Authors Posts by Donna Deedy

Donna Deedy

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At Stony Brook University Renaissance School of Medicine, a new generation of doctors and dentists are involved in a novel approach to managing the opioid epidemic. The training includes instruction from reformed narcotic users, who act as teachers.

A 25-year-old woman recently explained to the first-year students how she became addicted to opioids at the age of 15, when a friend came over with Vicodin prescribed by a dentist after a tooth extraction.

Addiction, she said, is like having a deep itch inside that desperately needs to be scratched.

“There was nothing that could stand between me and getting high,” said the young woman, who wants to remain anonymous. “Most of the time it was my only goal for the day. At $40 a pill, I quickly switched to heroin which costs $10.” 

The university’s Assistant Dean for Clinical Education Dr. Lisa Strano-Paul, who helped coordinate the session, said that “patients as teachers” is widely practiced in medical education. This is the first year reformed narcotic users are participating in the program.

“People’s stories will stick with these medical students for the rest of their lives,” she said. “Seeing such an articulate woman describe her experiences was impactful.”

Gerard Fischer, a doctor of dental surgery candidate from St. James, took part in the patient-as-teacher session on narcotics.

“You learn empathy, a quality people want to see in someone practicing medicine,“ Fischer said. “People don’t choose to become addicted to narcotics. So, you want to understand.”

After working in dental offices over the last several years, he’s noticed that habits for prescribing painkillers are changing.

“Dental pain is notoriously uncomfortable because it’s in your face and head,” he said. “No one wants a patient to suffer.” Pain management, though, requires walking a fine line, he added, saying, “Patient awareness is increasing, so many of them now prefer to take ibuprofen and acetaminophen rather than a prescription narcotic, which could be a reasonable approach.”

Hearing the young woman tell her story, he said, will undoubtedly influence his decision-making when he becomes a practicing dentist. 

An estimated 180 medical and dental students attended the training last month. Overall, Strano-Paul said she’s getting positive feedback from the medical students about the session. 

The woman who overcame addiction and shared her insights with the medical professionals, also found the experience rewarding. 

We respect her request to remain anonymous and are grateful that she has decided to share her story with TBR News Media. For the rest of this article, we shall refer to her as “Claire.” 

Faith, hope and charity

“I told the doctors that recovery has nothing to do with science,” Claire said. “They just looked at me.”

Claire was addicted to drugs and alcohol for seven years and went to rehab 10 times over the course of five years. 

“I did some crazy things, I jumped out of a car while it was moving,” Claire said, shaking her head in profound disbelief.

She leapt from the vehicle, she said, the moment she learned that her family was on their way to a rehab facility. Fortunately, she was unharmed and has now been off pain pills and drugs for close to six years. She no longer drinks alcohol.

“Yes, it is possible to recover from addiction,” Claire said. 

People with addiction issues feel empty inside, Claire explained, while gently planting her fist in her sternum. She said that once her counselor convinced her to pray for help and guidance, she was able to recover.

“Somehow praying opens you up,” she said. 

Claire was raised Catholic and attended Catholic high school but says that she’s not a religious person. 

“I said to my counselor, “How do I pray, if I don’t believe or know if there’s a God?” 

She came to terms with her spirituality by appreciating the awe of nature. She now prays regularly. Recovery, she said, is miraculous.

Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12-step regimen, first published in 1939 in the post-Depression era, outlines coping strategies for better managing life. Claire swears by the “big book,” as it’s commonly called. She carefully read the first 165 pages with a counselor and has highlighted passages that taught her how to overcome addictions to opioids and alcohol. Being honest, foregoing selfishness, praying regularly and finding ways to help others have become reliable sources of her strength.

Spirituality is the common thread Claire finds among the many people she now knows who have recovered from addiction.

Medication-assisted therapy

Personally, Claire recommends abstinence over treating addiction medically with prescription drugs such as buprenorphine. The drug, approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration since 2002, is a slow-release opioid that suppresses symptoms of withdrawal. When combined with behavior therapy, the federal government recommends it as treatment for addiction. Medication alone, though, is not viewed as sufficient. The ultimate goal of medication-assisted therapy, as described on the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website on the topic, is a holistic approach to full recovery, which includes the ability to live a self-directed life.

“Medication-assisted therapy should not be discounted,” Strano-Paul said. “It improves the outcome and enables people to hold jobs and addresses criminal behavior tendencies.”

While the assistant dean is not involved with that aspect of the curriculum, the topic is covered somewhat in the clerkship phase of medical education during sessions on pain management and when medical students are involved in more advanced work in the medical training, she said. 

The field, though, is specialized.

The federal government requires additional certification before a medical practitioner can prescribe buprenorphine. Once certified, doctors and their medical offices are further restricted to initially prescribe the medicine to only 30 patients annually. Critics say no other medications have government-mandated patient limits on lifesaving treatment. 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, considers the therapy to be “misunderstood” and “greatly underused.” 

In New York state, 111,391 medical practitioners are registered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to prescribe opioids and narcotics. Only 6,908 New York practitioners to date are permitted to prescribe opioids for addiction treatment as at Aug. 31.

Strano-Paul for instance, pointed out that she can prescribe opioids, but is prohibited from prescribing the opioid-based drug used for addiction therapy. 

The narcotics education program is still evolving, Strano-Paul said. 

New medical student training now also includes certification for Narcan, the nasal spray antidote that revives opioid overdose victims. 

“It saves lives,” Strano-Paul said. 

In Suffolk County in 2017, 424 people died from an opioid overdose, which was 41 percent higher than the state average, according to a study titled “The Staggering Cost of Long Island’s Opioid Crisis.” The county is aware of 238 potentially lifesaving overdose reversals as of June 30 attributed to Narcan this year alone. Since 2012, Narcan has helped to save the lives of 3,864 people in the county. 

As for Claire, now a mother, she delivered her children through C-section. In the hospital, she was offered prescription opioids for pain. 

“No one will ever see me again, if you give me those pills,” she said.                

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Father Daniel Bitsko

Father Daniel Bitsko, a former pastor of the Byzantine Catholic Church of the Resurrection in Smithtown, died Sept. 4 at the age of 82. Originally from New Britain, Pennsylvania, Father Dan served the church for 30 years. He was also a 50-year member and chief chaplain for the Smithtown Fire Department and chaplain for the New York Islanders Hockey Team.

His legacy includes launching the once popular Byzantine Bazaar, an ethnic festival hosted every other year over the Labor Day holiday weekend at the Smithtown church.

“Ten of thousands of people attended the festival,” said the church’s current pastor Father Tyler Strand in a telephone interview. “It was a big deal that included a nightclub, restaurants.  It was a very important part of life here.”

An Aug. 25, 1991, The New York Times article noted that the bazaar as “one of the biggest food festivals on Long Island is staged by one of its smallest churches…”

Strand said that the church had to stop hosting the festival because it just got too big. The tradition, however, lives on, on a smaller scale, but is still the church’s largest fundraiser.  On the first Saturday of November, the church hosts the annual Slavic Dinner that includes live entertainment, raffles and two seatings for dinner that includes traditional foods of Eastern Europe-like stuffed cabbage, pierogies and poppyseed rolls. This year’s event is scheduled for Nov. 2.

The Smithtown Fire Department announced Father Dan’s passing on Facebook.

“The longtime pastor of the Byzantine Catholic Church of the Resurrection in Smithtown, Father Dan was appointed to the Smithtown FD in April 1969 and quickly became an integral part of our family,” the chief’s office stated. “Throughout the years he mentored, counseled, comforted, educated, laughed and prayed with us all.”

Born in Coaldale, Pennsylvania, Bitsko was the son of the late Frank and Helen (Zelinka) Bitsko. He was a graduate of the former Coaldale High School and was a graduate of Duquesne University. He then joined the Byzantine Catholic Seminary of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Pittsburgh, where he fulfilled his vocation of becoming a Byzantine Catholic priest. Father Dan had also served as the pastor at St. Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Church in New York City, St. Andrew’s Byzantine Catholic Church in Westbury, and last served at the Byzantine Catholic Church of the Resurrection in Smithtown.

Father Dan was a member of the New York State Chaplains Association and also served as the chaplain for Nascar Races at the Pocono Raceway.

Father Dan was very active in the local community. He was a member of the Smithtown Rotary, the Smithtown Historical Society, Suffolk County Volunteer Fireman’s Association in New York, the Southern New York Fireman’s Association and the Knights of Columbus, Henry Baker Council 2711.

Surviving is a sister, Helen Kochaba and her husband John of Camden, Delaware; brother, Nicholas Bitsko and his wife Ruth of New Britain, Pennsylvania; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by a sister, Mary Cortese; brothers, Michael, Frank, Andrew, John and Stephen.

Funeral Service with Divine Liturgy will be held Monday, Sept. 9 at 11 a.m. at St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Church, 104 E. Bertsch St., Lansford, Pennsylvania with the Most Reverend Kurt Burnette officiating. Interment will follow at St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cemetery, Summit Hill. Visitation will be held Monday from 9-11 a.m. at the church, which is where he first served as pastor.

Contributions, in Father Dan’s memory, may be made to St. John the Baptist/St. Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Parishes, the Byzantine Catholic Church of the Resurrection or to the charity of one’s choice. Online condolences may be expressed at www.nalesnikfh.com. Funeral services and arrangements are being handled by the Bruce A. Nalesnik Funeral Home, 57 W. Center St., Nesquehoning, Pennsylvania.

The Byzantine church in Smithtown is planning a celebration of Father Dan’s life at a still undetermined date in October that will later be announced.

September 2, 2019 - Sportime2 youth tennis program during an on court demonstration at the 2019 US Open. (Photo by Jennifer Pottheiser/USTA)

Sportime2, a youth tennis league in Kings Park, participated in a Net Generation “Kids on Court” activation at the 2019 U.S. Open on Sept. 2. Twenty-four kids from the program were part of an on-court tennis demonstration prior to the start of a match between Aidan Mayo and Shunsuke Mitsui on Court 12. Sportime2 member Diane Durante, tossed the coin prior to the match and then posed for a photo with the players. 

Kids On Court, part of the USTA’s youth tennis brand, Net Generation, is expected to give more than 1,000 youth tennis players from across the country the opportunity to play this year on the iconic courts of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. 

Kings Park kids on the court at U.S. Open

This year marks the first time American tennis has one unified youth brand for children to get into the sport. Net Generation will make it easier for kids and their parents to learn about tennis and get into the game in schools, parks and tennis clubs across the country. The movement embraces all aspects of youth play for kids ages 5 to 18. For more information, visit www.NetGeneration.com.

-Compiled by Donna Deedy

Lupinacci and Sorrentino discuss vandal issue at Sunshine Acres.

On Tuesday, Sept. 3, Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) denounced the painted anti-Semitic graffiti vandals left at Sunshine Acres Park on Townline Road in Commack over the holiday weekend and urged residents to report suspicious activity and instances of hate to the Town.

 “The swastika is a symbol meant to threaten and intimidate and this demonstration of hate will not be tolerated in the Town of Huntington,” said Lupinacci, who visited the park on Monday, Sept. 2 to be briefed by Director of General Services Andre Sorrentino, whose staff temporarily painted over the graffiti with green paint on a paved path over the Labor Day holiday weekend until they would be able to permanently seal coat the area.

 They were joined by Public Safety security guard Dan Froehlich, who was patrolling the trail in the park and informed the supervisor that he has personally broken up groups of young people loitering in the park.

“Our Department of Public Safety is ramping up foot patrols at the park and I urge our residents to stay vigilant and report suspicious activity in our parks to the Department of Public Safety and suspected instances of hate to the town’s Anti-Bias Task Force,” said Lupinacci.

The Department of Public Safety reported the hate crime to the Suffolk County Police Department, which is standard protocol. Suspicious or illegal activity in town parks can be reported to the Department of Public Safety to investigate at www.huntingtonny.gov/public-safety or the 24-hour emergency hotline, 631-351-3234.

The Security Division of the Department of Public Safety is responsible for the daily patrol of 77 town facilities, consisting of buildings, properties, beaches and parks, as well as railroad stations and surrounding parking facilities located within the town. The town’s Park Rangers are New York State Certified Peace Officers tasked with keeping the general public order and protecting town parks, beaches and other facilities.

Residents can report instances of hate or bias to the town’s Anti-Bias Task Force through their Department of Human Services liaison, Director Carmen Kasper at humanservices@huntingtonny.gov or at 631-351-3304.

File Photo

Suffolk County Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) with the support of the Republican Caucus has requested a Certificate of Necessity (CN) from County Executive Steve Bellone (D) to reauthorize the red-light camera program in Suffolk County through a mandated referendum. 

“Let the public decide if this program is saving lives or costing the taxpayers their hard earned dollars,” said Trotta.

His fellow Republicans echoed this sentiment.

According to Trotta, a $250,000 study, prepared by L. K. McLean Associates, did not provide the data that the Suffolk County Legislature was seeking to thoroughly determine if the red-light camera program should be extended for another five years. In addition, the report noted that accidents increased 60 percent at red-light camera locations, yet the consultants argued that the program should continue. 

Republican legislators Tom Climi (R-Bay Shore), Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst), Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset), Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma), Steven Flotteron (R-Bay Shore) and Rudy Sunderman (R-Mastic Beach) support Trotta’s resolution to have a mandated referendum on the November ballot.

“This bill is a yes or no to sign the contract for renewal of the red-light cameras,” said Kennedy. “We have been told that we can work on issues once the contract is signed. We all know that all issues are defined upon contract signature, just look at the roughly 15 million we had to pay out when our County Executive decided to breach the signed contract at Ronkonkoma Rail Road Station for solar panels.”

The GOP Caucus leader Tom Climi has said that his seven-member caucus will vote unanimously to end the program. 

“The results speak for themselves: more than a thousand additional crashes at red-light camera intersections involving thousands of drivers, all put at risk of injury or worse, all subjected to vehicle repair costs and increased insurance rates, with no reduction in fatalities at these intersections,” Climi said. “Rather than taking photos and video at these intersections, pretending to make them safer, we should engineer these intersections to actually BE safer.” 

Trotta had encouraged the public to speak at the Sept. 4 meeting of the full Legislature  and to speak in support of his referendum. The meeting, which was held at the Williams Rogers Building, Legislative Auditorium, 725 Veterans Memorial Highway, Hauppauge, began at 9:30 a.m. and by 3:30 p.m. the issue had not yet come up for debate and residents were still waiting to speak for their allotted three minutes during the public portion. 

Trotta has encouraged anyone with questions to call him at 631-854-3900.

Democrat leaders were unavailable for comment before going to press. Bellone’s office did not respond to questions about the program.

The results of the Sept. 4 meeting were unavailable before press time.  By early evening, county legislators ultimately voted along party lines in a 11-7 vote to extend for five more years the red-light camera program. 

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Karen and fluffy at Northport Harbor Park

At Heckscher Park in Huntington, where families and community members regularly gather to listen to music and attend festivals and performances, leashed dogs are unwelcomed.  

More than 1,500 people want to see that policy changed. In the last few weeks, a petition has been circulating and websites created outlining all the reasons why they think the Town of Huntington is short-changing its residents with what they call “outdated laws.”

“Leashed dogs in Heckscher will keep Huntington’s tax-paying citizens, their families, and their dogs healthy and encourage tourism and businesses in the Huntington area,” Karen Thomas and Eva Yutani stated in a press release that’s been circulating via email. Thomas, a lifelong resident of Huntington, said that she feels obligated to try and change the rules for the benefit of dogs as well as dog lovers. 

The public relations team points out that Northport Harbor Park has allowed leashed dogs for years and has noticed that it’s a very busy park with happy dog owners socializing with other dog owners and enjoying events and music.

The petitioners in some cases see the law as unfair and biased.

“It’s time to let Huntington dog owners enjoy the wonderful public recreational resource just like every other person in town,” said Ginny Munger Kahn, president of LiDog, who is among residents who have signed the petition.  

Dog and dog owner’s behavior is often behind the no-dogs-allowed rules. So is fear. Some people think that their dog is so well-behaved that a leash is unnecessary, which can scare other park visitors, according to some park managers on Long Island. Some people worry that a dog can become aggressive if provoked by another animal or child. And it’s not uncommon for someone to hear the words, “He’s friendly” before being bitten. Then, there’s the poop problem.

At Frank Melville Park in Setauket and Avalon Park and Preserve in Stony Brook and Head of the Harbor, dogs are welcomed, and park visitors are drawn to the spots often because of the open policy. But park management has said in interviews that it’s a constant challenge. They try to instill in park visitors the idea of protecting and enjoying the outdoors, while being very mindful of others. 

Whatever resistance there’s been against open park access to leashed dogs in Huntington, the rules have been evolving.   

Dogs were banned in all town parks and beaches up until four years ago, when, on a trial basis, they were allowed in five town parks. In 2017, the town’s Greenway Trails Advisory Committee recommended expanding park access to leashed dogs at all its parklands except at the Betty Allen Nature Preserve, where there’s fishing, and at Heckscher Park, which has high activity. The town board accepted those recommendations. 

Dogs remain banned from all beaches and playgrounds. 

Councilwoman Joan Cergol (D), who is running for re-election this November, has said in an email that she would support and perhaps even sponsor a resolution that would allow leashed dogs on a trial basis in Heckscher Park, then assess the program to see if the ban should be lifted. 

Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci’s (R) office has a different perspective. 

“This has been an ongoing discussion in the supervisor’s office, with Public Safety/Animal Control, Parks and Recreation and the Town Attorney’s office for over a year now to accommodate residents on both sides of this issue,” the town’s Public Information Officer Lauren Lembo said in an email. “Most of our parks allow dogs on-leash but Heckscher was specifically recommended as off-limits to dogs (in the Town Code) by our trails committee for various reasons, including the protection of water fowl, water quality, and vegetation, and due to the narrow trails, which make escape from an unwanted interaction difficult. Dogs are already not allowed on athletic fields, active recreation areas, playgrounds and picnic areas (also in the Town Code), and all these conditions exist at Heckscher.”

 Lembo said that the supervisor is looking into establishing nearby dog-friendly alternatives. 

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The Suffolk County Junior Tennis League in Smithtown runs a demonstration Aug. 26 at the U.S. Open. Photo from Sharp Communications

United States Tennis Association, the national governing body for the sport of tennis, is shining a spotlight on its youth tennis leagues during the 2019 U.S. Open, and two local teams are participating in events. 

Children from the Suffolk County Junior Tennis League in Smithtown and the Sportime League in Kings Park are conducting on-court tennis demonstrations for fans. 

Net Generation kids on court before a match between Denis Kudla and Janko Tipsarevic at the 2019 U.S. Open Aug. 26. Photo by Jennifer Pottheiser/USTA

The opportunity for young athletes to play a role in one of the world’s highest-attended sporting events has become a key component of the sport’s success. Suffolk’s founder and executive director, Joe Arias, was unavailable for comment this week, but national manager for USTA’s youth brand Net Generation, Leah Friedman, shared her insights. 

“Our on-court experiences allow us to celebrate our coaches, who are offering tennis in their communities and going above and beyond to impact their players,” she said. “Joe Arias and Suffolk County continue to inspire and engage their community. We want the next generation of greats leaving the U.S. Open with a lifetime of memories.” 

Madison De Cicco, 8, of Smithtown, tossed the coin Aug. 26 prior to the opening day match between Denis Kudla and Janko Tipsarević and then posed for a photo with the two players. The Suffolk County league delivered a demo session to fans prior to that match. On Monday, Sept. 2, the youth league at Sportime in Kings Park will put on a demo show on Court 12. 

Now in its third year, the program, called Kids on Court, has expanded each year with 60 groups nationwide participating. The demonstration program is part of the USTA’s youth tennis brand, Net Generation. The nonprofit organization expects to give more than 1,300 youth tennis players from across the country the opportunity to play on the iconic courts of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center during the first 10 days of the 2019 tournament. 

The youth demonstrations, called activations, will take place prior to sessions on each of the U.S. Open show courts: Arthur Ashe Stadium, Louis Armstrong Stadium, Grandstand and Court 17 as well as Courts 5, 11 and 12. They will also be held in Arthur Ashe Stadium prior to four selected night sessions.

Net Generation wants to make it easier for kids and their parents to learn about tennis and get into the game in schools, parks and tennis clubs across the country. The movement is designed to appeal to kids ages 5-18. For more information, visit netgeneration.usta.com.

Sen. Gaughran, Assemblyman Stern and Highway Supervisor Orelli stand in front of debris cleared from June 30 storm that ravaged the town.

Following passage of two major bills to support local roadways, state Sen. Jim Gaughran (D-Northport) and Assemblyman Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills) joined the Town of Huntington Highway Superintendent Kevin Orelli at the Huntington Highway Department to emphasize the importance of improving conditions for Huntington’s highways and drivers. 

The first set of bills, S.4363 and A.6547, raises the limits on capital expenditures used for the repair and improvement of highways in the town from $400,000 to $1,000,000, bringing it in line with neighboring municipalities. The second set, S.5422 and A.1235, protects drivers by expanding the state’s liability for damages suffered by individuals due to defects in state highways.

“It’s a step in the right direction, but I have no money.”

— Kevin Orelli

Orelli stressed the fact that the capital expenditure bill is not about getting more money from the state, adding it instead addresses an archaic rule that prevents the Highway Department from spending more than $400,000 in one year on equipment spending. The town, he said in a telephone interview, has fallen behind and is badly in need of new equipment, which is funded by the town and taxpayers. 

“I thank the legislators for their work,” Orelli said. “It’s a step in the right direction, but I have no money.” The town allocated no monies for equipment in this year’s budget, he said.

“We don’t have the money we need to do the job properly. We can’t do what we need to do,” he said.

The department recently retired around five snowplows and has been using antiquated equipment to repair potholes, It lacks basic machinery such as a chip truck, pay loader and a brine truck. A new super sucker, which the town needs to clean out storm drains, the highway superintendent said, costs $408,000.  

The Highway Department, he said, has been the department that gets budget cuts. Over time, it’s gradually fallen behind. The department once employed 300 people, but now operates with a staff of 150, Orelli said. The highway building itself, he said, is old and has too low of a clearance for some trucks to park inside for repair work.

State lawmakers said that they understand the situation has been decades in the making. 

“These bills are important protections to allow safe and swift repair of our local roadways and to our motorists,” Gaughran said. “S.4363 modernizes an arcane statute and allows the town to respond quickly and appropriately during an emergency.” 

Stern agrees.

“The bill helps ensure that the Huntington highway superintendent has the resources necessary to maintain the quality and safety of our roadways by updating an arcane section of the law that had not been changed in more than 40 years,” Stern said in an email response.

The proposed budget increase brings Huntington in line with neighboring towns including Smithtown, which has a $800,000 limit and a sizably smaller population. Huntington’s population as of the 2010 census was 203,264 population. Smithtown’s as of 2010 was 117,801.

Once the governor signs the capital expenditure bill, the town will need to decide how to pay for upgrades. 

“It is encouraging to hear that the state passed the legislation, which the Town Board urged them to pass earlier this year, to support increased funding for highway equipment.”

— Chad Lupinacci

“It is my intention to meet with each town board member and ask for a substantial increase in the highway tax,” Orelli said. “As you are probably aware, it is difficult from a political perspective to raise taxes. Keeping this in mind, I am asking the Town Board to put this issue up for a voter referendum and let the taxpayers decide whether or not they want to increase their investment in our infrastructure.”

Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) said that he supports improvements. 

“It is encouraging to hear that the state passed the legislation, which the Town Board urged them to pass earlier this year, to support increased funding for highway equipment,” he said in an email request for comment. “I have always supported measures funding road rehabilitation and equipment funding for highway and road maintenance. The Town Board failed to approve equipment funding at our March meeting, but I sponsored the resolution funding the purchase of up to $400,000 in new highway equipment, and I sponsored and voted for up to $4,750,000 in road and traffic safety rehabilitation measures for 2019, which passed at the same meeting.”

Of those funds $3 million were used for paving, $1 million for drainage with the rest going toward sidewalks, pavement markings and traffic signal and traffic calming improvements.

State liability 

State roads are maintained separately and unrelated to the Town of Huntington’s roadway situation. The second set of legislator’s bills address the state-imposed liability limits for damages caused by poor state road conditions. 

Currently, motorists who suffer damages due to defects on local roads may pursue damages against the locality at any time during the year if the municipality had advance notice of the defect, according to Gaughran’s office. Yet, motorists who suffered damages due to defects in state roads can pursue damages against the state only if the incident occurred between May 1 and Nov. 15. If the incident occurs between Nov. 16 and April 30, motorists are out of luck. 

“S.5422 protects local motorists on state roadways, because drivers should not be stuck paying out-of-pocket for damages caused by a defect in a state highway that should have been repaired.”

The state has developed several systems to combat pothole problems. Motorists are encouraged to call 1-800-POTHOLE to report a pothole on Long Island’s state roads. The state reports that it receives hundreds of pothole reports through these phone calls, and through letters, emails and social media. New York uses 5,000 tons of asphalt for road repair on Long Island, according to New York DOT spokesman Stephen Canzoneri.

“The NY State Department of Transportation aggressively fills potholes throughout the year on more than 4,000 lane miles of state highways on Long Island,” Canzoneri said. “In the winter, we enlist additional crews, who work days, nights, and weekends.” 

But, the current arrangement lets the state off the hook during crucial months.

“The bill [A.1235] would provide a more effective way to hold New York State accountable to motorists with claims for unsafe road conditions that cause damage or injury,” Stern said. “It will help provide efficiency, responsiveness and accountability. These measures together will certainly help to protect our suburban quality of life.”

The governor’s office did not respond to repeated request for comment on the two bills. 

Adele Gordon poses with her cakes to celebrate a milestone occassion. Photo from Gaughran’s office

Huntington resident Adele Gordon celebrated her 100th birthday Aug. 23. Gordon was surrounded by friends and family as she blew out the candles on three extraordinary cakes to celebrate. NY State Sen. Jim Gaughran (D-Northport) presented her with a Senate Proclamation on behalf of the Senate in recognition of the milestone occasion.

“Adele Gordon has been an active, exceptional community member in the Huntington community for decades,” Gaughran said. “It was my honor to join her for a celebration of 100 years of life and present her with a Proclamation in recognition of this milestone. Happy Birthday Adele!”

Bryan Frank, new principal at Accompsett Elementary School

Smithtown Central School District has named Bryan Frank as principal of Accompsett Elementary School, effective July 22. He replaces Jeanne Kull-Minarik, who retired at the end of the school year. 

Frank previously served as Smithtown Central School District’s director of social studies since 2017. Prior to that, he worked at Connetquot Central School District and Port Washington School District as director of business and social studies and social studies chairperson, respectively. 

Frank holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and history from Long Island University Post as well as a master’s degree from LIU Post in secondary education. He also holds a master’s degree in liberal studies with a concentration in school administration from Stony Brook University and is currently a doctoral candidate in educational leadership from St. John’s University. 

“My focus as the Accompsett principal is to ensure that we continue to have a rich nurturing environment with programs that develop the whole child,” Frank said. “I look forward to working diligently and collaboratively with the community, faculty and staff of Accompsett to make sure everyone who enters the school is excited to be here.” 

 

Photo from Smithtown Central School District