Tag Archive | "North Sea"

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).

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.

Superintendent Search May Be Revived in Sag Harbor

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By Amanda Wyatt

An issue put on the backburner for months — finding a permanent superintendent for the Sag Harbor School District — resurfaced this week when it was raised by several community members at Monday night’s school board meeting.

The district has been without a permanent superintendent since Dr. John Gratto resigned last July. A month later, Dr. Carl Bonuso was appointed interim superintendent by the board of education (BOE), with the initial goal of finding a permanent replacement to take the helm for the 2013-2014 school year.

In January, however, the BOE opted to extended Dr. Bonuso’s contract another year. Based on the suggestion of School Leadership, the consulting firm used to oversee the process of selecting a superintendent, the BOE postponed the search until September 2013.

However, at the April 8 board meeting, several community members shared their concerns about delaying the search for another year.

“That really feels like a crime to me, whether they said it or not and they’re the experts, there’s so much time there,” said Kate Lawton. “It just feels wrong.”

Walter Tice, a former member and president of the BOE, also agreed with Lawton, while praising the work Dr. Bonuso has completed in the district.

“We can’t wait until [Dr. Bonuso is] gone and then find somebody. We’ve got to do it now, and I think it’s been too slow.”

As Steve Clark, a community member, put it, an interim superintendent “is a Band-Aid on a long term problem.”

“We can take a look at it,” said Theresa Samot, BOE president. “Board, if you agree, I’ll certainly contact the consultants again and maybe get some recommendations in writing from them that I could share with everybody, because we want to do what’s best for the students in the district, absolutely.”

Also during public input, parent Allison Scanlon brought up the district’s recent decision to wait another year to apply for a Local Government Efficiency Grant on shared services with several other neighboring districts.

When she asked if there could be an opportunity for the community to weigh in on conversations about reapplying, Dr. Bonuso and several board members answered, “Absolutely.”

In related news, the district announced on Monday that it had added $100,000 to its proposed budget, bringing the total to $35,508,622. Of this increase, $40,000 will be used to install security cameras at all exterior doors, as well as an entry alert system, $30,000 will be used to upgrade communications systems in the school, and an additional $10,000 has been proposed to fund a summer program.

There will also be a $5,000 decrease in an account under the umbrella of students with disabilities, and this money will be put toward the $25,000 set aside for the creation of a school-wide drug and alcohol program.

At the same time, revenues are expected to increase by $1,326,366 or 3.88 percent from last year.

Of the $35,508,622 coming into the district, $32,739,375 is from the tax levy; $1,548,247 is from state aid projections; $475,000 is from out-of-district tuitions; $117,000 is from PILOT payments and $50,000 is expected from sharing services and facilities with other districts. $500,000 will come from an appropriated fund balance and the remaining $145,361 is from grants, interest and miscellaneous revenue.

Following a suggestion from board member Mary Anne Miller, the BOE has decided to hold an extra budget workshop, which will take place on Monday, April 22 at 5:30 p.m. Prior to the workshop, community members may submit their questions on the budget on homepage of the school’s website.

Also on the district’s plate is a series of upcoming curriculum workshops—much like the budget workshops that were held this spring — which will be open to the public.

The first is on foreign language offerings and will take place at 6:30 p.m. on April 22, following the budget workshop. During this time, language teachers will discuss the current status, changes and challenges to their curriculum.

Two other workshops on math and the IB program will be held on May 7 and June 3, respectively.

Schneiderman Opts Not to Accept Republican Nomination for East Hampton Town Supervisor

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Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman has decided not to run for East Hampton Town Supervisor this fall. Schneiderman made the announcement Monday, despite having received the support of the East Hampton Town Republican Committee earlier this month.

In a press release issued Monday morning, the Independence Party member said he would instead seek another two-year term with the legislature this fall — his sixth and last allowed under term limits.

“East Hampton is a special place, and the idea of bringing our town together as supervisor is very appealing to me,” said Schneiderman. “However, there is still more work I feel I need to do in the legislature.”

“Suffolk County is at a critical crossroads and I believe I can make a real difference to ensure we make the right choices to move our county forward,” he continued. “I do not want to walk away from Suffolk County at a time when we are facing a deficit of up to $250 million and the future of many critical programs are unsettled.”

“Recently, I emerged victorious in my longstanding fight against the disproportionate and unfair placement of all the county’s homeless sex offenders on eastern Long Island,” said Schneiderman. “Now that this consuming fight is behind us, I can focus on other regional concerns like improving transportation options on the East End, the future of the open space program and protecting our farming communities. I also will work closely with our Sandy recovery team to make sure we make the right choices not only to rebuild damaged communities stronger, but that we make smart decisions all along our shoreline to protect vulnerable areas like downtown Montauk.”

“I am grateful that Legislator Schneiderman has chosen to seek re-election,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “Jay is a strong voice and a relentless advocate for the East End. As we work to put our finances in order, deliver services more efficiently and rebuild after Sandy, I need Jay Schneiderman’s voice in the legislature,” said Bellone.

Meanwhile, this leaves the East Hampton Republican Committee without a supervisor candidate. Schneiderman was endorsed by the party in mid-February, along with councilman candidate Fred Overton and Dominick Stanzione, who will be seeking his second term on the town board.

On Monday afternoon, committee chairman Kurt Kappel said he believes the committee has ample time to re-screen for the supervisors position despite wanting to get a jump on the campaign.

“In one way, I am disappointed, but he did let us know in time so we are not pressed to come up with another person,” said Kappel. “Months ago we did have other people interested in the position, but then it was reported in the news that Jay was screening and was likely the front runner.”

“I spoke with Kurt a couple of days ago, so he knew this was coming,” said Schneiderman on Monday afternoon. “He has been very supportive and I certainly grateful. Maybe one day in the future I will look at coming back for a run at supervisor, but right now I have to think about the state of the county, and also about my family.”

Schneiderman added he has developed a great relationship with Bellone, and looked forward to serving an expanding legislative district, including the whole of Eastport as well as Shelter Island, a place Schneiderman lived when his son was born. He is also expected to be tapped by Bellone to work on an economic panel focused on the county’s budget.

“It’s a challenging time for the county and I think I can be an effective regional leader for my constituents,” he said.

Update: Schiavoni Cites Lack of Respect, Questions Executive Session Behavior in Resignation from Sag Harbor School Board of Education

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By Kathryn G. Menu

Update: Wednesday, 9 p.m.

Citing what he believes is a board not working in an “honest, respectful manner,” on Sunday, March 3, Sag Harbor School Board member Gregg Schiavoni submitted a letter of resignation to district clerk Mary Adamczyk.

He is the second board member in less than a year to step down from his post as rumors of internal conflict on the board continue to swirl following a year of tremendous change.

“Board members talk over one another, interrupt one another and show little or no respect by talking under ones breath or making insulting/disparaging remarks,” said Schiavoni in his letter, which was released during a board meeting on Wednesday, March 6.

Schiavoni continues that, despite two retreats on this topic, he does not believe it has gotten better. As an example he cites one situation where even the board’s own attorney had to raise his voice to be heard and was interrupted while trying to impart legal advice to the board.

In the letter, Schiavoni also alleges that personal agendas are bleeding into the board’s business and that issues are being discussed in executive session that are meant to be done in full view of the public.

“I feel as though 75 percent of the executive agenda dialogue is for public discussion,” said Schiavoni in his letter. “On one occasion, we actually went around the room to see how we would all vote on a coaching position! If asked, I would share this information, as it is public information and should never have been discussed behind closed doors.”

Schiavoni said recently the board has spent a lot of time in executive session talking about the bond proposal, LandTek (an athletic field construction company) and the school calendar, to name a few items, each topic which is meant for public session and not permitted under open meetings law guidelines for discussion in executive sessions.

In his letter Schiavoni was also critical of what he said was the board’s inability to address the 2012-2013 goals set by members at the start of the fiscal year.

“Instead of looking forward, we are constantly looking backwards to pin any blame on previous employees of the district,” writes Schiavoni.

“I enjoyed my time serving, but see the board moving in the wrong direction and it is a ship that can’t be righted. We talk about policy and progress, yet everything that is said or done is usually done outside of what the BOE agree would be the process or [is] behind closed doors,” writes Schiavoni later in the letter. “I’m not sure if this is to get the issues resolved fast, for personal reasons or to quickly pass something along. Until personal agendas/vendettas are thrown out of the mix, the Board of Education will continue to stumble on never ending issues that should require one meeting to resolve, but in its current state, take numerous meetings or discussions.”

Despite an initial request by The Sag Harbor Express per the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) on Monday, Schiavoni’s letter was not made available until 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night. As a result, only the board’s initial response was available as of press time.

“First and foremost, the Board would like to thank Gregg Schiavoni for his years of service,” reads a formal statement issued Wednesday night by board president Theresa Samot. “He was a valued member of the board and an active member of this community.”

The letter continues, “Much of Gregg’s letter is his opinion, of which he is entitled. While the board may not share those opinions we stay open to diverse views and suggestions. The board will continue to strive to conduct themselves professionally and with dignity on behalf of the community and the children we serve. There is no doubt that the board at times grapples with difficult decisions, often debating such issues with passion — but always with the singular purpose of ‘doing the right thing.’ We will continue to be faithful to that mission and common purpose and once again thank Gregg for his efforts as a member of that team.”

Despite a Tuesday night meeting with Dr. Carl Bonuso, the district’s interim superintendent, and board president Theresa Samot, Schiavoni said he reiterated his resignation to both parties on Wednesday morning.

Schiavoni is the second school board member to resign in the last year. In July, after six years on the board, Walter Wilcoxen declined to take his oath of office shortly after being re-elected to his seat. In a letter to the editor, Wilcoxen wrote that in the previous year and a half there had been very little trust or consensus building on the board, and instead the environment was one that relied in part on grandstanding, micromanaging and blindsiding. In September, former school board member Susan Kinsella was appointed by the board to fill Wilcoxen’s seat.

On Wednesday night, board member Chris Tice suggested the board wait until the May 21 budget vote and trustee election to fill Schiavoni’s seat.

Original Story: Wednesday, 6 p.m.

Gregg Schiavoni has resigned from the Sag Harbor Board of Education. He is the second board member in less than a year to step down from his post as rumors of internal conflict on the board continue to swirl following a year of tremendous change.

On Wednesday, Schiavoni confirmed that he had filed a letter of resignation with the school district on Monday. The letter, he said, was for an immediate resignation from the board.

Despite a Tuesday night meeting with Dr. Carl Bunuso, the district’s interim superintendent, and board president Theresa Samot, Schiavoni said he reiterated his resignation to both parties on Wednesday morning.

“Maybe it is just me, but personally I believe there are issues not being addressed and are troubling me that solidify my reasons for needing to resign from the board,” said Schiavoni.

Schiavoni declined to immediately comment further on the reasons behind his resignation.

On Monday, a request was made by the Sag Harbor Express under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for a copy of Schiavoni’s resignation letter. On Tuesday, district clerk Mary Adamczyk cited the business of the office as a reason the request had not been processed. On Wednesday afternoon, Dr. Bunuso said he had submitted the letter to the school district’s attorney for “clarification.”

The letter was not made available to the Express as of press time.

Schiavoni is the second school board member to resign in the last year. In July, after six years on the board, Walter Wilcoxen declined to take his oath of office shortly after being re-elected to his seat. In a letter to the editor, Wilcoxen wrote that in the previous year and a half there had been very little trust or consensus building on the board, and instead the environment was one that relied in part on grandstanding, micromanaging and blindsiding.

His resignation coincided with the resignation of then superintendent, Dr. John Gratto, who was later replaced with Dr. Bunuso as interim superintendent. In September, former school board member Susan Kinsella was appointed by the board to fill Wilcoxen’s seat.

Giving the Alewife a Leg Up

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By Claire Walla

Alewives are not the most striking variety of fish. Small, narrow and silver-like herring, they are most often pickled before they’re consumed.

But their relevance here on the South Fork is more poignant than simply their role as cuisine.

As Southampton Town Trustee Fred Havemeyer explained, alewives are part of the local food chain, providing nourishment for local raccoons and birds, as well as some of the larger aquatic creatures that form the backbone of the fishing industry here on the East End.

An oddity among local fish species, alewives travel through creeks and brooks to get from salt water to fresh water to spawn. But, Havemeyer said, several impediments have made it difficult for the fish to complete this life cycle. So, the Southampton Town Trustees and other environmental organizations are taking steps to help them survive.

Most recently, the trustees’ efforts led to the creation of a “fish ladder” in Alewife Creek, which runs under Noyac Road and into Big Fresh Pond in North Sea.

The project was put together “on a shoe-string budget,” using 60 rocks, purchased for $150, and cement parking blocks the town obtained from an abandoned building site, Havemeyer explained. To create the “ladder” effect, a crew of about a dozen people — including trustees Eric Schultz and Ed Warner, in addition to Chuck Bowman, a consultant from Land Use — placed the rocks in two lines across the creek with small openings in the center, essentially damning up the creek to increase water flow.

Havemeyer added that the design also gives the fish two pools of water in which to rest during their laborious journey upstream.

“It’s been hard for them to get through,” Havemeyer continued, pointing out that in years past water levels have been low.

He went on to explain that many alewives seemed to find it difficult to overcome the lip near the entrance to the tunnel that runs under Noyac Road, and many were also getting stuck behind embankments on either side of the mouth of the tunnel.

Now, Havemeyer said that after only an hour of having the “fish ladder” in place, the water level in the creek had already risen.

“We’re thrilled with the way it turned out,” he said.

Here in Sag Harbor, plans to restore Ligonee Brook will provide similar benefits for the alewife population which travels every spring from Sag Harbor Cove to Long Pond.

Although, as opposed to the North Sea project, which Havemeyer described as the “down-home, grassroots, simple way of doing it,” the Ligonee Brook restoration project is being funded as part of a much larger grant issued by Suffolk County in conjunction with the state and federal governments.

The project was actually approved last January 2011, although project manager Will Bowman of Land Use Ecological Services, Inc. said the details of the project were just recently approved by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. He said he expects to begin the initial phases of the restoration project in the second week of April.