Tag Archive | "Sag Harbor"

Noyac Couple Count Its Easter Blessings

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Pastor Doug Kinney and his wife, Meg, in front of the Community Bible Church in Noyac. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz. 

By Mara Certic

Sometimes bad things happen to good people. But Pastor Doug Kinney never lost faith, even when both he and his wife were diagnosed with cancer within four months of each other.

Mr. Kinney, the pastor of the Community Bible Church in Noyac, his wife Meg and their six children have had a particularly tough winter, with cancer diagnoses, chemotherapy and operations dominating much of the past few months. This Easter Sunday, April 5, the Kinney family is feeling blessed by the Sag Harbor community and will more than ever celebrate the hope of eternal life.

“And we are so, so blessed,” Mrs. Kinney said, talking about the endless amount of support they have received from the Sag Harbor and church communities.

Since both parents were diagnosed, community members have reached out to help in some way: A group in the church set up a fund to help the Kinneys pay for medical bills that were not covered by insurance; a group of teachers have set up a collection for the family and friends have stepped in to take care of the Kinneys’ six children when they had to go to the city for treatment.

Their son Zebulun’s ninth grade class at Pierson High School got together this week to prepare meals for the family, and on Saturday, April 18, the Sag Harbor Fire Department and its Ladies Auxiliary are co-hosting a spaghetti and meatball dinner at the firehouse to raise money for the Kinneys.

“We’re so blessed by the community,” Mr. Kinney said.

For Pastor Kinney, cancer began with an intermittent toothache in one of his canines that started bothering him in June. Then it switched to the other one. And then it went away.

His dentist couldn’t find anything wrong, dismissed it as just one of those things and suggested that he take a Tylenol.

“Then all four of my teeth went numb,” Mr. Kinney said, and then that too went away. But a lingering feeling remained, a lingering feeling that something was not right.

In September, an oral surgeon diagnosed him with stage 4 lymphoma, which doctors at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center confirmed.

Mrs. Kinney travelled with her husband to Manhattan for treatment, where they’d stay for five days at a time, exploring the city between visits to Sloan Kettering.

“I was able to walk around with the bag of chemo,” Mr. Kinney said, adding that the side effects wouldn’t start to kick in until after the full five days of treatment, when he got back home to Noyac. Sixteen days after one series treatments, just as he would begin to feel normal again, it was back to the city for another round.

Three months into his chemotherapy, Mrs. Kinney went to the doctor for an overdue mammogram. While examining her neck, her doctor discovered a lump. Eleven needle biopsies later, she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

Mr. and Mrs. Kinney met in 1997 when he was a pastor’s assistant at the Community Bible Church, and she was a congregant.  They would only see each other when Mrs. Kinney would come back home for “the big holidays.” It was around Easter in 1997 when they fell in love, and two years later they were married.

In an odd twist of fate, Mrs. Kinney’s grandparents, Bill and Harriet Steck, were the founders of the church where she now plays the part of the “silent person” behind the scenes. In addition to their work with the church and raising their six children together, they also own and operate a 24-hour Christian radio station.

When Mrs. Kinney was diagnosed they kept asking themselves why. Why both of them? Mr. Kinney asked this so much that he convinced himself that their water could have been contaminated with something carcinogenic until he had it tested. But still, he didn’t lose faith.

“This is a time for your faith to kick in,” Mr. Kinney said. “This is a test for us.”

“We really believe part of the Christian faith promises that Christ will be with you at every trial,” he said.

“Life is full of potholes,” his wife added. “You just have to know how to deal with them.”

On March 6, after four months of chemotherapy, Mr. Kinney got the good news that he was in total remission and was entirely lymphoma-free. He will still go in for screenings and tests for the next two years as a precaution.

Almost two weeks later, Mrs. Kinney had her thyroid removed, along with five lymph nodes. She will learn more about what they discovered during surgery at a doctor’s appointment this week. She said the doctors have been positive about her prognosis but may recommend radioiodine treatment.

“The kids have been really great,” Mrs. Kinney said. It was hard enough for them when their father was diagnosed, but when both parents had cancer, “it was really difficult,” she added.

While parents always want to shield their children from pain, the Kinneys knew from the beginning they had to tell their kids about their diseases.

“We knew we were going to tell our congregation because we believe in prayer,” Mr. Kinney said. “There was no way to hide it from them.”

“But kids are just so resilient,” Mrs. Kinney said, as her 5-year-old daughter Campbelle climbed onto her lap.

“This Easter, we celebrate the hope of eternal life, but our biggest concerns are for the ones we’d leave behind,” he said.

On Easter Sunday, Pastor Kinney plans to speak about the Apostle Thomas, the disciple who did not believe Jesus had been crucified and risen from the dead until he could see and feel his wounds.

“Jesus answers those doubts,” Pastor Kinney said. “It’s not like he said, ‘Thomas, you’re fired.’ He showed him. And I think that’s what God does.”

 

 

 

Local Girl Scout Troop Sells Bricks for Mashashimuet Park

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By Mara Certic

 Discussions about today’s youth often range from test scores to crime rates and drug abuse, and fail to touch on the many ways young people are looking to give back to their communities.

But on the East End of Long Island, large groups of children and teenagers are working hard to come up with new ways to provide services for and improve their neighborhoods and towns, and are raising more money along the way.

Sag Harbor’s Girl Scout Troop 152 actually broke down into smaller groups in order to choose whom to help for its Bronze Award project. The nine girls, who are mostly fifth-graders, decided to do something for Mashashimuet Park after committees met with the park board, library board and members of the Sag Harbor Fire Department.

“The girls voted on the park,” said Scout Leader Jen Glass. “They wanted to give back to the park and would like to see some new stuff; that equipment’s been there since I was a child and I’m 44.” she said on Tuesday.

The troop has decided to raise their money by starting a buy-a-brick program Ms. Glass explained. Bricks will be placed in a new walkway on the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike-side of the park.

“It’ll open up into a patio and we’ll lay the bricks we sell there in that area,” she said. “And then the park will continue to raise funds and can expand the sidewalk.” The bricks cost $50 apiece and can fit up to three lines of text with 18 to 20 characters per line.

Troop 152 is trying to do all of the brick-selling by May, in order to install the bricks before the end of the school year. The Girl Scouts will then use the money earned selling bricks to purchase a new piece of play equipment for the park.

The girls are also working with local artist Chris Nielson to design a new welcome sign for the park.

One of the scouts has created order forms for those interested in purchasing bricks, which are available at mashashimuetpark.com.

“It’s where these girls have enjoyed their time and they’re getting older now so they just want to give back,” Ms. Glass said.

For the past four years, as part of an effort spearheaded by Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, the Town of Southampton has been helping those who want to give back by offering small grants to youth groups or individuals who need financial support to perform a community service.

Last week, the town board and the town’s Youth Bureau awarded almost $3,000 in grants to 11 different applicants.

“Some of the ideas that the kids are proposing are really interesting and different,” said Nancy Lynott, the bureau’s director. “We have kids of all ages. That’s another thing I really like about it,” she said.

Three siblings in the Westhampton Beach School District won a grant for their community service project called Builders and Books, which provides bookshelves full of age-appropriate-books to kids in need.

“[Our mom] is the Reading Coordinator at Tuckahoe School in Southampton,” One of those children, Emilee Downs, 14, in an email last week, explained that their mother is the reading coordinator at Tuckahoe School in Southampton. “She told us how some of her students were in need of books to read and that some of them weren’t able to get to the public library because they didn’t have transportation or their parents work a lot,” she wrote.

So Emilee and her brother Zach, 18, and sister Ally, 12, started organizing book drives and asked construction companies to donate bookshelves. The teens then curate the selection, choosing books they think specific children would like the most, and they’re delivered to homes in the Tuckahoe and Westhampton Beach school districts. This school year, they have already given out nine bookshelves, each one stocked with anywhere from 200 to 400 books.

This grant will allow them to deliver 11 more fully stocked bookshelves.

“It’s really a great feeling to see how excited the families are to receive them,” Emilee wrote.  “At one house, the two little boys were smiling and laughing and jumping up and down like it was Christmas.”

 

 

 

 

 

No Wrongdoing Found in Question of Sag Harbor School Board Member’s Residency

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By Tessa Raebeck

Longtime Sag Harbor School Board member Susan Kinsella’s decision to put her North Haven home on the market in October and move out of the district temporarily while her new home, also in Sag Harbor, is being renovated, has raised some eyebrows but is perfectly acceptable, according to district officials.

“When a member of the Sag Harbor School District Board of Education informed the board of an upcoming temporary housing displacement, the Board of Education consulted with the district’s legal counsel [School Attorney Thomas Volz], conducted an inquiry regarding the residency of a board member and completed the process of due diligence,” the district responded to a query from The Sag Harbor Express. “It was unanimously determined by the Board of Education that the board member in question meets the requirements of residency in the Sag Harbor School District.”

The Express looked into the matter after it was discussed on Facebook.

According to Linda Bakst, the deputy director of policy services for the New York State School Boards Association,  which oversees and guides all of New York’s school boards, because Ms. Kinsella has the intent to return to the district and remain a Sag Harbor resident, there is no misconduct.

“If the intent is to return and there’s no intent to leave, we don’t believe the person loses their claim of residency in the circumstances described,” Ms. Bakst said in a phone conversation on Wednesday, April 1.

Ms. Kinsella confirmed on Saturday, March 28, that she plans to move into her new home in Sag Harbor once renovations are completed. She declined to comment further.

Joe Markowski Named Buildings and Grounds Supervisor for Sag Harbor Schools

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Joseph Markowski was appointed in a temporary position as Buildings and Grounds Supervisor for Sag Harbor on Monday, March 23. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

Joseph Markowski was appointed in a temporary position as Buildings and Grounds Supervisor for Sag Harbor on Monday, March 23. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

By Tessa Raebeck

Joseph Markowski, a longtime employee of Sag Harbor schools who has continued to serve the district on a volunteer basis since his retirement, was appointed buildings and grounds supervisor, a new position in the district, on Monday, March 23.

In the temporary role, he will take on the duties formerly held by Montgomery Granger, who was removed from his position as plant facilities administrator last month. Mr. Markowski came out of retirement in order to return to the district for the remainder of this school year, giving the board and administration time to find a permanent replacement for Mr. Granger.

After working in the district for five years, Mr. Granger was terminated on February 23. That termination was rescinded on Monday, and the board instead approved a resignation agreement with Mr. Granger.

A school custodial supervisor in the district from 1990 until his retirement in 2005, Mr. Markowski has spent the years since filling various roles in the district and community. He helps annually with the school budget vote and elections and has worked as a substitute school monitor.

At Monday’s board meeting, Superintendent Katy Graves called Mr. Markowski, “a veteran of the district who will be helping us through the transition period.”

In addition to remaining involved in the schools, Mr. Markowski is active in the wider Sag Harbor community. He is an assistant captain and warden in the Sag Harbor Fire Department, involved in fundraising efforts for St. Andrew’s Roman Catholic Church in the village, a member of the Sag Harbor Historical Society, a member of the Suffolk County Bicentennial committee, and is the co-chairman of Sag Harbor’s bicentennial commission.

Mr. Markowski also earned some fame last winter for the photo he snapped of snow melting in the shape of a whale on a Sag Harbor roof, which was first shown on the Sag Harbor Express’s Facebook page and later picked up by a Scottish newspaper, The Scotsman.

“He is a true historian and his interests really include anything related to Sag Harbor,” School Business Administrator Jennifer Buscemi said. “You can ask any question and he pretty much knows the answer.”

“Having someone on board who has the time and the experience and can give us that time to reflect and see how we’re going to reconfigure as a system I think is very important,” added Ms. Graves. “Because I think we often rush in and just fill a position to fill a position.”

The administration committed to using the interim period to finding “a more fiscal way to address our leadership needs—the smartest way to go.”

School board member Sandi Kruel told newer members of the board a story about Mr. Markowski, remembering a few evenings some years ago when he slept overnight at the school to monitor the boilers when they weren’t working properly.

Chuckling, Mr. Markowski thanked the board for his “nice vacation” of 10 years.

The next meeting of the Sag Harbor Board of Education is Tuesday, April 14, at 7:30 p.m., immediately following a budget workshop that starts at 6:45 p.m. Both meetings will be held in the library at Pierson Middle/High School, located at 200 Jermain Avenue in Sag Harbor.

First Full Draft of Sag Harbor School District Proposed Budget Presented

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By Tessa Raebeck

In the first review of the entire proposed budget for the 2015-16 school year, Sag Harbor School District officials unveiled over $37.4 million in spending, the bulk of which will go to employee benefits and salaries.

While some numbers have yet to be disclosed, School Business Administrator Jennifer Buscemi made projections for several budget lines, including state aid and taxable assessed values for properties in the Towns of Southampton and East Hampton, based on last year’s figures.

Ms. Buscemi projected $1.7 million in state aid, although “this number is subject to change” as Governor Andrew Cuomo has still not released the final state aid numbers to districts, she said. That number represents an increase of 3.85 percent, or $63,027, from the 2014-15 budget.

The budget’s largest proposed increase is in instruction, in part due to a new in-house special education program “that’s going to allow a lot of our students coming in to stay in the district and receive services in the district,” Ms. Buscemi said. But those increases are expected to be offset savings in things like transportation and tuition fees. Total Instruction, which accounts for 57 percent of all expenses, is projected to increase by 3.14 percent, or $641,128 from this year’s budget, for a projected total of $21.06 million.

While instruction costs, which includes appropriations for all regular instruction at both the Sag Harbor Elementary School and Pierson Middle/High School, as well as expenditures for special education programs, extracurricular activities and athletics, is increasing, employee benefits are expected to decrease.

“We did receive an increase to our health insurance lines,” Ms. Buscemi said, “but [with the] decrease in our pension costs, we were able to show a decline for next year…that’s probably the first time in many, many years where you see a decline in employee benefits.”

Employee benefits, which represent almost a quarter of the entire budget, are expected to decline by 1.56 percent.

Salaries and benefits, largely contractual costs, together make up nearly 80 percent of the total budget.

Tuition revenues are expected to decrease by $147,000, because children who have been coming to the district from the Springs School District will now be going to East Hampton after a new agreement was made between those districts. Sag Harbor collected $550,000 in out-of-district tuition and transportation costs in 2014-15, and expects that revenue to decrease to $430,000 next year.

Ms. Buscemi again proposed that the district purchase a new bus. It would ease transportation scheduling and ultimately show cost savings, she said. Contracting out one bus run costs about $50,000 for the year, Ms. Buscemi said, “So it makes sense for us to go out and purchase a new bus” because the cost of $102,000 could be made up in just two years.

“We’re just under the cap right now at 2.65” percent, Ms. Buscemi said of the state-mandated tax cap on how much the property tax levy can increase year to year, “but in order to close our budget gap, we did need to use some of our reserve funds.”

As projected, the tax levy limit for Sag Harbor is above $34.1 million, or 2.68 percent. The percentage is not the same as the increase to an individual property owner’s tax rate. The tax levy is determined by the budget minus revenues and other funding sources, such as state aid. The tax rate, on the other hand, “is based not only on the levy, but also on the assessed value of your home,” Ms. Buscemi explained.

For the first time since the 2010-11 school year, the taxable assessed values for both the Town of Southampton and the Town of East Hampton increased from the prior year. Although the school district’s voters approved a budget last year that allowed for a tax levy increase of 1.48 percent, the tax rate per $1,000 of assessed value actually decreased by 0.56 to 0.63 percent, depending on home value and town, because of the growth in taxable assessed value.

“Just because the tax levy is increasing, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your tax rate is going to increase,” added Ms. Buscemi. “If the current year’s assessed value goes up these increases are going to decline and vice versa.”

The 2015-16 projected tax levy is about $34.1 million, which represents a tax levy increase of 2.65 percent and a projected tax rate increase of 2.5 percent.

That projected tax rate increase of 2.5 percent would translate to an increase of $130.26 for a home in Southampton valued at $1 million and $130.40 for a home of the same value in East Hampton, based on the 2014-15 assessed values.

A second review of the entire budget will be held on Tuesday, April 14, at 6:45 p.m. in the library of Pierson Middle/High School, located at 201 Jermain Street in Sag Harbor. The school board plans to adopt the 2015-16 budget on April 22 and hold a public hearing on May 5. The annual budget vote and school board elections are on May 19.

Lower Speed Limits?

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A lower speed limit may be coming to Sag Harbor. At its March 14 meeting, the village board passed what is known as a home rule request, a resolution asking the state legislature to allow it to reduce its speed limit on most village streets from 25 mph to 20 mph.

In January, Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and Senator Kenneth P. LaValle both introduced legislation that would allow both Sag Harbor and East Hampton villages to reduce speed limits as a traffic calming measure.

The idea for lowering the speed limit gained traction last year when the legislature allowed New York City to reduce its speed limit on most residential streets from 30 mph to 25 mph, a move championed by Mayor Bill de Blasio as one way to make city streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Page Tangles With Sag Harbor Planning Board Again

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By Stephen J. Kotz

The uneasy cease-fire in the battle between Page at 63 Main and Sag Harbor Village officials over the restaurant’s expansion efforts ended when the village planning board again took up the application on Tuesday, March 24.

Last summer, the restaurant was cited by the village for overreaching its site-plan approval when it constructed improvements for the Back Page on Division Street behind the main restaurant. The village maintained that what was supposed to be a waiting area, where diners could have hors d’oeuvres and a drink while waiting for a table in the main restaurant, had been used instead as a late-night hangout and outdoor dining area. When the matter was not cleared up, the village board revoked the restaurant’s outdoor dining license. Page sued and won a temporary restraining order, but its suit was later dismissed.

Dennis Downes, the attorney for the restaurant, conceded the Back Page has “functioned a little differently” than what was originally approved but said the restaurant should still be granted site-plan approval for the work. “The use of the area has changed,” he told the board. “The use of the facility is still a restaurant.”

Planning Board member Larry Perrine, who filled in for the board’s chairman, Greg Ferraris, who recused himself after having done some accounting work for some of Page’s partners, said the board was not happy with the way uninvents had unfolded.

He said the restaurant’s owners had first substituted a patio that was larger than a lawn area it replaced and moved an enclosed and refrigerated Dumpster to a position along the property line. The Dumpster, the village said, posed a fire hazard and also required a variance.

Mr. Perrine said instead of a waiting area to be used during regular hours the Back Page had “later hours—hours as late as 4 a.m. in the morning have been reported by neighbors to me personally. It’s almost like a late night bar scene. It is almost functioning as a second business.”

Last month, Page received variances from the village Zoning Board of Appeals allowing it to keep its Dumpster along the property line next to Murph’s Tavern and keep the expanded patio area. Mr. Perrine said the Planning Board was not advised of that action.

“In order to get the variance we had to work with three building inspectors,” Mr. Downes said, and when planning board attorney Denise Schoen said current building inspector Tom Preiato had not signed off on whether the Dumpster enclosure was fireproof, as required, Mr. Downes grew testy.

“You know what really bothers me? All this stuff comes up after the fact,” he said. “If Tom has an objection, he needs to provide a list of deficiencies so we can take care of it. I can’t guess.”

“That is an unbelievably unfair assessment of this process,” Ms. Schoen replied.

Last year, when the matter was before the planning board, Mr. Downes and one of Page’s owners, Gerard Wawryk, insisted that a survey showing the changed location of the Dumpster had been approved by the board when Ms. Schoen was out of the room. Mr. Perrine dismissed that account, telling them he had personally listened to all the recordings of the board’s meetings, and the matter had never been discussed.

Mr. Wawryk threatened to once again sue the village. “We’ll wind up back in court,” he said. “That’s all there is to it. That’s the way it’s going to be.”

The board tabled the matter to next month’s meeting, as it waits for Page to certify the Dumpster is indeed fireproof, provide updated surveys, and submit a description for precisely what it plans to do with the site plan.

Hagen Seeks Bed and Breakfast

The board also held a hearing on Zoning Board chairman Anton Hagen’s application to legalize a bed and breakfast he has operated in his home on Main Street. Mr. Hagen told the board he was trying to comply with an initiative undertaken by the village board to legalize bed and breakfasts to ensure they meet fire and other safety standards.

Although the board asked Mr. Hagen to provide an engineer’s report to address whether his house’s sanitary system was up to the task, he told it that the stubborn winter weather had made it impossible to uncover the sanitary system and mark its location on a survey.

Nonetheless, in a letter to the board, he requested that it approve his application before the report is in hand, noting that he is retired and plans to supplement his income with the bed and breakfast business.

That request drew a rebuke from Mr. Ferraris. “For you of all people to request special treatment for your application is almost unthinkable,” he told Mr. Hagen.

The board adjourned the hearing until next month.

Lewis Black Brings His Pissed Off Optimism to Westhampton Beach

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By Dawn Watson

Acerbic, opinionated and frequently profane, Lewis Black might not be for fence sitters or the faint of heart. But for the people who love to laugh at the absurdities of life, he’s the comedic king of blistering social and political commentary.

Addressing hot topics such as mental health care, the NRA, activism, social media and fiscal entitlement, the two-time Grammy Award-winner and creator of the “Back in Black” commentary segment on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” will not shy away from what he sees as the problems facing the world today during his “The Rant is Due Part Deux” stand-up routine at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center on Friday, March 27. There, he’ll share his opinions, and hear those of East Enders, via a new, live interactive portion of the performance at the end of the night.

“It’ll be upbeat, happy, optimistic, joyous, almost Christian-like,” he joked during a telephone interview last week.

Since his tour schedule includes approximately 200 gigs a year, the comedian’s set list is fairly fluid, he said. It also promises to be peppered with tales of his experiences on the road, he reported during a brief stay between shows at his Manhattan home. And of course, since the performance will be here in the Hamptons, he’ll be sure to share his opinions about the 1 percent.

“They know what the score is,” the prolific and successful comic, actor, playwright and best-selling author said of high earners. “I know what the score is. I know that we have an advantage. It’s as simple as that.”

When it comes to philanthropy, the Yale Drama School graduate puts his money where his mouth is. A staunch believer in giving back, he supports a slate of charitable organizations, including the 52nd Street Project, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Autism Speaks, Wounded Warriors, the USO and The Brady Center. He is also heavily involved in the Ron Black Memorial Scholarship Fund, created for his late brother, the Rusty Magee Clinic for Families and Health and a slew of other education and arts programs. Additionally, he’s lending his name and the weight of his support to Flushing-based Vassilaros & Sons coffee company, which he says is “a miracle in a cup.”

The comedian is helping his friend John Vassilaros to put out a signature coffee line, the proceeds of which will benefit veterans, Black reported. After the point was made that it might seem ironic that he of the exaggeratedly tightly wound persona is the voice for a coffee company, he laughed.

“Works for me,” he said.

Paradoxically, the passionately outraged performer, who calls himself more “pissed-off optimist than mean-spirited curmudgeon” is also quite popular in animated television shows and films. He’s voiced characters on the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated” and “The Penguins of Madagascar,” among others. His latest role is that of the emotion Anger in the upcoming Pixar film “Inside Out,” which also stars the voice talents of Diane Lane, Amy Poehler and Mindy Kaling. Working with Pixar, he said, “was one of the greatest experiences of my life.” Black’s next voice role is in Pixar’s animated “Rock Dog” with Luke Wilson, J.K. Simmons and Eddie Izzard.

Splitting his downtime between homes in Manhattan and North Carolina—where he earned his undergraduate degree at the University of North Carolina—the comic relishes his days off the road, he said. Traveling half the year via tour bus for work is one thing, he added, but making the nearly 100-mile schlep out to the Hamptons regularly is an entirely different undertaking.

“It’s just too far. How do people do it?,” he griped.

Trekking out to the Hamptons every weekend is definitely not for Black. Instead of participating in the hours-long traffic nightmare, he’s come up with his own solution that makes a lot more sense for New Yorkers who miss the ocean.

“They should just take sand and spread it around on Park Avenue and the Upper East Side and the let people sit out on their beach chairs so they don’t have to drive around for 2 hours,” he said, adding that he sympathizes with year-round East Enders, who should put up blockades to keep the seasonal crowds out. “I really don’t know how you guys allow it,” he said of the massive summer influx.

And though he did admit to enjoying a visit to Sag Harbor every once in a while, the comedian said he plans to stay put in New York City. If not for his peace of mind, then for his career.

“Sag Harbor is beautiful and serene,” he said. “I couldn’t live there though. I wouldn’t get anything done.”

Lewis Black will bring “The Rant is Due Part Deux” to the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center on Friday, March 27 at 8 p.m.  Tickets are $95, $125 and $150 and are available online at www.whbpac.org. 

James Carpenter

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By Mara Certic

James Carpenter is the executive chef of Page at 63 Main. He spoke about an event for children taking place at the restaurant this weekend and about Page’s ever-growing aquaponic garden.

What is the idea behind the “Little Foodies” event on Saturday?

A good thing to focus on is some healthy alternatives for kids. We don’t get a whole lot of kids here; our whole shtick is using the aquaponics we’ve got going to encourage those healthier choices. It’s easy to make pasta with butter, red sauce or chicken fingers. But can you offer them maybe an aquaponic salad with some grilled chicken? I think parents will appreciate that as well. So we’re going to give them a full tour of our aquaponics. We have a full-time aquaponic farmer, so he’ll give the tour. We have vertical towers here in the dining room, and when the weather gets warmer we have them on the outside of the building, going up to the roof. Actually, on Sunday, Jimmy Fallon was in here and he said “Hey, I love this thing, I want one for my house!” But anyway, so we’re going to tell the kids about the aquaponics, we have a little portable aquaponic system which will start going to different schools and visiting kids there.

How cool. So what’s actually going to happen at the event?

So they’re going to get an aquaponic tour of the place, there are going to be some people here from the Wellness Center to give a brief introduction to their school program, “healthy choices for life,” which starts in Sag Harbor in April. Marta Blanca  from Cornell Cooperative Extension will be the nutritionist presence—she’s just going to talk about the importance and fun of making healthy food options with kids and she’ll bring some interactive demos. And then we’re going to go up to Back Page, where there’s kind of an open kitchen, and so I’ll do a cooking demonstration for the kids. I’ll be making a nice little lunch, with an aquaponic salad, some grilled chicken and a little vinaigrette. We also have aquaponic celery growing, so they’ll get to try some of that. But it’s more of an educational, nutritional event.

Where did this idea come from?

Amber Chapel, Page’s communications manager,  just had a wonderful little baby and she and her father-in-law Joe, who’s one of the owners and has a bunch of grandkids, they said “You know, can you do something healthier for the kids?” I don’t have kids so I was like… I can do a dog menu? But so I said sure, and as we were brainstorming on the concept, Joe came across a big foodie event for kids that happened a couple weeks ago in Bryant Park, in New York City.

Do you remember when you first became interested in food? 

Well I was abnormal because I was always into food. I knew when I was 5-years-old that I wanted to be a chef. So that was easy for me, and my father always had a big garden so that was also really interesting. I’ve been out here now for about 15 years and it’s such an agricultural mecca. All of the organic farms and farm stands that I utilize, as well as like Mecox Bay Dairy, they make their own cheese.

You must be gearing up for summertime, are you planning to change anything up on your menu or in the restaurant?

Well once we get through and survive restaurant week we’ll starting Springing up the menu a little bit. Winter is winter, there’s not a whole lot of local produce going on. Once we get into spring we’ll get more items. I use Satur Farms, up on the North Fork. They have big greenhouses there and they grow stuff all the time. Also, I think we’re looking to find a facility to expand our aquaponics production.

The Little Foodies Event is free and open to children of all ages and will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 28. To register for the event, send an e-mail to info@PageRestaurantGroup.com or call (631) 725-1810.

 

Fire Destroys East Hampton House of Hard Rock Cafe Co-Founder

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Heller_EHFD Structure Fire 57 West End Road 3-18-15_7940_7x

Firefighters spent almost eight hours extinguishing a fire that destroyed the house at 57 West End Road. Photography by Michael Heller.

By Mara Certic

Seven fire departments spent most of the afternoon and evening of March 18  battling a fire that destroyed the East Hampton house of Hard Rock Café co-founder Peter Morton.

Strong winds fueled the fire, which otherwise “could have been manageable,” according to East Hampton Fire Department Chief Richard Osterberg. The oceanfront house at 57 West End Road caught fire apparently when construction workers used a torch on the roof. Pockets of fire continued to burn late that night. There were no injuries.

“The house is a total loss,” Chief Osterberg said over the phone on Friday. According to the chief, the 911 call came in at approximately 2:35 p.m.; nearly 100 firefighters responded to the call and the last tanker did not leave the scene until 10:30 p.m., almost eight hours later, he said.

Chief Osterberg said that the fire appeared to be accidental and that there was no reason to believe it was suspicious.

“The wind really didn’t do us any favors,” the chief said, noting that the house has wide open fields on one side and Georgica Pond on the other.

By the time the first firefighters were on the scene, it had become apparent that it would be too dangerous to allow firefighters into the building and instead they decided to attack the flames from the exterior, dousing the burning house with huge quantities of water.

Winter winds were blowing hot embers around and firefighters worried that the flames would spread. “The house to the east was our main concern,” the chief said. West End Road is long and narrow, Chief  Osterberg explained, making it difficult for firefighters to get water from their tankers to the pumpers.

Not long after the call came through, other nearby departments were called in to provide mutual aid, the chief said. The Amagansett Fire Department sent a tanker as well as an engine and helped to lay hose, Mr. Osterberg said.

Springs, Montauk, Sag Harbor,  and Southampton fire departments all responded to requests for mutual aid and provided more manpower and firefighting equipment.hellerfire

Members of the North Sea Fire Department were sent in to serve as standby at the Emergency Services Building on Cedar Street in case another emergency call came in.

At approximately 5 p.m., the North Sea firefighters responded to an alarm at East Hampton Airport, when a plane skidded off the runway. With North Sea responding to that call, volunteers from Hampton Bays were brought in to stand by at the East Hampton headquartes on Cedar Street.

According to East Hampton Town Police, David Bulgin, 62, of Sag Harbor was the pilot and the sole occupant of the Beechcraft Baron BE 58 that skidded off the runway after experiencing a landing gear malfunction after landing on the main runway.

The plane was damaged and had to be removed from the runway. Mr. Bulgin walked away from the scene unscathed. The Federal Aviation Administration will conduct a full investigation on the incident, according to a release issued by the East Hampton Town Police.

“Out here we’re so lucky—everyone works so well together,” Chief Osterberg said. In addition to all the help from various fire departments, Amagansett and East Hampton Village sent ambulances to the fire near Georgica and the village police were “a tremendous help.”

By the mid-evening, an excavation crew from Keith Grimes, Inc. was working on removing debris from the property, and by the next morning, thanks to village police keeping an eye on the house, there was nothing left burning on the land.

“I feel I have a good department, to know you have friends that are willing to do whatever” is great, Chief Osterberg added.