Monthly Archives: September 2017

Baba Ghanoush

By Barbara Beltrami

Actually, eggplant comes in many more shapes and sizes than the large purple global variety with which we are all familiar. A member of the nightshade family, its flowers, not the eggplant itself, can be female or male. So the preference for one or the other is based on myth. What you should concentrate on when choosing an eggplant is the skin, the weight and the hardness or softness of it. A fresh, ripe eggplant has glossy, taut skin, feels somewhat heavy and can be depressed with the thumb with just a little resistance and then return to its form.

While most people think of eggplant as one of the basic ingredients in the popular Italian American dish, eggplant parmigiana, it is, in fact, a staple of many diets, particularly in the Near and Far East. From the Syrian baba ghanoush to the Indian bhurtha to the Thai pud makua yow, eggplant crosses most ethnic boundaries to remind us that we’re not very much different from one another. I don’t often feature Asian recipes in this column simply because I have little experience with them. However, research among some acquaintances for whom the following recipes are traditional has expanded my repertoire.

Bhurtha

Bhurtha

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 medium eggplant

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1 large tomato, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon ground coriander

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped

DIRECTIONS: Preheat broiler. Rub eggplant skin with oil. Place under broiler and turn frequently until skin is charred and inside pulp is soft and mushy. Cut eggplant in half, scoop out flesh, cut into cubes and set aside. In a medium-large skillet, heat the oil, then add the onion, ginger, tomato, garlic, cumin, turmeric, coriander, cayenne, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, just until onion turns opaque. Add eggplant and cook another 10 to 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until most of the moisture is evaporated. Transfer to serving dish and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with naan (oven-baked flatbread), jasmine rice and peas.

Baba Ghanoush

Baba Ghanoush

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 large eggplants

Juice of 2 lemons

2 tablespoons tahini

One large clove garlic, finely minced

Coarse salt, to taste

¹/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS: Wash eggplants and grill whole on gas grill over medium-low heat. Turn frequently until eggplant is cooked on all sides, skin is charred and pulp is soft. Remove from heat, place on a platter and let cool for one hour. Do not be alarmed if it collapses. Peel the eggplant, scrape any flesh that adheres to the skin and put that plus the remaining flesh into a bowl; immediately add lemon juice and mash it in with the eggplant. Add tahini, garlic and salt and mix well. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill. Transfer mixture to a shallow bowl, sprinkle with parsley, and drizzle with olive oil. Serve with pita bread and black olives.

Pud Makua Yow

Pud Makua Yow

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 serrano chiles, stemmed and minced

2 to 3 medium eggplants (preferably the long Japanese ones), cut into one-inch cubes

1 cup water

2 to 3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1½ cups Thai sweet basil leaves, packed

DIRECTIONS: Pour oil into a wok or large skillet; add garlic and chiles. Over medium heat, cook, stirring constantly, until garlic releases its aroma. Add eggplant and one cup water; stir, cover and cook, stirring occasionally and adding more water if necessary, until eggplant is tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. If too much liquid remains, uncover and continue cooking until it is evaporated. Add soy and fish sauces and stir; then add basil and stir again. Serve immediately with rice, tofu or chicken.

PRETTY IN PINK: Shops along East Main Street and, right, the sign at Mather Hospital during last year’s Paint Port Pink event. Photo from Mather Hospital
Month-long events planned in celebration of Paint Port Pink
Astoria Bank will once again present Paint Port Pink to benefit the Fortunato Breast Health Center at Mather Hospital. Above, employees of the Port Jefferson Station branch at last year’s event.

Throughout the month of October, Paint Port Pink, John T. Mather Memorial Hospital’s annual breast cancer community outreach, will once again light up Port Jefferson to raise awareness about the disease, share information and education and foster solidarity in the community.

Presented by Astoria Bank, the outreach encourages women to get their annual mammograms and learn more about breast health. The American Cancer Society reports that the chance of a woman having invasive breast cancer sometime during her life is about 1 in 8. While the vast majority of breast abnormalities are benign, they can cause great anxiety for a woman and her family. Since there is still no sure way to prevent breast cancer, increased awareness, education and early detection are critical components of breast health care.

 

The Fortunato Breast Health Center at Mather Hospital recommends that women follow the American Cancer Society‘s guidelines for early detection of breast cancer: first mammography by age 40 and yearly mammograms after age 40; clinical breast exam at least every three years beginning at age 20 and annually after age 40; and monthly breast self-examination.

Among the new Paint Port Pink offerings this year are two Paint Night fundraisers — one at Comsewogue Public Library in Port Jefferson Station, on Friday, Oct. 13, from 6 to 8 p.m., and at Muse Paintbar in the Harbor Square Mall in Port Jefferson on Thursday, Oct. 26, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Friends, co-workers and family members can have fun painting while supporting the Fortunato Breast Health Center’s Fund for Uninsured. Fee is $45 for each workshop and preregistration is required; $15 from every registration fee at the library and 45 percent from the Muse Bar event will benefit the Fund for Uninsured.

Local retail community partners will offer special events throughout the month to benefit the Fund for the Uninsured including:

Panera Bread in Port Jefferson Station will hold a special fundraising night on Thursday, Oct. 5, from 4 to 8 p.m. with a percentage of all purchases (must present qualifying flyer, available on www.paintportpink.org) donated.

Amazing Olive in Port Jefferson will hold a special olive oil tasting on Thursday, Oct. 12, from 7 to 9 p.m. with 10 percent of the tasting fee donated.

Bounce Blow Dry Bar in Port Jefferson on Friday, Oct. 13, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. will offer blow outs for $20 with 10 percent of the proceeds donated.

Pindar Vineyards Wine Store in Port Jefferson will hold a wine tasting on Saturday, Oct. 14, from 3 to 7 p.m., with 15 percent of all Rosé or Summer Blush wine purchases donated.

Fedora Lounge Boutique Hair Salon, Port Jefferson, will hold a $20 hair cut-a-thon on Saturday, Oct. 14, from noon to 4 p.m. with 100 percent of the proceeds donated.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries in Port Jefferson Station will hold a special fundraising night on Wednesday, Oct. 18, from 4 to 10 p.m. with 10 percent of all purchases donated.

East Main & Main, Port Jefferson, will offer a day of donut tasting on Saturday, Oct. 21, with 10 percent of the proceeds from pink donut sales donated.

Photo from Mather Hospital
The Frigate in Port Jefferson will donate 100 percent of the proceeds from pink cupcakes sales throughout October.

Month-long promotions include:

•Amazing Olive, of Port Jefferson and Patchogue, will donate $1 from every bottle of olive oil sold and 40 percent of special pink ribbon soap purchases.

•Chick-fil-A, Port Jefferson Station, will donate a portion of all milk shake sales.

•The Frigate, Port Jefferson, will donate 100 percent of the proceeds from pink cupcake sales.

•Salon Blond, Port Jefferson, will offer $10 pink hair extensions with 100 percent of the proceeds donated.

•East Main & Main, Port Jefferson, will donate 10 percent of the proceeds from pink donut sales.

•Fedora Lounge Boutique Hair Salon, Port Jefferson, will offer pink hair extensions for $15 or two for $20 with 100 percent of the proceeds donated.

•The Soap Box, Port Jefferson, will donate 10 percent of the proceeds from sales of rose water and jasmine, “pink sugar kiss,” peony rose petal and mistral soap sales.

•The Pie, Port Jefferson, will donate a portion of the proceeds from sales of pink lemonade.

•Tommy’s Place, Port Jefferson, will donate 20 percent of the proceeds from sales of pink cocktails.

•Brewology295, Port Jefferson, will donate 100 percent of the proceeds from sales of its pink cocktail.

In addition, the Port Jefferson Free Library, Port Jefferson, will offer a Paint Port Pink workshop on Friday, Oct. 6, from 2 to 4 p.m. where visitors can drop in and make a commemorative button for those who have been affected by breast cancer. Mather Hospital will host a HealthU seminar and health fair on Oct. 28 from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (free but registration required).

Visit Port Jeff Liquors, Wink Design Group anf Theatre Three for more Paint Port Pink promotions.

Mather Hospital has distributed pink lights and flags to more than 100 community partners and will post photos of decorated shops and businesses each day on the hospital’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/matherhospital. On Wear Pink Day on Oct. 17, individuals who dress in pink are encouraged to take selfies and post them to Facebook with the hashtag #paintportpink.

Paint Port Pink’s sponsors include Long Island Physician Associates, LI Anesthesia Physicians, Long Island Bone and Joint, New York Cancer & Blood Specialists, Empire Bank, Local 342 Long Island Public Service Employees, STAT Health Management and Tritec Building Company.

For more information, please visit www.paintportpink.org.

All photos courtesy of Mather Hospital

Rheumatoid arthritis typically begins with stiffness in the joints of the hands.
RA medications may increase other risks

By David Dunaief, M.D.

Dr. David Dunaief

We know that inflammation is a critical part of many chronic diseases. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is no exception. With RA, inflammation is rampant throughout the body and contributes to painful joints, most commonly concentrating bilaterally in the smaller joints of the body, including the metacarpals and proximal interphalangeal joints of the hand, as well as the wrists and elbows. With time, this disease can greatly diminish our ability to function, interfering with our activities of daily living. The most basic of chores, such as opening a jar, can become a major hindrance.

In addition, RA can cause extra-articular, a fancy way of saying outside the joints, manifestations and complications. These can involve the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, kidneys, nervous system and blood vessels. This is where it gets a bit dicier. With increased complications comes an increased risk of premature mortality (1).

Four out of 10 RA patients will experience complications in at least one organ. Those who have more severe disease in their joints are also at greater risk for these extra-articular manifestations. Thus, those who are markedly seropositive for the disease, showing elevated biomarkers like rheumatoid factor (RF), are at greatest risk (2). They have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease events, such as heart attacks and pulmonary disease. Fatigue is also increased, but the cause is not well understood. We will look more closely at these complications.

Are there treatments that may increase or decrease these complications? It is a very good question because some of the very medications used to treat RA also may increase risk for extra-articular complications, while other drugs may reduce the risks of complications. We will try to sort this out, as well. The drugs used to treat RA are disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), including methotrexate; TNF (tumor necrosis factor) inhibitors, such as Enbrel (etanercept); oral corticosteroids; and NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

It is also important to note that there are modifiable risk factors. We will focus on two of these, weight and sugar. Let’s look at the evidence.

Cardiovascular disease burden

We know that cardiovascular disease is very common in this country for the population at large. However, the risk is even higher for RA patients; these patients are at a 50 percent higher risk of cardiovascular mortality than those without RA (3). The hypothesis is that the inflammation is responsible for the RA-cardiovascular disease connection (4). Thus, oxidative stress, cholesterol levels, endothelial dysfunction and high biomarkers for inflammation, such as ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate) and CRP (C-reactive protein), play roles in fostering cardiovascular disease in RA patients (5).

The yin and yang of medications

Although drugs such as DMARDs (including methotrexate and TNF inhibitors, Enbrel, Remicade and Humira), NSAIDs (such as celecoxib) and corticosteroids are all used in the treatment of RA, some of these drugs increase cardiovascular events and others decrease them. In meta-analysis (a group of 28 studies), results showed that DMARDs reduced the risk of cardiovascular events by up to 30 percent, while NSAIDs and corticosteroids increased the risk (6).

The oral steroids had the highest risk of heart complications, approximately a 50 percent rise in risk. This may be one reason rheumatologists encourage their RA patients to discontinue oral steroid treatments as quickly as possible.

In an observational study, the results reaffirm that corticosteroids increased the risk of a heart attack in RA patients, this time by 68 percent (7). The study involved over 8,000 patients with a follow-up of nine years. Interestingly, there was a dose-response curve. In other words, the results also showed that for every 5 mg increase in dosage, there was a corresponding 14 percent increase in heart attack risk.

Baffling disease complication

Most complications seem to have a logical connection to the original disease. Well, it was a surprise to researchers when the results of the Nurses’ Health Study showed that those with RA were at increased risk of cardiovascular disease and of respiratory disease (8). In fact, the risk of dying from respiratory disease was 106 percent higher in the women with RA, compared to those without, and the risk was even higher in women who were seropositive (had elevated levels of rheumatoid factor). The authors surmise that seropositive patients have greater risk of death from respiratory disease because they have increased RA severity compared to seronegative patients. The study followed approximately 120,000 women for a 34-year duration.

Why am I so tired?

While we have tactics for treating joint inflammation, we have yet to figure out how to treat the fatigue associated with RA. In a Dutch study, results showed that while the inflammation improved significantly, fatigue only changed minimally (9). The consequences of fatigue can have a negative impact on both the mental and physical qualities of life. There were 626 patients involved in this study for eight years of follow-up data. This study involved two-thirds women, which is significant; women in this and in previous studies tended to score fatigue as more of a problem.

Lifestyles of the painful and more debilitating

We all want a piece of the American dream. To some that means eating like kings of past times. Well, it turns out that body mass index plays a role in the likelihood of developing RA. According to the Nurses’ Health Study, those who are overweight or obese and are ages 55 and younger have an increased risk of RA, 45 percent and 65 percent, respectively (10). There is higher risk with increased weight, because fat has pro-inflammatory factors, such as adipokines, that may contribute to the increased risk. Weight did not influence whether they became seropositive or seronegative RA patients.

With a vegetable-rich, plant-based diet you can reduce inflammation and thus reduce the risk of RA by 61 percent (11). In my clinical practice, I have seen numerous patients able to reduce their seropositive loads to normal or near-normal levels by following this type of diet.

Sugar, sugar!

At this point, we know that sugar is bad for us. But just how bad is it? When it comes to RA, results of the Nurses’ Health Study showed that sugary sodas increased the risk of developing seropositive disease by 63 percent (12). In subset data of those over age 55, the risk was even higher, 164 percent. This study involved over 100,000 women followed for 18 years.

The just plain weird – infection for the better?

Every so often we come across the surprising and the interesting. I would call it a Ripley’s Believe It or Not moment. In one study, those who had urinary tract infections, gastroenteritis or genital infections were less likely to develop RA than those who did not (13). The study did not indicate a time period or potential reasons for this decreased risk. However, I don’t think I want an infection to avoid another disease. When it comes to RA, prevention with diet is your best ally. Barring that, disease-modifying anti-rheumatic medications are important for keeping inflammation and its progression in check. However, oral steroids and NSAIDs should generally be reserved for short-term use. Before considering changing any medications, discuss it with your physician.

References: (1) J Rheumatol 2002;29(1):62. (2) uptodate.com. (3) Ann Rheum Dis 2010;69:325–331. (4) Rheumatology 2014;53(12):2143-2154. (5) Arthritis Res Ther 2011;13:R131. (6) Ann Rheum Dis 2015;74(3):480-489. (7) Rheumatology 2013;52:68-75. (8) ACR 2014: Abstract 818. (9) RMD Open 2015.  (10) Ann Rheum Dis. 2014;73(11):1914-1922. (11) Am J Clin Nutr 1999;70(6),1077–1082. (12) Am J Clin Nutr 2014;100(3):959-967. (13) Ann Rheum Dis 2015;74:904-907.

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 www.medicalcompassmd.com or consult your personal physician.

MEET OLAF! This handsome boy is Olaf, a two-year-old medium-haired orange tabby who is currently waiting for his furever home at Kent Animal Shelter. Olaf loves to snuggle and is super mushy. He comes neutered, microchipped and up to date on all his vaccines. Won’t you stop by and say hello? Kent Animal Shelter is located at 2259 River Road in Calverton. For more information on Olaf and other adoptable pets at Kent, please call 631-727-5731 or visit www.kentanimalshelter.com.

Emma S. Clark Memorial Library. File photo by Michael Ruiz

By Rita J. Egan

Three Village’s approval was overwhelming.

The school district voted in favor of the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library’s $5,235,398 budget for 2018, with 503 “yes” votes to 75 “no.”

With the budget $36,037 more than 2017, the tax levy will increase by 0.69 percent.

“Thank you to the Three Village community for your overwhelming support of Emma S. Clark Memorial Library,” President of the library board of trustees Linda Josephs said. “The library board and staff will continue to strive to provide the highest quality library services at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers.”

Library Director Ted Gutmann said future projects include renovation of the lower level public restrooms, and the possibility of a small café that would serve coffee and light snacks. The proposed refreshment area would include seating.

He said the library staff also looks forward to the continuation of classes and one-on-one help with technology. Among other services Emma Clark provides are volunteer opportunities for teens, resources for parents, and programs for infants, toddlers and school-aged children, including a summer reading program that brings in thousands of kids each year. Every other week a bus is available for senior residents who cannot drive, providing them with transportation to the library to socialize and participate in programs. The library’s Homebound Service delivers books and other materials to those who are unable to visit the library.

“I want to thank everyone who voted, either in person or through absentee ballots,” Gutmann said. “The library is 125 years old; its ongoing success is a testament to the residents who have treasured their library over these many years. It is a team effort between the administration, staff, and most importantly, the patrons of the Emma Clark Library. As I’ve said before, the library is still a thriving and vibrant place. As times have changed, the library has changed, too, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the great relationship we have with our community.”

Michael Bernstein. Photo from SBU

By Michael A. Bernstein

From Ivy League institutions such as Harvard University to state institutions such as the University of Connecticut and several SUNY campuses, including Stony Brook, all are facing financial constraints that are prompting them to review or institute program suspensions ranging from academics to athletics. For Stony Brook, that means making difficult decisions to address budget reductions throughout all academic and administrative units.

Investments in more than 240 new faculty hires, coupled with a tuition freeze followed by a modest increase and no adjustments in state support to cover negotiated salary increases have created a structural operating deficit at Stony Brook. While we continue to work to develop new revenue sources and redouble our efforts to increase both state and philanthropic support, it is incumbent upon us to build a strong, stable foundation for continued excellence at our university.

Our budget issues are real. Strategic change is the only way to maintain our quality and offer the best and most efficient options for our students. Serious and consistent program review is necessary to ensure we are spending our scarce resources wisely, building upon our high-quality programs as well as those for which there is high student demand. This is why our program changes focus on those areas with low enrollments. In response to this, only a small number of assistant professors in the tenure track and lecturers have been directly affected.

Similar review is happening throughout West and East campuses, resulting in the suspension of admission to five programs — three in the College of Arts and Sciences and two in the School of Health Technology and Management. We have also mobilized resources to invest in areas such as Africana studies, art and creative writing and film as well as a variety of areas in the social and natural sciences.

These measures reflect our urgency to maximize our resources as we continue to support and invest in programs of excellence and impact; engage in cutting-edge research, scholarship and art-making that attract external funding and recognition; and do everything possible to empower students, meet their demands and ensure they receive an outstanding education at both the undergraduate and graduate level.

As an institution, we remain focused on our missions in education, research, scholarship, art-making, professional service and community engagement. And, as a public university with an exceptionally talented faculty and staff committed to serving a diverse student body, we must be outstanding stewards of the public’s trust and resources, constantly examining how best to invest in areas of strength, promise and need.

Michael A. Bernstein is the provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Stony Brook University.

Kenny Rogers, left, begins his 277-mile journey to raise fund for mattresses with Eli Kopp who joined him on the first 14 miles. Photo from Kate Jones Calone

Step by step, a Stony Brook man is helping to provide a comfortable place to sleep for those in need.

On Sept. 25, 66-year-old Kenny Rogers embarked on a 277-mile walking trip dubbed Miles for Mattresses to raise funds for the Open Door Exchange — an outreach program of the Setauket Presbyterian Church created to collect furniture to distribute to those in need. Rogers said his goal is to raise $22,021 to purchase mattresses and box springs for the 177 people on the furniture bank’s waiting list for the items. The hope is that the walk will generate buzz and inspire donors to contribute to the cause. The organization has an agreement with Big Lots to purchase mattress and box spring sets for an average of $159.

Rogers’ 277-mile mission began at Wider Circle, which the Long Island furniture bank is modeled after, in Silver Spring, Maryland, and will end Oct. 14 at the Open Door Exchange in Port Jefferson Station. Rogers, who is retired from the Suffolk County Department of Social Services and volunteers with Open Door Exchange, said it feels good to be able to give to others. He said it was frustrating at his former job to help people find housing but then they were on their own when it came to furnishings.

Kenny Rogers has been training for his journey since January. Photo from Kate Jones Calone

The Rev. Kate Jones Calone, director of Open Door Exchange, said more than half a dozen congregants of Setauket Presbyterian Church, of which Rogers is a member, and volunteers from Wider Circle were on hand to cheer him on, and a handful of them walked the first couple of miles with him, while others stayed behind to help out at Wider Circle.

“We had a wonderful reception from Wider Circle,” Calone said.

Arlene Rogers, who accompanied her husband to Maryland, said she was proud of him.

“He has a very big generous heart,” she said. “He is very determined. When he says he’s going to do something, he does it. I back him wholeheartedly.”

Eli Kopp, who turned 14 Sept. 25 and is an eighth-grader at Paul J. Gelinas Junior High School, also traveled to Maryland to walk the first 14 miles with Rogers.

“It’s really great that Kenny had the idea to do this walk as a way to raise money for Open Door Exchange,” Eli said. “Open Door Exchange is a great organization that helps so many people who are in need and helping out there is also a lot of fun.”

Rogers said he’ll mostly travel along US Route 1, and along the way he’ll stop at churches to eat and rest. Setauket Presbyterian’s pastor the Rev. Mary Speers, and Calone networked with churches along the route to coordinate the accommodations.

Rogers said he started preparing for the trip in January by walking two miles around his neighborhood and then he slowly increased the distance. Right before his 277-mile mission, he was walking the more than three-mile Setauket-Port Jefferson Station Greenway Trail both ways with a backpack three quarters filled with weights. Walking didn’t always come easy for Rogers. He said the first few years of his life he was unable to do so, and doctors thought he might have cerebral palsy. However, when he was 4 years old, he said he just started walking one day.

Miles for Mattresses is the second walk he has organized to raise money for charity. In May 2016, Rogers traveled 50 miles on foot from his childhood neighborhood of Chelsea, Brooklyn, to Stony Brook to raise funds for the American Cancer Society in honor of his best friend who died of lung cancer.

Eli Koop, right, joined Rogers on the first 14 miles of the walk to celebrate his birthday Sept. 25. Photo from Kate Jones Calone

Speers said church members and others were supportive of his last walk and she knows his current one will be a success, too.

“The Setauket Presbyterian Church is very giving especially when it’s for a mission or to help people,” Speers said. “They’ll open up their pockets for that. So, the church gave a lot, and lots of his friends and just people in his world, his former co-workers, people like that really gave a lot, and he felt good doing it.”

The pastor said she was unable to join Rogers in Maryland due to recent hip surgery, so she is looking forward to joining him and others at the end of his trip, even if she needs a golf cart to do so.

“It should be a lot of fun,” Speers said. ”It would be like a victory lap.”

Rogers said while he’s looking forward to seeing everyone at the end of his walk, the end of such a mission leaves him with mixed feelings.

“When you’re done with it — you prepared for something like this — when it’s over, it’s a let down,” Rogers said. “I feel good that I did it, but now what do I do? This is what I’ve been working for a certain amount of time.”

Calone said Setauket Presbyterian congregants are in awe of Rogers.

“It’s just so inspiring,” Calone said. “Kenny is just this wonderfully positive and energetic and selfless and generous person who just thinks about really concrete ways that he can help people, and he’s done that his whole life.”

The Open Door Exchange will post updates on Miles for Mattresses on its Facebook page. At press time, Rogers had already raised nearly $8,000 toward his goal. For more information or to donate online, visit www.facebook.com/opendoorexchange or www.opendoorexchange.org.

Miller Place resident Paul Partlow, above, created a new board game, Plank & Rank. Photo by Kevin Redding

By Kevin Redding

After grabbing the attention of Hasbro last year, a Miller Place artist is unleashing his very own board game to the masses.

With Plank & Rank, a two-player tabletop game that combines the fun of a board game with the strategy of a card game, professional graphic artist Paul Partlow was one of five finalists in Hasbro’s 2016 Next Great Family Game Challenge — a worldwide competition that aims to discover and develop the next Monopoly or Clue.

Partlow, 36, didn’t win that challenge but was soon contacted by a multimedia company called Golden Bell Studios, whose Long Island-based owners saw the board game through an Indiegogo campaign online. The company told him it was interested in helping with distribution on a national level.

“We immediately saw Plank & Rank and thought, ‘This could be something really awesome,’” the company’s founder Marc Goldner said.

Creator Paul Partlow demonstrates how to play his game Plank & Rank. Photo by Kevin Redding

Goldner and his team have since set up a successful Kickstarter campaign and made the game available for purchase online, all in close collaboration with its creator. The plan now is to get the name out there and explore wider manufacturing options, from Amazon to big-box retailers to niche hobby stores.

“We hope the game is going to be even better than when we first started looking at it,” Goldner said. “[Partlow] is one of the most accommodating and passionate creators. He really takes the time to go above and beyond what’s asked for.”

In Plank & Rank — inspired by Partlow’s interest in history, specifically the Roman conquest of Gaul “with a whimsical slant” — two players, as Roman Red and Barbarian Blue, must build a bridge plank-by-plank across the mighty Rhine River while also moving their armies rank-by-rank to the opposite side. However, as the game’s warning reads, snags and surprises await the players along the way.

The vibrantly designed family game, sprinkled with Partlow’s cartoon-style illustrations and humor, was originally developed as a final project for a class while he was a student at Rhode Island School of Design, from which he graduated in 2016.

The assignment was straightforward: Create a board game to tell a story without words.

While his professor told students they could take an existing game and slap a new story over it, Partlow preferred a challenge.

“If just one person sees it and says, ‘That’s cool,’ then that’s good enough for me.”

— Paul Partlow

“I always tend to go a little above and beyond, so I said, ‘I’d rather create my own game,’” he said.

That professor informed Partlow of the Hasbro competition, encouraging him to blow the dust off his game.

“I’m most proud of the fact that it’s something of mine that’s out there,” Partlow said. “I love the idea that I’ve got something that people can look at, and if just one person sees it and says, ‘That’s cool,’ then that’s good enough for me.”

Partlow said he first discovered his knack for drawing as a fourth-grader in the Longwood school district, greatly inspired by what was regarded as the Disney Renaissance in the early 1990s, and his interest in it only grew stronger in high school.

“I took every art class possible,” he said. “They had all different levels from sequential art to painting and all the teachers there always pushed me forward.”

He and the Golden Bell staff are currently designing an expansion to make Plank & Rank a four-player game, with the add-on revolving around a concept of Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps.

“He’s just so creative and artistic and always has a thousand ideas,” Partlow’s wife Helen said. “He puts everything into what he’s working on. When I first played it, while he was developing it for Hasbro, I actually beat him at his own game.”

To see Paul Partlow’s Kickstarter campaign, visit www.kickstarter.com/projects/287606634/plank-and-rank.

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File photo by Victoria Espinoza

Suffolk County Police arrested a Commack man Sept. 28 for multiple charges relating to a scam during which he took money from victims with the false promise of delivering vehicles.

Between December 2016 and September 2017, Emmanuel Amaral advertised cars for sale on Craigslist. Numerous victims paid him anywhere between $3,000 and $24,000 for a vehicle and waited several months for delivery, which never occurred. In one case, Amaral scammed a victim he met while in line at a bagel shop, and in another instance, defrauded a victim he met at an elementary school event. Amaral defrauded victims out of a total of approximately $73,000.

After an investigation by detectives from the Suffolk County Police, Property/Auto Crime Unit, Amaral was arrested in front of his residence at approximately 2 p.m. today.

Amaral, 48, was charged with seven counts of third-degree grand larceny and first-degree scheming to defraud.

Detectives are asking anyone who feels they may have been victimized by Amaral, who also uses the aliases Manny Balboa and Manny Amaral, to contact the Suffolk County Police, Property/Auto Crime Unit at 631-853-7114.

Amaral is scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip and the investigation is ongoing.

John Turner, center, points to a flock of common nighthawks passing overhead. Photo by Patricia Paladines

By Patrice Domeischel and John Turner

If you happen to have driven recently on Old Field Road in Setauket, where it crosses over Frank Melville Memorial Park, you may have noticed anywhere from a few to a dozen and a half people staring at all angles skyward with binoculars and wondered what’s got their attention. Looking at cloud formations? Maybe UFOs? Waiting for sunset? Watching the monarch butterfly migration? Or perhaps observing numerous bird species as they fly by?

If you picked the last choice, you’d be right (although any migrating monarchs are dutifully noted by observers too!). Specifically, these observers have tuned into an annual phenomenon — common nighthawks passing through Long Island on their annual migration, traveling from their breeding grounds in New England and Canada to their wintering grounds in South America.

These medium-sized birds with long wings that sport distinctive white bars may be seen agilely flitting incessantly over the pond, most often at dawn to an hour later and an hour before, right up until, dusk. These erratic flight movements are not a show for our pleasure but a feeding tactic employed to catch their main food source, small insects like midges, mosquitoes, gnats etc. on the wing.

The bird of the hour, the common nighthawk. Stock photo

Not a hawk at all, nighthawks are referred to as “goatsuckers” and are members of the Caprimulgidae family (capri, Latin for goat, and mulgare, Latin for milking). This name is derived from the mistaken belief, originating as early as 2000 years ago, that these wide-mouthed birds sucked the teats on farm goats. In actuality the birds were attracted to the insects stirred up by roving livestock. Other members of this family found on Long Island include the whip-poor-will and the Chuck-will’s-widow.

Common nighthawks, once a common breeder on Long Island (there have been no confirmed breeding records for several decades), and other members of the goatsucker family are experiencing population declines. Published data indicate that nationally common nighthawk numbers have dropped by more than 60 percent over the last 50 years.

This same trend has been seen in New York. Common nighthawks here have declined by 71 percent as a breeding bird between 1985 and 2005, whip-poor-will’s by 57 percent and Chuck-will’s-widows by 62 percent. Prime contributing factors are thought to include rampant pesticide use resulting in diminished insect populations and loss of nesting habitat (being ground nesters they are especially vulnerable to feral and free-roaming cats, fox, skunks and other mammalian predators) and pesticide use.

Pesticide use is highly significant as it has also been implicated in the decline of other birds that feed in the air who also depend upon small aerial insects — species such as swallows, swifts and flycatchers.

There are simply significantly less insects than there were a few decades ago, before the advent and widespread use of pesticides.

Nighthawks do not build a nest, but, as mentioned above, lay their eggs (typically two) directly on the ground, preferring gravelly surfaces. Old gravel rooftops in urban areas once provided additional, appealing nesting habitat for nighthawks, but many roofs are no longer surfaced with gravel, but of rubber, and are not a viable nesting alternative. The shift to other types of roofing materials is also thought to have contributed to a decline in nighthawk numbers.

At the stone bridge on Main Street, the Four Harbors Audubon Society, with the support of the board of the Frank Melville Memorial Park, is conducting a census of nighthawks in an effort to provide an additional source of data about population trends. It is hoped that an annual count, through time as information over the span of years is compiled, can provide additional data on the species’ population trends, helping to supplement the findings gained by the annual nationwide Breeding Bird Survey and periodic statewide Breeding Bird Atlas.

Local birder Richard Haimes, right, with his son and grandchildren, at a recent nighthawk watch at Frank Melville Memorial Park. Photo by Patrice Domeischel

Named the Frank Melville Stone Bridge Nighthawk Watch, pedestrians can watch each evening between 5:30 p.m. until dusk as Audubon members don their binoculars and tally nighthawks and any other avian or winged creature passing through. Several bats are regular visitors at dusk, and a bald eagle, peregrine falcon and other falcon species and hawks have been sighted as have ruby-throated hummingbirds, green herons, belted kingfishers and red-bellied woodpeckers.

It first became evident in October of 2016 when significant nighthawk migration was noticed and recorded at this location, that Frank Melville Park’s stone bridge lookout, with its open vistas overlooking the pond in both directions, might be a hot spot. It was recognized that this location was an important nighthawk migration thoroughfare and a great vantage point to witness them as they traveled through the area. It was also recognized as a hot spot for nighthawks due to the prolific hatch of aerial insects such as midges coming off the two ponds that become ready prey for these birds.

So, an idea was born of curiosity and the desire to help this fascinating, declining species. Why not conduct a common nighthawk survey at the stone bridge? There were questions that needed answering. When do nighthawks arrive here and in what numbers? Are they continuing to decline and at what rate? What can we do to help them?

The data, to date (the nighthawk counting season is not yet complete), have been quite interesting and exciting. The count has been as high as 573 on a wildly exciting evening, where there were “kettles” of birds, circling and feeding, to the only day where no nighthawks were spotted, on a windy, rainy, tropical storm day. Recent data also seem to indicate that most birds travel in a westerly direction, likely following the Long Island Sound coastline before continuing south.

Will data from coming years support our findings from this current year? Will our results mirror the national and statewide trends of declining abundance? Years of data will need to be collected and analyzed; a reliable conclusion cannot be reached based on one year’s findings. But each year’s count results will help us gain a better understanding of the common nighthawk, its numbers and migration trends, and through our research, better protections may be formulated and instituted. Until then, we continue to stand at the stone bridge and count, witness to the exciting phenomenon of nighthawk migration.

The Stone Bridge Nighthawk Count will be ongoing through Oct. 15. All are welcome. Bring your binoculars, your desire to see goatsuckers, and come watch the show. For more information or directions, please call 631-689-6146.

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