Candy Canes And Lumps Of Coal - 27 East

Candy Canes And Lumps Of Coal

authorStaff Writer on Dec 10, 2020

Periodically, we hand out “Gold Stars and Dunce Caps” in this space. This time of year, it seems more appropriate to make them “Candy Canes and Lumps of Coal”:

CANDY CANE: To Heart of the Hamptons, the Southampton Village-based charity, for diving ahead with the organization’s annual Polar Bear Plunge this year — virtually, at least. While many yearly events and milestones have been canceled due to the pandemic, leaving the season sadly bereft of traditional events, the organizers of the Plunge worked to find a way to make it happen and raise funds that are so desperately needed to support the Heart of the Hamptons Food Pantry and Assistance Program. Instead of gathering as a crowd and plunging into the ocean at Coopers Beach this year, participants are encouraged to submit individual or team videos of their personal plunges and send them to the organization — which, as of late last week, had already raised a whopping $185,000 to help the food insecure in the community. As always, the chilly Plunge makes us feel the community’s warmth.

LUMP OF COAL: To all the folks on the East End who leave their cars unlocked in their driveways with the key fobs inside. There has been a rash of car and other property thefts on the South Fork, including dozens of high-end vehicles taken from the driveways of careless car owners offering what amounts to an engraved invitation to New Jersey-based rackets targeting the pricey autos. While it may not be obvious to everyone, these in-the-know thieves realize that the position of the side view mirrors in most late-model luxury cars will give it away if the car is unsecured and ripe for the taking. Southampton Town Police Chief Steven Skrynecki — who noted that the number of car thefts is up 144 percent over last year — advised the public to be more diligent. A little common sense wouldn’t hurt either.

CANDY CANE: To the residents of the North Sea Beach Colony neighborhood association and a host of local lawmakers, for coming up with a plan to nourish the eroded beach west of North Sea Harbor — and to do it at a reduced cost to boot. The residents, with the permission of the Southampton Town Board, created an erosion control district several years ago, allowing themselves to be taxed to pay for the needed beach nourishment. But when it came time to do the work, bids to dredge the needed 15,000 cubic yards of sand came in too high and the project was scrapped. That’s when the local lawmakers — on the federal, county, state and local level — sprang into action. It seems that the county was already scheduled to dredge nearby North Sea Harbor and was happy to divert the spoils to the North Sea beach, saving homeowners some money. Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman called the project a “partnership on so many levels.” It’s gratifying to see everyone work together to solve a problem.

CANDY CANE: To Governor Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers Fred W. Thiele Jr. and Kenneth P. LaValle, for ensuring that members of the East End’s fishing industry who took gut punches during the COVID-19 lockdown and beyond will get a much needed helping hand. Commercial fishermen, seafood wholesalers, and charter and party boat owners in New York State are now able to apply for financial aid from the state, as part of the federal CARES Act funding the state received, to make up for losses due to the pandemic. The fishing industry supports as many as 350,000 jobs statewide and anchors a multibillion-dollar contribution to the state economy through tourism, fishing activities and related industries — much of it on the East End. This money, hopefully, will help local fishermen and captains hang on as the pandemic rages on.

CANDY CANE: To the Sag Harbor Historical Society, for bringing a little holiday cheer to the season with its “Light Up the Harbor” holiday decorating event, encouraging residents to light their homes for the holiday season, culminating in awards and an evening of caroling on December 20. It has been challenging to host holiday events safely, and the Historical Society appears to have found a way around it. Kudos and candy canes also go to the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce for its “Friday Night Lights” series of events, designed to support local businesses. The annual tree lighting was held last weekend, attended by about 100 people despite the weather — and everyone was socially distanced and wearing masks. Between these two organizations, Sag Harbor Village has had a lot of holiday cheer.

CANDY CANE: To the Sag Harbor Partnership, for recognizing the volunteers of the Sag Harbor Food Pantry as this year’s recipients of its Community Service Award. In a region with a very high cost of living, food pantries were always essential — but never more so than in 2020.

CANDY CANE: To Nancy Atlas and the crew at the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett. The two have joined forces this November and December to bring music into our homes weekly with the “Friday Night Hustle,” a series that not only offers a way to safely take in live music but also seeks to support local musicians and the staff of the storied Talkhouse, all hard hit by a pandemic that kept one of the most intimate concert venues shuttered in 2020.

CANDY CANE: To the farmers markets — in East Hampton and Southampton, and elsewhere — which have managed to stay open well past the Columbus Day holiday, giving local food producers and farmers a venue to sell their goods into the holiday season. Kudos also go to the East End Food Institute, which recently launched a virtual farmers market to continue to support this vital industry into the offseason.

CANDY CANE: To the 12 Shinnecock Nation Girl Scouts who helped package up and donate $4,000 worth of arts and crafts supplies to 60 children who are on the free lunch program in the Southampton and Tuckahoe elementary schools. It’s inspiring to see such generosity of spirit at such an early age.

LUMP OF COAL: To the East Hampton Town Board and the local Civil Service Employee Association, for failing to reach a deal on a new contract for town union employees for the past two years and requesting that a “fact finder” — a step below arbitration — be brought in to try to unclog a roadblock in negotiations. Two years is long enough to go without a new contract. Both sides need to come together and break the gridlock.

CANDY CANE: To East End clergy, for rolling with the punch of the pandemic and formulating new and safe ways to celebrate the end-of-year holidays without putting their congregations at risk and making the best of a trying holiday season. It’s been such a difficult year, spiritually and emotionally, and these faith leaders recognize how important it is to provide a few moments of peace and celebration, and to convey the message that together, we can get through these difficult times.

CANDY CANE: To the East Hampton Village officials, employees and their families who made Thanksgiving a little bit sweeter for 500 families in the village by delivering a fresh-baked pumpkin pie. The officials and their families, led by Trustee Sandra Melendez and Mayor Jerry Larsen’s wife, Lisa, spent four days before the holiday baking pies a dozen at a time before donating them to two local food pantries. It was truly and example of neighbor helping neighbor, and it exemplifies what the holiday is all about.

LUMP OF COAL: To the not-in-my-backyard community members fighting the construction of cell towers in various South Fork communities. The towers may be ugly, but with the community increasingly relying on cellular devices for work and school in the wake of the pandemic, ensuring adequate service for everyone has become essential for everyone. Reasonable concerns should be addressed, but there is a limit: Cellular service is a new part of the basic infrastructure, and it must be accommodated.

LUMP OF COAL: For Washington, D.C., lawmakers who remain at an impasse when it comes to a new COVID-19 relief bill. While murmurs of a scaled-back relief bill circulated in the days after the election, lawmakers in the GOP-controlled Senate and Democratic-led House still have not come to an agreement — and time is running out. Safety measures implemented in the initial relief package in the spring, including additional unemployment benefits and a moratorium on evictions, are set to expire at the end of the month. And with COVID cases sharply on the rise as the second wave of the pandemic rages, those stopgaps are sorely needed. With the election now over, it’s time to stop the party bickering and get to the work of helping out the people most impacted by the virus — while rescuing a faltering economy at the same time.

LUMP OF COAL: To the inexplicably stubborn science deniers who continue to insist that they should not be compelled to wear face masks and practice social distancing measures to protect not only themselves but their friends and neighbors as well. If one thing has been proven by the success of area school reopenings, which have seen little or no spread of the coronavirus, it is that mask wearing and social distancing work. With the number of cases skyrocketing, and both hospitalizations and deaths increasing exponentially nationwide in recent weeks as the second wave of the virus takes hold, it is imperative that every single person puts safety first and wears a mask. There is a light at the end of the tunnel with the imminent distribution of a vaccine, but the end of this nightmare is still months away. Wear your mask!

CANDY CANE: To the doctors, nurses and other hospital staff, EMTs and other health care professionals who are confronting a second surge of COVID-19 in Suffolk County head-on. The term “front-line workers” has never been so apt, and they have been diligently fighting the battle throughout 2020, and, unfortunately, will have to continue into 2021. Without them, their dedication and their sacrifice, we would be lost. The community’s debt is enormous, as is our appreciation.