Monthly Archives: July 2016

Benefit concert rakes in $55,000 for Suffolk County Crimestoppers

By Rebecca Anzel

The first thing Suffolk County Police Chief Stuart Cameron does when he gets to work each morning is check the communications section log, which tracks all significant events from the night before. More often than he would like, he reads that at least one young adult died from drug-related causes. And almost every time he is in a police car, he hears a call about an overdose on the radio.

“It is unprecedented — the opioid crisis affects everybody,” Cameron said over the sound of “Walking in Memphis” playing in the background. “We absolutely have to do something about it.”

The Emporium in Patchogue was filled with almost 600 people Thursday night, all there to listen to Billy Joel and Led Zeppelin cover bands, who were there to raise money for SCPD’s Crime Stopper’s four-month-old narcotics tip phone line, 631-852-NARC, which has already received nearly 900 tips — so much that the SCPD added detectives to investigate leads.

Teri Kroll lost her son Timothy to a heroin overdose in 2006. Photo by Rebecca Anzel
Teri Kroll lost her son Timothy to a heroin overdose in 2006. Photo from Teri Kroll

The original Suffolk County Crime Stoppers tip line generated a lot of helpful leads, Cameron said, but residents did not realize they could use the number to call in narcotics-related ones. Now, narcotic search warrants are up 100 percent this year, he said, and the amount of reward money given to those who called in tips leading to an arrest was higher than it had been in the past 20 years.

The benefit concert raised $55,000 in one night, all of which funds rewards. Donations are the sole way rewards are funded.

Michael DelGuidice, a Miller Place resident and front-man of Billy Joel tribute band Big Shot, said that the night’s concert was the right way to start fighting the county’s heroin epidemic, but stressed that it needs to be just the beginning of more action.

“As parents and fellow Long Islanders, we need to do something,” he said. “It’s going to be a fight, and it’s going to take a lot of collaboration, but we need to think of future fundraising efforts too.”

Teri Kroll’s son Timothy died at age 23 from a heroin overdose on Aug. 29, 2009. He became addicted to oxycodone after a doctor prescribed it to help alleviate the pain from his migraines. When his parents found out, they took the drugs from him and began the process of helping him recover, but they did not know he had turned to heroin.

The doctor, Seji Francis, was sentenced to six months in prison and deported after Timothy reported him to police. But during the process of helping her son and the detectives, his mother said there were no resources for her to turn to for help; no other mothers to call. There was a stigma around heroin addiction that there does not seem to be now.

“This event allows us to let our guard down, relax and know we’re doing a good thing at the same time.”–Teri Kroll

“The whole thing was hard on my family, but my son suffered the worst. Speaking out about this is my mom job for Timothy,” said Kroll, who is now the PUSH Coordinator for the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. “This event allows us to let our guard down, relax and know we’re doing a good thing at the same time.”

She added that if Timothy was at the event, he would be smiling and dancing with whoever was around him.

“The room was packed – and Michael DelGuidice gets it, and is willing to speak out on behalf of the disease of addiction and put his time an energy in the fight against what drives this epidemic – the drug dealers,” Kroll said. “The Suffolk County Police Department and Suffolk County Crime Stoppers have made it easy to report the dealers – proving zero tolerance in Suffolk County. We are attacking this epidemic from all sides, just what Timothy would have liked to see.”

Louis Iacona, president of Long Island Helps Recovery Initiation, said this event was a fun way to raise money and awareness about Suffolk County’s heroin problem. He struggled with the drug and found there were not a lot of resources available to help him recover.

“We need to smash this heroin epidemic to smithereens,” Iacona said.

Smithtown resident Nick Santoria, guitarist for Led Zeppelin cover band Zofolk, said the band was grateful to be invited to play at such an important event.

“We love to partake in such a great cause,” he said. “Crime Stoppers is doing such a great job and we wanted to help in any way we could.”

Residents can report tips or information regarding past crimes and drug dealing anonymously by calling 1-800-220-TIPS. Rewards of up to $5,000 will be issued.

Transportation workers set up a sign letting travelers know of road changes. Photo from NYS Department of Transportation

Motorists who travel on Route 347 between Terry Road and Gibbs Pond Road should expect changes, as construction is set to begin Aug. 1

According to the New York State Department of Transportation, travel lanes will be reduced and night closures will start so that construction can begin as part of the Route 347 Safety, Mobility and Environmental Improvement Project. The $36.2 million plan is meant to improve motorists’ safety and mobility and transform the roadway into a modified boulevard and suburban greenway for 15 miles through the towns of Smithtown, Islip and Brookhaven.

According to the department, east and westbound travel lanes will be shifted toward the center median to accommodate work on the north and south sides of the roadway.  In addition, the current median opening at Garfield Court between Lake Avenue and Gibbs Pond Road, and the opening at the Smithtown Highway Department west of Southern Boulevard will both be permanently closed for the safety of motorists.

Due to the lane shifts, intermittent single-lane closures will be in effect Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.  Work requiring more than a single-lane closure in each direction will take place at night between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., Monday through Friday nights, weather permitting.

The department said in a statement that motorists will be warned in advance of the closings via electronic road signs but should plan to take alternate routes to avoid delays.

For real-time travel information motorists should call 511 or visit New York’s official traffic and travel information website: www.511NY.org.

The historic Drowned Meadow Cottage Museum is open to the public. Photo by Wenhao Ma

By Wenhao Ma

Port Jefferson history buffs got a sneak peak back in time at an event July 21, which previewed new additions at one of the village’s most historic sites.

The exhibits on display at the historic Drowned Meadow Cottage Museum were revealed for those in attendance at the special event. The museum contains artifacts, including a handwritten letter legitimizing the involvement of Port Jefferson in George Washington’s Culper Spy Ring during the Revolutionary War.

The historic Drowned Meadow Cottage Museum is open to the public with some added attractions. Photo by Wenhao Ma
The historic Drowned Meadow Cottage Museum is open to the public with some added attractions. Photo by Wenhao Ma

The museum was first opened in 2011, though it was closed shortly after. The re­opening of the house in 2015 was tied to the discovery of the letter, which is displayed at the museum and was written in 1780 by Loyalist solider Nehemiah Marks. The July 21 event also debuted the museum’s second floor, which had never previously been safe for occupancy, according to Georgette Grier-Key, village historian and curator of the house. She described the new addition as a “peek-a-boo deck” because visitors of the second floor can see some of the house’s exposed architecture, in addition to more exhibits that demonstrate the house’s history.

“It’s very significant to our shared American history,” Grier­-Key said of the museum. “It’s a surviving Revolutionary War structure circa 1755.”

The house belonged to Philips Roe. He and his brother, Nathaniel Roe, according to the letter, were providing intelligence and supplies to Washington’s army.

The house, located today at West Broadway and Barnum Avenue across from Port Jefferson Harbor, has been moved several times during its history. The most recent move took place in 2008 when the house was restored and made into a museum with the help of Robert Sisler, Port Jefferson’s first historian who passed away earlier this month.

“It’s very significant to our shared American history…it’s a surviving Revolutionary War structure circa 1755.” —Georgette Grier-Key

A foundation had to be built under the house to raise it high above the ground because the house is in a floodplain, according to Jim Szakmary, who has been assisting Grier­-Key in setting up the museum. Szakmary also said the house is so old that when restoring it they had to use steel rods that went all the way from the roof to the cement foundation to secure it.

Szakmary said private collectors and other museums donated or lent their collections to the Drowned Meadow Cottage museum in advance of the re-opening July 21.

“With the significance of the Culper Spy Ring,” said Mayor Margot Garant, who attended and spoke during the event, “it’s really mind-blowing to actually be standing in the house.”

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Jewish Summer Festival attendees watch the performance with cotton candy and snow cones. Photo by Jim Harrison

More than 500 people stopped by West Meadow Beach last Wednesday evening for the three-hour Jewish Summer Festival.

Entertainment included an acrobatic performance by Cirque-tacular Entertainment, the music of Israeli singer Sandy Shmuely, face-painting and a moon bounce for the children.

That and a kosher barbecue dinner with all the fixings were part of the lure, but the bigger enticement was the camaraderie and friendship the festival offers.

The festival is a creation of Chabad at Stony Brook, and is co-directed by Rabbi Motti and Chaya Grossbaum.

“Seven years ago,” said Rabbi Grossbaum, “I was looking for a way to bring the community together for a public celebration of Jewish life, pride and future here in Suffolk County.” Now in its seventh year, it has become a midsummer classic event that many people look forward to.

A NYC Cirque-tacular Entertainment duo wows the crowd. Photo by Jim Harrison
A NYC Cirque-tacular Entertainment duo wows the crowd. Photo by Jim Harrison

The festival has grown every year, he said, gathering new partiers and sponsors as well.

“It’s nice to ‘hear’ your culture,” said Dominique Shapiro of Smithtown, referring to Shmuely’s music, “and to meet people—young, old, Jewish, non-Jewish—and also bump into those you know.”

Shapiro discovered the festival last year and brought her family again this year. Her three children played in the sand, sampled the food and swayed to the sounds of Shmuely’s guitar.

Steve Zalta of Holbrook attended with nine members of his family, including his two young granddaughters who, he said, danced away to the Hebrew music.

The 63-year-old sales rep of Syrian descent moved to Long Island from Brooklyn 30 years ago. He said at first, he used to go back to Brooklyn for Jewish content and connections; now, he has found outlets where he lives.

“We’re all one family,” he said in general. Of the summer event, in particular, “It’s a way for the children to see their heritage.”

Rabbi Grossbaum thanked the crowd for attending, and acknowledged the sponsors for helping make the night a success and bringing the community together. In fact, that’s what drew Elyse Buchman of Setauket to the festival for the second time.

“It’s very community-based,” she said. “No matter what temple you’re affiliated with—or none at all—you get together as a community and share in a good time. There are not a lot of places where you can do that.”

Buchman and her husband Marty are owners of the Stony Brookside Bed & Bike Inn, which opened in June and focuses on bike tours. She pronounced the North Shore “full of history and beauty that often falls under the radar.”

The icing on the festival cake was, as Shapiro noted, a very beautiful sunset, “one of the best on Long Island.”

Daniel Stratton (center) speaks at a press conference about a resolution to ban smoking at athletic fields with Legislator William Spencer, (left) and Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (right). Photo from Jennifer Mish

By Wenhao Ma

Huntington legislators want to clear the air.

Town Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D), joined by Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport), announced new legislation, on July 14, that would prohibit smoking on athletic fields across Huntington Town.

Smoking in town parks and beaches has been banned for years — but athletic fields have not been specifically addressed in any town laws. The new legislation, according to Spencer’s office, is a response to residents who have expressed concerns about being exposed to secondhand smoke at sporting events.

Daniel Stratton is one of those concerned residents, and he brought the proposed code amendment to Cuthbertson’s attention.

“I noticed some of my children’s coaches leaving the dugout to smoke a cigarette just outside the fence of the field,” Stratton said in an email. “Aside from this being an obviously unhealthy behavior to model for the children, it seemed very counterintuitive when we are trying to get our children outside to be active and healthy.

“Even a child becoming conditioned to see cigarettes out in public or out at a ball field has an impact. [The legislation] is something that in the long term will save lives.”
— William Spencer

Stratton, who is a former health teacher, said he started researching laws and regulations for smoking at athletic fields and that is how he got involved with Cuthbertson.

“I discovered [there] was already a ban at Huntington beaches and playgrounds and I saw that this was spearheaded by Councilman Cuthbertson. So I contacted him to find out if there was already a law that encompassed [athletic fields] and if not, how I could pursue a resolution to this situation,” he said.

According to the legislation, no person shall smoke a tobacco product, herbal product, marijuana, cigarette, electronic cigarette, pipe, cigar, vapors, e-liquids or other legal marijuana derivatives in an outdoor playground or athletic field that is town-owned property.

Cuthbertson said the legislation is meant to keep the lungs of Huntington resident’s as safe as possible.

“The goal of my legislation is to protect residents and their families from the health concerns related to secondhand smoke,” he said in a statement. “If passed, this will extend my smoking legislation to include playgrounds, beaches and athletic fields.”

Cuthbertson’s proposal is seen as the result of the cooperation between the Town of Huntington and the Suffolk County Legislature.

In 2012, the county legislature passed a law restricting smoking in county parks and beaches to parking facilities only. Smoking on county-owned athletic fields was also prohibited. But county laws do not apply to town properties, which leaves smoking on town athletic fields untouched.

Spencer thanked Cuthbertson for drafting the new legislation, which he called “a bold step” in helping to reduce the rate of smoking among the youth and ensuring clean air for all who visit the town’s sports fields.

“Everything counts,” Spencer said in a statement. “Even a child becoming conditioned to see cigarettes out in public or out at a ball field has an impact. [The legislation] is something that in the long term will save lives.”

According to the American Lung Association, tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemical compounds and at least 69 of the chemicals are known to cause cancer. Secondhand smoke is also toxic, and causes more than 41,000 deaths per year. ALA’s website says more than 24 million children in the U.S. have been exposed to second-hand smoke, and it is responsible for between 150,000 and 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections in infants and children under 18 months of age.

“As a practicing pediatric ear, nose, and throat physician, protecting residents from the dangers of tobacco is a cause near and dear to my heart,” Spencer said. “This is why I stand here with my colleagues on the town level to advocate for these measures.”

A public hearing on this resolution is scheduled at a town board meeting on Aug. 16.

Cold Spring Harbor performs at the Village Center in Port Jefferson on July 21. Photo by Joseph Wolkin

By Joseph Wolkin

Thursday nights in July are for music, beautiful sunsets and good times in Port Jefferson.

The Harborside Concert Series hosted its second of four installments July 21 at Harborfront Park outside of the Village Center.

Amid the warm temperature and radient sky, the Cold Spring Harbor Band took to the stage to perform a Billy Joel tribute concert.

Led by Pat Farrell, known as “Piano Man Pat,” the band played chronologically according to Joel’s career. Starting with his first album, “Cold Spring Harbor,” the band played covers of the singer’s most popular songs.

The Cold Spring Harbor Band. Photo by Joseph Wolkin
The Cold Spring Harbor Band. Photo by Joseph Wolkin

“This is a fantastic venue,” Farrell said after the concert. “We play at a lot of places, but we’re playing right by the water. It’s just incredible and we had a great turnout. It’s beautiful here at Port Jefferson.”

Husband and wife Bill and Margie Recco attended the concert as part of a relaxing evening by the water with their friends. Margie Recco attended high school with Joel at Hicksville High School, ut the two never met.

“I think it’s great,” she said about the concert series.

Her husband agreed.

“It’s lovely here,” he said. “It has a breeze. It’s a wonderful night. There’s a free concert and it’s just really nice.”

“Every venue is different,” Farrell said. “You have great weather. It’s right on the water. Port Jefferson is world-renowned. It’s right up there.”

The Cold Spring Harbor Band ended the evening by singing “I’m Proud to Be an American,” with the crowd getting to their feet and singing along to the patriotic song.

Next up in the Harborside Concert Series is an Aug. 4 performance with Six Gun & DJ Neil Wrangler, featuring country music.

Police are seeking help from the public to identify a man who damaged a glass door at the Bridgeport and Port Jefferson Steamboat Company. Photo from SCPD
Police are trying to identify a man who damaged a glass door at the Bridgeport and Port Jefferson Steamboat Company. Photo from SCPD

After hours boat rides are not allowed.

A glass door to the Bridgeport and Port Jefferson Steamboat Company, located at 102 West Broadway in Port Jefferson, was damaged by a man between 4:15 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. July 23, according to the Suffolk County Police Department.

The suspect appears to be a white male in his 20s or 30s with short brown hair, medium build, seen wearing a gray shirt, gray shorts, black sneakers and a gold chain.

The police department is offering a cash reward up to $5,000 to anyone with information regarding the incident that leads to an arrest.

Anyone with information is asked to call Suffolk County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls remain confidential.

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One hundred years ago this week, The New York Times has reported, the worst terrorist attack on the United States until 9/11 occurred in New York Harbor. Black Tom Island, supposedly named after an early African-American resident and owned by the Lehigh Valley Railroad, lay next to Liberty Island and was the site of three-quarters of the American-made ammunitions readied for shipment to Allied forces in World War I. Stored in warehouses, in railroad cars and on barges on the small island, the munitions were targeted with small fires shortly after midnight on July 30, 1916, and the first explosion had the force of about a 5.5 earthquake on the Richter scale. It blew out windows of buildings in lower Manhattan and Jersey City, damaged the skirt and torch of the Statue of Liberty, shattered the stained glass windows in St. Patrick’s Cathedral and windows in Times Square, shook and possibly damaged the Brooklyn Bridge, threw people out of their beds and was heard as far away as Philadelphia and Maryland.

On that fateful night, some 2 million pounds of small arms and artillery ammunition were on the island, along with 100,000 pounds of TNT on Johnson Barge No. 17. Initially small fires broke out along the mile-long pier, and while some of the guards fled, fearing explosions, others attempted to fight the fires and called the Jersey City Fire Department for help. The first and largest explosion, at 2:08 a.m, produced a rain of bullets and fragments, followed by mists of ash that made fighting the fires impossible; and the smaller fires burned for hours, causing explosions throughout the night.

While hundreds were hurt, surprisingly only a few people were killed, including a policeman in Jersey City, the railroad chief of police, the barge captain and an infant thrown from its crib a mile away. Two guards were quickly arrested for having triggered the disaster by lighting smudge pots on the pier to keep away the ever-present mosquitoes until it was realized that the pots were too far from the fires to have been the cause. Further investigation, which continued for years, identified the culprits as German agents who were trying to stop the shipments.

Until early 1915, the neutral United States was able to supply any nation with arms, but after the blockade of Germany by the British Royal Navy, only the Allied forces could purchase arms. Imperial Germany sent secret agents to the U.S. to obstruct production and delivery, and some of them caused havoc and civilian panic in the ensuing years. An effective weapon was the “cigar bomb” that was silently attached to the hulls of departing American munitions ships and only exploded after the vessels were well out to sea. Many ships, with their cargo and crew, were lost that way.

President Woodrow Wilson was desperately trying to cling to neutrality before the coming, tightly contested election against Charles Evans Hughes, chief justice of the Supreme Court and former New York governor. Wilson, as the president who had kept the nation out of war, initially refused to recognize the explosions as the work of the Germans. But after the election indisputable evidence forced his hand, and by early 1917 he prepared the country for war against Germany.

After the war, the railroad sought payment for damages under the U.S.-German Peace Treaty (1921) signed in Berlin and, at last in 1953, an agreement was reached for $50 million to be paid to the railroad. Dozens of railroad cars, six piers and 13 warehouses had simply disappeared into a huge crater filled with water and debris after the first explosion. For practical purposes the island, with its causeway to the mainland, had disappeared. Final payment was not made until 1979. In today’s currency, damages are estimated at $500 million.

Landfill projects through the years time have enabled what little was left to be incorporated into Liberty State Park. A single plaque there tells the tale of the largest terrorist attack until our time.

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man walks into a doctor’s office and can only say two things: teepee and wigwam.

The doctor considers the curious case and decides he’s “too tents.”

While you may have heard the homophone joke, you may also know that the New York Yankees are in a similar position: dealing with two tenses.

They are stuck between trying to do what they can to win now and making trades and decisions that may help them for the future. While this is a baseball-specific problem for the Yankees, it’s an eminently relatable problem.

Should we go for it in the present, hoping to win, win, win now, or should we allow ourselves the opportunity to rebuild and move toward a better future by adding some education, by moving to a new house, getting a new job, or starting or ending a relationship?

We generally live in the present, because that’s what is wanted by our ids — the impulse-driven parts of our psyches. We’re hungry, we want food. We’re tired, we want sleep. We’re sick of hearing politicians who starred in reality shows turning the process into a reality show, we change the channel.

These Yankees, with their high-priced talent, glitz and glamor, and the endless celebration of their own history, have mastered the art of staring in the mirror and liking what they see. The team could easily change its name to “The Narcissi.”

Anyway, can, should, will the Yankees pull the trigger on a host of deals that may replenish a farm system, sacrificing the all-important present for a future that may not produce a better team than the mediocrity they’ve demonstrated?

I don’t have a crystal ball and I don’t rely on the position of the stars, the moon or the tides to make decisions for my favorite team or for my life. Early this week the flamethrowing rent-a-closer on a one-year deal with the Yankees, Aroldis Chapman, was traded to the Chicago Cubs for a four-player package headed by stud shortstop prospect, Gleyber Torres.

How much further they can, or should, go in swapping assets, repositioning the team or realigning their strategy is a favorite game of the endless sports pontificators in the New York area, who always seem to know so much better than everyone else until a player or a team proves them wrong.

From my perspective, the Yankees aren’t a contending team. They are, as the old saying goes, exactly what their record indicates. Early this week, they were a .500 team, which means they win as many games as they lose. In the incredibly competitive American League East, where talented teams like the Red Sox overcome their own pitching flaws with sensational hitting, a win-one, lose-one Yankees team isn’t inspiring confidence.

Of course, the fun of life — and all these games — are the many unpredictable parts. Would anyone have expected the Mets to become a World Series team last year? There are no guarantees, which is what makes any present sacrifice a leap of faith.

We, the fans and the team, might not get something better by making a change.

From my armchair, however, I would plant a “for sale” sign in front of this team with a declining A-Rod, a shadow-of-himself Mark Teixeira and a smoke-and-mirrors starting pitching staff. No one is going to buy Teixeira or A-Rod, but the scales seem to be leaning toward an investment in the future. Now, if the never-give-up Yankees can change course on a faltering season, maybe we can consider moves that might help us win in the future.

Deomcrats and Republicans are in the midst of a heated election season. File photo

Although America’s two major political party conventions will be wrapped up by the end of this week, for many in this country, it seems as if there are four party conventions coming to a close.

If there is one thing Democrats and Republicans share at the moment, it’s the fact that many people feel like outsiders in their own party.

Since the start of the primaries, many traditional conservatives have had trouble accepting presidential candidate Donald Trump (R) as one of their own. On the first day of the convention, some state delegates staged a walkout to protest against Trump. Not only do voters and delegates feel this way — noticeably missing from the event were former Presidents George Bush senior and junior, as well as former presidential candidates John McCain and Mitt Romney. Romney has even gone so far as to hold press conferences to make clear his disdain for Trump and the direction he is leading the party.

Democrats have their own unity issues. After WikiLeaks exposed thousands of Democratic National Committee emails last week, the party seems more divided than ever. #BernieorBust voters within the party have said they will never vote for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (D), staying true to their support for former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (D) — despite his efforts to unite his supporters behind Clinton.

The divides in both parties are clear, but what should be more clear than anything else is that four months from now, this country will have to unite behind a newly elected president.

2016 has already shown us the major obstacles and issues facing America, both at home and abroad.

Our electoral system is not perfect; this election season has shown us that. But it is our system, for better or worse. We’ll need to accept who won, who lost, and most importantly, unify around the winner. The reality is, regardless of who wins, a large contingent of voters will be saddled with a commander in chief they disdain.

It is rare to find a candidate who is everything Americans in one party want, let alone both. Speaking to the #NeverTrump and #BernieorBust voters specifically, there comes a point when you need to decide which candidate represents you the most. Excluding yourself from the process gets you, and the nation, nowhere. Trump or Clinton will move into the White House in January 2017, and it would be best to vote for someone who represents some of your views, as opposed to none of them, or simply not voting at all.

As the election season continues on, it’s important to remember we all need to unite again as one country once the final ballots are cast and the polls are closed.

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