Featured Story
03/04/14 5:00pm
The Indians held no celebration after the game Tuesday. Instead, they were all business, briefly posing for a picture before turning their attentions to Saturday's regional final. (Credit: Grant Parpan).

The Indians held no celebration after the game Tuesday. Instead, they were all business, briefly posing for a picture before turning their attentions to Saturday’s regional final. (Credit: Grant Parpan).

Up two flights of stairs in an arena that seats more than 4,300, there was the Shelter Island boys basketball team Tuesday, huddled up outside its locker room.

A team with just nine players in uniform, from a school that had never before won a Suffolk County Championship, the realization was just setting in for the Indians that they are now one win away from the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s biggest stage.

“We’re 32 minutes from Glens Falls,” shouted assistant coach Jim Colligan. “Thirty-two minutes.”

The bus ride to get to the game in White Plains was longer than any before. The Westchester County Center was a larger venue than they’d seen in the past. And yet the Indians came out as strong as ever, posting a 63-35 blowout win over Section I champion Clark Academy of Dobbs Ferry, New York, in the Class D regional semifinals.  (more…)

03/22/13 12:00pm


BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO | Hurricane Sandy left many Bridge Street businesses —and others Island-wide — severely damaged. Time is running out to get help from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Shelter Island business owners and others affected by Hurricane Sandy have just one week left to secure a disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The deadline to apply for 30-year loans of up to $2 million is March 29, SBA officials said.

“The loans can serve as bridge money for business owners fighting it out with their insurance companies,” said SBA spokesman John Oliver Frederick.

The loans are not limited to people whose businesses suffered physical damage. Economic injury loans are available to those who experienced a decline in business as a direct result of the storm. Interest rates on the loans for small businesses are between 4 and 6 percent — and as low as 3 percent for nonprofits.

The SBA also offers home disaster loans of up to $200,000 for homeowners or renters who had to repair or replace disaster-damaged real estate or personal property. Interest rates on the home disaster loans range from 1.7 to 3.4 percent.

More than $1.2 billion in federal disaster assistance was approved for Sandy victims in New York, including $61 million dedicated for Suffolk County, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Of the seven counties receiving disaster aid, Suffolk was awarded the fifth most. Nassau County topped the list at $269 million, FEMA officials said.

Island residents and business owners interested in applying for a loan can do so online at sba.gov.

For more information call 800-659-2955. Business recovery centers have been set up at Islip Town Hall and Copiague Public Library, where applicants can meet with an SBA representative.

02/27/13 12:25pm

Southold Police issued a Missing Person poster Wednesday with details on 16-year-old Ashley Murray of Peconic.

The search for a Peconic teen missing since Monday went viral this week, as local appeals to find her were shared over social networking sites across the country and beyond.

Ashley Murray, 16, was last seen at 8:30 a.m., the time she normally leaves her home on Spring Lane to catch the school bus.

She never arrived at school.

“You just keep hoping that the game is up and she’ll come walking through the door,” her mother, Charlotte, said in an interview Tuesday afternoon.

[Previous Coverage: Missing teen left suicide note, mom says]

Ms. Murray learned of her daughter’s disappearance after receiving a call from school officials who told her social workers got word from students who had received texts from Ashley that said she would kill herself. Her mom later found a note from her daughter, which she called a “suicide note,” saying it made reference to a “watery grave.”

“This was all thought out and planned the night before,” Ms. Murray said.

Southold Police initially employed a marine patrol, its canine unit and a Suffolk County Police helicopter to perform a physical search Monday morning, but later focused their investigation on the possibility that she may have left the area. They then ended the active local search Monday afternoon and began to concentrate on examining phone and computer records, and interviewing close friends and family, police said.

Police did not release an official missing person report until Wednesday morning, more than 50 hours after Ashley’s disappearance. Law enforcement officials said Ashley’s case does not fit criteria for an “Amber Alert,” since she is not believed to have been abducted.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Ashley Murray (above) should contact Southold Police at 765-2600.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Ashley Murray (above) should contact Southold Police at 765-2600.

That did not stop local residents from conducting their own searches and using social media to reach thousands of concerned web surfers from across the country.

A missing poster created Tuesday night by the Facebook page “Missing,” which has a reach of about 125,000 Facebook users, was already shared by more than 14,000 people the following morning, with an additional 1,200 people “liking” the poster and another 1,000 users commenting.

“Shared in Ottawa, Ontario Canada,” one user wrote.

“I encourage everyone to pray for this young girl,” said another commenter.

Locally, friends of Ashley created a Facebook page called “Ashley Come Home,” which was already followed by more than 1,000 Facebook users just hours after its creation. Users shared their photos of Ashley and the page, where they made desperate pleas for their friend to return safely.

“If anyone knows ANYTHING that could help lead to Ashley’s safe return please tell someone as soon as possible! We need to know as much as we can so we can find this beautiful young lady!” the moderator of the page wrote.

Many of her classmates posted that they were out searching locally for their friend.

Ashley is 5-foot 4-inches and 140 pounds with reddish-brown hair, her mother said. She was last seen wearing red sweatpants “four sizes too big,” black boots and a zip-up sweatshirt with a hood, Charlotte Murray said. Police added that she has a scar on her right wrist and wears hearing aids in both ears.

“She didn’t even leave with a winter coat,” her mom said, and she left behind medication she must take for anemia.

Ashley’s mom also said her daughter has never run away from home before.

“I’d like for her to come home,” Ms. Murray said, adding that she hadn’t slept since her daughter went missing Monday morning.

Ms. Murray said her daughter’s phone is turned off or not working.

Southold Superintendent David Gamberg said the district has been cooperating with the Southold Police Department since the investigation began Monday.

“We have deep, deep concerns about her whereabouts and her safety,” Mr. Gamberg said. “Anything and everything we can do we will do.”

Anyone with information should contact Southold Police at (631) 765-2600. Information will remain confidential.



02/13/13 7:55am

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Owner Dave Schiavone in the shed where the ice melt beet mixture is bagged.

Always a barrel of energy, Dave Schiavoni was particularly hyperactive last Thursday afternoon preparing his organic ice melting business for the demand ahead of an impending blizzard.

As he walked his East End Organics property on West Main Street in Riverhead, he pointed down to the ground and warned a reporter to watch his step. Then he paused for a quick deadpan.

“Want a cup of coffee?” he joked, indicating the brown liquid puddle on the ground.

Welcome to the world of manufacturing beet juice ice melters, a relatively new trend in the business that could change the game for municipalities and homeowners looking for an alternative to traditional rock salts.

The beet juice patent was developed in 2005 by a beet farmer in Illinois after he learned beet juice doesn’t freeze when temperatures fall below freezing, even below 0 degrees. Instead of discarding his surplus brown beets, the farmer began using his leftovers to develop the juice.

Mr. Schiavoni, the exclusive retailer of beet juice ice melts in the Northeast, receives the juice by the truckload and mixes it with rock salt or brine at his Riverhead yard. This has enabled him to diversify his existing concrete business for the winter season, when work is slow, and has even helped him keep his employees working year-round.

He sells both a liquid spray-on product and a product similar to the traditional rock salt you might buy in the store. The key difference is that instead of chloride accelerants such as magnesium, calcium or potassium, Mr. Schiavoni’s product uses all-natural beet juice, which is less corrosive and thus safer for the environment.

It’s a “green product,” the Water Mill resident says.

“You also don’t have to use as much,” he added. “You put down half as much of this as you would the other stuff.”
Mr. Schiavoni has donated his product to the East End towns and encouraged them to use it in place of their usual melters. The Town of Shelter Island has gone back for more.

“Because we’re in a salt source aquifer we have to be conscious of the material we put down,” said Shelter Island Highway Superintendent Jay Card Jr. “The beet juice seems to counteract the salt.”

Shelter Island has been using the liquid product, which sprays from machines Mr. Schiavoni developed. A plastic tank that rests on the bed of a truck connects to a thin plastic sprayer that hangs below the back bumper. The machine is powered through a dashboard cigarette lighter.

Mr. Card says they have also used backpack sprayers, which Mr. Schiavoni recommends along with a smaller tank that can be used on standard pickup trucks to spray driveways and commercial parking lots.

He said his crews have been spraying the beet juice product in the aftermath of this weekend’s blizzard.

“It definitely has some benefit,” he said. “Because it’s liquid, it washes right away.”

Even Shelter Island, which has used more of the beet juice melt than other towns on the East End since Mr. Schiavoni’s donations last year, is still using it only on a test basis. In order for the product to be used exclusively over traditional rock salts, Mr. Card said the town would have to commit to purchasing several expensive pieces of equipment. Because the weight of the salt-mixed product is not compatible with bulk shipment by ferry, the town would have to purchase the beet juice in bulk and mix it with salt on the island.

The New York State Thruway authority has begun to use beet juice products to pre-treat its roadways and Mr. Schiavoni said he put in a bid just last week to have the authority purchase 50,000 gallons of his product.

But it’s not just municipalities he’s trying to lure as customers. He’s done a significant number of media interviews in the past year to encourage area residents to use his ice melt. He sells 50-pound bags of the beet juice rock salt for $10 apiece; 270 gallons of his liquid melt retails for $399 plus a $250 deposit to rent the pickup truck tank and sprayer.

Mr. Schiavoni says that because homeowners and business people would not have to apply as much of the beet juice products to their properties as they would traditional rock salt, they would see a savings.

And because it doesn’t use chloride accelerants, it is more pet-friendly.

Whether its homeowners or municipalities, he said people shouldn’t fear the brown coloring.

“Regular rock salt leaves a white stain, this is brown,” he said. “Which is worse? I don’t know.”