Tag Archive | "Riverhead"

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.”

 

East End Winemakers Call 2013 Best Vintage Yet

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Grapes being picked at Martha Clara Vineyards in Riverhead. Photo by John Neely.

Grapes being picked at Martha Clara Vineyards in Riverhead. Photo by John Neely.

By Tessa Raebeck

As if anyone needed another reason to drink wine, the 2013 vintage is the best local winemakers on both forks have ever seen.

“It’s really spectacular,” said Roman Roth, winemaker for the Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack. “You hear about these fabled vintages like ’76 and ’45 – this is one that we have.”

“The entire East End is producing great wines,” agreed winemaker Juan Micieli-Martinez of Martha Clara Vineyards in Riverhead.

Winemakers were nervous last spring, when May was a particularly rainy month and June was the second wettest on record. They soon found their worry was preemptive.

“Then came the most fantastic summer,” said Roth. A heat wave in July followed by a generally dry, long summer helped the winemakers to overcome the wet spring.

The summer was good, but the fall was better.

“What almost always makes a fine harvest – an excellent harvest – is a sunny, dry fall,” explained Larry Perrine, winemaker at Channing Daughters Winery in Bridgehampton. “It doesn’t have to be hot, but it’s sunny and dry. And basically from Labor Day on, it didn’t rain. It rained the day after Labor Day and then it didn’t rain for the next seven weeks.”

The dry weather moves the ripening schedule of the fruit forward, preventing any rot. Because the fall was dry without being too hot, the tender varieties were not adversely affected. The yields were substantial and the quality superior across the board, ensuring that the 2013 vintage is excellent for whites, rosés and reds.

“All conditions were great,” said Lisa Freedman, a PR representative for Martha Clara Vineyards, “as far as weather and Mother Nature – and there were no hurricanes.”

Regions renowned for wine, such as Friuli, Italy or Bordeaux, France, have heavy rainfall during the growing season and a dry end of season. This year, the East End of Long Island got a taste of that perfect wine weather.

2010 previously held the crown as the best year in local winemakers’ memory and 2012 was also a landmark year, but it just keeps getting better, they say.

“There’s a lot of great wines up in the pipeline,” said Roth. “But it will all be topped by this 2013 – that’s for sure.”

The sun rises over the harvest at Wölffer Estate Winery in Sagaponack.

The sun rises over the harvest at Wölffer Estate Winery in Sagaponack.

Since he started making wine in 1982, Roth has seen maybe three lots (batches separated by varietal, date picked or vineyard section) “that are really special” each year.

“But this year,” he said. “We have thirty lots. The lots came in with the highest color, the deepest color, so it’s an amazing opportunity where you have lots of options for great wines.”

The first 2013 wines released will be the rosés in the early spring, followed fairly quickly by the aromatic, fresh white wines, such as sauvignon blancs. Fermented in stainless steel and bottled early, those white wines will be released by the spring or summer of 2014. Other whites fermented in oak, like Chardonnays, could take as long as 2015.

The reds take the longest, spending at least a year in the cellar. Channing Daughters is just now bottling its 2012 reds, so 2013 reds won’t be available for over a year, most likely two. At Wölffer, the top 2013 reds won’t be released until 2016. As Roth said, “good wine takes time.”

The goal of the North Fork’s Lenz Winery in Peconic is to release wine that “will be among the very best of its type, made anywhere in the world.”

Several years ago, that would have been a bold claim for a Long Island winery to make, but these days, it appears to be quite realistic.

Micieli-Martinez calls it the “Napa-fication” of Long Island’s wine industry, referring to the initial disregard of Napa Valley wines. It was believed California couldn’t compete with French and Italian wines, but today Napa Valley is considered to be one of the world’s premier wine regions.

“I think it contributes to the growing really positive perception…of the quality of Long Island wines and of New York wines in general,” Perrine said of the 2013 harvest. “It does improve steadily the reputation of the wines as being first-rate, world class wines.”

“It’s truly a special year,” the 30-year winemaker continued. “We’ll always remember.”

“It’s just perfect,” said Roth. “It’s a dream come true, basically.”

The Hookup Culture Has Left a Generation of Americans Unfulfilled and Lonely, says Dr. Donna Freitas

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Dr. Donna Freitas

Dr. Donna Freitas

By Tessa Raebeck

Ask a college student when they last went on a real date and most will stare at you dumbfounded.

Like pay phones and typewriters, traditional notions of dating are altogether extinct on college campuses. Instead, America’s young people are fully immersed in what Dr. Donna Freitas calls “the hookup culture,” a sexual mindset that has replaced courtship, dating and intimacy with casual no-strings-attached encounters known as hooking up.

While academics and young adults alike maintain the hookup culture provides for increased freedom and choices, others, Dr. Freitas among them, say its dominance of sexual encounters has left a generation of young adults frustrated, insecure and unfulfilled.

On Monday, Dr. Freitas will give a talk on “the hookup generation” at the Rogers Memorial Library in Southampton. An author and religious studies professor at Boston University, Dr. Freitas has completed eight years of clinical research and analysis on sexual activity among young adults and has nearly 20 years of personal experience on college campuses.

In her most recent book, “The End of Sex: How Hookup Culture is Leaving a Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled, and Confused About Intimacy,” Dr. Freitas found college students across genders, religious affiliations and sexual preference were proponents of the hookup culture in public, but expressed a much different attitude in private.

“I have learned from my own students,” Dr. Freitas, said in an interview on Friday, “that talking about sex and relationships and hooking up on campus — they lied about it a lot. So privacy was really a priority.”

Discussions with her own classes, she writes, revealed “an intense longing for meaning — meaningful sex, meaningful relationships and meaningful dates.”

unnamedObserving this dissatisfaction with hookup culture led her to explore the topic further. While researching her book, Dr. Freitas analyzed thousands of students at public and private, secular, Evangelical and Catholic campuses. She administered 2,600 surveys, conducted 112 interviews and collected 108 journals.

“I was sort of taken aback by the level of participation,” said Dr. Freitas. “I think the amount of participation I got — and very, very quickly once the study was open — is just finding in itself of how much students were looking for a safe, private space to talk about this stuff where there weren’t any social repercussions.”

She discovered that while most of the young men and women she encountered were “very pro ‘the hookup’ in theory,” they were privately struggling with the lack of personal connection and longing for other options.

“Hookups have existed throughout human history, of course,” writes Dr. Freitas, “but what is now happening on American campuses is something different. College has gone from being a place where hookups happened to a place where hookup culture dominates students’ attitudes about all forms of intimacy.”

Dr. Freitas found no outstanding differences between Catholic and secular universities, although the attitude was completely different on Evangelical campuses, where abstinence prevailed and there was no viable hookup culture.

One of the biggest surprises in the research, she said, was that both male and female respondents shared the same feelings of dissatisfaction.

“I assumed, like most people do,” she said, “that when I sat down with guys, they would tell me how great hookup culture was for them, but what I got was remarkably similar views between men and women.”

The only difference she saw was, while women felt it was acceptable to publicly express criticism of the hookup culture, “men felt like they absolutely could not do that; they had to go along with it or risk their masculinity.”

Some respondents were in fact in long-term relationships, but couples started as a “random hookup” that turned into a “serial hookup” before they eventually made any serious commitment to each other. The majority of college students in relationships were juniors and seniors, when it “seemed more socially acceptable to be in relationships,” said Dr. Freitas.

“Many of them,” Dr. Freitas said, “had a really hard time identifying a hookup experience that was positive for them or wasn’t just kind of ‘blah.’ They were either very ambivalent to the experience or often very sad and regretful.”

“Students want to talk about dating and romance and other options,” she said, “where the hookup is one possibility among many different possibilities.

 “The Hookup Generation: A Primer for Parents and Teenagers,” a talk by Dr. Donna Freitas, will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, December 2 at the Rogers Memorial Library, 91 Coopers Farm Road, Southampton. To reserve a seat free of charge, visit myrml.org or call 283-0074, ext. 523.

Police Release Rendering of Suspect Sought for Armed Robbery in Sag Harbor

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crime pic for Georgie

By Kathryn G. Menu; Photography by Michael Heller

Heller_Corner Closet Robbery 11-19-13_3171_LR

Police are looking for a Hispanic man alleged to have wielded a gun in an armed robbery on Main Street, Sag Harbor Tuesday night just before 6 p.m.

Sag Harbor Village Police responded to a call at 6:25 p.m. to a report of an armed robbery at the Corner Closet, a vintage and luxury goods consignment store owned by Seena Stromberg.

According to police, a Hispanic male and a female accomplice entered the Corner Closet at approximately 5:50 p.m. Tuesday evening. The man displayed a handgun, forcing Stromberg — alone at the time of the robbery — into a rear storage area where he placed both her arms and legs in restraints, according to a press release issued by the Sag Harbor Village Police Department Wednesday afternoon.

The suspects then returned to the front of the store and stole designer handbags, scarves and accessories.

“They took several items from the establishment,” said Sag Harbor Police Sergeant Paul Fabiano, who added it was unclear if cash was taken from the store, but that other items including clothing and jewelry were taken.

The suspects then fled in what police believe was a late 1990s or early 2000s domestic four-door white sedan.

Stromberg, said police, was able to free herself from the restraints, exit the store and ask a passerby to contact police.

According to Sag Harbor Village Police Detective Jeffrey Proctor, just 15 minutes prior to the robbery, a similar situation unfolded at Illusions on Main Street where a different Hispanic male, also in his late 20s or early 30s with a moustache and glasses, posed a similar question to the store clerk there as was posed by the suspect at the Corner Closet. The man left that store without incident.

Both suspects remain at large.

Suffolk County Crime Stoppers and Sag Harbor Village Police have asked the public to help in identifying and locating the two suspects. Crime Stoppers has offered a cash reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS or the Sag Harbor Village Police Department at 725-0247. All calls will be kept confidential.

The man is described as Hispanic, approximately 5’3 with brown hair in his late 20s, early 30s. He was wearing a black sweatshirt and jeans. The woman is described as Hispanic, approximately 5’5 with brown hair also in her late 20s, early 30s. She was wearing a fuchsia sweater vest over a black hooded sweatshirt and jeans.

Proctor confirmed that during the search for suspects Tuesday night, police did pull over a vehicle on the Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike, although it ended up not being related to the Main Street robbery.

According to Proctor, Stromberg did not have video surveillance, but police are combing all available surveillance from downtown Sag Harbor from Tuesday evening. Police are also interviewing witnesses.

In the past two decades, there have been at least two armed robberies reported in Sag Harbor. One was at the Getty Station; the other at Madison Market, which was located in the building currently occupied by Cilantro’s.

While the first armed robbery in Sag Harbor in over a decade, it is not the first time the Corner Closet has been targeted. In late May, the store was the victim of shoplifting — two Chanel and two Hermes bags, along with five dresses by Chanel and Herve Leger, taken in that theft.

 

 

 

Southampton Town Council: It’s Bender & Glinka, Unofficially

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Southampton Town Council candidates Brad Bender, Frank Zappone, Stan Glinka and Jeff Mansfield

Southampton Town Council candidates Brad Bender, Frank Zappone, Stan Glinka and Jeff Mansfield

By Kathryn G. Menu

While the results have yet to be made official by the Suffolk County Board of Elections (BOE), according to Southampton Town Democratic Party chairman Gordon Herr, it appears that Independence Party member Brad Bender and Republican Stan Glinka have held on to their Election Day leads and will join the Southampton Town Board in January.

On Wednesday morning, an official with Suffolk County BOE chairman Anita Katz’s office declined comment on the race stating official results would not be available until later this week.

However, Herr said the counting of 879 absentee ballots was completed last Wednesday and that Bender and Glinka have secured seats on the town board.

Bender and Glinka bested Bridgehampton resident Jeff Mansfield and Southampton Town Deputy Supervisor Frank Zappone in the town board race.

“I am so very thankful to my friends, family, co-workers, colleagues, everyone who was so generous and encouraging during the campaign,” said Glinka, the town board race’s top vote getter, in a statement on Wednesday. “But more importantly I am thankful to the voters of this great town, my hometown of Southampton, for endorsing me with their vote. I look forward to continuing to listen to all the people and to working on finding balanced solutions to many crucial issues at hand.”

“As I committed to be your full time representative, I am currently winding down my workload and finishing off projects that are in progress,” said Bender, who is in the construction field. “I am excited about this next chapter in my life as a public servant. Working for you the taxpayers to solve problems and protect our community.”

“Grading” Sag Harbor Teachers: Administrators Discuss Goals Updates at Board of Education Meeting

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External Auditor Alexandria Battaglia, CPA, addresses the Sag Harbor Board of Education Monday night.

External Auditor Alexandria Battaglia, CPA, addresses the Sag Harbor Board of Education Monday night.

By Tessa Raebeck

“This has been a week of very special teams,” said Dr. Bonuso, interim superintendent for the Sag Harbor School District, congratulating the champion Lady Whalers field hockey team and the community team that helped pass the district’s two bond propositions.

Passing the bond was a key component of the district goals for the 2013/2014 school year, which Dr. Bonuso presented to a small group of people gathered Monday for the Board of Education (BOE) meeting.

Dr. Bonuso discussed the headway made on the first three of the district’s nine goals. He said progress was made on the first goal, improving academic achievement, through the resubmission and implementation of Annual Professional Performance Reviews (APPR), an evaluation system required by the state since 2012. It rates teachers as highly effective, effective, developing or ineffective, based on a 100-point scale. Half of the review relies on administrative observations, 10 percent on an “evidence binder” of components like electronic posting and 40 percent on test scores. For teachers whose students are not yet being tested regularly, that portion is determined by a project the district assigns in order to produce a score. Pierson Middle/High School Principal Jeff Nichols said the majority of Sag Harbor teachers were graded “effective.”

“We need to take a second look at this emphasis on testing, the over testing,” said Dr. Bonuso. “We need to take a second look at whether or not we have the materials and modules – let alone the mindset – to approach this in a manner where people are feeling good about what’s happening instead of anxious and discouraged.”

Susan Hewett, a parent, asked the board how teachers are rewarded or reprimanded based on their APPR performance. Dr. Bonuso replied teachers are not rewarded, but if they are determined to be “developing” or worse for two years, “we can literally remove them…even if they are tenured.”

If a teacher is rated “ineffective,” the superintendent said, “We don’t have to go through all the gyrations and all the bureaucracy that in the past we had to in order to remove you.”

The administrators reported on the progress of the newly formed shared decision-making teams, a component of the second goal: to build partnerships with the community. Two teams have met, one for the elementary school and one for Pierson. The district-wide team is looking for two replacements for members who left the committee prior to the first meeting.

Board member Mary Anne Miller questioned the inclusion of the middle and high schools in the same team, which BOE Vice President Chris Tice agreed should be revisited.

The third goal is to ensure sound fiscal operation and facilities management. The district added experienced security personnel and hours at both school, enhanced systems at school entryways and held its first lockdown drill of the year last week. External auditor Alexandria Battaglia said Monday the district is in good financial health, with an unassigned fund balance of about $1.4 million.

In other school news, BOE member David Diskin again asked the board to discuss starting to video record their meetings. Board President Theresa Samot said it was a good idea to look at further.

The next BOE meeting will be held December 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the Pierson Library.

With Something for Every Budget, In Home Helps Sag Harbor Shoppers Tackle Holiday Shopping

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David Brogna and John Scocco show their wares at In Home

David Brogna and John Scocco show their wares at In Home

By Tessa Raebeck; photography by Michael Heller

As Sag Harbor residents begin checking items off their holiday shopping lists, In Home is hosting a storewide clearance sale to ease the process, offering great deals on everything from sofas to stocking stuffers. With up to 70 percent off selected items, the sale includes regular clearance items, as well as closeouts from brand name manufacturers like Calvin Klein, Dansk and Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.

Since 1996, In Home co-owners John Scocco and David Brogna have filled their Main Street shop with a carefully curated collection of furnishings for every room, occasion and budget. Brogna, an award winning Home Products Development Professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), has an eye for design and a background as a buyer for companies like Macy’s. Scocco complements Brogna’s expertise with his own background in interior design and as an industrial film production manager. Together, they have built a longstanding store dedicated to both local and seasonal markets.

“We do have higher priced items,” said Scocco of In Home’s selection. “But most people don’t want to spend a lot of money these days, so we try to gear things for those shoppers.”

Brogna and Scocco have stocked their shelves with fun gift items under $25 or $50, “things that people would just come in and just want to pick up,” said Scocco.

One such item is the Corkcicle, a popular gift In Home was asked to restock after selling out last summer. For $23, the corkcicle is a long tube that resembles an icicle with a cork on top of it. After being chilled in a freezer, the corkcicle is inserted into a bottle of white or rosé wine. Unlike ice, the corkcicle won’t melt or water down your wine; instead, the bottle is both chilled and aerated upon pouring.

Another fun gift that was a hit this summer is the citrus sprayer, on sale at In Home for $15. After cutting the tip off of a lemon or lime, the citrus sprayer, which resembles the top of a spray perfume bottle, is placed on top of the fruit, allowing its owner to spray a mist of the juice directly from the lemon or lime.

“It’s really amazing,” says Scocco. “It really, really works.”

For under $20, In Home has a variety of other gift items from companies like Kate Spade and RSVP, including soap sets, candle sets, picture frames, personal care items and other home accessories. $10 can get you a chrome rabbit that doubles as a ring holder or a snow globe that’s also a ring game for children, as well as a variety of other “little fun stuff.”

“Of course, we do have a lot of other high end, more special items as well,”
said Scocco. “But our focus primarily is on the less expensive items.”

Brogna and Scocco are committed to keeping the shop stocked with reasonably priced gift items for the holidays, but they also hope to clear out the larger home furnishings in order to make room for next season’s stock.

“There’s a wide assortment of things,” said Scocco. “Some people feel intimidated, people that don’t really know us hear ‘Oh, that store’s really expensive…’ We do have a wide range and our pricing is really very, very fair and very well priced.”

The In Home team hopes to sell all the clearance furniture by January. Regularly priced at $1,980, a Stratton leather chair by Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, modern with a dark, lightly distressed wooden frame and creamy stone leather seat, is on sale for $899. A soft, 100% Egyptian cotton king-sized blanket from Sferra’s home collection regularly priced at $250 is half off at $125. Framed mythological star maps of the astrological night sky, 23” by 23”, are marked down from $190 to $99. Also on sale are sofas, coffee tables, end tables, throw pillows and virtually anything else you need to decorate your home.

“There’s so much you can get overwhelmed with all the product that we have in our space,” Scocco said with excitement.

In Home is located at 132 Main Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, call 725-7900 or visit inhomesagharbor.com.

Holiday Show Brings Newcomers and Returning Artists to Grenning Gallery

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"Antique Grasshopper Weathervane" by Sarah Lamb, 2011

“Antique Grasshopper Weathervane” by Sarah Lamb, 2011

By Tessa Raebeck

Some 20 years ago, Maryann Lucas brought her two young toddlers to visit Laura Grenning at the Grenning Gallery, then located next to the Corner Bar on Sag Harbor’s Main Street.

“I’ll never forget,” said Lucas, flanked by materials and colorful oil paintings in her new studio behind the Romany Kramoris Gallery in the Carruthers Alleyway off Main Street. “When I walked into her gallery for the first time and thought, ‘Some day.’”

Over two decades later, ‘some day’ has arrived; Lucas will join seven other artists in the Holiday Show at the Grenning Gallery this Saturday. Celebrating the gallery’s most successful year since its 1997 opening, the Holiday Show features a range of carefully selected artists, coming from as far away as Sweden and as close by as Lucas’ studio. While Lucas is showing her work for the first time, headliner Sarah Lamb is returning to the gallery after years of success.

Grenning gave Lamb her first show in 1998, when the artist was in her early 20s. After showing with Grenning for a little over two years, Lamb entered into an exclusive deal with the Spanierman Gallery in New York City. The Spanierman Gallery, which is still open today and continues to show Lamb’s work, no longer has an exclusive deal with the artist, allowing her to show with Grenning once more.

“I’ve been calling her every six months for five or six years now,” Grenning said Monday. “I have clients that want her work.”

After years of waiting, Grenning is excited to exhibit ten new works by Lamb in the Holiday Show.

“What she’s doing is she does these amazing still lives,” said the gallerist. “She’s very prolific. The thing she spends most of the time on is setting them up and deciding the composition. She’s got an excellent eye for design.”

Lamb puts more time into designing her work through the composition than she does with the actual execution, which Grenning says usually takes just a day or two.

“The irony of the classical realist movement,” says Grenning, “is the classical realists paint but they don’t extract themselves to remember why they’re painting and what they’re painting. They don’t think of the composition too much – the abstract design of the painting.”

Since the early days of the gallery, when Lamb was a recent art school graduate looking for a break, she has grown tremendously as an artist. In her first show at Grenning, her works sold for $6,000 tops. This weekend, they will sell for up to $25,000.

"Wherelwork" by

“Wherelwork” by Joe Altwer, 2013

As evidenced by the Holiday Show line-up, Grenning excels at finding and mentoring new artists. She found Joe Altwer when he was an assistant to Mark Dalessio, one of her gallery’s featured artists.

“He actually came to his first opening here on a skateboard,” she recalls of the young Altwer, adding that his paintings in the show are “very beautiful, very well done, very bright light…It’s all about the light reflecting around the room, it’s not so much about describing the objects in the room.”

"River View" by Daniel Graves

“River View” by Daniel Graves, 2013

In the Holiday Show, Daniel Graves will exhibit four new landscapes “inspired by the most lyrical and relaxed tonalists.” Work by Michael Kotasek, who has been likened to the prominent realist painter Andrew Wyeth but is, according to Grenning, “a lot more refined as a painter,” will also be displayed.

The show will feature a “very beautiful” piece of a glass of beer and a musical instrument by Kevin McEvoy, paintings of farmhouses at twilight and a moonrise by Kevin Sanders and an original nocturne of Sag Harbor by Greg Horwich.

And then, of course, there’s Lucas.

“I didn’t realize all the times I was talking with her that she was an avid artist,” said Grenning. As Lucas’s talent developed, she began bringing her oil paintings to the gallery for Grenning to critique.

“I find when Laura critiques my work,” said Lucas. “I really come away with clarity of how to make it better and at the same time, she makes you feel really good about what’s right – she’s a wonderful mentor.”

"Duck Walk" by Maryann Lucas, 2013

“Duck Walk” by Maryann Lucas, 2013

“I, for whatever reason, tell people exactly what I think of their paintings,” said Grenning. “Unless you’re really open to a serious critique it can be unpleasant. She took every observation that I had and responded like an unbelievable student. She had talent but she kind of reorganized herself aesthetically. It’s kind of exciting and apparently this is a longtime goal for her.”

Apparently. After bringing her work to Grenning last spring, Lucas made some changes, landing herself a spot in the Holiday Show, her first exhibit.

“I used to say to my daughters, we would say, ‘Do you think this painting is Grenning worthy’,” said Lucas. “Being in her gallery, this is my first – I guess it’s like a wish list…I’m thrilled and excited for the opportunity.”

The opening reception for the Holiday Show will be held at the Grenning Gallery, 17 Washington Street, on Saturday, November 23 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. For more information, call 725-8469 or visit Grenning Gallery.

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.”