Tag Archive | "East Hampton"

Gillibrand, Bishop Call on USDA to Designate LI Sound and Peconic Bay as Critical Conservation Areas

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U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Congressman Tim Bishop urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture this week to designate the Long Island Sound and Peconic Bay watershed as a critical conservation area.

Such a designation could lead to increased federal funding to help protect and improve the quality of drinking water and estuaries by assisting the agricultural community in adopting more water-friendly practices.

Lawmakers pushed for the designation through a newly created federal watershed program under the 2014 farm bill, which passed earlier this year. Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Bishop pointed out that steering critical funding toward Long Island would address water quality issues and enhance soil fertility, allowing Long Island farmers, who faced devastation from Superstorm Sandy, to access tools to help adapt to severe weather patterns.

“Safeguarding Long Island’s water quality is vital to preserve and protect economic vitality of the Sound and help Long Island farmers for generations,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Designating Long Island as a critical conservation area will provide the needed federal resources to improve the health of the Sound.”

“Protecting the quality of Long Island’s water is an urgent priority,” said Congressman Bishop. “I commend Long Island’s farm community for its leadership in adopting more environmentally-friendly farming methods to conserve water and ensure that it is suitable for drinking and basic needs. I am pleased to work with Senator Gillibrand in sending this message to the secretary of agriculture with the hope that USDA will designate the Long Island Sound watershed as a critical conservation area with federal funding to meet our water quality goals.”

“I commend Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Bishop for their efforts to seek more investment to protect the most important resource Suffolk County has:  our water,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.  “Our federal representatives know that water quality is worth the fight.  It affects our quality of life, our economy, our land values, our tourism industry and our recreational use of Suffolk County’s waterways. I join our federal representatives in their efforts and will continue to make water quality the top priority of my administration.”

The new partnership program, known as the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, promotes coordination between Natural Resources and Conservation and its partners to provide federal assistance to farmers and landowners. Regions must apply in order to be eligible for the program and be eligible for federal funding.

Lawmakers in a press release said that water quality issues in Long Island Sound and the Peconic Bay watershed are of state and national significance. Examples of the kind of agricultural conservation practices that would address water quality issues include the purchase of agricultural conservation easements, nutrient management, cover crops, conservation tillage, alternative pest management methods and bio-controls, the use of controlled-released fertilizers, well water testing, riparian buffers and filter strips. This initiative would also incorporate soil health practices that are a national priority for NRCS and are valuable to Long Island farmers. Conservation practices to enhance soil fertility would also aid in adaptation to severe weather patterns, which are an increasing threat as evidenced by Superstorm Sandy last year.

Color, Melody and Clock Elves to Grace the Stage in Hampton Ballet Theatre School’s “Cinderella”

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Dancers perfect their style in a dress rehearsal at the Hampton Ballet Theatre School last week. Photo by Adam Baronella.

Dancers perfect their style in a dress rehearsal at the Hampton Ballet Theatre School last week. Photo by Adam Baranello.

By Tessa Raebeck

Since its completion in 1945, Sergei Prokofiev’s “Cinderella” suite has been performed hundreds of times across the globe, but rarely has it involved such cute grasshoppers.

This weekend, the Hampton Ballet Theatre School (HBTS) will revitalize the classic ballet, one of the famed Russian composer’s most celebrated compositions, in four performances at Guild Hall’s John Drew Theater. About 70 dancers, from bright-eyed four-year-olds to seasoned adult professionals, will grace the stage in the lively and melodious spring ballet.

In its eighth year of bringing dance to the East End, HBTS is returning to “Cinderella,” last presented by the company in 2011, with a few new twists.

Ninth grader Rose Kelly will play the lead role of Cinderella this weekend. Photo by Adam Baronello.

Ninth grader Rose Kelly will play the lead role of Cinderella this weekend. Photo by Adam Baranello.

The original dancers have grown up and the choreography has evolved with them; this weekend will mark the first time many of the company’s ballerinas perform en pointe throughout the entire ballet. When en pointe, a female ballet dancer supports all of her body weight with the tips of her fully extended vertical feet. The dancer must train and practice for years to develop the strength and technique required to do so.

“My goal for this ballet,” said Sara Jo Strickland, executive director and choreographer of HBTS, “was to really develop the older dancers at the core of the ballet and they’ve really done their job. I’m really proud of them.”

Known for its jubilant music and lush scenery, “Cinderella” is one of the most celebrated compositions of Mr. Prokofiev, a Russian composer, pianist and conductor and one of the major composers of the 20th century. Written upon his return home after a long absence following the Russian Revolution, the ballet was first staged in 1940, set aside during the height of World War II, and completed in 1945, premiering at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.

“The older dancers all had very important roles and they all worked so hard,” Ms. Strickland said Sunday during a short lull in rehearsal time. “They really pulled the level of the dancing from our Nutcracker up by two or three steps.”

A student of Ms. Strickland’s since she was just two, 15-year-old Rose Kelly will dance the lead role of Cinderella.

“It’s one of my first dancers to do something so big, so I’m very excited,” Ms. Strickland said.

Rose will perform two distinct characterizations of Cinderella: the ragged, abused servant girl worrying her way across the stage and the beautiful vision of grace yearned for by the prince.

Partnering for the first time—a major accomplishment for a ballet dancer of any age—Rose is dancing with guest artist Nick Peregrino, a professional dancer with Ballet Fleming in Philadelphia.

“This is a huge challenge for her,” said Ms. Strickland. “It’s a big step for her at this age in her career…She far exceeded my expectations, she just worked so hard to learn all these new things.”

Other veteran HBTS dancers performing en pointe include Abigail Hubbell, who will play the iconic Fairy Godmother, and her twin sister Caitlin, the Spring Fairy. The seasons are a pivotal part of Prokofiev’s adaptation and their corresponding fairies are all accomplished roles.

Winter fairies include Falon Attias, Grace Dreher and Vincenzo James Harty. Vincenzo, a young man who has been dancing with Ms. Strickland, Rose, Caitlin and Abigail for years, will also play the comical role of Jester along with the Hubbell sisters.

Falon, Jade Diskin, Grace, Rachel Grindle, Jillian Hear and Samantha Prince will dance as Summer Fairies and Kelsey Casey, Devon Friedman, Hudson Galardi-Troy, Katie Nordlinger and Emma Silvera are Fall Fairies.

A few of the Clock Elves get into character at a Hampton Ballet Theatre School dress rehearsal last week. Photo by Adam Baranello.

A few of the Clock Elves get into character at a Hampton Ballet Theatre School dress rehearsal last week. Photo by Adam Baranello.

The antics of Prunella and Esmerelda, the evil stepsisters played by Beatrice de Groot and Maggie Ryan, provide some comical—albeit evil—relief.

HBTS’ production features roles Prokofiev added to the traditional fairy tale, such as the grasshoppers and dragonflies, or the “little creatures of the forest,” as Ms. Strickland calls the group of four and five-year-olds who scurry across the stage.

Guest artists Adam and Gail Baranello, teachers at HBTS who also own A&G Dance Company, will play Cinderella’s father and evil stepmother.

During the second act, the royal ball where Cinderella first catches the prince’s eye, the ballet evolves from the comic first act into a romantic presentation, said Ms. Strickland.

“I think people will be very excited and surprised because if you have followed us for a long time and watched the girls grow up, you’re really going to see the difference in this production,” Ms. Strickland said.

The Hampton Ballet Theatre School’s production of “Cinderella” is Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 1 and 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. in the John Drew Theater at Guild Hall, 158 Main Street in East Hampton. Advanced tickets are $20 for children under 12 and $25 for adults. Tickets on the performance days are $25 for children under 12 and $30 for adults. To reserve tickets, call 888-933-4287 or visit hamptonballettheatreschool.com. For more information, call 237-4810 or email hbtstickets@gmail.com.

Bridgehampton National Bank Donates $25,000 to Local Food Pantries

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The Bridgehampton National Bank (bridgenb.com) Annual Apple Campaign, which was started in 2011 to provide contributions to local food pantries, culminated Monday with the distribution of $1,000 checks to each of 23 food pantries from Montauk to Greenport to Deer Park and Melville. At a presentation and reception at the BNB Bridgehampton office, pantry representatives Bridgehampton, East Hampton, Southampton, Springs and Sag Harbor were on-hand to accept the funds.   Maureen’s Haven, which helps the homeless on the East End, also received a check for $2,000. This is only part of the $25,000 donated by bank customers, employees and the company itself.

“This is one of the community programs we are most proud,” said Kevin M. O’Connor, president and CEO of Bridgehampton National Bank.  “It is a true collaboration between the bank, its customers and employees, working together to help those most in need in our communities. It is the essence of what it means to be a community bank.”

The Apple program began nearly five years ago with a conversation initiated by the East Hampton Food Pantry. They suggested the “apple” as a means of recognizing donations. With 26 branches across Suffolk and Nassau Counties, BNB took its Apples bank wide. The program is an annual holiday tradition which runs through the end of January.  In lieu of a holiday gift, BNB donates in the name of its employees, customers enthusiastically participate and BNB matches donations and fills in any gaps to reach the goal and fund one pantry in each of its markets. In addition to the financial gift, branch staff collected non- perishable foods during the months of November, December and January, which are also distributed to local pantries.

BLOW Hamptons Debuts in Bridgehampton

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Lila Beudert, a South Fork native, is pleased to announce the launch of a new concept to Bridgehampton’s Main Street. BLOW Hampton is a specialized salon designed exclusively for “blowouts” only. The shop will feature state of the art facility, custom servicing any women who wants to have great looking hair.

“I want women to feel they can be in and out within a half hour, or that they can hang and chat all day,” said Ms. Beudert in a press release issued this week. “I want to create the coffee shop of hair salons.”

An FIT graduate, Ms. Beudert studied Advertising and Marketing, which led to her work in the hospitality industry. She was also the manager at “The Coffee Shop” in Manhattan’s Union Square, and restaurants such as The Boathouse in East Hampton, and Sag Harbor’s Madison & Main.

BLOW is located at 2462 Main St, Bridgehampton. Offering blowouts at $40, the company also offers a “No Babysitter” service for those who want their hair done in the comfort of their own home.

For more information, visit blowhampton.com or call 537-8000.

Conversation with Kathy Cunningham

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Kathy Cunningham, chair of the Quiet Skies Coalition.

Kathy Cunningham, chair of the Quiet Skies Coalition.

By Kathryn G. Menu

The chairwoman of the Quiet Skies Coalition talks about the changing of the guard on the East Hampton Town Board, the finances at the airport and her hopes for quieter skies in 2015

 

This year has brought a number of changes regarding the East Hampton Airport, chief amongst those the election of a new majority on the East Hampton Town Board and the appointment of Councilwoman Kathee Burke-Gonzalez as airport liaison. What impact has that had in discussing noise abatement at the airport?

We have already seen a positive impact. Kathee has my full confidence. She is smart, she gets it, she is equitable and she is really a public servant. She is not a politician so I think that really helps motivate her to do something that this community has been in desperate need of for a long time.

 

A subcommittee BFAC has been charged with looking at airport finances in an effort to complete a full audit of airport expenses and revenues. What does QSC hope this accounting will lead to?

It has already discovered revenue streams at the airport that have been unreported until now. Our hope is that the airport can be financially self-sustaining, which would free us from FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) grant assurances for maintenance and capital improvements there that are necessary. If we can pay for them ourselves we don’t have to keep the airport open 365 days a year for 24 hours a day, which is just one access limitation we could legally impose once we are out from under the grant assurances. That will actually happen as of January 1, 2015, a date I thought I would never live to see, quite frankly.

 

What are some of the other access limitations QSC would like to see the town consider?

Well, limits to helicopter traffic, enforceable curfews. We don’t have a specific base of information from which to make recommendations about how much that should be limited but early indications show 70 percent of noise can be addressed by an enforceable curfew and limiting helicopter traffic and I think that would go a long way towards mitigating noise on the East End, not just in East Hampton.

 

An Airport Planning Committee—made up of two subcommittees including those in the noise affected community and those in the aviation community—has also been appointed by the town board to look at both noise abatement and capital projects. What do you hope they can accomplish?

Before an alleged press release was sent out [by the aviation subcommittee regarding noise complaint data] I had hoped there would be an opportunity for the noise affected community to sit down with the aviation community and really express what our basic concerns are because I don’t think they have ever understood it from our point of view. I think the fear is that we want to close the airport, which is not what we want to do. Noise mitigation does not equal close the airport and if we just had a chance to sit down and discuss this it might help, but it has been so polarized.

 

What do you say to the noise affected as we go into a potentially sticky season when it comes to air traffic?

Well, this will be the last summer the town will not have the ability to limit access to its airport. As of January 1, 2015 they will be able to say, closed from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. or whatever curfew they demand and no one can come in unless it is an emergency or military operation. But this summer, we will not have those options.

What we really need the noise affected to do this summer is to call the noise complaint hotline (537-LOUD, 1-800-376-4817). Noise complaint data is a flawed concept because it implies without a noise complaint there was no noise event, which is untrue. We have not been able at this point to calculate complaint fatigue.

What we learned last summer in the court ruling that upheld the FAA’s ability to mandate routes based on noise complaints is that they matter—the complaints are data that matter. That was a precedent setting case.

 

So this summer more than ever, it’s important to call or log in with the town if you are affected by aircraft noise.

In terms of the complaint data, we are not raised to be complainers, and that is one of the reasons the data has shown a drop off. I know one person who logged 500 complaints before last year and just stopped. 500 complaints out of 3,000 for a summer is a huge percentage of that figure.

Part of our difficulty will be convincing those who used to call in to start calling in again. It takes a certain amount of dedication. But we really need this data. Recognize that this is a civic duty and you will really be contributing to an effort that will allow the Town of East Hampton to do something productive at the end of the calendar year.

Serve Sag Harbor to Present Traffic Study to Village Board Tuesday

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Proposed plans for traffic calming at the intersection of Main Street and Union Street in front of the John Jermain Memorial Library. According to Serve Sag Harbor member Eric Cohen, the plans are subject to change and represent ideas to make the intersection safer and more pedestrian friendly.

Proposed plans for traffic calming at the intersection of Main Street and Union Street in front of the John Jermain Memorial Library. According to Serve Sag Harbor member Eric Cohen, the plans are subject to change and represent ideas to make the intersection safer and more pedestrian friendly.

By Kathryn G. Menu; image courtesy of Serve Sag Harbor

Serve Sag Harbor board member Eric Cohen drives down Jermain Avenue daily on his way to work as the technology and media coordinator at the John Jermain Memorial Library.

“It’s a nightmare,” said Mr. Cohen of the intersection of Jermain Avenue and Madison Street. The intersection is just one of several the non-profit has asked Michael King of Nelson/Nygaard and Jonas Hagen, a Sag Harbor resident in the doctoral program in urban planning at Columbia University, to look at in the development of a pilot program to create traffic improvements throughout the village.

“We have a problem and that is clear, especially on Jermain Avenue where people cut through on their way to East Hampton,” said Mr. Cohen.

Mr. King, who has been educated in architecture and urban design and has worked in transportation for 20 years, will present a preliminary report to the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees Tuesday, April 8, at 6 p.m.

In addition to presenting plans highlighting traffic improvements at key intersections throughout Sag Harbor, Serve Sag Harbor will also revive long-dormant plans once favored by trustees for a bike lane around the village, according to Save Sag Harbor board member John Shaka.

In an interview on Monday, Serve Sag Harbor board member Susan Mead noted that much of what Mr. King will present on Tuesday night involves improvements to intersections that can be made with the use of paint, occasionally planters, and little else, making them not only temporary and easily removable but cost-effective for a pilot program aimed at studying the effectiveness of these improvements.

“This set of plans is meant to acquaint people with the possibilities of what can be done at key intersections to facilitate traffic calming,” said Mr. Cohen. “There are a lot of options, and while some are very particular to a specific intersection—we take a look at Suffolk Street and Jermain Avenue, which is a really horrible intersection and the solution proposed there is very specific to that spot—others offer more generic solutions. “

Mr. Cohen added that the plans are not meant to be set in stone, but open for discussion and revision by the village board, if deemed necessary.

When reached by email overseas on Tuesday, Mr. King said rather than looking at a strategy, he sought to identify the issues in order to come up with a solution for some of the traffic woes in Sag Harbor. He identified issues like too much traffic, traffic moving too fast, bypass traffic, and streets bisecting village institutions like schools and the library when the streets could be used to bring them together. He also focused on issues such as too few children walking to school and gaining an inherent sense of independence, as well as traffic calming improvements that were economical, he said.

“I’m a strong believer in organic, iterative design especially in the public realm,” wrote Mr. King. “When altering public space, it is almost impossible to predict how people will react, so best start with something malleable. We use the best models and predictions, but nobody is perfect. Also, pilot projects make the changes real, which tends to diffuse acrimony and sharpen everyone’s focus (pro and con).”

If adopted by the village board, Sag Harbor Village would not be the first community to look to Mr. King to help address traffic woes. He has launched pilot projects in New Paltz and St. Louis. Ossining should be rolling out a pilot project on its Main Street this spring, he said.

In addition to the $13,000 the organization has spent to fund the traffic improvement study, both Ms. Mead and Mr. Cohen said with the village board’s approval the organization is committed to raising enough support through fundraising to fund all of the temporary traffic improvements as part of this pilot program.

“We want to give this a real shot,” said Mr. Cohen.

If the improvements are deemed successful, said Ms. Mead, the village could explore expanding the program, and in that case, Serve Sag Harbor would aid trustees in looking at county, state and federal grants to continue to make village streets safer for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.

“This is a first step,” said Mr. Cohen, “And if this works out we would want to look at a total of 19 intersections throughout the village and maybe make more significant improvements.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daniel Schoenheimer and Mellisa Hin at the Crazy Monkey Gallery

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"Cotton Candy Sky - Sunset at Sands Point" by Mellisa Hin.

“Cotton Candy Sky – Sunset at Sands Point” by Mellisa Hin.

By Tessa Raebeck

The Crazy Monkey Gallery in Amagansett will display the work of two of its member artists, Daniel Schoenheimer and Mellisa Hin, on view April 4 through May 4. The show at the Co-op gallery will present landscapes from the American West to Long Island.

With her emphasis on “exploring the expression of emotion,” Ms. Hin said, the artist will show a collection of her large landscape paintings, many of them inspired by the Long Island landscape.

A resident of Miller Place, Ms. Hin instructs at two galleries, “combining my love of people and my love of art,” she says, and serves as a Brookhaven Arts and Humanities Council Board Member and is President of the North Shore Art Guild.

Assistant Director of the Crazy Monkey Gallery, Daniel Schoenheimer will show his new series of digital photographs, highlighting the diverse landscapes from Arizona to the East End.

"Shadmoor II" by Daniel Schoenheimer.

“Shadmoor II” by Daniel Schoenheimer.

“The Arizona desert provides the perfect counterpoint to Montauk,” Mr. Schoenheimer said of his series of photographs, “where rolling hills and the blues of the Atlantic give way to rocky canyons, spiky plants and dusty browns. Every once in a while the desert blooms – an unexpected festival of flowering that gives rise to tiny petals, giant cactus and an abundance of fauna. This is what I seek to capture.”

From up close, detailed photos to “sweeping desert landscapes” and panoramas, Mr. Schoenheimer hopes to show “the vast range of desert life in an ‘uninhabited’ environment.”

An opening reception for the exhibit will be held Saturday, April 5 from 5 to 7 p.m. at The Crazy Monkey Gallery, 136 Main Street in Amagansett. For more information, call 267-3627.

Pierson Robotics Team Heading to Nationals

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Students cheer on the Pierson Robotics Team at the Long Island Regional competition last weekend. Photo courtesy of Rob Coe.

Students cheer on the Pierson Robotics Team at the Long Island Regional competition last weekend. Photo courtesy of Rob Coe.

By Tessa Raebeck

The referee made the call—it was arguably questionable—and there was nothing they could do about it.

For the second year in a row, members of the Pierson Robotics team, FRC Team 28, thought they had just missed qualifying for the national championship of the FIRST Robotics Competition after finishing in second place at the Long Island Regional contest at Hofstra University last weekend.

The hopes of senior team leaders Alex Cohen and Lucas Pickering, who had fostered a team that had grown bigger, better and more united each year, had been dashed—or so they thought.

But Pierson wound up securing an automatic invitation to the national championship competition, which will be held in St. Louis from April 23 to 26, when it won the Engineering Inspiration Award, which, according to FIRST, “celebrates outstanding success in advancing respect and appreciation for engineering and engineers, both within their school, as well as their community.”

The Pierson Robotics Team celebrated their spot at nationals with a parade down Main Street on Monday. Photo by Michael Heller.

The Pierson Robotics Team celebrated their spot at nationals with a parade down Main Street on Monday. Photo by Michael Heller.

“It’s mostly due to our focus this year on expanding the team and doing work outside of just building the robot,” explained Kevin Spolarich, a Pierson junior on the team’s driving squad. “We are bringing in students from East Hampton, teaching kids in Costa Rica, and showing the robot to the children at the elementary school.”

Pierson collaborates with East Hampton High School, which supplies four of the team’s student engineers and one of its mentors, shop teacher Trevor Gregory.

“We also have done some charitable work in the off-season fixing up old broken down electric scooters for people at the VFW,” Kevin added.

At last weekend’s competition, three of the FRC Team 28 members, Abi Gianis, Alex Cohen and Tiger Britt, talked to the judges, explaining their program and presenting a video they made featuring Dr. Carl Bonuso, Sag Harbor’s interim superintendent, talking about the district’s robotics program to further demonstrate community outreach.

“The kids were so phenomenal, I’m so proud of them,” said Gayle Pickering, Lucas’s mom, who mentors the team with her husband Rick, Mr. Gregory, Rob Coe and Clint Schulman.

“The way they talked about the team and knew the robot” helped secure the award, Ms. Pickering said.

The judges also recognized the team’s innovation, honoring the engineering behind the robot that may not have been able to overcome a bad call, but did turn some very important heads.

Kevin controls the robot’s arm, which picks up, puts down and throws the ball in the competition’s game, Aerial Assist. The game requires alliances of three teams that compete against another team in a game that requires the robot to throw balls that are 2 feet in diameter.

“We use two Xbox controllers hooked up to a laptop to control the robot,” Kevin explained.

Each the approximately 30 students on the team has a distinct role on one of several squads. Captain Lucas Pickering does the driving.

“Our shooting mechanism didn’t work as intended, “said Liam Rothwell-Pessino, a junior who is in his second year on the team. “We had to switch to an entirely different strategy, one where we played midfield/defense. Lucas’s insane driving skills were a big reason our entire strategy didn’t fall apart.”

“Everybody was a real important member of the team and everybody has their different jobs,” said Ms. Pickering. “It was truly teamwork at its best.”

The leader of the scouting team, Pierson junior Shane Hennessy, was tasked with leading the crew in finding teams to complete their alliance last weekend.

“Essentially,” said Liam, “we did really well in the preliminary stage. I think we placed seventh with an 8-1 record. We ended up picking two really great teams for our alliance and made it to the grand finals undefeated. In the final series, we lost 2-1 over a really stupid ref call, but hey, I don’t want to sound like a bad sport, it was still incredibly fun.”

“We were really annoyed and depressed,” he added, “but happy when we won an award that apparently qualifies us for nationals, so in a month, we’re off to St. Louis.”

The game remains the same, but the stakes are much higher.

Using their original robots, the teams compete in the same competition, Aerial Assist, but rather than one field of competition, there are five, filling the Edward Jones Dome, where the St. Louis Rams play.

“Now,” explained Ms. Pickering, “there’ll be 192 teams to scout instead of 49, so Shane Hennessy’s going to be very busy.”

Pierson traveled to the national championship, at the time in Atlanta, about 15 years ago, when the FIRST Robotics Competition was still a small, relatively unknown event. There are now over 2,000 teams competing worldwide, with regional competitions from Tel Aviv, Israel, to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

“The kids are so excited,” said Ms. Pickering. “I’m so proud of all of them, they put this together. There’s so many of them that are enthusiastic and it was really teamwork. They worked together on the scouting during the competition—that was a huge part of it. They worked together programming…the fact is that it’s teamwork and they really worked together.”

“Overall,” reflected Liam, “it was a great experience. And I’m glad Lucas and Alex get to finally go to nationals for the first time in their last year on the team.”

“It feels fantastic,” said Lucas. “We’re especially looking forward to being able to participate in a group of elite teams and talking to people from those teams.”

“It’ll also be interesting for us to see teams that are older than us for the first time,” he added of the more experienced teams. Pierson’s team was established in 1995 and thus has seniority at the Long Island regional competition.

In addition to securing a spot at the national championship, earning the Engineering Innovation Award secures the team funding—by none other than NASA, which will give Pierson $5,000 to attend the competition.

The team still needs to raise more money, though. With airfare costs high this close to the trip, Ms. Pickering said she is looking to raise $500 per student, with the overall budget close to $25,000 for the entire trip, adding, “That’s a high number, I hope.”

Although the team is hopeful for some large corporate sponsors, every donation counts.

To donate to the Pierson Robotics Team’s trip to nationals, send a check with a note that indicates it is for the Pierson Robotics Team to Pierson Middle/High School, 200 Jermain Avenue in Sag Harbor. For more information on the team, visit frcteam28.com.

Philip Schultz reads from “The Wherewithal” at Canio’s Books

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Author Philip Schultz will read at Canio's Books Saturday.

Author Philip Schultz will read at Canio’s Books Saturday.

By Tessa Raebeck

Poet, author and Pulitzer-prize winner Philip Schultz, of East Hampton, will return to Canio’s Books to read from his latest novel in verse form, “The Wherewithal” on Saturday at 5 p.m.

Called “one of the literary renditions of the Shoah I know,” by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Saul Friedlander, “The Wherewithal” tells the story of Henryk Wyrzykowski, a haunted young man taking refuge from the Vietnam War draft in a San Francisco basement. Using the time to translate his mother’s diaries concerning the Jedwabne pogrom, a massacre in July 1941, during the German occupation of Poland, of over 300 Polish Jews.

Mr. Schultz has authored a memoir, “My Dyslexia” and seven poetry books, earning a Pulitzer Prize for “Failure.” He is founder and director of the Writer’s Studio in New York City.

The reading will be Saturday, April 5 at 5 p.m. at Canio’s Books, 290 Main Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, call 725.4926.

Track Becomes Latest Option for Pierson Athletes

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Pierson freshman Allura Leggard, center, at the Armory in New York City in February.

Pierson freshman Allura Leggard, center, at the Armory in New York City in February.

By Gavin Menu; photography by Kurt Leggard

Potential. A great start. Lots of work to do.

Yani Cuesta, a Spanish and English as a Second Language teacher at the Pierson-Middle High School, is head coach of the East Hampton girls track team and doesn’t mix words when she talks about what it takes to build a great program.

“This is the first time in a long while that Pierson is combined with East Hampton in spring track,” said Cuesta, a graduate of East Hampton High School and an alumni of the track program. “The more kids participate, the more it will spread and continue to build.

“Even though our numbers these last two yeas have been the highest we’ve had in a long time, we are still building,” she continued. “We have some shining stars, but we need more depth. A small number of top athletes isn’t going to cut it with some of the larger, tougher teams we go up against.”

One of the shining stars Cuesta spoke about is Allura Leggard, a Pierson freshman who specializes in the sprint events, the 100 and 200-meter races, and the 4×100-meter relay. Leggard, a rising stars in the Pierson field hockey program as well, also runs indoor track during the winter months.

“I have been sprinting since I was five years old,” Leggard said this week. “This winter was my first time doing winter track.”

Cuesta said winter track is important for any track athlete looking to excel in the sport. Of the seven Pierson students on the girls spring track team, only four—Leggard, Hannah Jungck, Rose O’Donoghue and Elena Skerys—participated in winter track as well.

“Winter track is very important for any track athlete because the ones that are serious start then, if not in the fall with cross country,” Cuesta said. “The girls that just come out for the spring are at a disadvantage because their biggest competition has already been running since November.”

Cuesta said Leggard has the potential to “go far” as a sprinter.

“Sprinting is very tough to break into the top spots because there are so many older girls in the county with more experience,” Cuesta said. “As long as she listens, takes care of herself and works hard she has the potential to get to some of the later championship meets.”

Athletes in spring track are allowed to compete in four separate events, although Cuesta said many of the current athletes compete in only one or two events, something that would have to change for East Hampton to become truly competitive Suffolk County, where they currently compete in League VI against schools like Comsewogue, Miller Place and Westhampton, among others.

The Lady Bonackers were off to an 0-2 start going into a dual meet yesterday, April 2, at Eastport-South Manor. Next up are three straight invitationals, followed by a home dual meet against Rocky Point on Tuesday, April 22.

“The girls have a chance at winning some of the dual meets this year,” Cuesta said before adding a few closing words for motivation.

“We have a ways to go before we are as strong as I would like us to be,” she said.