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David Gow

By Rebecca Anzel

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts is currently gearing up for the second show of its 15th anniversary season, the award-winning musical play “Peter and the Starcatcher,” which will open on Jan. 14. Based on the 2006 children’s novel of “Peter and the Starcatchers,” by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, and adapted for the stage by Rick Elice, the play, according to the SCPA’s press release, is a swashbuckling grown-up prequel to “Peter Pan.”

The show appeared on Broadway from 2012 to 2013 and won five Tony Awards including Best Play and Best Original Score (Wayne Barker). At the time, The New York Times wrote that it was “the most exhilarating Broadway storytelling in decades.”

The role of Peter Pan will be played by 25-year-old actor David Gow, a Houston, Texas, native who graduated last May from the North Carolina School of Arts with a bachelor’s of fine arts in drama. Gow, who now resides in Harlem, was most recently in “The Beast’s Beauty” at Lincoln Center, in the role of the Beast, and in an off-broadway play titled “Chokehold.” I recently spoke with the actor about his latest role as “the boy who wouldn’t grow up.”

Why did you decide to try out for this role?

Playing Peter was at the top of my list of dream roles, so I was constantly searching for auditions for it as soon as I moved to New York. Once I saw Smithtown was doing it I was all in, and I roped my friend Emma Geer, who plays the role of Molly, into doing it too!

What is the play about?

The story slowly fills in the questions people have about Peter Pan but in a very subtle way, while simultaneously adding plot lines that are so brilliantly spontaneous the audience couldn’t possibly predict them. It’s definitely an action/adventure and has really a bit of everything in it. It switches effortlessly from action, farce and drama.

What is your favorite scene?

I love the scene where Black Stache/Captain Hook and Peter meet for the first time. There’s something so iconic about how the two of them are drawn to each other despite being mortal enemies. I also love the last scene of the play, but you’ll have to come see the show to see what happens!

What is your favorite musical number?

I like “Swim On” the best — it is the closing song of Act 1.

I understand that 12 actors will be taking on the roles of over 100 characters?

The 12 actors playing 100 roles has been the biggest challenge, but also I think the most rewarding. We really have nothing but a couple of ropes, trunks and ladders. We get to create everything else ourselves, which lets the audience jump from scene to scene instantaneously. I play a few other roles quickly, like a pirate and sailor here and there.

What is it like working with the rest of the cast?

The cast could not have been more welcoming to the actors who were new (myself included). A lot of them have done shows here for years, but I felt like we all clicked pretty immediately. There’s not a weak link in the group.

What is it like working with the director, Ken Washington?

Ken is definitely a veteran director and comes very prepared to every rehearsal. Very positive and enthusiastic about the show. It’s been such a wonderful room to come into every night.

Is this a show for all ages?

I’d say more than almost any other show, this show is ABSOLUTELY for all ages. It has the excitement and humor for adults to enjoy, while also having elements perfectly geared toward children as well. Totally appropriate.

Why should people come out to see this show?

“Peter and the Starcatcher” is to “Peter Pan” as “Wicked” is to the “Wizard of Oz.” All of your previous questions about Peter Pan are answered in this show. Come find out why Peter Pan can fly, why Captain Hook only has one hand and why none of the boys are growing up. The show has everything: nonstop action and adventure; it will make you roll on the floor laughing and also provides incredibly touching moments. I actually don’t know anyone who I would not recommend this show to. It really is for everyone!

The Smithtown Center for Performing Arts, 2 E. Main St., Smithtown, will present “Peter and the Starcatcher” from Jan. 14 to Feb. 25. Tickets are $35 adults, $32 seniors and $20 for students with a valid ID. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.com.

Helping the Port Jefferson Station community has been Celina Wilson’s, center, mission since the 1980s. Photo from Facebook

By Rebecca Anzel

When Celina Wilson moved to Port Jefferson Station in 1985, she noticed her new community was underserved — and that she could help. Some Spanish-speaking female residents had problems accessing health care, specifically mammograms.

A nurse and Spanish-speaker herself, Wilson worked to partner with the American Cancer Association to bring these women informational materials, teach them how to conduct self-examinations and schedule mammograms with a mobile service.

She founded Bridge of Hope Resource Center in 1998 with her husband to continue helping Port Jefferson Station residents get free health care by partnering with other organizations and community leaders. As other issues the community faced came to her attention, Wilson expanded the scope of Bridge of Hope to include them.

The organization gets feedback from residents and takes them straight to public officials. So far, it has tackled issues such as safety in schools post-Sandy Hook and drug abuse awareness and prevention.

“I believe that the more awareness you raise about issues communities face, the less chance there is of our communities becoming unstable,” Wilson said. “I really want Port Jefferson Station to stay strong.”

For her work advocating for Port Jefferson Station residents and fighting to combat drug abuse, Times Beacon Record News Media is recognizing Celina Wilson as a Person of the Year.

“Celina Wilson is a resource for Port Jeff Station — she’s been doing this for decades,” Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant said in an interview. “She does this because she cares so much about not only her own children, but all our children, and I am just so impressed by her.”

Bridge of Hope uses education as a tool to help show community members why drug use is dangerous. Wilson said she thinks it is important to share information about the “basics” of drug abuse — what changes it makes in a user’s brain, risk factors that might lead to someone turning to drugs and signs someone is using.

“We work to make sure that when you look at Port Jefferson Station, people know it’s a community that’s got it together and can weather any problems.”

— Celina Wilson

She shared that information in an educational forum at Port Jefferson High School in mid-October. Also on the panel was a Stony Brook Children’s Hospital doctor of adolescent medicine and a scientist who focuses on addiction’s effect on the brain. The event marked the first time Bridge of Hope was able to host an educational event in a school.

The goal of the forum, Wilson said, was to educate parents and others in attendance about the “root causes” of drug abuse. She expressed to parents there are signs to look for and risk factors that might lead their children to turn to drugs — such as not understanding the world around them and a lack of confidence and self-esteem — and stressed the importance of keeping an open line of communication with their children.

“It’s important that parents are educated about these things so they don’t feel helpless,” Wilson said. “I found out a week or two later the parents there were receptive to the information we shared at the forum, which was a big accomplishment for us.”

Other educational efforts include publishing an article called “The Amazing Human Brain” on the Bridge of Hope website that focuses on brain function and working to create a traveling museum exhibit to make the community more aware of drug abuse.

Dori Scofield, founder of Dan’s Foundation for Recovery, worked with Wilson on the exhibit, which will launch next year. She said she loves the work Bridge of Hope does making a difference in the community.

“Celina is amazing and I love working with her on community issues,” she said. “She is an inspiration to all of us who work in the field of improving life for all.”

Bridge of Hope also works in Brentwood, Central Islip and Bay Shore, but creating a support system for residents in Port Jefferson Station is not any less important to Wilson now than it was when the organization was founded 18 years ago.

“We really want our community to stay strong and our families to have stability. We don’t want to hear about our youths overdosing,” Wilson said. “We work to make sure that when you look at Port Jefferson Station, people know it’s a community that’s got it together and can weather any problems.”

The organization also offers mentoring opportunities for teens in need of extra guidance.

To contact Bridge of Hope Resource Center call 631-338-4340 or visit www.bridgeofhoperc.com.

COPE Officer Angela Ferrara smiles with students in Huntington. Photo from SCPD.

By Rebecca Anzel

Suffolk County Police Department Officers Angela Ferrara and Jamie Wendt are no strangers to Huntington residents.

The 2nd Precinct’s two community-oriented police enforcement officers, otherwise known as COPE officers, are dedicated to working with and getting to know their community. Instead of focusing on enforcement and policing, Ferrara and Wendt attend community meetings to hear residents’ concerns, host events to connect with members of their community and even spend afternoons helping local kids with their homework.

“We want to help residents,” Ferrara said in a phone interview. “We want to make them safer, make their lives better. We love what we do. The COPE unit is here for the community and we’re always available for anyone that needs us.”

For their work connecting with residents in Huntington and bringing together the community with the Suffolk County Police Department Times Beacon Record News Media has named Officers Ferrara and Wendt as People of the Year.

“The COPE officers are phenomenally effective and popular in the community,” Police Commissioner Tim Sini said in a phone interview. “We want to make sure we break those barriers and always enhance the relationships that we have with the communities we’re tasked to protect. They are very much a part of the fabric of our community.”

The unit has been in existence for a long time, but it was redefined in 2014 as part of SCPD’s community policing model. COPE officers are tasked with building a trusting relationship with the communities the police protect. Sini said community partnership is a key aspect of SCPD’s mission and this unit is an integral part of that.

COPE Officer Jamie Wendt skates during an event. Photo from SCPD.

Ferrara has been a COPE officer since 1998. She left the 2nd Precinct between 2007 and 2010 to become an academy instructor but has been in her current position since she returned. Ferrara also leads the Police Explorers program, for kids ages 14 to 21 who show an interest in law enforcement careers.

Wendt is a Dix Hills native. She has been a COPE officer for about a year and also volunteers with local fire departments. Between the two of them, Ferrara and Wendt attend community meetings and events, and they plan their own as well.

Wendt organized a successful one in April — an ice skating event at the Dix Hills Park Ice Rink for children from the Tri Community and Youth Agency to teach them how to skate. She is a United States Figure Skating Association double gold medalist and has been coaching various skating disciplines for 19 years, so she said it was a fun way for her to share her expertise.

Tri CYA Regional Director Debbie Rimler said Wendt and Ferrara spend time with the kids whenever they can and always attend the organization’s events. The ice skating event attracted children ages 8 through 17, and they left asking when they could skate with the officers again.

Ferrara said events such as that one are her favorite because she gets to interact with the younger generation.

“I just love being around the children because they’re the future,” she said. “It’s rewarding to see the kids grow up and become adults too. If any of our guidance is helpful, that’s a great thing.”

Most recently, the officers participated in the SCPD’s Shop with a Cop event at Target. The department gives $50 gift cards to kids in the community who may not have the resources to purchase Christmas gifts, and officers take them shopping, helping them pick out toys and other presents.

“The faces on these children when they’re able to pick out gifts with a uniformed police officer is something special,” Sini said. “The event is such a great way to have our officers interact with and serve as role models for children while bringing holiday cheer to them.”

It is events like these that Jim McGoldrick, a Huntington Station resident, said is what makes the COPE officers so invaluable.

“Without Angela and Jaime, I don’t know where Huntington Station would be,” he said. “They’re so involved with our community, our kids — everything. They’ve become part of our family.”

Sean Lehmann and Linda Henninger work to bring new life to downtown Kings Park. Photo from Sean Lehmann

By Rebecca Anzel

Three Kings Park community leaders partnered to improve and invigorate the hamlet’s downtown area.

Chamber of Commerce President Anthony Tanzi, Civic Association President Sean Lehmann and Civic Association Vice President Linda Henninger had received feedback from residents and business owners for years that the area needed to be revitalized.

Together, they hosted three meetings attracting about 300 residents each to create a vision plan representative of the community’s wishes for downtown Kings Park, which includes parts of Main Street, Pulaski Road, Indian Head Road and Meadow West. The plans included ideas for more sewers in the town to help accommodate new businesses and affordable housing.

Tanzi and Henninger proposed the completed vision to the Smithtown town board at a meeting in November. The town is waiting on a marketing study to be completed before accepting the plan.

“You just have to drive through Kings Park to see we have great bones and offer a lot,” Henninger said in a phone interview. “We can really make this the jewel it can be.”

For their leadership and commitment to improving Kings Park, Tanzi, Lehmann and Henninger are being recognized as three of Times Beacon News Media’s People of the Year.

Tony Tanzi works to bring new life to downtown Kings Park. Photo from Tony Tanzi.

“They work hard to make Kings Park a better place to live. It’s their persistence against resistance from the county, the state and the town that makes them successful — they just keep going,” Suffolk County Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) said. “This is something that kids should look at and say, ‘These guys don’t stop and when you don’t stop, you get results.’”

Tanzi, a third-generation Kings Park resident, owns a hardware company, construction firm and several properties in the area. He said he hopes by revitalizing downtown, younger residents, including his four children, will want and can afford to stay in Kings Park.

“Younger residents not only want the ability to move around without having to get a car, they want to live in an area that has an entire community built into an offshoot of where they live,” he said.

Henninger, a mother herself, agreed that upgrading downtown Kings Park is a way to keep residents and attract new ones. She has always been active in the town. A Fort Salonga resident, Henninger has been a member of the civic association since 1992 and formed a group called Kings Park Neighbors Association, which helped prevent the sale of the Kings Park Psychiatric Center to a private developer.

That fight is how she and Lehmann met. He moved to Kings Park in 2005 and got involved with KPPC because he thought the developer’s plan to build multifamily housing would not be good for the hamlet.

One of their immediate efforts has been to hold a concert series and farmers market on Main Street, a way Lehmann said he hoped would encourage other residents to begin utilizing the downtown area.

“This is a unique community and we love it,” Lehmann said. “Kings Park has a very small town feel and plenty of open space, so when we thought about revitalizing our downtown, we wanted it to still feel quaint and fit with the character of the community.”

Henninger was quick to point out that while she, Lehmann and Tanzi helped to organize the project and make sure a plan was created, revitalizing downtown Kings Park was a group, community effort. The best part of the 18-month project, she and Tanzi agreed, was seeing residents come together to better the hamlet.

“It’s easy to get tons of people coming out to fight against something they don’t want, but it’s very rare that you can get people to come out and talk about something they do want,” Tanzi said. “We got so many people engaged and excited about it that they came out and participated.”

Henninger echoed the sentiment.

“When you’re doing something for the good of the town, of the community, anything can be accomplished,” she said.

SCPD branch involves the community to help with tips for investigations and arrests

Drugs recovered thanks to tips from Crime Stoppers. File photo from SCPD

By Rebecca Anzel

During its 22-year partnership with the Suffolk County Police Department, Crime Stoppers has served as a way for residents to share tips about crime anonymously in their neighborhoods without fear of punishment, and has helped cut crime and aid myriad criminal investigations

The not-for-profit organization expanded its repertoire of resources to include a general tip line, 800-220-TIPS (8477); another tip hotline for information about drugs, 631-852-NARC (6272); a website and a number for text messaging. Since 1994, its 22,287 tips generated by community members helped solve 42 homicides, closed 1,688 active warrants and led to 2,154 arrests, as at October.

Crime Stoppers president Nick Amarr. Photo from Nick Amarr

For the organization’s work fighting crime and the heroin epidemic in Suffolk County, Crime Stoppers is one of Times Beacon Record News Media’s People of the Year for 2016.

Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said the organization is indispensable to the community.

“Crime Stoppers is a valuable asset and has created a great partnership with our police department to reduce crime in Suffolk County,” she said in an email. “They work diligently to coordinate information from the public and the media to solve crime and make arrests. I am proud to support Crime Stoppers and appreciate the dedication of the police officers and volunteers who keep our communities safe.”

The organization is staffed by unpaid volunteers, most of whom are former law enforcement or veterans. President Nick Amarr, a Marine and Crime Stoppers volunteer for 14 years, said the organization’s real value is in providing residents with a safe way to help law enforcement protect their communities.

“It gives the public a voice and an understanding of how important law enforcement is in keeping our freedom and protecting our children,” Amarr said. “That’s very important to me and everyone on our board.”

Amarr also said Crime Stoppers’ employees would not be able to continue the work they have been doing without the support of Police Commissioner Tim Sini, First Deputy Commissioner John Barry and Police Chief Stuart Cameron. Amarr has worked with four administrations and said this one strategically embraces Crime Stoppers as a partner and has done more in less than 12 months than he has seen accomplished in the past 10 years.

Members at a Patchogue benefit concert present Crime Stoppers with a large check representing donations received. File photo from SCPD

“We have reinvested in our partnership with Suffolk Crime Stoppers,” Sini said. “It’s a great, great, great way we’re able to engage with the public and we’ve done a lot of good for the communities.”

The 8-month-old narcotics tip line alone had led to a 140 percent increase in the amount of search warrants issued by August; hundreds of drug dealers have been arrested; the police department has seized a substantial amount of money; and is on pace to confiscate more illegal firearms than ever before, according to Sini.

For Save-A-Pet Animal Rescue founder and president, Dori Scofield, whose son Daniel died in 2011 from a heroin overdose, the work Crime Stoppers is doing to combat the county’s heroin epidemic is invaluable.

“The only way we’re going to combat this epidemic is by working together in different forces and stopping the drugs in Suffolk County and helping our youth that are already addicted and educating children and parents,” Scofield said. “This epidemic takes a village to combat and our police and the Crime Stoppers are an important part of that village.”

Crime Stoppers is funded completely by donations, which it uses exclusively for rewards for tips leading to an arrest. In July, the organization hosted a benefit concert at The Emporium in Patchogue, raising $58,000 in one night. Amarr said it will host another fundraiser at the same venue next year.

Mike DelGuidice at a concert fundraiser. File photo from Rebecca Anzel

Teri Kroll, chairperson of People United to Stop Heroin, part of Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, spoke at the event in support of Crime Stoppers five months ago. Since then, she said she has heard that parents across Suffolk County call in information they hear from their children about drug dealers and unsavory activities in their communities.

“They’ve made a huge difference,” Kroll said. “The police department can’t fight all crime without any help and the Crime Stoppers being a liaison between the public and them is only a plus.”

Tracey Farrell, formerly Budd, a Rocky Point mother who lost her son Kevin to a heroin overdose in 2012, agrees the service Crime Stoppers provides is life saving to many kids.

“In the few months that it [NARC line] has been out, it has made a huge difference,” she said. “It’s nice that people see when they make a phone call, something is happening. I can’t say enough about how great this is.”

Farrell also said she thinks residents are less interested in the cash reward that comes after a reporting.

“I think they’re happy they have some place to report things going on in their own neighborhood,” she said. “[And Crime Stoppers] needs to keep getting information out there wherever they can.”

Students in teacher Eric Gustafson’s fourth-grade class at Setauket Elementary School hold wrapped gifts to be donated. Photo from Three Village school district

By Rebecca Anzel

Opportunities for warming hearts abound during the holiday season and those who give tend to receive much more.

Five years ago, when Linda Bily, cancer patient advocacy and community outreach director at Stony Brook Cancer Center, and others noticed some patients did not have family members to share the holidays with, she started the Adopt a Family program.

The first year, 20 families were “adopted” by 20 departments, which donated gifts such as winter coats, new sneakers and gift cards for grocery stores and gas stations. This year, Bily estimates that 75 families will be adopted by departments and community groups.

“This is a good thing for patients going through chemo because it’s one less thing they have to worry about,” Bily said. “The people that donate the gifts get as much out of it as the patients — and they always go above and beyond. It makes them feel good to do it.”

From left, Stony Brook ‘elves’ Maryellen Bestenheider, Mary Alice Plant and Michele Hass make the season bright for some cancer patients and their families. Photo from Stony Brook Cancer Center
From left, Stony Brook ‘elves’ Maryellen Bestenheider, Mary Alice Plant and Michele Hass make the season bright for some cancer patients and their families. Photo from Stony Brook Cancer Center

Patients and their families are nominated by the nursing staff and social workers. The only requirements are that they receive treatment at the cancer center and are facing financial hardship.

Alicia McArdle has been a social worker at the cancer center for two years and nominates families to participate in the program. She said what separates this program from others like it is that it includes cancer patients of all ages, not just children.

“So many people are nominated, it’s unbelievable,” McArdle said. “It’s a way to give our patients joy during a difficult time, and it definitely brightens their days.”

Once a patient agrees to participate he or she gives Bily a wish list. It contains items like a new pair of sweatpants, music, or gloves — never anything like a new Xbox or cellphone, Bily said

“You wouldn’t believe how a new pair of sneakers and a really warm winter jacket can change someone’s life,” McArdle said. “It really helps because most of our patients want to pay their bills first and they put themselves last. It’s nice to put them first for once, and they’re so appreciative for it.” Only first names are shared, in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Bily said once a group has participated in the program, it almost always does so again. That’s true of the cancer center’s radiology department, which has adopted a family every year. Elizabeth Kramer said her 22-person department looks forward to the holiday tradition.

“We’re all very fortunate and we want to help these people that are in need,” she said. “A lot of them cannot afford to buy gifts for their family, so we enjoy purchasing and wrapping presents for them.”

Radiology is adopting a family of four this year — a mom, a dad and two children. Kramer said the father asked for music to relax and “zone out” while he receives chemo. Kramer added the radiology department always purchases a supermarket gift card as well.

In December 2014, Judith Mitchell, a mother of five was receiving radiation at the center to treat her breast cancer, and she needed help. She knew she would have trouble affording gifts such as clothes and shoes for her holiday presents for her children.

Mitchell was asked by cancer center staff if she wanted to participate in the program.

“The program was a blessing because there’s no way we could have done for these children what our adopters had done,” she said. “It’s nice to know that people are really willing to help others who cannot help themselves, because sometimes when you have cancer, it’s hard. My cancer did not affect me alone, it affected my whole family.”

“What’s nice about this program is that it’s giving and it warms the heart. “It’s such a beautiful experience being able to provide gifts and it gets your mind off yourself during the holiday season.”

— Jennifer Scarlatos

Business owners in the community also get involved.

“What’s nice about this program is that it’s giving and it warms the heart,” Jennifer Scarlatos, co-owner of Toast Coffeehouse in Port Jefferson, said. “It’s such a beautiful experience being able to provide gifts and it gets your mind off yourself during the holiday season.”

She participated in the program with her employees last year, and also helped her daughter’s fourth-grade class at Setauket Elementary School adopt a family.

Teacher Eric Gustafson said it was a great opportunity to remind his students of the importance of giving — not just receiving. He remembered the children excitedly telling each other about gifts they picked out while they all wrapped the presents together.

“It was such a fun day and the kids really got into it,” he said. “Once you put together everything they bought, it made for a pretty impressive pile, and it put us in the spirit of giving.”

Gustafson encouraged other classrooms to participate, and Kramer added churches and other groups should consider it as well.

The growth Long Island could see in renewable energy resources if the project is approved. Image from Invenergy

By Rebecca Anzel

The largest renewable energy project ever proposed for Long Island has near unanimous support

Clean Energy Link, introduced by Chicago-based private energy developer Invenergy, LLC, would produce 701 megawatts across 55,671 acres — about the size of Long Island’s North Fork.

Four wind farms and two solar farms would be privately funded and built in rural areas in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, and the power generated would be transferred to a substation in central New Jersey and converted from AC to DC. Then, it would be shipped 80 miles underground and underwater by a transmission line and connect to the Long Island Power Authority’s grid at a 3.5-acre facility on Ruland Road in Melville.

A spokeswoman from Invenergy said the company submitted a proposal to LIPA, and is hoping it will be granted a contract. It is unclear how much money LIPA is willing to pay for the electricity Clean Energy Link will generate, but if the power authority approves the project, it is expected to be operational by the end of 2020.

“I’ve been in this business since 2003 and this is probably one of the most, if not the most exciting project we’ve done,” Mike Polsky, Invenergy’s CEO, said at a press conference on Oct. 24. “It’s a very remarkable, bold and transformational step for New York State, and despite some naysayers, whatever they may say, it will happen.”

Clean Energy Link is a step toward achieving a mandate set by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) in August that 50 percent of New York’s electricity needs to come from renewable energy sources by the year 2030. The first checkpoint is a requirement that utilities need to purchase energy from nuclear power plants in the state by April 2017 in an effort to prevent the facilities from closing.

“New York has taken bold action to become a national leader in the clean energy economy and is taking concrete, cost-effective steps today to safeguard this state’s environment for decades to come,” Cuomo said in a press release. “This Clean Energy Standard shows you can generate the power necessary for supporting the modern economy while combating climate change.”

According to Invenergy, about 9.5 million megawatt hours per year need to be produced by renewable energy sources statewide by 2030, and the Clean Energy Link project would produce about 1.6 megawatt hours per year.

How the wind and solar energy would make its way to Long Island. Image from Invenergy
How the wind and solar energy would make its way to Long Island. Image from Invenergy

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said because Nassau and Suffolk counties have about 3 million residents, it is a “notoriously very difficult place” to build anything. He expressed his support of the renewable energy project at a press conference in part, he said, because Long Island has experienced extreme weather and other impacts from increased carbon dioxide emissions.

“We have to be leaders on this issue — Long Island has to be out front,” he said. “… Part of that leadership means identifying what makes sense and maximizing the potential of the things that make sense. We are more at threat from climate change than just about any other region in the country.”

Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said the most important aspect of the project must be its affordability for residents. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, New York had the seventh highest electricity prices in the country in 2015.

“The residents need to benefit. Period,” Anker said. “Energy costs are too high and we need to come up with a way to make it affordable for Long Island residents.”

One of her other concerns is if local communities are able to give feedback before LIPA officials decide whether to grant Invenergy a contract for the Clean Energy Link project.

For Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R), Clean Energy Link makes environmental sense because by increasing New York’s use of renewable energy, the state’s reliance on foreign fuel lessens, and therefore its carbon dioxide emissions will decrease. He also said the proposal is economically sound because the project would be constructed in states where land is cheaper and in more abundance than on Long Island, a point echoed by other local politicians.

State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) said he’s opposed Invenergy’s other project on Long Island — a 24.9 megawatt solar farm in Shoreham on the former Tallgrass Golf Course. It was approved by LIPA in May and is supported by other Brookhaven officials, who recently passed changes to the solar code prohibiting trees from being cut down for the construction of solar arrays.

“I don’t like the idea of solar farms on Long Island that impinge upon or displace green space,” Englebright said.

He added that transporting the power the Clean Energy Link project would provide underground is smart, because it would not be subject to disruptions due to weather.

“LIPA would be wise to move in the direction that this offers, which is the renewable direction,” Englebright said. “We’re an oceanic island, and putting more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere ultimately drowns us.”

To Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point), the most impressive aspect of Invenergy’s Clean Energy Link proposal is its “multipronged” approach. Renewable energy should not be produced by just wind or solar individually. The project’s potential impact is greater because it would make use of both.

She also said lower energy bills would go a long way toward generating community support. According to Invenergy, the project’s proposed start date was chosen to make full use of federal incentives for solar and wind energy production, a savings that would be passed along to residents.

Pine Barrens Society Executive Director Dick Amper agreed that community support is imperative for the success of the project.

“If the people who produce solar cut down forests for it, or put it in residential neighborhoods or replace farms that produce food for it, the public is going to turn against solar,” he said. “It took 25 years for everybody to come along and agree we need renewables. They’re not going to like them if we put it in bad places, and we can’t afford to have the backlash because we need solar.”

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Reviewed by Rebecca Anzel

A family of ducks living near a river by author Stacey Moshier’s home in Mastic was the inspiration for her new children’s book “Dylan the Singing Duck” (Squidgy Press). This 52-page book, with illustrations by Barry Sachs, is the heartwarming story of how a little duck, with the encouragement of new friends, discovers the importance of never giving up on a dream. Moshier recently took time out from writing new stories to answer a few questions about her first book and new-found passion for writing.

Tell me a little bit about your background.

I’m actually a New York State certified teacher. I subbed for many, many years in various districts but just didn’t land that full-time position.

Tell me about the book.

The story is about a little duck named Dylan who wants to sing. Despite everybody laughing at him or thinking that who heard of a singing duck, he still holds on to that and goes for it. With the help of some friends, he finally achieves that dream.

How would you describe Dylan?

I would say initially shy — determined though. And just a good little guy.

What inspired you to write this book?

One summer we had moved into a new house by a river, and there was a family of ducks there. On a whim I just started writing. My family was coming together. You have to believe in a dream, that it’s going to be okay and believe in each other and trust in that. That’s where that idea came from. And then, of course, not giving up on yourself and believing in your goals and dreams. I always want a lesson to be behind [a story] that you can carry with you throughout your life. Dylan’s lesson was “don’t give up on yourself, believe in your dreams.” I didn’t set out to be a writer but it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever done. I’m working on other stories. Of course, life gets ahead of you, and you have to find the time. I have a bunch of ideas in my head so that’s pretty much how I got into it. I did it not knowing that I was a writer, but I am.

How did it feel when you saw the final book?

The publishing was like a dream come true. I couldn’t believe I did it. It was a very proud accomplishment to be published.

What do you hope children will learn from reading your book?

That they can be whatever they want to be and never to give up on themselves, and that it’s okay to be different.

Tell me a little about the new stories you’re working on.

One is going to be called “Why So Mean Norma-Jean?” It’s about anti-bullying. There are two cats, Norma-Jean and Babies. They are my cats actually. The other one is called “I Love You Just As Much.” It’s about Francesca who has been the only child for five years and now they’re having a baby. She’s not thrilled. And then the third one is “Tumbling Timothy Jay.” It’s about a turtle who wants to be a gymnast. Through the help of his friends he tries to overcome his obstacle.

What advice would you give to someone who is writing their first book?

Don’t give up — go for it. Even though it’s hard to get published, don’t give up that dream. If you have an idea and you’re inspired to write, do it. I carry a notebook around with me all the time. I write little things that come to my head, even if it’s just an idea. At least it came to my head, and I wrote it down and maybe I don’t do anything with it for a little bit, but I have it.

Why do you think reading to a child is important?

I know kids are all into the Kindle and all the electronics. But the physical act of holding a book is just the best thing of all. Just for you to actually read to that child I think inspires a love of reading and an interest in it. You know, if they see a parent or teacher or someone holding a book to read it to them, and they sit and enjoy it, I think that promotes a love of reading.

Readers can contact Moshier by phone (631-618-5889) or email (dylansadventures@gmail.com) for an autographed copy of “Dylan the Singing Duck,” which the author will send with free shipping anywhere on Long Island.

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, the incumbent, will continue to represent the 1st Congressional District. Photo by Alex Petroski

Results of the Nov. 8 election have America seeing red.

While President-elect Donald Trump (R) won the presidency with 279 Electoral College votes to Hillary Clinton’s (D) 228, many of the North Shore races produced Republican victories as well.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) was one of the Democrats who survived. He outscored his Republican challenger Wendy Long 59.94 to 38.26 percent, according to the Suffolk County Board of Elections. New York State Sens. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and John Flanagan (R-East Northport) earned fresh terms, as the public reelected the incumbents.

“I am so gosh darn proud to be a Republican, to be here working with you,” Flanagan said. “Let’s keep pulling ahead.” He thanked everyone for joining him at Mirelle’s Restaurant in Westbury and congratulated his fellow local Republican politicians while the audience continued to cheer him on.

Assemblyman Andy Raia addresses the crowd. He will be entering his ninth term. Photo by Kevin Redding
Assemblyman Andy Raia addresses the crowd. He will be entering his ninth term. Photo by Kevin Redding

Flanagan won his race 63.57 percent to his Democratic challenger Peter Magistrale’s 32.46 percent. LaValle earned 67.18 percent of the vote to Democrat Gregory Fischer’s 32.73 percent.

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), another incumbent who kept a firm grasp on his seat, applauded his opponent following his victory.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to represent the 1st Congressional District,” he said during his speech at The Emporium in Patchogue. “A powerful message was sent across New York.”

That message was the sea of red that swept across not only the state but also the nation.

“We are going to have a new president of the United States, and his name is Donald J. Trump,” Zeldin said prior to the national election results. “We’re going to make American great again.”

Zeldin defeated his Democratic challenger Anna Throne-Holst handily with 58.93 percent of the 1st district’s votes. The congressman also mentioned in his speech his desire to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Throne-Holst honored the results of the election and conceded the race.

“Suffolk County represents the very fabric of America, with hardworking men and women determined to support their families and build a democracy that moves our country forward and makes our communities stronger,” Throne-Holst said. “I’d like to thank everyone who has supported our campaign over the course of this incredible journey. It is our collective vision of a fair and unified America that will guide the road ahead and shape the future for our next generation.”

Throne-Holst said in a statement she will continue to fight for families and children in future pursuits, and added she is honored to have the faith and confidence of men and women throughout the 1st district.

“May we come together in the wake of this divisive campaign season,” Throne-Holst said, “to establish a more resilient country for us all.”

“It is our collective vision of a fair and unified America that will guide the road ahead and shape the future for our next generation.”

— Anna Throne-Holst

Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), another Democrat who won a seat on election night, will succeed Rep. Steve Israel in the 3rd district. He fell short with Suffolk County voters, 48.27 percent to Republican challenger Jack Martins’ 51.68 percent, but when coupled with his Queens votes, he bested Martins 52 to 48 percent.

“This race has really been about the values my dad taught,” Suozzi said during his post-results speech at The Milleridge Inn in Jericho. “I’m going to need everyone in this room to help me because if I stick my head up and say something that’s not the normal thing to be said, they’re going to try and smack us down.”

He added regardless of the results of the presidential election, “we really need to do some soul searching.” He referenced figuring out what will happen with health care coverage, the shrinking middle class, immigration reform, climate chance, gun violence and the tax code. He added there’s more important work to be done.

“We have to figure out what’s going on in the country,” he said. “We need to figure out how to bring people back together again to work together.”

In local races for the State Assembly, incumbents continued to sweep the North Shore.

Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) edged his opponent 58.91 percent to 41.03 percent to continue representing the 4th district. His challenger, Steven Weissbard, called the assemblyman a “goliath,” and added, “If you want to win, you can’t be afraid to fight.”

Anna Throne-Holst, Democratic nominee for the 1st Congressional District, addresses the crowd following her loss on election night to incumbent Lee Zeldin. Photo by Lloyd Newman
Anna Throne-Holst, Democratic nominee for the 1st Congressional District, addresses the crowd following her loss on election night to incumbent Lee Zeldin. Photo by Lloyd Newman

Incumbent Mike Fitzpatrick (R-St. James) outscored Rich Macellaro 69.81 to 30.17 percent in the 8th district to earn his eighth term in the Assembly. Chad Lupinacci (R-Huntington Station) won the 10th district with 58.24 percent of the votes over Democrat Ed Perez for his fourth term, and Andy Raia (R-East Northport) will enter his ninth term in office after garnering 65.26 percent of voters’ support over Spencer Rumsey (D) in the 12th district.

“Chad and I — we do our thing, we go to Albany and beat our heads against the desk with the supermajority of New York City,” Raia said during his postelection speech at Huntington Station’s VFW Post 1469. “But we make sure that your voice is heard day in and day out, because you’re what it’s all about. You’re the reason we live out of a suitcase six months out of the year — because you’re the bread and butter of this.”

Robert Murphy (R) will continue to patrol the highways of Smithtown as its highway superintendent. He reigned over Justin Smiloff (D) with 69 percent of the votes.

Candidates on both sides viewed this election season as a turning point for the state and country.

“It’s not about us candidates, it is about all of you here together and fighting this good fight and wanting to make change, and wanting to make sure that we are representing the people that we know need good representation,” Throne-Holst said during her speech at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 25 in Hauppauge. “We need to bear in mind that we are about unity. We are about moving forward. We are about public service. We are about the issues that matter.”

Her opponent expressed a similar sentiment.

“When we wake up tomorrow,” Zeldin said, “we have to come together.”

Rebecca Anzel, Victoria Espinoza, Donna Newman, Alex Petroski and Kevin Redding contributed reporting.

Jack Martins, left, and Tom Suozzi, right, are both vying for the open congressional seat on the North Shore. Left photo by Victoria Espinoza; file photo right

By Rebecca Anzel

Both candidates running to succeed Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) in the 3rd Congressional District agree the winner needs to be an agent of change, but State Senator Jack Martins (R-Mineola) and former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) disagree about what that means.

Martins, a lawyer, spent eight years as mayor of Mineola and five years as the state senator from the 7th senate district. He said his record proves he is able to achieve meaningful change by working across party lines, making necessary decisions and leaving things more stable than he found them.

“You have to measure commitments by actions and results, and certainly my tenure speaks for itself and [Suozzi’s] tenure speaks for itself, and I think those are important distinctions,” Martins said. “Oftentimes, when it comes to my opponent, the problem is he’s more concerned with running for something else and taking that next step than he is about fixing the problems he was elected to fix.”

For Suozzi, an attorney and certified public accountant, it takes more than bipartisanship to solve issues the country has been struggling with for decades. He said during his seven years in office both as mayor of Glen Glove and Nassau County executive, he fought to “change the status quo” — even when that meant going against his party.

“I think that my experience has given me a skill set and a life experience that have trained me to actually get things done,” Suozzi said in a phone interview. “I’m the only candidate in this race that has a proven record of standing up to very powerful forces and fighting to get things done on behalf of the people I serve.”

Both candidates agree issues such as water quality and heroin use are concerns for Long Islanders.

Martins and Suozzi both said sewers would help curb the amount of harmful nitrogen leaching into Long Island’s water bodies from septic systems and cesspools. Martins prioritized Long Island’s drinking water and pushed the importance of a comprehensive study of its aquifer to be conducted and followed up with some regularity.

Suozzi focused on the Long Island Sound. He said the 3rd Congressional District is an important one in regard to the sound and to protect it, residents need to think about it differently.

“We need to try to promote the concept of the Long Island Sound as our national park, and we need to work on reducing the amount of nitrogen that goes into [the Long Island Sound] from stormwater runoff from everywhere,” he said.

Both candidates also agreed educating children early about the dangers of heroin and other drugs is important — but their plans differed. Martins said penalties need to be higher for sellers of heroin and addicts need to have a path to sobriety.

“It is a critical issue and we need to get our hands around it,” he said. “We have to increase penalties for the sale of these products while at the same time understanding we’re not going to incarcerate our way through this.”

Suozzi said the problem started with medical professionals prescribing too many opioids, and that needs to be tackled first, beyond the state registry.

The congressional hopefuls both commented that the national election should be more about issues and less about personal attacks and said they will be voting along party lines — Martins said he plans to vote for Donald Trump (R) and Suozzi for Hillary Clinton (D).

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