Tag Archive | "Fred W. Thiele"

Thiele Calls for Revisions to Redistricting Plan

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A New York State Legislature task force recently released redistricting recommendations that would join the East End under one legislative district – much to the ire of many North Fork politicians. Last week, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. said he believes the North Fork and the South Fork should have separate representation and the task force should go back to the drawing table.

On Wednesday, February 15 Thiele announced he has requested the New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment revise its redistricting plan for the East End to establish a Brookhaven/North Fork District that would include northeast Brookhaven, Riverhead and Southold. Thiele’s current district — the Second Assembly District — would encompass East Hampton, Southampton, Shelter Island and southeast Brookhaven.

In January, the task force released redistricting plans that would add one Assembly district to Long Island based on population increases, as laid out in the state’s Constitution.

Thiele, who has been critical that the New York State Legislature completed a redistricting proposal rather than have an independent party make recommendations, said last week he would support a redistricting plan that was truly independent and non-partisan. Thiele has already sponsored legislation in an effort to ensure the legislature would have to adhere to that standard in the future.

“I am disappointed that this year’s process was not independent,” said Thiele. “We must adopt a constitutional amendment that will insure that all future redistricting plans are prepared by an independent, non-partisan commission.”

Thiele said that while the Task Force proposal for the East End met non-partisan criteria such as equal population, contiguity, and not dividing political subdivisions, it was clear from public hearings and comments there was strong sentiment in Southold that the community should be part of the Brookhaven/North Fork District.

“I have enjoyed working with Southold Town government through the years including the Peconic Bay Estuary Program, the CommunityPreservation Fund, Five Town Rural Transit, Peconic County, the East End

Supervisors and Mayors Association, and the repeal of the MTA payroll tax and the saltwater fishing license,” said Thiele. “I would enthusiastically represent them in Albany. However, the state should not compound its failure to utilize an independent, non-partisan redistricting process by ignoring home rule. The final plan must accurately reflect the will of the public. The most important function of any elected official is to listen. Therefore, I have urged the Task Force to modify the plan.”

A final plan is expected to be approved in the next few weeks and will be in effect for the 2012 election

2011 CPF Revenues Down for Most Towns

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This week, New York State Assembly Fred W. Thiele, Jr. announced that the Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund (CPF) totals for 2011 were on par with revenues collected by the five towns in 2010.

According to Thiele, the CPF produced $58.85 million in 2011, a 0.1 percent increase over the 2010 total of $58.78 million. While total CPF revenues were slightly higher in 2011, the five East End towns with the exception of Southampton have actually seen a decline in the amount of revenues they have collected through the fund.

Southampton Town earned about 15-percent more in 2011, pulling in $38.88 million in CPF revenues over $33.79 million in 2010.

Shelter Island saw the largest decrease in CPF revenues, down 39.7 percent for 2011, collecting $820,000. East Hampton Town also saw a sharp decrease, taking in $13.86 million in 2011 compared to $17.72 million in 2010, a 21.8-percent decrease. Riverhead collected $1.93 million in 2011, a decrease of 15.7-percent over the $2.29 million the town earned in 2010. Southold also saw a decrease of 7.5-percent, taking $3.35 million in 2011 compared to $3.62 million in 2010.

Since its inception in 1999, the Peconic Bay Regional Community Preservation Fund has generated more than $722 million, which the five East End towns use for preservation of open space, farmland, recreational facilities and historic preservation.

Conference on Peconic Sustainability Institute Announced

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New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and New York State Senator Ken LaValle this week announced they will host a meeting on Wednesday, November 30 to discuss the establishment of the Peconic Sustainability Institute.

The meeting will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. at Duke Lecture Hall-Chancellors Hall on the Stony Brook Southampton campus.

According to Thiele, the Peconic Sustainability Institute is envisioned to sponsor research, educational programs and policy discussion in an effort to encourage a more sustainable future for the Peconic Bay region.

“The Institute could tackle many of the critical economic and environmental issues affecting the East End such as agriculture, public transportation, climate change and sea level rise, affordable housing and alternative energy,” said Thiele. “This kick-off meeting provides an opportunity for all interested parties to come to the table to voice their ideas. We want to be sure we have the right input from the right people from the very start.”

“The goal is to preserve the East End’s unique quality of life and to do so we must gather input from all of the region’s stakeholders,” added LaValle.

Demos Announces Candidacy for Congress

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Republican and former Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer George Demos officially filed papers this week to run for Congress, sending an email and video to supporters and media Monday morning announcing his decision.

Seeking to unseat Congressman Tim Bishop, Demos will have to face off in a primary next year against Saint James businessman Randy Altschuler, who bested Chris Cox and Demos in a primary battle in 2010. Altschuler narrowly lost to Bishop in one of the closest elections races in the country last year.

“More than ever we see how important it is, not just to elect someone with an R next to their name, but to elect a real Conservative with steely determination who will not fail us, who will not falter, and who will not waiver when he gets to Washington,” said Demos in a statement.

Altschuler, who announced his decision to run for Congress in 2012 in June, already has the garnered the support of the Republican and Conservative party leaders in Suffolk County.

“We need to learn from last year’s mistakes and not let divisions within our own party allow Tim Bishop to sneak back into office again,” said County GOP Chairman John Jay LaValle said in a statement released to media on Monday. “Our country is in the midst of a severe economic and fiscal crisis, and we need a business leader like Randy Atlschuler in Washington to fix it.”

“Today’s announcement by George Demos has no impact on our strategy moving forward,” said Altschuler spokesman Chris Russell. “Randy is humbled by the broad support he’s receiving from Republican and Conservative Party leaders, and he’s focused on holding Tim Bishop accountable for the mess in Washington and defeating him next November.”

Bishop, currently serving his fifth term, has already said he will seek a sixth term in 2012.

26 Acres in Wainscott Purchased by East Hampton Town

The East Hampton Town Board approved a $3.2 million purchase of 26-acres in Wainscott through the Community Preservation Fund after holding a public hearing during its Thursday, August 4 meeting.

The property consists of exactly 25.7 acres at 198 Six Pole Highway near the intersection of Route 114, just outside the Village of Sag Harbor. The purchase was supporting by the East Hampton Trails Preservation Society at the Thursday evening meeting.

An additional acre on the same property has already been promised to an adjacent cemetery, which will be given the land through a lot line modification, according to a resolution passed by the board on the purchase of the land.

Thiele Continues to Survey Local Gas Prices

In his ongoing crusade to bring fair gas prices to the East End, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. submitted a third report this week to the State Attorney General detailing illegal zone pricing of gasoline on the Twin Forks.

However, according to the survey, gas prices have become more equitable and have stabilized over the last two weeks when compared to other regions in New York.

In the August 7 survey, the most prevalent price on the South Fork for gasoline was $3.99 a gallon or lower at nine stations located on Montauk Highway between East Hampton and Sunrise Highway. The lowest price was $3.97 and the highest $4.09. The average price is about $0.05 lower than the Long Island Average, and $0.04 more than the state average.

“Gasoline prices are still too high,” said Thiele in a written statement. “However, they have remained stable over the last two weeks. The differential between the South Fork and the rest of Long Island remains small with prices between East Hampton and Southampton slightly lower than the Island-wide average. The differential with the North Fork, which has the lowest gasoline prices on Long Island, was around $0.35 on the South Fork on Memorial Day. It is now about $0.10.”

However, the Assembly added that Amagansett and Montauk continue to face higher gas prices than the rest of the region. There, according to Thiele, gas prices are more than $.30 cents above the Long Island average.

“Amagansett and Montauk are clearly paying too much,” said Thiele. “This is why we need a stronger zone pricing law and open supply legislation.”

Thiele first contacted the attorney general’s office after Memorial Day weekend gas prices on the South Fork remained at $4.25 cents per gallon, while the rest of Long Island averaged around $4.08, and the rest of New York State averaged $4.02.

Thiele has also sponsored legislation to strengthen New York’s existing law on zone pricing of gasoline – when an arbitrary price is assigned to gasoline based on geography rather than the wholesale or legitimate cost of the product.

Thiele has also sponsored open supply legislation that would enable gas stations to purchase cheaper motor fuel on the wholesale market from alternative suppliers and pass the savings on to the consumer.

Governor Signs Southampton CPF PILOT Legislation

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation that resolve some of the issues raised in a state comptroller’s audit of the Community Preservation Fund (CPF) PILOT payments by the Town of Southampton.

The legislation was sponsored by New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and New York State Senator Ken LaValle.

The audit, completed in November of 2010, found that in the years 2008 and 2009 the Town of Southampton had made payments from the CPF to school and special districts that exceeded the amount permitted by State law by $664, 647. In particular, the Riverhead School District and the Eastport-South Manor School District received excessive payments, according to the report. The State Comptroller directed the town to resolve the issue in his report.

Under the proposed legislation, the overpayments would be legally validated and the school districts would be absolved from having to make any repayment. The town will be legally responsible to restore the excess payment to the fund either by dedicating land or providing non-CPF funds equal to or greater than the overpayment.

“The Town of Southampton made overpayments of CPF monies for PILOTS in 2008 and 2009,” said Thiele “This has been confirmed by the state comptroller. It was imperative that these funds be restored to be used for the rightful purpose of land preservation. This legislation insures that will happen. It also insures that local school taxpayers will not be punished for a mistake that they did not make. The school districts will be held harmless. Further, the Town will be permitted to use funds, such as impact fees collected from developers, to replenish the fund. This legislation will maintain the integrity of the CPF, while insuring that neither school nor town property taxpayers have to bear the burden of the repayment.”

The legislation also establishes additional requirements for PILOT payments in the future to ensure that such overpayments never happen again. The new law provides that in determining payments to each school and special district, each parcel eligible for a PILOT payment shall be assessed in the same manner as state land is and that the assessment for each parcel is approved by the state. The new law also states that not more than ten percent of the CPF may be used for these purposes. The maximum percentage of 10% for such purposes may be reduced by a proposition approved by the voters.

Finally, the new law requires the town board to adopt an annual plan, after input through a public hearing, which specifies each eligible parcel and provides the amount of payment for each eligible parcel.

East End Digest: December 11

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ARF: Cats and Dogs Calendar 

 

         The 2009 Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons (ARF) Pet Calendar is now on sale at area bookstores, galleries and specialty shops. There are more than 100 animals featured in the calendar including mutts, pedigrees, former shelter animals as well as ARF cats and dogs available for adoption. The cover features Mimi Vang Olsen’s painting of cats and dogs in a kingdom setting. The calendar also features many candid photographs, contributed by pet owners.

         “While it’s handy for keeping a busy 2009 schedule, the Pet Calendar is just as likely to find its home on a coffee table,” says Dick Huebner, an award-winning art director who designed the original calendar.

         Founded in 1974, the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons has found loving homes for over 15,000 animals. ARF currently provides for the health and welfare of dogs and cats on the South Fork of Long Island and Shelter Island through shelter and adoption services, medical care, spaying and neutering programs, community outreach and humane education. The calendar retails for $25, the 2009 ARF Pet Calendar is also available at www.arfhamptons.org, as well as local retail locations and galleries.

 

Southampton Town: Justice Court Receives Grant

 

   According to Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, the Town of Southampton has been awarded a grant in the amount of $6,500 under the State’s Justice Court Assistance Program. The grants awarded through this program make it possible for the local justice courts to make renovations and purchase equipment to improve their operations and make their facilities more secure.

         Of the grant, the State’s chief Administrative Judge, Ann Pfau, said, “Town and Village Courts play a critical role in the justice system of our State. It is vital that these courts, whose jurisdiction includes non-felony criminal prosecutions, motor vehicle cases, small civil claims, and landlord-tenant disputes, be well equipped and secure. I am therefore pleased to announce Justice Court Assistance Program grants totaling almost $5 million, statewide, to help ensure that these courts which date back to the 17th and 18th centuries, are prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”

         Senator LaValle added, “Local courts are the closest to the people and are an integral component of our justice system. However, town and village budgetary issues can limit their resources. This grant will help the court to better serve the community and improve the administration of justice.”

 

County Road 39: Sign Change on CR 39

 

         Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy today said that billboards cautioning drivers to watch their speed while moving through the fixed portion of County Road 39 will be changed at the request of Southampton Town officials, including Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot and Councilwoman Anna Throne Holst.

         “After our project to provide a second eastbound lane was completed this spring, we felt it was necessary to properly warn drivers to maintain a safe speed,” said Levy. “This stretch of road was known for decades for being a bottleneck, and we did not want to be victims of our own success and have drivers speeding through the two smooth flowing lanes.”

         “Hopefully that message has been delivered this summer, both to visitors and to year-round residents, and we are happy to accede to the Town’s wish for more low-key speed warnings,” Levy continued.

         The billboards received a great deal of attention when they were vandalized in early December. An unknown vandal painted over the image of a police officer leaning onto his official vehicle, while pointing a radar gun at the oncoming traffic, covering it with white paint. The vandal spray-painted “Thank You” on the westbound side of the road and “Please” on the eastbound side.

 

Riverhead: Ribbon Cutting for New Unit

 

         On Thursday, December 4th, Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, and Health Commissioner Dr. Humayun Chaudhry officially opened the county’s second state-of-the-art digital mammography unit in a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The site of the new mammography unit is located at the Riverhead County Health Center.

         “This is a tremendous benefit for our patients,” said Suffolk County Health Services Commissioner Humayun Chaudhry. “We are proud that the county has taken such a proactive role in bringing this resource to our patients and in advancing the quality of health care services for our citizens.”

         The new unit in Riverhead is the second digital machine to come into operation in Suffolk under Levy’s leadership. In 2006, Levy sponsored a resolution to modify a portion of the first floor of the Health Center to accommodate the equipment, which was performed as part of the ongoing renovations to the Riverhead County Center. The first digital unit was installed in Coram in 2006; Suffolk is also proceeding with the availability of digital mammography equipment for its health centers in Shirley and Brentwood.

 

 

Suffolk County: A Gift of Food

 

         During their general meeting, on Tuesday, December 2, the Legislature by Certificates of Necessity adopted an amendment to the 2008 Operating Budget, which will provide an additional $20,000 of funding to the Island Harvest. Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman introduced the resolution that made these amendments possible, and was readily adopted in order to expeditiously make these funds available to Island Harvest. During this holiday season and in these challenging economic times, many more families will be able to receive additional food assistance.

         Island Harvest is one of Long Island’s largest hunger relief organizations that serve as the bridge between those who have surplus food and those who need it. Their volunteers and staff collect food from over 600 local restaurants, caterers, farms, and other food related businesses; and distribute it to a network of close to 500 soup kitchens, food pantries, residencies, shelters. Last year Island Harvest provided nearly 7 million pounds of food to local hunger relief organizations.

 

Suffolk County: Good Samaritan Diva

 

         Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) attended the Red Hat Divas Christmas luncheon to thank the ladies who collected supplies for U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The divas collected donations from friends, family and neighbors over the last month. They contacted Legislator Schneiderman’s office, an official drop site for supplies donated to the U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Legislator Schneiderman has been working with the Family Readiness Group representing the Fighting 69th Army Reserve National Guard, collecting donations for the servicemen and women. These items include AA batteries, insect repellant, flea collars, and bags of charcoal briquettes for troops stationed in Afghanistan.

         “The County of Suffolk and its residents owe a debt of gratitude to our brave servicemen and women who often find themselves in dangerous and hazardous circumstances and give their lives for their County, making the ultimate sacrifice in the service of others, ” Legislator Schneiderman said. “I am pleased to assist in any way possible and encourage donations of these items for our troops.”

 

New York State Assembly: Request for LIPA Audit

 

         State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr., and State Kenneth P. LaValle have sent a letter to State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli requesting that its current audit of LIPA include the Southampton to Bridgehampton Transmission Line Project.

         LIPA originally proposed an approximately nine-mile transmission on the South Fork in the Town of Southampton from Southampton Village to the Hamlet of Bridgehampton. LIPA had proposed that the transmission line be constructed 45% above ground and 55% below ground through the heart of the South Fork’s farm country, where substantial amounts of land and scenic vistas had been preserved with public dollars.

         There was universal community outrage and opposition to the LIPA proposal including litigation. In response, Thiele and LaValle mediated the dispute between LIPA and the Town and the community. After long and extremely difficult negotiations, an agreement was reached this spring. The project was completed this summer.

         The agreement provided that LIPA would contribute the cost of its original proposal towards payment of the project (estimated to be approximately $20 million.) The incremental cost of burying the remaining 45% would be borne by LIPA customers from Southampton Village to the Southampton/East Hampton town line. This charge would be based on the actual electric usage of LIPA customers in the benefited area. After the project was bid, it was estimated that the incremental cost would be about $8 million.

         LIPA authorized substantial overtime to complete the project. As a result, LIPA is now estimating that the incremental cost may be as much as $12 million. Thiele and LaValle have requested the State Comptroller determine the total cost of the project, determine whether the up to $4 million increase in the cost of the project was prudent and justified, and determine whether any portion of the up to $4 million increase should be legitimately borne by the VBA area.

         Thiele and LaValle stated that this additional expenditure of up to $4 million dollars does not in any way increase the visual benefits for those in the benefited area, if indeed such addition expenditures were prudent at all. It is certain that not all the additional expenditures were to construct only 45%, which was the subject of the VBA.

 

 

 

 

East End Digest – November 20

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75 Christmas Boxes & Counting

Thursday night’s “Wrap a Box of Kindness” event, sponsored by the Bridgehampton Parent Teacher Organization, brought many Bridgehampton families out to decorate and pack gifts into shoeboxes. These boxes will be delivered to needy children all over the world.

Operation Christmas Child is a project designed and operated by Franklin Graham and Samaritan’s Purse. It began in 1993 and has grown each year into a worldwide endeavor. All the boxes collected from around the United States are brought to over 130 countries and hand-delivered into the arms of a child – who may have never received a gift before.

Sag Harbor ARB: Vets Get Fence

Ralph Ficorelli, commander of the Sag Harbor VFW Chelberg & Battle Post 388, approached the Sag Harbor Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board on Thursday, November 13 to request a fence at the VFW in order to ensure the building’s parking lot is reserved for members of the post, rather than the general population, which has been parking there.

Ficorelli, accompanied by a number Sag Harbor veterans, requested a four-foot high, 261-foot long chain link fence, covered in green vinyl for the south and west sides of the VFW.

“The main reason we are doing this is because it is being used as a public parking lot and members down there, we have trouble finding places to park our cars,” explained Ficorelli.

The board had no quandary with the fence, but was concerned about residents on Rysam Street having to look at a green, vinyl chain link fence – which would generally not be approved in a residential neighborhood in the historic district of Sag Harbor.

Ficorelli argued that the green coating would help blend in the fence to the surrounding area and that the VFW intended to plant shrubbery around the fence to help shield it.

The board agreed to approve the fence with the caveat that the fence be shielded with shrubbery and the entry gate on Rysam be made partially of wood in keeping with the residential character of the neighborhood.

In other ARB news, Howard Kanovitz was approved to replace a historic column and repaint the historic residence at 27 Suffolk Street. Kanovitz also has sought to replace the windows, although the board has asked he look into restoration. Sean Murphy was approved to replace French doors at 27 Garden Street, Harbor Heights Gas Station was approved for new signs at their Hampton Street business, Anastasia Cole was approved for a picket fence at 3 Bay Street, Michael Butler was approved for building alterations at 37 Eastville Avenue and Blair and Cheryl Effron were granted permission for the demolition of an existing house at 34 Long Point Road and for a new two-story residence at the same site.

Suffolk Community College: Thanksgiving For The Needy

Faculty and students at the Suffolk County Community College Culinary Arts Center will be partnering with the Dominican Sisters Family Health Service located in Hampton Bays to prepare and individually package more than 150 dinners that will assist in feeding those in need for Thanksgiving.

Under the direction of chef/instructor Jerry Dececco, preparation for this event will take place at the Culinary Arts Center located at 20 East Main Street in Riverhead on Tuesday, November 25 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The menu will consist of roast turkey with giblet gravy, seasoned cranberry bread stuffing, garlic mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, string beans Almondine, dinner rolls, apple pie and pumpkin pie.

New York State Assembly: Update On Fiscal Crisis

In accordance with a new law enacted last year to help increase fiscal accountability and transparency in state government, Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr., a member of the ways and means committee, joined Assembly minority leader James Tedisco and the Assembly Minority Conference last week to formally submit their assessment of New York’s current fiscal condition. The report outlines estimates of the conference’s disbursements for public assistance, Medicaid and school aid, along with estimates for tax receipts and lottery receipts.

“Our state is facing tough economic times ahead that will require us to tighten our belts and exercise true fiscal discipline to ensure New York can weather this fiscal storm,” said Thiele. “Our conference’s report is comprehensive and forecasts a continued decline in state revenues while emphasizing the need for fiscally sound proposals to close the budget deficit without doing so on the backs of taxpayers.”

In its report, the Assembly Minority Ways and Means Committee estimated the public assistance rolls will closeout the current fiscal year with 501,096 cases, that total expenditures for public assistance in the state will be $2.158 billion and that the state share of those expenditures will be $828.8 million. The conference also estimated that public assistance caseload for the 2009-10 fiscal year will be 512,683, with total expenditures of $2.212 billion at a state share of $848.6 million. The 2009-10 estimates represent a 3.2 increase in caseload and a 2.3 percent increase in costs to the state.

According to Thiele, the conference has also estimated the Medicaid rolls will increase by 2.8 percent in the current fiscal year – resulting in a total enrollment of 3.6 million individuals. The ways and means committee expects the state share for the current fiscal year to be $17.7 billion. They also estimate that enrollment for the 2009-10 fiscal year will rise 4.8 percent, for a total of 3.8 million individuals with a state share of $19.4 billion and a local cap of $965 million.

Additionally, the committee forecast state school aid to increase by en estimated $1.9 billion for the 2009-10 school year. The increase would bring total funding for annual state school aid to $23 billion. The estimate is based upon May data provided by the state education department.

The state division of the budget’s mid-year update projects that New York State is facing a $1.5 billion budget gap this year and a $12.5 billion budget gap next year. The minority conference fiscal analysis suggests the gap is likely to be $1.2 billion this year and $11.6 billion next year.

Nature Conservancy: Clam Population Recovering

The Nature Conservancy and Suffolk County today announced study results that show early signs of a recovery for the bay’s hard clam population.

Four years ago, The Nature Conservancy, backed by a wide range of public and private supporters, took a chance – embarking on a shellfish restoration to “make the Great South bay Great Again” by restoring its hard clam population.

Hard clams play a vital role in the bay, helping maintain water quality by filtering debris and plankton out of the water as they feed. At the start of this effort the Bay’s clam population was so low that in much of the bay they were no longer reproducing successfully.  To help boost natural reproduction, the Conservancy-led partnership added over three million adult clams to the Bay in the last four years, creating a network of over 50 sites, or sanctuaries, where adult clams could grow and reproduce without disturbance.

Carl LoBue, senior marine scientist for The Nature Conservancy on Long Island said, “Our summer survey of the bay bottom revealed over 250 million juvenile clams which we believe to be offspring of the adult clams that we have been stocking in the Bay. That represents a 4,000 percent increase in the clam population of the central part of the bay since 2006. This is a very positive sign that we are on track towards meeting our restoration objectives. However recurring episodes of brown tide and natural predators are a continued threat. We must continue working with our partners to do what we can to ensure the continued success of this exciting restoration project.” 

Hard clams once were so abundant that Great South Bay supplied over 50 percent of the entire nation’s hard clams. Today the reported commercial harvest is down by more than 99 percent. Not only does the decline of shellfish have economic impacts, but water quality is also affected.  Chronic algal blooms (such as brown tide), which negatively impact marine life in the Great South Bay, have been linked to declining clam populations. Clams filter water and help keep the algae in control.

Inspired by its initial success, The Nature Conservancy will continue to work with partners on the Bluepoints Bottomlands Council on additional restoration activities, with the goal of eventually stepping back as nature takes over and the clams become self-sustaining.

Southampton Hospital: Recruits Genetic Counselor

Southampton Hospital is proud to announce the recruitment of the first Genetic Counselor to the East End of Long Island. Emily Smith, MS has joined Southampton Hospital this month to develop cancer counseling through genetic testing for ovarian and breast cancer (BRCA 1 & BRCA 2). She will serve as a resource for local physicians to explain the science of genetics, walk people through the decision of having a test and make recommendations on a case-by-case basis.

In the process of genetic counseling, family history and medical records are evaluated. At the patients request genetic tests are ordered and the results are assessed.  Counseling and psychological support are provided to enable the patient to reach a decision to learn more. 

Genetic counseling gives people an opportunity to sit down with a trained health professional to discuss their risk for a genetic disease and to help people learn more about the causes of genetic conditions and how they may be affected.

Previously, patients had to travel to Stony Brook Medical Center or Good Samaritan Hospital for genetic testing.

“I am anxious to provide this service to this great community, a service that many other parts of the country have had for more than 10 years,” said Smith.  She adds that the test results generally take approximately three-to-four weeks with a 99 percent level of accuracy.

“We plan to provide the state-of-the-art care that everyone deserves,” said Smith. 

Ms. Smith, a member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors, is a graduate of Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois and has varied clinical experience in the Genetic Counseling field.  According to Frederic Weinbaum, MD, Chief Medical Officer, “Offering this new service to the community is indicative of Southampton Hospital’s direction.  We are striving to provide the most advanced medical care available and will continue in this direction with the communities support.”

Smith was hired to be working specifically within the Breast Health Center providing genetic counseling for ovarian and breast cancer but she hopes that the department will expand into other aspects of genetic counseling.  She also plans to hold an informational seminar on genetic counseling during the upcoming Health Insights lecture series this winter.

Additional information is available on the Hospital website at www.southamptonhospital.org or contact Emily Smith to schedule an appointment at 377-3477.

 

 

 

 

Dedicating a Bridge In Jordan’s Honor

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Seven months ago, residents in the village stood solemnly by as one of their own, 19-year-old Marine Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter, was brought home to Sag Harbor and laid to rest in Oakland Cemetery.

On Saturday, November 15, village residents will gather again for Lance Corporal Haerter, this time not to say goodbye, but rather, to honor and pay tribute to the first Sag Harbor resident killed in combat since World War II.

A formal dedication and unveiling of a public memorial at the foot of the Sag Harbor/North Haven Bridge will be held on Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. The bridge will also officially be renamed by the State of New York “The Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge.”

Lance Corporal Haerter was killed in Ramadi, Iraq on April 22 during his first month of duty as a Marine overseas, along with Corporal Jonathan Yale of Meherrin, Virginia when a suicide bomber drove into the checkpoint they were guarding, detonating the vehicle. Lance Corporal Haerter and Corporal Yale are credited with saving the lives of 33 Marines that day, as well as over 50 Iraqi police officers when they shot and killed the driver of the deadly vehicle.

The news of Lance Corporal Haerter’s death rocked the East End, and in particular the Sag Harbor community in which the young Marine was raised by father Christian Haerter and mother JoAnn Lyles. His funeral came days after a police escort through Long Island brought his body back to Sag Harbor, with fire trucks and residents lining the streets along the route paying tribute to the Marine and the sacrifice he made to his country.

After a service at the Old Whalers’ Church, he was laid to rest in Oakland Cemetery with military honors, while the whole of the Sag Harbor community looked on, seemingly unaware of the rain pelting the ground around them that day.

Since then, the community and government leaders alike have rallied in support of the creation of a monument Lance Corporal Haerter’s honor. Designed on a concept by Christian Haerter and his childhood friend, Tom Toole, the monument will feature a granite obelisk and will be placed on the waterfront, next to Windmill Beach on land donated by the Village of Sag Harbor. The monument was created, according to Christian Haerter, through donations to the Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter Memorial Fund – a fund created specifically for the monument.

Simultaneously, in May, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle co-sponsored a state bill to rename the Sag Harbor-North Haven Bridge “The Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge,” honoring both Haerter and veterans before him.

“It is the intent of this act to recognize the ultimate sacrifice Jordan Haerter paid in serving his country and to honor all the veterans of Sag Harbor, North Haven and Noyac who have served our nation,” reads the bill, which passed both the assembly and the senate easily.

In July, after the villages of North Haven and Sag Harbor passed resolutions supporting the change, Governor David Paterson signed the bill into law.

On Saturday, as Christian Haerter put it, “the shroud will be lifted” on the sign at the foot of the bridge following the dedication of the monument on Windmill Beach and a ribbon cutting ceremony at the bridge.

According to Christian Haerter, veterans from the Sag Harbor area, representing each branch of service and major conflict, will take part in the ribbon cutting.

Depending on the weather, which is currently forecasting for rain, Haerter and Lyles have also planned a fly over of the bridge with four late-1950s vintage T-28 Navy aircraft. A Vietnam-era Marine helicopter will hover over the bridge during the ceremony, before flying to Mashashimuet Park where residents can view the historic aircraft. A luncheon has also been planned at the Sag Harbor Firehouse. Haerter said the Sag Harbor Fire Department has been an enormous help in helping to execute this special day for both his family and the community.

“We are just truly grateful they have offered us so much,” he said.

Perhaps one of the most special aspects of Saturday for Haerter will be that he and Lyles will share the day with not only family and friends, but also 41 members of Lance Corporal Haerter’s battalion – the first Battalion Ninth Marine Regiment. Members of the battalion, some of who were in Ramadi with Lance Corporal Haerter the day he was killed, will travel to Sag Harbor for the event; many on United States soil for the first time in months. According to Haerter the dedication was planned specifically to fall on a day those men could attend. A color guard from North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune is also slated to appear and Haerter expects veteran groups from across Long Island will also attend the service.

“We still have a lot of little things to do,” said Haerter on Wednesday. “I think we are pretty organized, but we really have to thank Tom Toole, retired from the Air Force and a childhood friend, who really took it upon himself to make sure this got done. He has known Jordan since he was a child and has a lot of heart invested in this.”

For Haerter, planning the event with Lyles has been a whirlwind and he said on Wednesday he has not had time to think about any private time he will take to remember his son on Saturday.

“Most of my day is taken up with thoughts of Jordan,” he said. “Saturday will be a very special day – just to see the honor that Jordan will receive, that his sacrifice is not going unnoticed. It is all about this local community. They have been just wonderful throughout this whole time, since Jordan died. The support has been absolutely amazing. But, yeah, I don’t know if I will do anything private for Jordan. I just know I think about him every minute, of every day.”

The dedication of the bridge and the monument in honor of Lance Corporal Jordan C. Haerter will begin at 10:30 a.m. at Windmill Beach at the base of the bridge in Sag Harbor. The Hampton Jitney has donated a shuttle bus the family is encouraging people to use that will depart Mashashimuet Park starting at 9:30 a.m. through 10:30 a.m. and will return following the ceremony. Ferry Road will be closed from the North Haven Roundabout to the bridge from 10 a.m. to noon and Bay Street will be closed from the American Legion to the bridge from 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. 

School Tax Law Concerns

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As school districts on the East End of Long Island attempt to tackle the conundrum of trying to provide competitive services for students, while keeping spending in line to appease taxpayers, initial proposals by state government for school-tax relief have some district’s wondering if they won’t be left at a disadvantage.

At the Sag Harbor School Board’s last meeting, on September 8, the board encouraged a room full of administrators, parents and teachers to attend a meeting at the Center Moriches High School on Monday, September 22, hosted by New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. The forum will focus on proposals concerning state education funding and school taxes – an issue state officials have been wrestling with in an effort to provide taxpayer relief without leaving school districts in the financial lurch.

The Center Moriches forum is the last of several meetings Thiele, and state Senator Kennneth P. LaValle, have hosted to speak with members of the community about proposed legislation to provide property tax relief. Forums were held last week in Bridgehampton and this past week in Springs on the same issue.

The legislation, which is based on a report issued in July by the New York Commission on Property Tax Relief – a commission headed by Nassau County Executive Thomas Souzzi – aims to provide property tax relief in two separate bills in the New York State Senate and Assembly.

The commission submitted a preliminary report, which was accepted by Governor David Paterson, who has been vocal in his support for the tax cap, earlier this year. The final report will be submitted on December 1, 2008. 

The commission argues that New York State has the highest local taxes of any large state in America and is 79 percent above the national average.

The state senate bill would impose a cap of four percent on a school district’s property tax increase. The district can override the cap with a vote of 55 percent majority, or a 60 percent majority if the district has received an increase of five percent or more in state aid that year. The state senate bill applies to virtually every school district in the state, save Buffalo, New York, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers.

The assembly bill, on the other hand, provides a refund based on the household income of a family and the percentage of property taxes compared to that income. The assembly bill states that families taking in $90,000 or less would be eligible for a 25 percent refund on the taxes that exceed five percent of their income. A sliding scale provides similar relief for families making between $90,000 and $250,000, although at smaller rates.

“There are certain critical issues regardless of what the final bill looks like,” Thiele said on Wednesday of the proposals. “Property taxes need to be reduced because we can’t ask people to make the decision over their home or education.”

 “The concerns of the superintendents are that they won’t have adequate funding,” Thiele continued, summing up what a number of school district administrators have expressed publicly in the last two weeks about the cap in particular. “But we will work with the state to come to a consensus during the budget next year.”

 “Property tax reform is an issue that can’t wait,” he added.

The Suffolk County School Superintendents Association expressed their concerns with the proposed tax cap last week and asked for increases in federal aid. The tax cap, they added, could become problematic in the event of large increases in class sizes and could lead to teacher layoffs.

 “I think its poor legislation and should not be adopted for several reasons,” Dr. John Gratto, Superintendent of the Sag Harbor School District said on Wednesday. “First of all it is based on false premises that school boards are unable or unwilling to provide or limit expenses.”

“I think school districts are the best example of democracy,” he continued. “This will take away local control.”

“We may need to spend more because of increased fuel costs or other transportation issues,” said Gratto of some of the situations district’s could find themselves in if faced with a four percent cap. “In that case, services to students would have to be cut to cover these costs and the impact on the students could be very detrimental.”

Bridgehampton School District Superintendent Dr. Dianne Youngblood echoed Gratto’s concerns, although she noted that she is still researching the legislation and has yet to attend a forum due to scheduling conflicts.

Youngblood cited county research that showed that a four percent cap could in reality translate to a two percent cap in spending increases after contractual increases in health insurance and energy costs are factored in.

Youngblood noted the financial crisis Wall Street has faced in the last week has painted a bleak economic picture her district has been trying to anticipate for some time now.

 “These are frightening times,” she said. “We realize that something needs to be done regarding taxes and school budgets and I think at Bridgehampton that is why our board and our administration has tried to be at the forefront of talking about choice in education on the East End. Some change is going to have to come about.”

The district has been in ongoing discussions about sharing services and has even discussed a charter-like school system on the East End on a theoretical basis.

“I think those of us at the table, we are all just wrestling with these issues,” said Youngblood. “But let’s really talk about this [proposal] and ensure whatever is put in place is not only in place for taxpayers and residents. We have to make sure students and districts don’t get squeezed in the process.”

Additional reporting by Kathryn G. Menu