Tag Archive | "Riverhead"

Nancy Stewart Bagshaw Encourages Grieving Families to Remember in “Finding Five”

Tags: , , , , , ,


The cover of "Finding Five," by Nancy Stewart Bagshaw, published by Seagull Books, an imprint of Leo Publishing, and available now on Amazon.com and at Barnes & Noble.

The cover of “Finding Five,” by Nancy Stewart Bagshaw, published by Seagull Books, an imprint of Leo Publishing, and available now on Amazon.com and at Barnes & Noble.

By Tessa Raebeck 

For those growing up on the East End, beachcombing is as much a hobby as swinging at playgrounds or riding bikes. Children traverse the shorelines for hours, finding beach glass, washed up blue crabs and rare shells, skipping rocks and chasing seagulls.

Exploring the beaches to find nature’s treasures was one of Nancy Stewart Bagshaw’s favorite ways to spend time with her niece, Katy Stewart, a beloved young member of the Sag Harbor community who died in 2010 from a rare form of liver cancer. In her new book inspired by those days spent at the beach, “Finding Five,” Ms. Stewart Bagshaw encourages others to embrace the memories of those who have died, rather than shying away from mentioning them out of heartache and grief.

“I feel as though sometimes it’s an unspoken rule not to discuss those who’ve passed, because I think people are cautious about being hurtful or mentioning something that’s painful, and I think there are the right times and the right places to have those conversations,” the author said Monday.

On the day her niece Katy first went to the hospital complaining of a stomachache, Ms. Stewart Bagshaw found a remarkable piece of beach glass in bright turquoise, nearly as big as her palm with unique ridged markings. She was thinking about Katy when she saw the smoothed glass, the most beautiful piece she had ever seen.

The vibrant sea glass became a charm for Ms. Stewart Bagshaw after Katy was diagnosed with cancer—a connection to her vibrant young niece, who still loved combing the beach with her.

“It kind of morphed,” she said of the sea glass, “and I thought, ‘this is life, you get things that are tough, like broken glass—it can cut, it can hurt—but time seems to smooth that away, and that’s maybe a connection to the book too—it takes the edges off of grief.”

Katy died nine months before her 13th birthday. Anxious and unsure of how best to commemorate that day when it came, her aunt decided to walk the beach, thinking of all the time they had spent combing the shores of Sag Harbor and Riverhead, Ms. Stewart Bagshaw’s home.

While honoring her niece’s birthday with their favorite activity, she found a piece of blue sea glass that matched Katy’s eyes. A minute later, there was a sand dollar, an unusual, exciting find. During that walk, feeling as though her niece was somehow guiding her, Ms. Stewart Bagshaw found a remarkable total of five sand dollars.

She was able to address her grief through the happy memories of combing the beach with Katy, and the sand dollars seemed to be a symbol that Katy was still there with her in some way. She found comfort through the continued appreciation of what Katy loved.

"Finding Five" author Nancy Stewart Bagshaw.

“Finding Five” author Nancy Stewart Bagshaw.

In “Finding Five,” Ms. Stewart Bagshaw hopes to encourage other grieving families to remember those who have died by sharing memories, laughing over happy stories and continuing to enjoy their favorite things, rather than avoiding them out of heartache.

“Connections are what we need in relationships, so if you take time to encourage those and think about those, I think you’ll do yourself such a huge favor, so I’m hoping that’s what people will get from the book,” she said.

The story, which she calls “a little book with a big message,” started as a short assignment in Dr. Erica Pecorale’s class at Long Island University, where Ms. Stewart Bagshaw, who teaches Spanish at the Bridgehampton School, is earning her second master’s degree in literacy. Soon, it evolved into a full story dedicated to Katy and her younger brother, Robert. Published just last month by Seagull Books, an imprint of Leo Publishing, “Finding Five” is already one of the 100 best selling books for social issues on Amazon, and is also available at Barnes & Noble.

But it began on the beach.

“To me, the beach is the best place—the view is never the same any two days, the weather changes, the tide changes, the shoreline changes,” Ms. Stewart Bagshaw said.

Katy Stewart, 12, passed away in 2010 from a rare form of liver cancer.

Katy Stewart, 12, passed away in 2010 from a rare form of liver cancer.

“A lot of the writing process, as far as thinking things through, did take place on beach walks. I thought of how I would begin it on a beach walk, I thought of how I would end it on a beach walk, I decided to connect the five petals on a sand dollar with five things that Katy loved on a beach walk,” she added.

Those beach walks not only helped pin down the vision for her book, they also allowed Ms. Stewart Bagshaw to work through her grief by embracing her many memories of beachcombing with Katy.

The turquoise sea glass Ms. Stewart Bagshaw found when Katy was first sick, which stayed in her pocket through the ups, downs and surgeries, now sits in her window with the light shining through it, a daily reminder of her niece’s own vibrancy.

“She was just amazing, because she was always interested in what people were doing and what they enjoyed and it’s almost like her natural curiosity kind of sparked this [focus in ‘Finding Five’ on] what do people enjoy, just that question, what do they care about?” Ms. Stewart Bagshaw said. “Because it tells so much about a person—when you know what they love, you really have a better understanding of a person. That’s why I want to encourage people to know what the people around them love.”

“Everyone has to individually see what that grieving process is like and go through it as best they can,” she added, “and if they see [‘Finding Five’] as a bridge across a challenge, a helpful tool to make things a little bit easier, then I couldn’t ask for more.”

Do the Time Warp at The Suffolk Theater

Tags: , , , , ,


RockyHorror

Do a bit of a mind flip, and enter a time slip, with The Suffolk Theater’s presentation of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” followed by a Halloween After-Party, on Friday, October 31 at 8 p.m. The Suffolk Theatre is located at 118 East Main Street in Riverhead. There is a $20 bar/restaurant minimum to join in the madcap mayhem. For reservations or more information, call (631) 727-4343 or SuffolkTheater.com.

Another Good Month for CPF

Tags: , , , , , ,


Another month, another windfall for the Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund.

According to figures released by Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., the CPF collected a total of $9.94 million during the month of July in the five East End towns. Last year for the same period, CPF revenues were $8.8 million.

Total revenue for the first seven months of the year has been $55.7 million an increase of 5.8 percent over the same period last year when $52.7 million was collected.

Southampton leads all towns, having collected $32.4 million this year, up from $30.8 million over the first seven months last year. East Hampton has collected $17.4 million, up from $16.9 million. Southold has collected $2.8 million, up from $2.2 million; Riverhead has received $1.9 million, up from $1.4 million, while Shelter Island has seen a dip to $1.2 million from $1.4 million.

Since its inception in 1999, the CPF has generated $940.4 million. The CPF has generated $98.47 million over the last 12 months.

Homeless in the Hamptons: An Invisible Community Struggles to Survive

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


Bill watches as two women kayak by at Lazy Point in Amagansett on Tuesday, August 12. He recently lost his six-figure job, wife and home due largely to his struggle with bipolar disorder, and now lives and works where he can across the East End. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

Bill, 56, watches as two women kayak by at Lazy Point in Amagansett on Tuesday, August 12. He recently lost his six-figure job, wife and home due largely to his struggle with bipolar disorder, and now lives and works where he can across the East End. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

By Tessa Raebeck

To Bill, the two most important things are his feet and his socks, followed closely by matches and plastic bags. The matches keep him warm, the plastic bags keep his things dry, and the feet and socks keep him going.

Bill, 56, has a college degree in economics and a minor in business administration from SUNY Oswego. He is kind, articulate and witty. Like thousands of people across the East End, he is also homeless.

Ten years ago, the Suffolk County Department of Social Services counted 435 homeless families and 222 homeless singles countywide. Those figures—which increased drastically in the economic downturn since—only account for those who meet the official criteria and choose to apply for help. In reality, the numbers are much higher.

It is no secret to locals that the image much of the world conjures up of “The Hamptons” is far from the realities of daily life on the East End, but for the countless homeless residents of these hamlets, that image is a blatant farce.

“How can you miss us?” Bill asked, staring out at the sailboats docked at Lazy Point in Amagansett as two women in a kayak paddled by. Scores of homeless people live here, but, in part due to their own security concerns, they remain largely invisible.

If you look closely, however, you can see the faint paths used by homeless people off wooded trails, under bridges and sometimes right in town. A man who lives behind a popular business in Montauk leaves before dawn each morning, but his footprints have worn down a path to his campsite. Born and raised in Sag Harbor, Andy, a friend of Bill’s, lives hidden in the center of the village. An expert on Southampton history, a man called Mahoney holds fort at a park in the village, regularly entertaining tourists who have no idea he lives where they stand.

At a clearing off Route 27 in Wainscott, local homeowners leave food for the homeless people who camp in the woods nearby. If neighbors buy a sandwich and only end up eating half of it, they’ll leave the rest on one of the lids of two garbage cans stationed at the clearing in an unspoken act of charity.

According to a 2013 report compiled by the federal government, New York State, with 13 percent of the nation’s documented homeless population, is one of only three states in which homeless people account for more than 6 percent of the population (the others being Florida and California). With over 77,000 reported cases in 2013, the number of documented instances of homelessness in New York jumped by nearly 8,000 people between 2012 and 2013. New York’s homeless population has increased by 24 percent since 2007, the largest increase by far in the country—and the numbers are far from the actual figures.

On a single night in January 2013, an estimated 610,042 people were homeless in the United States. Over one-third of those people, about 215,000 of them, live in unsheltered locations, such as under bridges, in cars or in abandoned buildings.

To Bill, living in a car does not make you homeless; there’s a roof over your head and a place you can count on.

Born in Jamaica, Queens, and a graduate of Hauppauge High School, Bill has suffered from bi-polar disorder his whole life, but was not diagnosed till he “was old.” He came to the East End when he was 17 because he was drawn to the service industry.

“I like the whole premise of restaurant business: Helping people, service, making people happy, learning to deal with difficult people,” he said. “I thought—and I still think—I’m good at it.”

The “extracurricular” affairs of the restaurant industry—namely, drugs and drinking—became too much for Bill, who, like many who suffer from bipolar disorder, also struggled with addiction. After years of drinking to excess, Bill is now a recovering alcoholic who said he hasn’t had a drink since the early 90’s when his son was three.

“I think in extremes, everything…you’re either super happy or ready to commit suicide,” he explained.

Struggling with his condition and unable to find balance between complete bliss and extreme grief, Bill lost his six-figure job and his wife left him. He briefly lived up-island with family, but returned to East Hampton, where he has spent the past year searching for shelter, food and friendly faces.

He takes “top half of body” showers in public restrooms and jumps in the ocean to stay clean, a feat that, like most conditions of homelessness, becomes much harder in the cold winter months.

Although Bill doesn’t like to ask for help, when he’s especially down on his luck he goes to Maureen’s Haven in Riverhead.

Funded solely through donations, grants and funding from all the eastern townships, Maureen’s Haven offers shelter, support and “compassionate services” to homeless adults on the East End. There is a crisis hotline and a day center that provides opportunities like AA meetings, ESL and GED classes to help people find work and permanent housing.

From November 1 to April 1, the center transports homeless people from the North and South Forks and takes them to one of 18 host houses of worship between Greenport and Montauk. They are given a hot dinner and a bed to sleep in and are taken back to where they were picked up, be it a bus stop or a side-of-the-road clearing, at 7 a.m.

Since its 2002 inception, Maureen’s Haven has sheltered over 2,500 individuals. In the 2013-14 winter season, the program served 337 adults and was able to secure employment for 40 percent and place 52 percent in permanent housing.

Although a lot of homelessness “has to do with disability, incarceration, drug use, alcohol abuse and job loss,” Program Development Director Tara Murphy said, there are “a number of different issues and each case is different.”

One woman, Mary, arrived at Maureen’s Haven “terrified and desperate,” the center said, after fleeing an abusive relationship. She began the healing process at the center and is now living independently with support from a local domestic violence agency.

A 77-year-old man suffering from dementia with no family nor support system, James had been living disoriented on the streets. The center secured supportive housing for him in a program specializing in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

“It’s not about homelessness, it’s not about tough times, it’s not about addictions,” Bill said of the stigmatization of the homeless. “We all wear the same clothes…what I’m saying is, if we have two different socks on, who cares?”

To volunteer at Maureen’s Haven, call (631) 727-6836, email info@maureenshaven.org or visit their website.

Tags: , , , ,


Turtle Rescued Off Montauk

Tags: , , , ,


Leatherback Sea Turtle_June 2014

Biologists detangling 800-pound Oriskany from the lines of a conch pot off of Montauk. Photo courtesy of The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation.

By Mara Certic 

An 800-pound leatherback turtle got tangled in the lines of a conch pot off of Montauk on Sunday, June 29.

The U.S. Coast Guard called in the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research on Sunday when the huge turtle was found entangled in the lines marked by red buoys. No one had claimed responsibility as being owner of the pot as of Wednesday, July 2.

Biologists from the Riverhead foundation packed up their disentanglement gear and traveled the 40-some miles out to Montauk, where a Coast Guard boat took them out to the struggling reptile.

Leatherback turtles are the largest species of turtle in existence today, and the fourth largest reptile. They survive predominately on a diet of jellyfish and have been reported to live up to at least 30 years.

Upon reaching him, biologists quickly managed to free the turtle, which dove underwater and swam away. The members of the Coast Guard who helped with this lifesaving operation decided to name the turtle “Oriskany” after a U.S. aircraft carrier that was sunk eight years ago and now acts as an artificial reef.

The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research reminds the public to call their 24-hour hotline to report sightings at (631) 369-9829.

 

Stefanik Shows with SCCC Staff

Tags: , , ,


John Stefanik of Sag Harbor is currently exhibiting his black and white photographs in a group show at the Elizabeth Fox Overton Gallery in the Riverhead Free Public Library.

The show, which includes eight other artists who teach or work at the Suffolk County Community College’s Eastern Campus, is running until July 25. The other artists included in the exhibit are Jeannette Fischer, H. Alan Feit, Margery Gosnell-Oua, Cheryl Dons kind, JoAnn Dumas, Dawn Lee Di Peri, and Meredith Starr. It was curated by Chris Vivas.

The library is located at Osborne Avenue, with the main entrance on 330 Court Street. For more information, call (631) 727-3228.

CPF Up 5 Percent for Year

Tags: , , , , ,


The Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund has raised $28.26 million for the first five months of the year, a 5 percent increase over the same period last year when it collected $36.38 million, according to Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr.

Since it was created in 1999, the CPF, which is funded by a real estate transfer tax in the five East End towns, has collected$923 million.

It is on pace this year to better the 2013 totals, which was the second most successful year in its history, after 2007.

“This reflects the continued strength in East End real estate and the continued availability to local towns of the necessary revenues to protect community character,” he said in a release.

Southampton is leading all towns,  collecting a total of $22.5 million this year, while East Hampton has collected $11.66 million. Southold has collected $1.7 million, Riverhead $1.58 million, and Shelter Island, $820,000.

Here Comes the Sun at East End Arts

Tags: , , , , , , , ,


"Luncheon Al Fresco," 24 x 36 oil painting by Leo Revi of East Hampton. Photo courtesy East End Arts.

“Luncheon Al Fresco,” 24 x 36 oil painting by Leo Revi of East Hampton.

By Tessa Raebeck

This weekend at the Remsenburg Academy, East End Arts will celebrate the long-awaited arrival of summer with an invitational art show featuring five artists from the East End.

Leo Revi of East Hampton, a self-described painter of light, captures the effects of sunlight in his paintings, drawing inspiration from impressionist painters such as Claude Monet and Winslow Homer.

Also using the area’s unique light quality, Riverhead’s Michael McLaughlin, a research analyst by trade, turned to photography when he found the East End and felt compelled to capture its natural beauty.

Sag Harbor’s Linda Capello, a figurative painter, will also show her work, which focuses on the body’s natural movement.

“What I am drawn to—what I draw—is the lyrical, sensual form; the body as icon of power and grace. I try to capture the body in that split second as movement stops—the turn of the head, flex of the arm, movement for the sake of movement, line for the sake of line,” Ms. Capello said.

A sculptor and mixed media artist out of East Quogue, Jonathan Pearlman transforms everyday objects into a new, imaginative form in his sculptures, with the goal that the viewer will discover the intrinsic beauty in the mundane.

Lucille Berril Paulsen of Water Mill will share her figurative paintings, which aim to create visual personality and capture “the attitude behind the face,” she said in a statement.

Here Comes the Sun will open on Friday, May 16 and run through Sunday, June 1. An artists’ reception is Friday, May 23 from 5 to 7 p.m.

Water Quality, Economic Development Top Bellone’s East End Agenda

Tags: , , , , , ,


BelloneatWLNG

Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, WLNG’s Dan Duprey and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone last Wednesday as Mr. Bellone stopped by the Sag Harbor radio station on a tour of the East End. Photo by Mara Certic.

By Mara Certic

During a whistle-stop tour of the East End last Wednesday, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone declared that encouraging economic growth and improving water quality remain among his top priorities.

“I’ve always tried to recognize, even when I was a town supervisor in Babylon, there are a lot of regional things that impact all of us locally,” Mr. Bellone said at a panel discussion with local government officials at the County Center in Riverhead Wednesday morning. “What is happening on the East End in a multitude of ways impacts what’s happening on the West End and vice versa.”

Mr. Bellone and representatives from Southampton, Southold, Shelter Island, Riverhead and East Hampton discussed the need for economic growth west of the canal. “We need jobs on the East End that will allow our young people to live here,” the County Executive said. “I think transportation is key.”

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst agreed, saying that public transportation plans “mostly have been sitting on the shelves for dollar and cent reasons and must be dusted off and attended to now.”

Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, who accompanied Mr. Bellone on his tour, mentioned some improvements that have already been made to public transportation in eastern Suffolk County.

“Now, year-round, for the first time … we have seven-day-a-week service,” Mr. Schneiderman said, in reference to Suffolk County Transit buses now operating on Sundays.

Mr. Bellone and Mr. Schneiderman announced last July that Suffolk County received $4 million in federal funding to expand its Sunday bus service which started in in January 2014. The service is now year-round rather than seasonal in nature.

Mr. Bellone emphasized the need for a good county bus system for workers, for those he referred to as “non-choice riders,” but also suggested that transportation market solutions could be broader-based. He stressed that a good bus system could have wide appeal, and would serve to take some cars off the road during the busy summer season.

“I would love to work with you on developing all those transportation plans,” Mr. Bellone told his colleagues on the panel. The county will be bringing on new transportation experts, he said, whose aim will be to continue to increase and improve train and bus systems.

Mr. Schneiderman discussed the difficulties of living under the New York State-mandated 2-percent property tax levy cap. He added, however, that in order to work around this, Suffolk County has an assembly and senate bill that would install speed cameras in every school district, one per district, within a quarter mile of schools. Mr. Bellone explained that the municipalities would earn ant revenue generated from tickets issued through speed cameras and handle all of the contracts involved. This bill – which also places cameras in Nassau County and increase the number in New York City –passed last week in both the New York State Assembly and the State Senate.

Using innovation and technology to develop a sewer system to improve water quality is one of Mr. Bellone’s main goals, he said. There are 360,000 homes in Suffolk County without a sewer system – using a cesspool systems instead – equal to the number of non-sewered homes in the entire State of New Jersey. Suffolk has received a $500,000 grant from IBM in order to determine the best sewering system for each watershed area and to create a program to assist with the expense of implementing those systems.

During a live interview with WLNG’s Dan Duprey in Sag Harbor Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Bellone discussed his program Operation Medicine Cabinet, which would encourage the safe disposal of prescription drugs in an environmentally friendly way to protect local waters.

This program placed secure receptacles in each of Suffolk County’s police precincts to allow residents to dispose of prescription drugs anonymously. The Sag Harbor Village Police Department has its own drop box on Division Street. Mr.Bellone last month announced the expansion of Operation Medicine Cabinet to senior centers throughout Suffolk County.

The County Executive continued his tour of the East End in Montauk, where he visited with local business-owners and fishermen. Plans to meet with farmers in Southampton later that afternoon were postponed due to weather.

Fishermen aired concerns about methoprene mosquito-spraying during a roundtable discussion with the county executive and legislator at the Clam and Chowder House at Salivar’s Dock in Montauk. The use of methoprene has been linked to killing and stunting the growth of lobsters.

Mr. Schneiderman introduced a bill in July 2013 that would restrict the use of methoprene in estuaries, using alternatives such as Bacillus Thuringiensis Israelensis (BTI) that has not been shown to harm the development of lobsters or other crustaceans. Similar bills have been passed in both Connecticut and Rhode Island.

There is some debate as to what danger, if any, is caused by methoprene, but Mr. Schneiderman continues to seek support for his bill.

“They started using methoprene in 1996,” he said. “In 1995 there was about 4 million pounds of lobster in the Long Island Sound. Now there’s nothing. The sound is pretty much dead to lobsters now.”