Monthly Archives: October 2015

The entire cast of ‘Alice’s Wonderland Adventures!’ Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

Lewis Carroll’s beloved classic may be more than 150 years old, but “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass” still resonate with children and adults alike. Now Theatre Three’s creative geniuses Tim Peierls and Jeffrey Sanzel have written a brand new Alice-inspired children’s musical — “Alice’s Wonderland Adventures!” — that opened last Saturday. All the familiar characters are here, from the White Rabbit to the Mad Hatter, to the Queen of Hearts to the beloved Cheshire Cat. Throw in an appearance from Humpty Dumpty and Dorothy Gale, add a quick game of Wheel of Fortune for good measure, and you’ve got yourself a hit show.

Sanzel as director leads a talented group of seven adult actors, all of whom play multiple roles, through a delightful and clever production perfect for younger audiences. Seasoned actors Jenna Kavaler, Amanda Geraci, Hans Paul Hendrickson, Andrew Gasparini and Steve Uihlein are all outstanding, as are newcomers Mary Ortiz and Melanie Acampora, making their children’s theater in-house debut.

In the first act we meet Addison Carroll (Kavaler), an actress who is nervous that she will forget her lines as Alice in “Alice in Wonderland.” In a dream sequence, she finds herself transported to a magical land where the White Rabbit accidently takes her script. Addison spends the rest of the show chasing after the harried hare, trying to get it back. Along the way, accompanied by the Cheshire Cat, she has a tea party with the Mad Hatter, the March Hare and the Dormouse; plays croquet with the Queen of Hearts, who enjoys shouting, “Off with their heads!” a bit too much; and visits with Tweedledee and Tweedledum. Addison’s adventures help her gain confidence and she awakens from her nap, ready to take on the world.

Sanzel knows his target audience well. Every scene is full of song and dance, fast-paced and short. Riddles and jokes run rampant throughout the production: “Why do flowers work in the kitchen? Because you can’t make tarts without flour!”

The 12 original musical numbers by Peierls, accompanied by Steve McCoy on piano, are the heart of the show. Hendrickson is outstanding in his solos, “We’re All a Little Mad Here” and “The Tweedle’s Song,” in which he impressively performs both Tweedle roles, making his solo a duet. Geraci shines in “So Much to Do,” and the entire company’s “Wonderland Within You” is the perfect finale.

The actors utilize the set from the evening show, “Sweeney Todd,” but that’s OK because the costumes and puppets are so colorful and fun, a set is not even necessary. From the caterpillar with his six arms to the long red robe of the Queen of Hearts, costume designer Teresa Matteson has done an excellent job. It is the 13 puppets, however, designed and constructed by the brilliant Tazukie Fearon, that steal the spotlight. From the moment they make an appearance, the children are mesmerized. This is live theater at its best. Meet the cast in the lobby after the show.

Five-year-old Josephine Cunniffe, of Stony Brook, who said she loved the show, enjoyed the performance with her grandparents. Her favorite character was the White Rabbit.

Ashley Kenter, who’s been coming to Theatre Three since she was a little girl, said her favorite characters were “Alice … and the bunny” and her favorite scenes were when the Cheshire Cat told knock-knock jokes. The 10-year-old, who was having her birthday party at the theater, said she decided to celebrate the milestone at Theatre Three “because there is a lot of room here and they have a lot of good shows.” Her favorite show of all time is “Barnaby Saves Christmas,” which by coincidence is the theater’s next children’s show, from Nov. 27 to Dec. 26.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson, will present “Alice’s Wonderland Adventures!” through Oct. 24. Tickets are $10. For more information, call the box office at 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

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By Matthew Kearns, DVM

Whew!! Hurricane Joaquin has drifted out to sea! Unfortunately, we have become all too familiar with natural disasters — think Superstorm Sandy. If another disaster were to occur, would I be prepared not only for myself, but also for my pet? What about for everyday emergencies?

Believe it or not, many of the same precautions and treatments we would use on ourselves we can also extend to our more “furry” family members: a basic first aid kit specifically for our pets, an emergency plan available in advance, etc. A basic first aid kit for your pet should include a blanket, thermometer, pen light, sterile 4×4 gauze pads, sterile dressing (small, medium, large), roll gauze, 1 and 2 inch white tape, Telfa non stick bandages, triangular bandages and safety pins, cloth strips, betadine or triple antibiotics, scissors, tweezers, instant cold pack, hydrogen peroxide, splint, veterinarian’s phone number, local animal emergency clinic’s phone number, Poison Control’s phone number, Glucose concentrate (e.g., Karo Syrup or other syrup), canned dog or cat food and bottled water.

Once you have your first aid kit prepared, you will be ready for most emergencies at home. Here are some tips on handling most general emergencies:

*If an animal is frightened or in pain, it may bite, even friendly dogs or cats. Consider using something like a small piece of rope or a tie to muzzle your pet, or throw a large thick blanket over the pet to pick it up. Please do not get yourself hurt trying to help a scared, injured, potentially dangerous animal.

*Anything makes a good stretcher — a flat board, an old door, etc.

*If an animal is vomiting for whatever reason, do not offer any food or water for at least three hours. We know there is a concern of dehydration, but many times that is the time an animal needs to rest the stomach, if it is a less serious cause of vomiting, and giving any food or water too quickly may make things worse. If you are very concerned, it is better to check with or visit your regular veterinarian or an emergency veterinary hospital before considering food or water.

*For bite wounds or penetrating wounds, try to keep the wound clean and moist until the animal can be transported to your regular veterinarian or an emergency veterinary hospital. Moistened clean cloths, gauze, etc can be used. If there is excessive bleeding, direct pressure should be applied; consider an ACE bandage. Do not try to remove anything that is impaled into the pet.

*Bone fractures can be immobilized with a splint. A splint can be made of rolled up magazines or newspapers, cardboard, a metal hanger, or wood. If it is an open compound fracture, cover it with a clean moistened dressing. If the animal cannot or will not allow a splint, just try to keep them confined until you can transport them to either your regular veterinarian’s office or an emergency veterinary hospital.

*If you suspect your dog has ingested poison, call a veterinary emergency poison hotline. If possible, have both the trade name and the generic name of the poison.  Do not try to get the animal to vomit before speaking to a veterinary emergency poison control representative or licensed veterinarian. Certain poisons, particularly those that are caustic, may cause more damage on the way back up, and if your pet is disoriented from the poison, you risk aspiration and aspiration pneumonia.

The emergency clinic I work for recommends the National Animal Poison Control Center: (888) 299-2973. They are staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with veterinary toxicologists. There is a $45 consult fee, but it is well worth it. I hope this information helps to make us all better prepared for emergencies.

Dr. Kearns has been in practice for 16 years and is pictured with his son, Matthew, and his dog, Jasmine.

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We in the medical community, of course, know what the optimal blood pressure levels should be with medication. Or do we? How can that be, when we have been treating hypertension (high blood pressure) for years? This is very important to know, since according to NHANES data, approximately 76 million adults over 20 in the United States have hypertension (1). Target blood pressure may depend on age and comorbidities, such as diabetes. We know that blood pressure should be less than 150/90 mmHg for everyone. From there, the data gets a bit fuzzy.

If optimal levels are unclear, then prevention of hypertension should be crucial; if you don’t have it, you don’t have to think about this conundrum. It turns out that exercise reduces the risk of this disease. No surprise there. But the level of physical activity needed to reduce the risk is intriguing. The intensity and the duration are a lot less than we had thought, though the frequency may be higher.

Another question frequently asked is, does it matter what time you take the medication? The answer may be yes. Not only for controlling blood pressure but also for preventing diabetes.

Finally, is it ever too early to start controlling high blood pressure in those who are 18 and older? No, according to a study with significant durability. Let’s look at the research.

Lower is better — maybe

A recent study has suggested that lower is better when it comes to treating hypertension with medication. In the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT), results showed that lower was better when it came to controlling blood pressure (2). What levels did the research suggest? It was a systolic (top number) blood pressure of less than 120 mmHg, which is very aggressive.

To achieve this, at least three blood pressure medications were used in each patient. Compared to the standard less than 140 mmHg systolic blood pressure target, there was a significant, almost 25 percent, reduction in all-cause mortality and a 30 percent reduction in cardiovascular events. There were over 9,000 patients in this randomized controlled trial, the gold standard of studies. The patients had hypertension plus one additional comorbidity (except diabetes and prior stroke) and were over age 50. Interestingly, a quarter of patients were at least 75 years of age, making this one of the few studies with a substantial number of older hypertension patients. These results are impressive, if they hold up to analysis.

What are the caveats to this study? And there are caveats. For one thing, the study was halted and the data were released early because of these positive results, but it has yet to be published or fully analyzed. The effects on the kidneys and potential slowing of cognitive decline are being evaluated. My specific concern is that patients who want to embrace lifestyle modifications that help treat hypertension will be at higher risk of becoming hypotensive (low blood pressure) if they start out below a systolic blood pressure (SBP) of 120 mmHg on at least three medications. It is most wise to wait until the data have been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal before attempting this target blood pressure.

What about the current guidelines?

The guidelines as of 2013/2014 from both the JNC 8 and the ASH/ISH may differ slightly, but they recommend loosening the target systolic blood pressure to less than 150 mmHg for patients over 60 and 80 years of age, and 140 mmHg for most everyone else (3). Isn’t medicine wonderful? It always has the potential to change with new study data.

What about younger populations with hypertension?

Even though we talk about high blood pressure affecting younger adults, we don’t see a lot of studies focused on this topic. In the CARDIA study, results show that the cumulative effects of high blood pressure from young adult age to middle age had significant negative effects on the left ventricular function (a chamber of the heart involved in pumping blood to the body and brain), increasing the risk of heart failure (4). Interestingly a high diastolic (lower number) blood pressure had the most detrimental effect on left ventricular function, though a high systolic number also had significant negative impact. This was a prospective (forward-looking) study with a very solid duration of 25 years. The patients were 18 to 30 years old at the start of the trial and completed it at a mean age of 50. The moral of the story: treat patients who have high blood pressure, regardless of age.

Don’t forget about the bottom number — diastolic blood pressure

There was a fear that lowering diastolic blood pressure (DBP) too far would have ill effects. This is called the J-curve effect, where lowering with medication is good, but too low could have negative effects. However, in a study involving 4,000 patients, there was no increased risk of dying when the diastolic blood pressure was decreased to less than 80 mmHg (5). There were two problems with this study. One, the J-curve could happen at levels below 70 mmHg, but this was not tested. And two, patients may or may not have had cardiac events without dying, which was also not an end point.

However, another study, based on the Framingham Heart Study and the offspring of that study, showed that those with isolated systolic hypertension (>140 mmHg) and DBP <70 mmHg had increased risk of recurrent cardiovascular disease events regardless of whether they were on medication or not, compared to those who had DBP between 70 and 89 mmHg (6). In other words, there was a J-curve effect when the DBP was <70 in those with systolic hypertension.

Physical activity

Exercise is important for blood pressure control. But how much? In a study, results showed that walking for 10 minutes three times a day was more effective than exercising 30 minutes once per day in those with prehypertension (SBP 120-139 mmHg) (7). In another study, standing, walking or cycling at a snail’s pace (1.0 mph) every hour for 10 to 20 minutes was significantly more effective at controlling blood pressure than sitting continuously for eight hours (8).

Timing is everything!

In a prospective study, results showed that those who took their blood pressure medications at night had a 57 percent decreased risk of developing diabetes as well as a better controlled blood pressure during the night (9). This was a randomized controlled trial involving 2,012 patients for almost six years. The medications used were mainly from the ACE inhibitor, ARB and beta-blocker classes.

We know controlling blood pressure is important, but to what levels with medication remains to be determined. The potential J-curve with diastolic blood pressure may add to this complication. Remember, high blood pressure can be present at any adult age. But taking medication at night seems to be beneficial. Treating with lifestyle modifications is important to avoid medications’ dilemma.

References:

(1) Natl Health Stat Report. 2011. (2) nih.gov. (3) JAMA. 2014;311(5):507-520; J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). 2014;16(1):14-26. (4) J Am Coll Cardiol. 2015; 65:2679-2687. (5) ESH 2015 Abstract LB02.06. (6) Hypertension. 2015;65:299-305. (7) Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012;44(12):2270-2276. (8) Med Sci Sports Exerc. Online Aug. 17, 2015. (9) Diabetologia online Sept. 23, 2015.

Dr. Dunaief is a speaker, author and local lifestyle medicine physician focusing on the integration of medicine, nutrition, fitness and stress management. For further information, go to the website www.medicalcompassmd.com or consult your personal physician.

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Emergency responders in Smithtown help retrieve a mud-covered vehicle from the pond off Route 25A near Summerset Drive. Photo from Jeff Bressler

Members of the Kings Park and Smithtown fire departments had to pull a woman in her 20s from a pond in Smithtown this week after her car became submerged off Route 25A, emergency officials said.

Emergency responders in Smithtown help retrieve a vehicle from the pond off Route 25A near Summerset Drive. Photo from Jeff Bressler
Emergency responders in Smithtown help retrieve a vehicle from the pond off Route 25A near Summerset Drive. Photo from Jeff Bressler

The woman was driving on near the intersection of Route 25A and Summerset Drive in Smithtown around 8:52 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 5, when the Smithtown Fire Department was dispatched to address a motor vehicle crash, a spokesman for the department said. Upon arrival, Smithtown Department Chief Timothy Murphy said he saw the vehicle in the nearby pond with the woman trapped inside. He immediately upgraded the call to a water rescue.

The action prompted assistance from Smithtown’s rescue unit as well as the Kings Park Fire Department’s dive team, a spokesman for Smithtown’s Fire Department said.

The Smithtown Fire Department deployed their water rescue inflatable boat into the pond with Kings Park Fire Department divers attending to the driver. Divers extricated the driver to the boat and did not find any additional passengers in her car.

The driver was taken to to St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center by Kings Park Ambulance. There were no updates on her condition.

And to make matters more complicated, during the rescue efforts, with Route 25A closed to conduct the operation, an emergency patient in a private car was attempting to access the road to go to the emergency room at St. Catherine of Siena. Smithtown Fire Police sent the driver of the car, escorted by Suffolk County Police, to the scene of the accident. A Smithtown Fire Department ambulance at the scene then brought the patient to the hospital.

The cause of the incident was under investigation, the Suffolk County Police Department said, and the woman behind the wheel was not charged.

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Mount Siani senior midfielder Chris Marrs squeezes between Miller Place senior midfielders Daniel Meneses and Carter Contreras to gain possession of the ball in the Panthers' 2-0 blanking of the Mustangs on Oct. 5. Photo by Desirée Keegan

By Desirée Keegan

The Miller Place boys’ soccer team had yet to allow an opponent to score at home all season, and continued that streak with a 2-0 blanking of Mount Sinai on Monday.

The victories were not only a result of the team’s strong defensive line, but also because of the efforts of senior forward John Murphy, who scored at least one goal in all three of the team’s home clean sheets.

Miller Place senior forward John Murphy dribbles the ball downfield in the Panthers' 2-0 win over Mount Sinai on Oct. 5. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Miller Place senior forward John Murphy dribbles the ball downfield in the Panthers’ 2-0 win over Mount Sinai on Oct. 5. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Miller Place started off with two quick opportunities at a goal, but one hit off of the far left post and the other went through the field goal post above the net, and Murphy saw two of his own opportunities thereafter that just went wide. Despite a 0-0 score at the end of the first half, the Panthers were still able to get the job done in the second.

“We saw the game out,” Miller Place first-year head coach Kenny Lake said. “One of the biggest things we’ve been focusing on is shutouts more than anything else, and making sure we’re not giving up any cheap goals. We’ve kind of eliminated that since the beginning of the season, so I thought they did a great job.”

With 26:04 left to play in the game, senior defender Alex Moschella dribbled the ball all the way down the right sideline from Miller Place to Mustangs territory, and crossed the ball in front of the net to Murphy, who knocked it in for the team’s first point on the board.

“It felt good,” Murphy said of the goal. “Especially when I got the ball and went down the line; beat out the whole defense.”

Less than two minutes later, Moschella did it again, but this time, the cross opportunity was initially missed. And although a shot on goal was made, it went off of the top crossbar. A rebound was attempted, and Mount Sinai senior goalkeeper Nicolas Jensen was able to come up with the save, but couldn’t maintain possession of the ball. After it bounced out of his hands and rolled out in front, the Panthers found themselves with another opportunity at a goal, and Miller Place senior midfielder Daniel Meneses rocketed the ball just left of a diving Jensen.

Mount Sinai senior goalkeeper Nicolas Jensen punts the ball into play in the Mustangs' 2-0 loss to Miller Place on Oct. 5. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Mount Sinai senior goalkeeper Nicolas Jensen punts the ball into play in the Mustangs’ 2-0 loss to Miller Place on Oct. 5. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“They played tough,” Mount Sinai head coach Dave Herrschaft said of his team. “Definitely, they had a great first half, and then let up two in the second half and it was tough for them to really bounce back after that. I think they played a solid game. Offensively, they’ve got to get a little more creative and start finishing.”

With the win, Miller Place improved to 5-2-1 in League VI, while Mount Sinai dropped to 1-6-1.

While Lake is in his first year with the program, his team is already on pace to surpass the feats the team has been able to achieve over the last few years.

“They were business from day one — I didn’t have to do a whole lot of changing,” Lake said of his initial encounters with the team. “They came in as disciplined soccer players and that’s something that has been a pleasure. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of kids — mature, well-mannered, hard-working; they’ve given me everything they have to give.”

Robert Cariddi, of Mount Sinai, was arrested yesterday for burglarizing 16 businesses between August and October. Photo from the Suffolk County Police Department

Police arrested a Mount Sinai man Monday for allegedly burglarizing 16 Asian restaurants and nail salons over the last couple of months in Centereach, Selden, Setauket, Miller Place, Rocky Point, Sound Beach, Patchogue, Bohemia and Middle Island.

According to the Suffolk County Police Department, 6th Squad detectives, after noting a pattern of burglaries in which someone broke the front windows at the restaurants and nail salons and took cash, began patrolling potential targets similar to the burglarized businesses. On Monday, Detective Michael Fales allegedly observed suspect Robert Cariddi commit a burglary at Ho Ming Kitchen, on Route 25A in Miller Place.

Cariddi, a 49-year-old Mount Sinai resident, was arrested shortly afterward. He was charged with 16 counts of third-degree burglary and with false personation, and was scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday.

Attorney information for the suspect was not immediately available.

According to police, Cariddi allegedly targeted the businesses because they did not have alarms or surveillance systems.

Detectives are investigating whether Cariddi was responsible for other burglaries. Anyone with information is asked to call them at 631-854-8652, or to call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 800-220-TIPS.

Kevin Scanlon, assistant superintendent for educational services, delivers a presentation. Photo by Andrea Moore Paldy

Enrollment in the Three Village school district has hit a historic low.

That’s some of the news Kevin Scanlon, assistant superintendent for educational services, delivered at the district’s second school board meeting in the new school year. His numerical snapshot of the district also included state assessment and Regents scores, as well as statistics for the Class of 2015.

Kevin Scanlon, assistant superintendent for educational services, delivers a presentation. Photo by Andrea Moore Paldy
Kevin Scanlon, assistant superintendent for educational services, delivers a presentation. Photo by Andrea Moore Paldy

Enrollment, Scanlon said, has been declining steadily by about 200 students each year. Current enrollment is 6,472 compared to 6,723 last school year. With 348 students, this year’s kindergarten is little more than half the size of last year’s graduating class, he said.

Scanlon said, though, that the district is taking advantage of declining enrollment to decrease class sizes in elementary grades and reduce study halls in the secondary schools. In an interview following the meeting, the assistant superintendent added that Three Village has been able to appoint a STEM teacher at each of the elementary schools.

Even as student numbers go down, the poverty rate has climbed a percentage point to 7 percent. Scanlon’s report also indicated that district spending per student has increased from $16,137 to $17,554.

On a more controversial matter, Scanlon reported that the refusal rate in this year’s state tests for third- through eighth-grade students was 58 percent for English language arts and 57 percent for math.

Of those who opted out of ELA this year, 48 percent had passed it in 2014. Those who opted out of math this year and took it in 2014 had a 59 percent pass rate last year.

Though the Three Village 2015 ELA results reflect only 42 percent of students in the testing grades, the pass rate jumped in all grades, increasing between 4.15 and 12.7 percentage points, a comparison of the two years shows. The highest pass rate was 61.9 percent in eighth grade.

The passing rate on the math exams, which reflected 43 percent of students in the grades tested, also saw gains. Fourth grade had the largest increase — 11.16 percentage points — and a 77.2 percent pass rate.

Scanlon said that there was a 3.93 percentage point drop in the eighth-grade math results because the majority of eighth-graders took the Algebra Regents exams instead of the eighth-grade state test.

The 2015 assessment and Regents report showed that all scores in both disciplines were well above the New York state, Long Island, Nassau County and Suffolk County averages. New York state averages for all students were 31.3 percent for ELA and 38.1 percent for math.

When compared to neighboring districts — Commack, Half Hollow Hills, Hauppauge, Northport and Smithtown — Three Village’s ELA scores surpassed other districts in all grades except seventh. Seventh-grade scores were only 0.1 percentage point lower than the second highest-scoring district. Three Village’s math scores were either first or second in all grades, except for eighth.

Algebra students took both the old integrated algebra and the Common Core-aligned Algebra I exams. Scanlon said the higher of the two scores will be used on transcripts. The report showed that except for geometry, there was a dip in the math Regents scores. Pass rates remained high — in the 90s — for science, history and social studies Regents.

In other good news, the class of 2015 maintained the district’s 99 percent graduation rate and had a 95 percent college acceptance rate. This year also saw the highest number of Advanced Placement scholars ever, Scanlon said. The 293 students received the honor based on the number of AP exams they took and their average score, he explained. This number includes current students, as well as those who graduated last June.

In other news, the board voted on two new administrative appointments: Anthony Pollera, who has been a music teacher with the district since 2002, was named coordinating chairperson of music; and Marnie Kula, Ward Melville science chair since 2008, added InSTAR program coordinator to her responsibilities following the retirement of George Baldo.

Funding would increase for snow removal, environment

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine. File photo by Erika Karp

By Giselle Barkley & Elana Glowatz

Brookhaven Town won’t ask for more money from residents next year, according to Supervisor Ed Romaine’s 2016 budget proposal.

Romaine (R) revealed his nearly $281 million budget plan at a meeting on Oct. 1, touting its benefits of complying with the state-imposed limit on property tax increases and putting more funding toward snow removal as the winter season approaches.

Crafting the budget was a challenge given the tight limit on how much the property tax levy could increase, according to Romaine — the state’s limit was 0.73 percent this year. Despite that, “I support the tax cap because I understand what the tax burden is on the taxpayers of this town,” Romaine said during a meeting with the press last week. “I’m trying to do my best to limit that tax burden while providing needed services and that’s crucial, and our five-year plan reflects that.”

According to the budget proposal, the town’s property tax levy will not see a net increase in 2016, holding taxes steady for many residents. Romaine was able to maintain the levy because of the amount of money the town will save from satisfying debts. Some of the money that would have gone toward those debt payments was used instead to fund increases in other budget lines. When money from the town’s debt reserve fund is excluded, the budget proposal actually reduces overall spending more than $800,000.

“That’s come from careful management of capital projects and the elimination of pipeline debt,” Finance Commissioner Tamara Wright said during the meeting.

Just as there were cuts in the budget, there were also additions. Romaine proposed bringing the highway department’s snow removal budget up to $5.2 million — a budget line the supervisor and the town board have been adding to since the massive February 2013 storm, frequently dubbed Nemo, that buried Long Island under three feet of dense snow. That removal budget has doubled in the last few years.

“I hope that someday we will have a less snowy winter,” Romaine said.

Town officials hope any leftover snow removal money will be deposited into a reserve account, to be used in an emergency winter weather situation.

The supervisor’s proposal also increases spending on environmental protection and funding for public safety staff, code enforcement and internal auditors, among others.

Romaine’s proposed capital budget totals $62.2 million, a reduction of about 2.4 percent from the current year. The capital funds will go toward local projects like long-awaited athletic fields in Selden and road and drainage improvements.

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Ward Melville
Ward Melville junior midfielder Madison Hobbes is chased for the ball in the Patriots' 6-0 shut out of Brentowod on Oct. 5. Photo by Bill Landon
Ward Melville junior midfielder Madison Hobbes is chased for the ball in the Patriots’ 6-0 shut out of Brentowod on Oct. 5. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

After a slow start, and leading 2-0 at the end of 40 minutes, the Ward Melville girls’ soccer team leaned on its bench in the second half to overpower Brentwood and put the game away, 6-0.

“I was happy with our play in the first five to 10 minutes when we scored quick, but we fell into a lull — thinking we were going to have an easy game,” Ward Melville head coach John Diehl said. “I didn’t like our performance for most of the first half, but we picked it up midway through the second.”

Ward Melville sophomore forward Kerri Liucci opened the scoring four minutes in when she broke free of defenders and shot from the left side, beating the keeper to the right corner for the score.

Junior midfielder and co-captain Megan Raftery struck next off a corner kick, to help the Patriots edge ahead, 2-0.

Ward Melville senior forward and co-captain Ciara Guglielmo stops the ball to gain possession at midfield in the Patriots' 6-0 blanking of Brentwood on Oct. 5. Photo by Bill Landon
Ward Melville senior forward and co-captain Ciara Guglielmo stops the ball to gain possession at midfield in the Patriots’ 6-0 blanking of Brentwood on Oct. 5. Photo by Bill Landon

“We had good possession today — we really stepped it up even though we had a considerable lead,” Raftery said. “But it was a much better effort in that second half.”

Diehl said he decided to start some players in the second half who don’t normally start and don’t receive as much playing time.

“They came in and did a great job,” he said. “They did what we wanted, because we needed a change in the second half.”

Raftery opened the second half with her second goal of the game, after leaping in the air and heading a corner kick past the keeper with authority, for a three-goal advantage.

“I’m designated to go to the net for every corner [kick],” Raftery said. “It was a cross from Ciara Guglielmo and I was able to head it in. It’s a set play for us and we practice it all the time.”

On a crossing pass three minutes later, sophomore midfielder Arianna Barbieri passed to junior midfielder Hannah Hobbes, who buried her shot.

Ward Melville junior midfielder and co-captain Megan Raftery, who had two goals in the Patriots' 6-0 win at Brentwood on Oct. 5, heads the ball. Photo by Bill Landon
Ward Melville junior midfielder and co-captain Megan Raftery, who had two goals in the Patriots’ 6-0 win at Brentwood on Oct. 5, heads the ball. Photo by Bill Landon

“I got a great cross and I just tapped it in,” Hobbes said. “We had a better second half with better possession and good passing.”

With just over 20 minutes left to play, it was Guglielmo, a senior forward and co-captain’s turn, as she drove a teammate’s rebound off a save from the Brentwood goalkeeper back at the net, and this time, in, for the 5-0 lead.

“I thought we had great possession on a grass field, because we usually don’t play on grass,” Guglielmo said. “It’s bumpy and a different way of play, so in the second half we got used to the [field] and played to our feet.”

Rounding out the scoring for Ward Melville was junior forward Erin O’Connor, who found the net at the 18:13 mark, to put the game away, 6-0.

With the win, the Patriots improve to 7-1-2 in League I, and will travel to Sachem North Wednesday for a 4:15 p.m. game.

Kym Laube, executive director of Human Understanding & Growth Services Inc., a nonprofit organization in Westhampton Beach that provides educational and recreational programs for youth in Suffolk County, discusses the effects of drugs and alcohol on the youth and student athletes at Legislator Sarah Anker’s Youth Sports Safety Forum. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Sports are fun until safety becomes an issue.

In light of two incidences in Shoreham-Wading River where children where harmed while playing sports, Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) hosted a Youth Sports Safety Forum on Wednesday, Sept. 30 to raise awareness of the issue.

The death of 16-year-old Tom Cutinella, who died last year after a collision on the football field, and an incident involving 15-year-old Jack Crowley, who was revived after he was struck in the chest with a baseball at the batting cages, sparked an even greater desire to help prevent these incidents from occurring,

Despite the poor turnout, as about 20 community members attended, the forum’s goal remained the same: to educate the public about keeping student-athletes safe on and off the field. The forum consisted of several speakers, including Anker, County Executive Steve Bellone (D), school sports coaches and athletic professionals.

Although student-athlete safety is traditionally perceived as the coaches’ sole responsibility, guest speakers like Rick Mercurio said parents and players are also responsible for an athlete’s safety. Mercurio is currently part of the Federation of International Lacrosse’s Development Committee and used to coach the Sachem High School boys’ lacrosse team.

He also admitted that coaches have the power to make a student feel stressed or happy.

“We forget that when we talk about safety … it’s not just about an athlete’s physical safety,” Mercurio said during the forum. “It’s mental safety as well.”

While athletes may jeopardize their own safety during practices or games if they feel pressured to go above and beyond for their coach, Frank McCoy, an orthopedic physical therapist from Advanced Sports Physical Therapy in East Setauket, said parents are also a source of pressure for student-athletes. He mentioned some parents may push their children to reach the professional level in their sport. He added that that pressure causes young athletes to surpass their own limits.

“They don’t want to necessarily mention that they have pain or that they’ve had some discomfort during practice or a game because they don’t want to be taken out of the game,” McCoy said during the forum.

Mark Passamonte, Frank McCoy, Dan Nowlan, Rick Mercurio, Legislator Sarah Anker, Kym Laube, Don Webster, Jeremy Thode and Dr. Hayley Queller were all speakers at Anker's sports safety forum. Photo from Theresa Santoro
Mark Passamonte, Frank McCoy, Dan Nowlan, Rick Mercurio, Legislator Sarah Anker, Kym Laube, Don Webster, Jeremy Thode and Dr. Hayley Queller were all speakers at Anker’s sports safety forum. Photo from Theresa Santoro

According to McCoy, 90 percent of athletes sustain an injury while playing sports and 50 percent continue to play when they are injured. Injuries from overusing parts of the body becomes a concern when athletes are pushing past their pain to appease parents or coaches. These types of injuries are usually preventable provided that athletes do preventative exercises, which they don’t always learn from their coaches or parents.

McCoy also mentioned that athletes should not play more hours than their age and should not play one sport year-round or multiple sports in one season.

Aside from resting the body, Jeremy Thode, the athletic director at Center Moriches High School, said positive reinforcement is also vital to an athlete’s safety. Student-athletes may suffer added stress if they are faced with degrading comments like “you throw like a girl.”

“We’re telling little boys — number one that they’re not good enough in their performance, but we are also saying negative things about girls,” Thode said.

The idea is that these comments may encourage young athletes to ignore their mental or physical discomfort or both to prove their worth in their sport or sports.

Kym Laube, executive director of Human Understanding & Growth Services Inc., a nonprofit organization in Westhampton Beach that provides educational and recreational programs for the youth in Suffolk County, acknowledged how drugs and alcohol may affect players — especially those who may not have family support or a healthy living environment.

Laube said they can’t build treatment centers big enough or fast enough to accommodate the magnitude of athletes struggling with alcohol or drug issues. According to Laube, alcohol is still the number one killer of high school students. Combatting this issue, especially concerning student-athletes, is a group effort since athletes may drink to relieve stress and anxiety, but are more susceptible to injuries 24 hours after they drink.

“We know that if coaches take a strong policy — if families take a strong policy, we begin to stop saying it’s just kids being kids,” Laube said during the forum. “It’s about wanting to keep them safe on the playing field.”

Anker not only agreed with the forum’s guest speakers on their concerns and viewpoints regarding safety in sports, but reemphasized the importance of keeping athletes safe and informing the public how to ensure the safety of young athletes.

“As a community, we must learn from past incidences and go forward to create safe programs for our young athletes,” Anker said in an email. “Everyone has the ability to protect our kids, however, if they do not have important information regarding sports safety, our children may be at risk for injury. By providing valuable information we can limit injuries on the field and keep our kids safe. I will continue to work with our sports experts to bring their information to communities across Suffolk County.”

This version corrects the spelling of Jeremy Thode’s name.

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