and hang out.

DP: If Nicole had money and could afford lights all the time, would they still have what she calls “Pioneer Night?” Or is she just trying to make a good thing out of a bad thing?

TG: It’s both. She’s definitely, like all mothers, trying really hard to making the most out of their circumstances.  When we used to go on road trips, my mother would create games for us, like counting how many red or blue or white cars go by. Those games were fun and didn’t cost a penny.  Nicole’s clearly a smart woman who she chooses that they live the way they do. It’s not I’m poor, I have to live this way. She has taken a very extreme stance about how she wants to live in a modern society. People may disagree with the organic food or the lack of electricity, but underneath all that is the idea that she stands for something really important with which to imbue her child.

DP: They receive food from Maggie [Maggie Low], the social worker and church lady. Including meatloaf.  I was surprised they eat meat.

TG: They don’t. Well, he can eat meat if he wants.  Actually, now that I think about it, Nicole does eat meat, too.  That was Lili’s decision. She didn’t think we should make it hippy-dippy because plenty of people up there will eat any food that you give them, and why not meat? It’s like in Beasts of the Southern Wild–we’re all meat. She definitely believes that. And that meatloaf was free.

DP: From what we see of Maggie, I’d think she could be overbearing but she is a nice person. So why is Nicole so defiant around her?

TG: Nicole’s problem with Maggie is that she’s terrified that she is going to take away Atticus because of the way they live.

DP: Even if Nicole’s still alive?

TG: Yep. Nicole is a person who lives off-the-grid and home-schools her kid, and is very suspicious of consumer culture and mainstream culture.  Then there’s this other woman, a  wonderful woman who works for the Health Department—whose part was much larger in the original script—who has concerns about Nicole.  She reads Maggie as being an interference and a threat. She could show up at the house and say, “This is an unfit home and I’m taking the child.” That would terrify a lot of people.  She wants to raise her kid with her own values.

DP: I wasn’t sure if Nicole realizes that she might die at any minute from her diabetes.

TG: I think she knows that she’s ill but doesn’t imagine that happening. What typically happens when women of that age have diabetes is they have two heart attacks. They have heart disease, which often is not detected until they have a small heart attack. Even then they might confuse it with mismanagement of their sugar intake.  Nicole doesn’t have healthcare so can’t seek medical advice. The second heart attack kills her.

DP: Was there a father figure in the past?

TG: No.  He’s not around, and I didn’t want a father that to be an element of the story. I wanted there to be many ways one can read into it, including how Nicole ended up alone with the boy. He’s clearly her biological kid, but I don’t really think her biological father is germane to the story.  What matters is that she’s independent and the kid has nobody but her.

DP: I think it is germane that there is no father figure because when Carter appears, Atticus gravitates toward him so easily.  I’m sure he sees Carter as a father figure or a older-brother figure.

TG: Right, but I don’t think any of that has any bearing on who the actual father was. It’s the absence of the father that’s key to Atticus’s seeking out and feeling natural with Carter.  He’s hungry for a natural kind of bond.

DP: The illusion of Nicole disappears at the exact moment that Carter appears. Is that intentional?

TG: Yes, she’s supplanted by Carter.

DP: And she has a smile, right?

TG: Yeah. Well, she’s accepting. She realizes that she’s going away at a time her kid keeps rebelling so this is her last chance to get it right. When she sees Carter, she is thinking I have to go away, I’ve done my job and I have to resign myself to letting this happen. On the heels of that, Atticus meets Carter.

DP: You could have made Carter a female and a new mother or older-sister figure, but it’s important the new character is a man, right?

TG: Yeah. It was just intuitive to make Carter a male and a little bit more of an outlaw. It never would have dawned on me to make him a female.

DP: It is, I think, instinctive on your part.  There has been an absence of a male figure in Atticus’s life so you want to see how he interacts with a male.

TG: Carter came out of my love for The Hardy Boys and books like that. A young boy sees a guy like Carter and he seems like such a cool ideal.  Atticus thinks, “Wow, this guy’s got all the freedom you could possibly want.”  Of course, that’s not true and because Atticus showed up he’s going to relinquish that freedom he does have to take on the new responsibility.  You’ve got this adult guy saying, “I’ve got to give up my freedom to take care of this kid,” and the kid thinking, “This guy’s really free so I’m going to hang out with him.”

DP: Is Carter good for Atticus, and is Atticus good for Carter?

TG: Outside of any kind of consideration of the law, they are good for each other.

DP: Well, the law would probably assume that Carter’s not taking care of an underage boy but abducting him.

TG: Right.  Spiritually, Atticus is absolutely a great thing for Carter.  As for what Carter is to Atticus, as the writer I deliberately set up their relationship to reveal the biases of the person watching the movie. I personally think Carter is awesome. I have a couple of nephews, young men in my life, and I try to be their Carter, in some ways.  From some strict moralistic or ethical mainstream perspective, Carter’s a disaster. He smokes pot, curses all the time, lives out of his car, lives hand-to-mouth. And now he is a fugitive because he has this boy in his car.  If you are upset by all these things, what do you suggest Carter do?  Should he turn Atticus into a crumbling social system?  Or should we be optimistic and–this is coming out of an American tradition of rebelliousness–believe that the kismet of these two people meeting is actually a positive thing?  My dad believes the former should be done, I believe the latter.

DP: The real great part is, of course, that Carter’s gay.

TG: I’m making a point for sure.  The gender identification of either adult, Nicole and Carter, is open to interpretation. If you notice, Carter’s very flirtatious to the woman that buys the necklace from him.

DP: But that’s his way of selling a necklace. He’s a sweet guy.  He forgets her and goes swimming naked with guys right after that.

TG: The nudity aspect has more to do with his just being a wild man. But I’m fine with people reading that he’s gay, that doesn’t make any difference to me.

DP: Well, I think it’s very important. I think it’s brave that you put thirteen-year-old Atticus sleeping next to the naked Carter and there’s nothing to worry about. Some conservative viewers would expect sexual molestation to take place every time.

TG: Right.  The kid has no choice but to sleep next to him. Once that evening transpires and nothing has happened, there’s a real bond there. It was a real test, and nothing happened. Then of course you see Carter twelve hours later and he’s nude with these other guys and taking Ecstasy and you go, “Oh, he’s kind of a nudist.”

DP: Well, I didn’t think that. I thought he was just gay and I thought that was a great thing because you’re making the point gay men can be trusted around boys.

TG: Thanks. That’s all deliberate. Peter Scanavino has a really great, non-threatening, non-traditional masculinity. He really nailed the character. He’s attractive to men and women.  I have gay and straight friends who’ve seen the movie and just go, “Wow, this guy’s a babe.” He’s not macho or aggressive, yet he’s very masculine, and obviously smart and creative. All that was really important to me.

DP: Could you see Liev Schreiber’s ex-con in Spring Forward going off with Atticus?

TG: I think that character would be a little bit more wary of his influence on a boy. He is so insecure.  He might think he isn’t equipped to help Atticus and try to find someone else to help him.  Carter makes the decision to help.  When he’s in the laundromat and looking at Atticus, he just goes, “Okay, I’ll do it.”  It’s deliberately ambivalent at that point, you don’t know what he’s really thinking, but for me, he makes a firm decision, thinking “I gotta do this.  I can’t continue to be completely wild. Fate has dropped this kid into my lap and I’ve got to deal with it. Whether it’s a stray dog or an orphan kid, I’ve got to do it.”

SPOILER ALERT

DP: We’re watching the movie and we’re waiting for the kid to break down and weep.

TG: He does a little bit at the very end.

DP: But that’s the first time he’s really laughing…

TG: It comes out of crying.  He trusted Carter and he thinks Carter left him behind.  When Carter returns he stops crying and laughs.

DP: But what about not crying after his mother’s death?

TG: Well, I talked to several people who lost their parents as young kids, including my girlfriend who lost her mom when she was five, and none of them cried. They cried when there were adults and thought back about it.  At the time, they thought about what they should do but they didn’t really know what the deaths meant. How do you define what forever is to a 12-year-old?  It’s just something that happens to Atticus and then he’s thinking about surviving and then he’s thinking that he wants to be with Carter.  When he thinks Carter leaves him and he believes all his doubts about Carter were true, he cries. Then Carter comes back and makes him laugh.  “Yeah, I am a dick.”

DP: That’s brotherly.

TG: Of course.

DP: Talk about the ending.  Roads are always metaphors in movies.  It’s either open-ended and anything can happen or a dead end is on the other side of the hill.

TG: First of all, the road movie is a traditional American genre. All good endings are really just the beginning of the next part of the story.

DP: I’m waiting for the police in the next part of the story.

TG: The police are part of it.

DP: Carter’s decision could to get them both into a lot of trouble…or not.

TG: There have been plenty of bad cases, where somebody abducts a boy for 30 years.  But I think this is a pretty good circumstance. Carter’s going to have to send the kid to school, lie about a birth certificate and a lot more, and pretend he’s the father. There’s not certain disaster right around the corner, at least in my way of looking at it. I’m certain Rush Limbaugh could watch it and say this is a disaster!  He’d think it’s going to be like that ad they had going around on the Internet that shows if you skip school you’re going to step on a land mine on a beach and blow up. But I see this as a positive, spiritual coming together, like Huck and Jim or Kerouac and Moriarty.

END SPOILER ALERT

DP: In terms of writing, you seem to like two-character scenes.

TG: I don’t know why other than my training was in theater, and that tends to have two-person scenes most of the time.  They’re the easiest form of conflict. Spring Forward had two people in every scene, and there would be the intrusion of a third character. That’s just instinct I guess on my part. My next movie will be about a group of women, so there will be lots of scenes with multiple characters.

DP: Talk about Silas Yelich. When you go into acting like he did, you expect a lot of talking, but Atticus is a quiet kid.

TG: Silas is my neighbor. For a year before we made the movie, he came to my house every two weeks for a couple of hours, and we would do acting exercises and improv.  I taught him how to cheat for the camera, what makes a scene work, what conflict is, what an objective is, all of that. So by the end of the year, he became a very instructive, creative actor.  He knew his lines, but he was also aware that if somebody changed a line you didn’t have to stop but could work around it.  He was 11 or 12 when he did the movie, now he’s 13 or 14. He has grown a foot and is very handsome and athletic, and is an Abercrombie and Fitch model. He doesn’t look at all like the kid in the movie, but I really wanted to capture that awkward moment between childhood and adolescence, where you’re neither/nor, and it’s a very formative time for young people. I wanted to capture two weeks of that in somebody’s life, and I found this boy and his family was willing to let me do that.

DP: Lili Taylor accepted the role halfway into your first sentence describing the character of Nicole. She did it out of friendship, but why did you know she was right for the part? Is she just right for anything?

TG: Right now, Lili and Nicole are inseparable to me.  Lili did so much to create that character.  Spring Forward was not one second of improv, everything was written down, every shot, every move. This movie has a much more organic feel to me. I was telling Lili about the story, and she says, “Okay, that’s me.” I’m thinking, “Okay. Why not have Nicole be Lili?”

DP: And what did she bring?

TG: Well, she brought an incredible understanding of parenting. She is a parent. And Lili lives up there in that part of the world, and she’s very self-reliant, really into nature, really into birds.

DP: Did Silas and Lili connect?

TG: Yeah, like I said, I worked with him for a year so he knew who Lili was. I don’t think he ever saw one of her movies, but Lili came up to my house and they just hung out for an afternoon, got ice cream. Lili then went to his house with him and I stayed home. He lives on a small farm, so he introduced her to his sheep, ducks, rooster, chickens, and his cat.  And that was Lili’s way in with him. It wasn’t let’s discuss the movie, at all.  He knew what she was doing and she obviously knew what she was doing, so they just kind of spent the afternoon as she did it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A Quick Chat with Lili Taylor

Danny Peary: Atticus is showing signs that he’s about to enter his rebellious years, just as Nicole dies.  Do you think she was good mother and that she and her son would have an easy time together if she didn’t die?

Lili Taylor (pictured, left): It’s easy to judge a parent and be critical.  I think she’s a “good enough” mother to Atticus.  Kids change, rebellious or not, but at the end of the day I think they would get past the rough times.  They would manage.

DP: If they had money enough for electricity, do you think she’d have a “Pioneer Night” in which they make due without lights?

LT: I think she’d want to do it anyway.  I think it’s important to her because it’s a way to teach him her values.  She feels grateful for what they do have and wants him to feel the same.

DP: When Nicole is working as a cleaning lady in an office building, she looks at herself in the mirror.  Is she thinking she might die and is worrying about what would happen to Atticus?

LT: I’m not sure she’s thinking she’ll die, but maybe she is.  She is thinking that she doesn’t feel well and that makes her worry about her son. She’s not going to get better because she rejects modern medicine.  If she trusted modern medicine I think she’d still be around. It could have saved her.

DP: The last time we see her she’s dead and is now an illusion of Atticus’s.  She smiles and disappears just as Carter appears and takes his place in her son’s life.  Did she smile because she knew Atticus would be in good hands or because she was proud of him for being able to survive in the woods after all she has taught him?

LT: I think she smiles because she’s proud of him.   I don’t think she’s sure about Carter. She has such strong feelings for her son and wants him to get along with Carter.  Of course, remember that she is Atticus’s illusion and he is modifying what she says and her expressions so that he can believe he gets her approval to go off with Carter.

DP: You are on a hot streak with the smash hit The Conjuring and a sequel in the works, the TV show Almost Human, a new play, and Blood Ties soon to be released.  How does The Cold Lands fit into all that you’re doing?

LT: I think it’s a beautiful, brave movie.  I’m glad Tony wanted me to do it because I love working with those filmmakers who have strong visions.

 

Supervisors Talk Budget Constraints, Sharing Services & Deer at League of Women Voters Forum

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East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell and Southampton Town Supervisor at a League of Women Voters-sponsored forum Monday night at the Hampton Library in Bridgehampton. 

By Mara Certic

Newly-elected East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell joined re-elected Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst at a League of Women Voters forum at the Hampton Library in Bridgehampton on Monday to discuss plans to improve quality of life through cooperation and consolidation across town boundaries.

Being a supervisor is “about balancing the needs of the community with balancing the need for environmental protection, with a need for economic development and local jobs,”  said Mr.Cantwell, “and finding that balance is really what we do almost every day.”

The supervisors discussed how improving water quality, affordable housing, sustainable energy, transportation and deer management within the constraints of their budgets would meet the towns’ needs. In order to do that, both supervisors said sharing services was critical in order to fall below a New York State-mandated 2-percent property tax levy cap.

Ms. Throne-Holst discussed potential benefits of a centralized information technology core that would allow for information-sharing between towns and villages and would expedite permit approval processes.

“East Hampton has been involved in consolidating some services and facilities between the town and the village,” said Mr. Cantwell, referring to a $400,000 government grant to build a new joint-fuel facility. “Over time we’re going to save millions of dollars because instead of building three, we’re going to build one, and that’s the whole point of the consolidation process.”

He added, however, that he is “not a big fan” of the 2-percent tax cap.

“In communities that are growing,” he explained, “you’re increasing your tax base and therefore increasing the amount of property tax collected. If you’re in a growth community and more services are required, you can’t take advantage of that increase in growth of the tax base because there is a 2-percent tax cap, not on the rate, but on the amount that you can raise taxes.”

Mr. Cantwell said the budget restrictions will force the towns to become more cost-effective, but also help them find other sources of income to balance the budget and fund the needs of the community. An example is East Hampton Town’s planned participation in three energy proposals through PSEG, which, if approved, would produce renewable energy in East Hampton by leasing appropriate town-owned sites to solar contractors. The contractors, in turn, would build solar arrays that would feed into the electric grid. The revenues from those arrays would be shared by the contractor and the town, and would help supply an already overburdened electric grid.

“There’s a potential here to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars of additional revenue for the town and to contribute to the energy needs of the South Fork and to do it in a sustainable way,” said Mr. Cantwell.

While stating that the assessment system in East Hampton Town is “broken and should be fixed,” Mr. Cantwell does not envision the town spending the required $3 to $5 million for reassessment in the near future.

“The system is archaic and creates a lot of inequities, but how those balance out is in the detail,” he said.  In Springs, for example, reassessment would not necessarily shift away the tax burden to another area, he explained.

“The assessed value base of the Springs School District is still going to be the same,” he said. “The truth of the matter is, the tax dollars are in your school taxes.”

Ms. Throne-Holst was asked to comment on the recent lawsuits that challenged the financial practices of the Southampton Town Trustees.

“Lawsuits questioned how they spend their money and questioned whose jurisdiction some pieces of land belonged under,” she said. “I, 100 percent, if not more, support the trustees.”

“I did not bring those lawsuits,” added Ms. Throne-Holst. “I have supported them in fighting those lawsuits and will continue to do that.”

Ms. Throne-Holst explained that although trustees have complied with the judge’s orders to  hand over their books to the board, there is a system in place for that allows them to retain autonomy over their finances while they put together their appeal.

On the subject of water quality, Ms. Throne-Holst stated that all local industry relies on ground and surface water, but that nitrogen and pathogen pollution have degraded water quality to a critical level.

Although there are retrofitting systems and technologies available today to mitigate this situation, she said, the price tag of $15,000 to $30,000 per household makes them cost-prohibitive.

“The idea that each and every homeowner would be able to cough that money up is not realistic,” said Ms. Throne-Holst.

Ms. Throne-Holst has created a proposal already presented to Governor Cuomo, where the state would work with the county, county health department, SUNY Stony Brook and other organizations to tackle water degradation problems cooperatively. The first phase of her proposal involves a feasibility study in which every waterway in the region is mapped in order to understand more fully their levels of degradation. The second phase is to create a water technology hub on the East End.

“Think Silicon Valley for information technology, think Suffolk County for clean water technology,” she said. Ms. Throne-Holst suggested that this would be an opportunity to deal with this environmental crisis while creating economic development and jobs.

Ms. Throne-Holst lamented how “woefully inadequate” the town has been in terms of the availability and types of affordable housing, which she deems vital to Southampton so young professionals can afford to live here and provide necessary services. “We cannot attract school teachers out here, or retain our volunteer firefighters,” she said. She aims to design and put forward a master affordable housing plan to conquer this problem.

The supervisors were asked about the possibility of resurrecting plans for the Five Town Rural Transit Authority, which was intended to create a transit authority for the East End, a concept that has had support but failed to gain steam before largely folding in 2008 as an economic crisis bloomed. Although costly and difficult to execute due to local geography, Ms. Throne-Holst proclaims herself a “huge proponent of mass transit.” She said the creation of a new transit authority must be reconsidered as the economy continues to improve. “It’s the way of the future,” she said.

When asked about East Hampton’s new flexible deer management plan, Mr. Cantwell explained that it will expand the opportunity for local hunters to take deer while also exploring more humane methods such as immunocontraception and 4-Poster devices, deer feeding stations that apply a tickicide to the necks of feeding deer and are designed specifically to reduce the tick population.

Ms. Throne-Holst pointed out the many shortcomings of the Long Island Farm Bureau’s planned cull, explaining that a wider, more scientific and long-term approach would be more successful. She said she is working with the DEC and other agencies to create such a proposal.

“I think this is a perfect example of how we need to come together as a region”, she said. “Deer don’t know boundaries,” Supervisor Throne-Holst said. “I can put out a great plan in Southampton and they’ll all just run over to East Hampton.”

Struggling to Stay Below Tax Cap, Bridgehampton School District Asks for Community Input on Budget

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By Tessa Raebeck

The Bridgehampton School District held its third annual community conversation March 5, asking residents to voice their recommendations for savings and discuss the logistics of piercing the state-imposed tax cap on school budgets.

Superintendent/principal Dr. Lois Favre and school business administrator Robert Hauser have presented several variations of the proposed 2014-15 budget to the board of education. The tax cap limits the property taxes school districts can raise to 2-percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. This year is the rate of inflation is at 1.46-percent, according to Dr. Hauser. The district has the option of staying below the tax cap, or piercing it, however, in order to approve a budget above the tax cap it must secure a 60-percent vote in favor of the 2014-15 budget by district residents that cast ballots in the May 20 budget vote and trustee election. If the budget fails to earn that kind of support, the board can bring it back to residents for second budget vote. If it fails to earn approval then, the district must adopt a budget with a zero-percent increase.

“If voted down, we are in worse shape,” Dr. Favre said.

The district faces a catch 22; it needs to cut enough, but not too much, said Dr. Favre. If administrators go too low with cuts this year, they will struggle next year with a levy that can only go 2-percent above that.

The initial budget draft for 2014-2015 proposed $12,650,768 in spending, a 12.59-percent spending increase over 2013-2014 and well above the 2-percent tax levy increase. “We will continue to work to bring it closer into focus, as we do each year,” Dr. Favre said.

The administrators cut $316,100 from the initial draft by removing items like an updated outdoor sign, pre-K program for three-year-olds, a physical education teacher, and by reducing Common Core training (much of which is state-mandated). iPad acquisition and other items were also trimmed from the budget. After those cuts, the budget still has a 10-percent spending increase and is about $677,502 over the cap, with a 6.82-percent proposed tax levy increase.

Dr. Favre and Mr. Hauser outlined other ideas to consider, such as reducing stipends by half, cutting the remaining iPad acquisitions, removing the after school program, cutting a teaching assistant, reducing pay for substitute teachers, and cutting a day of the homework club, to name a few. Those additional cuts would save the district $277,500.

After substantial cuts to the initial budget, a “wish list” spending plan, the latest draft leaves the district at an 8-percent increase in spending, which is still about $400,000 over the cap at a 4.03-percent tax levy increase.

The district gave examples of the respective budgets and their annual cost to taxpayers. For a homeowner with an assessed value of $500,000, the 8-percent spending increase would cost $32.17 more than if the cap is not pierced. For the owner of a $1 million home, the difference between not piercing the cap and an 8-percent spending increase is $64.32.

“It’s a marginal cost to a family,” said Bonnie Gudelauski, a new parent in the district, “and families need to understand that we lose a lot more by not doing it.”

The next Bridgehampton Board of Education meeting will be held on March 26 at 7 p.m.

Grossman Named to Long Island Journalism Hall of Fame

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Karl Grossman, an investigative reporter who lives in Noyac, has been named to the inaugural class of inductees to the new Long Island Journalism Hall of Fame.

Mr. Grossman, who is also a professor of journalism in the Media and Communications program at SUNY College at Old Westbury, will be inducted into the hall of fame at the Press Club of Long Island’s media awards dinner on June 5 at the Woodbury Country Club. The Press Club of Long Island, the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, created the hall of fame to recognize trailblazing journalists, past and present.

Mr. Grossman joins 23 inductees, including Walt Whitman. Mr. Grossman earned an automatic induction  as a past winner of the Press Club of Long Island’s Outstanding Long Island Journalist Award.

Mr. Grossman has been a professor at Old Westbury, where he teaches investigative reporting, for nearly 35 years, and has specialized in reporting on issues related to the environment and nuclear technology. He is also the author of books including, “Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed To Know About Nuclear Power,” “Power Crazy,” and “The Wrong Stuff: The Space Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet.”

Mr. Grossman also hosts the television program, “Enviro Close-Up,” and has written and narrated television documentaries including “Three Mile Island Revisited,” “Nukes in Space,” and “The Push to Revive Nuclear Power.”

Mr. Grossman writes a column, Suffolk Close-Up, which appears in The Sag Harbor Express.