Tag Archive | "Sag Harbor"

Toshi Shiga

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Toshi Shiga, at the Sag Harbor Fire Department Carnival at Havens Beach in August, is excited for Kindergarten.

Toshi Shiga, at the Sag Harbor Fire Department Carnival at Havens Beach in August, is excited for Kindergarten. Photo by EJ Shiga.

By Tessa Raebeck

A graduate of Sag Harbor’s prekindergarten program, Toshi Shiga is on the verge of entering kindergarten at Sag Harbor Elementary School on Wednesday, September 3. A lover of the Ninja Turtles, video games and girls, Toshi grew up in Sag Harbor—and some would argue that he’s still growing. He discusses his plans for the first day of school, kindergarten and looming adulthood.

 

Now that you’re going into kindergarten, you’re going to learn to read and write, meet new classmates and be in a new building. What makes you most excited about entering elementary school?

I think I’m going to get a Power Rangers backpack. Or a Ninja Turtles one and a bunch of pencils, pens and crayons to go in it. On the first day, I want to wear my skeleton shirt. I have two, but I’m going to wear the one that glows in the dark.

 

Entering grade school also means a lot of monumental life changes. Anything you’re nervous about?

Making friends. It’s kind of hard, but if I want to be friends with somebody in my class, I would have to ask them if they want to be my friend. Or say please. Maybe I would ask them to play a game with me. If it were a girl, maybe I would kiss her.

 

At the Sag Harbor Elementary School, where you’ll be starting next week, there is a green playground. Are you familiar with it? 

I love the school park because I like the slides. That’s the school I’m going to? Oh my gosh, I’m so jealous. That’s the one we always go to with my friend Antonio; I’m jealous that I’m going to that school with the big, cool playground. I’m jealous of myself.

 

What did you learn in pre-k that’s prepared you for kindergarten?

I learned about insects, tweeters [birds], swings, choo-choo horns [steam engine whistles] and how to make friends. I learned that a bully is someone who’s naughty and not nice. If you meet one, you should tell your teacher they’re being mean to you and try not to play with them.

 

Between the sciences, technology, counting, shapes and all the other things you’ve learned about, what’s your favorite thing to do at school?

Free play.

 

What do you want to learn about in kindergarten?

I want to learn how games are made and about the iPads and computers. If I could read, that would help me make and play video games, so I’m excited to learn reading. Stampy [a video game creator I admire] learned Minecraft and other games in school, so I could do that too. When I visited a class last year [during kindergarten orientation], they had a mailroom. It was a toy mailroom. You could play with the mail and that was really cool.

 

Show-and-Tell is a pivotal part of kindergarten. Have you brainstormed ideas of what you want to bring in to show your teacher and class?

I love show-and-tell. I would bring in my awesome Ninja Turtles thing I have. It’s a comic book. It’s the first comic book I ever had; I loved it.

 

Kindergarten is a big step from pre-k. It’s the first time you’ll be in a school with older kids and more classes like gym, math and science. Do you feel this is a big life transition for you?

Yeah, pre-k is for big boys, but kindergarten is for bigger boys. I’m on level five [years old] and might level up to six in kindergarten. I don’t really feel like I’m five yet—I still feel like I’m four—but when I get to kindergarten I think I’ll feel older. I used to just eat grilled cheese, noodles and white macaroni and cheesy shells for lunch, but now that I’m in kindergarten, I’m going to have a chicken sandwich for lunch. I was too young before, but now that I’m going to be a big boy in kindergarten, I’m going to have a chicken sandwich—and a freeze-pop.

Sag Harbor Teacher’s Trip to Malawi a Life-Changing Experience

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Sag Harbor Elementary School teacher Kryn Olson with students at the Jacaranda School for Orphans in Malawi. Photo courtesy Kryn Olson.

Sag Harbor Elementary School teacher Kryn Olson with students at the Jacaranda School for Orphans in Malawi. Photo courtesy Kryn Olson.

By Tessa Raebeck

Kryn Olson left Malawi in tears. Ms. Olson, a science teacher at the Sag Harbor Elementary School, wasn’t crying because she had a bad trip. It was, in fact, quite the opposite.

“It was really amazing,” Ms. Olson, who left Sag Harbor July 17 to spend over three weeks at the Jacaranda School for Orphans, said of her experience on Tuesday, August 26.

Jacaranda, located in the village of Che Mboma, near the city of Limbe in the south of Malawi, a small, landlocked country in southeast Africa, feeds, clothes, houses and educates 412 local orphans.unnamed-2

Ms. Olson, who was a driving force in the outdoor gardening program at the Sag Harbor Elementary School, was invited by the school’s founder, Marie Da Silva, to whom she was introduced by Elena and Barbara Gibbs, to spend several weeks in Africa helping Jacaranda students and faculty expand the school’s gardening programs.

During her stay, she worked primarily on agriculture with 16 boys aged 12 to 18. By the end of her trip, she and the boys were nicknamed “The Green Team” and had become close friends. The students accompanied her to the airport when she left; they gave her cards and hand-drawn pictures and sang songs the whole bus ride there—hence the tears.

“We really got to know each other very well, because we were together five to eight hours a day,” Ms. Olson said. “And they were just such good, respectable, hardworking, inquisitive and very intelligent boys. We bonded very, very much.”

The Green Team planted five gardens during the three-week period. Before she left, some in Sag Harbor had expressed concern to Ms. Olson that American seeds would not necessarily grow successfully in African soil. In true science teacher fashion, she did a plenty of research, augmented by hope and, sure enough, the gardens flourished. Within weeks, the seeds grew to be two inches tall and were “so unbelievably successful, ridiculously successful,” said Ms. Olson, who seemed to be in a permanent state of ecstasy over her trip.

After Ms. Olson was initially taken to a Shop-Rite 25 minutes away from the school, she expressed the need to go shopping somewhere slightly more authentic to the local community, and the boys took her instead to the farmers’ market in Limbe. She saw the city market, met the vendors, and got insight into what the locals grow.

“It was a very exciting place for me to go shopping, because it’s where everybody goes that lives there… it was a beautiful, beautiful experience,” she said.

Two days before she left, Ms. Olson and her team of boys had a huge feast, in which they served meals using mature versions, purchased from the market, of the vegetables they were in the process growing.

“I cooked five chickens, we had a huge salad and I cooked potatoes and carrots, tomatoes, peas, celery, everything that I could find in the market,” she recalled.

Kryn Olson and The Green Team. Photo courtesy Kryn Olson.

Kryn Olson and The Green Team. Photo courtesy Kryn Olson.

“And afterward I said, ‘Do you understand why you have planted these vegetables now?’ ‘Cause they eat porridge every day—this was beyond crazy for them,” she continued.

They had a long conversation on the value of well-balanced meals and the boys, she said, could not devour the veggies fast enough, “it was just such a successful end-all… It was really just such a bonding time, I couldn’t have asked for a better result. There was just one good experience after another.”

The Green Team also built a greenhouse, an idea of the boys’, to enable the students to continue growing vegetables during Malawi’s long rainy season.

Ms. Da Silva wants Ms. Olson to return to Jacaranda to design vegetable plots for a pre-school she hopes to build.

Ms. Da Silva and Ms. Olson are hopeful gardening will help to change not only the students’ diet, but also their economic position, as they begin to harvest and sell the crops.

In addition to her Green Team of newly trained farmers, Ms. Olson also built relationships with some of the hundreds of other students at Jacaranda.

“Every time I would walk through the gates,” she said of the children, “they would come running to me with their arms open. Every day, you just felt like your life couldn’t have gotten any better, ’cause there was so much love and so much compassion with these children and the people that worked there… It was awesome, it was just truly, truly awesome.”

Ms. Olson said when she held the smallest of the orphans, they would immediately fall asleep in her arms “because they were so excited about getting nurtured…it was a beautiful experience.”

While volunteer opportunities in Africa are vast, Ms. Olson said what’s special about the Jacaranda Foundation, which supports the school, is that the change it’s instilling in the community is tangible.

Ms. Da Silva and the school’s executive director, Luc Deschamps, “have actually started a big chain reaction that’s going to change Malawi and that could change other communities,” she said.

In addition to the school, they have started a public library in Malawi, outreach courses to empower women through learning to read, write and take care of themselves and other initiatives.

A public school less than five miles from Jacaranda has 3,000 students.

“They have 200 per classroom, one teacher, no books, no paper, no pencils,” said Ms. Olson. “But Luc has actually started to build a library there… it’s like the change is coming, it’s growing and every single time that they do something they look, ‘What’s the next step?’”

“They think bigger than themselves,” she added, “they’re completely compassionate and have no personal agendas. This is their entire life to service this community—not only is that incredibly rare, but it’s quite venturous—it’s an incredibly poor community.”

Ms. Olson’s friends from Sag Harbor, Suzanne Shaw and her daughter Winter, met her in Malawi and she expects many more friends will join her when she returns, which she said will be “as soon as I can.”

Several students and parents have already reached out to Ms. Olson in hopes of joining her next summer.

“I would definitely consider something like this,” she said, “because it’s a wonderful thing to be able to see life at the purest of places. Relationships were just really honest and pure, there’s just a lot less stuff, so there wasn’t any other conversation. It was just magical, I don’t know how else to describe it.”

To donate supplies or money to the Jacaranda School, contact Kryn Olson at kolson@sagharborschools.org.

Sag Harbor Pre-K Program Now Under Full Control of District

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By Tessa Raebeck 

The Sag Harbor School District announced late Wednesday that its prekindergarten program, which has operated under SCOPE since its inception in 2010, would move under the full control and supervision of the district starting this year.

“Our board of education and administration believe this is a positive change for the district, and one that will enable us to provide a wonderful pre-k opportunity in Sag Harbor for years to come,” Sag Harbor Elementary School Principal Matt Malone and Assistant Principal Donna Denon said in a letter to families on Wednesday, August 27.

For the past school year of 2013-14, the program had 30 students and the contractual expenses were $80,730. The projected expenses for 2014-15, which will see 25 students in the pre-k, are $70,250.

According to School Business Administrator Jennifer Buscemi, the school attorneys reviewed the current contract with SCOPE in July and recommended the district become a New York State-approved universal prekindergarten Program in order to continue operating under a service contract arrangement with SCOPE.

“This designation would be the only way we could contract out a taxpayer funded prekindergarten program through SCOPE,” Ms. Buscemi said in an email. “This recommendation was based on a shift by the state over time in its policy of contracting out core instruction to outside vendors.”

The district applied for a portion of $340 million in competitive grant funding that became available for a statewide universal full-day prekindergarten program. In August, the New York State Department of Education confirmed that Sag Harbor had not been awarded any of the grant money.

“Since Sag Harbor UFSD did not receive approval for New York State funding, our prekindergarten program could not be considered a universal prekindergarten program,” Ms. Buscemi added.

The elementary school administrators said the district is “committed to maintaining this successful, tuition-free, early childhood learning experience in our district.”

No longer in partnership with SCOPE services, the Sag Harbor pre-k program will begin the 2014-15 school year on Wednesday, September 3, with a “Meet and Greet” for students and parents in the pre-k classroom and the Pierson Middle School. The first full day for students is Thursday, September 4.

“It is with great enthusiasm that we begin the 2014-15 school year knowing the Sag Harbor School District is stronger with our own prekindergarten program adding to a high quality educational experience for all children,” said Mr. Malone and Ms. Denon.

 

Petitions Due for Library Elections; Five Openings in Bridgehampton, Three in Sag Harbor

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Hampton Library Director Kelly Harris uses the library's new 3D printer on February 24. Photo by Michael Heller.

Hampton Library Director Kelly Harris uses the library’s new 3D printer on February 24. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Tessa Raebeck

The deadlines to submit petitions for positions on the board of trustees of both the Hampton Library in Bridgehampton and Sag Harbor’s John Jermain Memorial Library are this week.

 

Bridgehampton

The deadline at the Hampton Library, where five seats are open, is Tuesday, September 2, by 5 p.m. Four seats will be voted on and filled by Bridgehampton residents; the remaining seat is in Sagaponack and will be voted on by residents of that school district.

Incumbents Jackie Poole, Tom House and Dr. Louise Collins are all seeking re-election.

Elizabeth Whelan Kotz, the board’s president, who has served four three-year terms, will be stepping down after reaching her term limit.

Sarah Jaffe Turnbull chose not to run for re-election due to other commitments.

In order to make sure term limits line up with the library’s annual reorganizational meeting, the terms for the trustees who will join the board this year will run from October 1 to December 31, 2017. Terms previously ran from October 1 to September 30, but will now run for a year and three months for as long as it takes to get all trustees serving three-year, January to December terms.

“The other thing we did this year,” said Library Director Kelly Harris “is in order to make sure that Sagaponack is represented.”

The library’s nine-person board formerly had seven seats reserved for Bridgehampton residents and two for Sagaponack residents, but starting this year, one of the Bridgehampton seats has been switched over to Sagaponack, “so that there’s just a little bit more representation of Sagaponack on the library board,” she said.

Starting in October, three of the trustees will be from Sagaponack, with the remaining six from Bridgehampton.

“Board members are really advocates for the library, but they also represent the community,” Ms. Harris said. “One of the things I’m very proud of at the Hampton Library is we really are a community center and a community library.”

“And we want the library board to not only reflect the community and be a representative of the community,” she added.

The budget vote and trustee election will be held Saturday, September 27, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Hampton Library, located at 2478 Main Street in Bridgehampton.

 

Sag Harbor

In Sag Harbor, three seats are opening on the board of the John Jermain Memorial Library. The deadline to submit petitions is Friday, August 29, at 4 p.m.

The terms of three board members have expired. Ann Lieber and Jackie Brody are both seeking re-election for their second term, while Toby Spitz has decided not to run for a second term.

Those who win the three-year terms will be in office from January 1, 2015, through December 31, 2017. Candidates can run for two consecutive three-year terms.

The library board meets every third Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m. and members usually also serve on committees that may meet monthly depending on the need, but oftentimes do not.

“Formally,” said library director Catherine Creedon, “being a board member entails attendance at the meetings, supervision and hiring of the director, long-range planning and the setting of policy. So, there’s a formal, very narrow charge, but in fact—particularly in a community like Sag Harbor—board members are really the ambassadors for the library.”

“I always think they are the best people to go out and understand our mission, to talk about it, to look at the community and see ways we might be able to better serve the community and bring that information back to the library,” she added.

“Right now, I think is the most exciting time to be a board member at John Jermain,” the director continued, “because we have this gorgeous new building about to open and at the same time, there are all these amazing changes in technology.”

The budget vote and trustee election for the John Jermain Memorial Library will be held Monday, September 29, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Pierson auditorium, located at 200 Jermain Avenue in Sag Harbor.

Bret Parker Raises Money By Conquering His Fears

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Bret Parker, right, and his trainer Lyon Marcus, left, after an intense training session at Long Beach on Monday. Photo by Mara Certic. 

By Mara Certic

Bret Parker is a husband, father, skydiver and lawyer, and if all goes according to plan, by next month he will also be a triathlete. While this may not seem particularly newsworthy, it is important to mention that not only does Mr. Parker have Parkinson’s disease, he is deathly afraid of water. But he has resolved to conquer his  fear in order to raise money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

He still remembers it vividly: he was 3 years old, running around a pool when he tripped over a hose and fell in. Someone pulled him to safety quickly, but the damage was already done. Mr. Parker was traumatized and has been terrified of water for decades.

Mr. Parker grew up, became a lawyer, got married and lived with his wife and two children in the New York City. The family bought a house in Noyac in 2001, and Mr. Parker considers Long Beach his “backyard,” but still he didn’t want to swim. Then, in 2007 he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

He had noticed a slight tremor in his right hand. He went to the doctor, who, after a series of basic motor tests, concluded that Mr. Parker, now 46, had Parkinson’s. “There’s no blood test,” he explained, so the diagnosis really took him aback. So much so that Mr. Parker and his wife Katharine kept it secret, didn’t really tell anyone and carried on business as usual.

Parkinson’s is a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement, causing tremors, stiffness and the gradual slowing down of every-day motions. There is no known cure—as of yet—but medications can mitigate many of the side effects.

In 2012, when Mr. Parker began to take medication for his disease, he decided that it was time to “come out.” He wrote a blog on Forbes.com, telling his friends, family, colleagues and the rest of the internet world about his diagnosis. “For a long time, silence seemed logical.  As long as my Parkinson’s was not impacting my day-to-day functioning, no one had to know,” he wrote in his 2012 “outing.”

“When I was first diagnosed, my symptoms were almost impossible to detect and there wasn’t anything for my family or friends “to do” so I figured it wasn’t worth telling people,” he continued.

But then a close friend of his told him that he had plans to run 50 miles for 10 charities, and invited Mr. Parker to run a five-mile stint with him to raise funds for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. “I was so touched by his grand gesture — how could I refuse?” he wrote.

“The answer is finally clear.  This is the year to leave my secret behind — to literally run past my fears, my doubts and my hesitation,” he continued. Mr. Parker ran the five miles and raised $115,000 for the Fox Foundation. The next year, he decided to take a leap of faith, literally, and raised $50,000 for the organization by jumping out of a plane at Skydive Long Island.

“When you have an illness you realize you were living under the fiction of being in control,” said Mrs. Parker, a breast cancer survivor herself. When Mrs. Parker signed up for the Mighty Hamptons Triathlon on September 7, her husband resolved to conquer his fear of water once and for all and to do the same.

He hired Iron Man veteran Lyon Marcus as his trainer and began the slow process of really learning how to swim in May. In the first four weeks of his training, Mr. Parker didn’t go into the water once. In fact, when he told this to a triathlete friend of his, she told him to fire his trainer and get a new one. But Mr. Parker kept with it, learning exercises on land to strengthen his core and upper body.

“It was terrible,” Mrs. Parker said of her husband’s swimming, “I can’t even tell you what a transformation this is,” she said as she watched him swim laps in Noyac Bay on Tuesday morning.

One of the lesser-known facts about Parkinson’s disease is that stress and anxiety worsen the tremors and stiffness. Mr. Parker’s fear of the water exacerbated his symptoms. But soon his 10-minute swimming stints became 20 minutes and last week, Mr. Parker swam the full 1,500 meters he will have to swim during the triathlon. “He’s got a will you can’t even imagine,” Mr. Marcus said.

After over 40 years, Mr. Parker has conquered his fear. He is not planning on winning the triathlon, but he’s certainly planning on finishing it—even though he will have to take a day’s worth of medication in a period of about four hours.

Mr. Parker is the executive director of the New York City Bar Association and a member of the Fox Foundation’s Patient Council. “I have two big beefs with Parkinson’s,” he said on Tuesday. The first is something that he was guilty of for five years—keeping it a secret. The second is the extreme optimism shown by many sufferers of the disease. “Optimism masks the fact that they’ve been using the same drug for 40 years,” he said, adding that more research must be done.

Days after Robin Williams’s suicide shocked the world, his wife released a statement disclosing that her husband had been suffering from depression, anxiety and the early stages of Parkinson’s, “which he was not yet ready to share publicly.”

The diagnosis was hard, but Parkinson’s has taught Mr. Parker about the uncertainty of life and has provided him with a new mantra: “live life as large as you can, as long as you can.”

For more information about the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research visit michaeljfox.org. To donate to Mr. Parker’s fundraising efforts visit www2.michaeljfox.org/goto/parker. The Mighty Hamptons Triathlon will take place on Sunday, September 7. The event will begin at 6:40 a.m. with the 1.5-kilometer swim at Long Beach. For more information about the triathlon visit eventpowerli.com.

Habitat for Humanity Dedicates Most Recent Project in Bridgehampton

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Kelly Davis wipes away tears of joy after she, her husband Randy and children Alex and Alexis were presented with a photo album of their house being built during a dedication ceremony for their new Habitat for Humanity property on Sunday, August 24. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Mara Certic

After months of anticipation, sweat and hard work, a Bridgehampton family finally has a real place to call home, thanks in no small part to Habitat for Humanity of Peconic.

Randy and Kelly Davis met in 2001; she was from Sag Harbor, and he grew up in Bridgehampton.

“We just kind of ran into each other. In small towns you just know everyone,” Ms. Davis said.

They fell in love, got married and started a family. They rented a two-bedroom-house on Old Sag Harbor Road, where their children Alexis, now 8, and Alex, 6, shared a room. But the rental prices were steep and Mr. and Mrs. Davis struggled to afford their two-bedroom home—not for lack of trying, Mr. Davis works as a custodian in the Sag Harbor School District, and his wife is a nursing assistant at Southampton Hospital.

They were also paying out-of-district fees so that their daughter could attend prekindergarten in Bridgehampton, as there wasn’t one available to her in Sag Harbor at that time.

About four years ago, Mrs. Davis’s aunt learned from Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Bridgehampton that Habitat for Humanity of Peconic had put out the word to various local parishes that it was seeking a family for whom to build a new house.

“I just had a feeling that it was right at the perfect moment,” Mrs. Davis said at the dedication of her new house on Scuttlehole Road in Bridgehampton on Sunday. Her husband was not so confident, however, and really couldn’t believe the news when they found out that they had been chosen to receive this “blessing,” he said.

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization, founded by Millard and Linda Fuller in 1976. Its mission is plain: to build simple, decent, affordable housing for those who need it most. Although a self-described “Christian housing ministry,” Habitat for Humanity helps people of all races and religions and has a strict non-proselytizing policy.

According to Deirdre Herzog, treasurer for Habitat for Humanity of Peconic, Suffolk County gave the land for the house to the Town of Southampton which, in turn, passed it along to Habitat for Humanity.

Ms. Herzog, who has been involved with Habitat for the past 16 years, said that there were delays in getting the process rolling. “When it was time to start building on the property there were issues with the neighbor having encroached on the property, so it took a long time to get those types of things cleared up,” she said.

Work finally started in April 2013 when lot clearing began. Farrell Builders of Bridgehampton gave their time and expertise to the project, and one of their employees, Chris Perrier, worked as the crew leader. Mr. Perrier described himself more as “an educator” on the process. “I pretty much got the shell together for them, pointed them in directions they had to go in,” he said.

Habitat for Humanity requires its future homeowners to contribute at least 500 hours of “sweat equity.” According to Ms. Davis, she and her family and friends contributed more than 800 hours of labor to the building of their new home. “It was awesome,” she said. “We put a lot of work into it.”

Certain local construction companies donated materials; others sold them at discounted prices. Bridgehampton National Bank provided some funding for the project and became a sponsor. A group of bank employees even volunteered some of their time to help with painting and other odd jobs.

The typical Habitat house can take up to a year, Ms. Herzog said. But the conflicting schedules of the skilled construction workers and volunteers further delayed the project’s completion. “It was a rough winter,” Mr. Perrier explained. “And what happens is, out here, this season’s just been extremely busy for all trades,” he said, adding that it proved hard to get volunteers.

But on Sunday, August 24, a formal dedication at the house at 2245 Scuttlehole Road marked the end of a long chapter for the Davis family, and the beginning of a new one. “She’s totally psyched that they have their own rooms now,” Ms. Davis said of her daughter who was showing off her new, very pink bedroom. Her brother aimed a ball at the miniature basketball hoop hanging from the door of his first very own bedroom.

Friends, volunteers, family and clergy gathered at the new house for Sunday’s dedication, a celebration Habitat for Humanity chapters throughout the nation observe. The Davises were given a Bible, an album filled with pictures of the construction process and a hammer that was used in the construction of their house. “Do good,” said Mark Mott, president of Habitat for Humanity of Peconic. Reverend Dr. H.G. McGhee, of the First Baptist Church of Bridgehampton offered a few words while those gathered held hands in prayer.

“We pray in the name of Jesus that this house becomes a blessing for those who reside here,” he said. And then everyone repeated after the minister, “Dedicated in the name of the father, son and Holy Spirit. God bless you.”

For more information about Habitat on the East End, visit hfhpeconic.org.

PSEG Gets an Earful in East Hampton

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New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr., East Hampton Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach, Jr., and East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell listened to a presentation by Mike Voltz of PSEG and a public hearing at the East Hampton Emergency Services Building on Tuesday, August 26. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Mara Certic

There was hardly a spare seat in the house on Tuesday, August 26, for an informational session and public hearing hosted by the State Department of Public Services on PSEG Long Island’s Utility 2.0 Long-Range Plan.

PSEG Long Island, a subsidiary of New Jersey-based PSEG, submitted the plan to the DPS on July 1, and almost immediately came under fire for failing to provide specifics about it as well as its decision to install 50-to-65-foot utility poles through portions of East Hampton Village last winter.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell and East Hampton Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr. wrote a joint letter to PSEG, asking that it hold a public meeting in East Hampton because the utility targeted the East End for major upgrades in the plan.

“We believe the Utility 2.0 Long Range Plan needs clarification, detail and public discussion, and we urge a public dialogue for this plan for the Town and Village of East Hampton,” they wrote.

“This is a time my office can hear you, your concerns and take it all into account,” said Julia Bovey, director the New York State Department of Public Services, who hosted the meeting.

And hear from people she did, with many people lining up to once again voice their objections to the installation of the poles.

“They’re an assault on our very core,” said town resident Elena Prohaska Glynn.  “We cannot afford to despoil the landscape. Remove them; bury those lines,” she said to much applause from the audience on Tuesday night.

The new poles have resulted in the creation of two organizations—Save East Hampton and Long Island Businesses For Renewable Energy, a stop-work order issued by the town and even a lawsuit.

Some wore bright orange Save East Hampton t-shirts with “Bury The Lines” written on the back. Many of the orange shirt wearers spoke not about the new plan, but about what they feel to be a more pressing issue: the danger and unsightliness of the new, taller poles in the village.

“It’s not only a matter of aesthetics, it’s a matter of life and death,” said Helen Mendez. “Be the company that you say you are, help us have green solutions. Do what’s safe, do what’s right and bury the lines.”

All three elected officials who spoke at Tuesday night’s meeting also called for the new lines to be buried, including State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr.

“They have been willing over and over again to tax themselves to protect the quality of life here,” he said of his constituents.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell also called for the lines to be buried, to thunderous applause.

Jeremy Samuelson, president of the Concerned Citizens of Montauk, gave DPS and PSEG Long Island some “history.” He explained that the public meeting process prior to the installation of the taller poles left much to be desired. The process lacked any transparency or community engagement from the utility company, he said.

“You come back a year later, and you have to eat some crow,” he said to the representatives from the DPS and PSEG. “You guys got it wrong, so that’s the history.”

“The question is,” he continued, “are you going to be our partners in fixing this mess? This thing is an atrocity; I won’t sugarcoat it for you. So the question is: LIPA isn’t in charge anymore. Are you going to help us find the somewhere between $20 million and $30 million to fix this mess?” he asked.

Elected officials and environmentalists also seemed unsatisfied by the lack of consideration for the town’s existing policy. “With regard to the presentation: that is something we would like to see more of, alternatives to fossil fuels,” Mr. Thiele said.

“The town has adopted a very important and ambitious goal,” Mr. Cantwell said of East Hampton’s decision to power all of its community-wide electricity needs with renewable energy by the year 2020. “I would urge that the power sources on the South Fork be met with renewable energy sources,” he said.

Gordian Raacke, president of Renewable Energy Long Island (RELI) criticized the shortsightedness of the plan. “I know you will make sure that while PSEG may not be in the room anymore, they will hear our comments,” he said to Ms. Bovey—about 20 minutes prior to that, it had become apparent that Mike Voltz, the director of energy efficiency and renewables for PSEG Long Island, who gave an overview of the plan, had left the meeting in the middle of the hearing.

“The plan is not a 2.0 plan. At best it’s a utility 1.1. It’s more business as usual and fails to provide a vision for utility or the future,” he said. “Work with the Town of East Hampton, work with us to build a sustainable energy future and we’ll work with you.”

PSEG needs “to be a collaborator, not an opponent,” he added. “You need to propose a better plan.

The meeting kicked off with a presentation by Mr. Voltz, who tried to shed some light on the plan and presented a series of slides and bullet points.

Mr. Voltz discussed items on the five-year plan, including a call to spend approximately $60 million on energy saving steps over the next five years, including providing programmable thermostats to upward of 60,000 residential customers.

The plan also includes a four-year-long educational campaign, at a cost of $8 million, an energy efficiency expansion in the Rockaways, which was explained in great detail as well and a $15 million initiative that would aim to install 6,000 new advanced meters in hard-to-reach locations.

The information on South Fork improvements left much to be desired, according to some of those who spoke at Tuesday night’s meeting. In that section of Mr. Voltz’s presentation, he discussed plans to use solar energy, battery storage and programmable thermostats, and also discussed the need for new generators to boost electricity output during periods of peak usage in Montauk, and other places. “They’re very old,” Mr. Voltz said of the generators, “they’re getting worn out.”

The Captains, Mates and Widows of Whaling Return to Sag Harbor

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Sabina Streeter with her portrait of Captain Thomas Roys in her Madison Street studio. Photo by Tanya Malott.

Sabina Streeter with her portraits of Captains Thomas Roys and David T. Vail. Photo by Tanya Malott.

By Tessa Raebeck

Some of the subjects of Sabina Streeter’s portraits visited her Madison Street studio over the winter, while others haven’t been in the building for nearly 200 years.

Captain David T. Vail, by Sabina Streeter.

Captain David T. Vail, by Sabina Streeter.

In “Captains, Mates, and Widows,” opening Friday at the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum, Ms. Streeter used contemporary village residents, historical records and her imagination to create a series of mixed media portraits of the village’s prominent and lesser known figures during the peak years of the whaling industry. Artist Dan Rizzie curated the show and Carlos Lama has created an accompanying sound installation that recreates the howling winds and crashing waves of whaling.

Between 1829 and 1847, Sag Harbor was a capital of the whaling industry. As local men headed out to sea as cabin boys and captains—some of them never to return—their families made do at home, peering out from widows’ watches in hopes of seeing a ship on the horizon.

The building that houses Ms. Streeter’s studio was built in 1820 from reclaimed ship’s timber by shipbuilder Abraham Vail. It is the original residence of his son, whaling captain David P. Vail, who captained the ship “Sabina.” Little did he know an artist of the same name would be recreating his likeness in his home more than a  century later.

The two-family building, which houses two apartments with identical layouts, was made so that whalers’ wives and children could keep each other company during the long months spent waiting for the men’s return from seas.

“It’s interesting, some of these characters were probably actually here in this building, because they must have socialized somehow,” Ms. Streeter said of her subjects.

One portrait features a young Captain Thomas Wickham Havens, drawn with a soft face and sensitive eyes, the ancestor of George Sterling, who wrote the poem, “The Ballad of the Swabs,” about his relative’s whaling past.

Mrs. Wickham Havens, by Sabina Streeter.

Sarah Darling Havens, by Sabina Streeter.

“The tale is of my grandsire and his good whaling-ship. Back to Sag Harbor faring from his eleventh trip,” starts the poem. It ends with the men “twice as hot as any there for home and wife and bed.”

Ms. Streeter portrayed Captain Wickham Havens in the same gray hues she used for his wife, Sarah Darling Havens. Captain Havens’ likeness is taken from a portrait in the whaling museum. Mrs. Havens’ comes from a small tintype.

Before oil tycoons, hedge fund barons and start-up tech financiers, there were whaling captains.

“These whalers were incredibly risk-willing,” said Ms. Streeter. “Most of these boats were like hedge funds—were venture capitalists, ’cause they had to be financed somehow, except they were hands-on.”

For cabin boys and other crewmembers, who came from across the world and on which there is little documentation, Ms. Streeter used her imagination to recreate their likenesses.

One portrait of an unknown cabin boy was done solely from imagination, but for a striking portrait of a harpooner done in bright orange hues, local restaurateur Dan Gasby posed for the artist. His wife and business partner, Barbara Smith, also sat for a portrait.

To recreate the likeness of Enoch Conklin, a privateer whose ship went down in 1814, his ancestor Ted Conklin, owner of The American Hotel, sat for Ms. Streeter.

Harpooner Gasby, by Sabina Streeter.

Harpooner Gasby, by Sabina Streeter.

Captain Jonas Winters, depicted by Ms. Streeter with a full, long beard and a hint of a smile, went on 11 voyages, during which he accumulated 24,500 barrels of oil and 244,000 pounds of bone.

According to an article by H.P. Horton that appeared in “Long Island Forum” in 1948, Sag Harbor Express Editor John H. Hunt asked the then-retired Captain Winters to write an autobiographical sketch covering his 25-year career as a whaler, which appeared in the newspaper on March 15, 1888.

Born in Sag Harbor, Mr. Winters ascended from a common sailor to a captain in a parallel rise to that of the village’s whaling industry. He sailed with men from Amagansett, East Hampton and Southampton, but his shipmates were mostly often from Sag Harbor.

“In these 11 voyages which comprise 22 years of active and ever changing life, occurrences transpired which would fill volumes with interesting and thrilling matter,” wrote Captain Winters. “Sunshine and storm, surprise and disappointment, joy and sadness, never found better illustrations than were obtained in the whale fishery which was Sag Harbor’s most important industry.”

“Captains, Mates and Widows,” will be on view at the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum through September 25, with an opening reception on Friday, August 29, from 6 to 8 p.m. For more information, visit sabinastreeter.com.

New Athletics Director for Sag Harbor a Veteran of Pierson’s Fields

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Social studies teacher Donnelly McGovern was appointed as Sag Harbor's athletics director on Monday, August 25. Photo courtesy Sag Harbor School District.

Social studies teacher Donnelly McGovern was appointed as Sag Harbor’s athletics director on Monday, August 25. Photo courtesy Sag Harbor School District.

By Tessa Raebeck

The Sag Harbor School Board appointed Sag Harbor teacher and coach Donnelly McGovern as the district’s new director of athletics, health, wellness, personnel and supervisor of physical education on Monday, August 25.

Mr. McGovern has taught middle, high school and college-level social studies classes at Pierson Middle/High School for the past 20 years. He has also worked in the past as an assistant principal and as an athletics coach for boys’ varsity soccer.

Mr. McGovern will continue as a teacher while also acting as athletics director part-time. Starting Tuesday, September 2, he will act as an athletics director for 60-percent of his work week and as a social studies teacher for the remaining 40 percent.

He is being paid at his Sag Harbor salary as a teacher, which is $130,466, with an additional stipend of $15,378. Mr. McGovern, who is certified as a school district administrator, will serve a three-year probationary term that ends September 1, 2017.

Mr. McGovern is filling the position left open by Todd Gulluscio’s resignation in May. After less than two years in the position, Mr. Gulluscio accepted an administrative post in the school district on his native Shelter Island. Since longtime athletic director Nick DeCillis left in 2007, the board has struggled to hold onto an athletic director; there have been six ,including Mr. Gulluscio, in the seven years since.

“I am extremely happy to continue working with the students and families at Pierson and Sag Harbor,” Mr. McGovern said in a press release.

“Donnelly McGovern has been an outstanding member of our faculty and we are confident that his level of character and dedication to our students will benefit everyone in our school community,” said Superintendent Katy Graves. “After an extensive search and interview process, we determined that the best candidate for the job was already a member of the Sag Harbor family.”

“The board,” added board president Theresa Samot, “is thrilled to appoint Donnelly McGovern as the district’s athletic director. Mr. McGovern’s leadership skills, as well as his wealth of experience building athletic programs, make him an excellent asset to our district.”

Also on Monday, the school board created the administrative position of director of physical education and appointed Pierson Principal Jeff Nichols to fill that position as part of his regular duties.

“What will be happening is Donnelly McGovern will be doing all the supervising of the K through 12 physical education programs” and make recommendations to Mr. Nichols on anything that has to be reported to the New York State Department of Education, Ms. Graves said Tuesday.

Although Mr. McGovern will be doing all of the supervising of the physical education programs, a person with physical education certification, which Mr. McGovern does not yet have, needs to be responsible for reporting anything to the state. Mr. Nichols volunteered to take over those duties without extra pay.

“So, Donnelly will make recommendations to him and Jeff will do all the reporting to New York State cause he has appropriate certifications,” Ms. Graves explained. “So, it was nice cooperative work on his part to make sure we got the best man on the job.”

East End Hospice Thinks Outside the Box

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A.-Gornik

 

“Lake, Rain, Light” by April Gornik is just one of 95 artworks to be sold at auction at this year’s Box Art Auction benefit for East End Hospice, which will take place on Saturday, September 6 at the Ross School.

By Mara Certic

Facing ever greater competition among the growing number of summer fundraisers on the South Fork, 14 years ago, David and Marion Porter came up with a unique way for artists to help raise money for East End Hospice.

In 2000, Mr. and Mrs. Porter appealed to sculptors, painters and sketchers to create original works of art made out of recycled cigar boxes to be sold at auction. Both philanthropists have since passed away, but as the Box Art Auction prepares to return this year, their vision is still going strong.

On Saturday, September 6, the 95 boxes will be auctioned off at a benefit at the Ross School. The public will have a chance to view the boxes on Wednesday, August 27, and Thursday, August 28, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Hoie Hall in St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in East Hampton. A free “meet the artists” reception will be held on Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Saturday’s benefit will begin at 4:30 p.m. with a silent auction. The live auction will follow at 5:45 p.m., emceed by East Hampton resident Lucas Hunt. Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served.

Arlene Bujese has been involved in the show for well over a decade, and has been the benefit chairwoman since 2002. Ms. Bujese is a prominent force in the East End art world; she owned a gallery in East Hampton for many years and, more recently, has worked as the curator-in-residence at the Southampton Cultural Center.

“The idea is that we’re not asking an artist to go into their studio and take a valuable drawing or painting out of their collection,” Ms. Bujese said during a phone interview on Friday. “But to make something, and it can be a signature work of theirs … or they can just play however much they want to—inside the box, outside the box—use their imagination. And as you can see, they do,” she said.

Recently, the organizers have diversified by including wooden wine boxes as well as cigar boxes for the creations. Volunteers keep the organization well stocked with enough cartons, often transporting them from Manhattan to the East End.

The works are donated by each artist. “We’ve had some artists who have been with us the entire 14 years,” Ms. Bujese continued. “Each year we add some new ones, to bring more of the community in.”

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Embroidery artist Christa Maiwald created artwork for Saturday’s auction.

This year, 10 out of a total of 95 artists are newcomers, including Brianna Ashe, a teacher at the Ross School, and Louise Eastman, a Sag Harbor resident. Another Sag Harborite, embroidery artist Christa Maiwald created one of her signature pieces for this year’s auction.

“When I worked with her on an exhibition, I thought, my goodness, I’ve never asked her to make a box,” Ms. Bujese said. “And she came up with a signature work. It’s nice, it’s going to be popular.”

“In fact I already have a friend who’s interested in it,” she said of Ms. Maiwald’s cigar box creation, which features a detailed, embroidered feline on the coffer’s inner lid.

In addition to the live and silent auctions, the Box Art Auction organizers encourage absentee bidding for those who are unable to attend the event itself. Pictures of many of the artworks are available on the East End Hospice website, eeh.org, as are absentee bidding forms.

Artist April Gornik returns this year with one of her trademark landscapes painted on the lid of a wooden receptacle, which will be one of the items in the live auction on Saturday. RJT Haynes is an artist from the United Kingdom, whose life in rural Cornwall has inspired his landscapes over the years.

“The format is an interesting mixture of freedom and constraint: the box is a required element, but we can incorporate it any way we like,” he wrote in an e-mail earlier this week.

For his creation this year, however, Mr. Haynes has done a little more than paint the exterior of his box. “I’ve seen many fine examples of straightforward painting on lids, but the wooden container invites a three-dimensional approach,” Mr. Haynes wrote.

“Last year, my Cornish mermaid caused a mini bidding war between two collectors, one of whom wanted it as a gift for her son at college—so this year’s ‘Independence Day’ portrays a newly fledged adult, just starting a life of her own in her first room away from home: I’m hoping it will strike a chord with proud parents at the auction, and make some money for the hospice,” he continued.

“Independence Day” transforms the wooden box into a little diorama: a polymer clay person sits on the floor of the “room,” whose walls are decorated with scaled-down versions of some of Mr. Haynes’s oil paintings and watercolors.

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“Independence Day”, by RJT Haynes

“I spent many years looking after a terminally ill relative, so I’m very happy to contribute to Box Art,” he said.

East End Hospice, which provides end-of-life care for clients in the five East End towns had 487 patients this year alone. Twenty-seven of them were from Sag Harbor. All of the proceeds from Saturday’s auction will go to benefit the hospice.

“I can’t think of a more deserving cause to donate to,” Mr. Haynes wrote.

The boxes will be on view on Wednesday, August 27, and Thursday, August 28, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Hoie Hall in St Luke’s Church, 18 James Lane, East Hampton. A  “meet the artists” preview reception will be held also in Hoie Hall from 5 to 7 p.m. The benefit on Saturday, September 6 will begin at 4:30 p.m. at the Ross School, 18 Goodfriend Drive, East Hampton. Tickets cost $75 per person. For more information visit eeh.org.