Tag Archive | "Montauk"

Al “Big Time” Daniels: Waiting for the Fish

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It’s almost mid October and the weather continues to be mild. Some days mid 70s and sun have almost seemed like summer. There are some beachgoers trying to get those last warm sunrays. Water temps continue in the high 60′s. There definitely is less of a fishing effort with some boats already on blocks and under their winter covers. The bay still has plenty of bait and we are waiting for the fish. Those large bluefish should show up soon.

Meanwhile snappers are still around and chasing tins or snapper poppers. Porgies are still pleasing the bait fishermen. Mixed sizes range throughout the bay with larger fish to the east. The reports from the opening of blackfish season were quite good. Keepers and limits were caught and of course this has been a shallow water deal. Deeper water fishermen were plagued with large numbers of porgies. The cooling waters should help this fishery as the fall goes by.

There are also reports of some fish being caught along the ocean front. The ocean has plenty of sand eels with tins with tubes doing the trick. Some days there are birds and fish around Montauk Point, so that fall fishery has started.

More scoters are in the bay and there continues to be foxes on the prowl. There are rumors of Wile E. Coyote roaming the east end. And an eagle this week was spotted at Clam Island.

Back to School with Sag Harbor Superintendent Dr. Carl Bonuso

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Sag Harbor School District bus driver Lamont Miller, Superintendent Dr. Carl Bonuso with children riding the bus to Sag Harbor Elementary School Monday morning, the first day of the 2013-14 school year. 

By Tessa Raebeck

“This is an amazing place,” said Dr. Carl Bonuso Monday as he greeted students entering Pierson Middle/High School, embarking on the first day of the 2013-14 school year.

“I come from a system that was mom and pop and they cared about all the kids, but it still wasn’t as personal as it is here,” he said.

After greeting the older kids at Pierson, the superintendent found Bus A and joined its driver, Lamont Miller, on his second ride of the day through Noyac and North Haven Village. This time, the bus picked up Sag Harbor’s elementary students, some riding the bus for their first day of school in the district as kindergarteners.

Miller, whose enthusiasm for the first day of school even rivaled Dr. Bonuso’s, has been driving this route since 2009. He has two daughters going into kindergarten and pre-kindergarten in Riverhead this year, so he said he understands the mixture of excitement and anxiety that accompanies the first day of school.

At Bus A’s first stop, Miller was greeted by name by a veteran fifth grader, Savannah, and her mom.

“We were hoping it was you,” Savannah’s mom told Miller.

He smiled back, “Savannah, you’re a fifth grader now, huh? You get to ride in the backseat.”

The seating on Bus A is divided by grades, with the youngest students in the front and the oldest in the back. Moving back a few rows on the first day of school is a tradition and the children know which rows belong to each grade.

Equipped with cameras, dogs and grandparents, the group of parents at the next stop waved hello to Miller and Dr. Bonuso.

“They’re happy it’s Lamont!” said a mom, as the neighborhood kids greeted their familiar bus driver, who reminded everybody to buckle up.

“I think this is one of the jobs that people could very easily underestimate, in terms of how important it is and how difficult it is,” said Dr. Bonuso. “The parents feel so comfortable because you know them so personally,” he told Lamont.

Since Sag Harbor owns and operates its own transportation system, the district is responsible for the training and oversight of all its drivers. Maude Stevens, the lead bus driver who supervises all district transportation, has established intricate routes through Sag Harbor.

“Maude does a remarkable job overseeing this and orienting our bus drivers to the community and the children they’ll be working with,” said Dr. Bonuso. “Maude literally knows each bus driver, has trained them, worked with them, met with them who knows how many times. She knows each bus driver, she knows each bus, she knows each stop…it’s hard to put that value into dollars.”

According to Dr. Bonuso, Stevens and her drivers know which roads are being serviced, which neighborhoods have late landscaping and which streets are prone to flooding.

“They even have a sense of what each month is like on each road,” said the superintendent.

The transportation office tweaks the routes in an ongoing review and especially during the first week of school, trying to ensure that no student is riding the bus for longer than 40 minutes.

As we travelled through Noyac, the school bus got louder and louder. At one stop, three brothers got on. The youngest, a kindergartener in a brand new blue backpack with brightly colored dragonflies, appeared absolutely terrified. His oldest brother — despite being allowed to sit in the back of the bus — buckled him into the front seat, across from Dr. Bonuso and sat next to him for the whole ride, letting him know what to expect on his first day.

“When you’re young, people always say, ‘Ah, you’re so young, life’s not a problem,’” said Dr. Bonuso. “But actually, when you’re young everything’s so strange, you’re doing everything for the first time.”

In Bay Point, several families were waiting for Bus A. “What’s up Brian? Hey Hannah!” Lamont greeted each child by name. “How you doing Riley? She’s a kindergartener?” he asked Riley’s grandma, Gail Ratcliffe. “She’s in good hands.”

As he buckled her in, Dr. Bonuso told Riley, “You’re going to love kindergarten.”

When the bus arrived at Sag Harbor Elementary School, some of the parents from the route were waiting for the bus with their cameras ready. “The people in this community,” said Dr. Bonuso, kissing his fingers and holding them out, “unbelievable. So kind and gracious to each other.”

“Are you going to be here tomorrow?” Riley asked the superintendent.

“No, I’m going to be in school but I’m riding the bus today to make sure everything’s okay,” replied Dr. Bonuso.

With her first bus ride behind her, Riley hugged Dr. Bonuso goodbye, thanked Lamont and headed off to embark on her next adventure, the first day of school.

Hope for the Warriors Comes to Sag Harbor

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By Emily J. Weitz

For a generation where Memorial Day seems to be more about barbecues than American flags, Hope for the Warriors keeps a light shining on the people who have sacrificed so much in the name of freedom.

For the past four years, veterans, service members and families have participated in the Memorial 100 Run, a relay race that will start Saturday, May 25 at dawn at the Montauk Lighthouse, traversing Long Island’s 136 miles and ending at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan. This year, participants will run six miles off their traditional route to pass through Sag Harbor and over the Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge in honor of one of Sag Harbor’s own fallen soldiers and all those who sacrificed their lives before him.

Christian Haerter has worked directly with Hope for the Warriors since 2008 when his son, Jordan, was killed in action in Ramadi, Iraq at the age of 19. But it wasn’t Christian who suggested that the run diverge from the most direct route across Long Island, to come to Sag Harbor in honor of Jordan. It was the group which originally organized the Memorial 100 — three Marines who deployed with the 3rd Battalion 25th Marine regiment to Iraq in 2005.

The battalion was on a mission to train Iraqi Security Forces and conduct stability and security operations in the Al Anbar province. During its six-month deployment, the unit lost 46 Marines and two sailors — one of the largest sacrifices by a single regiment during the course of the war. A memorial tribute to their service and sacrifice was erected at the battalion headquarters in Brook Park, Ohio.

The Memorial 100 race is now in its fourth year.

“These guys who were deployed in Iraq and lost 48 guys in six months, they wanted to honor Jordan by running over the bridge,” says Haerter. “They knew Jordan’s story, they knew about his sacrifice, and they wanted to incorporate that into their run.”

When Jordan lost his life he saved the lives of over 50 people — Marines, Iraqi police and civilians. He was the only child of Sag Harbor residents Christian Haerter and JoAnn Lyles. One of the most important things for parents who have suffered that loss, says Haerter, is feeling that their child is not forgotten.

“For any military family who has lost a child,” he says, “a real important aspect is to see that their child’s legacy goes on… I always think of a bridge as leading to someplace, and in this particular run I see it as a bridge to hope. It will be cathartic for us and for these guys running. They are doing it for one of their brothers.”

Senior Airman Michael Roesch is one of the young veterans who will be running this weekend. He served in the Air Force from 1999 to 2003 throughout the Middle East. In his civilian life, he’s a personal trainer at Studio 89 here in Sag Harbor, but he stays connected to his military family through organizations like Hope for the Warriors, and believes events like this one are essential to remind people of the reality of war.

“I used to think of Memorial Day as a day off of work,” says Roesch. “Now I think of the friends I lost. I have people to remember — five friends I lost in the war. I don’t want to barbecue.”

According to Hope for the Warriors, the Memorial 100 was organized to “interrupt” Memorial Day weekend barbeques and parties by reminding everyone of the holiday’s true purpose — to honor and remember fallen servicemen and women — through a race that is impossible to ignore.

“At first people are annoyed that you’re taking up so much of the road,” says Roesch, “and then they find out what you’re doing, and they stop. Maybe they make a donation.”

“It’s a powerful message: What are you going to remember this weekend?” he asks. “I am going to remember five people in particular. Take time out of your day to be thankful for what you have. You are eating that hot dog and drinking that beer because of those people. And every generation before us.”

Hope for the Warriors, the organization behind the Memorial 100 run, has organized countless other events across the country to support military families. The organization was created at a grassroots level by the wives of Marines to offer a full cycle of care not just to the service members and veterans, but also to the families whose lives are forever impacted.

“No matter where a service member or family member is in recovery, we have a program to meet them there and help them,” says Anne Barnwell, the director of public relations for Hope for the Warriors. “We have programs of outreach, critical care coordination, family support. Or maybe we meet them years later and their injury is PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). We organize hope and morale events. We get to know these people better and find out what their needs are. We connect them to services they may not know about.”

Haerter can vouch for the importance of Hope for the Warriors.

“Hope for the Warriors focuses on helping people with physical and mental injuries,” says Haerter. “In that respect, it’s important for us as Gold Star families to see that our own children, who have been killed in action, are remembered through works done for others.”

Haerter created Jordan’s Initiative, a memorial foundation, that works closely with Hope for the Warriors to provide a hand cycle on an annual basis for a service member or veteran who has lost mobility.

“We see the impact that hand cycles have had on guys who are missing legs or arms,” says Haerter. “It gives them the ability to become mobile again and to participate in sports.”

Hope for the Warriors helps Jordan’s Initiative to navigate the red tape of the military, to help put them in touch with worthy recipients.

“One big part of rehabilitation,” says Haerter, “is to get them back out and functioning. If they’re in the military, most of them were pretty athletic and active. This allows them to get back out there and really participate along with other people, to get back into competition, which helps in other aspects of life as well.”

Jordan’s Initiative also engages in a series of benefits and activities aimed at supporting members of the armed forces and their families. Lyles has also created her own memorial foundation, In Jordan’s Honor.

On Saturday, May 25 between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., Haerter hopes to see the community come out in support of the armed forces, its veterans, military families and for those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., when runners are expected to cross the Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter Veterans’ Memorial Bridge, Haerter and Hope for Warriors plan to have the bridge lined by veterans from every military branch holding American flags in honor of those service members who were lost in the line of duty. Each flag will have a streamer containing a gold star and the name of one of the branches of service. All the flags will be donated to the Village of Sag Harbor after the event.

“That bridge is going to be an amazing sight to see,” says Barnwell. “There will be 50 flags across the bridge, with volunteers on either side. I cannot imagine anyone seeing it and not feeling that emotion.”

Two of those flags will specifically be held in honor of Jordan and for 1st Lieutenant Joseph J. Theinert, a Shelter Island resident who grew up in Sag Harbor and was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2010.

“You can have the barbecue and go to the beach and be with your family,” said Haerter. “But even if it’s just for five minutes, it’s important to remember all the people who died to make that possible. Sometimes people forget. It’s almost like how people didn’t realize we were in a war until they saw a hearse with Jordan’s body rolling down Main Street. Suddenly it became real.”

“ I would like everybody to come out and stand by the side of the road on Saturday morning, and bring an American flag,” he adds. “These guys are running to bring awareness to Memorial Day, not just the 48 that they lost, but to everybody. It’s quite a cross to bear.”

Montauk Man Honored in Veterans Hall of Fame

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New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle with Lt. Col. Walter George Drago on Tuesday when Drago was honored through his induction into the New York State Veteran

New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle has selected Montauk’s Lt. Col. Walter George Drago for induction into the New York State Veterans’ Hall of Fame. Drago joined veterans from across the state at an Albany induction ceremony on Tuesday, May 21.

In 1968, Drago enlisted in the U.S. Army Warrant Officer Flight Program and graduated with honors as a Warrant Officer 1 Army Aviator. He was selected to fly the Grumman OV-1 Mohawk. While serving in Vietnam, Drago was promoted to Chief Warrant Officer 2 and was awarded several prestigious distinctions, including the Distinguished Flying Cross for Heroism, the Bronze Star Medal, 13 air medals, an Army Commendation Medal, the Vietnam Gallantry Cross and a Civil Action Medal.

Drago was released from active duty in 1972 and joined the Georgia Army National Guard. In 1988, he was transferred to the U.S. Army Reserve as a Master Aviator and Captain. He was then promoted to major and assigned to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, retiring as a Lt. Col. in 2002.

Since 2010, Lt. Col. Drago has been active with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and continues to volunteer with the military academy.

“Lt. Col. Drago demonstrated extraordinary courage and commitment in his service to our nation,” said Senator LaValle in a press release last week.

In 2012, Sag Harbor resident Marine LCpl. Jordan C. Haerter — who was killed in Iraq in 2008 — and Shelter Island resident Army 1st Lt. Joseph Theinert — who perished in Afghanistan in 2010 – were posthumously inducted into the veterans hall of fame.


Larry Cantwell Tapped as Independence Party Candidate for East Hampton Town Supervisor

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By Kathryn G. Menu

The Independence Party has tapped East Hampton Village Administrator Larry Cantwell as its candidate for East Hampton Town Supervisor this fall.

Two weeks ago, Cantwell announced he would seek both the Independence and Democratic parties endorsement to seek the top seat on the East Hampton Town Board in elections this fall.

According to Independence Party chairwoman Elaine Jones — who made the endorsement announcement on Monday afternoon after screening candidates last Tuesday — “experience was clearly the most impressive quality among candidates this year.”

“Larry Cantwell received the nod for the Supervisor spot,” said Jones and vice chairwoman Pat Mansir in a press release issued late Monday. “He carries with him the peaceful demeanor needed to bring consensus and unified forward-thinking among people. And his more than 30 years in public service is a testament to the success of his approach.”

Cantwell screened with the Independence Party along with Zachary Cohen, who was the Democratic candidate in 2011, narrowly losing to incumbent Republican Supervisor Bill Wilkinson. Wilkinson has chosen not to seek another term, and Nancy Keeshan, the town’s planning board vice chairman, once rumored to be the front runner for the Republican nomination, has withdrawn her name from contention.

“I am proud to have their nomination,” said Cantwell on Tuesday afternoon.

Republican Committee chairman Kurt Kappel has maintained his desire the party run its own candidate. When asked about the potential for a three party endorsement for supervisor, Cantwell said his focus was now on securing the East Hampton Democratic Committee’s endorsement.

That committee is expected to host its convention on May 15.

“My approach is one step at a time,” said Cantwell. “I am very pleased to have the Independence Party nomination because I look forward to being a consensus builder and leader in East Hampton. I think the Independence Party has shown a willingness to reach across party lines. Over the years, especially recently, they have endorsed candidates from different parties and I think the town is looking for someone who can reach across the aisle.”

The Independence Party has also endorsed Fred Overton and incumbent Dominick Stanzione for town board — candidates that have already received the endorsement of the Republic Committee.

Overton is stepping down from his long time position as town clerk this year. Stanzione is seeking a second term on the town board.

“For the last 48 years, Fred Overton served this community as a volunteer with the Springs Fire Department,” said Jones. “He has run his own business, was our town assessor for eight years and for 13 years has been the town clerk. In all of his positions he has been presented with difficult and confidential situations that were handled with finesse and genuine kindness. He us unflappable.”

Jones cited Stanzione’s ability to work with others and think independently as a board member as the reason for his endorsement.

“More importantly, he has been able to flourish under pressure when he has had to battle to be an independent thinker,” said Jones. “Dominick has stood up to politics and made decisions based on what is good for the people and the environment. He deserves four more years.”

The party also endorsed Carol Brennan — also supported by the Republican Committee — to take Overton’s seat as town clerk, and Joe Bloecker — a town trustee — for assessor. Bloecker also has the support of the Republican Committee.

Carl Irace, an East Hampton attorney who has won the Republican Committee endorsement and served as the assistant town attorney from 2010 to 2012, earned the Independence Party endorsement for town justice, and Stephen Lynch has been supported for another term as superintendent of highways.

Diane McNally, Stephanie Talmage Forsberg, Sean McCaffrey, Nat Miller, Steven Lester, Tim Bock, Brian Pardini, Brian Byrnes and Dennis Curles have the party’s support in the town trustee race.

“The Independence Party is committed to achieving the best government the town can possibly offer,” said Jones and Mansir. “That involves candidates from both parties working diligently together toward the best approaches and innovations for our town. The Independence Party, itself, will work endlessly to achieve these goals.”

Sag Harbor Village Trustees Unanimously Adopt $8.78 Million Budget That Lays Off an Officer

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By Kathryn G. Menu

Early last Thursday morning, the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees adopted an $8.78 million budget for 2013-2014 which includes a $519,000 budget for the village’s sewer fund. But among the items reduced for 2013-2014 is the village police department’s budget —  which will now be forced to cut one officer, leaving the department with 10 officers and its chief.

The decision, after months of debate, will result in officer David Driscoll losing his job with the department as its newest hire. Driscoll, an officer who transferred to the department from the Southampton Town Police Department, was honored as the village’s officer of the year this past January for his work in 2012, including for his service as a member of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office East End DWI Task Force.

The general fund budget of $8,263,381 is a 2.57 percent increase over the 2012-2013 adopted budget and falls below the allowable 4.1 percent spending increase under New York State’s mandated two percent property tax levy cap.

The tax rate under the budget, per $1,000 of assessed value, is set at 2.830, a 3.89 percent increase over last year. Village treasurer Eileen Touhy estimates a house valued at $795,000 in Sag Harbor Village would pay $2,249.85 in village taxes, a 0.0389 increase or $84.27.

Throughout the budget process, the village board discussed scaling back the number of officers in the Sag Harbor Village Police Department to 10 officers. The department currently operates with 11 officers and the chief after the departure of officer Michael Gigante last year amid an ongoing contract negotiation between the village and the Sag Harbor Police Benevolent Association (PBA).

Officers in the department have been working without a contract for close to two years now. That contract negotiation is currently in arbitration.

While the vote Thursday morning was quickly held — and was unanimous among the board’s four members, Mayor Brian Gilbride, Deputy Mayor Ed Gregory, trustee Kevin Duchemin and trustee Robby Stein — what followed was a prolonged debate between members of the department, its chief and the village board about the impact this decision would have on public safety in Sag Harbor.

Police Chief Thomas Fabiano questioned the decision and asked if the board intended to increase his overtime budget, estimating it could cost as much as $300,000 in overtime to replace losing an officer.

“To me this is, again, an incomplete budget,” said Fabiano, adding he feels officer Driscoll has been used as a carrot in ongoing negotiations with the PBA.

Gilbride dismissed that claim and questioned how the schedule would necessitate an additional $300,000 in overtime.

“This is not about an officer or anything else, but it is about the fact we don’t have an unlimited budget,” said Stein. He added he has received calls from people asking the future of the department be put to a public vote, something he is reluctant to do because he is unsure whether the outcome would result in Sag Harbor maintaining its own police department.

Fabiano noted the village board had not even reached the tax levy cap limits yet and questioned why Stein — or other board members — had not talked to him about the impact this will have on his department.

Stein responded he had spoken about this cut at previous meetings, but did not want to have private meetings about a public issue.

Gilbride said ultimately the decision came down to whether or not the village could afford these kinds of costs. The police department budget for 2013-2014, before any figures are calculated when arbitration ends and officers are compensated retroactively for any increases in salaries or benefits for the last two years, is for $1,659,765.

Fabiano said this is a safety issue and called on the board to develop a long range plan for the police department.

“Summer’s coming up and now I have another guy leaving,” he said, adding part time officers are reluctant to come to Sag Harbor given the level of discourse regarding the police department.

“I am confident with 10 people this village can run a police department,” said Gilbride, who added he went to arbitration last week with a specific goal of trying to keep the 11th position with the support of the full village board. He alleged the PBA asked for a three percent increase in salary and eight-hour fixed shifts, but did not make an effort to save officer Driscoll’s position.

“Why would we put ourselves in a position to not negotiate on behalf of the total membership,” asked PBA president Patrick Milazzo.

He added that the village has offered zero percent salary increases in negotiations and denied claims the PBA did not try to save the 11th position.

“I don’t believe you,” said Gilbride. “And this is not the first time you have not done something to save that 11th position.

“What I am trying to do is negotiate for my entire membership,” countered Milazzo. “What I am not going to do is put myself in a position where I am going to negotiate for a portion of my personnel. That is absurd.”

He added he believes the village is trying to paint this picture to put the blame of this loss on the PBA instead of the village board.

“The village is getting to the point where we can’t afford it,” said Gilbride.

“Then don’t,” said Milazzo. “Do it or don’t, but don’t half ass it.”

“Are you saying we should put something up to abolish the police department,” asked Gilbride.

“If you are not going to do it the right way, don’t do it,” said Milazzo, noting that has been his position consistently when discussing the future of the Sag Harbor Village Police Department.

“By diminishing our department by officer Driscoll’s position you are putting us all in jeopardy,” said Sergeant Paul Fabiano.

He added he believes the police budget and the ongoing contract negotiations should not be linked.

“We are supposed to train, we are supposed to prepare but when you have a one person shift, you don’t have adequate personnel, equipment to do the job, you are set up to fail and that is what is happening in my opinion,” said Sergeant Fabiano.

He added the chief was able to find some $70,000 or more in the budget to try and save the position and the village board should have worked to find the rest of the estimated $180,000 needed to keep the 11th position for the upcoming fiscal year.

The fear is not just for the community, said Sergeant Fabiano, but also for officers on duty, some of whom he feared may have to be on duty on their own to accommodate this loss of an officer.

Gilbride said he believed most shifts would remain two-man shifts.

“Can this department run with 10 people, yes. Does it run efficiently, no. Is there a safety issue, absolutely,” said Sergeant Fabiano, adding Detective Jeff Proctor — the department’s only detective — must work patrol duty, taking away from his investigative work.


Thiele: Montauk Highway Rehab Clears Major Huddle

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New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. announced on Monday that the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) has granted his request and that of 10 other elected officials representing areas traversed by Montauk Highway, the key South Fork arterial. The agency has agreed to amend the State Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) to include reconstruction of a 10-mile stretch of Montauk Highway from CR 39 to Stephen Hands Path. The proposed construction would cost approximately $12.53 million. State DOT already had scheduled the reconstruction of a 2.3 mile stretch of the highway from SR 114 to Stephen Hands Path for the spring of this year.

“Congressman Bishop, State Senator Ken LaValle, County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, and every South Fork supervisor and mayor joined with me to request the reconstruction of Montauk Highway,” said Thiele, referencing a February letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state DOT. “Not only did the Governor and Commissioner Joan McDonald respond favorably, they were quick in responding so that this project can get underway in 2013. I thank them for their fast action.”

The project would be funded by federal and state funds. The comment period on the proposed amendment to the TIP will end on March 22. After that, the project will be included in the TIP and detailed design work will begin. The construction of the segment between SR 114 and Stephen Hands Path will begin this spring and the remaining work from Stephen Hands Path to CR 39 will commence after Labor Day this year.

“I urge all local elected officials and the public to weigh in with the State DOT before the Friday deadline,” said Thiele.

Comments should be submitted to the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council, Attn: David Drits 199 Water Street, 22nd Floor New York, New York 10038 or email davis.drits@dot.ny.gov

“The importance of this highway cannot be underestimated. It is the only major road bringing people to and from the South Fork of Long Island,” said Thiele. “There is no alternative route. It is the most highly trafficked road on eastern Long Island. It is essential for both local residents and the substantial second home industry. It is important for business and commerce in that the delivery of goods and services as well as the transportation of workers and tradesmen depend on this road.”

“Most important, local fire, ambulance, and emergency service workers depend on this road to do their jobs, particularly to transport patients to Southampton Hospital,” added Thiele. “Finally, in the case of an emergency or disaster, this road is the only evacuation route for the region. At a time when the economy has suffered from a deep recession, this project will mean not only construction jobs but will also foster the tourism/second home based economy of the region. Now, the entire stretch from Southampton to East Hampton will be repaved.”

Gayle Pickering Resigns as Chairwoman of the Sag Harbor Village Zoning Board of Appeals

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Sag Harbor Village Zoning Board of Appeals Chairwoman Gayle Pickering has resigned from her post, according to a letter she sent to Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride on Tuesday, November 20.

Her resignation will be effective December 31, 2012.

Pickering will be away during the December meeting, meaning last month’s session was her last on the dais.

“It has been an honor and a pleasure being a member of the Board, and I have enjoyed the opportunity to serve the village,” wrote Pickering in her letter. “At this point in time, however, due to personal reasons, I would like to resign my position.”

On Tuesday, Pickering said the resignation comes simply because her architecture practice is thriving and she intends to travel extensively this year, making it difficult to be able to attend the board’s night time sessions each month.

“I don’t feel that I can devote the time needed to the ZBA it deserves,” said Pickering on Tuesday. “I will miss the December meeting to go to Florida to visit my dad, and we are travelling over the February break as well. As much as I truly enjoyed the work, I feel that it is unfair to the village for them to have a board member that is unable to dedicate the time needed to make informed decisions, and that it would be better to let someone else have all the fun.”

Pickering began her foray into public service 20 years ago as a member and chair of the Sag Harbor Planning Board, before joining the East Hampton Town Planning Board. She left that board in 2006 and came back to Sag Harbor where after a brief stint as a member of the Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board she joined the Sag Harbor ZBA, becoming its chairperson in 2008.

“We thank Gayle for all of her service to the village and wish her well,” said Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride on Tuesday. “She has done great work and she will be missed.”

Schneiderman Praises County Budget as “Good for the East End”

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At the November 20 meeting of the Suffolk County Legislature, Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman said lawmakers were surprised to learn that Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone had not vetoed a single budget amendment proposed by the legislature for the $2.8 billion 2013 budget.

In previous years, according to Schneiderman, former Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy vetoed many changes proposed by the legislature to the budget submitted by the county executive.

“Not this year,” said Schneiderman. “There is a much greater level of cooperation between the two branches of government. We have come together to tackle the fiscal challenges that face the county as a team, and it’s paying off.”

Schneiderman said the county’s financial situation has improved greatly, in part because of what he called “difficult choices” the legislature has made including significant reductions in the county workforce. This year alone, Schneiderman said he and other lawmakers agreed to eliminate 700 positions from the county workforce.

Legislator Schneiderman served as a member of the Legislature’s Budget Working Group.

“The approved budget is good for the East End in many ways,” said Schneiderman who said this is the ninth county budget he has participated in without a general fund property tax increase.

“These are challenging times for everyone,” said Legislator Schneiderman. “It is our responsibility as elected officials to find ways to operate government without asking residents to contribute more.”

The county also increased dredging by $5 million for next year and increased the sales tax revenues distributed to East End police departments by $3.5 million while also decreasing the amount given to western Suffolk County by $17.2 million. Schneiderman said he has also secured an additional $113,500 in hotel tax revenues for East End museums and cultural centers, including Guild Hall, Bay Street Theater, Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center and the new Parrish Art Museum.

Schneiderman said money was also allocated for the renovation of the John A. Ward Memorial Windmill in Sag Harbor. A total of $218,500 was given in cultural funding to East End organizations.

The budget also established a $5 million emergency fund for Hurricane Sandy related repairs.


Leaving the Dark for the Light

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By Kathryn G. Menu

Sometimes you have to experience the dark to find the light.

For brothers Alan and Jarrett Steil the last year and a half of their journey as musicians breaking into the Los Angeles music scene has been just that.

In 2011, Suddyn, the band the brothers formed in their native Montauk almost a decade earlier, had the promise of exposure in their own backyard through MTK — a world-class music festival planned for East Hampton.

But that festival fell apart without ever coming to fruition and shortly thereafter, the group’s Irish drummer Brendan Connolly left the band.

However, for Alan, the group’s lead singer, keyboard and trumpet player, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Alan was ready to move on from Suddyn, a band that had brought he and Jarrett success in Ireland, including a top-10 hit in 2004, and taken them out to Los Angeles in 2011 where they played sold-out clubs on the storied Sunset Strip.

“We needed to wipe the slate clean,” said Alan in an interview from the Montauk Bake Shoppe. His parents, Alan, Sr. and Celeste own the bakery and this week the brothers and the band’s manager — muse and champion, Linda O’Connor — were gathered to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.

Earlier this year, Alan and Jarrett regrouped and formed the indie-rock band The Rebel Light with 22-year-old drummer Brandon Cooke, a California native. With the success of a video for the band’s first single, “Goodbye Serenade,” which has earned close to 5,000 hits on YouTube, on November 13 The Rebel Light released a self-titled EP.

“The Rebel Light” EP features “My Heroes Are Dead,” “Goodbye Serenade,” and “Wake Up Your Mind.” It is available free to download through the band’s website, http://therebellight.com.

“I think our name, the music we are doing, and the way we are doing business is a lot more current,” said Alan. “I think our first year [in California] we were ignoring aspects of the musical journey in Los Angeles.”

“Whenever I thought about playing in L.A. I thought about the Sunset Strip,” he added. “But there is this great grassroots music scene in places like Silver Lake and Eagle Rock which is where we find ourselves a lot more now these days.”

Grassroots would certainly be a way to describe the recording of “The Rebel Light,” which was completed in a shed at Cooke’s parent’s home in Yuciapa in the San Bernadino Valley, as well as Alan and Jarrett’s bathroom and closet in Hollywood.

“I think people really respected that we literally did this completely on our own,” said Alan. “”We recorded it ourselves, we produced it ourselves and I think people have really liked the sound.”

With the addition of Cooke — who is not related to Alan and Jarrett despite a little joke the band played on an online magazine where they identified Cooke as a long lost cousin, a fib that has spread across the web — Alan said the sound he and Jarrett cultivated through Suddyn has also evolved.

“I think we have a little more of a retro sound,” said Alan. “I hate to use this word, but it really is more organic for us. It is more who we really are, less contrived and forced. Towards the end of Suddyn, I almost felt like we were too polished. We are a lot more relaxed now, less alternative pop rock and more indie rock.”

For Alan, some aspects of an evolved music business — which is largely funded through tours, rather than album sales, and includes the ability to produce a high-quality record without a major label or formal studio — are appealing.

“There is a lot more music out there and it is much harder to get to the top, top than it used to be,” he said. “But we also have a lot more control over our careers, and we can reach thousands through the Internet.”

“There are so many avenues for us to pursue our music,” added Alan. “For someone like me, I’ll give my music away because I would rather hand out 200 EPs, have people listen to it, love it and come see us at a show sometime than charge people $5 for some songs.”

For Alan, the possibilities for the future are both endless and bright, and you can hear it in The Rebel Light’s music — hope overcoming the angst melancholy Suddyn was often known for in its early years.

“It’s in our favor to continue to focus on the West Coast, promote the EP, record new music, just keep pushing forward,” he said. “Every band’s path is different and we are just figuring out what ours is. It’s hard work, but we are creating our own kind of luck.”