Tag Archive | "Riverhead"

Bridgehampton National Bank Donates $25,000 to Local Food Pantries

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The Bridgehampton National Bank (bridgenb.com) Annual Apple Campaign, which was started in 2011 to provide contributions to local food pantries, culminated Monday with the distribution of $1,000 checks to each of 23 food pantries from Montauk to Greenport to Deer Park and Melville. At a presentation and reception at the BNB Bridgehampton office, pantry representatives Bridgehampton, East Hampton, Southampton, Springs and Sag Harbor were on-hand to accept the funds.   Maureen’s Haven, which helps the homeless on the East End, also received a check for $2,000. This is only part of the $25,000 donated by bank customers, employees and the company itself.

“This is one of the community programs we are most proud,” said Kevin M. O’Connor, president and CEO of Bridgehampton National Bank.  “It is a true collaboration between the bank, its customers and employees, working together to help those most in need in our communities. It is the essence of what it means to be a community bank.”

The Apple program began nearly five years ago with a conversation initiated by the East Hampton Food Pantry. They suggested the “apple” as a means of recognizing donations. With 26 branches across Suffolk and Nassau Counties, BNB took its Apples bank wide. The program is an annual holiday tradition which runs through the end of January.  In lieu of a holiday gift, BNB donates in the name of its employees, customers enthusiastically participate and BNB matches donations and fills in any gaps to reach the goal and fund one pantry in each of its markets. In addition to the financial gift, branch staff collected non- perishable foods during the months of November, December and January, which are also distributed to local pantries.

From Farm to Bottle, “Hops and Brews” to Explore Long Island Alcohol

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Hops growing at Condzella Farms. Photo courtesy of John Condzella.

Hops growing at Condzella Farms. Photo courtesy of John Condzella.

By Tessa Raebeck

Long Islanders have been enjoying homegrown potatoes for generations, but rarely has the local harvest been in their vodka.

At “Hops and Brews” this Sunday, a farmer, a brewer and a spirit maker will discuss the various manifestations of the rapidly growing alcohol industry on Long Island. Panelists John Condzella of Condzella Farms in Wading River, Duffy Griffiths of Crooked Ladder Brewing Company in Riverhead and Rich Stabile of Long Island Spirits in Baiting Hollow will reflect on the collaboration between local producers and the strength of Long Island’s wide variety of goods.

Duffy Griffiths, head brewer at the Crooked Ladder Brewing Company. Photo courtesy of Crooked Ladder.

Duffy Griffiths, head brewer at the Crooked Ladder Brewing Company. Photo courtesy of Crooked Ladder.

The second installment of the “Conversations With…” lecture series presented by the Peconic Land Trust, “Long Island Grown: Food and Beverage Artisans at Work” will be moderated by Laura Donnelly, a resident of East Hampton, pastry chef, author and the food editor for The East Hampton Star.

“Some Long Island farmers are making really unique or non-traditional products as they strive to meet a growing demand for locally grown and produced items,” said Kathy Kennedy of the Peconic Land Trust, “We’re excited to be able to showcase some of them.”

“I am very excited to have a chance to moderate this panel,” said Ms. Donnelly. “I am a huge fan of craft brewers and love trying local beers and ales.”

With the recent—and fast—growth of craft beer on Long Island, small hops farming has become economically feasible, creating a symbiotic relationship between farmers and brewers. The hops farmer needs the craft breweries to survive and the craft breweries need the supply from their local farms.

Brewers working with wet hops must do so within 24 hours of the harvest, so finding a local source is crucial to a successful wet hop brew. John Condzella, a fourth generation farmer at Condzella Farms, recognized this demand, adding Condzella Hops to his family farm six years ago.

Rich Stabile of Long Island Spirits. Photo courtesy of Rich Stabile.

Rich Stabile of Long Island Spirits. Photo courtesy of Rich Stabile.

“I wanted to grow a unique crop, something that no other farm was doing,” explained Mr. Condzella. “During college I developed a love for craft beer; I know that was an important catalyst for my hops growing endeavors.”

Initially, Mr. Condzella was picking his hops by hand, enlisting the help of family, friends and local volunteers, until a Kickstarter campaign last spring enabled him to purchase a Wolf WHE 170 Hopfen Pflückmaschine, a German machine that picks them for him. In 2013 alone, Mr. Condzella harvested 800 pounds of hops.

“I think demand on Long Island is growing, the industry is very young. Most local brewers aren’t accustomed to using local whole cone hops. Mainstream hops pellets from around the world are their hops of choice,” Mr. Condzella said.

Hops grower John Condzella of Condzella Farms. Photo courtesy of John Condzella.

Hops grower John Condzella of Condzella Farms. Photo courtesy of John Condzella.

The demand is indeed growing: Some of that farm-to-growler beer will be available next year at the Crooked Ladder Brewing Company, which opened in July 2013.

Head Brewer Duffy Griffiths said the brewery will start using local hops in September, “when the fresh hops round comes out.” Condzella’s Hops is an option, although Crooked Ladder hasn’t yet chosen its supplier.

“It’s a matter of just using whole hops and supporting your local industry, rather than buying them from the Pacific Northwest or having them imported, so we try to keep everything local,” Mr. Griffiths said. “It helps out the area.”

Keeping everything local is at the core of Long Island Spirits. Founded in 2007, it is Long Island’s first craft distillery since the 1800s. The flagship product, LiV Vodka is made from Long Island potatoes, many of which are grown on the 5,000 acres of farmland surrounding the North Fork distillery.

Supplied by a variety of local farmers, the marcy russet potatoes arrive at Long Island Spirits in one-ton sacks. Three days a week, the distillery goes through roughly eight tons of potatoes. Every 25 pounds of potatoes makes about one liter of LiV Vodka.

The distillery also makes Rough Riders and Pine Barrens whisky and a collection of Sorbettas, liqueurs infused with fresh fruit.

“We’ll use local raspberries or local strawberries,” explained spirits maker Rich Stabile. “We’re using real fruit infused with the vodka that we grow on Long Island, made from Long Island potatoes.”

“We all know Long Island potatoes are the best,” said Ms. Donnelly. “Rich believes it is the sweet, buttery flavor of the potato that makes his LiV vodka so good. I have tried this vodka and it is excellent.”

“Long Island farmland is some of the best agricultural land in the world,” said Mr. Condzella, whose family farm started with dairy in the 1800s and evolved to a potato operation in the 1920s. “Our maritime climate, fertile soils and abundant sunshine are great for growing most crops, and hops are no exception.”

“Hops and Brews” is Sunday, April 6, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Bridge Gardens, 26 Mitchell Lane in Bridgehampton. To reserve a seat, call Robin Harris at 283-3195, ext. 19, or email events@peconiclandtrust.org.

Hamptons GLBT Center Hires Program Manager

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The Long Island GLBT Network has expanded its presence on the East End by hiring two new staff members at its Hamptons GLBT Center at the Old Whalers’ Church on Union Street in Sag Harbor. Manny Velásquez-Paredes and Lilianne Ogeka have recently been named the center’s program manager and program assistant, respectively, and have been charged with increasing services and programs for the East End’s GLBT community.

With the new staff in place, the Hampton’s GLBT Center can remain open on a full-time basis, expand its youth and senior services, and continue its outreach and visibility within the local community.

“The network is extremely pleased to welcome Manny and Lili to its organization. In their new roles, Manny and Lili will help lead the strategic direction of our Hamptons center and expand the network’s many programs and services in health, advocacy, education and more, and strengthen even further our ties with the community and encourage overall growth on the East End,” said Dr. David Kilmnick, chief executive officer of the network.

As program director, Mr. Velásquez-Paredes, a Riverhead resident, will manage the center and create engaging programs for the East End’s GLBT community and its allies. With more than 18 years of management experience in customer relations, events planning and non-profits, Mr. Velásquez-Paredes is a marketing and communications professional focusing in multicultural/diversity marketing/branding of the Hispanic and GLBT communities.

As the program assistant, Ms. Ogeka, a Quogue resident, facilitates programs and events that serve the GLBT community, as well as coordinate activities for the Hamptons Youth Group. Ms. Ogeka is a recent graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she received her bachelor of science degree in physical education, health education and adapted physical education, as well as a minor in psychology.

For more information, visit liglbtnetwork.org.

East End Drug Task Force Busts “Hollywood” Heroin Ring

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By Kathryn G. Menu

When the East End Drug Task Force last week busted a ring of heroin dealers in Riverhead officials say was trafficking in a particularly potent brand of the drug, it cast a light on the growing problem of opiate addiction across Suffolk County, including the East End.

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota on February 19 announced the arrest of nine men, who officials say were involved in the sale of  “Hollywood” heroin,  a brand he said commanded a premium price on the street because of its strength and brought buyers to Riverhead from Sag Harbor to Ronkonkoma and the North Fork.

The defendants, who all face multiple felony charges, were arrested between October and February.

“This heroin distribution network is based in New York City, where the alleged local East End dealers would travel to buy the heroin from three Harlem men and return to the East End with sleeves of heroin, each containing 100 individual doses packaged for immediate sale to users,” said Mr. Spota.

Mr. Spota said the three defendants from Manhattan have “lengthy criminal histories” and a cumulative total of 28 felony and misdemeanor convictions—almost all of them for drug-related crimes.

The “Hollywood” heroin ring included six men Mr. Spota referred to as the “Riverhead crew.” Robert Baker, 46, of Riverhead; Leon Langhorne, 38, of Riverhead; Leroy Langhorne, 41, of Riverside; Joseph Thomas, 41, of Mastic; Jerome Trent, 58, of Riverhead; and Farrow Sims, 42, of Calverton allegedly sold what Mr. Spota said was a particularly potent brand of heroin, marked with a red lettered stamp “Hollywood” on each dose.

Heroin with the red “Hollywood” stamp, said Mr. Spota, was a premium brand of the drug police learned during the course of the investigation that local users would pay a premium price for. According to Mr. Spota’s office, the price of “Hollywood” branded heroin is up to 50 to 100 percent more expensive than other street heroin.

“On average, street heroin in Suffolk can cost as much as $10 per bag, but the heroin stamped with the word “Hollywood” cost $15 to $20 a dose—because of its potency,” said Mr. Spota.

According to Mr. Spota, drug task force detectives made purchases and witnessed others buying the heroin in parking lots of retail businesses along Route 58 in Riverhead. He said enough evidence was gathered by the team to arrest and indict the defendants using confidential informants, undercover officers and, eventually, wiretaps.

The East End Drug Task Force is a multi-jurisdictional drug enforcement unit that includes detectives and officers from the New York State Police, Suffolk County Police Department, Suffolk County Sheriff, as well as town and village police departments including East Hampton Town and Village, Riverhead, Shelter Island, Southampton Town and Village and Southold.

Drug sales took place along Route 58, in parking lots of the Tanger Outlet Mall, Walmart, gas stations, Home Depot and the Department of Motor Vehicles, as well as in the McDonalds parking lot on Route 24. Addicts using the “Hollywood” heroin, said Mr. Spota, were primarily from Sag Harbor, Greenport, Miller Place, Rocky Point, Ronkonkoma and Southampton.

The heroin was purchased by the “Riverhead crew,” according to Mr. Spota, from three men from East Harlem. Jose Calvente, 65, Jose Morales, 75, and Carlos Ramos, 52.

Mr. Calvente, Mr. Morales and Mr. Ramos all face various counts of felony charges including criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree and conspiracy. Mr. Calvente and Mr. Ramos were held in Suffolk County Jail in Riverside in lieu of $250,000 bail and Mr. Morales was remanded to the Suffolk County Jail in Yaphank, also in lieu of $250,000 bail.

The six men in the “Riverhead crew” also face multiple felony charges, including various counts and degrees of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree. Mr. Baker, Leroy Langhorne, Leon Langhorne, and Mr. Sims face counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the second degree, a felony. Mr. Baker, both Langhornes and Mr. Sims also face felony conspiracy charges; Mr. Trent has been charged with misdemeanor counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, and criminal use of drug paraphernalia in the second degree; and Mr. Sims faces a misdemeanor count of criminal possession in the fourth degree.

Mr. Baker was remanded to Suffolk County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bail; Both Leroy and Leon Langhorne were released on their own recognizance, as was Mr. Trent. Mr. Thomas was remanded to Suffolk County Jail in lieu of $75,000 bail and Mr. Sims was remanded in lieu of $200,000 bail.

During the investigation, over 2,000 bags of heroin were confiscated, as was thousands of dollars in cash.

According to Mr. Spota, heroin with the “Hollywood” stamp was first noticed by local law enforcement on the East End when overdoses, none fatal, occurred in 2011. Heroin use is not a new problem in Suffolk County, said Mr. Spota—a sentiment echoed by Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds, the executive director of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (LICADD) and Southampton Town Justice Deborah Kooperstein, who also serves as a justice for the East End Regional Intervention Court.

The low cost of heroin is cited by all three as having an impact on the increase in abuse. They also cite an increase in the abuse of opioids—narcotic painkillers that can be legally prescribed by a doctor that share similar qualities to drugs like heroin, an opiate derivative.

In 2012 a special grand jury was empanelled by Mr. Spota and issued a 99-page report on the plague of opioid abuse in Suffolk County and recommendations on how to combat that problem in the wake of a 2011 pharmacy robbery that left four dead in Medford. According to the District Attorney’s office, in that case David Laffer, 33 at the time, admitted he was in search of prescription painkillers for himself and his wife when he gunned down two store employees and two customers at the pharmacy. Laffer pled guilty to five counts of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison.

According to a 2012 report, between 1996 and 2011, heroin use “rose steadily accounting for a 425 percent increase in the number of participants in the Suffolk County Drug Court Program. During this same period, opioid pill use accounted for a startling 1,136 percent increase.”

“To compare, cocaine use resulted in a 29-percent increase during the same period, but declined 13 percent between 1996 and 2001,” reads the report.

“Between 2006 and 2010, heroin arrests rose from 486 to 1315, an increase of approximately 170 percent,” the report continues. “Opiate abusers in Suffolk County fell into a vicious cycle of alternating between expensive opioid analgesic pills and the cheaper heroin creating a large overall class of opiate abusers and addicts.”

According to Dr. Reynolds, LICADD has seen the increase in abuse firsthand. In the last five years the council went from serving 100 families dealing with opiate abuse monthly to 850 in January of 2014.

“It has been a steady climb,” said Dr. Reynolds.

Making the jump from prescription pills to heroin, said Dr. Reynolds, can often be tied to economics and availability. With prescription opiates now more expensive and difficult to obtain, those who are hooked can sometimes look for the less expensive street heroin for their fix.

Dr. Reynolds noted heroin use is not limited to one demographic, but is a drug abused across the board.

“In a lot of ways, today it is a solidly middle class phenomena,” he said, “whereas back in the day it was mostly an issue in poorer minority communities that were decimated by drugs like heroin.”

Teenagers to those leading seemingly successful adult lives—and everyone in-between—are susceptible to becoming addicted to a drug like heroin, said Judge Kooperstein.

“Right now in the drug court, the youngest person we are working with is 18 and we had a graduate yesterday who is 58,” she said, noting most people in the East End Regional Intervention Court system are heroin addicts.

“Heroin is here because it is cheap,” Judge Kooperstein said, agreeing with Dr. Reynolds that this is a drug being abused, like others, in all communities, not just those tucked away from suburbia.

“You can’t divorce yourself from this,” she said. “It’s everywhere.”

Final Push for Affordable Care Act

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Susan Morrissey of Morrissey Advisory Services, a Sag Harbor insurance broker, says there is still confusion over the Affordable Care Act.

Susan Morrissey of Morrissey Advisory Services, a Sag Harbor insurance broker, says there is still confusion over the Affordable Care Act.

 

 

            By Stephen J. Kotz

It’s pretty much all over but the shoutin’. After more than three and a half years of fiercely partisan political warfare, the federal Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, will be completely phased in this year.

Insurance brokers and state run exchanges, or marketplaces where the uninsured can shop for health care policies, will likely see a continuing brisk business for the next month or so, as the final open enrollment period ends on March 15, with mandatory coverage required to begin by April 1.

“It ruined my hunting season,” said Karl Washwick, drolly, of the rush to buy new policies meeting the requirements of the law this year. The owner of the Washwick Agency, an insurance brokerage in Riverhead, Mr. Washwick said the final push to implement the health care legislation had proved to be a logistical nightmare for everyone from consumers to insurance companies themselves.

“If anyone had asked me I would have said this is a recipe for disaster. It’s insanity to ask everyone in New York State to switch policies on the same day. It’s the same as telling everyone to renew their driver’s license the same day. Can you imagine the lines if they did that?” He said a phased-in implementation would have saved lots of headaches.

Susan Morrissey of Morrissey Advisory Services, a Sag Harbor health insurance brokerage, agreed that there was still a lot of confusion among consumers.

“At times I’ve felt like I’m a social worker,” she said of all the counseling and hand-holding she has had to do with her clients in sorting out their options from among dozens of plans with various prices that are available.

Although plans that went into effect last year and expire later this year remain valid, any new plan that goes into effect this year has to include pediatric dental and vision care as well as mental health benefits, Ms. Morrissey said.

On top of that, Mr. Washwick said, if they were not already, consumers have to be prepared for a new age, in which just about all plans have high deductibles. “Generalizing across companies and policies, it means about a $6,300 out-of-pocket at most for an individual and double that for a family,” he said.

Both Ms. Morrissey and Mr. Washwick said the vast majority of companies they represent, which are typically in the small business market, have continued to offer insurance for their employees.

But if a company does not provide insurance or a consumer is self-employed, they have two basic options: buy an individual plan from a broker or visit the New York State insurance exchange site, nystateofhealth.ny.gov .

“There are two stores to buy insurance from; you can buy from the state store or the Washwick store,” said Mr. Washwick. The first difference is that someone who buys through the state exchange might qualify for a price subsidy if their income falls below $45,000 for an individual or $95,000 for a family.

Although the prospect of a subsidy sounds inviting, Ms. Morrissey said it’s still a case of buyer beware. “A lot of people might not know that although the same insurers are on the exchanges as you can get from a broker, the networks aren’t necessarily as good,” she said. “People buy policies and then have trouble when they find out that they can’t go to their regular doctors.”

She pointed out, for instance, that Stony Brook University Hospital, recently announced that is not accepting any plans sold on the state’s exchange.

“The only reason you’d use the exchange,” she added, “is if you think you are going to get a subsidy.”

Americans who do not buy insurance face a fine of $95 or 1 percent of their income, whichever is greater, an amount many healthy young Americans may be willing to pay to avoid paying monthly premiums, Ms. Morrissey said.

The Affordable Care Act had good intentions, she said of the effort to make sure all Americans have health insurance. But she said, so far, it’s had mixed results and will likely need some serious tweaking. While an individual policy would have cost about $1,000 last year and policies are now available for as low as $590, people will still end up going to the emergency room when they need health care if they have a limited network of doctors to choose from.

“From the eagle view in Washington, D.C., it’s fabulous,” Mr Washwick said of the $6,300 out-of-pocket limit for an individual. “You get cancer and your total cost is one-third the price of buying a Toyota,” he said. But to the average Joe, it’s ‘Why do I have insurance?’”

The dilemma still vexing this country, according to Mr. Washwick, is that Obamacare “is not health care reform, it’s health insurance reform.”

The question “is how do you get people healthier?,” he said. “The overwhelming number of health care claims are lifestyle claims. Supersize me. Marlboro Lights, please. Yeah, I’ll have one for the road.”

The Roaring ’20s are Back at Suffolk Theater Anniversary Gala

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2014 Gala InviteBy Tessa Raebeck

Celebrating its anniversary, the Suffolk Theater in Riverhead hosts a ‘20s dance party, asking guests to “take a step back in time to celebrate the evolution of jazz” with Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks. Grab your flapper dresses and bowler hats; the theater encourages guests to “dress in your ‘20s best” for the gala, starting at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 1.

Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks act and perform on HBO’s hit series “Boardwalk Empire,” appeared in the Martin Scorsese film “The Aviator,” and are frequent players both in film soundtracks and onscreen. Well-known on the jazz festival circuit, the band specializes in 1920’s and 1930’s jazz and is highly regarded as one of the genre’s preeminent acts. Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks won a Grammy in 2012 for their contribution to “Boardwalk Empire.”

Before the music, which begins at 8 p.m., guests are invited to come early for cocktails and a dinner with a special “Gala Menu” at 6:30, 7 or 7:30 p.m. Guests will have the option to purchase dinner at an additional price after they are seated.

Following the “big band sound” of Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, at 10 p.m. a DJ will entertain in the Deco Lounge at the After Hours Speakeasy Party.

Tickets to the gala and speakeasy party are $45, not including dinner. The prix fixe dinner is $35 (not including tax and gratuity). Those who wish to attend only the After Hours Speakeasy Party can buy tickets for $10 beginning at 10 p.m. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit suffolktheater.com or call the box office at 631.727.4343.

Winterfest: Live on the Vine Brings Six Weekends of Wine and Music to the North Fork

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Gene Casey and the Lone Sharks Perform at the Live on the Vine Kick-off Event January 17 at the Suffolk Theater. Photo by Lenny Stucker.

Gene Casey and the Lone Sharks Perform at the Live on the Vine Kick-off Event January 17 at the Suffolk Theater. Photo by Lenny Stucker.

By Tessa Raebeck

Blues, soul, rock, jazz and country music are awakening the vineyards of the North Fork this winter as Winterfest: Live on the Vine combines over 100 musical performances with the natural beauty and exceptional wines of the East End.

Started as Jazz on the Vine in 2006, the annual six-week music festival returns this year as Live on the Vine, with a wider range of musicians, including many Grammy recipients and Grammy-nominated artists, performing at local hotels, restaurants, vineyard tasting rooms and other venues. Designed to stimulate local businesses – and entertain local residents – during the off-season, the festival offers countless specials on accommodations, restaurants and transportation for ticket holders, including ‘Winterfest Getaway’ package deals. Hopper Passes, new this year, allow festivalgoers to see multiple performances in a single day, weekend or throughout the entire festival, without paying separate entrance fees at each show.

Winterfest: Live on the Vine kicked off January 17 at the Suffolk Theater with a sold-out performance by blues-rock icon Johnny Winter. The music continues with multiple performances each day over six weekends, ending Saturday, March 22.

This Friday on Valentine’s Day, the Alexander Clough Trio, a jazz ensemble from Brooklyn, will play a free show at Bistro 72, a restaurant and lounge at Hotel Indigo in Riverhead from 7 to 10 p.m. Also in Riverhead at the Suffolk Theater, Myq Kaplan of Comedy Central’s show “Last Comic Standing” will present a stand-up routine, “Valentine’s Candlelight Comedy,” with dancing to follow.

Throughout the day on Saturday, February 15, 10 North Fork vineyards are hosting shows, with a performance by Gene Casey & The Lone Sharks at the Hotel Indigo Ballroom in Riverhead closing out the day. Another 10 concerts are scheduled for Sunday.

General Admission tickets for Winterfest: Live on the Vine cost $20 and include a glass of wine. Hopper passes do not include wine and are $30 for the day, $50 for the weekend or $200 for the entire six-week festival. For more information, visit liwinterfest.com.

Bridgehampton School Ranks in Top 15 Obese Schools on Long Island

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

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

By Tessa Raebeck

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund Reaches $11.03 Million for 2013

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Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. reported this week revenues for the Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund (CPF) produced $11.03 million in October 2013. This compares with $6.02 million a year ago. The 10-month total for 2013 of $75.73 million is 50.9 percent higher than a year ago for the same period when $50.19 million was collected, according to Thiele.

Since its inception in 1999, the Peconic Bay Regional Community Preservation Fund has generated $865.03 million. The CPF expires in 2030. The CPF has generated $92.38 million over the last 12 months. Based on recent activity, CPF revenues are projected to be in the $90 million range for 2013. Revenues for 2012 totaled $66.84 million.

Thiele Praises Shared Superintendent Announcement in Greenport, Southold

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

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

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

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

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