03/12/14 4:30pm
REPORTER FILE PHOTO Then Dory restaurant and bar proprietor Richard Edwards (center) was one of many Island residents who aired complaints at a March 1984 Town Board meeting about what some said was overly aggressive actions by police during DWI stops. Some called for appointment of a civilian police commissioner instead of the Town Board handling that role.

Then Dory restaurant and bar proprietor Richard Edwards (center) was one of many Island residents who aired complaints at a March 1984 Town Board meeting about what some said was overly aggressive actions by police during DWI stops.

Clark wins first indoor track meet
Cliff Clark — yes, that Cliff Clark, now president of South Ferry — then a Harding College sophomore and cross-country whiz, won a two-mile race, reeling off a 9:53 effort. It was Mr. Clark’s first indoor track competition. (more…)

10/29/13 12:22pm

FILE PHOTO | This map shows both the Shelter Island and North Haven landings used by South Ferry. On the bottom is the North Haven landing and the beach to the west where Suffolk County Emergency Services officers detonated a small explosive device Monday.

Members of the Suffolk County Emergency Services detonated a small explosive  yesterday afternoon west of the South Ferry landing in North Haven.

Known as a Tovex stick, typically used in collapsing rock at jetties, the explosive was found on the beach shortly after 3:30 p.m.

“It’s nothing that would have exploded without being detonated,” South Ferry President Cliff Clark said.

The water-gel explosive is typically used rather than dynamite because it’s less toxic and is safer to transport and store.

Mr. Clark said he was told by an county police official Sunday that it might have been part of a package of sticks used to collapse rocks at a jetty in the Peconic Bay area. It likely floated and landed in debris on the beach at North Haven. Ferry staff are trained to clear such debris to avoid it floating out and impeding boat traffic. That’s what Captain John Westervelt was doing when he spied the explosive that was about 2 inches in diameter and resembled dynamite.

Mr. Clark called Shelter Island Police who in turn brought in the county’s bomb squad. Officers dug a deep hole in the sand and buried the device before detonating it, Mr. Clark said.

Officials told Mr. Clark that anyone who finds such an item should call police so the device can be properly detonated. Ferry traffic had to be stopped briefly, but there was no indication that the Tovex stick was meant to damage anything other than the purpose for which it’s designed, Mr. Clark was told.

Given the amount of work that occurs around Shelter Island, it’s plausible it could have floated free from a site where it was being professionally used, he said.

“Everybody did what they’re trained to do,” Mr. Clark said.

06/21/13 8:00am


From my little perch on the 4th tee at Gardiner’s Bay Country Club, I’ve watched all 34 of the 10K races running past. You see, I was a golf pro and Saturday was always our busiest day of the week. At that time in my life, my biggest worry about the event was getting my members home before the roads closed.

Now retired, I finally had time to see what’s happening the entire day of the race. Someone mentioned that a good story would be to follow the race director, Mary Ellen Adipietro, around on the day of the race. Good idea even if this happened to be the third day of the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club.

I asked Mary Ellen’s permission to follow her all day. Now I realize she must still be laughing about me trying to follow her around. Although I learned a lot and truly enjoyed my day, it could have been the worst thing I ever said “yes” to in my life.

There was no way I could keep up with her pace and that doesn’t include the five miles she ran that morning before I joined her. As far as food, the only thing she ate all day was some kind of unappetizing dry bran flakes in a Ziploc in her overcrowded car. Not for me — eating is one of my joys. When Mary Ellen wasn’t looking, I was grabbing sandwiches, coffee and dessert.

With the amount of bases she touches in one day, next year someone should be appointed to do just what I did this year. I found out that just about everything that happens on the day of the race goes through her. Her phone never stops and she has to carry a phone charger around all the time.

Although she has many leaders in her volunteer group, I discovered her basic core group was James Eklund, Chuck Kraus and Cliff Clark. I had a chance to see all the leaders together in her final meeting at 11:30 a.m. in the gym, making sure everyone was on the same page.
In all, we counted about 150 volunteers who had to know their exact jobs and times. I couldn’t get over the fact that so many people would come together and volunteer their time. After looking at the beneficiaries of the race, I started to understand.

I observed her handling crisis after crisis with a polite and well-thought-out response for each. I admired how she laughed off the things that aggravated her and made sure she did not upset anyone.

The hub of all activity was the school gym. This was the spot where about 1,500 runners had to report to. They had to register and pick up their goody bags and enter a free raffle.

Ready for a list of things Mary Ellen had to contend with? It’s a partial list because of space, but she was involved in working with the helpers in the gym, police, medical crew, firemen, water stations, parking, trash, bathrooms, showers, set up and clean up, food, clocks, finish line, shuttle buses, speakers, music, radio broadcasts, kids run, stretching clinic, announcing, awards ceremony and the postrace party. And like I said, this just scrapes the surface.

Her husband, Dr. Frank Adipietro, the voice of the 10K, was constantly in touch with his wife regarding the next phase. Dr. Frank must have been vaccinated with a phonograph needle back in the ‘60s. He kept the folks informed as to everything going on for hours as well as interviewing different interesting people. He was totally prepared and did a superb job all day.

Somehow, the two celebrities — Joan Benoit Samuelson and Bill Rodgers, the very best in the world of running — were also Mary Ellen’s responsibility. What an honor it was to have them on Shelter Island both running and talking to our youth. I couldn’t help but compare their presence to my sport, golf. The equivalent would be having a local golf tournament and both Annika Sorenstam and Jack Nicklaus showed up to play and talk to our people. Mary Ellen introduced me to everyone, but meeting Bill and Joan, was most definitely my day’s highlight.

Unfortunately, after describing her day, I will scare anyone from ever taking on this position. After 12 hours of not sitting down, not even to eat the food and drink I grubbed, I left Mary Ellen. It was 9:30 p.m. and she was at the post race party at SALT restaurant. You couldn’t miss her because she was the first person you would see when you arrived and she was still smiling, laughing and greeting runners. What a fantastic lady.

Thank you for a great day and if you are looking for a race director for next year, don’t call me. Please!

06/18/13 11:43am

PETER REICH PHOTO | When this dredging at Shell Beach in October 2012 took place, South Ferry president Cliff Clark was hoping the equipment would move to the channel between Shelter Island and North Haven, but now he’s looking to October 2014 and hoping no emergency will develop in the interim.

A recent announcement from State Senator Kenneth LaValle that $750,000 would be flowing to South Ferry is not quite the case, although the ferry service connecting Shelter Island with North Haven will benefit from what the money will buy.

The state money and funds from Suffolk County will combine to pay for dredging around ferry slips — a need previously identified by South Ferry president Cliff Clark — that has become more critical since Superstorm Sandy struck the area last October.

“We are elated” that money is now allocated for the work, Mr. Clark said, crediting both Mr. LaValle and Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. with helping to bring home the state money for the project. But the check won’t be coming to South Ferry, Mr. Clark said. It will go to the company hired to do the dredging.

It now looks like the project on the books back in October 2012 when dredging equipment was in the area addressing shoaling in the Shell Beach area, will happen in October 2014, Mr. Clark said.

He’s been lobbying for dredging of the channel between Shelter Island and North Haven for years, concerned that shoaling eventually could result in grounding boats. But while the need was more critical on the North Haven side in the past, but post-Sandy, sand from the embankment outside the Shelter Island office has shoaled into the slips on this side of the channel, posing critical concerns.

“We’re getting close to a problem,” Mr. Clark said, noting he doesn’t want to face a time when the shoaling would result in an inability to get boats into the ferry slips in an emergency.

“We’re very optimistic” now that the money is in place, that the dredging will take place in October 2014, he said.

05/21/13 2:59pm


A fast acting crew aboard a South Ferry boat Sunday afternoon averted a crisis when a vehicle belonging to Josh Horton of Horton Dredge & Dock of Greenport caught fire about 2:30 p.m.

The ferry was loading in North Haven when Eric Curko, who is a new South Ferry captain just completing his training, smelled smoke. He called Captain Scott Overstreet, who was directing traffic onto the ferry and the two men quickly began backing vehicles off the ferry. They then grabbed fire extinguishers and put out the fire, according to South Ferry CEO Cliff Clark. Captain Mike Scheibel was in charge of the boat at the time, Mr. Clark said.

The Sag Harbor Fire Department arrived on site, but by the time they got there, they just needed to check out the truck to confirm that the fire was out, Mr. Clark said.

Because of the quick response by the crew members, there were no injuries and no damage to the boat, Mr. Clark said.

He noted that crews on both South and North ferries are well trained in how to respond to such emergencies.

While the boats are certified by the United States Coast Guard, the ferry services have no control over the condition of the vehicles they take aboard, Mr. Clark said. He said his brother, Bill Clark, who was with the United States Coast Guard for 30 years, oversees the training function for his crew members while Captain Mike Mundy, a former member of the Shelter Island Fire Department, is South Ferry’s training officer.

“It was a textbook operation by the crew,” Mr. Clark said.

Since he got involved with the family company back in 1976, he said there have been a handful of fires, all contained quickly.

Mr. Horton wasn’t available for comment.