Monthly Archives: May 2016

Reclaim NY is requesting various public documents from governments and school districts across Nassau and Suffolk counties, including Port Jefferson Village and Commack school district. File photo by Elana Glowatz

By Brandon Muir

Long Islanders deserve better than excuses from politicians, and bureaucrats. It’s time they took the lead on making government more open. That’s why Reclaim New York launched our transparency project.

Using the Freedom of Information Law to open spending records from governments across Long Island is the first step toward ensuring all citizens can hold their local government accountable.

This effort may ruffle some feathers. It seems this happened with Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant. Rather than just fixing Port Jefferson’s FOIL failures, we saw a smoke screen.

On March 7, we filed a FOIL request for the 2014 village expenditures, since this public record is not posted on the village website. We intend to share this information publicly to empower citizen-driven oversight of government.

The documents did not arrive.

Excuses don’t make up for not following the law’s timelines, or completing a FOIL request late. The law provides for extensions; a government simply has to ask for it. When this doesn’t happen, the FOIL is considered denied.

The mayor recently claimed we never filed an appeal and didn’t reach out to the village. Both statements are incorrect. The appeal is documented, and was sent on April 11, to the mayor’s own address, exactly as Port Jefferson asked.

We simply followed the law, as anyone can see at our transparency project portal: If the mayor does not like FOIL’s requirements, she should attack the law, not Reclaim New York.

To be clear, the village has now sent the records. But more than 75 percent of Long Island localities fulfilled their legal obligations on time. We’d like to work with the village to improve their transparency process.

Here’s how we can make that happen: The village can post the names and contact information for the Records Access Officer, and Records Appeals Officer online. These designations are required by law, and this would clear up confusion.

When a FOIL request is denied, or ignored — as in this case — the law allows for an appeal, sent to the Appeals Officer.

If the village says the mayor fills this role, and tells a FOIL filer to use a particular email address to submit an appeal to her, the mayor should not publicly claim she hasn’t received an appeal and blame it on the sender.

Additionally, ensure village employees understand the time limits for FOIL requests.

The first response, within five days, should acknowledge receipt and indicate when the request will be completed. If you need more time, request an extension.

In the initial response to Reclaim New York, the village said they would outline production costs for fulfilling the FOIL request. Then they stopped responding to our requests without providing a clear timeline.

It’s important to note that it’s not the filer’s responsibility to follow up with calls, though in this case Reclaim New York did. But the law does require that a village respond within 10 business days to an appeal.

The ultimate transparency goal for any government: proactively posting information in a searchable format online.

Every citizen should be able to see how government is spending public money. There’s no need to wait for someone to ask. Provide this information openly, and Port Jefferson will truly be leading the way toward open government.

Brandon Muir is the executive director for Reclaim New York.

An old adage suggests that someone drowning in shallow water doesn’t always realize that the easiest fix is to simply stand up. This is not an official slogan for Laura Blasberg and her law firm—Laura Blasberg Law PLLC Tax and Estate Planning—but maybe it should be.

Laura-BlasbergwBlasberg’s small, Hauppauge based firm handles two major areas of law that would seem daunting to someone trying to tackle either alone. She specializes in representing clients large or small in tax controversy cases against the IRS. Her other area of expertise is in estate planning. Either of those tasks might feel like drowning, but Blasberg can be there to remind you that solving your problems could be as simple as standing up.

To call Blasberg’s practice small doesn’t tell the whole story. After attending Duke Law School and earning a Masters degree from the New York University School of Law, Blasberg spent nearly 20 years at large firms both on Long Island and in Manhattan. However, the Stony Brook resident said she has always dreamed of opening up a small practice near her hometown. As a result, she now has established the perfect blend of large firm experience with small firm rates.

“I think that I’m very approachable and I really care about the clients,” Blasberg said. She understands that people coming to her for her services usually feel intimidated by what the future might hold.

Tax controversy: no matter how bad you think your situation is, she’s seen worse.
“If you’re in a situation where you haven’t paid your taxes and the IRS doesn’t know, or the IRS is after you, people can feel very vulnerable,” Blasberg said. “If the IRS or New York State is sending you letters and you ignore them, that’s the worst thing you can do because the next thing you know the IRS and New York State can start garnishing your wages or they’ll put a levy on your bank account, so you go to take money out of your bank and it’s not there.”

No matter how bad a tax situation might seem Blasberg said she has the experience to ensure clients that in every situation, she can handle it. She said that she once represented a client that hadn’t filed a tax return for their business for over 10 years. Facing millions in unpaid taxes and potential criminal liability, Blasberg was able to help the client get in compliance with the IRS, avoid jail and pay a fraction of what he actually owed.

“That could be a pretty disastrous situation where someone comes to us and they are at that point where the IRS has already started taking money from them, but again it’s a relatively easy fix,” Blasberg said. 

Estate planning: hope for the best, but prepare for the worst
“If you don’t do a will your kids might be 18 years old and all of the sudden something happens to you. They are now inheriting a bank account and some assets, they’re going to blow through it, whereas you would want that money to go towards their college or a wedding or buying their first house,” Blasberg said.

As a mother to two boys, a fourth-grader and a second-grader, and three dogs that live like children three through five, Blasberg admitted that planning for the possibility of tragedy is not a pleasant thought, but clients should remember that the alternative is much worse, regardless of the size of the estate being left behind.

Blasberg’s extensive experience in tax planning is a vital asset in estate planning. She understands the ins and outs of planning for estates worth more than $10 million, which are taxed at nearly a 50-percent rate. However, those are not the only people that Blasberg suggests should have an estate plan.

“It’s never too early to do estate planning, especially if you have children,” she said.

In addition to estate planning and tax controversy, Laura Blasberg Law is a resource for businesses that conduct large transactions. Tax planning is essential to avoid surprises, especially for businesses.

Laura Blasberg Law PLLC Tax and Estate Planning
Phone: 631-364-9010

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By L. Reuven Pasternak, M.D.

At Stony Brook University Hospital, we’ve created a culture of excellence based on health care tailored to meet each individual’s needs and preferences. We want to ensure that our neighbors, friends and families on Long Island who come to us feel comforted, respected and confident about the care they receive from Stony Brook.

Our dedication to providing quality care has earned recognition from numerous organizations in the medical community. Many departments have been recognized by their specialty associations for meeting standards that directly benefit patients:

•Our Endoscopy Unit was recognized for endoscopic quality and safety by the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.

Our Stroke Program was awarded the highest recognition possible for quality care by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With the Guidelines program.

•Our Trauma Center has been ranked in the top decile in the nation for specific outcome measures.

•Stony Brook’s Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory was awarded a bronze-level Beacon Award for Excellence and our Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit earned a silver-level Beacon Award for Excellence, both from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.

•Our Pediatric Nephrology Program has achieved a ranking within the Top 50 Best Children’s Hospitals from U.S. News and World Report.

Our dedication to providing quality care has earned recognition from numerous organizations in the medical community.

•The prestigious Press Ganey Guardian of Excellence Award was presented to our Ambulatory Surgery Center in recognition of its high level of patient satisfaction.

•We have been named a top performer in a New York State Department of Health project to improve nutrition for preterm babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

The New York State Perinatal Quality Collaborative has recognized our performance in reducing elective early-term deliveries by 75 percent, to lower the risk of serious health problems and death for newborns.

And the New York State Department of Health has given us leadership positions in important health care initiatives:

•We received a planning grant to serve as the leader in building a regionalized health care system throughout Suffolk County through the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) program.

•Stony Brook is spearheading a SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment) program, which will screen and provide early intervention and treatment for people with substance use disorders.

Quality of care and patient safety are and always will be our top priorities. We’re proud of the recognition Stony Brook University Hospital has won, but the real winners, of course, are our patients and the community.

L. Reuven Pasternak, M.D. is the CEO of  Stony Brook University Hospital and the vice president for Health Systems at Stony Brook Medicine.

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Before we can tackle the complexities of weight loss, we have to understand that there are a number of misconceptions. Therefore, “synonymous” is the word of the day. According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, synonymous means, “similar in meaning or significance” (1).

At this point, you’re probably wondering what this has to do with weight loss. Essentially, our weight loss lexicon is full of erroneous synonymous statements.

When we think of weight loss, “obesity” is often the first thing that comes to mind; however, someone who needs to lose weight is not the same as someone who is obese. Weight loss can be important for not just the obese population but also for the overweight and, yes, even for “normal” weight individuals.

Our second erroneously synonymous relationship is between having a normal body-mass index (BMI) and being fit. If I am within the ideal range of BMI (18-25 kg/m2), then I am fit. BMI is a measurement that involves only height and weight, not body fat or lean muscle mass. Body fat and muscle mass are much more important components to being truly fit than BMI. They are more closely related to achieving better health.

Weight loss is also thought of as being synonymous with better health. While it can be the case, this is not necessarily true. Some patients lose weight unintentionally with a chronic illness or even with sarcopenia (muscle wasting), which is actually unhealthy.

Yet, another mistaken interpretation is based on the presumption that if the body burns 3,500 calories, then you should lose roughly one pound. The problem with this is that there is a multitude of factors involved with weight loss, including metabolism, medications, diet composition, exercise or calorie expenditure, stress and the hormones leptin and ghrelin.

Weight loss misconceptions can impact our results.

Finally, the last faulty synonymous relationship that I will mention is that of carbohydrates and grains. Though grains are carbohydrates, not all carbohydrates are grains. In fact, starchy vegetables, dark green leafy vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes are all carbohydrates.

Where am I going with this? Well, let’s look at the research.

The disappointment of ‘The Biggest Loser

No, I am not talking about the reality TV show’s ratings. Instead, I’m referring to a recently completed study that followed season 8 contestants. The study’s results show that resting metabolic rate, better known as metabolism while relaxing, decreases with significant weight loss and does not seem to return to baseline levels even after reducing exercise and diet restrictions (2). In other words, the body may have a set point to which it struggles to return. Most of the participants in the study gained back most of the weight lost or even more than what they had lost, except for one participant. This is not surprising; participants exercised enormous amounts of time per day, treating exercise as a full time job. One contestant said that he was exercising seven hours a day and burning 8,000 to 9,000 kcal/day.

While the actual weight loss competition was over 30 weeks, or approximately seven months, the researchers looked at the contestants six years after the program. The findings were disheartening. According to a New York Times opinion piece entitled, “Why you can’t lose weight on a diet” by a neuroscientist, we should stop dieting and focus on exercise and mindful eating (3). Though I would agree that exercise and mindful eating are very important, so is your diet or lifestyle modification as a whole.

Believe it or not, there were still positives that came from this study. Although the participants could not maintain the diet restrictions or strenuous exercise, there was still a significant improvement in fat mass six years later.

However, the study did have its weaknesses. There was no control group, and the study was very small, with only 14 out of 16 participants evaluated at six years. There were only three data points, one at baseline, one at 30 weeks and one at six years, so we have no idea what happened between seven months and six years. Also, it is not clear from the study what participants were eating during the first 30 weeks or thereafter, nor how much exercise they were getting. This description was obfuscated at best in the study.

Exercise: It’s all in the timing

While exercise has recently gotten a bum rap for its low effectiveness with weight loss, there may be hope yet! In a recent small randomized controlled trial, the results showed that athletes who were given the same amount of carbohydrates but consumed them only at breakfast and lunch — but not dinner — performed significantly better and had more lean muscle mass than a traditional diet where carbohydrates are distributed throughout the day (4).

This modification of timing with the carbs was referred to as the “sleep-low” diet. The athletes on the sleep-low diet performed especially well in the morning, when they were mostly relying on fat as a source of fuel, not carbs. Previous studies that had reduced carbs rather than change their timing had mixed results. Though this study involved athletes, there could be some benefit to you and me in terms of fat loss and lean muscle development.

Why BMI is less relevant

People tend to be obsessed with BMI. BMI defines whether someone is obese, overweight or in the “ideal” weight range. However, we should never be defined by our weight. BMI is also not the most accurate reading. This next study is an example of this point. Here, results showed that those who had a BMI of 27, considered to be overweight, were the least likely to die prematurely (5).

This means that being overweight is better than ideal weight, right? Not so fast! For one thing, the population was Danish, not American. For another, it was unclear whether the researchers took into account unintentional weight loss, such as from sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass that occurs in the elderly who don’t exercise) or chronic diseases, such as autoimmune diseases. Thus, BMI does not give a complete picture of someone’s health status.

Fruits and vegetables to the rescue

The good news is that taking diet composition into account may help an individual prevent weight gain. In a meta-analysis (a group of three observational studies), results showed that fruit and vegetable consumption was inversely associated with weight gain (6). Fruits and vegetables included dark leafy green vegetables, any type of berries, pears and apples. These are considered to have higher fiber and a lower glycemic load.

The exception to the inverse association was with starchy vegetables, which are considered to have lower fiber and higher glycemic load. Examples include corn and potatoes. These contributed to weight gain.

The takeaway from this is that doing extreme things to try to lose weight rapidly is not sustainable and could ultimately result in detrimental long-term effects. Also, one should not focus on BMI, but rather on body composition, especially fat percentage and fat mass. Exercise before eating carbohydrates, such as grains and starchy vegetables, is more likely to burn fat and produce lean muscle mass. And, finally, concentrating on diet composition, especially fruits and vegetables, is likely to result in healthy weight loss and a favorable change in body composition.


(1) (2) Obesity (Silver Spring). Online May 2, 2016. (3) (4) Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2016 Apr;48(4):663-672. (5) JAMA. 2016;315(18):1989-1996. (6) PLoS Med 13(1): e1001956.

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, visit or consult your personal physician.

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By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

On April 26 I presided at a funeral like no other in my 37 years within our community. The young man died too young — he was only 25. He came from a loving, tight-knit family. At the end of his funeral Mass, his father came to the pulpit and shared this powerful reflection:

“At my funeral these were my words spoken through my dad. I passed away on April 22, 2016, and I am looking to help those who struggle like I did. This is my story and my truth.

My name is Billy. I want to thank you all for coming and supporting my family. I shouldn’t be in this box but I am, and I’m doing great now. You know I am both a simple and complicated person. I am private, very private and proud. But even though I am so private my family and friends knew so much about me. For those who may not really know me, I’m going to share myself with you.

As a kid, I loved my sister J cause she taught me how to play baseball and everything else. I loved baseball — playing catch and doing pop-ups and grounders with J and my dad. I love my other sister — she was my second mother; she always made sure I was safe. I love my mom —she truly did everything for me. She is a rock — she was my rock. I love my dog Bullet. He was sick and we had to put him down just a few months ago. He always listened to me perfectly. He was my companion and his ashes are right next to me now.

I grew up in Miller Place and I loved baseball with my close friends. Did you know that I didn’t like school? (except of course if the teacher was pretty and of course going each day to see my friends.)

See, I had a problem with pills, actually for long time. This disease tortured and tormented me. My mom and dad took me to rehab many times. I did internal rehabs every minute of every day of my life. At times, I was so successful for long stretches . . . but, then I would give in and I don’t know why. I cannot explain it. It weighed heavy on me…

So, let me tell you what actually happened on Friday, April 22. It was a great day. I went outside. The sun was shining and actually it was a little warm, especially as I shot some basketball hoops in the driveway. I saw my mom, then texted her again later. I went to Stop and Shop for candy. I couldn’t wait for dad to get home — the weekend — cousin Dave’s house on Sunday — Game of Thrones Sunday night.

Then the devil took over. He tormented me like many times before. My heart hurt, my brain wasn’t working right. I went and sold a valuable of mine and I bought heroin. For the first time I thought I had a plan that would last but, of course, instead it killed me. I went softly as God said I had enough. The devil wasn’t going to torment me anymore. I was at home, where I loved to be, and now I’m in heaven smiling.

I’m sorry I have caused you so much pain. I always worried about everyone too.  I need everyone to go back to their routines and be safe. Please listen to me. Hug your loved ones like I hugged and kissed my mom and dad and sisters. Don’t let a minute ago by without saying ‘I love you.’ My pain is over. Enjoy. Be happy for me. Make me proud too. Be loyal to each other.

Lastly, I always struggled searching for what I was going to do with my life — my future. How can I be successful and live up to my own expectations? I now know and I’m smiling, because I actually got asked to be an angel, an angel to watch over my dad and mom and all the people I love and care for. I found my calling and I have a lot of work to do!

Please be smart and be careful. I love you all past the sky … My name is Billy. Don’t forget me!”

What you have just read are excerpts from a powerful letter written by a grieving dad in his loving son’s name. Since his son’s death, he, his wife and daughters have committed themselves to raising awareness to this national health epidemic that is claiming so many lives rich with potential and possibility.

The challenge before us is daunting. We must take the blinders off and realize that together we can eradicate this epidemic in our community if we care enough to stand up and be counted.

*Excerpts are reprinted with permission from the Reitzig family.

Fr. Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

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By Nancy Burner, ESQ.

Many people who own real property, whether it is a family home or a vacation home, have a common estate planning goal: protect the house and transfer it to the next generation.

One way to transfer real property to your beneficiaries during your life is to execute a deed with a life estate. For the owner, this means that you will retain the right to live in the home until your death, but upon your demise, the property will be fully owned by your beneficiaries. Because you retained a lifetime interest in the property, you would still be able to claim any exemptions with respect to the property.

There are several benefits to executing a deed with a life estate. First, it is easy and relatively inexpensive. Because the property is a transfer, it will start the look-back period for Medicaid. For nursing home care, the transfer must be more than five years prior to your application for coverage. There is no look-back period for home care, so the property would be considered “unavailable” in the month after the transfer. Moreover, when you pass away, the beneficiaries will get a “step-up” in basis that will eliminate or lessen capital gains tax due if they did sell the property. 

However, the negative aspects to this kind of transfer typically outweigh its benefits. The first is loss of control. Once you have transferred the deed to your beneficiaries, they own it. If you wanted to sell the property or change who received it, you would have to get the permission of those to whom you initially transferred the property. If one of your beneficiaries dies before you, their estate will own a piece of your house. If their estate pays to their spouse, you could have in-laws owning your property when you would have preferred that share to go to the decedent’s children.

Lastly, if the property is sold during your lifetime, you may incur a capital gains tax. When a person sells their primary residence, they receive a $250,000.00 exemption, which means that a tax would only be imposed if the gain on the property was more than $250,000.00. However, when your ownership interest is a life estate, you do not get the full $250,000.00 and therefore may inadvertently incur a tax. For Medicaid purposes, if the house is sold, your interest in the property will be valued and what was once an exempt asset will convert to cash. If this cash amount plus what you already have exceeds the Medicaid asset limit, currently $14,850.00, you would be ineligible for Medicaid.

Another way to transfer real property at death is to create a last will and testament with specific provisions with respect to that property. For instance: “My Executor shall distribute my real property located at 1 Smith Street, Smithsville, New York, to my children, in equal shares.” This means that upon your death, your executor would probate your will in Surrogate’s Court and once they receive approval from the court, they could effectuate the transfer to your children as desired.

The benefit to this kind of planning is that you retain complete control over the property until your death. The downside is that it provides no asset protection and your beneficiaries would have to wait until the probate process is completed before they received the real property.

Moreover, any disinherited heirs would have the opportunity to object to your will. If you have children and are treating them equally, then this would not be a concern, but for those who are treating children unequally or for those who do not have children and are leaving property to a nonfamily member, a traditional will may not be the best option.

The last way to devise real property is through a trust. While there are many different types of trust, for the purposes of this article we can divide them into two categories: revocable vs. irrevocable trusts. A revocable trust allows the creator to maintain complete control over the property in the trust, whereas an irrevocable trust typically limits your access to the property and forces you to designate someone other than yourself (or your spouse) as the trustee. All trusts avoid the probate process. Similar to a will, the property would continue for your benefit during your life and would not transfer to the beneficiaries until after your death.

In addition to avoidance of probate, irrevocable Medicaid trusts protect the property in case you need Medicaid to cover the cost of long-term care in the future as transfers to irrevocable Medicaid trusts begin the five-year look-back period even though you maintain control over the asset. This control is in the form of the ability to change your trustee and your beneficiaries any time. The house can be sold at any time and a successor property purchased without incurring any negative tax consequences.

The biggest negative to the trust is the cost to set it up. Typically, attorneys charge more to prepare a trust than a simple will or deed transfer.

Nancy Burner, Esq. practices
elder law and estate planning from her East Setauket office.

Tessa Grady (As Millie Dillmount) in a scene from ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie.’ Photo by Michael DeCristofaro

By Heidi Sutton

“Thoroughly Modern Millie” opened at the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport last Saturday, a fitting finale to its 2015-16 season. With music by Jeanine Tesori, lyrics by Dick Scanlan and book by Richard Morris and Scanlan, the play is based on the 1967 film starring Julie Andrews and won six Tony awards, including Best Musical in 2002. It has been making the rounds in community theater and high school productions ever since.

Sarah Stevens (as Miss Dorothy Brown) and Tessa Grady (as Millie Dillmount) sing “How the Other Half Lives” in a scene from ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie.’ Photo from Michael DeCristofaro
Sarah Stevens (as Miss Dorothy Brown) and Tessa Grady (as Millie Dillmount) sing “How the Other Half Lives” in a scene from ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie.’ Photo from Michael DeCristofaro

Drew Humphrey directs the talented cast with polish and precision. From the jazzy opening number, “Not for the Life of Me,” the show takes off running and never loses momentum.

The year is 1922 and “modern gal” Millie Dillmount, played by Tessa Grady, has just arrived in the Big Apple from Salina, Kansas, with the sole intent of marrying for money instead of love. Within minutes, she is robbed of her hat, her purse and a shoe. She quips, “10 minutes in this town and I have my New York horror story.” Grady is perfectly cast as a determined woman who takes charge of her own destiny and jumps right in to the flapper lifestyle with a new wardrobe and hairstyle. However, things start to go haywire when her “Chinese” landlady, Mrs. Meers, turns out to be an impostor involved in a white slavery ring in China, and the rich man Millie wants to marry doesn’t seem to notice her.

Daniel Plimpton (as Jimmy Smith) and Tessa Grady (as Millie Dillmount) sing “I Turned a Corner” in a scene from ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie.’ Photo by Michael DeCristofaro
Daniel Plimpton (as Jimmy Smith) and Tessa Grady (as Millie Dillmount) sing “I Turned a Corner” in a scene from ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie.’ Photo by Michael DeCristofaro

With fancy footwork and pitch-perfect voices, the entire cast shines, with special mention to Daniel Plimpton (playing Jimmy Smith), Sarah Stevens (as Miss Dorothy Brown), Nicole Powell (as Muzzy Van Hossmere) and Tim Rogan (playing Mr. Trevor Graydon), who all gave stellar performances. However, it is Michele Ragusa, in the delicious role of Mrs. Meers, and her two henchmen, Ching Ho, played by Anthony Chan, and Bun Foo, played by Carl Hsu, who steal the show. Meers’ famous line, “Sad to be all alone in the world,” said every time she comes upon an orphan and next victim, draws the most laughs.

The show is a feast for the eyes, with glittering flapper dresses and three-piece suits designed by Kurt Alger perfectly capturing the era. The set is equally impressive. Cleverly designed by Jonathan Collins, panels on the stage resemble a sparkling New York City skyline, and when spun around reveal small additions to a scene such as a desk or a bench.

Nicole Powell (as Muzzy Van Hossmere) and Tessa Grady (as Millie Dillmount) in a scene from ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie.' Photo by Michael DeCristofaro
Nicole Powell (as Muzzy Van Hossmere) and Tessa Grady (as Millie Dillmount) in a scene from ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie.’ Photo by Michael DeCristofaro

Choreographers Dena DiGiacinto and Humphrey do an incredible job incorporating the jazz age’s dance styles, including the Charleston, the shimmy and the can-can. “The Speed Test” in which Millie shows her typewriting speed, accompanied by a highly energetic tap ensemble, is breathtaking. As a special treat, conductor/keyboardist James Olmstead and his eight-piece powerhouse band belt out jazz and blues tunes flawlessly throughout the night, completing a wonderful evening of live theater.

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport will present “Thoroughly Modern Millie” through July 10. Running time is approximately two hours, including one 15-minute intermission. Tickets range from $69 to $74 with free valet parking.

The season continues with “Mamma Mia!” from July 21 to Sept. 11, “1776” from Sept. 22 to Nov. 6 and “Mary Poppins” from Nov. 17 to Jan. 1, 2017. To order tickets, call 631-261-2900 or visit

Anthony Chan (as Ching Ho), Michele Ragusa (as Mrs. Meers) and Carl Hsu (as Bun Foo) sing “Muqin” in a scene from ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie.’ Photo by Michael DeCristofaro
Anthony Chan (as Ching Ho), Michele Ragusa (as Mrs. Meers) and Carl Hsu (as Bun Foo) sing “Muqin” in a scene from ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie.’ Photo by Michael DeCristofaro

A fire broke out early on Memorial Day on Leeward Court, in the Highlands condominiums in uptown Port Jefferson.

The Port Jefferson Fire Department and Port Jefferson Village fire marshal were on the scene of the blaze in the early hours of the morning.

Several board members at this Port Jefferson hospital have been serving for decades. Photo by Alex Petroski

In the National Football League, it is widely believed that team success can be traced back to a long, stable relationship between head coach and quarterback. The longer those two have been working together and in perfect harmony, the likelihood for success usually goes up.

The board of directors at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital have followed a similar blueprint, and they couldn’t be happier with the results. Mather’s board chairman is Kenneth Jacoppi,  and he has held that position for about 10 years, though he began serving on the board in May 1977. Konrad Kuhn joined the board a year later. One year after that, Harold Tranchon joined. All three remain on the board of directors to this day.

“Honestly, when you have board members who have been there for a long length of time they have institutional memory and a long understanding of [the] changing field of medical care,” hospital President Kenneth Roberts said in a phone interview.

He has a long tenure as well: This June marks the 30th anniversary of when Roberts took over that post. Prior to becoming president he served four years as the vice president.

Jacoppi, 78, who was the president of his senior class at Port Jefferson High School and later went on to become a lawyer, reflected on his near 40 years at Mather and his lifetime in the community in a phone interview.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would serve this long,” he said.

Jacoppi referred to others on the board as his “Mather family,” and said that his fondness and pride for his community have contributed to keeping him in the position for so long.

During the decades under the current leadership team, Mather has earned a Magnet designation for nursing excellence, achieved the highest patient experience scores in Suffolk County, been recognized as the only hospital in New York State to earn nine consecutive A ratings for patient safety and quality from the Leapfrog Group and established a new graduate medical education program, among many other accomplishments.

“You have a stability you don’t have in most organizations,” Jacoppi said. “We obviously want to provide the best possible care to people in the area.”

‘Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would serve this long.’
—Kenneth Jacoppi

Jacoppi added one of the things he’s picked up in his experience over the years is to be “a bit more laid back and patient.” He referred to himself when he started as a “hard-charging young lawyer” who had to learn to listen to other viewpoints and think about the effect decisions would have on doctors and the community.

Clearly Jacoppi and the rest of the board have figured out a way to stay on top of their game in what he and Roberts both referred to as an extremely challenging time for health care.

“In the old days, the volunteers held grand card parties under the huge old tree on the Mather lawn that helped raise money to provide exceptional health care for the community,” Jacoppi said in a statement from the hospital.

Times may have changed, but the Mather board of directors has not.

Long Islanders came together on Memorial Day to remember all the people throughout American history who gave their lives for their country. Events were held on May 30 across Suffolk County, with neighbors using wreaths, flags and rifle shots to pay tribute to the fallen heroes.