Tag Archive | "Sag Harbor"

Broadway Baby Presented by the Southampton Cultural Center

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Follow the journey through Broadway and the American Songbook of Valerie diLorenzo, an award-winning professional singer and Equity actress in Broadway Baby, a concert presented by the Southampton Cultural Center.

On Saturday, April 26, the center presents an evening of songs, stories and laughter as Ms. diLorenzo recounts her experiences in the entertainment industry. The actress recently portrayed Miss Mona in the critically acclaimed production of “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” by the center’s performance group, Center Stage. She also acted as one of the principals in “Motherhood Out Loud” and hosted the SeptemberFest music festival last fall.

Barry Levitt, the former artistic director for the 92nd St. Y Lyrics and Lyricists series, will accompany Ms. diLorenzo. Guests artists Anthony Santelmo Jr., a favorite of the New York City Cabaret scene, Jon Burr on bass, Henry Gordon on drums and The Barry Levitt Trio with Barry Levitt on piano will join her on stage.

Featured composers in the concert include Stephen Sondheim, Stephen Schwartz, Alan Menken, Irving Berlin, Johnny Mercer and Harry Warren.

Broadway Baby will grace the stage of The Levitas Center for the Arts Saturday, April 26 at 7:30 p.m. The center is at 25 Pond Lane, across the street from Agawam Park in Southampton. Admission is $15 for general audiences and $10 for students and seniors. Reservations are encouraged. For tickets, call the Southampton Cultural Center at 287-4377 or visit scc-arts.org.

Ken Dorph

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Sag Harbor’s Ken Dorph will discuss his experiences in the Arab world as both a business consultant and interested observer at the Bay Street Theatre’s inaugural “With My Eyes” series, sponsored with the John Jermain Memorial Library, on Thursday, April 10, at 7 p.m.

By Stephen J. Kotz

You will be speaking at the Bay Street Theatre tonight on your experiences in the Arab world. Can you give us an overview about what your talk will cover?

The title of my talk is “An Evening with my Friends, the Arabs,” and that sort of sums it up, with a heavy emphasis on friends. I have spent a good chunk of my life in the Arab world, and I have a passion for it. I think the Arab world is the most misunderstood part of the world on the part of Americans and I feel it is my responsibility to do something about it.

We know you have a background in banking and are now a consultant. Can you tell us a bit about your career and how it led to your work in the Middle East?

I was actually pre-med and I switched to anthropology—a real useful major—and I went on a junior year abroad to Morocco and later was in the Peace Corps in Tunisia. I went to graduate school at Ann Arbor, which is a great place for Arabic, and went on a Fulbright to Damascus while at Michigan…. I decided that I did not want to work for the U.S. government. I started to look around to see who was doing interesting stuff and it was business. I worked for Citibank, Smith Barney and the World Bank and then became a consultant.

I happened to be in China on September 11. I was planning on coming home on September 12…. I was so hoping somehow by some miracle the Americans would respond intelligently, so, of course, we invaded Iraq. I just decided as I was sitting in China, I wanted to come back to the Arab world.

What kind of work have you been doing lately?

I have been working with the World Bank to help the Tunisian government restructure their banks after the revolution. I’ve been working with USA ID [The United States Agency for International Development] helping the Libyans extend political power and services to local governments, and that has been extremely interesting because you have to go out in the countryside. I’ve also been working in Morocco with the World Bank to encourage investment, Saudi Arabia to get small business financing, and to set up a [agricultural] bank in Egypt.

You obviously don’t think Americans have good reason to be suspicious of the Arab world. Why is that?

I don’t see things the way I see things portrayed by the American media. It’s not my experience. I’m on their side. I work with them, I’m trying to help I’m not the enemy.

Fundamentalism is a problem, but that’s everywhere—Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Christian. There is nothing inherent about Muslims that is any worse than Christians. I’m none of the above, I was raised a Universalist. I don’t have a dog in the fight, but I do think there is a lot of unfairness.

Yet, there does seem to be plenty of Arab animosity directed at the west. Is that a misconception?

The Muslim world has grown more Muslim because of what the rest of the world has done to it. In the 1960s, most of the Arab leaders were secular…. Do you know who Mossaddegh was? He was the democratically elected president of Iran who was overthrown because he wanted to nationalize the oil fields. The shah was put in power and he was extremely ruthless. The Iranian revolution took on a fundamentalist flavor. Then Saudi Arabia had to crack down and become more fundamentalist. People are not any more crazy in Yemen than they are in California.

What I see in the Arab world are normal people trying to live normal lives and do their best, loving their children and going to work. I think it is important to try to have a bigger heart. I tend to be an optimist. It is my nature to believe that humans are rationale. I think it is in our interest to work together.

Sag Harbor Likely to Move Forward with Traffic Calming This Spring

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An aerial map of Sag Harbor Village highlights key intersections being explored for improvement under a traffic calming initiative spearheaded by Serve Sag Harbor.

An aerial map of Sag Harbor Village highlights key intersections being explored for improvement under a traffic calming initiative spearheaded by Serve Sag Harbor.

By Kathryn G. Menu; images courtesy of Serve Sag Harbor

Sag Harbor officials appear ready to move forward with a pilot program to calm traffic at key intersections throughout the village.

The pilot program could be launched as soon as June of this year, said Mayor Brian Gilbride, following a presentation Tuesday night by the non-profit Serve Sag Harbor. The group wants to focus on passive ways the village can reduce the speed of vehicles and make its streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

Serve Sag Harbor, and its sister non-profit Save Sag Harbor, have been working with Michael King of Nelson/Nygaard and Jonas Hagen, a Sag Harbor resident in the doctoral program in urban planning at Columbia University, on traffic calming solutions for the village since last October. With the village board’s approval, the organizations created an ad-hoc committee including Trustee Robby Stein to discuss the issue, with Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano and Superintendent of Public Works Dee Yardley tapped by the group for their input.

“This really all comes out of the idea of safety,” said John Shaka of Save Sag Harbor at Tuesday’s village board meeting. Mr. Shaka went on to describe several traffic related fatalities and a handful of non-fatal accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists in East Hampton and Southampton towns since 2012.

“I am here to tell you, I was shaken up by this—we were shaken up by this,” said Mr. Shaka.

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Mr. King noted vehicle speed literally is the difference between the severity of a traffic accident involving pedestrians or cyclists.

“If I get hit by someone driving 20 mph, the chances of me surviving is really, really good,” he said. “If I get hit by a car going 40, my chances of dying are really, really good.”

The organizations have tasked Mr. King and Mr. Hagen with planning for traffic calming solutions at a total of 19 intersections throughout the village. The pilot phase would involve the repainting of roadways, extending sidewalks, and strategically placing planters and garden beds. On Tuesday, Mr. King showed the board a handful of examples.

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The village board looked at options at Main and Union streets in front of the John Jermain Memorial Library and the Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum, as well as improvements at the intersections of Main and Glover streets, Main and John streets, Jermain Avenue and Madison Street, Jermain Avenue and Suffolk Street and Jermain and Oakland avenues.

Some intersections, noted Mr. King, involve large scale plans, while others are more simple. He suggested the trustees consider tackling two small intersections, and two complex intersections, in the first phase of the program in order to track the effectiveness of the traffic-calming solutions.

At Main and Union streets in front of the library, Mr. King has proposed the village bump out the sidewalk on all four sides of the intersection to increase public space, which could be lined with planters. Mr. King’s proposal also calls for four crosswalks to be painted—two on Main Street, one on Garden Street and one on Union Street—as a part of the plan and that Main Street be painted a different color at this intersection to create a plaza-like feel that will slow vehicles down.

Proposed traffic calming improvements at the intersection of Suffolk Street and Jermain Avenue.

Proposed traffic calming improvements at the intersection of Suffolk Street and Jermain Avenue.

At most of the remaining intersections, repainted crosswalks, small sidewalk bump-outs lined with planters, and small plazas in the middle of roads just before intersections entail most of the traffic calming improvements. The intersection of Jermain Avenue and Suffolk Street represents a more complex proposal, including a large interior plaza breaking up the roadway, and four crosswalks to ease pedestrian travel. In front of Pierson Middle-High School sidewalk extensions are also proposed as is the creation of a plaza-like road on Jermain Avenue to slow traffic.

“What I recommend always is pilot programs,” said Mr. King. “If you like it, you can get some more money and make it better. If you don’t like it, you can take it out.”

Serve Sag Harbor board member Susan Mead said the organization would like to work hand-in-hand with the village to select four intersections to focus on as a part of the pilot program.

“Let’s pick two or four intersections, get some costs and then let the public see how they work,” said Mayor Gilbride.

“I think we will all work together to at least get some pilot projects started,” he added, saying that to measure the success of the improvements they should be completed prior to the busy summer season.

“The chief and Dee [Yardley] have to be involved in this 100 percent,” said Mayor Gilbride. “We have a couple months.”

Sag Harbor Fire Department First Assistant Chief James Frazier said it appears some of the intersection improvements block access to fire hydrants. Mayor Gilbride suggested the department attend the next traffic calming meeting to discuss that that issue.

In other village news, the board held a public hearing and adopted a new law establishing a board of ethics to implement the code of ethics written into the village code in 2009. According to village attorney Fred W. Thiele Jr., while the village complied with state law by writing the code of ethics, it never established the ethics board, which will consist of three members to be appointed by the village board of trustees.

Trustee Robby Stein suggested the board look into installing attendant parking at the former National Grid gas ball site, located on Bridge Street and Long Island Avenue. The village current leases that property from the utility and uses it for parking. Mr. Stein said with attendant parking, the village could potentially see an additional 60 parking spaces in that lot.

“Where I am is there are companies that do this professionally and we know we have a parking problem in the village,” he said, suggesting the board invite some private firms to present the board with options.

 

Gregor Offers Noyac Road Update to Civic Council

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By Stephen J. Kotz

Southampton Town Highway Superintendent Alex Gregor on Tuesday said he was optimistic a long awaited construction project on Noyac Road at Cromer’s Market should be completed by the end of June.

Speaking to the Noyac Civic Council, Mr. Gregor said PSEG Long Island had finished moving electric lines serving the area to new poles and that he was waiting for Cablevision and Verizon to move their lines. Verizon crews will then be in charge of removing the old utility poles before DeLalio Construction begins to work on the road itself.

“Since we had such a hard winter, we had a hard time getting the utilities motivated,” said Mr. Gregor, who added that he hoped that the poles would be moved by the end of this month. “The contractor will need two months to complete the project.”

The project is expected to improve traffic at a busy and dangerous curve, improve traffic circulation to Cromer’s and other businesses and side streets, and reduce stormwater runoff.

Mr. Gregor was joined at Tuesday’s meeting by Supervisor Anna Throne Holst, Councilwomen Christine Scalera and Brigid Fleming and Tom Neely, the town’s director of public transportation and traffic safety.

The town officials also answered committee members’ questions on other topics, including deer and the East Hampton Airport, although Noyac Road took center stage.

Improving the short stretch of road has proven to be a controversial project. First proposed seven years ago, the project went through numerous changes before ground was finally broken this year.

Mr. Gregor said that it had already been decided that Noyac Road is too busy even during the offseason for any work to be done on the weekends. Crews will work five days a week, he said, and try to keep two lanes open at all times. He said he expected the project to be wrapped up by the end of June, but if weather, or some other situation slows work and traffic becomes “too horrendous,” crews will not work on Mondays and Fridays during the latter stages of the project, to reduce traffic tieups around busy weekends.

Despite the fact that the project has been discussed for years, some council members said they were concerned it would not do much to improve traffic on the curve.

Glenn Paul said the new layout, which would require vehicles entering and leaving Cromer’s to do so at either end of the store’s parking lot, would result in tie-ups and more congestion.

“Do you think that will alleviate accidents at that spot?” he asked.

“That’s what we’re working on,” replied Mr. Gregor. “There has been some skepticism, but we think this is an improvement.

The highway superintendent said he expected a newly designed drainage system would dramatically reduce the amount of stormwater that runs down Bay Avenue and Dogwood and Elm Streets to the bay.

Mr. Gregor said he was pleased to report that he road work would cost about $521,000, well below initial estimates of $780,000 or more.

Other council members asked if a major repaving project on Montauk Highway from Southampton to East Hampton might result in traffic being diverted to Noyac Road, but Mr. Neely said there were no such plans, and he added that he expected contraction crews to have made their way through Bridgehampton, moving eastward, within three weeks.

Dorothy Frankel said she was happy to see the Cromer’s corner being dealt with, but said the time had come to do something to reduce speeding along the rest of Noyac Road. She suggested reducing the speed limit, adding lane dividers at key places or even designating part of the shoulders as bicycle lanes.

The only solution, Mr. Gregor said, was for the town to either increase the number of police enforcing the speed limit, which he said would provide spotty coverage, or installing a speed limit camera that would record a vehicle’s speed, take a photo of its license plate automatically generate a ticket.

Ms. Throne Holst said the town has requested that such cameras be placed along Noyac Road, but said that they are only legal in New York State in school zones.

“Speed cameras, we think, would be the perfect solution for Noyac Road,” she said, “Once you get that picture of your license in the mail and a whopping ticket, you start to notice it.”

 

Sag Harbor School Board Delays Videotaping Policy Approval

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Members and mentors of the champion Pierson Robotics team attended the Sag Harbor Board of Education's meeting Monday to ask for funding for their trip to the FIRST Robotics Competition Championship in St. Louis later this month. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

Members and mentors of the champion Pierson Robotics team attended the Sag Harbor Board of Education’s meeting Monday to ask for funding for their trip to the FIRST Robotics Competition Championship in St. Louis later this month. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

By Tessa Raebeck

While committed to rolling out a six-month trial starting July 1, the Sag Harbor Board of Education postponed the second reading of a policy aimed at allowing the board to videotape its meetings and share those sessions online. The board paused in approving the policy so it can be reworded to more accurately reflect the district’s intentions, said board members on Monday.

“One of the concerns is some of the language in the policy is really not specific to how we’re going to do this,” said board member David Diskin, a proponent of videotaping meetings, who has said the technology could improve public access to the board as well as board transparency.

Board members said they would review the policy with Thomas Volz, the district’s attorney. The targeted date for running a six-month trial, July 1 through January 1, remains on schedule.

Seth Redlus, executive director for LTV, East Hampton’s public access television station, attended Tuesday’s meeting to answer the board’s questions about video implementation.

Both LTV and SEA-TV, the public access station for Southampton, will broadcast the meetings for district residents in each town. Mr. Redlus said if a meeting was taped Monday evening, it “would be a safe bet” that video would be available to the public by Tuesday at noon on the station’s website.

“I would reach out to SEA-TV and talk to them about finding concurrent air times, so that way you don’t have to tell your East Hampton residents it’s on at that time or tell your Southampton residents it’s on at that time,” he said.

Mr. Redlus also assured the board if a meeting runs longer than the two-hour time period allotted for its broadcast—which they often do—the programs scheduled after are “not critical, so that way they can be yanked on the fly.”

LTV’s policy is generally to leave videos on demand on the website for up to three months, but still hold on to the material in case there are requests for it.

Scott Fisher, technology director for the district, said Tuesday the original estimate for the project was roughly $2,000 but “we were able to pull together some of the equipment from within.” The district still needs to purchase microphones, a camera light and a few other small items, but estimates that cost will be “well under” $1,000, said Mr. Fisher.

In other school news, the board approved $17,000 in funding for the Pierson Robotics Team to attend the FIRST Robotics Competition Championship in St. Louis, Missouri, April 23 to 26.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more inspirational performance than I saw that night,” said Dr. Carl Bonuso, interim superintendent, of the robotics team’s showing at the regional championship two weeks ago. “Or a better example of championship, scholarship and sportsmanship than I saw the night that this Team 28 fittingly won its Engineer Inspiration Award. Inspiration is literally the word.”

The board will cover the cost of the students’ hotel rooms and pay both the airfare and hotel rooms for four chaperones, as well as buses to and from the airport.

The board’s next meeting is Wednesday, April 23, at 7:30 p.m. in the Pierson Library.

Committee Recommends Scaled Down Parking Lot Option for Pierson

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The Educational Facilities Planning Committee recommended the school board pursue Option 3 for the Pierson parking renovations. Plan courtesy Sag Harbor School District.

The Educational Facilities Planning Committee recommended the school board pursue Option 3 for the Pierson parking renovations. Plan courtesy Sag Harbor School District.

By Tessa Raebeck

After hearing input from concerned residents Tuesday, members of the Sag Harbor School District’s Educational Facilities Planning Committee decided to recommend the third and smallest of three options for a new parking plan at Pierson Middle-High School to the school board.

The committee will bring its recommendation—overwhelmingly favored by the those in attendance—to the board’s April 23 meeting, when the board is expected to make the final decision on the parking lot reconfiguration.

The bond project, which the community approved in November, originally included plans for 46 parking spaces at the Jermain Avenue lot at Pierson, an increase of seven over the 39 spaces currently in place. Throughout the process, the facilities committee said all proposals were primarily focused on improving students’ safety, not on adding parking.

Just prior to the vote, a group of concerned citizens and neighbors of Pierson came forward in opposition to the plans. The group of dissenters, many of them involved in Save Sag Harbor and traffic calming efforts in the village, were critical of what they saw as unnecessary encroachment on green space and the disruption of the vista of Pierson Hill.

Those community members said they were in favor of many aspects of the bond project, but could not vote for it if their issues with the parking lots were not addressed. Dr. Carl Bonuso, interim superintendent, assured the group the plans were “conceptual schematics” that could be adapted following the vote. The district said should the bond pass, a community conversation on the parking plans would follow.

The three options, devised by the district’s architect, Larry Salvesen, with help from landscape architects in his firm, were first presented to the board and the public on March 25.

Option 3, which eight of the 11 facilities committee members voted for on Tuesday night, provides the district with a net gain of one parking spot. It expands the Jermain Avenue lot at Pierson westward, but considerably less so than the first two options. The plan has 30 total spaces in the Jermain lot, five spaces for on-street parking if permitted by the village, and an optional three spaces that could be constructed in the future.

Under this option, there is “still a slight increase in asphalt,” according to Mr. Salvesen, with the pavement growing by somewhere between 5 and 8 percent. It addresses major safety concerns of the committee by eliminating cars from backing out onto Jermain Avenue and providing safer access for emergency vehicles.

Trees that would be removed under the other plans, such as a Norway maple, would not be affected, although two others would still be relocated.

“My real observation from walking the [Pierson] hill was to discover that this is really a commemorative slope up here and the more we can save of the view shed and the hillside, the better off we are,” said Mac Griswold, a Sag Harbor resident and landscape historian. Of the dedication trees, she said, “It’s as though people understood that this part of Pierson Hill is a really good spot for commemoration for people who have passed on, for celebrations; it’s an important place. So Option 3 should be the only option we should consider in terms of that aspect for the village.”

Ms. Griswold’s comments elicited applause from the some 20 community members in attendance.

“I’d really like the people who are voting on this—whether the committee or the board—to think about legacy,” said Ken Dorph, a district parent.

“Mrs. Sage gave us this land 100 years ago with trees, with a view, with a spiritual sense of place,” he said of Pierson’s benefactor. “One hundred years later, our generation already made a huge chunk out of it for the automobile and we’re thinking of adding more parking. Our descendants will be ashamed of us. Adding parking at this stage of American history is a disgrace.”

“I’m not in favor of more parking,” said facilities committee member Ellie Janetti, a parent with kids in each of Sag Harbor’s three schools. “But I am committed to making sure that the environment our children are in is safe. When I heard that the fire and safety vehicles didn’t have proper access, that is number one.”

“I can assure you that this committee has met for three years and, if not all of us, most of us, I would say, have the same feeling you do. We’re not sitting here thinking of how to create more parking, I assure you,” she said.

The committee’s recommendation of Option 3 will be presented to the board at its April 23 meeting, at 7:30 p.m. in the Pierson Middle-High School library.

Sag Harbor Express Named Newspaper of the Year

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The Sag Harbor Express was named Newspaper of the Year at the New York Press Association convention last weekend in Saratoga Springs. The Express earned the most contest points in the state for a single flag newspaper, based on editorial and advertising awards given out during NYPA’s 2013 Better Newspaper Contest. The paper  scored 415 points to best its closest competitor by 120 points.

A total of 158 newspapers submitted 2,760 entries to the contest, competing for awards in 63 categories, including Newspaper of the Year, the Stuart C. Dorman Award for Editorial Excellence and the John J. Evans Award for Advertising Excellence.

The Express placed first overall, second in editorial contest points and third in advertising contest points.

“The content is a good mix of hard news, features, and sports, with plenty of family/living material added to the mix,” wrote judges. “It’s great to see such a robust opinion section, with plenty of local letters and nice house editorial voice. The paper is very solid, as are the special sections which accompanied several entries.”

Advertising director and sports editor Gavin Menu placed second in the Sports Writer of the Year contest and earned a first-place award for sports coverage. Cailin Riley, the sports editor of The Southampton Press, finished first in the Sports Writer of the Year competition for the second year in a row.

“A great sports story should be entertaining and easy to read,” wrote the judges. “Gavin met both criteria in smooth writing that flowed well in each of his submissions.”

Mr. Menu also earned top honors for sports feature story. His piece explored the impact of concussions on the game of football, from a local and national perspective.

Express staff photographer Michael Heller took third place as the state’s Photographer of the Year. The Express also earned a first-place award for photographic excellence, with Mr. Heller placing first for best feature photo, sports feature photo, art photo and spot news photo.

“Michael exhibited a solid proficiency and consistency with the camera in a variety of challenging lighting conditions,” wrote the judges.

The Express also took top honors for education coverage, for Peter Waldner’s editorial cartoon, for best special section for “The Summer Book,” for best special section advertising and for best house ad.

The staff earned a first-place award for Best News or Feature series for a June 2013 issue dedicated to tick-borne illnesses on the East End.

“This series is remarkably sophisticated with deep, current research behind each story, lively, well-edited writing throughout, and a very attractive design,” wrote the judges.

Annette Hinkle was awarded a first-place prize for her feature story “Forgotten Dead Poets? Nevermore,” a story looking at Walter Skold’s mission to visit the graves of dead poets across the country. Ms. Hinkle followed that with a second place award for a feature story on local reactions to the Supreme Court overturning the Defense of Marriage Act.

The Express also earned nine second-place awards, five third-place awards and three honorable mention awards, including a nod to editor Kathryn G. Menu for best news story.

Sag Harbor School District’s Proposed Budget Won’t Pierce Tax Cap

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By Tessa Raebeck

Unlike budgets proposed in East Hampton and Bridgehampton, the Sag Harbor School District’s proposed 2014-15 budget does not pierce the state-mandated tax cap.

In a second presentation of the full budget on Monday, administrators proposed spending of $36.87 million, an increase of $1.36 million or 3.83 percent over the 2013-14 budget.

The tax cap, established by the state in 2011, prohibits school districts from raising property taxes by more than 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. This year, that cap has been set at the rate of inflation, 1.51 percent. The district budget calls for a tax levy increase of 1.48 percent, which is just below the cap.

The budget nearly doubles, to $75,500, the amount set aside for “public information” and postage. Only $38,505 was set aside for that purpose in the current fiscal year.

That increase is in part due to $30,000 being earmarked for improving online communications, whether by expanding the role of the public relations firm Syntax Communications or hiring an in-house webmaster responsible for managing the website, social media and other online tools.

A survey of over 600 students, parents and staff conducted by the district’s Communications Committee found that all parties preferred getting communications online, but the website and other portals were lacking information, disorganized and not regularly updated.

Technology spending increases by 20 percent under the proposed budget. The $95,009 would fund an ongoing initiative to replace computers and Smart Boards, upgrading the wireless network and for the purchase of iPads, Google Chromebooks and MacBooks for classroom use.

An increase of $4,000 is budgeted for the Big Brothers, Big Sisters mentoring program, recently reinstated by the national organization.

Addressing the need for increased math instruction required under the state’s Common Core Learning Standards—as well as the difficulty many students and parents have had with the new math standards—the district is considering adding a math lab. The budget draft includes $40,000 to hire a teacher who would work 60 percent of full time, to supplement a full-time staff member in the lab. “So that way the lab has a teacher all the time,” School Business Administrator John O’Keefe said Tuesday.

The board will vote on the budget at its April 23 meeting. The community budget vote and school board elections are Tuesday, May 20, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Pierson gymnasium. Applications to run for school board can be found in the district clerk’s office and must be submitted by Monday, April 21, at 5 p.m.

Thiele Introduces Legislation to Regulate Running Bamboo

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New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. has introduced legislation in the New York State Assembly that, if passed, would regulate “running bamboo.” The legislation is modeled after legislation enacted in Connecticut that took effect last October.

“Running bamboo,” and its complex root system, is an extremely fast growing plant which can spread horizontally beyond property lines and cause significant physical, biologic, and ecologic damage to abutting properties.

The legislation would require that anyone who plants running bamboo on his or her property would be required to keep it within his property lines, effective October 1. Any person who is found to be in violation would be liable for any damages caused to neighboring property by the bamboo.

The legislation will also limit where people can plant running bamboo within 100 feet of any abutting property or public right of way unless the planting is confined by a barrier system or above-ground container and does not come into contact with surrounding soil.

Violators of the law would be subject to penalties under the State Environmental Conservation Law.

The legislation also requires retail sellers or installers of running bamboo to provide customers who purchase the plant with a statement that discloses that running bamboo is a fast-growing plant that may spread if not properly contained and a plain language summary of the law.

The legislation would supersede all local legislation relating to “running bamboo.”

 

 

Gillibrand, Bishop Call on USDA to Designate LI Sound and Peconic Bay as Critical Conservation Areas

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U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Congressman Tim Bishop urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture this week to designate the Long Island Sound and Peconic Bay watershed as a critical conservation area.

Such a designation could lead to increased federal funding to help protect and improve the quality of drinking water and estuaries by assisting the agricultural community in adopting more water-friendly practices.

Lawmakers pushed for the designation through a newly created federal watershed program under the 2014 farm bill, which passed earlier this year. Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Bishop pointed out that steering critical funding toward Long Island would address water quality issues and enhance soil fertility, allowing Long Island farmers, who faced devastation from Superstorm Sandy, to access tools to help adapt to severe weather patterns.

“Safeguarding Long Island’s water quality is vital to preserve and protect economic vitality of the Sound and help Long Island farmers for generations,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Designating Long Island as a critical conservation area will provide the needed federal resources to improve the health of the Sound.”

“Protecting the quality of Long Island’s water is an urgent priority,” said Congressman Bishop. “I commend Long Island’s farm community for its leadership in adopting more environmentally-friendly farming methods to conserve water and ensure that it is suitable for drinking and basic needs. I am pleased to work with Senator Gillibrand in sending this message to the secretary of agriculture with the hope that USDA will designate the Long Island Sound watershed as a critical conservation area with federal funding to meet our water quality goals.”

“I commend Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Bishop for their efforts to seek more investment to protect the most important resource Suffolk County has:  our water,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.  “Our federal representatives know that water quality is worth the fight.  It affects our quality of life, our economy, our land values, our tourism industry and our recreational use of Suffolk County’s waterways. I join our federal representatives in their efforts and will continue to make water quality the top priority of my administration.”

The new partnership program, known as the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, promotes coordination between Natural Resources and Conservation and its partners to provide federal assistance to farmers and landowners. Regions must apply in order to be eligible for the program and be eligible for federal funding.

Lawmakers in a press release said that water quality issues in Long Island Sound and the Peconic Bay watershed are of state and national significance. Examples of the kind of agricultural conservation practices that would address water quality issues include the purchase of agricultural conservation easements, nutrient management, cover crops, conservation tillage, alternative pest management methods and bio-controls, the use of controlled-released fertilizers, well water testing, riparian buffers and filter strips. This initiative would also incorporate soil health practices that are a national priority for NRCS and are valuable to Long Island farmers. Conservation practices to enhance soil fertility would also aid in adaptation to severe weather patterns, which are an increasing threat as evidenced by Superstorm Sandy last year.