Tag Archive | "Shelter Island"

East Enders Past and Present Going for Olympic Gold

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By Claire Walla

You’re standing at the top of a three-tiered podium, wearing a tri-colored tracksuit, holding a bouquet of flowers with one arm and waving to a deafening crowd of ecstatic people with the other. Finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for: you bend at the waist and a thick ribbon attached to a bright, shiny medallion is placed around your neck.

You’ve won the gold!

For most of us, this dream is confined to our inner-thoughts and the screens of our television sets. But for a select group of athletes, the hope of attaining Olympic gold is a dream that’s well within reach.

So, what separates the enthusiasts from the elites? We at The Express looked no further than our own backyard to find out.

“When I was qualifying, I thought about two words: London 2012,” explained sailor Amanda Clark, 29, a Shelter Island native who will be competing in this summer’s London Olympic Games for the second time as part of Team U.S.A.

Clark’s first Olympic appearance was at the 2008 games in Beijing, where she and teammate Sarah Mergenthaler Chin placed 12th overall.

“At that point it had been about eight years of Olympic campaigning,” Clark said. “So just qualifying [for the games] was special in itself.”

This year, after she and Mergenthaler Chin went their separate ways, Clark quickly teamed up with Floridian Sarah Lihan and went on to beat the favored U.S. team, once again finishing first in the U.S. Olympic trials—this time with a tie-breaking win.

As you might expect, Clark said her love of sailing began at a young age. She learned how to sail at 5, joined the junior program at Shelter Island Yacht Club when she was 7, and by age 15 she became the youngest female sailor to qualify for the U.S. Olympic trials.

Ever since she was a “tween,” Clark said, sailing has been her life.

“It has really been intense for quite some time,” Clark said. “I spent long hours on the water as a kid. And now, we might spend less time on the water, but all the planning, traveling, training… it really has been a full-time job.”

This, according to Sag Harbor resident Lester Ware, is a big part of the equation.

“You’ve gotta have a fanatical work ethic,” explained Ware, who is also owns and operates Personal Best Fitness in Bridgehampton. “You gotta be able to just get up in the middle of the night sometimes and go for a run—because you’re worried, What’s that other guy doing?”

Ware knows from personal experience what it’s like to be in the thick of serious training. He won several international titles and, in 1984, he even qualified to be an alternate for the summer games in Los Angeles.

As a high school student in Southampton, Ware said once he got the wrestling bug he did whatever it took to make it to the top. When his father wasn’t able to drive him, Ware took the train or he hitched a ride to Nassau Community College for wrestling practice three times a week.

And when his college wrestling career came to a close, he took two years to train for the Olympic games, working out in the morning and then proceeding to lead three different practices before his day finally came to a close.

“To get to that level, you have to give yourself over to it,” Ware said of his training. “You have to completely surrender to it.”

It’s a concept 16-year-old Wainscott resident Brittni Svanberg knows well.

While she may not indulge in spontaneous nocturnal sprints (yet), Svanberg knows what it’s like to dedicate inordinate amounts of time to sport. The East Hampton High School sophomore and regional ice-skating champ is training to qualify for the U.S. Nationals competition this year, and has her sights set on the 2018 Olympic Games.

Her training includes waking up every Saturday morning at 4 a.m. for the one-hour drive to The Rinx skating rink in Happaugue, where she laces up and practices her triple jumps.

As an athlete whose sport is not accommodated here on the East End—the only local rink, at Buckskill in East Hampton, is only open seasonally—Svanberg said she makes this commute five times a week. And when she has access to the local rink, she doubles up on her practice time.

“It’s definitely hard to balance it with school,” she admitted. Svanberg also has does about six hours of training off-the-ice each week: “jumping, strengthening, stretching, plyometrics… a lot of core training!” she exclaimed. “I’m definitely willing to work for everything, but, yeah, when I started I didn’t know exactly all the commitment it would take.”

She said the road to gold is not easy, but that’s never stopped her. “I really like skating,” she continued. “So, it’s easy to keep going.”

Now that the 2012 Summer Olympic Games are only a few months away, Clark and her partner and completing their last round of training in Spain. At this point—with years of work-outs, fundraising and qualifying races under her belt—Clark said she and Lihan are focusing more on the mental aspects of competition.

This, according to Lester Ware, is exactly what separates athletes from Olympians.

“It’s much more in the mind than it is in the body,” he said. “It’s all about believing, or rather, not believing you have limits—I never had limits.”

Clark said she and her teammate work with a sports psychologist, and frequently run through meditation and visualization routines.

“As in every sport, everybody’s pushing to be the best they can be,” she continued. “For us right now, there are so many teams that are in this to win medals. And we’re actually a team that, if we start to sail closer to our full potential, we’re going to be the team that people look at and say, ‘Ahhh… How did they do that?!’”

2011 CPF Revenues Down for Most Towns

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This week, New York State Assembly Fred W. Thiele, Jr. announced that the Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund (CPF) totals for 2011 were on par with revenues collected by the five towns in 2010.

According to Thiele, the CPF produced $58.85 million in 2011, a 0.1 percent increase over the 2010 total of $58.78 million. While total CPF revenues were slightly higher in 2011, the five East End towns with the exception of Southampton have actually seen a decline in the amount of revenues they have collected through the fund.

Southampton Town earned about 15-percent more in 2011, pulling in $38.88 million in CPF revenues over $33.79 million in 2010.

Shelter Island saw the largest decrease in CPF revenues, down 39.7 percent for 2011, collecting $820,000. East Hampton Town also saw a sharp decrease, taking in $13.86 million in 2011 compared to $17.72 million in 2010, a 21.8-percent decrease. Riverhead collected $1.93 million in 2011, a decrease of 15.7-percent over the $2.29 million the town earned in 2010. Southold also saw a decrease of 7.5-percent, taking $3.35 million in 2011 compared to $3.62 million in 2010.

Since its inception in 1999, the Peconic Bay Regional Community Preservation Fund has generated more than $722 million, which the five East End towns use for preservation of open space, farmland, recreational facilities and historic preservation.

MTA Hopes to Implement Some of SEEDS Study Before 2015

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By Claire Wall

Do you remember when you could see a flicker of light at the end of the Long Island Rail Road tunnel?

Well, according to those integrally linked to the future of transportation here on the East End, it may be faint, but it’s still there.

It’s been 10 years since local transportation experts banned together under the leadership of the New York Mass Transit Council (NYMTC) to create SEEDS: Sustainable East End Development Strategies. And while not much has been said of the plan since it came to a conclusion in 2005, those at the helm of the effort believe change is afoot.

“I’m optimistic,” said New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, Jr. of the possibility of increasing rail service between Patchogue and Montauk. He noted that the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) has already allotted $80 million in its capital plan for 2010 – 2015 for small diesel trains, called “scoot trains,” that would be added to rail lines to increase the frequency of train service in the east.

What’s more, as Southampton Town Director of Transportation Tom Neely pointed out, the MTA has also reserved $50 million in its five-year capital plan to create an electronic signal system on the South Fork. One of the biggest issues responsible for the infrequency of train travel between Patchogue and Montauk, Neely explained, is that train operators on this leg of the LIRR track are in “dark territory”: they’re not in communication with one another, so two trains headed for each other on the same track would have no way of knowing they’re aiming for collision.

“It’s the same way they did it 150 years ago,” he exclaimed.

While funding is only really targeted for this service at this point and is not a total guarantee, Thiele continued by saying, for him, seeing this support from the MTA “is a step in the right direction.”

It also helps, Thiele continued, that the newly elected Suffolk County Legislator Steve Bellone “has endorsed all of this,” having made transportation his number one East End issue on the campaign trail.

“We’ve had the most support we’ve ever had on this,” he added.

Comprising nearly five years of research, the SEEDS study lays out comprehensive plans for both sustainable growth in terms of population and infrastructure, and increasing the frequency and efficiency of public transportation on the East End. In the end, the two go hand-in-hand. In building up village and hamlet centers to be high-density and therefore low-impact, this would create opportunities on the East End for implementing transit centers.

Neely pointed to the new development plan at the Bulova building in Sag Harbor as a good example of sustainable growth. Because it aims to create high density residences in a downtown area, “it’s a very good example of a development that can make good use of public transportation,” he said.

Recognizing the problems with scant train service on the East End and the subsequent absence of a coordinated bus system, the SEEDS study ultimately resulted in two plans aimed at increasing train travel to and from the East End, Neely said.

The system would ideally function with inter-modal transportation hubs. After restoring train service to Calverton and Grabeski Airport, Neely said there would be at least five major inter-modal hubs (linking train and bus services) throughout the East End: East Hampton and Southampton Villages, Hampton Bays and downtown Riverhead. The SEEDS study also discussed the need for a water taxi between the North and South Forks, which would necessitate an inter-modal transportation hub in Greenport, as well.

“To move forward we would need strong political report,” said Neely, who played a significant role in overseeing the SEEDS process. The transportation projects alone are estimated to cost more than $1 million to fully implement.

While he did say Congressman Tim Bishop had once requested $1 million in earmarked funds to continue this project, the poor economic climate has impacted the state’s ability to move forward in support of this.

“Earmarks are pretty much dead in the water at this point in Congress, “Neely said.

And while Assemblyman Thiele has also drafted two bills, one to create a Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Council and the other to create a Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Authority, he said legislators have thus far failed to act on either measure.

Ideally, Neely said the five towns of the East End — Southampton, East Hampton, Shelter Island, Riverhead and Southold — should work together to create a Transportation Development District, as NYMTC recommended. However, at this moment, nothing seems to be moving forward on that front.

While he continues to hope the MTA will pull through and put its money where its mouth is, in the meantime Neely said efforts to rebuild and construct the towns of the East End in environmentally sustainable ways will have to be done on a local level. Southampton Town, for example, has adopted a Complete Streets policy that will encourage new developments to consider adding bike lanes and sidewalks, for example, when repaving town roads.

In the end, Neely hopes legislators will continue to work to get state funding to act on the SEEDS plan.

“Anything would be better than what we have right now,” he continued. “Which is nothing.”

Eating What You Grow: A Farm Works to Preserve the Culture of Food

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Emily J. Weitz

For 15 generations, the decisions made at and about Sylvester Manor, which comprises 243 acres on Shelter Island, were in the hands of one person. As a family-owned and operated estate since 1652, the fate of the place was always at the mercy of the head of the family. But that is about to change.

Eben Ostby, who now owns the property, along with his nephew Bennett Konesni, who manages the land, are working towards either selling or leasing the property to the non-profit they’ve set up. Sylvester Manor Educational Farm is a non-profit responsible for “creating educational programs, operating the farm, and maintaining and preserving the property,” says Konesni.

“We want the non-profit to be the mechanism we need to preserve the amazing things about this place,” he said.

Since Konesni moved onto the farm and took over the day-to-day workings at the manor, the gates have been opened wide to the public. He estimates that they’ve had about 15,000 visitors in that time for events ranging from Plant and Sing, a festival that happened in the fall, to the weekly CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) gatherings.

As a CSA, Sylvester Manor has over 60 members who get all the organic local produce the farm has to offer in the growing season. So these outreach efforts are not going to change as a result of the movement towards non-profit status.

What will change is that “We will be subject to more oversight and rules,” says Konesni, “and it’s helping us be more clear with ourselves and each other, in the organization and with our neighbors, about what our purpose and mission is.”

That mission is still in the drafting stages, and Konesni explains that “it’s historical and cultural, dealing with food and farming and the culture of food – Food culture over time.”

This transition stands to benefit the community “hugely,” says Konesni.

“As Eben donates parts of the land to the non-profit, those decisions about the land use will be made by the Board of Directors and not just Eben.”

That means that that one person who was making the decisions about a major chunk of land on Shelter Island — which includes estuaries, wetlands, and a lot of open space — won’t be able to call all the shots.

“The Board of Directors is answerable to donors and the community,” says Konesni, “and that will be a huge change in the way the property is run.”

So why, after 15 generations, is this family choosing to give up a lot of its future rights in regards to the land they inherited?

“It’s an amazing story here and the story should be told,” Konesni says simply. “For us the best way to protect this place is to start shielding it from a history that has seen it divided and sold off. Originally our family owned the entire island. Over the generations they keep chopping it off and selling it off. We can look towards the future and see less and less open space on Shelter Island. We can preserve the character of the place by making this transition. And we get to tell this amazing story of the history of food culture in America.”

Twenty-two acres of the manor are already protected from ever being developed for residential, commercial, or industrial purposes. Eighty more acres are being looked at for similar measures. And with the land safe from development, the people at Sylvester manor can continue to utilize it in ways they already do, and to look at how else they can harness the richness of this resource. Already, there’s an organic farm growing potatoes, leeks, tomatoes, lettuce, eggplants, and much more.

“We’re a diversified small farm,” Konesni says. This year, they hope to focus more on products like pesto made fresh from the garlic and basil grown on the farm.

“We want to create food we enjoy eating,” he says.

Changes are happening on the farm as we speak, since they just purchased five dairy cows. Konesni says they haven’t decided how best to use them, but he’s thinking maybe they’ll start making yogurt. In the future, the possibilities are limitless, and Konesni is open to what may come.

“We might get into growing oysters and other intensive aquaponics,” he says. But for now, “We support shellfishing by keeping the bays clean. We don’t put toxic sprays in shellfish grounds, and we are working to make sure our type of farming increases water cleanliness and quality… There’s a traditional food culture on Shelter Island, including deer hunting, and we support that.”

As the CSA membership grows and the public becomes more and more a part of Sylvester Manor, Konesni’s arms are wide open.

“We’re not an exclusive club. We want to give everyone access to this land, this story, and this place that belong to the entire island and the whole East End,” he said.

The staff at Sylvester Manor is just gearing up for another bustling season on Shelter Island. The dates and times of public events will be posted on their web site (www.sylvestermanor.org). But some things the public has to look forward to include concerts both outdoors and in the manor house, workshops on cooking and other activities related to food and growing, and a summer camp for kids. In addition, the annual Plant and Sing Festival, which features music, dancing, and harvesting, among other activities, is slated to take place during the harvest season.

As for joining the CSA at Sylvester Manor, Livestock Manager Andrew Raymond explains that “We are currently at our maximum capacity of 80 subscribers. We’ve grown from 25 in the first year to 60 last year, and now we’ve added 20 more.” But to get on the waiting list, go to their web site and click on “Contact Us”, and you can submit your request. Each year the CSA intends to grow, and new people will be chosen by a lottery system.

East End Thoughts: Musical Passion, Local and Free

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by Richard Gambino

There is so much good music performed here on the East End in summers. (How I wish it were also so during our winters.) Funny how the most abstract of all the arts, music, goes deepest in our souls. Pop music can nourish our need for fun, our romantic sense, our whistling-down-the-street joy in the happy, pretty experiences in living and loving, and in other highs and lows of everyday life.  At the more profound modes, music takes the soul also to heights and depths that express our profoundest spiritual essence, and brings us to new experiences of being human, each of us uniquely, as we relate to it.  At our souls’ peaks, music expresses and moves our human sprit, and sometimes grows our souls, and so makes our lives more meaningful in ways only it can.  Music’s power cannot be duplicated or grasped in language, or in any other art form.

I remember a scene from an old movie, Children Of A Lesser God (1986). In it, William Hurt plays a dedicated but unconventional teacher of deaf kids. In the scene I’ve found unforgettable, he comes upon a way of engaging those born deaf, some bewildered by life, some bitter, remote or angry toward life.  He places their hands on something that is vibrating to very loud music. I will never forget the look on the kids’ faces as their souls begin to dance with the vibrations. It is the look of those who have been born to a higher life. A life those of us with hearing can sometimes take for granted, neglect to nourish and make grow. As an example of what expresses and expands our best spirit, I say to people, only half kiddingly, about the greatest music of all, “Beethoven didn’t write Beethoven’s music. He merely held the pen while God wrote it.”

I’m very thankful for all the people who make music for us  — the Sag Harbor Band, the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival, Music for Montauk, and others. But I want to talk about one group in particular. (I have no relation to it except as a long-time audience member.) I’ve written about it before, two years ago. So, I’ve asked myself why again — why do I think about it so much.  It is a music school for youngsters. The Perlman Music Program on Shelter Island, whose concerts — running this year to September 4 — are free to the public, sometimes with Itzhak Perlman himself playing.  (For descriptions of concerts and other events, and dates, Google “The Perlman Music Program,” or call: 631/749-0740.)

True, the students at the PMP are exceptionally gifted, in fact talented beyond belief, chosen from around the world, by video auditions. True, the young musicians are a delight to hear. In fact, hearing them provides the kind of deeper musical experience I tried to describe in the first paragraph of this article. But why I write of them is more than all this. It has to do with the reason that in forty years of college teaching I tried each semester to teach students of all stages from freshmen (whom many professors want to avoid) to PhD students.  True, graduate students might ask challenging  questions. But the freshmen also challenge, with much more basic questions, which compel a going back to the root importances of matters.

Well, I did not teach music. For good reason. I have a passion for music, but not one bit of talent for making it. I can’t even sing on key. But if anyone asked me, why learn music, I would answer, to touch the soul, the human spirit. Your own and that of others. And great music takes the soul to heights beyond the heavens. The third movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony pierces our souls to their deepest cores, and the fourth rockets our souls with ever-accelerating power to spiritual ecstasy. Watch an audience as a performance of the Ninth Symphony ends. If the performance has been a good one, at first people seem overwhelmed, their eyes wide and lit up. Then, they begin to applaud, and in some seconds the applause rises to an increasing crescendo, the audience now on their feet. The expressions on people’s faces the opposite of everything that is dull, base and petty in us.

But people called musicians have to take us there.  Extraordinary musicians, who are far beyond just the ability to play an instrument well. They must have greatly talented souls and wed these souls to great music.  As is true of all marriages, it takes much time, love, personal growth and growth together to become one. So for years I’ve listened to the students at The Perlman Music Program in this spiritual odyssey of soul and talent. Their talent is astonishing, and their mastery of instruments amazing. They are in these senses advanced as can be.  But their souls are quite young.  (I love to hear them hoot and cheer each other after some have performed a piece, as they take turns playing and being in the audience. It’s only my square adult’s inhibitions that keep me from joining them, and not just applaud energetically, as do the rest of the people in the audience.) And these young talents are still forming as they work love’s labor to make their souls deeply kindred, as one, with the souls of the likes of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. Just as one of the joys of my life was to see my students’ intellects, emotions and sometimes their spirits, develop, so it has been a great part of my joyful experience of being in the audience at the Perlman Program for many summers.

We are, of course, the products of biological evolution. But I’m partial to the idea that our individual and collective evolution continues, through culture. And the best of our culture, e.g., great music, gives each of us the means to evolve a great human spirit.  However, culture needs support — it is not, like biology, a force of itself. Running a music school with in-residence faculty and students is expensive. So, come to the free concerts and be awed, but I urge all also to contribute to the PMP, by sending a check to: The Perlman Music Program. Attention Maureen M. Nash. 19 West 69th Street.  Suite 304. New York, N.Y. 10023.

RICHARD GAMBINO thanks Toby Perlman, the faculty at The Perlman Music Program, and all the others who bring this gift to us every summer.

East End Towns Weigh in on Copter Regulations

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Sag Harbor resident Susan Baran believes the Federal Aviation Administration’s draft plan aimed at regulating helicopter flight paths and curbing the chopper noise that has plagued East End residents for years does not go far enough.

In comments made to the FAA on the proposed “Schumer Rule,” Baran was among hundreds of Sag Harbor and Noyac residents who asked for the regulations to be expanded to include more than one mandatory route for helicopters, as well as higher altitude requirements for pilots.

“We have borne the brunt of the departing traffic for years,” said Baran of the Sag Harbor community. “Our house shakes, windows rattle and conversation is impossible.”

Residents were joined this week by the supervisors of four East End towns, state government leaders, and Congressman Tim Bishop in asking the “Schumer Rule” be expanded in order to aid residents on the East End as well as those further west on Long Island.

Under the proposed regulation, helicopter pilots would be required to follow a northern route one mile offshore over the Long Island Sound to Shoreham where they would split off either to Gabreski Airport in Westhampton, the Southampton Helipad, the Montauk Airport or the East Hampton Airport following voluntary routes established in 2007, some of which bring flights from East Hampton directly over Sag Harbor and Noyac.

Regulations also propose that pilots keep a minimum altitude of 2,500 feet.

Following the FAA’s announcement about the regulations in May, government and community leaders commended the agency for taking action to deal with helicopter noise on Long Island, but almost unanimously were outspoken that a single northern route would unfairly burden a few communities, demanding a southern route to the East Hampton Airport over the ocean and Georgica Pond.

This week, those recommendations became official with East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, Southold Supervisor Scott Russell and Shelter Island Supervisor James Dougherty, all of who submitted a joint response to the FAA asking the agency to support nine recommendations created by the East End Helicopter Noise Stakeholders Group.

Recommendations made by the stakeholders group have received the support of Congressman Tim Bishop, with New York State Senator Ken P. LaValle, New York State Assemblyman Marc Alessi and Suffolk County Legislator Edward Romaine making similar recommendations to the FAA.

According to Southampton Town Councilwoman Nancy Graboski, Senator Charles Schumer’s office was instrumental in setting up the stakeholders group, which included Kathy Cunningham, the chair of the East Hampton Airport Noise Abatement Advisory Committee, East Hampton Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione, Graboski, airport noise abatement advisory committee members Peter Wadsworth and Charles Ehren, and Shelter Island resident Don Kornrumpf, among others.

The stakeholders group asks the FAA to create two mandatory designated routes, one along the North Shore and one along the South Shore, with pilots required to fly one mile from shore on both routes.

“This is essential in order to accommodate the important southerly transition routes from [the East Hampton Airport] and other East End Airports and to equitably distribute the volume of helicopter traffic using the North and South Shore routes,” reads their statement.

Stakeholders recommend that helicopters flying the North Shore route to East Hampton be required to transition east from Plum Gut, and proceed south to Barcelona Neck and over Route 114 to the East Hampton Airport.

Both the East Hampton Airport and Gabreski Airport should also be empowered directly or through the FAA to manage the number of flights coming into their airports at one time, according to the recommendations, and should be allowed to establish curfews for when flights can take-off and land.

They also ask the FAA to establish procedures in coordination with area airports to monitor and enforce compliance with the proposed routes and that any helicopters maintain an altitude of 3,000 feet when flying over land while departing or arriving at any of the local airports. Pilots should also be mandated to follow noise abatement policies established by each airport, states the group.

“Since the FAA has found that the Long Island helicopter noise problem is unique, the present rulemaking must deal expressly with that problem as it relates to the East End Airports,” said Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne Holst in a letter to the FAA. “Current and recent trends indicate that the burden of helicopter traffic centering on [the East Hampton Airport] will increase substantially in future years, further exacerbating the noise problem for the East End.”

The Noyac Civic Council, as well as a number of Sag Harbor and Noyac residents, would also like to see the northern route require pilots to use Orient Point as a waypoint before flying to East Hampton and Montauk airports.

At a Bridgehampton Citizens Advisory Committee meeting on Monday, Graboski praised the FAA for making “a significant move” by beginning the process of regulating helicopter routes to the East End, but noted the regulations as proposed aid residents in western Suffolk County and Nassau County, more than they do the Twin Forks.

The proposals supported by the four supervisors, she said, would round out the regulations to protect residents on the East End as well.

“It was probably one of the more challenging things we have been involved in,” she said.

The deadline for comments to the FAA was June 25. To view comments submitted to the FAA, visit www.regulations.gov and use the keyword FAA-2010-0302.

Perlman Program Turns Children into Musicians

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By Andrew Rudansky

A teenage girl walked out to center stage with a violin in her hand and took an awkward bow before placing her instrument up to her chin and began to play. The audience, classical music lovers numbering in the hundreds, sat in silent approval as she moved through the first movement and onto the second.

There were no beads of sweat, nor any sign of nervousness; just a passionate professionalism, seen in musical geniuses, as she swayed in time with the movement of her violin bow.

This young musician and others like her showcased their talents this past weekend, when The Perlman Music Program Summer Music School kicked off their summer concert series Works in Progress at their beachfront Shelter Island campus. The performers, all students between the ages of 12 and 18, played classical string arrangements on both days.

The Perlman Music Program was created in 1993 by Toby Perlman, with the help of her husband, famed violinist and composer Itzhak Perlman. They are entering their eleventh year at their current Shelter Island campus and the couple said the program and its summer music school provide exceptionally talented children with the opportunity to train with world class musicians.

“This is probably one of the most competitive music programs in the world to get into…We can have 100 violin applicants, and only two are issued spots,” said Toby in an interview last week.

When listening to the music played by these select few, you can forget they are children up there. They are not professional musicians but students at a summer school for musicians. That is something that the Perlmans know all to well.

“We try to create a nurturing environment that gives permission to each child to be their best and real self,” Toby said, “that sounds corny, but a lot of corny things sound corny because there is a lot of truth in them.” Both she and her husband stressed that, despite their musical abilities, students needed to treated like any other child and not subjected to the rigors of professional musicianship.

The concerts, which are all open to the public, provide an opportunity for the students to exhibit their musical skills in a relaxed environment, without the stress associated with a more formal concert.

“We call this ‘Works in Progress,’ which implies that not everything is going to be perfect. This is not a performance, this is just something for them to try out in front of people,” said Itzhak.

Despite this modesty, the performances are every bit as professional as one would expect coming from the Perlman Music Program.

During the Saturday, June 19, concert the six students performed classical arrangements by William Walton, Francis Poulenc, Sir Edward William Elgar, Cesar Franck and Hungarian composer Bela Bartok. Each was performed with such skill and passion that the audience was always brought to rapturous applause.

The performers all played with the authority, emotion and technique of musicians far advanced in age and study. During the performance, many members of the audience closed their eyes to more fully appreciate the quality of the music being performed.

All of the students of the Summer Music School who performed at the concert signed up to play. Itzhak said, “We see these kids and they are absolutely amazing… there is no pressure here at all, these students are playing because they wanted to.”

The concert also helps the students ease into the practice of performing live, “If you try things out in a room, you’re not going to get nervous,” said Itzhak, “but you try out something in front of three, four  hundred people and the adrenaline starts to go.”

“Preparation for a big stage is being familiar with getting nervous,” he added, expressing the need for the students to know their own nerves and how it feels to perform in front of a large audience. By the looks and sounds of the performances so far, the students have no problems with nerves.

“I think it’s a good idea to work with students on performing in front of a crowd,” said Toby.

Itzhak called the 35 students currently enrolled in the school “the future of classical music.”

It’s easy to forget that the performers on stage are just kids, some as young as 12 years old. “I know it sounds as if they are all professionals, but they are not. And little kids need a safe place to make a mistake,” said Toby.

How young the students are becomes apparent after the show, when the dignified virtuosos that once occupied the stage change back into happy, laughing teenagers. Running around and chatting like any other middle or high school student.

The transformation from child to musician and then back to child is odd to see at first; but it really speaks volumes about the Perlman Music Program, both in its musical education and, as it says in the summer music school’s mission statement, its dedication to “the development of the whole person.”

“They work very hard but there is a lot of positive reinforcement,” said Toby, “I know [the students] have only been together for a few days, but you can already sense the friendliness the warmness, how supportive they are to one another.” This group of students will spend an intensive six and a half weeks together, practicing their craft, but also socializing as a member of a new family.

Toby believes that this socialization and sense of family can help the young musicians not only grow their musical ability but there ability as humans as well.

“Once you are here you are a member of the family and they get support from everyone.”  

The next Works in Progress concert, featuring another six performances by the students will be held on Friday, June 25, 7:30 p.m., at The Perlman Music Program Campus located on 73 Shore Road, Shelter Island. A concert, featuring The Perlman Music Program faculty, will be held on the following day, June 26, 7 p.m. at the same location.

A special concert will be held at Sag Harbor’s Old Whalers Church on Friday, August 13.

Sag Harbor Mourns Another Fallen Serviceman

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By Andrew Rudansky

U.S. Army 1st Lieutenant Joseph J. Theinert was killed by an improvised explosive device last Friday, June 4, 2010 while serving with the 10th mountain division in Afghanistan. He was 24 years old at the time. An East End native who divided his time between Shelter Island and Sag Harbor,  1st Lt. Theinert was mourned by both communities.

1st Lt. Theinert had been in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, stationed just south of the city of Kandahar for only one month when his dismounted patrol came under enemy fire. According to his commanding officer,  1st Lt. Theinert and his men were forced into an area that was known to have IEDs. He disabled one of the IEDs and was working on disabling a second when the device was triggered. Before the device exploded Lt. Theinert was able to warn the men under his command to get back, saving their lives.

“We live in a very self-centered society and he is my example of a selfless person,” said  1st Lt. Theinert’s mother, Chrystyna Kestler. Kestler described her son as “steadfast…a patriotic child who worked very hard to get where he got in life.”

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Christine M. Cava,  1st Lt. Theinert’s sister-in-law called him “a man who lived out his dreams of serving his country and gave his life to keep those closest to him safe.”

James Theinert,  1st Lt. Theinert’s father, a Sag Harbor resident, was the first family member to be notified of his son’s death at 9 p.m. on Friday, June 4. He did not wish to comment on his son’s death.

1st Lt. Theinert attended Shelter Island High School, where he ran for the Pierson-Shelter Island Cross country team and was co-captain and midfielder for the Ross Ravens Lacrosse team, which also included students from Pierson and Shelter Island. Lacrose coach Joe Silvey said, “He was a tremendous player. He was the heart and soul of a young club.” Silvey said that he saw leadership skills in  1st Lt. Theinert before he joined the military.

“He was a real leader, and he did it mostly through example: through hustle and effort,” said Silvey.

1st Lt. Theinert was remembered as much for his humor as his dedication. Kestler described her son as a master of the one liner.

“When Joey said something it was either going to be shape up or something that was so funny you would remember it for days,” she said.

Kestler said her son had wanted to be in the military from an early age, first bringing up the subject when he was as young as six years old. She remembers Joseph and her other sons playing army games in the back yard.

After graduating high school in 2006, Theinert enrolled in the Valley Forge Military College, and then SUNY Albany where he received his bachelor’s degree. That same year he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant through the Siena College Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program.

“Joey was one of those quiet, steady people,” Kestler said.

While still in high school, he started a photo album which he entitled, "My Life by Joseph Theinert." The small green book included photos of  him with his friends and family. Kestler said that neither she nor anyone else in the family had ever seen the album before. 
Among the quotes written by Theinert were the words, “The people in this book is why I choose to fight. It is for them that I am willing to lay down my life.” 
In honor of  1st Lt. Theinert’s sacrifice Congressman Tim Bishop entered a statement into the official record of 111th Congress: “I also join these closely-knit Peconic Bay communities in mourning the loss of a young citizen of enormous potential.”  

“I am so sad and shattered that my son is dead…but on the other hand I was so lucky to have such a gift like Joseph,” said Kestler.

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On Wednesday, June 9, at 4:45 p.m. the procession for fallen hero 1st Lieutenant Joseph Theinert slowly passed by rows of mourners on Main Street, Sag Harbor. The convoy had traveled to Sag Harbor from Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach. Once on Main Street the convoy passed over the Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge, named after the Sag Harbor Marine who was killed in Iraq two years ago. From there they traveled to the South Ferry and onto Shelter Island. Once on Shelter Island the procession made its way to its final stop, Our Lady of the Isle Catholic Church.

The wake will be at the church on Thursday, June 10 from 2 to 9 p.m. The funeral will take place the following day on Friday, June 11 at the Shelter Island School with a reception after the funeral on the grounds of the American Legion Hall. Finally  1st Lt. Theinert will be interred at Our Lady of the Isle Catholic Cemetery.

“I don’t want anyone to forget Joey and his sacrifice but also I don’t want people to forget about the soldiers still there,” said Kestler.

In honor of  1st Lt. Theinert the Southern Cross of the Shelter Island Ferry will be renamed the  1st Lt. Joseph Theinert.

On the honors and outpouring of support for her fallen son, Kestler said, “Joey is the one who is going to be missed, not the fallen hero 1st Lieutenant Joseph Theinert.”

Memorial Day

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Less than two weeks ago, on a brilliant and blue Monday morning, Sag Harbor was awash in red, white and blue as residents lined Main Street in this small village to honor veterans both living and deceased in the annual Memorial Day parade.

Yesterday, Sag Harbor again looked ready for a parade, decked out as it was in its patriotic finery. But this time around, the weather was threatening and the Community Band wasn’t playing. The streets were still lined though —fire and police personnel stood at attention in dress uniforms while school children and adults waited with small American flags and hands over hearts to pay tribute to the East End’s latest casualty in the 21st century’s war on terror — 24-year old U.S. Army 1st Lieutenant  Joseph J. Theinert.

Theinert, a graduate of Shelter Island High School, was killed last Friday near Kandahar, Afghanistan while attempting to disable an IED. He had strong ties to Sag Harbor — his father lives here and before going off to college, Theinert played on a number of local sports teams where he was much loved and admired by friends and coaches alike.

It feels unreal that this small community has had to bury its second war casualty in as many years. In April 2008, we gathered on Main Street to welcome home fallen Sag Harbor Marine Jordan Haerter, who at the age of 19, was killed in Ramadi, Iraq.

As we go to press, we are struck by the eerie similarities in these tragic losses — both Jordan and Joseph were in their respective war zones for an incredibly short period of time —  just a month or so — before being killed. And in the act of dying, both men saved the lives of others. Jordan did so by preventing a suicide truck bomber from reaching a larger group of men beyond his position (he was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross), and Joseph, by warning others to step back as he worked to disarm the IED that ultimately took his life.

No matter your position on this country’s involvement in the current conflicts, it was impossible to stand on Main Street yesterday afternoon and watch the black hearse with Theinert’s body go by without feeling a truly profound sense of loss. For this tight knit community, Jordan Haerter’s death made the notion of far off war a reality. Joseph Theinert’s death has made it incomprehensible.

God bless the Theinert family.

Crackin’ The Rock: Running the Shelter Island 10K


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By John Bayles

This year an expected 2,000 runners will descend on Shelter Island for the 31st annual Shelter Island 10K. And according to race director Mary Ellen Adipietro, the experience for many of them begins as soon as they board the South Ferry in North Haven.

“What sets [the race] apart is getting on the ferry and coming over to the island,” said Adipietro. “People love that and it really sets the tone for the entire flavor of the race.”

Flavor, and more specifically community, has been at the heart of the Shelter Island 10K ever since its inaugural running in 1981. Shelter Island is a runner’s island said Adipietro and the community is a running community. There are almost as many volunteers as there are runners, and many of them are local kids who host pre and post race parties, including a pasta party as soon as runners step off the ferry. They run the showers and provide music on the school’s soccer fields, where the race begins and ends. It is less your typical 10K race and more a day-long festival, with the race serving as the focal point.

There are, for any 10K, essentially two types of runners: those who run for time and those who run to finish. One unique aspect of the Shelter Island 10K, according to race co-founder Cliff Clark, is that world-class Olympic runners are running side by side with local runners who are not so much concerned with winning as they are with enjoying themselves.

“We have a nice mix, of being a race for the people — for folks who like to come out and support a charity and run for fun,” said Clark. “And also, we’re a race that brings in world class athletes.”

Case in point, last year for the race’s 30th anniversary Bill Rogers, former American record holder in the marathon who is best known for his victories in the Boston Marathon and the New York City Marathon in the late 1970s, was a celebrity guest runner.

“It’s the rank and file, the regular runners, getting an opportunity to rub shoulders with runners they’ve only read about,” said Clark.

The course itself has been ranked among the top ten most beautiful courses in the country by Runner’s World Magazine, with areas of the course that allow runners to peer over Dering Harbor, look out at the Orient Point Lighthouse and run through one of the most exclusive private communities in the country.

And in terms of the race itself, it is consistently ranked in the top 75 races in America. Shelter Island local Janelle Kraus knows the course by heart, having run the race ten times since she was a cross-country runner at Shelter Island High School with Clark as her coach. Kraus went on to become the only local female runner to finish in the top three, when in 2002 she finished second with a time of 35:33.

The terrain / training

“There are hills that can make the course challenging,” said Kraus. “That’s only one part of the course. Someone shouldn’t say they shouldn’t do the race because of the hills – the hills are more of a challenge than a reason not to do it.”

In terms of training, she said traveling to the island is not going to give you much of an advantage, though it is nice to be familiar with the loop. Kraus said just being able complete the distance, 6.2 miles, is the key. She said an average runner might want to begin in late February or early March by getting out of the door four or five days a week and running a half mile, or whatever is comfortable.

“Listen to your body, but don’t be afraid to challenge yourself,” she said.

After a week or so, try and push it up a notch, maybe running a full mile and then slowly increasing your distance each week.

Jessica Bellofatto, from Sag Harbor, has run the race six times and has only recently become “a serious runner.” She agreed with Kraus and said there is plenty of time for a casual runner to train between now and June, when the race is held. She said it’s all about pacing yourself, and starting out small, maybe running for five minutes a day and then gradually pushing yourself to increase your time and distance.

“I was just a very casual runner,” said Bellofatto. “A 5K was no issue, but a 10K was a big deal for me. It was hard, really hard, but you can pace yourself, and know that you can always walk. When you do start getting a little more serious about it, your body adapts and then six miles is nothing.”

But for Bellofatto, the race will always be about more than just running.

“Early on [in the race] you pass by St. Mary’s Church and they’re ringing the church bells,” she said, “The first time I thought it was a coincidence, but then I realized they were doing it for the race.”

Then there’s the “great Gatsby” aspect of the race that Bellofatto loves as well.

“You’re passing all of these mansions on the water and people are out on their lawns, dressed in all white sipping their champagne. There’s a real party atmosphere.”


Janelle Kraus’ Make or Break Points for the Shelter Island 10K

  1. The course begins on Highway 114 and even before the one-mile mark, runners are presented with the first significant hill, running past St. Mary’s Church.
  2. Between the second and third mile mark, runners find themselves on a windy stretch of road surrounded by trees on both sides. Here, visibility is low and the real runners are separated from the fun runners.
  3. Approaching the four-mile mark, runners see the shoreline homes on their left and Dering Harbor on their right. Here, your body is telling you to shut down, but you are only two miles from the finish line and you have to push yourself.
  4. There’s a long, deceiving uphill stretch that takes runners past the old Dering Harbor Inn, before the final turn back on to Highway 114. Here is the five-mile mark and all moves are made and it is very difficult for positions to change.

The 31st running of the Shelter Island 10 K will take place on Saturday, June 19th 2010 at 5:30 p.m.

For more information and to register for this year’s race, contact Mary Ellen Adipietro at director@shelterislandrun.com or 631-749-RUNS.