Tag Archive | "East End"

Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Will Get Some Paid Help

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By Stephen J. Kotz

The Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps will join the growing number of East End emergency providers whose ranks will be bolstered by part-time, on-call paramedics.

Despite the misgivings of Mayor Brian Gilbride, who said he feared a paid program represented the beginning of “the end of volunteerism as we know it,” the village board earmarked $110,000 for the program in next year’s budget.

The program will enable the ambulance corps, which currently has only 27 members, about half of whom are trained as EMTs, to hire on-call professionals who will be on duty at the ambulance headquarters 24 hours a day, seven days a week to bolster both response times and the quality of initial care.

The village board will hold a public hearing at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 8, at the Municipal Building on the proposed $8.58 million budget, which increases spending by just under 1 percent.

According to village Treasurer Eileen Tuohy, the budget will result in “a very minor change to last year’s tax rate of $2.792 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, but that village officials were still waiting for the Southampton Town Assessor’s office to provide it with this year’s total assessed valuation, so the tax rate can be set.

Separately, the board has set a sewer fund budget of $581,143 that will be collected in fees from those businesses and residences that are connected to the village sewer line. That’s $40,000 less than a year ago and that reduction is the result of a $40,000 cut in the line budgeted for sludge removal fees.

All told, from the time the budget was introduced on February 25 until a tentative budget was set on March 25, village officials cut some $360,000 in spending, although the only matter discussed at length at three work sessions was whether or not to phase in the paid first responder program or introduce it all at once.

“I get the ambulance squad’s concerns,” said Mayor Gilbride. “It would be easier to phase it in seven days a week from June through September.”

Mr. Gilbride said he was concerned with the reaction of residents in fire protection districts in North Haven, Noyac, Bay Point, and East Hampton, which are served by the Sag Harbor Fire Department and ambulance corps, if they saw budget hikes of 32 or 33 percent when the towns begin working on their own budgets in September. In addition, he said, phasing the program in, would allow the program to be analyzed for its effectiveness.

“I’m just trying to preempt this,” he said of any outcry, although he did say that village officials had had a productive meeting with their North Haven counterparts to discuss the cost increases and that he wanted to schedule similar meetings with residents of Noyac and Bay Point.

“For a $500,000 assessment, it’s less than 3 cents a day,” said ambulance corps vice president Deborah O’Brien. “I don’t think it’s fair to do it for the tourists and summer people and not do it for the year-round people.”

She added that as ambulance corps members grow older, more of them go south for part of the winter, leaving the corps shorthanded at what used to be the quiet time of the year.

“Every year, calls seem to be increasing,” said Trustee Ed Deyermond. “People don’t come here from Memorial Day to Labor Day anymore. They come full-time. Montauk did try to phase it in, and that backfired.”

Mr. Deyermond added that residents of the fire protection districts need to pay for the services they receive and pointed out that Noyac residents accounted for 43 percent of ambulance calls last year.

Other board members agreed they wanted the money included in the budget, with Trustee Robby Stein pointing out that the stretch from Thanksgiving to Christmas is also a busy time for the volunteers.

Although Mr. Gilbride said he still wanted to meet with Noyac residents “so it’s not going to be a shock to anyone,” he agreed to the proposal. “Once people sit down and they start to understand the training, the refresher training and the time people commit to being volunteers, they’ll understand.”

Mr. Deyermond also raised doubts about the wisdom of reducing the amount of money allocated for sludge removal from $80,000 to $40,000, given that the village has already spent more than $50,000 this year and has a number of new developments coming on line this year, including the Watchcase condominiums and Baron’s Cove resort.

Trustee Sandra Schroeder said the village was counting on a pilot program that will use a new type of bacteria to treat a portion of the village’s sewage to reduce the amount of sludge it generates.

Police Chief Thomas Fabiano also asked that $28,000 that was cut from the police budget be restored so a new patrol car could be purchased. “Two have over 85,000 miles and one is over 100,000,” he said. “The mechanic has been telling me I have to start rotating in a new car.”

But Mr. Gilbride said the cut was made to help keep the budget under the tax cap and refused to consider restoring it.

Cold Winter Takes its Toll on East End Wildlife

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Swans, Canada Geese and baby deer have been particularly affected by the cold weather this year, as snow cover has limited their food source. Photo by Michael Heller. 

By Mara Certic

Watching swans can be a serene, almost ethereal, experience. Tuesday morning, however, a group of wildlife rescue volunteers spent several hours wracking their brains to figure out how to save an immobile swan in Sag Harbor Cove, before eventually allowing nature to take its course.

Volunteer Jane Gill said she got to the causeway on Redwood Road next to WLNG just after 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning when she spotted two sluggish-looking swans huddling on the ice, about 100 feet away from the shore.

The cove was frozen in spots but the ice wasn’t particularly thick, and Ms. Gill said she knew it was too dangerous to walk out onto the ice and that she couldn’t retrieve the bird.  She called Sag Harbor Village Police, who would not help her get to the birds, she said, and told her not to try herself.

One of the two swans was not moving, the other seemed more alert, but wasn’t leaving its mate’s side. Swans, like black vultures, and some other animals, mate for life and are known to go into deep depressions when their partners die.

Eventually the more mobile swan made its way off the ice and swam under the causeway, where it looked for food under water.

After much time was spent trying to find a kayak or canoe, the zoom lens on a camera showed that the stationary swan’s head appeared to be frozen under the water. The would-be rescuers decided it was too late to save the animal and any effort would only put one of their lives in danger.

The Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center in Hampton Bays keeps a flat-bottomed boat at its facility in Hampton Bays for this sort of situation, according to the president of the center, James Hunter.

According to Mr. Hunter, this winter has taken a heavy toll on the animals of the East End, in particular waterfowl. The center has had 11 animals brought in this week so far, and 124 since January 1.

“It hasn’t been good,” he said on Wednesday morning. “Long snow coverage here has denied them food, and the first muscle that deteriorates in a Canada Goose, say, is the wing muscle.” He said the center currently has dozens of the birds at its facility. They give the birds some “r&r” he said, and fatten them up before releasing them back over the water.

Healthy swans can go a month without eating, Mr. Hunter said, which suggests that the swan  that perished in Sag Harbor Cove this week was likely already ill.

“It could have been old age,” Mr. Hunter said, “Swans do die.”

By Tuesday evening, the dead swan’s mate had swam back toward the dead bird and appeared to be settling in there for the night.

Environmentalists and Hunters Say Lower Waterfowl Count Shouldn’t Cause Concern

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Hundreds of American mallards taking flight on Mecox Bay on Monday. Photo by Mara Certic.

By Mara Certic 

Although the black duck and merganser populations were down, East End birders came out in record numbers last weekend to take part in the 60th annual winter waterfowl count.

On Saturday and Sunday, January 17 and 18, environmentalists and volunteers spent hours at ponds, beaches and coves, counting the number of ducks, swans and geese in local waters. Frank Quevedo, avian enthusiast and executive director of the South Fork Natural History Museum, organized the count from Montauk to the Shinnecock Canal.

“I was the regional compiler,” he said in an interview on Monday, “I had about 20 birders there, the most I’ve ever had. I think that’s a reflection of more and more people enjoying birding,” Mr. Quevedo said.

The information gathered in the waterfowl count is passed along to the New York State Ornithological Association, who publish the data and also share it with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which in turn uses it for long-term analysis of waterfowl populations wintering in the state.

Not all of the data were available by the time of this paper’s publication, but Mr. Quevedo said that 47 species in total were counted last weekend, and apart from a few variations, the figures seemed to be in keeping with annual trends.

He seemed particularly excited about a greater white-fronted goose spotted in Southampton. The large birds are usually only found west of the Mississippi River in this country.

“One other thing I noticed was that our merganser population was down this year,” Mr. Quevedo said.

Al Daniels, a lifelong hunter and conservationist, was responsible for counting all of the waterfowl in Sag Harbor. After tallying up the birds at Long Wharf, Long Beach, Otter Pond, Tides Beach and Sag Harbor Cove, Mr. Daniels also determined that the merganser numbers seemed low.

“But nobody hunts mergansers,” Mr. Daniels said of the birds, which are not considered “good eating,” as hunters say.

The waterfowl population on the East End is made up of migratory birds that travel down from parts north in the early winter to find food and water. According to local hunter Tanner Bertrand, these birds will only travel as far south as they need to get sufficient nutrition for the winter.

“They only go as far down as the water freezes,” he said, adding, “as long as they have water and food they stay put.”

The American black duck, which just last month was named one of the species of greatest conservation need in the state, was also not as populous east of the canal as it had been in previous years.

According to Mr. Bertrand, this is not immediately as concerning as it might seem. “The weather’s been so good this year, which has made the hunting season difficult. The birds are content where they are,” he said.

“We’re always affected here by the weather,” Mr. Daniels said on Tuesday.“[Waterfowl] season started in November, and for the first month puddle duck hunting was down,” he said.  He attributed that to the mild weather and noted that since last week’s cold snap, larger numbers of mallards and black ducks have been finding their way south to Long Island.

“A lot of local ponds were frozen, and that displaces a lot of birds in the area,” Mr. Quevedo said. “That was one reason why perhaps we didn’t get the numbers we usually do.” He added that his report to the New York State Ornithological Association includes weather conditions, which are taken into account when final statewide figures are tallied.

With all migratory animals, it is difficult to establish whether the dwindling populations are caused to some sort of dire conservation need, or simply part of a natural cycle. But those who have been hunting for years know that different species of birds change from year to year.

“When my father was growing up in the ’60s and ’70s, there were always broadbills and canvasbacks,” Mr. Bertrand said. “They always had them down in the Chesapeake, but they weren’t here for a while.”

“Then three or four years ago we started seeing them in Mill Pond and down in Mecox Creek. Now each year they’re coming up in thicker numbers,” he said.

Mr. Daniels said he too remembers the days when local hunters spent most of their time shooting “white birds.” He also recalls when hunting was more prevalent, before all local waterfronts were peppered with second homes.

“[Hunting] is sort of like keeping the [local] traditions going,” Mr. Daniels said. “It’s sad for the children born today won’t see what we had.”

“I still got to see the good stuff,” he said. “When I was young, we ate wild ducks every Monday for the whole year,” he reminisced.

Duck-hunting season ends on Sunday, January 26. The season for hunting geese will end on Wednesday, February 4.



Local Teacher Lectures on the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

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Jack Hill at Canio's with students


Jack Hill gave a lecture on the legacy of Dr. King at Canio’s Books on Saturday. Photo credit Kathryn Szoka.

By Mara Certic

Dozens of people squeezed into Canio’s Books on Saturday to hear not just about the many accomplishments and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but to understand his legacy and why his message remains relevant and important today.

Professor Jack C. Hill is a writer, educator and diversity advocate, and is currently  dean of World Languages and World Literatures at the Ross School.  Mr. Hill has begun doing research on Dr. King for a book he is working on, he said on Saturday.

His fascination with Dr. King began in childhood, he said, when his mother would recount stories of the great leader and orator who sought out to change unjust laws during the Civil Rights movement.

However, during his discussion with Sag Harbor residents and Ross Students taking him up on his offers of extra credit, Mr. Hill chose not to speak about what Dr. King accomplished, but how he accomplished it and why that is pertinent today.

“Dr. King held no political office, and yet he is still one of the most important Americans in history,” Mr. Hill said, comparing him to both Presidents Lincoln and Washington. “He is an embodiment of American democracy.”

Mr. Hill, whose writing has appeared in publications such as The Baltimore Sun, Afro American and The Chicago Defender, spoke at length about the power and strength of Dr. King’s rhetoric.

By intertwining biblical themes with African American tradition, “He forged his own identity, and used it to connect with people across racial and economic boundaries,” Mr. Hill said

“When Martin Luther King spoke, it was almost like he was singing. It pierced the soul of people of all colors; people were sort of enthralled with it,” he added.

“But we don’t talk about the fact that he had a lot of practice,” Mr. Hill said, referencing the years many Dr. King spent at Morehouse College, where he regularly preached to seas of fellow students.

It is important that we remember the uncomfortable details of Dr. King’s life, Mr. Hill said. It is important to recall that Dr. King wrote the words “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” while in a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama.

“Martin Luther King was a political prisoner. That’s one of those provocative things we don’t talk about. We don’t like to see this great American a prisoner. But he was jailed over 26 times,” Mr. Hill said.

“We would much rather see him on the podium talking about these American ideals. But in 1963, he was writing as a Birmingham prisoner. He saw himself as a political prisoner—and we have to talk about that,” he said.

The 50 to 60 threats a day against Dr. King’s wife and four children, also must not be forgotten, Mr. Hill said. Nor should the fact that Dr. King refused to seek revenge after his house was bombed. “That’s what I call focus, and a dedication to the movement,” he said.

Mr. Hill attributed much of Dr. King’s success to his singular ability to inspire a movement and raise the consciousness of a nation. According to Mr. Hill, movements such as Occupy Wall Street failed because there wasn’t one organized leader who carefully strategized, as Dr. King did.

“This is a question we’re dealing with in Ferguson,” said Mr. Hill, who has spent considerable time in St. Louis.

“I don’t think it’s an anti-police position, but it’s a group of people who have been suffering for a long time but have not been heard,” he added.

“We live in a country where African American people are stressed. They work harder for less, get paid less, pay more for less. So again when we think about the American Dream, we cannot adapt this idea of color blindness, because color blindness does not exist. We cannot teach our children to be color blind, but we can teach them not to be afraid of race,” Mr. Hill said.

Elaine Peterson

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Elaine Peterson is a gardener, an astrologer and the president of the Horticultural Alliance of the Hamptons. She spoke about some upcoming events and discussed her experiences gardening on the East End.

It clearly isn’t prime gardening season, but is there anything green thumbs can do this time of year to get their gardens ready for spring?

I’d let things be at this time of year. Plan. It’s a good time for planning. Occasionally I do some pruning this time of year, I always prune on a new moon. I’m an astrologer so I garden by the moon and the planets. So always prune around the new moon, because that’s when the energy in the plants is most down in the roots, rather than up in the tips. The other thing that’s terribly important that no one really talks about, is that old farmers in Europe would never water or fertilize during the waxing of the moon, only in the waning of the moon between full moon and new moon. And that way the water sinks, and the fertilizer and whatever that is going into the ground does go into the ground instead of washing away. So the timing of those applications is very important. We’re constantly reinventing the wheel, but if you go back and look at how people used to farm before we had all these modern techniques, they were very much more in touch with the earth and the climate.

Water quality is one of the main concerns on any island. We hear a lot about nitrogen run-off from fertilizers causing all sorts of problems in local waterways. How can gardeners keep their plants healthy without causing harm to water?

Vincent Simeone, director of the Planting Fields Arboretum here on Long Island, spoke to us on Sunday about his new book “Grow More With Less: Sustainable Garden Methods”. But one of the most concerning things about sustainable garden methods is that we reduce or eliminate the amount of herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, everything unnatural, that we put on the ground because it will come back into the water at some point. I don’t use pesticides or herbicides at all in my gardening, I’ve never had to. I don’t believe in it, I don’t think it’s good, but I also don’t see the need for it. Compost is pretty much all I use. I use some organic supplement sometimes but I’m very careful—I live on the lake! I have some weeds on my lawn, but I’m perfectly happy with them, I don’t want to live on a golf course.

We all know that the East End is home to an enormous deer population. What are some ways for gardeners to deal with the hungry herbivores?

We’ve been serious gardeners for some time, and we’ve dealt with the deer issue forever. In the 19th century and the 20th century we killed off all the animals, and then we decided that wasn’t such a good idea, so we brought them back and now they’re here. So we all got wise and said, this isn’t right, and of course the whole economical and social scene changed. Gradually, wild animals have come back, and they are here and they’re coming back more and more. And it’s just something we have to adjust to. As a gardener, I’ve learned to live with all of the animals, and if you want to grow things animals are going to be interested in, you’re just going to have to take precautions to protect them. Which means a lot more fencing, walled gardens; in some ways, we have to go back to the way it was in the Middle Ages, where if you wanted to grow something for food or for pleasure you had to protect it. So that’s what I have come around to realizing I have to do for everything—there are many plants that won’t be touched by deer but they adapt, the things that they didn’t used to eat, they now eat.

The Horticultural Alliance of the Hamptons is holding a roundtable discussion on planting a fragrant garden from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, January 17, at the Bridgehampton Community House, 2357 Montauk Highway, Bridgehampton. For more information about the organization, call (631) 537-2223. 

Waterfowl Count

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The South Fork Natural History Museum is calling all birders to help with the annual winter waterfowl count on Saturday, January 17.

The New York State Ornithological Association sponsors the annual event throughout the state in an attempt to record the winter waterfowl population and to assess the situation of each species.

Habitat loss, food scarcity and the introduction of nonnative species of water birds have all led to the decreasing waterfowl population on the East End.

A recent report released by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation deemed the American black duck one of the species most in need of human conservation intervention.

The data from the winter waterfowl count, which extends from Montauk Point to the Shinnecock Canal, will go to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for further analysis.

Intermediate and advanced birders interesting in taking part should call Frank Quevedo at 537-9735.

Gifts of Local Creativity at Hayground’s Homegrown for the Holidays

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A pillow by Rachel Foster of "Bizzy Bee Designs," one of the local vendors who will have a booth at Homegrown for the Holidays this Saturday, December 6, at the Hayground School in Bridgehampton.

A pillow by Rachel Foster of Bizzy Bee Designs, one of the local vendors who will have a booth at Homegrown for the Holidays this Saturday, December 6, at the Hayground School in Bridgehampton.

By Tessa Raebeck 

Artisans and creative vendors from across the South Fork will share their crafts, food and ideas at the annual holiday bazaar Homegrown for the Holidays, this Saturday, December 6, at the Hayground School in Bridgehampton. Handmade and custom goods like beach glass jewelry, custom knit hats and ocean inspired pillows will fill dozens of booths.

A fitting follow-up to Small Business Saturday last weekend, Hayground found this year’s vendors through farmers markets held in the summer, its ranks of creative alumni, students and parents, and another local network—artisans who quickly spread the word whenever there’s an opportunity to share their creations.

“The local artisan community is very broad, yet tight-knit,” said Kerri Deuel of Sag Harbor, a Hayground parent and event organizer who reached out to many of this year’s participants.

Over 30 vendors will be in attendance, ranging from 9-year-old Sam and her big sister, Madeline, both Hayground students, to Yu Lu-Bouvier, who is now retired, but began her business, Luluknits, on the train during her daily commute between Westhampton Beach and New York City.

A selection from Ketsy Knits.

A selection from Ketsy Knits.

Ms. Lu-Bouvier, who began knitting with her grandmother as a young child, now sells handmade sweaters and custom hats for babies and children.

“I like those art events because people are so crazy, you always get new ideas and people are so proud of their products,” Ms. Lu-Bouvier said, adding the bazaar and other markets at Hayground are “not like Macy’s [where] the sales person knows nothing about the product—the way to use it, how it comes [as a] specialty—no one knows everything, but in a farmers market, people can give [customers] stories about what they made.”

Mary Jaffe, who has been making pottery on the East End for 35 years, enjoys shows because of the opportunity to teach others about the creative process behind her bowls, vases, platters and other “functional ware.”

“Once the community is involved, they spread the word and it grows very organically,” said Ms. Deuel, adding there will be a “great mix” of new items and favorites from years past.

Madeline, 12, and Sam, 9, started their Etsy store, Ketsy Knits, in August. Sam makes hand-beaded jewelry and Madeline knits colorful hats, scarves and other warm clothes. The girls sell what they make online and give half their proceeds to charitable organizations supporting children in Haiti, Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

“Everything is made by the two of us, and we knit/make every piece with love,” said Madeline, who has been knitting since she was 8 and was making hats for premature babies in  neonatal intensive care units by 9. Sam learned to make jewelry at Hayground, in an after school program led by alumnus Ella Engel-Snow.

Designs by the Sea.

Designs by the Sea.

“There are a lot of amazing local artists, and one of the reasons we wanted to participate in the bazaar was because of all the incredible work we saw last year,” Madeline said of she and her sister.

Children who won’t be making sales at the holiday bazaar can enjoy face painting, crafts tables and seeing firsthand how vendors’ childhood hobbies have expanded into impassioned business ventures.

Carol O’Connor started collecting beach glass as a teenager, and now combines beads and beach glass for leather bracelets, beach glass chokers and other “one-of-a-kind pieces that just pop into my head,” she said. The “Designs by the Sea” owner teaches classes on her craft at Rogers Memorial Library in Southampton and sells pieces at local yoga studios Ananda and Good Ground and the Sunrise to Sunset and Flying Point surf shops.


Mimi Page Jewelry.

Also inspired by childhood walks exploring the woods searching for “treasures to turn into art pieces or jewelry,” Shelter Island resident Mimi Page will show her self-named jewelry line.

“For as long as I can remember, I have been a ‘gatherer’ type of artist,” said Ms. Page, who has explored various forms, including weaving, ceramics and printmaking, and now makes unique jewelry using sterling silver bezel pendants, stones, pieces of tile, sea glass and “whatever I find interesting,” she said.

“The people who live on the East End of Long Island are unique in that they are drawn to a lifestyle that is more community-centered to begin with, so it’s just in their nature to support the local, homegrown businesses,” said Ms. Page, who added she would rather go cage-diving with sharks in Montauk than anywhere near an outlet center this time of year.

When they support small businesses, added Ms. Page, shoppers are “directly helping someone in your community live their dream and follow their passion.”

There will be plenty of local food on hand, including Lorna’s Nuts, owned by Lorna and Walter Cook of East Hampton, who have doubled their business in the past year and expanded from three flavors to 14 since starting in 2012. Former Hayground parent Anastasia Karloutsos will serve her Old School Favorites, “simple and delicious” chocolate sauce and nuts covered in maple.

A selection of Lorna's Nuts.

A selection of Lorna’s Nuts.

“Really, it is these small shows, speaking with customers, getting to know other vendors that really gets your product out there,” she said. “If you have one enthusiastic person at your booth that person can bring over so many others. The people who want to support and buy local are so very important to our small business.”

“We are very fortunate to live and work on the East End,” added Deborah Lukasik, who founded Southampton Soap Co. with partner Chris O’Shaughnessy. “Local artisans all network and cross promote one another’s brands and products. Everyone thinks about who might be a good contact for someone—I love that.”

Homegrown for the Holidays is Saturday, December 6, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hayground School, 151 Mitchell Lane in Bridgehampton. For more information or to become a vendor, contact Kerri Deuel at greenmama@optonline.net.

AFTEE Lends a Helping Hand to East End Charities

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Members of the charitable organization All For The East End held a gathering at the Dodds & Eder store in Sag Harbor on Tuesday night, to raise awareness and inform interested parties on the current status of the organization. Among those attending were AFTEE board members, from he left, David Okorn, Myron Levine, Danielle Cardinale, Claudia Pilato, Dottie Simons and Bob Edelman. Photo by Michael Heller. 

By Stephen J. Kotz

To celebrate what has become known as “Giving Tuesday,” All for the East End, or AFTEE, a grassroots charity that was formed just two years ago with the goal of keeping charitable donations local, held a reception at Dodds and Eder in Sag Harbor on Tuesday, December 2, to celebrate the grants it awarded this year and get a kick start on raising money for 2015.

And what a start it got. After it was announced that Bruce and Luke Babcock through their Pope Babcock Foundation and Bridgehampton National Bank would donate $10,000 each and Myron Levine, one of AFTEE’s founders, would give $7,500, Dan’s Papers chief executive officer Bob Edelman said the company would give $12,500.

With $40,000 already in hand, Mr. Edelman and Claudia Pilato, BNB’s marketing director, who are both on AFTEE’s board, both pledged personal donations of $1,000, an amount Kevin O’Conner, BNB’s CEO, matched.

Soon, another half-dozen pledges from the audience had brought the unofficial total raised for the evening to $47,000.

That’s nearly as much as AFTEE distributed this year when it provided 20 different nonprofit organizations with micro-grants of $2,500.

“We’re hoping it can be a model around the country,” said Mr. Edelman of the idea of targeting local nonprofits with meaningful donations.

“There is a great need, and every organization is doing really valuable work,” added Ms. Pilato.

Mr. Levine, who has become an active fundraiser for a number of causes after the death of his son, Josh, in an accident at Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett in 2010, said he hoped that East End residents with the means to do so would consider making bequeaths in their wills to AFTEE so an endowment could be established to allow the organization to become self-sustaining.

“If they are passionate about the East End, they should consider leaving something to AFTEE,” he said.

To demonstrate firsthand the impact the organization has had, Ms. Pilato asked recipients of this year’s grants to tell the audience what they had done with the money.

Theresa Roden, the founder of i-tri, a program that focuses on raising the self-esteem of middle-school girls by having them complete a youth length triathlon, said her organization, started a nutrition program. Girls in the program and their families were able to learn the importance of eating a healthy diet, she said.

Sarah Benjamin, the director of Community Action Southold Town, said her group had used the money to set up a program to encourage parents of young children to both read to them and play with them, basic activities that help children get a head start in school.

Angela Byrnes of East End Hospice said her organization had recognized that children are often overlooked in the grieving process. To raise awareness, the organization held a conference that was attended by more than 100 representatives of schools, hospitals and other community organizations to discuss ways to provide better services for children who have lost a loved one.

Zona Stroy of Open Arms Care Center in Riverhead, an organization which over the years has found its niche as a food pantry, said her all-volunteer organization used its grant money to buy food.

“We decided people should eat all year long, not just at the holidays,” she said.

AFTEE received 82 applications this year. The task of determining where that money should go fell to the Long Island Community Foundation, whose executive director, David Okorn, said he established a committee with one member from each of the five East End towns to make the decisions.

They learned, he said, that it is difficult choose one organization over another because all of the applications were for well-deserving programs.

AFTEE is a registered nonprofit organization. More information about making donations or applying for a 2015 grant can be found at aftee.org.

A Bumper Scallop Season is Celebrated

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George Merritt, Wayne Fenelon and Jim Bennett shuck scallops at  Dan Lester’s facility in Amagansett on Monday. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Stephen J. Kotz

East End baymen and diners alike have grown accustomed to scallop seasons that begin with a bang but end with whimper in a matter of days. But this year has been different, with an abundance of the tasty shellfish being harvested from the bays and finding their way to local tables.

“So far, they have been pretty plentiful,” said Charlotte Sasso, an owner of Stuart’s Seafood Shop in Amagansett. “They are reasonably priced for the customer and the fishermen are getting rewarded for their hard work.”

The scallop season opened November 3 in New York State waters and on November 10 in town waters.

“A week after town waters opened, we’re still receiving 200 to 300 pounds a day,” Ms. Sasso said this week, adding that she was optimistic there would still be scallops available well into winter this year.

Danny Lester, 41, an Amagansett bayman who has spent a lifetime on the water, concurred. Even with increased competition from part-time commercial baymen and recreational scallopers, “who have come out of the woodwork because it’s a good season, there is stuff all over the place,” he said. “You can still go out, put your time in and get your limit.”

Mr. Lester said he was confident that he and his brother, Paul Lester, with whom he works most days, would be scalloping well into January. “You might not get your limit, but if you get six or seven bags, it’s still a good day’s pay,” he said. The season closes on March 31, although in practice it has not lasted that long in decades.

Commercial license holders can take five bushels a day, while recreational permit holders are limited to a single bushel.

Make no mistake about it, even when they are plentiful, scallops are not cheap. They have been selling for $20 to $23 per pound in East End seafood shops early in the season, but as the supply begins to decline, Mr. Lester said he expects prices to rise.

“The price is less than they started out at last year when they were about $30 a pound and averaged $25 to $30 during the course of their availability,” added Ms. Sasso.

A year ago, early prospects for a successful scallop season were dashed when rust tide spread through East End waters in the summer, killing all manner of shellfish. Mr. Lester said believed “the cold winter last year helped, but we did not have the rust tide like they had the last couple of years.”

He said there were a large number of bug scallops, which, barring a return of harmful tides next year, bode well for another successful season.

Since 2008, East Hampton Town’s Shellfish Hatchery has been growing scallops and seeding them into sanctuaries in Napeague and Three Mile harbors, according to  John “Barley” Dunne, the hatchery’s director, who said “some credit has to be given to restoring the shellfish beds” for the successful season in East Hampton. “Next year, we are hoping to expand into other harbors in town and that this bounty will occur in those harbors as well.”

But he added the revival may be more cyclical in nature.  “There’s been a good scallop harvest on other parts of the island,” he said, adding baymen were having good luck in Southampton Town and even as far north as Martha’s Vineyard.

Like Mr. Lester, he agreed the lack of harmful algae blooms also helped this year’s set thrive. “The one we worry about is the rust tide,” he said. Although the rust tide affected waters in parts of Southampton last summer, East Hampton was largely been sparred.

Kevin McAllister, the director of Defend H2O, an environmental organization dedicated to protecting water quality, said he was skeptical that this season’s rebound will last.

“We haven’t remotely turned the corner. We’ve got big challenges ahead of us,” he said of water quality issues. “As far as a modestly good scallop season, let’s hold the applause here and see if five or six years follow or if this is just a blip.”

If the East End wants to restore its fisheries, it will have to do much to reverse long-term trends in water quality degradation, according to Mr. McAllister.

Mr. Lester sounded a note of caution of another sort. He pointed out that commercial baymen are required to obtain separate permits for their shucking sheds that must have running water, refrigeration and be inspected by the state Department of Environmental Conservation to make sure the shellfish are not tainted.

“There are some people who are selling scallops for cheap,” he said. “But if you are buying them you might be getting them from someone who is opening them on the tailgate of his truck.”

East End Funding in County Budget

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Suffolk County’s proposed $2.89 billion operating budget will including funding for a number of East End initiatives, according to County Legislator Jay Schneiderman.

Among other things, the budget includes additional money for East End police departments, funding for an East End teen suicide prevention program, and new positions to improve water quality and respond to the Lyme disease epidemic.

An additional $3 million from county sales tax revenue will be earmarked over the next three years for East End municipalities that have their own police departments. A disproportionate amount of sales tax has always gone to the Suffolk County Police Department, which only serves western towns, according to Mr. Schneiderman, who has lobbied for a greater contribution to East End departments since joining the legislature.

Legislator Schneiderman said he was able to secure $50,000 for a South Fork teen suicide prevention program that will also receive funding from Southampton and East Hampton towns as well as several local school districts. The program will be administered by a new mental health consortium formed by the Family Service League in conjunction with Southampton and Stony Brook hospitals.

The county budget also includes $500,000 to expand Sunday bus service to additional routes and for longer hours into the evening. Previously, only about 20 percent of bus routes had Sunday service.

Mr. Schneiderman said in a press release that he was also able to secure additional funding to add positions, so the county can take more water samples and investigate ground water contamination. He also said he secured funding for an entomologist to develop a comprehensive plan to reduce Lyme and other tick-borne illness in the county.

The adopted budget will now go back to County Executive Bellone who will have the opportunity to veto any amendments made to his originally proposed $2.89 billion budget.