Tag Archive | "Sag Harbor"

Elaine Peterson

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Elaine Peterson is a gardener, an astrologer and the president of the Horticultural Alliance of the Hamptons. She spoke about some upcoming events and discussed her experiences gardening on the East End.

It clearly isn’t prime gardening season, but is there anything green thumbs can do this time of year to get their gardens ready for spring?

I’d let things be at this time of year. Plan. It’s a good time for planning. Occasionally I do some pruning this time of year, I always prune on a new moon. I’m an astrologer so I garden by the moon and the planets. So always prune around the new moon, because that’s when the energy in the plants is most down in the roots, rather than up in the tips. The other thing that’s terribly important that no one really talks about, is that old farmers in Europe would never water or fertilize during the waxing of the moon, only in the waning of the moon between full moon and new moon. And that way the water sinks, and the fertilizer and whatever that is going into the ground does go into the ground instead of washing away. So the timing of those applications is very important. We’re constantly reinventing the wheel, but if you go back and look at how people used to farm before we had all these modern techniques, they were very much more in touch with the earth and the climate.

Water quality is one of the main concerns on any island. We hear a lot about nitrogen run-off from fertilizers causing all sorts of problems in local waterways. How can gardeners keep their plants healthy without causing harm to water?

Vincent Simeone, director of the Planting Fields Arboretum here on Long Island, spoke to us on Sunday about his new book “Grow More With Less: Sustainable Garden Methods”. But one of the most concerning things about sustainable garden methods is that we reduce or eliminate the amount of herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, everything unnatural, that we put on the ground because it will come back into the water at some point. I don’t use pesticides or herbicides at all in my gardening, I’ve never had to. I don’t believe in it, I don’t think it’s good, but I also don’t see the need for it. Compost is pretty much all I use. I use some organic supplement sometimes but I’m very careful—I live on the lake! I have some weeds on my lawn, but I’m perfectly happy with them, I don’t want to live on a golf course.

We all know that the East End is home to an enormous deer population. What are some ways for gardeners to deal with the hungry herbivores?

We’ve been serious gardeners for some time, and we’ve dealt with the deer issue forever. In the 19th century and the 20th century we killed off all the animals, and then we decided that wasn’t such a good idea, so we brought them back and now they’re here. So we all got wise and said, this isn’t right, and of course the whole economical and social scene changed. Gradually, wild animals have come back, and they are here and they’re coming back more and more. And it’s just something we have to adjust to. As a gardener, I’ve learned to live with all of the animals, and if you want to grow things animals are going to be interested in, you’re just going to have to take precautions to protect them. Which means a lot more fencing, walled gardens; in some ways, we have to go back to the way it was in the Middle Ages, where if you wanted to grow something for food or for pleasure you had to protect it. So that’s what I have come around to realizing I have to do for everything—there are many plants that won’t be touched by deer but they adapt, the things that they didn’t used to eat, they now eat.

The Horticultural Alliance of the Hamptons is holding a roundtable discussion on planting a fragrant garden from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, January 17, at the Bridgehampton Community House, 2357 Montauk Highway, Bridgehampton. For more information about the organization, call (631) 537-2223. 

Sag Harbor School District Presents First Draft of $1.5 Million Support Services Budget

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A student navigates the halls of Pierson High School. Photo by Michael Heller.

A student navigates the halls of Pierson High School. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Tessa Raebeck

To start the Sag Harbor School District’s five-month budget season, Business Administrator Jennifer Buscemi presented the first draft of a nearly $1.5 million support services budget, which covers the board of education, central administration, legal services, public information services, and insurance components of the district’s overall budget.

This school year’s $36.8 million budget, which easily passed last May by a 72-percent margin, had an increase of $1.36 million, or 3.83 percent, in spending from the previous school year. The district’s tax levy increase of 1.48 percent came in below the state’s 1.51 percent property tax levy cap for the district, which was determined by calculations specific to last year.

“We are looking at every single line individually,” Ms. Buscemi told the board at the workshop on Monday, January 12. “We’re trying to stay very, very conservative,” she said, adding that once health insurance and pension increases are applied, diligence will be demanded in other areas. Those costs take up a significant portion of the budget each year; salaries and benefits generally account for more than 80 percent of the overall budget. The last 20 percent of the budget must account for programs, technology, facilities and maintenance.

The support services budget was not yet complete, with several lines requiring further edits or information. Much of the data needed to finalize this year’s budget, such as insurance rates, BOCES rates, and clerical salaries, is not yet available. Superintendent Katy Graves’s salary has also not yet been determined, and is listed at $215,000, her current salary.

Some potential savings also remain undetermined. Several of the capital projects afforded by the bond referendum voters passed in 2013, such as floor replacements, the new turf field, and other safety measures, could save the district money by lowering the cost of student accident insurance, which is budgeted for $50,000.

“In some instances,” added Ms. Graves, “you actually save because insurance companies feel [more secure].”

This year the district joined a new purchasing cooperative, Educational Data Basic and T&M Services, to issue bids for the district.

“This $5,000 will save us a lot of time and money with bidding,” said Ms. Buscemi, adding that it will save the district money in advertising and time in manpower by doing bids through the cooperative, rather than through the business office.

“We’re going to get a better quality product at a lower cost,” Ms. Graves added.

Rather than putting out bids as a single entity, being part of the cooperative enables the district to go through an agency and have many units purchase at the same time, and save money by banding together with other districts on the East End.

The public information line, which has been up for much debate as the district grapples with how best to increase communications—particularly online—with parents and the wider public in a digital age, is projected to decrease by 4.64 percent, going from $75,500 budgeted for this year to $72,000 for 2014-15. While postage fees will remain steady, the district will be allocating $40,000 it had been paying a private firm to BOCES for public information services.

The district will host workshops on the remaining portions of the budget before the first draft is unveiled on March 23. Athletics, capital project work, and buildings and grounds will be covered at the January 26 workshop. Technology, special education, debt service, employee benefits and transportation will be on February 23, and on March 9 the elementary, middle and high schools, and BOCES administration and services sections will be presented. All workshops are at 6 p.m. in the Pierson library.

A second review of the entire budget will be held April 13, and the budget adoption is scheduled for April 22, followed by another review on April 27. The budget hearing will be May 5 and the districtwide vote is on May 19, as are school board elections.

Mayor Questions Breakwater Yacht Club’s Lease

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Breakwater Yacht Club

By Stephen J. Kotz

The future of the lease between the nonprofit Breakwater Yacht Club and Sag Harbor Village has been called into question by Mayor Brian Gilbride, who on Wednesday said he was concerned the village has not been generating enough revenue from the arrangement.

The club, which runs a number of community sailing programs, has been operating on a 20-year lease, which expires on May 31, but that lease allows the club to exercise an option to renew it for an additional 10 years. The club has already indicated to the village that it intends to exercise that option, but Mr. Gilbride said he wants to bring its board members to the table to discuss ways to make the arrangement more fair to village taxpayers.

“I’d certainly disagree that a 20-year lease with an automatic 10-year renewal was in the best interest of the village then or in its best interest now,” Mr. Gilbride said.  He said the club pays the village $3,000 a year now and would be paying $3,500 a year for the next 10 years unless the lease is modified.

Although the club sponsors a junior sailing program for children, hands out 20 to 30 scholarships for summer sailing programs and sponsors a high school sailing team, Mr. Gilbride said it also uses its clubhouse for private parties, yoga classes, and other events that generate significant revenue.

“Absolutely not,” Mr. Gilbride responded when asked if he wanted to evict the club. “If I was, that ship would have long sailed by now.”

The lease was a discussion item at Tuesday’s Village Board meeting, and the mayor and Bruce Tait, a member of the club’s board of directors, got into a testy exchange over whether the village had the right to negotiate any portion of the lease.

“We aren’t asking to renegotiate the lease. That’s not on the table,” Mr. Tait said. He added that the only way the village could get around the lease was if it could prove the club was violating the terms of the agreement or if it sought to take property through an eminent domain proceeding if it had a public use for the property.

At Tuesday’s meeting and again on Wednesday, Fred W. Thiele Jr., the board’s attorney, said he believed the club was in its rights to exercise the option as is.

When Mr. Tait continued to press his argument, Mr. Gilbride told him he was not helping matters. “Let me tell you something. I think you are wrong. Let me tell you a little more. I know you are wrong,” Mr. Gilbride told Mr. Tait. “So before you put Breakwater in hot water why don’t you stop right there.”

On Wednesday, Olaf Neubert, the club’s commodore, said he had not been informed that the lease was going to be on the board’s agenda this week. He added that he believed it was well within its rights to exercise the option. “There are no bells or whistles attached to it,” he said.

“It is clear we are part of the community,” continued Mr. Neubert, who stressed that the club is more of a community center than a private club. He said the club, which is designated as nonprofit by the Internal Revenue Service, passed a recent audit with flying colors.

He said he looked forward to discussing the lease and the club’s future with board members as soon as possible.

Bed and Breakfasts

A proposed code amendment sponsored by Trustee Sandra Schroeder that would provide for a way for bed and breakfast to be licensed by the village drew a sharp rebuke from Pierce Hance, a resident of Main Street.

Currently bed and breakfasts are allowed if the homeowner obtains a special exception permit. Ms. Schroeder proposed the change, she has said, because the village is aware some people are quietly renting a room or two and officials are most concerned about making sure they are safe.

“What we are doing is changing the code to accommodate people who are violating the code,” said Mr. Hance. Instead of legalizing the approximately 13 bed and breakfasts advertising online “why aren’t you just going to them and saying you are violating the code. Cease and desist.”

“This is effectively validating the commercialization of the R-20 zoning district,” added Mr. Hance.

Board members and Mr. Thiele said Mr. Hance was taking a far too narrow view of the proposed amendment, which will be the subject of a public hearing next month.

In other action, the board agreed, at the request of building inspector Tom Preiato to write to the owners of the Morpurgo House at 6 Union Street, informing them that that the property is unsafe and it must be secured and portions of it demolished. The property has been in a dilapidated condition for decades and only recently emerged from the depths of a murky mortgage fraud case.  On Wednesday, Mr. Preiato said the owners would have 30 days to meet the village’s demands, or it would undertake the work itself.

Canio’s Building on Market

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The Main Street building that is home to Canio’s Books has recently been put on the market for $2.9 million.

Martha Siegler, who owns the 4,500-square-foot building, confirmed it was listed but did not wish to comment further. The building has three apartments and over 800 square feet of storefront retail space, which has been the home of Canio’s Books for 35 years.

Kathryn Szoka, who has run the bookstore with Maryanne Calandrille since 1999, said on Tuesday evening that it was a “very new situation,” adding she had “just found out” the building was on the market.

She and her partner have recently signed a lease, she said, but Ms. Szoka did not wish to discuss the details of it.

“We are hopeful and we’re committed to being in Sag Harbor,” Ms. Szoka said. This year marks the 35th anniversary of the bookstore, which was opened by Canio Pavone in 1980.

“We’re looking forward to this 35th anniversary and we have good hopes going forward,” she added. In celebration of this jubilee, Canio’s will be putting on many different activities, including resurrecting the “Moby Dick” reading marathon this year.

The Bankesters Bring Bluegrass to Shelter Island

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By Emily J. Weitz

The Bankesters are a good old-fashioned family band. The parents, Phil and Dorene, started their three daughters on music lessons before they were in kindergarten, and Emily, who plays the clawhammer banjo and the fiddle in the band, has been told she used to sing herself to sleep as a baby. Harmonizing comes second nature to them, and making music is a joy they love to share.

The band will share their sound with music lovers this Saturday when Sylvester Manor presents The Bankesters bringing some of the finest bluegrass harmonies to The Shelter Island School at 7:30 p.m. The show will open with local band, Large Print Edition.

“Music was always important to my parents,” said Emily Bankester, “and they passed their love down to each one of us girls.”

The house was always alight with music, from their parents’ own harmonies to the sounds of the Cox Family, Allison Krauss, and Union Station.

“As a bass player,” said Melissa Triplett, whose husband also plays in the band. “Missy Raines was probably one of my biggest inspirations, especially because there weren’t as many female bass players on the scene yet.”

Ms. Triplett was drawn to the bass for practicality as well as musicality.

“Initially I started playing the bass because I was the tallest,” she said. “So it made sense. But I loved it right away. The bass really grounds the entire band. Without it, there’s not the fullness or drive that the music needs.”

She loves playing songs with a strong rhythmic groove, because you can change the whole feel of the song with a change of the bass line.

Emily was attracted to her instruments of choice for her own reasons.

“I always had a love for the fiddle,” she said, “from a very early age. “I think back then it was just because it’s such a beautiful, elegant instrument.”

She and her sister, Alysha, enjoy playing twin fiddles together.

“Clawhammer banjo is a newer instrument to me,” said Ms. Bankester, “and I have just fallen in love with the old time sound of it. Also, unlike the fiddle, it’s an instrument that I can play to accompany myself while I sing, which I love.”

Emily Bankester was selected as the recipient of the International Bluegrass Music Association award for Vocalist of the Year in 2012. The family followed up with the award for Best Bluegrass Album in 2014 for “Love Has Wheels”.

When the Bankesters come together, each instrument brings its own sound, and they all combine to form a full experience.

“Each instrument is a layer in the sound of the band,” said Ms. Triplett. “The bass and mandolin create a rhythmic foundation, and the other instruments fill out around them.”

When the Bankesters start working on a song, they work hard to find the right arrangement so all the instruments can shine. They don’t improvise as much as one might think, given the free-slowing sound of their music.

“We usually stick with our arrangement,” said Ms. Triplett, “so that there’s consistency in our performances. People can listen to the album, and for the most part, know what to expect when they come to a show.”

Ms. Bankester echoes this sentiment.

“We spend a lot of time working stuff out in the studio, along with our producer, who helps figure out who will play what parts and where,” she said. “With the stuff we’ve recorded, especially our songs that are on the radio, we try to stay close to what is on the record when we play to our live audiences.”

Performing for live audiences is a joy for this family band. Their foremost concern is that the audience has a good time, and walks away uplifted.

“We try to provide musical variety,” said Ms. Triplett, “and our material ranges from traditional bluegrass to Americana, to a more country feel. We sing songs about life, but we like to focus on the positive. Hopefully when they leave, they’ll leave happy and feel like something we did that night spoke to their hearts.”

Sylvester Manor on Shelter Island promotes an evening of bluegrass each year, and even in the dead of winter the Shelter Island School gets packed to the rafters with foot-stomping audiences. The Bankester family will play one night only: Saturday, January 17 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 to $35 and available online at http://sylvestermanor.org/event/sylvester-manor-presents-the-bankesters/.



Hampton Theatre Company to Present ‘Time Stands Still’

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Kate Kenney, John Carlin, John L. Payne and Sandy York. Photo by Tom Kochie.

Kate Kenney, John Carlin, John L. Payne and Sandy York. Photo by Tom Kochie.

By Tessa Raebeck

While we often think of completed scripts as specific ideas that were long-brewing in the head then finally put to page, sometimes a new play can begin with an idea as simple as “A new play.” Donald Margulies started “Time Stands Still,” by writing that unassuming idea in his notebook, followed by “A loft,” and a series of questions that became a play framed in the extreme circumstance of the Iraq War, but cemented in questions that plague all relationships.


Sandy York and John Carlin. Photo by Tom Kochie.

Presented by the Hampton Theatre Company, “Time Stands Still” will open Thursday, January 8, at the Quogue Community Hall, the second production in the company’s 30th anniversary season. Directed by Sarah Hunnewell, HTC Executive Director, the Tony Award nominated drama follows photojournalist Sarah Goodwin, who has returned home to Brooklyn after nearly being killed by an IED while covering the Iraq War. Sarah struggles to adapt to life at home with her partner James Dodd. A freelance journalist, James was also reporting on the war, but returned home before Sarah, traumatized by his own horrendous experience and on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

James, portrayed by John Carlin, takes care of Sarah, who was hurt by the explosion. As the longtime couple struggles to adapt to a new life together, they are contrasted by the blossoming, promising marriage of Sarah’s editor, Richard Erlich, played by John L. Payne, and his much younger girlfriend Mandy, played by Kate Kenney.

The couple’s respective experiences at war helped to create the issues they grapple with once back home, but their struggles are inherent to many relationships; one partner wants to settle down and lead a “normal” life, while the other aches for the action provided by his or her career.

“It’s really a love story,” said Ms. Hunnewell, the director, adding, “The intensity of the jobs these people do has raised the stakes in their domestic situation.”

As their desired paths diverge, Sarah and James struggle to find a way in which their love can be enough to sustain a relationship that is no longer practical.

“You can have the best intentions and you can actually really love someone, and sometimes it still doesn’t work out. It’s this really beautiful, bittersweet aspect of just, life sometimes has other things in mind,” said Mr. Carlin.

The four actors, who are all newcomers to the company, and Ms. Hunnewell are working to find the truths of their characters beyond what the script provides, from where they were born to whether they took the subway or a cab to get to the stage that day.

“What every actor tries to do,” said Mr. Payne, a Long Island native who plays Richard, “is to make the person a real human being, and a real human being has lots of stuff that they carry around with them—they have history from their previous life, they have history from that day.”

Despite the traumatic circumstances surrounding the play, there is much humor found in the script, often in the form of Richard and Mandy, Sarah’s 55-year-old editor and his 25-year-old fiancé, who are having a child together. The trials of James and Sarah’s love are counteracted by the ease of the story’s other couple.

For Sarah, “this is the most insane thing she’s ever heard in her life,” said Ms. Hunnewell, “but he is incredibly happy, so it’s a question of priorities and what works for one couple and doesn’t work for another. It’s a study in relationships of all kinds.”

At first appearing to be the standard, happy 25-year-old bride-to-be that is oft positioned as the natural nemesis to an older female, Mandy challenges Sarah in a much more human, and intriguing, manner. The significance of Sarah’s career in her own eyes is heightened by the sense that photographing the war helps the situation by telling its truth to the world, but Mandy questions the substance behind seeing the bloodshed.

“I guess,” said Ms. Hunnewell, “it could be said about the value of anyone’s work—particularly for workaholics and for people who just put work above everything—is what any of us actually do for work that important? Are we achieving something? Is it changing the world for the better, is it not changing the world for the better, and if a job is as dangerous as hers, is it worth it?”

“Time Stands Still” runs Thursday, January 8 through January 25 at the Quogue Community Hall. For more information and special dinner packages, visit hamptontheatre.org or call 1-866-811-4111.

The Affair Takes Top Honors at The Golden Globes

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Ruth Wilson and Dominic West in “The Affair.”

Ruth Wilson and Dominic West in “The Affair.”

Showtime’s “The Affair,” a drama that takes place in and is shot on location in Montauk, took top honors during Sunday night’s Golden Globe Awards, beating out Netflix’s “House of Cards,” HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” PBS’s “Downtown Abbey,” and CBS’s “The Good Wife” for the best television drama award.

Ruth Wilson, who stars in “The Affair” alongside Dominic West, Maura Tierney and Joshua Jackson, also took home the best actress award for her portrayal of Alison, a waitress in Montauk who embarks in an affair with Brooklyn-based teacher Noah, who is summering in the hamlet with his wife’s tony family. The drama, created by Sarah Treem and Hagai Levi, tells the story of the affair—before and after a suspected murder—from the perspective of both Alison and Noah. Shot almost exclusively on location in Montauk, the show features iconic locations like The Lobster Roll, Deep Hollow Ranch and Ditch Plains. It was renewed for a second season a month after its October debut on Showtime with new episodes expected to air later this year.

Hamptons Wellness Week Takes Over the Month of January

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Anastasia Gavalas and Kiley DeMarco, founders of Hampton Wellness Week. Michael Heller photo.

Anastasia Gavalas and Kiley DeMarco, founders of Hampton Wellness Week. Michael Heller photo.

By Emily J. Weitz

Kiley DeMarco and Anastasia Gavalas came from totally different perspectives when they met a couple summers back at an event at Wolffer Estate in Sagaponack. Ms. DeMarco was behind the web site onehealthyhamptons.com, where she writes about wellness on the East End. Ms. Gavalas was an author and busy mother of five.

“We just hit it off,” said Ms. DeMarco, “and started brainstorming ideas of working together.”

Ms. Gavalas’s book, “Wing It”, is about staying sane in the madness of parenthood. She also started the Wing It foundation, which helps fund global and local education initiatives. The women were supportive of one another’s work, and wanted to figure out a way that they could bring the backgrounds of wellness and family together to create a healthier community.

“We like different things,” said Ms. Gavalas. “How we relax, fitness, eating. We have different lifestyles but we both want balance.”

They were both tired of spending lots of money trying to find a wellness regime that worked, often without success. They thought about how in the winter, there are so many wellness businesses struggling to stay on people’s radar.

“We wanted to find a way,” said Ms. DeMarco, “to allow locals to try fitness classes for free or for less to empower themselves to be healthier.”

That’s how Hamptons Wellness Week was born. Last year, more than a hundred people and about 18 businesses took part. This year those numbers have already grown exponentially. The event will now span the entire month of January. More than 30 businesses are already on board, and more are joining every day.

“You buy a bracelet for $45,” explained Ms. Gavalas, “and you wear it for the month. You get free fitness classes and 50-percent off wellness treatments, from manicures and pedicures to massages and facials.”

The businesses involved really stretch to the limits of the wellness industry, including dentists and acupuncturists, chiropractors and yoga studios.

“We want people to be able to find what they like,” said Ms. Gavalas. “It can be fitness, wellness, or nutrition. We were able to encompass everything: essential oils, nutritionists, colonists. Anything that will better your life.”

They decided to make it a month long so that people really have time to explore. If they’re away for a week, they can still take advantage. If they’re late to start, they can still buy a bracelet. And, they have time to try and fail and try again.

“It takes 21 days to form a new habit,” said Ms. DeMarco. “It’s not just going to the gym for three days and giving up. This is about forming a new habit that you’ll stick to and love. It’s about doing something you love that improves your life in so many ways.”

Restaurants and hotels have also gotten involved. Some, like c/o at the Maidstone, Forever Bungalows, and the Quogue Club bought packages of bracelets that they’ll be giving out to their guests in the month of January. Some restaurants, like the Old Stove Pub in Sagaponack, will also offer special wellness menus.

“We wanted to involve more businesses and more people in the community,” said Ms. DeMarco.

The timing of Hamptons Wellness Week (or month) is consciously chosen to coincide with people’s New Year’s resolutions.

“It’s kicking off the New Year in a healthy way,” said Ms. Gavalas. “But this is also the most realistic goal you can set. This is four weeks of possibilities for anything you want to try. Air quality assessments in your home, haircuts, you name it. You get to try these things and see if it’s something you can fit into your lifestyle.”

Ms. DeMarco added, “It’s head to toe wellness. You can take this month and take care of every part of your body.”

Check out the full list of participating businesses, which are located from Montauk to Westhampton, at their web site hamptonswellnessweek.com. You can also buy bracelets online, or at Blow Hampton in Bridgehampton.


Three Sag Harbor Scouts Achieve Eagle Rank

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Addison Cook, in green t-shirt, leads fellow boy scouts in erecting fencing at the Long Beach restrooms as part of his Eagle project. Photo courtesy Addison Cook. 

By Stephen J. Kotz

Sag Harbor Boy Scout Troop 455 will celebrate a bumper crop of Eagle Scouts this Saturday when three members of the troop will be honored at a court of honor at the Sag Harbor Firehouse.

Addison Cook, James Froehlich, and Max Yardley will receive their Eagle badges this week.

“I’m proud of all three of these kids. They are all solid kids,” said Scoutmaster Patrick Witty. “This is a group of kids who came up from being Cub Scouts and when they got it in their sights, they went for it.”

A fourth Sag Harbor scout, Leftheri Syrianos, received his Eagle badge at a court of honor in November.

To qualify for the Eagle rank, a scout must first make his way through the various ranks  and earn 21 merit badges, hold a leadership position in the troop, propose a project that will benefit the community, see that project through fruition and pass a review panel.

For his Eagle project, Addison constructed fencing to prevent trampling of beach grass and repaired the wheelchair access ramps leading to the restrooms at Long Beach, James built and installed benches at five bus stops along the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike, and Max constructed a pedestrian/equine bridge at Ligonee Creek, just south of Sag Harbor.


Aris Witty, James Froehlich and Addison Cook install a bus stop bench as part of James’s Eagle Scout project earlier this year. Photo courtesy James Froehlich

Addison, 18 and a freshman at Keene State University in New Hampshire, where he is studying physical education, said Debra Skinner, the director of the Youth Advocacy and Resource Development, suggested his Eagle project in 2013.

“She told me the dunes were being trampled by kids running behind the bath houses at Beach Night,” he said. Addison pitched the idea to Chris Bean, Southampton Town’s superintendent of parks and recreation, who signed off on it.  After months of preliminary planning, design work and other organizational activity, Addison led a team of scouts who erected a fence to protect the dune, repaired the handicapped access ramp and added a barrier along its side to keep sand off, and replanted beach grass.

Many hands made the work light, according to Addison, and the project was finished in relatively short order.

“It was definitely worth it,” he said of the effort to achieve Eagle, noting that it taught him important leadership skills that are already serving him well in college.

James, also 18 and a senior at Pierson High School, said former assistant Scoutmaster Jeff Negron helped him choose his project. He had to clear the idea with the county and worked with another assistant scoutmaster, Tom Heine, who is an architect, to design the benches, which have bases made from pressure-treated lumber and recycled plastic seats.

“You’ve got to come up with a proposal, why you want to do it, how you are going to do it, where the money is going to come from and who you have to get permission from,” he said.

James, who wants to pursue a career as a small engine mechanic and plans to attend Lincoln Tech in Hartford, Connecticut, next year, said obtaining his Eagle rank was definitely a worthwhile cause.

“I’ve learned a lot about responsibility, leadership and perseverance,” he said. “It teaches you to stick with your dreams.”

Like the other scouts, Max said he had some help in choosing his project. Dai Dayton of the Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt had told him the group had hoped an old cast iron culvert on the site of the old Long Island Rail Road track leading into Sag Harbor could be replaced with a proper bridge.

After obtaining the approval of the Southampton Town Trustees and the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Max worked with Mr. Heine to design the bridge. Mr. Witty, who is a contractor and Max’s uncle, served as his mentor during the construction.

“It might seem hard, but you just have to focus on what you want to do, do as much as you can and it all works out in the end,” he said.

Sag Harbor Eagle Scout Max Yardley with the bridge he helped design and build spanning Lingonee Creek in the Long Pond Green Belt in June.

Sag Harbor Eagle Scout Max Yardley with the bridge he helped design and build spanning Lingonee Creek in the Long Pond Green Belt in June. Photo by Michael Heller

Max said his experience as both a young scout and during his Eagle project had taught him the value of service to the community—something he plans to continue literally the day after the court of honor.

He will leave home at 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning to report to the U.S. Army, where he will join other recruits on their way to basic training at Fort Benning in Georgia.

“I’ve always known I wanted to be in the military,” he said. “In scouting, I learned about how service projects work and that led to my Eagle project and eventually to my military service.”

Bay Street Theater Celebrates The King with Tribute Concert

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Gene Casey

Gene Casey

By Gianna Volpe

If Elvis Presley lives, he’ll be in Sag Harbor this Saturday for a celebration of his 80th birthday that will surely blow any fan of Rock and Roll – “King” or not –  right out of the water.

Two of the East End’s most beloved musical acts will take the stage at Bay Street Theater to pay tribute to a 20th century cultural giant who musician Gene Casey – who tops the bill alongside his Lone Sharks – claims to “think about everyday” in the leading song to his 2012 rockabilly record, “Untrained.”

“It’s not that I’m obsessed – or maybe just a little,” Mr. Casey sings in “I think about Elvis Everyday,” a song he said was borne from “one of those very absurd, funny things you find yourself saying in conversation” but one that is “very true” for the well-known local musician who keeps his Christmas lights lit through January 8 out of reverence for “The King.”

“Elvis is such a cultural icon because of what he did,” said the baritone vocalist. “He wasn’t conscious of it, but there’s something very pure about his original music because of a natural melding of influences that still resonates to today when people are mixing genres and being influenced by world music. Elvis was doing all of that quite naturally back in the ’50s without any kind of grand design. That’s just what he was.”

For Mr. Casey, this weekend’s show is not about paying tribute to a “King of Rock and Roll,” a misnomer the guitarist said is part of  “the ridiculousness and absurdity about Elvis that people latch onto,” distorting the soulful superstar’s grandeur into a caricature of gyrations, glitter and misguided claims that the handsome young Hound Dog himself invented Rock and Roll.

“Elvis never claimed to be the ‘King of Rock and Roll’,” Mr. Casey explained. “He wasn’t trying to be that. He was trying to be an all-around entertainer; that was his ideal. He wasn’t hung up on Rock and Roll. He wanted to be a movie star; he wanted to sing all types of songs. What I actually think, my own personal take on what he actually brought to Pop music, was the notion that a white singer could be sensitive and sensual because before Elvis all the white entertainers just stood there staring straight into the camera holding the microphone. It was forbidden to move your body and the irony was that Elvis really got all that stuff – all those outrageous moves, all those gyrations and the expressiveness in his voice – he got that from Gospel music, which in the South was very, very fiery and very emotional. That’s really what Elvis loved; that’s who his models were as far as Rock and Roll. He wasn’t so much a Blues man, but he listened to Black Gospel very heavily and I think that’s what was really new about him. He was a white singer who was singing with this churchy feel.”
Unlike some of his contemporaries, who misappropriated works by black musicians – Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys was initially credited as the sole composer of his group’s first hit single “Surfin’ USA,” though the tune is actually Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen” with different lyrics – Mr. Casey said Mr. Presley always gave credit where it was due.

“A lot of artists don’t have control over what name is put on a record label, but Elvis never had a problem with giving credit to anyone whether the artist was black or white,” Gene Casey said of this weekend’s rock idol of honor. “For a guy born in the Deep South in the ’30s he was pretty progressive. He had a great respect for black musicians. He was never derogatory…he was a sensitive, respectful person and his upbringing was very much about that. His mom really made him a well-mannered young man.”

For Jay Janoski, whose band The Vendettas will also perform at Bay Street’s Saturday night tribute show, it isn’t just Elvis’s “great voice and matchless stage presence” that made an impression on Mr. Janoski as a developing musician.
“His guitar player, Scotty Moore was hugely influential on every guitar player that I and many people my age listened to growing up, whether they are aware of it or not” said Mr. Janoski. “Clapton, Beck and Page – and later Mark Knopfler and countless others – were all fans and students of Scotty Moore’s guitar playing.”

Similar to Gene Casey’s appreciation of Elvis Presley is Mr. Janoski’s appreciation of Scotty Moore as musicians who both eclectically melded established genres while also bringing something entirely new to the table.

“Jazz, country and blues were all elements of his style,” Mr. Janoski said of Mr. Moore. “A record like ‘Hound Dog’ is a really early example of overdriven power chords, well before The Kinks. He also played with a lot of finesse. If the Punk DIY ethos stated, “Anyone can do this,” Maybe Elvis and Scotty Moore said, “You gotta work to get this good.”

Though Elvis himself may not actually be in the building this Saturday – conspiracy theorists will need to wait until 2027 for the unsealing of Mr. Presley’s autopsy report, which was ordered by and sealed by Elvis’s father for 50 years after his son’s death – both Gene Casey & The Lone Sharks and Jay Janoski & The Vendettas will absolutely be at Bay Street Theater this Saturday, Jan. 10, to perform at “Elvis 80: A Tribute to the King,” which begins at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $25 by calling the box office at 725-9500 or visiting www.baystreet.org