Tag Archive | "Greenport"

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.

Bridgehampton School Ranks in Top 15 Obese Schools on Long Island

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Bridgehampton School personnel work in the district's new community garden last April, 2013. (Photography by Michael Heller).

Bridgehampton School personnel work in the district’s new community garden last April. (Michael Heller photo).

By Tessa Raebeck

Although rates of childhood obesity in New York are showing signs of dropping, schools across the state are still reporting alarming rates of overweight students.

According to New York State Department of Health (DOH) data, Greenport is the most obese school district on Long Island, with Bridgehampton, Riverhead and Springs not far behind.

Between 2010 and 2012, 17.6 percent of New York public school students (excluding New York City) were considered obese, according to the DOH.

The Student Weight Status Category Reporting System, through which the data was compiled, was established in 2007 to support state and local efforts to understand and confront the problem of childhood obesity.

It requires students in kindergarten and grades 2, 4, 7 and 10 to have a student health certificate completed based on a physical examination, thus the data used in the DOH report only reflects students in those grades. Schools collect the health certificate information and the district then reports a summary to the DOH. The DOH does not receive data on individual children, only summaries of the district total and of students categorized by gender and grade groups, i.e. elementary versus secondary.

Although the appraisals used to collect the student obesity data are mandatory, parents can opt out of having their child’s data included in the school summary report sent to DOH. Approximately two percent of all parents opt out, according to DOH spokesman Dr. Jeffrey Hammond.

The percentages are therefore not definitive comparisons of districts’ obesity rates, noted Bridgehampton School superintendent Dr. Lois Favre.

Bridgehampton School, for example, is reported to have 15 obese children and a rate of 27.3 percent obesity. Both numbers are based on the 56 students in the grades for which data was submitted, not the entire district population.

Although the data is not all encompassing, it is nonetheless alarming.

According to the DOH, obesity is more prevalent among children raised in low-income households. Rates of obesity in New York are significantly higher in school districts in which a higher proportion of students are eligible for free or reduced price lunch.

In Bridgehampton, 57 percent of students are on free or reduced price lunch, according to Dr. Favre.

“We work hard at Bridgehampton,” said Dr. Favre, “to assure that all students receive the state mandated amount of time for physical education [and] have daily recess that encourages movement.”

“We were one of the first schools on the South Fork to begin a school garden,” she added, “and pride ourselves on getting healthy foods to our students.”

In Riverhead, 315 students, or 24.7 percent of the sample population, were reported to be obese.

According to Superintendent Nancy Carney, 48 percent of Riverhead students are on free or reduced price lunch.

“With a poverty level of this rate,” said Carney, “families tend to rely on foods that are high in calories and low in cost to satisfy their nutritional needs.”

Riverhead schools offer low calorie meals of high nutritional value and encourage students to participate in the breakfast program, to save parents money and hopefully afford children the opportunity to make healthier food choices.

With 64 obese children in the sample data, Springs has an obesity rate of 22.9 percent.

Principal Eric Casale said although the school does not have its own cafeteria, the district works with parents to monitor students’ nutritional habits and a lunch cart filled with healthy foods is available. Its Springs Seedlings school garden has also been a success.

“Our mission as a district,” Casale said, “is to enrich the intellectual, emotional, social and physical wellbeing of our student body.”

Greenport School District had a reported childhood obesity rate of 33.4 percent.

The DOH rate of childhood obesity is 16.8 percent in East Hampton, 14.7 percent in Southampton and 9.9 percent in Sag Harbor, the lowest district on the East End

Thiele Praises Shared Superintendent Announcement in Greenport, Southold

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In 2011, the New York State Legislature enacted Chapter 97, which is most well known for establishing the 2 percent real property tax cap. However, the legislation also included a number of provisions for mandate relief for school districts, including a provision promoted by State Assemblyman Fred Thiele.

Specifically, Thiele’s proposal permits up to three school districts with enrollments of 1,000 students or less to enter into a contract to share a school superintendent. It could not impair any existing school superintendent employment contract in effect before July 1, 2013.

There are 19 school districts in Suffolk County with 1,000 or fewer students, mostly on the East End. Before the enactment of Chapter 97, each district was required to have its own school superintendent.

Southold and Greenport school districts, with enrollments of 850 and 650 respectively, are the first school districts on Long Island to take advantage of the new law. They will share a school superintendent beginning July 2014.

“I was proud to shepherd the Shared Superintendent Program through the state legislature in 2011,” said Thiele. “I am equally proud that the first school districts have taken advantage of the program. Southold and Greenport are to be commended for taking advantage of this opportunity to share administrative services and reduce taxes. Other East End school districts should take a hard look at this groundbreaking initiative.”

 

Costs Rise for Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum Restoration Projects

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By Tessa Raebeck

With the first phase of a three-part plan to renovate and restore the Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum nearly complete, necessary additional repairs — and fundraising efforts — are on the rise.

Following complaints about the museum’s exterior appearance voiced to building inspector Tim Platt last May, restoration of the historic 1845 building, also the home of the Waponamon Lodge No. 437 Free Masons, began September 15.

“We can certainly say the scope of the project has grown,” Barbara Lobosco, president of the museum board, said Tuesday. “Like most planned undertakings, things crop up during the course of the project.”

The first phase of the plan covers the repairs and painting of the building exterior, including removal of 10 layers of paint — the last being lead.

The contractor, Ince Painting Professional of Westhampton Beach, which has worked on historic buildings like the Hannibal French House in Sag Harbor and the Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton, originally estimated the first phase of the project would cost $180,000.

More product removal was required than was originally allotted for and, at this point, the estimated cost for the first phase is closer to $260,000.

“With any project,” Lobosco said Tuesday, “what happens is you underestimate budgets and so on and so forth, other things open up that need to be fixed as well. When you work with an historic building of this age, new doors open up to new repairs.”

The actual application of the new paint is almost entirely completed. The museum is now in the midst of repairs to the porches and gutters, as well as partial repairs to the capital tops of the building columns.

The finials on the roof, which resemble blubber spades and whale teeth, are also undergoing restoration.

The building’s interior is covered by the second phase of the restoration project, which is not expected to begin for a year or so. Several issues have already materialized that necessitate projects the museum had planned to address in the future to be confronted within the next few months.

“We’d rather replace the pipes before they burst,” said Lobosco, referring to deteriorating, galvanized pipes in the basement that need to be restored.

Additionally, the entire basement must be cleaned.

“As we get inside the building,” said Lobosco. “We’ll need more [repairs] as well.”

The third phase of the capital campaign addresses repairs to the building grounds and will likely be implemented prior to the second phase of interior renovations.

“We want to finish the outside first so that it’s cohesive,” said Lobosco.

The museum plans to landscape the property before the summer, fix the front and back porches and repair the exterior fencing.

“The fence is going to be another big issue,” said Lobosco. “We’ve cleaned it up now, but it’s going to cost at least $60,000 just to repair.”

With continuous costs and essential repairs yet to be determined, the museum’s fundraising for the capital campaign is ongoing. Close to $180,000 in funding has been raised so far. The total cost is at present around $260,000, which will only cover the cost of painting. More funding is essential for the museum to move forward with the rest of the restoration process.

Last March, the museum’s fundraising efforts for the capital campaign kicked off with a $50,000 matching grant from the Century Arts Foundation earmarked towards the repair work. The Whaling Museum plans to host three fundraising events this holiday season, exhibit several beneficiary shows this spring and continually solicit private donations throughout the course of the project, according to Lobosco.

This Friday, the museum is hosting an auction at the Peter Marcelle Gallery in Bridgehampton. Available items include a 200-year-old woven basket, gift certificates to a variety of restaurants in Bridgehampton and Sag Harbor, donations from In Home and other local stores, and framed film posters from the 1960s and 1970s donated by the notable filmmaking couple Chris Hegedus and D. A. Pennebaker, who live down the street from the Whaling Museum. Value of auction items range from $50 to $1,000.

“We’ve been getting local donations which have been great,” said Lobosco. “The community’s been terrific, especially with the auction items. The merchants in town have been very supportive of the museum and our efforts to move forward.”

On December 23, the museum will raffle off a brand new 2013 Fiat 500 Cabrio Pop from Brown’s Fiat in Patchogue. The sleek, black convertible has red and ivory seats and an ivory and black interior. Just 350 tickets are for sale at $100 a piece.

To further aid with fundraising, BookHampton is sponsoring a holiday book sale on the museum’s front lawn on weekends throughout the holiday season. The store will match money raised “dollar for dollar,” said Lobosco.

With its interior closed for the winter, the museum plans to reopen for the season on Earth Day with a show by local artist and Pierson Middle/High School art teacher Peter Solow, with sales from his work also earmarked for the capital campaign.

At the official opening on Memorial Day, “a whale show” is going to be on display. Proceeds from the paintings will be split 50/50 between the artists and the restoration project. Funds raised via three additional shows during Summer 2014 will also go towards the restoration efforts. The exact content of the shows is unannounced at this point, but Lobosco said one show will consist of only Sag Harbor artists.

In addition to special events, the museum continues to raise funds through its mail drive and individual donations. Lobosco is also hopeful for another matching grant.

“It will be ongoing for years,” she said of the restoration projects, “so the fundraising efforts will continue.”

The Hookup Culture Has Left a Generation of Americans Unfulfilled and Lonely, says Dr. Donna Freitas

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Dr. Donna Freitas

Dr. Donna Freitas

By Tessa Raebeck

Ask a college student when they last went on a real date and most will stare at you dumbfounded.

Like pay phones and typewriters, traditional notions of dating are altogether extinct on college campuses. Instead, America’s young people are fully immersed in what Dr. Donna Freitas calls “the hookup culture,” a sexual mindset that has replaced courtship, dating and intimacy with casual no-strings-attached encounters known as hooking up.

While academics and young adults alike maintain the hookup culture provides for increased freedom and choices, others, Dr. Freitas among them, say its dominance of sexual encounters has left a generation of young adults frustrated, insecure and unfulfilled.

On Monday, Dr. Freitas will give a talk on “the hookup generation” at the Rogers Memorial Library in Southampton. An author and religious studies professor at Boston University, Dr. Freitas has completed eight years of clinical research and analysis on sexual activity among young adults and has nearly 20 years of personal experience on college campuses.

In her most recent book, “The End of Sex: How Hookup Culture is Leaving a Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled, and Confused About Intimacy,” Dr. Freitas found college students across genders, religious affiliations and sexual preference were proponents of the hookup culture in public, but expressed a much different attitude in private.

“I have learned from my own students,” Dr. Freitas, said in an interview on Friday, “that talking about sex and relationships and hooking up on campus — they lied about it a lot. So privacy was really a priority.”

Discussions with her own classes, she writes, revealed “an intense longing for meaning — meaningful sex, meaningful relationships and meaningful dates.”

unnamedObserving this dissatisfaction with hookup culture led her to explore the topic further. While researching her book, Dr. Freitas analyzed thousands of students at public and private, secular, Evangelical and Catholic campuses. She administered 2,600 surveys, conducted 112 interviews and collected 108 journals.

“I was sort of taken aback by the level of participation,” said Dr. Freitas. “I think the amount of participation I got — and very, very quickly once the study was open — is just finding in itself of how much students were looking for a safe, private space to talk about this stuff where there weren’t any social repercussions.”

She discovered that while most of the young men and women she encountered were “very pro ‘the hookup’ in theory,” they were privately struggling with the lack of personal connection and longing for other options.

“Hookups have existed throughout human history, of course,” writes Dr. Freitas, “but what is now happening on American campuses is something different. College has gone from being a place where hookups happened to a place where hookup culture dominates students’ attitudes about all forms of intimacy.”

Dr. Freitas found no outstanding differences between Catholic and secular universities, although the attitude was completely different on Evangelical campuses, where abstinence prevailed and there was no viable hookup culture.

One of the biggest surprises in the research, she said, was that both male and female respondents shared the same feelings of dissatisfaction.

“I assumed, like most people do,” she said, “that when I sat down with guys, they would tell me how great hookup culture was for them, but what I got was remarkably similar views between men and women.”

The only difference she saw was, while women felt it was acceptable to publicly express criticism of the hookup culture, “men felt like they absolutely could not do that; they had to go along with it or risk their masculinity.”

Some respondents were in fact in long-term relationships, but couples started as a “random hookup” that turned into a “serial hookup” before they eventually made any serious commitment to each other. The majority of college students in relationships were juniors and seniors, when it “seemed more socially acceptable to be in relationships,” said Dr. Freitas.

“Many of them,” Dr. Freitas said, “had a really hard time identifying a hookup experience that was positive for them or wasn’t just kind of ‘blah.’ They were either very ambivalent to the experience or often very sad and regretful.”

“Students want to talk about dating and romance and other options,” she said, “where the hookup is one possibility among many different possibilities.

 “The Hookup Generation: A Primer for Parents and Teenagers,” a talk by Dr. Donna Freitas, will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, December 2 at the Rogers Memorial Library, 91 Coopers Farm Road, Southampton. To reserve a seat free of charge, visit myrml.org or call 283-0074, ext. 523.

Southampton Town Council: It’s Bender & Glinka, Unofficially

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Southampton Town Council candidates Brad Bender, Frank Zappone, Stan Glinka and Jeff Mansfield

Southampton Town Council candidates Brad Bender, Frank Zappone, Stan Glinka and Jeff Mansfield

By Kathryn G. Menu

While the results have yet to be made official by the Suffolk County Board of Elections (BOE), according to Southampton Town Democratic Party chairman Gordon Herr, it appears that Independence Party member Brad Bender and Republican Stan Glinka have held on to their Election Day leads and will join the Southampton Town Board in January.

On Wednesday morning, an official with Suffolk County BOE chairman Anita Katz’s office declined comment on the race stating official results would not be available until later this week.

However, Herr said the counting of 879 absentee ballots was completed last Wednesday and that Bender and Glinka have secured seats on the town board.

Bender and Glinka bested Bridgehampton resident Jeff Mansfield and Southampton Town Deputy Supervisor Frank Zappone in the town board race.

“I am so very thankful to my friends, family, co-workers, colleagues, everyone who was so generous and encouraging during the campaign,” said Glinka, the town board race’s top vote getter, in a statement on Wednesday. “But more importantly I am thankful to the voters of this great town, my hometown of Southampton, for endorsing me with their vote. I look forward to continuing to listen to all the people and to working on finding balanced solutions to many crucial issues at hand.”

“As I committed to be your full time representative, I am currently winding down my workload and finishing off projects that are in progress,” said Bender, who is in the construction field. “I am excited about this next chapter in my life as a public servant. Working for you the taxpayers to solve problems and protect our community.”

“Grading” Sag Harbor Teachers: Administrators Discuss Goals Updates at Board of Education Meeting

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External Auditor Alexandria Battaglia, CPA, addresses the Sag Harbor Board of Education Monday night.

External Auditor Alexandria Battaglia, CPA, addresses the Sag Harbor Board of Education Monday night.

By Tessa Raebeck

“This has been a week of very special teams,” said Dr. Bonuso, interim superintendent for the Sag Harbor School District, congratulating the champion Lady Whalers field hockey team and the community team that helped pass the district’s two bond propositions.

Passing the bond was a key component of the district goals for the 2013/2014 school year, which Dr. Bonuso presented to a small group of people gathered Monday for the Board of Education (BOE) meeting.

Dr. Bonuso discussed the headway made on the first three of the district’s nine goals. He said progress was made on the first goal, improving academic achievement, through the resubmission and implementation of Annual Professional Performance Reviews (APPR), an evaluation system required by the state since 2012. It rates teachers as highly effective, effective, developing or ineffective, based on a 100-point scale. Half of the review relies on administrative observations, 10 percent on an “evidence binder” of components like electronic posting and 40 percent on test scores. For teachers whose students are not yet being tested regularly, that portion is determined by a project the district assigns in order to produce a score. Pierson Middle/High School Principal Jeff Nichols said the majority of Sag Harbor teachers were graded “effective.”

“We need to take a second look at this emphasis on testing, the over testing,” said Dr. Bonuso. “We need to take a second look at whether or not we have the materials and modules – let alone the mindset – to approach this in a manner where people are feeling good about what’s happening instead of anxious and discouraged.”

Susan Hewett, a parent, asked the board how teachers are rewarded or reprimanded based on their APPR performance. Dr. Bonuso replied teachers are not rewarded, but if they are determined to be “developing” or worse for two years, “we can literally remove them…even if they are tenured.”

If a teacher is rated “ineffective,” the superintendent said, “We don’t have to go through all the gyrations and all the bureaucracy that in the past we had to in order to remove you.”

The administrators reported on the progress of the newly formed shared decision-making teams, a component of the second goal: to build partnerships with the community. Two teams have met, one for the elementary school and one for Pierson. The district-wide team is looking for two replacements for members who left the committee prior to the first meeting.

Board member Mary Anne Miller questioned the inclusion of the middle and high schools in the same team, which BOE Vice President Chris Tice agreed should be revisited.

The third goal is to ensure sound fiscal operation and facilities management. The district added experienced security personnel and hours at both school, enhanced systems at school entryways and held its first lockdown drill of the year last week. External auditor Alexandria Battaglia said Monday the district is in good financial health, with an unassigned fund balance of about $1.4 million.

In other school news, BOE member David Diskin again asked the board to discuss starting to video record their meetings. Board President Theresa Samot said it was a good idea to look at further.

The next BOE meeting will be held December 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the Pierson Library.

With Something for Every Budget, In Home Helps Sag Harbor Shoppers Tackle Holiday Shopping

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David Brogna and John Scocco show their wares at In Home

David Brogna and John Scocco show their wares at In Home

By Tessa Raebeck; photography by Michael Heller

As Sag Harbor residents begin checking items off their holiday shopping lists, In Home is hosting a storewide clearance sale to ease the process, offering great deals on everything from sofas to stocking stuffers. With up to 70 percent off selected items, the sale includes regular clearance items, as well as closeouts from brand name manufacturers like Calvin Klein, Dansk and Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.

Since 1996, In Home co-owners John Scocco and David Brogna have filled their Main Street shop with a carefully curated collection of furnishings for every room, occasion and budget. Brogna, an award winning Home Products Development Professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), has an eye for design and a background as a buyer for companies like Macy’s. Scocco complements Brogna’s expertise with his own background in interior design and as an industrial film production manager. Together, they have built a longstanding store dedicated to both local and seasonal markets.

“We do have higher priced items,” said Scocco of In Home’s selection. “But most people don’t want to spend a lot of money these days, so we try to gear things for those shoppers.”

Brogna and Scocco have stocked their shelves with fun gift items under $25 or $50, “things that people would just come in and just want to pick up,” said Scocco.

One such item is the Corkcicle, a popular gift In Home was asked to restock after selling out last summer. For $23, the corkcicle is a long tube that resembles an icicle with a cork on top of it. After being chilled in a freezer, the corkcicle is inserted into a bottle of white or rosé wine. Unlike ice, the corkcicle won’t melt or water down your wine; instead, the bottle is both chilled and aerated upon pouring.

Another fun gift that was a hit this summer is the citrus sprayer, on sale at In Home for $15. After cutting the tip off of a lemon or lime, the citrus sprayer, which resembles the top of a spray perfume bottle, is placed on top of the fruit, allowing its owner to spray a mist of the juice directly from the lemon or lime.

“It’s really amazing,” says Scocco. “It really, really works.”

For under $20, In Home has a variety of other gift items from companies like Kate Spade and RSVP, including soap sets, candle sets, picture frames, personal care items and other home accessories. $10 can get you a chrome rabbit that doubles as a ring holder or a snow globe that’s also a ring game for children, as well as a variety of other “little fun stuff.”

“Of course, we do have a lot of other high end, more special items as well,”
said Scocco. “But our focus primarily is on the less expensive items.”

Brogna and Scocco are committed to keeping the shop stocked with reasonably priced gift items for the holidays, but they also hope to clear out the larger home furnishings in order to make room for next season’s stock.

“There’s a wide assortment of things,” said Scocco. “Some people feel intimidated, people that don’t really know us hear ‘Oh, that store’s really expensive…’ We do have a wide range and our pricing is really very, very fair and very well priced.”

The In Home team hopes to sell all the clearance furniture by January. Regularly priced at $1,980, a Stratton leather chair by Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, modern with a dark, lightly distressed wooden frame and creamy stone leather seat, is on sale for $899. A soft, 100% Egyptian cotton king-sized blanket from Sferra’s home collection regularly priced at $250 is half off at $125. Framed mythological star maps of the astrological night sky, 23” by 23”, are marked down from $190 to $99. Also on sale are sofas, coffee tables, end tables, throw pillows and virtually anything else you need to decorate your home.

“There’s so much you can get overwhelmed with all the product that we have in our space,” Scocco said with excitement.

In Home is located at 132 Main Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, call 725-7900 or visit inhomesagharbor.com.

Military Women Discuss Their Changing Role

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Chief Sherrie Huppert-Grassie, Lisa D'Agostino, Master Sergeant Cheran Cambridge and Susan Soto, the new commander of Southampton's Veterans of Foreign Wars Post

Chief Sherrie Huppert-Grassie, Lisa D’Agostino, Master Sergeant Cheran Cambridge and Susan Soto, the new commander of Southampton’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post

By Tessa Raebeck

In January 2013, then Defense Secretary Leon Panetta lifted the military’s official ban on women in combat, following receipt of a letter from General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stating that the chiefs were in agreement that “the time has come to rescind the direct combat exclusion rule for women and to eliminate all unnecessary gender-based barriers to service.”

“That’s suggesting that somehow there are some [barriers] that were still necessary. I don’t know about that,” Vietnam War veteran Susan Wilson said Tuesday. Wilson was joined by other female military personnel at a panel discussion, “The Changing Role of Women in the Military: Vietnam to Gulf War and Beyond,” hosted by the League of Women Voters at the Hampton Bays Public Library.

Susan Wilson

Susan Wilson

Wilson, a member of the league, opened the evening with stories of her experience serving in WAVES, the U.S. Naval Women’s Reserve, as a non-deployed member of the Navy during the Vietnam War.

“It was not a popular war,” she said. “Women were not welcome.” Wilson served as an administrative assistant, one of seven women in a squadron of 500 men. The waves were not permitted to wear nail polish or let their hair grow past their collars, yet they were required to wear lipstick at all times.

“I hated lipstick so for me that was not fun to do, but it was important and if you were going to get through boot camp, you were going to do that,” Wilson recalled. When she wanted to get married, she had to ask her commanding officer for permission. When she got pregnant, she was dismissed from the military. Military females at the time were not permitted to have dependents under the age of 18.

“The equality that comes from that uniform was not as complete as it is for a man. Women enjoyed equal pay, equal right to be subject to the military code of justice,” she told the crowd. “But equal job and advance opportunities, not so much.”

“As war changed and weapons changed over the years with more modern weaponry – scud missiles and roadside bombs – battle lines blurred and suddenly every soldier – male and female – was at risk,” Wilson said, adding that over 40,000 women served in the 1991 Gulf War, the first time men and women served in integrated units within a war zone. In 1994, the Pentagon reversed the progress of military women, instituting a rule restricting them from serving in combat roles, although they continued to do so unofficially.

“Just because they were not permitted to serve in combat zones, didn’t mean they weren’t there and they weren’t doing their jobs,” said Wilson. “We were there, we as a sisterhood were there.”

Wilson said Panetta’s lift of the ban was a welcome recognition of that work, although “it took so long for that to happen.”

While admitting there’s still a long ways to go, the panel was optimistic that women in the military have made significant strides toward equal standing, especially in the last decade.

Lisa D'Agostino

Lisa D’Agostino

Lisa D’Agostino, Family Readiness Program Manager for the 106th Rescue Wing of the Air National Guard, is a 106th Rescue Airman, as well as a military spouse and mother.

“When I first started in 2005,” D’Agostino said Tuesday, “to where we are now with family programs and the importance of families – having to take care of the family so our military men and women can do the job they have to do – has changed tremendously in a positive way.”

Also stationed with the 106 at Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach, Chief Sherri Huppert-Grassie has been deployed overseas four times since joining the military in 1992.

“I love when we get to go away and do our job because that’s what we do,” she said. “We’re focused on just the job.”

In 2000, Huppert-Grassie went on her first deployment to Turkey. In 2001, she was deployed to Kuwait and in 2003 she served in Iraq.

While in Iraq, “the guys” she served with were worried about Huppert-Grassie coming along, voicing concern for her wellbeing. “It’s touching, but you still want to do what your job is. It doesn’t matter because I’m going with them,” she said. “We’re just doing our job out there.”

“Finally, in 2009 I deployed again and that was to Afghanistan,” said Huppert-Grassie. Her husband, who is also in the military, supported her on the home front during her deployments. If they were both deployed, her mother watched over their daughter. Huppert-Grassie’s experience is a far cry from being dismissed for being pregnant, as Wilson was.

“As females, I believe that I have a lot of passionate emotion and I try to not let it get the best of me because I want to be that leader,” she said. “I love being in the military.”

Master Sergeant Cheran Cambridge has served as a medical service administrator in the military for 12 years. In 2010, Cambridge was deployed to Saudi Arabia, where she worked as part of a five-person team in a blood transshipment center, supplying blood and plasma to medical units. She attributes her militancy to her Caribbean grandmother.

“Me being in boot camp didn’t really teach me anything, cause I learned from my grandmother,” she said. “That’s where I learned my public service from.”

Susan Soto

Susan Soto

As the newly appointed commander of Southampton’s Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 7009, Susan Soto is the first female and the first Native American to hold the position. Soto’s father was a World War II veteran, her uncle was a veteran of the Korean War and her brother was in the Navy. Growing up on the stories of their deployments, Soto “needed to find a way to feed my thirst for travel,” so she joined the military in 1982.

Soto was deployed to Saudi Arabia as part of Operation Desert Storm in August of 1990, one of five women in the intelligence unit there.

“The guys were great, the Navy Seals,” she recalled. “This was a time when women were deploying, but the media was putting out a lot of negative words on women deploying to Desert Storm…To me, it was no question for me to go and be deployed. I had no problem with it, it was my job, that was what I went into the military to do, to support my country.”

Sag Harbor Heroes Honored During Veterans Day Celebrations

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Heller_2013 Veterans Day Parade 11-11-13_1839_LR

By Tessa Raebeck; photography by Michael Heller

In annual Veterans Day celebrations this week, Sag Harbor residents recognized that honoring village veterans is a year round duty, not a daylong event. Whether by visiting a monument, putting up a plaque or rubbing a gravestone, veterans and community members work to celebrate our heroes throughout the year, and those efforts were officially recognized with commemorative events Monday.

From Cub Scouts to World War II veterans, troops in uniform kicked off the holiday at the annual Veterans Day Parade through Sag Harbor Village Monday morning. After the parade, government officials and honored servicemen gathered outside the American Legion Chelberg and Battle Post 388 on Bay Street. Following speeches, about 40 residents headed over to the Ferry Road Cemetery in North Haven to hear village historian Joe Zaykowski present a lecture on the cemetery restoration and the lives of veterans resting there.

VFW Commander Roger King addresses the crowd at the American Legion

VFW Commander Roger King addresses the crowd at the American Legion.

At the American Legion Hall, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9082 Commander Roger King, who served two terms in Iraq, spoke of veterans’ “sacrifice for the common good,” and the symbolic significance of this year’s restoration of the federal holiday to November 11.

Veterans Day is always observed on November 11; however, in 2012, for example, the official federal holiday fell on November 12 because it was a Monday. King recognized the significance of the holiday returning to November 11 as it coincides with Armistice Day, which marks the settlement signed at the end of World War I on “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918.

Post Commander Marty Knab said the day’s events were intended not only to thank those who fought in battle, but also to thank and honor all who have served honorably in the military in any capacity, be it wartime or peacetime. While recognizing the ultimate sacrifice of those killed in battle, Knab hoped to also underscore the fact that all who served have made huge sacrifices for their country.

“Not all veterans have seen war,” Knab told the crowd. “But a common bond that they share is an oath in which they express their willingness to die defending this nation. Perhaps most significant in preserving our way of life are the battles that America does not have to fight, because those who wish us harm slink away in fear of the Coast Guard cutter, the Navy aircraft carrier, the Air Force Fighter Squadron, or the Army soldier on patrol.”

“Our country finds these men and women in the many small communities around our country, like our own Village of Sag Harbor,” he continued.

World War II Veteran Robert Riskin speaks in front of the American Legion

World War II Veteran Robert Riskin speaks in front of the American Legion.

Local writer and World War II veteran Robert Riskin, whose officer encouraged him to pursue a writing career, spoke of his visit in September to the World War II monument in Washington, D.C. Riskin’s trip was facilitated by the Honor Flight Network, an organization that honors veterans by transporting them to visit their memorials.

“I was not very excited about going,” admitted Riskin. “And then I thought, ‘Well, it’s free…so what the hell? I’ll try it.’”

Accompanied by Knab, Riskin enjoyed a motorcycle escort, bagpipe serenade and a welcoming reception from Naval Academy plebes on the daylong trip to Washington.

“I almost broke down, it was just such an incredible feeling of love,” he said, adding, “the memorial itself is just about one of the most fantastic things you’ll ever see … the emotions that it brings up are very, very strong.”

After the veterans’ speeches, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. presented a proclamation, “the state’s highest honor,” he noted, to Sag Harbor Village Mayor Brian Gilbride and dockmaster David Thommen commemorating Sag Harbor’s heroic moment in the War of 1812. Two hundred years ago in July 1813, British troops stationed off the Long Island coast attempted to invade and pillage the small seaside village of Sag Harbor, as they had done to countless towns across the island. Greeted by a group of residents and militiamen on shore, the British quickly retreated, recognizing that whatever goods they could plunder were not worth a battle against the spirited community.

New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, Justice Julia Schiavoni, Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride and Sag Harbor Village Board Trustee Ed Deyermond honored David Thommen (second from right) for his work restoring the monument honoring the site of a Revolutionary War fort in Sag Harbor

Local officials honor Village Dockmaster David Thommen (second from right).

“We repelled the British. They never returned again until the British invasion of 1964,” Thiele joked, referring to The Beatles.

The assemblyman spoke of his own childhood playing around the old fort on High Street, but he never knew the story behind it.

“We all know it today and it’s because of the single-handed volunteer efforts of David Thommen,” said Thiele of the village dockmaster, who revitalized the fort – and the community’s knowledge of its own heroism — by dedicating a plaque and raising a flag there last July.

“This is about the veterans from the first militias in 1620 to the returning soldiers today,” said Thommen, accepting the proclamation.

Following the ceremony, North Haven Village Historian Joe Zaykowski gave a presentation to a crowd at the Ferry Road Cemetery on Route 114. Zaykowski successfully restored the gravestones there and, in doing so, unearthed the stories of some of North Haven’s earliest residents.

North Haven Village Historian Joe Zaykowski

North Haven Village Historian Joe Zaykowski at the grave of Revolutionary War Veteran John Payne, Sr.

Zaykowski spoke of the life and lineage of John Payne, Sr., a veteran of both the colonial French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War, who died 200 years ago in November 1813 and was laid to rest on Ferry Road. Payne’s gravestone was ineligible, cracked and scattered until Zaykowski’s restoration.

Zaykowski spoke extensively on the history of North Haven, with specific knowledge of lineages, burial techniques and even houses — several of which remain in the village today. His brother-in-law, Philip Reynolds, played period music from the Revolutionary War era on his saxophone.

In 1781, Payne received nine pounds, 19 shillings and one penny for his service in the Revolutionary War, according to Zaykowski.

“I cannot tell you that John Payne was a so-called war hero,” Zaykowski, himself a veteran of the Vietnam War, told the crowd. “That’s not important; He served his country, served it well I’m sure.”

In attendance to hear Zaykowski’s talk was Alexandra Binder, who lives on Shelter Island with her fiancé Beau Payne, a direct descendant of John Payne. Eager to learn more of her new family’s extensive local history, Binder was ecstatic to have the aid of Zaykowski, who has traced the Payne’s lineage all the way back to England prior to the colonization of America.