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12/09/17 3:00pm


Peter J. Ritzler, who always preferred to be called Pete, Dad or Grandpa, died November 17, 2017 at Sebastian River Medical Center in Sebastian, Florida. He was 72. (more…)

09/05/12 12:00pm

PETER BOODY PHOTO | Supervisor Jim Dougherty accepted a plaque in appreciation of town support from Wounded Warrior Project event coordinator Matt Rohde, who planned the group’s Shelter Island Spur Ride that took place on Sunday, September 2.

The organizer of the Shelter Island Wounded Warrior Spur Ride that was held on Shelter Island Sunday to raise funds for the Lt. Joseph F. Theinert Memorial Foundation presented a plaque to the Town Board at its meeting on Tuesday, thanking the town for its support for the event.

Nearly 150 people took part in the across Shelter Island Sunday morning. At the start, Mr. Rohde reminded the crowd who they were honoring.

“We’re here today because Joey’s not,” Mr. Rohde said. “Just remember Joe. That’s all we ask.”

First Lt. Theinert was killed in June 2010 by an improvised explosive device while on patrol in Afghanistan and was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart for his sacrifice. He was 24 years old.

The fundraising event Sunday included local cyclists and veterans from tours in Iraq and Afghanistan who rode with the Wounded Warriors project, which helps injured service members transition into civilian life.

Guest speakers such as Supervisor Jim Dougherty and U.S. Olympic sailor and Shelter Island native Amanda Clark attended the event and thanked the veterans in the crowd for their service.

“I had an opportunity to represent us,” Ms. Clark said to the Wounded Warriors. “But it’s nothing like the way you guys represent us.”

Riders took one of two routes on the ride, a 12-mile loop or the 25-mile journey. Along the way, volunteers offered water bottles, energy bars and bananas to the cyclists and veterans.

“I’m glad to see people pay attention to these fellas,” said James Pete Jepson, a Vietnam veteran and motorcycle rider with the Patriot Guard who helped escort the Wounded Warriors during the ride. “God bless them.”

Army Sgt. Angel Vazquez and Sgt. William Santos, who both served in Iraq, said they were happy to see the large turnout for the event.

“It’s been really great,” Sgt. Vazquez said at the rest station halfway through the ride. “I’m happy but really tired.”

08/14/12 6:11pm

PB PHOTO | The former Marine helicopter slated to land on Shelter Island as part of the Wounded Warrior Project Spur Ride.

There won’t be a helicopter landing at Fiske Field on September 2 when the Wounded Warrior Spur Ride takes place on Shelter Island. Instead, the Vietnam-era former Marine helicopter, a Sikorski UH-34 Stinger from the Freedoms Flying Memorial, will be landing at Klenawicus airstrip. Shuttles will be provided to take people back and forth from the American Legion Hall, the center of activities during the event planned to benefit the Joseph J. Theinert Memorial Fund Inc.

The decision came Tuesday at the Town Board work session not from the board, but Matt Rohde, who represented the organizers of the event. Despite his initial plea for a one-time landing to kick off the Spur Ride that he said he hopes will become an annual event, he ultimately bowed to concerns from some about noise and safety.

Opposition came last week from Bill Banks and Mary Wilson, the town’s building inspector and permit administrator, who spoke from the audience with a plea to give them and their neighbors on Bateman Road some relief from what has been a steady stream of events at Fiske Field.

“We love these people,” Ms. Wilson said last week, referring to the Theinert Fund organizers who raise money to help wounded veterans in honor of First Lieutenant Joseph Theinert, a Shelter Islander who died in Afghanistan last year trying to dismantle explosive devices that threatened his troops. But the constant barrage of events is disturbing to them and their neighbors, she said.

What, perhaps, turned Mr. Rohde’s plea for Fiske Field around was Supervisor Jim Dougherty saying that he had spoken with Chrystyna Kestler, Joey’s mother, who said she would help to arrange shuttle service to the Klenawicus airstrip. Ms. Kestler, whose husband, Dr. Frank Kestler is about to deploy to Afghanistan, couldn’t be at the meeting because the family was making arrangements pertinent to Dr. Kestler’s leaving. But Ms. Kestler asked Mr. Dougherty to convey her message to the Town Board.

With Mr. Rohde’s agreement to use the airstrip, the supervisor promised, “We’ll bend over backwards; we’ll give it a real go” to work out the shuttle service.
For the full story, see Thursday’s Reporter.

08/07/12 6:28pm

COURTESY PHOTO | A Sikorsky UH-34 helicopter like the one the Joseph Theinert Foundation wants to land and display at Fiske Field on Sept. 2.

Two neighbors objected on Tuesday to plans to land a Vietnam-era helicopter at Fiske Field and have it on display as part a Wounded Warrior bike ride  planned for Sunday, September 2 to benefit the Lt. Joe Theinert Memorial Fund.

“Between all the activities” that go on in the summer in the neighborhood, “there’s never a minute’s peace,” said Bill Banks from the audience at Tuesday’s town Board work session.

Reacting to a recent amendment to the organization’s application for a town public assembly permit, Mr. Banks and his sister Mary Wilson — the town building inspector and town permit administrator, who live next to Fiske Field on Bateman Road — said they’d had enough disruptions.

“We love these people,” Ms. Wilson said of the Thienert Foundation’s organizers, but “it just keeps going and every year it becomes more and more. It’s getting to be out of control.”

She said so many public events take place nearby, at the school district’s Fiske Field or the nearby American Legion Hall, that she felt she’d “have to put a family function on the community calendar to see if it’s okay.”

In addition to the helicopter — a Sikorsky UH-34 Stinger from a Marine veterans’ group called Freedoms Flying Memorial — the amended event application calls for live amplified music from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with unspecified breaks. The application was submitted for the foundation by Matt Rhode.

The Town Board seemed to agree with Mr. Banks and Ms. Wilson.

Board members informally agreed to ask organizers to land the helicopter at town-owned Klenawicus airfrield, a bit less than two miles from the American Legion Hall, where the day’s events will be centered after a 12- or 25-mile Wounded Warrior Island bike ride to support the Theinert Foundation.

Supervisor Jim Dougherty said he’d ask representatives of the Theinert Foundation to attend next Tuesday’s Town Board work session. The school district superintendent, Michael Hynes, gave permission for the landing, Mr. Dougherty said. Organizers also sought Town Board permission because the Town Code does not allow helicopter landings except at designated landing sites at the private Westmoreland Field and town-owned Klenawicus.

The Shelter Island event, called a “Spur Ride,” is slated for the day after a North Fork Wounded Warriors bike ride. The event was announced by the fund’s organizers — the family of Islander Joe Theinert, who was killed on duty in Afghanistan in June 2010 — in late July.

The Island Spur Ride will start off with a “kick-off celebration” at 8 a.m. at the American Legion Hall at 1 Bateman Road in the Center. Registration and packet pick-up begins at 7 a.m. and the ride begins at 8:30 a.m. There will be a cookout at the Legion Hall for all riders beginning at 5 p.m.

Registration fee is $50 for adults (“Honorary Cav Trooper) and $25 for children 16 and under (“Honorary Cav Shave Tail”) plus a small additional administrative fee for each.