Authors Posts by Donna Deedy

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Students from Northport, Huntington and Southampton high schools, as well as from Tug Valley High School in West Virginia, are working together to curb the opioid crisis. Photo from Northport-East Northport Union Free School District

Students from Northport, Huntington and Southampton high schools, along with the hard-hit Tug Valley High School in Kermit, West Virginia, have been working together to address the opioid crisis through a unique exchange program. Northport students, who are a part of the Students for 60,000 Club, visited West Virginia earlier this year on a service trip and were deeply affected by the magnitude of the crisis. 

Club advisers Darryl St. George and Kim Braha coordinated a “student exchange” in which the students from West Virginia came to visit Long Island to discuss realistic steps to solving the crisis. 

During the week of July 7, the students met in a variety of forums to learn from each other and discuss ways to address and solve the crisis. Students met with U.S. Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) in Huntington to engage in discussion and also visited Southampton High School to hear from local Southampton representatives. Students asked questions, shared personal experiences and offered their thoughts on curtailing opioid use. 

Ideas included creating more mental health programs in schools and providing a greater sense of purpose for students. 

At the end of the week, students spent some time volunteering at the Northport VA. 

“The most inspiring part of this week long student exchange experience included seeing how empowered our Northport students were working with Southampton, Huntington and West Virginia students,” said Braha, “and the incredible opportunities to have conversations about how we can all work together to improve our communities.

'Some 1,300 communities in the U.S. now have no newscoverage at all.' - Pew Research Center

By Donna Deedy

It’s often said that a free press is a pillar of democracy, a fourth branch of government, capable of shining a light on corruption to reveal truth. History is full of cases where news stories have exposed unethical or criminal behavior, essentially helping to right a wrong. 

Consider the story on the Pentagon Papers, which showed how the federal government misled the public about the Vietnam War. When congressional leaders didn’t act, newspapers filled a role. 

Think of the news story about lead contamination of Flint, Michigan’s water supply and the Boston Globe’s series that exposed the widespread cover-up of childhood sexual abuse by Catholic priests. Most recently, the Miami Herald’s series “Perversion of Justice” is credited for exposing the crimes and lenient punishment of Jeffrey Epstein, who allegedly operated a sex-trafficking scheme with underage girls. 

These are just a few cases with incredible breadth and scope that show how journalism raises awareness and ultimately prompts change. Countless other stories underscore the value and impact of journalism, and the news is not always necessarily grim. Aside from exposing bad actors or twisted policies, journalists also celebrate all that is good in a community and can bring people together by showing the great achievements of ordinary people. 

Any way you look at it, news matters. 

In the last decade and a half, though, it’s become increasing difficult for newspapers to survive. Newsroom employees have declined by 45 percent between 2008 and 2017, according to the Pew Research Center. Some 1,300 communities in the U.S. now have no coverage at all in what are called “news deserts.” This spells trouble for democracy. Thankfully, Congress is now opening a door to take a look at the situation. 

A six-minute YouTube video created by The News Media Alliance, the news industry’s largest trade organization, explains what people need to know about the situation. Entitled “Legislation to Protect Local News,” if you haven’t seen it, it’s worth your time. 

In summary, technology — think internet and smartphones — has had a phenomenally positive impact in increasing the demand for news by expanding readership and engagement. In fact, just 2 percent of the U.S. population in 1995 relied on the internet to get news three days a week, according to Pew Research Center. By 2018, 93 percent of the population accessed at least some news online. But while news is more widely circulated, this shift to online platforms is also at the root of the news industry’s struggle. 

Terry Egger, publisher and CEO of Philadelphia Media Network said in the video that he recognizes the power and beauty of the Facebook and Google’s distribution models, but he also sees in detail how they are eroding the news industry’s ability to pay for its journalism. 

“Facebook and Google are able to monetize their distribution of our content, nearly 80 to 85 cents of every dollar in advertising digitally goes to one of those two platforms,” he said. 

The bottom line: News is supported largely by advertisements. By creating and distributing content to an audience, news outlets essentially broker their reach to advertisers looking for exposure. Accessing news through Facebook and Google has essentially disrupted that business model.

Facebook and Google have generated over the last year $60 billion in revenue, explains U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), chairman of the U.S. House Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee in the video. In contrast, news publishers’ revenue is down about $31 billion “over the last several years.”

Cicilline senses that something needs to be done to help local papers and publishers survive. He, along with Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) and Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), have introduced in April a bill called Journalism Competition and Preservation Act of 2019, H.R.2054. 

The bill provides a temporary safe harbor where publishers of online content can collectively negotiate with dominant online platforms about the terms under which their content may be distributed. 

Collins, ranking member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, called the bill a first step to see if the nation can bring fairness to smaller and local and regional papers. So far, the legislation continues to gain momentum. 

Danielle Coffey, counsel for the News Media Alliance, stated in a recent email interview that the journalism preservation bill is receiving voices of support from both sides of the aisle. The organization is looking for more sponsors to be added. “We aren’t asking for the government to save us or even for the government to regulate or change the platforms,” said David Chavern, president and CEO of News Media Alliance. “We’re just asking for a fighting chance for news publishers to stand up for themselves and create a sustainable digital future for journalism.”

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) said that he is monitoring the bill’s progress.“A free press has been essential to the maintenance of our democracy and keeping people informed,” he said. “As the way Americans consume their news evolves, we must ensure that tried-and-true local journalists are receiving their fair share so they can continue to serve their readers for generations to come.”

Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) is equally in agreement. “Our democracy is strongest when we have a free and diverse press,” he said. “From national to local news, events and happenings, we need the quality journalism of the free press to keep the public aware of what is happening in their country, state, town and local communities.”

Residents are urged to contact their congressman, Zeldin (631-289-1097) or Suozzi (631-923-4100), and ask them to become co-sponsors of H.R.2054: Journalism Competition and Preservation Act of 2019.

 

Michael McDermott

A popular Kings Park middle school gym teacher Michael McDermott died tragically on Sunday, July 14, at age 37. He was jogging on the shoulder of the southbound lane of Lake Avenue in St. James, north of Oak Street, when he was struck and killed by a southbound car at 12:21 p.m. 

The driver, Keith Clancy, age 32 of Mattituck, fled the scene in a Nissan sedan and was located and arrested about 30 minutes later, according to police reports, near exit 69 on the Long Island Expressway heading east with a smashed windshield. He was charge with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. 

End of the 2019 season Kings Park JV Baseball game

McDermott served as physical education teacher and coach for 14 years at the William T. Rogers Middle School, where he touched many lives with his enthusiasm, kindness and wonderful sense of humor.

“He was a dedicated JV baseball and middle school boys soccer coach, who inspired those around him,” said Superintendent Timothy Eagen in a prepared statement on behalf of the Kings Park school district. “Our hearts are broken after the tremendous loss of this truly dedicated educator, professional, husband and father. Our thoughts are with the McDermott family at this time.”

Students gathered in the dugout at the school’s baseball field on Monday afternoon for an impromptu tribute that grew that evening into a candlelight vigil, where students, teachers, counselors and the community joined in to mourn the loss. 

John Mueller, age 15, a ninth-grade pitcher for 2019 Kings Park JV baseball team said he will always remember Coach McDermott and wants to be like him.

“Coach made me the person I am today,” John said. “He knows right from wrong, and what is good. He was a great coach, gym teacher and person.”

Community members Camille Cardoza and Barbara Mueller, mother of John admired the coach’s positive attitude and the values he instilled such as family first, school second, then baseball. 

Students inscribe tribute to Coach McDermott in dugout.

Memorial services were held Wednesday July 17 at the Branch Funeral Home. A funeral Mass was due to be held Thursday, July 18, at 10 a.m. at Sts. Philip & James R.C. in St. James. 

McDermott is survived by wife Lorraine, and three children Leila, Ryan and Sienna.

 

Photos from Branch Funeral Home, Barbara Mueller, Camille Cardoza and Patrick Moser

Caged migrant children at U.S. Mexico border

By Donna Deedy

Local U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D–Glen Cove), after visiting detention centers along the southern United States border July 13 with 15 other House Democrats, has returned to his Huntington office alarmed. The situation, he said, is awful.  

U.S. Immigration Detention Center. photo from Tom Suozzi’s Office

“We need to make the humanitarian crisis at the border priority number one,” Suozzi said. “The system is broken.”

The group toured and inspected facilities that are currently holding Central American migrants seeking asylum and met with several migrant families to hear, first-hand, their experiences and what can be done to help.

“America is better than this,” he said. “I have worked on this issue since before I was elected mayor of Glen Cove in 1993 and I will continue to fight for solutions consistent with our American values.” 

During the visit, Suozzi learned that only 20 to 30 migrants seeking asylum are processed each day. This provides an incentive for people to cross in between ports of entry, he said, and once apprehended, they then turn themselves in to seek asylum. In turn, this leads to their detention.

“My recent trip to the border makes it clear that this issue is incredibly complicated and has been for decades. The policies and rhetoric from this administration have exacerbated the problem, permeating a culture of fear that forces many immigrants further into the shadows.” 

 The congressman is calling for action, insisting that all delegates work together to:

•Address the current humanitarian crisis at the border.

•Secure borders in a smart and effective way.

•Create stability in the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras that account for almost 90 percent of current immigrants.

•Protect the legal status of Dreamers and people with temporary protective status and their families with renewable temporary protection and a path to citizenship.

The tour coincided with rallies held in Huntington village and across the country and the world in protest of the policies and inhumane practices at U.S. border with Mexico. 

Suozzi was a guest on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on July 16, where he said that “the president has, once again, shifted the conversation away from important policy issues toward a racial divide in our country.”

The Rev. Duncan Burns, of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Huntington, attended the Huntington rally “Lights for Liberty” and spoke to the crowd that gathered July 12. Suozzi’s trip to the border, the reverend said, has sparked greater concern.

“We encourage people to raise their voices and to call their members of Congress to urge them to work together to find solutions,” he said. “The Episcopal Church is completely backing both parties to find a solution to this humanitarian crisis.”

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) did not respond to phone and email requests for comment on his position on the issue.

Local authors will read from their new publications and answer questions at an event organized by Councilwoman Joan Cergol. Photos from Councilwoman Cergol’s office

Town of Huntington Councilwoman Joan Cergol is inviting residents to join her July 18 as she places the spotlight on three published authors at a special “Readings Under the Tent” event at Melville’s Arboretum Park.

The three Huntington authors will join Cergol under a tent at the park, read from their recently published works and answer questions. The event begins at 7 p.m., is open to the public and is free.

“This is just another wonderful way to enjoy our parks and spend a summer evening. I look forward to hearing the stories behind the works of our highlighted authors, and hearing them read excerpts from their published works,” Cergol said. “Huntington has a rich literary history, dating back to Walt Whitman. The writers who will be speaking continue that tradition and represent different genres of literature, which should make it very interesting.”

The authors are:

Michael Bobelian, an award-winning author, lawyer and journalist whose works have covered issues ranging from legal affairs to corporate wrongdoing to human rights.  As a contributing writer at Forbes.com, Michael currently covers the Supreme Court, Wall Street reform, white collar crime, regulatory agencies, human rights and high-profile trials. His current book, “Battle for the Marble Palace: Abe Fortas, Earl Warren, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and the Forging of the Modern Supreme Court”,  is a narrative account of the politicization of the court during the 1950s and 1960s and the revolution it sparked in the confirmation process. He lives in Cold Spring Harbor. 

Amy Giles, an award-winning copywriter and young adult author of “Now Is Everything” (a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of 2017) and “That Night” (a Junior Library Guild selection). Published in October 2018, “That Night” explores how two teens, who each lost a brother in a mass shooting, slowly become friends and then something more, learning to heal and move forward together. Amy lives in Huntington with her husband, two daughters and rescue dog.

Jeannie Moon, a USA Today bestselling author of romance and women’s fiction. A lifelong Long Island resident, Jeannie sets her stories in the coastal towns and hamlets that influenced the story of her life. Additionally, Jeannie is a school librarian and an English teacher with more than 30 years of experience in public and private schools. The author of 16 contemporary romances for Tule Publishing and Penguin Random House, her latest novel “All of Me” — the third installment in her Compass Cove series — is  scheduled for August 28 publication. Jeannie is married to her high school sweetheart, and has three grown kids and three lovable dogs.

Cergol is already working on a second session, to be held in August, at a different town park and with a different lineup of authors. “This is a wonderful opportunity for residents of all ages and literary tastes to experience some of the hidden jewels of our town park network and appreciate first-hand why Huntington has been a magnet for authors dating back more than 100 years,” the councilwoman said.

Arboretum Park, home of the town’s Anne Frank Memorial Garden, is on Wilmington Drive, off Bagatelle Road in Melville. For more information, call Cergol’s office at  631-351-3173 or email her at  jcergol@huntingtonny.gov. 

Schedules match play championship

Smithtown Landing golf course gets a makeover. Photo from the Town of Smithtown

On July 8, Town of Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) and his fellow elected leaders joined with PGA master professional and golf Hall of Famer Michael Hebron and tournament organizer David Capo at the Smithtown Landing Country Club. Wehrheim announced registration was officially open for the first-ever Sarazen Par Three Match Play Championship, aka “The Squire”. The announcement came one week after major renovations and repairs to the golf club were completed.

Left to right: PGA Hall of Famer Michael Hebron, Director of Parks Joe Arico, Director of Recreation Tom McCaffery, Superintendent of Highways Robert Murphy, golf championship organizer David Capo, Councilwoman Lisa Inzerillo, Director of Traffic Safety Mitch Crowley, Receiver of Taxes Deanna Varrichio, Suffolk County Legislator Leslie Kennedy, Suffolk County Comptroller John Kennedy, Supervisor Ed Wehrheim, Councilwoman Lynne Nowick, Town Clerk Vincent Puleo and Councilman Tom Lohmann. Photo from Town of Smithtown

“Over the last year-and-a-half we set out to invest in smart improvements to the Smithtown community that would result in a return on investment for the taxpayer. The renovations just completed here at Landing speak to this point,” Wehrheim said. “I am very pleased to present the community with this exciting match play event, which will undoubtedly bring attention to the historic roots here at Landing and generate a weekend of new foot traffic for surrounding businesses.”

Recent renovations to the Smithtown Landing Country Club include repaved golf cart paths, entryway, roads, curbs and pavement, new starter shack, newly renovated halfway house, sidewalk areas, benches and fencing. An entryway island was redesigned and landscaped with plantings, signage and renovated crosswalks featuring all new traffic calming signs and lighting. Additionally,  ID cards have been instituted for the pool and golf course, which has already generated $6,000 in new revenue in two weeks. Building renovations are set to begin in the fall. The Smithtown Departments of Parks, Building and Grounds; Recreation; Traffic Safety and Highway were responsible for the completion of the work. 

“It’s been an honor for me to be here for many years and see the influence the town’s golf course has had on the community. To be a part of this team has been an opportunity for me to share what we can do with the community,” PGA Hall of Famer Michael Hebron said. “Children’s camps, children going off to play golf in college, children developing social and business skills through golf … to be a small part of the big picture here has been a real honor.”

This event is meant to honor the life of golf legend Gene Sarazen, known as “The Squire,” who helped to design the Par Three Course at the Smithtown Landing Country Club. Many golfers who have played on the course have said it is one of the most difficult par three courses they have played. 

“We embarked on a five-year project in the Town of Smithtown, and part of that is understanding the history … it’s a fascinating place,” said golf championship organizer David Capo. “After finding an old map, learning that the course weaves along the historic Culper Spy Ring … I came down to talk with Michael Hebron and his knowledge about the history of Smithtown Landing helped to inspire this event.”

The opening ceremony will take place on July 25 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. with the two-day championship running July 27 and July 28. Golfers at all skill levels (ages 16 and older) are invited to register for the 64 available spots in this 100 percent handicap par three match play championship, held on the Sarazen par three course. 

The opening ceremony will feature presentations by Wehrheim, Hebron and members of the Sarazen Family. Practice rounds are available by contacting the pro shop at 631-979-6534. 

Registration is $29 per golfer to enter the tournament. Tickets to attend the opening ceremony party are $25. Registration closes on July 20. 

June 30, 2019- New York City, NY- Governor Andrew Cuomo on World Pride and the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall signs legislation banning Gay and Trans Panic Legal Defense and marches in 2019 World Pride Parade. (Darren McGee- Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

By Donna Deedy

State Sen. Jim Gaughran (D-Northport) has had a banner year. As a freshman senator serving the greater Huntington region, he introduced 68 bills with more than half passing the Senate, according to his office, and 26 percent passing both branches of the state Legislature.

Looking back, Gaughran said in a recent interview the 2019 legislative session, which ended June 20, will be regarded overall as remarkable. He attributes his success rate to the fact that the Senate was comprised of so many freshman senators.

His proudest accomplishment, he said, was passing a bill to provide disability benefits to civilian public employees who responded to Ground Zero after the 9/11 terrorist attack. The bill, called S5898D, offers relief to overlooked workers, such as transit employees and civil engineers who are sick, suffering from severe conditions and are dying from cleanup-related afflictions.

Timothy DeMeo, a first responder for the N.Y. State Department of Environmental Conservation, said he is grateful to Gaughran for getting the legislation passed within four months. 

“This law is long overdue and will help so many of us who need to retire to be able to fully address our health concerns,” he said.

DeMeo arrived at the Twin Towers just as the second plane struck and was injured by falling debris. His vehicle, he said, flipped over and pancaked. He has required multiple surgeries and is scheduled for more. DeMeo worked for the DEC for 20 years and logged more than 1,000 hours over the course of four months removing hazardous waste from Ground Zero. Today, he suffers from respiratory ailments and other conditions.

“I call myself the forgotten responder, because I’m not afforded the same benefits of my respected colleagues,” he said. 

Some of Gaughran’s other legislative achievements include making the 2 percent property tax cap permanent, allowing for early voting in elections and backing the state’s red-flag law, which establishes rules that keep guns out of the hands of people who are mentally ill. 

Gaughran said he opposed bail reform and allowing undocumented immigrants the ability to qualify for a driver’s license, two controversial bills that passed both the Senate and the Assembly and were ultimately signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). 

In the fall, while lawmakers are out of session, Gaughran expects to hold hearings with his constituents. One issue he’d like to see addressed is high property taxes. 

“We may need to open a discussion on consolidation,” he said. Schools, counties and local governments, he said, should work to share more services, which can reduce costs.

With regard to the Long Island Power Authority, Gaughran sponsored several bills. One bill, which proposed financial aid to school districts impacted by LIPA’s tax certiorari cases, stalled in committee. The other bill, S5122A, aimed to prevent LIPA from collecting back taxes through tax lawsuits. The Senate passed the latter LIPA bill unanimously and the Assembly introduced identical legislation, but it remained under legal review in the Assembly and was never put to a vote. Gaughran said that LIPA CEO Tom Falcone and LIPA lobbyists had a strong presence in Albany, after he successfully introduced the LIPA bill. He plans to take the issue up again in next year’s session.

LIPA’s press office did not respond to email requests for comments about its lobbying efforts related to the bills. Record requests filed under New York’s Freedom of Information Law are still pending.

Overall, Gaughran would like to see improvements made to the state’s budget process. Legislators, he said, are bombarded with bills right before the April 1 budget deadline.

“We really have to fix the budget process,” he said. “It’s policy as much as money.”

Photo from Governor’s office

Lisa Gaines, mother of 7-year-old Victoria Gaines, who was killed in a July 4th boating tragedy in 2012 joined town and maritime community leaders at the Harbormaster’s office, where officials announced plans to increase enforcement against unsafe, intoxicated and speeding boaters in Huntington’s waterways during the 4th of July holiday week.  They also announced a joint initiative between Neptune Sail and Power Squadron and the town to provide advanced boating safety training under Huntington’s newly renamed Victoria Gaines Boating Safety Program.

Gaines offered words of caution, including safety tips.

“You are responsible for the wake you leave behind,” and cautioned boat passengers not to assume the boat operator has taken all safety precautions, encouraging  passengers to “ask questions.”

On the evening of Thursday, July 4th, from 8:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., the Town will be enforcing a temporary 5 mph boating speed limit in the certain zones as identified on a map, which is available on the town’s website HuntingtonNY.gov and its social media pages.

“The Town implements these temporary speed zones due to the overwhelming number of boats in Huntington’s waters–from 800 to 1,000 boats–for the Fourth of July celebration and the danger that a wake from a speeding boat creates, potentially destabilizing a smaller or overcrowded boat,” said Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R). “Sadly, this exact scenario tragically played out in 2012. Seven years ago, Lisa Gaines lost her daughter, Victoria, who was just days shy of her 8th birthday, when the boat they were on capsized in Oyster Bay after a Fourth of July fireworks display.”

Bay Constables will patrol the waters from 7:00 a.m. until 2 o’clock in the morning every day and will be on call 24/7.

“They [bay constables] will continue to support the Suffolk County Marine Bureau to crack down on speeders, intoxicated boaters, conducting boat stops and ensuring boats are operating safely to prevent unnecessary tragedies,” Lupinacci said.

Dom Spada, Acting Director of Maritime Services cautioned boaters planning to enter Huntington’s waterways for the 4th of July fireworks displays about tidal conditions.

“Later in the evening, around 10:30 p.m. on July 4, we will be experiencing mid-tide,” he said. “Rocks and jetties are barely covered by the water during mid-tide, so they may not be visible to boaters, but please stay in the channels and don’t cut your turns short.”

Senior Harbormaster Fred Uvena added that boaters can call the Harbormaster’s office on Channel 9 when their boats’ waste tanks are getting full.

“Please don’t dump your waste water into the harbor; these waterways are a precious natural resource‑we’ll send a pump out boat to you, just call us on Channel 9.”

The town’s map also lists eight boating emergency pickup locations: Powles Dock; Lloyd Neck Bath Club; Huntington Town Dock; Huntington Bay Club; Huntington Beach Community Association Dock; Northport Yacht Club; Soundview Boat Ramp; and Eaton’s Neck Coast Guard Station.

Uvena also advised boaters of the potential destruction a wake can create – even outside of the 5 mph zone – when hundreds of boats are in the water in close proximity. He gave additional safety tips and warned against BWI, boating while intoxicated.

“We will stop you, we will check you, we will bring you to shore, where we’ll do a field sobriety test, and you will be arrested.”

Supervisor Lupinacci also announced the launch of new advanced boating safety training courses offered at Town Hall to help boaters and passengers avoid tragedies on the water: “Under the banner of the Town’s Victoria Gaines Boating Safety Program, I am pleased to announce that the Town is now offering advanced boating safety courses presented by Neptune Sail and Power Squadron, which address planning for and troubleshooting boating emergencies – information that can save lives.”

Philip Quarles, Education Commander for Neptune Sail and Power Squadron, stated: “The Neptune Sail and Power Squadron was founded in 1938 and has been serving Town of Huntington for 83 years teaching boating safety and advanced boating courses. We are honored to be partnering with the Town of Huntington offering classes to residents. “Emergencies on Board” will be offered on August 12. You can learn more by visiting www.neptuneboatingclub.com.”

Gaines said she hopes boaters of all ages and levels of experience continue to educate themselves about boat safety.  She believes the new laws on the horizon will ultimately save lives.

“One never thinks this could happen to them and it absolutely can,” she said. “Have a fun and very safe holiday and summer to all.”

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An unexpected storm hit Long Island on Sunday, causing severe damage to areas within the township of Smithtown. Destructive straight-line winds up to 60 m.p.h. caused downed power lines with uprooted, fallen and large tree limbs causing multiple power outages in the area. The Town of Smithtown was one of the three towns in Suffolk County to be hit the hardest.

All emergency response units are still working to clean up and address the needs of the community. Residents who are still without power, or with spoiled food and tree debris have a number of resources available to them to ensure quality of life is restored before the holiday weekend.

“It was a fun day with the whole family, that quickly became frightening. I ran up to Main Street, Kings Park after the storm passed to survey trees on top of cars, power outages and to assess the damage,” said Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R). “I was very pleased to see Public Safety & the Highway Department were on scene shortly after… Residents without power, spoiled food to dispose of, or storm debris in need removal, are reminded to contact the appropriate departments so we can help get your home ready for the July 4th weekend. Please know we are working around the clock to cleanup in this unexpected event and we will not rest until your standard of living has been reinstated.”

Municipal Services Facility (MSF) will be open to residents who wish to dispose of spoiled food from the power outages, during regular business hours. Private garbage carters do not pick up waste on holidays, which includes Thursday, July 4. Residents with a larger than normal amount of garbage may wish to drop off solid waste to MSF which is located at 85 Old Northport Road in Kings Park.  Hours are from 7 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. five days a week. No hazardous waste will be accepted.

Tree and debris removal operations have been underway since the storm passed Sunday afternoon. While the highway department’s fleet continues efforts to remove all “right-of-way” town tree debris, residents should be mindful to place neatly piled branches, cut to no longer than 6 feet in length, at the roadside. Smaller branches should be tied and bundled.

“If you still have trees waiting to be picked up, please call the highway department with the address of the removal,” said Robert Murphy, Superintendent of Highways. “I would just ask that residents have patience as we get through the cleanup, after this unexpected storm. Our team is dealing with lots of landscapers dumping debris on the street, not adhering to the town code. This causes delays in our operations as we need to stop to cut large stumps and trees. However, We won’t stop until we’ve gotten to every call.”  –

The Smithtown Highway Department addressed approximately 250 to 300 fallen or uprooted trees reported to the Department. That number is expected to increase as cleanup is still underway.

 Storm Damage Totals:

According to PSEG Long Island, over 17,000 residents in the Commack and Hauppauge areas experienced power outages. The majority of those customers now have power. On Tuesday, July 2, there were approximately 1,800 PSEG customers in the Town of Smithtown affected by outages, primarily in Commack. As of this morning ,July 3, that number has been reduced to 80 customers affected. PSEG estimates that power will be restored to every customer in Smithtown by 7PM this evening.

Last night, PSEG briefly shut down power in the Pickwick Drive area (between Veterans Memorial Highway and Jericho Turnpike) and along Harned Road and Wyandanch Boulevard, in order to cut down damaged trees leaning on power lines.

Power Outages – PSEG Information: View PSEG Long Island’s outage map Click Here

To report and receive status updates on an outage Text OUT to PSEGLI (773454) or to report an outage online visit www.psegliny.com.

To register, have your account number available and text REG to PSEGLI (773454)

Downed wires should always be considered “live.” Do not approach or drive over a downed line and do not touch anything contacting the wire. To report a downed wire, call PSEG Long Island’s 24-hour Electric Service number: 1-800-490-0075.

Tree Debris, Flooding or Road Concerns: To report tree debris for pickup, flooding and other storm related conditions along the roads, please contact the Highway Department at (631) 360-7500.

Stranded Vehicles: If there is an emergency, please dial 911 immediately. All non life-threatening calls can be directed to the Department of Public Safety by calling (631) 360-7553.

Suffolk 311: Suffolk County 311 is a central call center available to residents who do not know which number to call for any non-emergency. Residents can reach the 311 line Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or leave messages after hours.

Animals & Family Pets: Outdoor animals should be sheltered indoors for the duration of any storm. To report animals in distress, strays or other loose domestic or wild animals please call (631) 360-7575.

Elderly Neighbors & Special Needs individuals: Always check on your neighbors living with disabilities, special needs or senior citizens. Make sure they have an emergency phone, plenty of water, food and blankets. Ask if they have someone to call in the event of an emergency.

Photo by Mark Stevens

Aerial shot of the new solar array. Photo from anonymous

After the Izzo family leased their 26-acre Kings Park property to the Town of Smithtown for a landfill during the 1970s, the place was declared uninhabitable. Today, the site is revered as one of Long Island’s largest solar farms.

Izzo family leads Long Island into New York’s green energy future. Photo by Donna Deedy

The 4-megawatt project was showcased on June 20 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, an event that unexpectedly coincided with New York State’s sweeping new clean energy legislation promising to become carbon neutral by 2050.

“It’s almost like we knew what we were doing,” said Tom Falcone, Long Island Power Authority CEO, who attended the event along with county and town elected officials. The achievement, he said, entailed a cooperative effort. “It took a village, a town, a state and the Izzo family.”

The state’s ambitious new energy plan renders the privately owned Kings Park solar farm a shining new example of what the future may look like with private landowners and non-developable property transformed to serve a public utilitarian purpose.

“It takes a lot of gambling but, wow, was this a good project,” said Paul Curran, founder of Wappinger Falls-based BQ Energy, a company committed to the sustainable redevelopment of environmentally contaminated sites known as brownfields. “Once you see it, people say it makes so much sense.” He expects the site to inspire additional projects. 

Curran first approached the Izzo family with the idea of using their property for a solar site in 2013. RECOM Solar leased the development rights from the family to construct the project. NextEra Energy Resources, which claims to be the world’s largest supplier of renewable energy took over in December 2018, when the site became operational. 

The solar project, which consists of 18,000 solar panels, created 50 jobs, mainly in the construction sector, according to Bryan Garner, NextEra’s director of communications. NextEra signed a 20-year power purchase agreement with LIPA, which will ultimately result in nearly $800,000 in revenue for Smithtown. That’s $33,000 per year for the first 15 years in payments in lieu of taxes and $296,000 in tax revenue for the final five years. 

The project will offset more than 4,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of removing 800 cars off the road. 

Unlike fossil fuel plants, the facility operates silently and requires very little maintenance. “We check it about four times a year, so it’s maintenance free,” said Aaron Benedict, who monitors the project for NextEra. His cellphone includes an application that remotely monitors the operation 24/7. 

Suffolk County and Smithtown government officials attended the event with Town Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) arriving in one of the town’s two all-electric vehicles. 

“We are all in with renewable and clean energy,” he said. The town, he said, expects to systematically transform the Old Northport Road corridor. The roof on its recycling center, which is located near the solar farm, is fitted with 50-kilowatt solar system and has a 10-kW wind turbine. The town is also discussing the development of a solar farm on the closed landfills, which could eliminate the town’s need to purchase electricity, according to Russell Barnett, Smithtown’s Environmental Protection director. Additional town projects are also under discussion and will be considered during the town’s 2020 budget process.

The financial terms of the arrangements between NextEra and the Izzo family remain confidential. 

“This is all about what good this site can do for years to come,” said Robert Izzo Jr, whose family has owned the property for decades.

PSEG reports that 161 MW of its energy supply is generated from renewable projects, mainly solar panels. 

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