Tag Archive | "Hampton Bays"

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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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.

Southampton Town Council Race Still Too Close to Call

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By Tessa Raebeck

Over a week after the election, the Southampton Town Council race remains too close to call, with 879 absentee ballots left to be counted, officials said Wednesday morning.

According to the office of Suffolk County Board of Elections Commissioner Anita Katz, counting of the absentee ballots is underway and will not be finished until as late as the beginning of next week.

No matter who wins the two open seats, each of the four candidates would be joining the town board for the first time. Stan Glinka, of Hampton Bays, and Jeffrey Mansfield, of Bridgehampton, ran together on the Republican Party line, facing challengers Brad Bender, of Northport, and Deputy Supervisor Frank Zappone, of Southampton, who ran on the Democratic and Independence party lines.

According to the unofficial results released by the Suffolk County Board of Elections, with 42 of 42 districts reporting on election night last Tuesday, Glinka led the town council race with 5,857 votes, or 25.85 percent of tallied ballots. Bender is in second place, with 5,746 votes, or 25.36 percent.

If the absentee ballots do not significantly alter the results, Bender and Glinka will join the town board come January.

With 5,603 votes, or 24.73 percent, Mansfield trails Bender by just 143 votes. Behind Mansfield by 158 votes, Zappone earned 5,445 votes, or 24.03 percent.

In addition to the town council race, the official outcome of the race for five town trustee positions also hangs in the balance until absentee ballots are counted.

If the results hold, incumbents Bill Pell (8,933 votes), Eric Shultz (8,746 votes) and Ed Warner, Jr. (7,161 votes), members of the Independence, Democrat and Republican parties, respectively, will have secured the top three spots. The remaining two spots would go to Republicans Scott Horowitz (6,399 votes) and Ray Overton (5,436 votes).

Water’s Edge Radio Hour Celebrates Local Voices of the East End

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.web Waters Edge Radio Hour @ Wolffer 11-9-13_1804

By Tessa Raebeck; photography by Michael Heller

Without lighting effects, set design or elaborate costumes, the audience is transported in time and setting, traveling from the waiting room of a modern day doctor’s office to the whaling docks of 1840’s Sag Harbor in a matter of minutes.

“Language is the most powerful thing we have,” says Josh Perl, co-creator of Water’s Edge Radio Hour, a new variety show on WPPB, 88.3 FM. “Good writing is compelling. We can transport people there with just a few words or sound effects and their imagination follows the rest of it.”

Along with partners John Landes and Peter Zablotsky, Perl proudly unveiled his newest project in the tasting room at Wölffer Estate Winery in Sagaponack last Saturday.

A locally based radio show a la “A Prairie Home Companion,” Water’s Edge promises to capture the unique character of the East End without catering solely to visitors. The hour-long program includes three short plays, three essays, and two full songs, as well as musical interludes. It will be performed before a live audience and recorded for broadcast on WPPB.

Inspired by his own love of radio, Landes came up with the idea for an East End variety show and quickly enlisted the expertise of Zablotsky and Perl, partners in the Naked Stage Theatre Company and HITfest, the Hamptons Independent Theatre Festival. Perl and Zablotsky added theater connections and experience to Landes’ vision. Also contributing acting chops, Perl hosts the show.

While many local artists wait to unveil their projects until the crowded summer months, Landes felt the winter was the perfect time for Water’s Edge to begin regular broadcasting.

“It occurred to me that the Hamptons – the North and the South Fork – in a lot of ways are perfect for a show like this because we have kind of a captive audience in the winter time,” said Landes. “Those of us who live out here year round and love living out here year round, we know each other in the community and there’s so many good, talented people out here – writers, actors and people who love it out here and want to get the message out to others about what it’s like out here.”

In April, Water’s Edge presented a pilot run at Guild Hall. The story centered on the conflict between a well-known group of locals and some unwelcome outsiders, represented by surprisingly talkative deer ticks and bed bugs.

Following positive feedback on the pilot, Landes, Perl and Zablotsky moved forward, crafting enough material for four shows and continuously working on more. The environment could switch from a whaling ship to a corn maze instantly; it is entirely dependent on sound effects made by the actors. In one scene, two dads sit in the waiting room of a doctor’s office, supported by sounds of a receptionist, baby noises, and Velcro ripping.

“The nice thing about radio is you can do anything,” says Perl. “Our tagline is where anything can happen – and it usually does. We’re able to transport people to the Sag Harbor waterfront in 1840 where Herman Melville is seeking work on a whaling ship.”

Although they range in time period and location, all sketches have one common thread: humor.

“He just happens to have a Jewish mother who’s very worried about him being in a boat with 100 men. His mother errs on the side of a little bit over protective, she wants him to be a butcher like his older brother,” Perl says of Herman Melville.

The creators are hopeful this is the start of a long running variety show with locally written pieces and locally based characters, ranging from celebrities to surfers to fishermen. Water’s Edge strives to go beyond the public’s perception of “The Hamptons” and deliver a compelling and authentic narrative that includes the year round community. Composed entirely of original work, the program is wholly inclusive; the creators are consistently looking for new local writers to contribute editorials and plays. According to Perl, although the plays use “Hamptons kinds of archetypes,” the stories are universal. In one scene, a wealthy older couple searching for entertainment during a fall visit find themselves slightly out of place in a corn maze.

“When a friend tells you a story about people you don’t know, if they’re a good storyteller, you’re right there in the moment with them,” he said. While the stage actor acknowledges that costumes and set design add to certain productions, he said that without those elements, radio allows for the text to truly triumph.

To complement the stories, Hopefully Forgiven, comprised of musicians Brad Penuel and Telly Karoussos, will perform several times during the show.

Water’s Edge Radio Show celebrates the East End community in a way “the Hamptons” are not always celebrated – from a local perspective – and it does so with good humor.

“It’s kind of funny,” says Perl of the variety show. “It’s not kind of funny, it’s actually very funny.”

Upcoming live broadcasts of Water’s Edge Radio Hour will take place on November 23 and December 14 at 7 p.m. at the Wölffer Estate Winery Tasting Room, 139 Sagg Road in Sagaponack.

Suffolk County: Schneiderman Earns Sixth and Final Term

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Incumbent Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman Celebrates his Victory at a Democratic Party gathering at 230 Elm in Southampton November 5.

By Kathryn G. Menu

Jay Schneiderman has earned a sixth and final term on the Suffolk County Legislature handily defeating his Republican challenger Chris Nuzzi during Tuesday night’s election.

Schneiderman — an Independence Party member running with the support of the Democratic and Working Families parties — earned 11,329 votes or 60.34 percent of ballots cast, according to unofficial results from the Suffolk County Board of Elections (BOE). Nuzzi — a Southampton Town Councilman running with the support of both the Republican and Conservative parties — earned 7,444 ballots or 39.64 percent of the vote.

With absentee ballots, and the results of three election districts not yet reported, Nuzzi conceded the race to Schneiderman in a phone call just after 11 p.m. on Tuesday night.

“I want to congratulate Jay, a long serving elected official,” said Nuzzi Wednesday morning. “It is not an easy thing to do and despite our disagreements on the campaign trail I respect his win.”

“I want to reiterate my thanks to Southampton residents, in particular, for all the support they have shown me in my two terms on the Southampton Town Board,” added Nuzzi, who will step down from that board due to term limits in January. “I value that experience more than anyone knows.”

“To the residents of the second legislative district, of course, I was in this to win it — we all are,” said Nuzzi. “But it is bigger than just the election. You can make a point and force conversations about important issues regardless of the election outcome.”

As to whether or not he would seek another run for public service, Nuzzi said it was simply too early to speculate on his political future.

“It takes an awful lot of any person, and their families for that matter, to put themselves through the election process,” he said. “Right now I would be purely speculating and it would be premature. At the same time, I love public service, I love serving in office and I would certainly consider public service in the future.”

On Wednesday, Schneiderman said he was pleased with the outcome, and in particular was satisfied with the large margin of approval given he was running on his record of service.

“The race is over,” he said. “Chris called and conceded last night and we had a very nice conversation. I credited him on a well-run race. I think he was a formidable opponent.”

Schneiderman added he was pleased to have the opportunity to work with incumbent Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, who appears to have secured a third term, as well as Larry Cantwell, the Democrat-elect to the town supervisor’s seat in East Hampton.

“I want to assist the towns in tackling regional issues in any way I can,” said Schneiderman who added he plans to hit the ground running on issues like tick borne illness abatement.

Schneiderman recently passed legislation requiring the county to develop a comprehensive plan to address tick abatement and tick borne illnesses through its division of vector control.

“Over the last few weeks, so many people have reached out to me that I believe it is a more prevalent issue than I initially believed it to be,” he said. “That will be a central issue I focus on, and in particular having the county step up to secure resources from state and federal officials to bring attention to this health epidemic we are facing on the East End.”

Revitalizing the Riverside area in Southampton, and looking at water quality issues are also at the top of Schneiderman’s agenda, he said.

“I don’t know exactly what the next two years will hold,” he said. “I know the next big fight will be who will be the presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature. I am interested. Whether that comes to pass, we will see, but I am a senior member of the majority, so it is possible despite the power center of the legislature being in western Suffolk.”

Anna Throne-Holst Wins Southampton Town Supervisor Race; Town Council Still Too Close to Call

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Incumbent Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst watches the election results with, from left to right, sons Sebastian and Max and daughter Karess on November 5.

By Tessa Raebeck; photography by Michael Heller

It appears Independence and Democratic Party candidate Anna Throne-Holst has secured a third term as Southampton Town Supervisor, beating Republican challenger Linda Kabot.

Alex Gregor also had a strong showing Tuesday night in the race to keep his position as Superintendent of Highways, coming out ahead of challenger David Betts.

Several races remain undecided, with 879 absentee ballots yet to be counted, town council candidate Brad Bender said Wednesday.

According to the Suffolk County Board of Elections unofficial results, with 42 of 42 districts reported, Throne-Holst secured 7,081 votes, or 58.63 percent of ballots cast. Kabot earned 4,985 votes, or 41.27 percent.

“This was a hard fought campaign and I think what I would like to say is we are now the poster child for running a clean, above board, above the issues [campaign], talking about what really matters to people and not going down in the mud,” Throne-Holst said in her acceptance speech late Tuesday night at the Democratic Party gathering at 230 Elm in Southampton. “I think people recognize that we genuinely have been there to help, we genuinely have been there to make a difference.”

Kabot conceded the race late Tuesday and said Wednesday that she was unsure whether she would seek public office again.

“I’m very proud of my grassroots campaign, we focused on the truth,” said Kabot. “We’re dealing with a well-funded incumbent who has manipulated the facts to her advantage and ultimately, the voters have made their choice, so we move forward.”

Newly reelected County Legislator Jay Schneiderman called the night “a historic moment in the Town of Southampton,” reminding the crowd that no non-Republican supervisor has had a majority on the town board since Thiele was supervisor in the early 1990s. If either Brad Bender or Frank Zappone is elected, Throne-Holst will have a Democratic majority on the board.

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In the highway superintendent contest, according to the unofficial results, as of Wednesday morning Gregor had secured 7,259 votes, or 61.87 percent of the vote, earning him another term while 4,470 votes were cast for David Betts, giving him 38.1 percent of the vote

In uncontested races, Sandy Schermeyer was elected town clerk and Deborah Kooperstein and Barbara Wilson were appointed to the two open town justice positions.

With the remaining districts and absentee ballots yet to be counted, the races for two seats on the town board and five trustee positions are too close to call.

As of Wednesday morning, the unofficial results from the Suffolk County Board of Elections places Republican Stan Glinka in the lead in the town council race with 5,857 votes, or 25.85 percent of votes cast. Bender, an Independence party member cross-endorsed by the Democratic party, is in second place with 5,746 votes, or 25.36 percent. Trailing Bender by just 143 votes, Republican Jeff Mansfield has so far earned 5,603 votes, or 24.73 percent of ballots cast. With 5,445 votes and 24.03 percent, Democrat Frank Zappone trails Mansfield by 158 votes.

“I think the indications are things are in a state of flux,” Zappone said Wednesday morning. “It appears as if there’s a significant number of uncounted votes — that could shift the standing significantly or not at all. It’s very difficult to tell at this point, so one has to be patient, sit back and see what evolves.”

Early Wednesday, Mansfield said he was busy driving around town picking up lawn signs and taking down billboards.

“It could be a lengthy process,” he said, “So we will respect the process and see what happens, but I think at this time it’s premature to say one way or another.”

Bender was likewise committed to removing campaign signs Wednesday morning.

“We’re going to let those people have their voice and let those ballots be looked at,” he said of the absentee ballots. “We’ll let the board of elections sort it out and we’ll celebrate when we have an actual result.”

Stan Glinka could not be reached for comment.

The race for Southampton Town Trustee, in which eight candidates vied for five available seats, also cannot be determined at this time. The candidates leading thus far are the three incumbents running; Bill Pell leads the pack with 8,933 votes, or 17.64 percent of votes cast. Eric Shultz has earned 8,746 votes, or 17.27 percent and Ed Warner, Jr. is in third place with 7,161 votes, or 14.14 percent.

Trailing the incumbents are: Scott Horowitz with 6,399 votes, or 12.63 percent; Raymond Overton with 5,436 votes or 10.73 percent; Howard Pickerell, Jr. with 5,163 votes or 10.19 percent; John Bouvier with 4,953 votes or 9.78 percent; and Bill Brauninger with 3,812 votes, or 7.52 percent.

All elected officials will take office on January 1, 2014.

Preparing for Thanksgiving at North Sea Farms

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By Tessa Raebeck

When Richie King approaches the pen, the turkeys cannot contain their excitement. They flock towards the gate as he greets them and follow him around in a massive cluster. King appreciates the attention, but flattery can’t change the turkeys’ fate; with Thanksgiving around the corner, North Sea Farms and King’s Farm Stand in Southampton are in full preparation for the holiday season.

“A small farm with a little bit of everything,” North Sea Farms has been supplying East End families with their Thanksgiving turkeys since 1945. Richard King represents the third generation of the King family to work the land off Noyac Road, following in the footsteps of his father, Richard “Tate” King.

Brought to the farm as chicks in early July, some 700 turkeys are fully grown by mid-November. Their caretaking is fairly straightforward; the turkeys are fed and allowed to “run around outside,” according to Sam Dosch, who has been working on the farm since she was 14. Both King and Dosch maintain that the fresh feed and active lifestyle North Sea turkeys enjoy on the farm makes their taste – not to mention nutritional value – far superior to caged, mass-produced turkeys found elsewhere.

“It’s all about quality,” writes Julia King, an American College of Sports Medicine certified Health/Fitness specialist and Richie’s youngest daughter, on the farm’s blog on LocalHarvest.org. “It is time we all got back to basics with our food. By building relationships with your farmers you are building relationships with your food. And, as in any good relationship, if you take the time to nurture it, it will give back far more than ever expected.”

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The free-range, organic turkeys available on the farm range in size from 12 to 25 pounds. Some turkeys are naturally bigger, but activity and “which ones are pigs and eat more food” can also determine size, said Dosch. The main determinate of a larger sized turkey is simple: “they hang out a little longer,” according to Dosch.

With perceived cultural shifts away from eating meat and a new children’s film in theaters, “Free Bird,” about the plight of Thanksgiving Turkeys, King is wary that turkey sales will suffer this year, but Dosch is hopeful that social media outlets like the farm’s Facebook page will continue to draw new customers. If all else fails, North Sea Farms can always rely on the regulars, with countless local and visiting families returning every year.

“People kind of slowly start ordering in October,” said Dosch. “But then like a week or two before Thanksgiving, there’s a mad panic and that’s when the phone won’t stop.”

In addition to turkeys, North Sea Farms sells a wide variety of produce, fresh herbs and baked goods to fill Thanksgiving tables.

“We have everything but stuffing mix here for Thanksgiving,” said Dosch, who, while outlining the staples of a fresh and organic Thanksgiving table available in the shop, categorized the food not by type, but by the member of the King family who makes it.

Richie King’s wife, Robin, makes and sells her renowned cranberry sauce and may add homemade gravy to the line-up this season. Richie’s sister, Kathleen King, is the force behind Tate’s Bake Shop, named after her father and started out of the family farm stand when she was 11. She continues to supply King’s Farm Stand with all their baked goods, and an assortment of pies, tarts and other Thanksgiving treats are available for sale.

Most produce is grown on the farm and all of it is grown locally. Outside the shop’s entrance, wooden carts filled with colorful squash, pumpkins and other seasonal vegetables greet visitors. When families pick up their turkeys, they can explore the farm, learn about the day-to-day operations and visit the family’s two goats, Jiggy and Gilbert. Gilbert has been accompanying King to local schools and petting zoos for 13 years.

With cranberry sauce made by Robin, pumpkin pies baked by Kathleen and turkeys raised by Richie, the King family invites other families to enjoy their harvest as much as they do this holiday season.

North Sea Farms and King’s Farm Stand are located at 1060 Noyac Road in Southampton. For more information, call 283-0735 or visit their page on Facebook.

Eighth Annual Black Film Festival Explores Roots

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Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild which will screen at the Eighth Annual Black Film Festival this weekend. 

By Tessa Raebeck

On screen, he played the evil overseer who raped her character, the helpless slave. Off screen, they were dating.

“Imagine how hard it was,” said Tina Andrews, recalling her experience playing Aurelia in the hit 1977 mini-series “Roots.” Along with director John Erman, Andrews will discuss the groundbreaking television series at Southampton’s 8th Annual Black Film Festival Thursday.

Started in 2006 by the newly formed African American Museum of the East End in order to get the organization’s name out there, the festival has grown from a one-day event to a four-day experience. This year’s line-up features live jazz, spoken word poetry and panel discussions, not to mention an array of diverse, thought-provoking films. The featured filmmakers range from renowned documentarian Ken Burns to Kareema Bee, a 2013 scholarship recipient at Stony Brook Southampton.

“Opening night, we generally have a screening and panel discussion on a really important topic that needs to be shared,” explained Brenda Simmons, a co-founder of the museum and festival organizer.

The festival begins Thursday with a screening of “Central Park Five,” a 2012 documentary by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon. The award-winning film covers the background, investigation and aftermath of the Central Park jogger case, a notorious crime that made waves in 1989 when five Latino and African American male teenagers were arrested for the rape of a white woman in Central Park. They were proven innocent when a convicted rapist and murderer confessed to the crime 13 years later. Following the screening, a panel discussion will include Yusef Salaam, one of the Central Park Five, and four experts in related fields.

On Friday, Charles Certain and Certain Moves, the museum’s “house band,” will perform “jazz, rock, funk and R&B with everything in between — all with a smooth jazz twist.”

Local up-and-coming jazz singer Sheree Elder will also perform Friday evening, along with guest poets who will present spoken word poetry in a café type setting.

“We like to promote people who are starting out, give them a chance,” said Simmons. “Especially local people.”

Another young artist the festival is excited to feature is Kareema Bee, the 2013 scholarship recipient for the 20/20/20 film program at Stony Brook Southampton. On Saturday, Bee will screen “Tug O War,” a short film she wrote, directed and edited.

Also on Saturday, the festival will feature “Beat the Drum,” a family film.

“You have to understand how to deal with diverse, controversial issues,” said Simmons. “It’s a great film for young people.”

Nominated for four Academy Awards, including a nomination for Quvenzhané Wallis, the youngest Best Actress nominee in history, “Beasts of the Southern Wild” will screen Saturday.

Closing out the day Saturday is “I Am Slave,” a film based on the actual experience of Mende Nazer, a Sudanese girl who was abducted at age 12 and sold into slavery.

“It’s a thriller, but it’s a powerful, powerful movie,” said Simmons.

Academy Award-winning director — and longtime East Hampton resident — Nigel Noble will present two films Sunday, “Voices of Sarafina!” and “Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall.”

“It’s very serious, but it’s very light,” said Simmons of “Voices of Sarafina!” Noble’s  documentary based on the 1987 Broadway musical. “The singing and the dancing in this film is extraordinary.”

In its world premiere Sunday, “Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall” is sure to move audiences. Drawn from footage shot over a six-month period in Iowa State Penitentiary, it is one of eight documentary short films that will compete in the 86th Academy Awards in 2014.

“I can’t even tell you how awesome it was to see that movie,” said Simmons. “It made me cry, it made me think; it is such a dynamic documentary.”

In addition to exciting newcomers, the festival will feature the Emmy award-winning second episode of the “Roots” first season. The Q&A with Erman and Andrews follows, during which Andrews will explain the emotional experience of playing a slave.

“We’re going to do it in a very interesting way,” said Andrews of the Q&A. “It’s going to be from both a black and white perspective…[It was] a very unique perspective for us because it conjured up the ghosts of all of our ancestors.”

Prior to “Roots,” the complete story of those ancestors, from being taken from Africa through the Middle Passage and onto plantations and being sold into slavery, was never told, said Andrews, who splits her time between Manhattan and the North Fork.

According to Andrews, the actors on the show — black and white — faced immense difficulty in coping with the emotions brought on by playing both the oppressed and the oppressors.

“Most of us who were black actors on that show who were playing slaves, we would drive up in our Mercedes and we had our homes in the hills and we had our fabulous lifestyle and then we had to go in and don these rags,” she recalled. “The actors who were playing plantation owners or slave owners, they had a hard time playing those characters, a hard time using those words.”

“It was one experience that I will never forget, it is why I am a writer today,” said Andrews, who wrote the critically acclaimed CBS mini-series, “Sally Hemings.” “It was just the hardest thing for these actors, to go from joking around with us, going out later and having a drink with us, then they’d have to put on these characters and play these roles to you — who they’re looking at and saying the ‘N word’ or beating you or stripping you naked — that’s a hard thing to ask an actor to do. The ancestors showed us who we had to be.”

The 8th Annual Black Film Festival will be shown on November 7, 8, 9 and 10. For tickets and more information, call (631) 873-7362 or email info@aamee.org

Hampton Bays Man Donates Land, Home to Southampton Town & the Peconic Baykeeper

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Wehrmann Pond aerial

By Victoria Faconti

A Hampton Bays man’s wish is coming true in the wake of his death. It was a dream of Harry B. Wehrmann to have his Hampton Bays property — a place he always called “tranquil” — become a public park celebrating the nature he enjoyed until his passing on April 9 at the age of 73.

Wehrmann, a native of Latvia, spent his summers in Southampton on Wehrmann pond with his adopted parents and brother. After retirement in 1992, Wehrmann moved to the family home and lived on the 12-acre property until his death last month.

On May 8, under the Community Preservation Fund (CPF), Wehrmann’s estate accepted Southampton Town Board’s offer to purchase the Wehrmann Pond.

The purchase price was not available as of press time as the deal has yet to officially close.

“The vision was to establish a town park around Wehrmann Pond as public land and establish a headquarters for the Peconic Baykeeper, Inc. – a philanthropic organization,” said Carolyn Zenk, an environmental attorney and former Southampton Town Councilwoman who helped Wehrmann with this deal. “Harry and I thought this approach would yield the greatest benefits for the public.”

The property is adjacent to acres of land Southampton Town already owns, according to Zenk.

“Harry intended that the park be used for passive recreation uses. He did not want noisy off-road vehicles or jet skis in the area. ‘Tranquility’ is the name he would tell me. ‘Tranquility’ is the goal’,” said Zenk.

Wehrmann had a vision for his land including the provision that his house must be used in a philanthropic way, otherwise it would be turned over to Southampton Town. Through Wehrmann’s will, his former home will become the headquarters for the Peconic Baykeeper, Inc., the not-for-profit organization led by baykeeper Kevin McAllister which devotes itself to keeping local bays clean and safe for fishing, swimming and recreation.

After watching the work of the baykeeper, Wehrmann wanted to help the organization in a meaningful way, said McAllister who estimates the process could take six to nine months before his office makes the official move to the property.

“This is going to benefit us immensely as the space is much larger and we will be able to invite the community out,” said McAllister.

“Mr. Wehrmann wanted to find an organization which was dedicated to fighting for protection of the area’s bays,” said Zenk. “Harry also wanted to help preserve the beauty and bounty of the bays that he loved so well. He found that organization in the Peconic Baykeeper.”

Wehrmann’s 12-acre property is mostly wooded, according to Zenk, and is located in the Red Creek Ridge area of Hampton Bays, off Upper Red Creek Road and across from Red Creek Pond — an open bay.

Zenk originally approached Southampton Town Board to purchase the entire property minus Harry Wehrmann’s house, which would eventually be given to the Baykeeper. However, the town board directed Wehrmann to instead subdivide the property into two lots. The first 10-acre lot containing Wehrmann Pond is what is being purchased by the town, with the adjacent parcel donated to the Peconic Baykeeper.

According to Zenk, there are still a number of approvals needed before Wehrmann’s dream will actually become a reality.

“While we have accepted the town’s offer to purchase Wehrmann Pond, closing documents must be signed, a public hearing must be held and the town board must give a final approval,” she said.

The Southampton Town Planning Board must also allow a change of use on the property from residential to philanthropic before the Peconic Baykeeper can truly call the Wehrmann house its new headquarters.

“We have every confidence that town officials will see Harry Wehrmann’s dying wishes come true and that they will help establish a beautiful park for town residents and a memorial to the entire Wehrmann family for all time,” said Zenk. “We hope that other residents will follow Mr. Wehrmann’s example and consider donating land or houses worthy of not-for-profit organizations, such as the Group for the East End, The Nature Conservancy, The Peconic Land Trust, and the Peconic Baykeeper, Inc. These not-for-profit organizations have worked long and hard to preserve the quality of our lives; they deserve our support.”

Court Strikes Casino Ban for Shinnecock Nation

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On Monday, a federal appeals court struck down a 2008 federal court decision barring the Shinnecock Indian Nation from building a casino on their tribal lands in Southampton, ruling the issue belongs under the jurisdiction of state courts.

In a 2-1 ruling, the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals in New York ruled the matter between the State of New York and the Town of Southampton against the Shinnecock’s casino is one that should be settled in state rather than federal court.

The decision nullifies a 2008 permanent injunction granted to the town and state preventing the Shinnecock Indian Nation from building a casino near the Shinnecock Canal on its Hampton Bays property known as Westwoods.

On Tuesday, the Shinnecock Indian Nation Board of Trustees responded to the ruling, stating this was an opportunity for New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo to bring the Nation to the table and discuss a partnership between the state and the nation as Governor Cuomo has expressed interest in expanding gaming in New York.

Since the injunction was granted in 2008, the Nation has said it would not want to go against the wishes of the community and build a casino at Westwoods, but would prefer to find a situation where the tribe could have a casino further west on Long Island.

“The Shinnecock Indian Nation was gratified to learn that the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit today vacated the judgment and injunction entered against it in litigation over the status and use of its tribe-owned land known as Westwoods,” said the Nation in a statement. “We thank the creator for lifting this burden and look forward to providing for the future of our people in a manner that is responsible and fair, as we always have in the past. Now that the Nation has been federally recognized as an Indian tribe and has been freed from the effects of that judgment and injunction, we again ask Governor Cuomo to sit down with the Nation to discuss how the Nation and the State can move forward together. Our ancestors and tribal leaders, both living and those who have gone before us, always have maintained our tribal lands for the benefit of all tribe members. This always will be our starting point for any discussions, and we look forward to finding an agreed basis with the State for realization of our common goals.”