Authors Posts by Kyle Barr

Kyle Barr

Kyle Barr
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File Photo

Police said they arrested a man after he allegedly broke into the home of an off-duty Nassau County Police Department officer in Selden Monday, Aug. 30.

Suffolk County Police said Franklin Almonte, 25 of Selden, entered the Catherine Drive home of off-duty Nassau County Police Officer Mark Kellerman through a kitchen window at around 1:20 p.m. Almonte fled when Kellerman identified himself as a police officer, but he was quickly stopped and restrained by the officer, who called 911. 6th Precinct Patrol officers responded and arrested Almonte.

Officer Kellerman, 45, has been with the NCPD for more than 15 years.

Almonte was charged with criminal trespass 2nd degree and criminal mischief 4th degree. Almonte was held overnight at the 6th Precinct and is scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip on September 3.

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John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson. File photo

Mather Hospital’s Emergency Department has received a Geriatric Emergency Department Accreditation from the American College of Emergency Physicians. 

“Mather Hospital has taken the appropriate steps to meet the needs of seniors in our community,” said Emergency Department Medical Director Dr. Adam Wos. “This holistic approach includes fall prevention, medication reconciliation, and discussions about goals of care. Our plan is to ensure that our doctors and nurses have the latest knowledge and equipment to care for the fastest growing population in our nation — people over age 65.”

The voluntary geriatric accreditation provides specific criteria and goals for emergency clinicians and administrators. The accreditation recommends more than two dozen best practices for geriatric care. Northwell Health EDs were awarded a level 3 accreditation, which requires many of these best practices and geriatric education for emergency medicine staff, as well as screenings and programs focused on older adults. Those include: geriatric-friendly equipment availability and policies regarding routine assessments for delirium, dementia or fall risk. 

The accreditation is for three years. Mather was one of 17 Northwell Health emergency departments across Long Island, New York City and Westchester to receive the accreditation. 

“This was an initiative that we wanted to get behind to help the department ensure the best patient outcomes,” said Mather ED nurse manager Julie Tegay, who spearheaded the accreditation project for the hospital. 

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Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright, center, honors Black Women’s Equity Day Aug. 21 with local young women and officials. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

In honor of Black Women’s Equity Day Aug. 22, local women gathered together to raise awareness about the enduring problem of pay inequality and its effect on women of color.

Brookhaven town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station), along with Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre (D-Wheatley Heights), Babylon town Councilwoman Jackie Gordon (D-Copiague) and Victoria Gumbs Moore, Esq., spoke with children in the Keep Your Change program in North Amityville and other young women at Bethel AME Church in Setauket Aug. 21. The women led activities with the youth to illustrate pay disparities and discussed the effects on families and community. 

“Unequal pay and discrimination impact a woman of color as an individual, it impacts her family and the larger society,” Cartright said. “As the mother of a young Haitian-American girl, I want my daughter to know that her mother fought for equal rights and equal pay for women of color when I had the opportunity.”

Speaking at the meeting, the women spoke to the young people about the continuing culture surrounding issues of pay equity.

“I am proud to say that this experience has given me faith that these issues will not be allowed to endure another generation,” she said.

Moore, a past president of Amistad Long Island Black Bar Association and past president of Suffolk County Women’s Bar Association, said young black women need to know their inherent value.

“It’s important that young women know their value and learn that being paid anything less than their full value is unacceptable,” she said.

Jean-Pierre said the issue needs to be addressed in every instance. 

“We won’t achieve real economic justice unless we confront this issue head-on, and I was pleased to join some of my colleagues to help start and continue this much-needed conversation,” she said.

The Black Women’s Equity Day is Aug. 22 this year. It was commemorated by the National Bar Association, which asked its membership to participate nationwide.

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Vilage officials have been paying attention to the Port Jefferson Country Club lower parking lot. Photo by Kyle Barr

Port Jefferson village officials hope $12,000 is enough to cover the Port Jefferson Country Club parking lot and area around the golf pro shop with camera surveillance.

At its Aug. 19 meeting, village officials agreed to put together $12,000 from various budgets to replace seven cameras around the country club parking lot. These cameras will be at 4K resolution to better enable reading license plates in case that data needs to be forwarded to village constables or Suffolk County Police. The money will also go toward adding a new system to use the upgraded cameras at the country club.

“The system we got there is five years old — the cameras have always been cloudy there,” said Kevin Wood, the Port Jefferson parking and mobility administrator. 

At the meeting, the village officials went back and forth on the cameras’ price tag, but Wood argued 4K is the way of the future.

“The 4K costs have gone down tremendously, even since we did Texaco a year ago,” he said. “We’re at the point where we don’t consider anything but 4K, it’s that close to the cost.”

The board unanimously voted to install the new cameras, and Mayor Margot Garant said she is looking to take some money out of the country club, the parking and main budgets.

In previous meetings, trustee Stan Loucks made a point of trying to stop people from parking in the country club’s lower parking lot and walking down to the beach to fish.

“We believe that a lack of cameras at the lower lot creates additional problems down at the east beach,” he said at the Aug. 19 meeting.

In May, the village announced it had hooked up its camera system to Suffolk County Police Department’s real-time crime center. The system is used by police to tap into local cameras and use that data in conjunction with databases to catch criminal activity.

Wood said they expect the cameras to be installed by mid-September.

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Left, new HS Principal Eric Haruthunian; right, new pre-K-8 Assistant Principal Amy Laverty. Photo from PJSD Facebook

The Port Jefferson School District announced new faces will be standing by the doors of school buildings come September as other district personnel move up through the ranks.

Eric Haruthunian was named principal at Earl L. Vandermeulen High School, while Amy Laverty has been named pre-K-8 assistant principal.

Before joining the Port Jefferson School District, Haruthunian most recently served as the assistant principal at John F. Kennedy High School in the Plainview-Old Bethpage School District, where he served since 2015. Prior to that position, he served as supervisor of discipline at Wantagh High School. His professional background also includes eight years of teaching experience in mathematics at the middle and high school level in the Freeport School District.

Port Jefferson High School Principal Christine Austen. File photo

The new high school principal earned a master’s of science degree in educational leadership from the College of New Rochelle and a master’s of science in elementary education from LIU Post. He holds a bachelor’s of arts in secondary math education, also from LIU Post, and permanent certification as a school administrator/supervisor, school district administrator and in 7-12 mathematics.

Haruthunian comes in to replace now Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Christine Austen, the previous principal, after a several-month search for a replacement.

Laverty joins Port Jeff from the Northport-East Northport School District, where she served a dual role as the summer reading program principal and the instructional curriculum coordinator. Before that, she was a classroom teacher at various elementary levels in the district’s Ocean Avenue Elementary School.

She earned a master’s of arts in liberal studies from Stony Brook University and a bachelor’s of arts in child study and students with disabilities from St. Joseph’s College. She holds initial certification in school building leadership and professional certifications in early childhood/childhood and students with disabilities. She also received an educational leadership advanced certificate from LIU Post.

In her new role, Laverty will work with Port Jefferson Middle School Principal Robert Neidig and Edna Louise Spear Elementary School Principal Thomas Meehan.

“The educational experiences of both Mr. Haruthunian and Ms. Laverty will help us continue to guide our students in the stimulating learning environment of our schools,” said incoming Superintendent Jessica Schmettan on a post to the district’s Facebook page. She will be replacing current Superintendent Paul Casciano come the end of October. 

“We look forward to their professional commitment to our students, staff and entire school community,” she added.

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People of all ages enjoy Heritage Park for its sizable number of amenities. Photo by Kyle Barr

A flash of green among the gray, the short hills that roll along the side of Route 25A in Mount Sinai are strewn with people. Men and women jog, kids scream and laugh playing baseball and soccer. Children run up those green hills, then fall and let themselves tumble down the gentle slopes. 

A mockup of what the park would look like upon completion. Image from Lori Baldassare

Some developers have talked about creating a “town square” for the hamlet of Mount Sinai, but for lovers of Heritage Park, there already is one.

“There it is, Heritage Park — it’s one of the most beautiful parks of its kind that I’ve ever seen,” said New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket). “It came together from the cooperation of so many wonderful people willing to pull together.”

Nearly 20 years ago, local residents became heated about plans to develop the site for the home improvement giant, Home Depot. The site, which was once a pumpkin farm, joined with other properties like the Davis Peach Farm in an agrarian setting. Decades of home development turned the area into small strips of business sandwiched in between residential neighborhoods.

Heritage Park went in the opposite direction. A successful agreement between Suffolk County and the Town of Brookhaven meant the county bought the site by using the Community Greenways Fund, while the town built the park amenities like the baseball and soccer fields. The nonprofit organization Heritage Trust continues to operate the park, along with Brookhaven town. The trust hosts multiple carnivals and other events throughout the year as a means of raising money. The trust also rents out the Heritage Center for public events. 

But more than that, the trust has become a lightning rod for Mount Sinai, and even well beyond. 

The history of Heritage

Very few dreams become reality, at least to specific designs.

But original plans for Heritage Park, known also as The Wedge, and mockups bear a striking resemblance to how the park has shaped up 20 years after those original designs. 

Town workers start work on the park back in the early 2000s. Photo from Lori Baldassare

Fred Drewes, a longtime park volunteer and Mount Sinai resident, originally came to the Mount Sinai Civic Association back in 1988 with the idea of a hamlet study, and the idea was resurrected in the late 1990s, co-chaired with then civic president Lori Baldassare. Within those designs, he proposed a park, one that would become the focal point for the North Shore that had once been McGovern Sod Farm. 

This was during a time when the rural past of the hamlet was being laid over with brick and concrete. One housing development after another changed the tenor of Mount Sinai. The last few farms on the south side of Route 25A started to close and look to sell their property, and a few big names started eyeing those parcels. 

“The development pattern of western Long Island was going to make it impossible for Mount Sinai to escape being visually damaged and swallowed up,” Englebright said.

Among the legal action taking place at the location of the Davis Peach Farm, one of those maligned developments was a potential Home Depot on a plot of land that had been a pumpkin and sod farm.

At the southern tip of The Wedge, a space of only about one acre that had commercial zoning, representatives of Home Depot approached the property owners who were looking to sell. The rest of the property was zoned residential.

Baldassare, who has spent the past 20 years as the on-and-off again Heritage Trust president, has long been in the trenches over the fate of The Wedge. Home Depot would end up the line in the sand for Mount Sinai residents. As civic president, she asked Drewes to revive his hamlet study and plan for a park. She also was a leader among residents campaigning against the home supply chain, getting people to tie green ribbons around their mailboxes all across the hamlet to show their support.

“We ended up competing for them with land,” Baldassare said. “We had thousands of ribbons up all over the place.”

The next task was to make sure, as Englebright put it, “the same thing didn’t come back in some virulent form.”

In 1999, the civic authored a proposal for Suffolk County to buy the parkland. Of course, in government, nothing is ever that simple.

A state, a county, a town, a civic

Rare is it that all levels of government from the top down work together on such a large project as was Heritage Park, and while it wasn’t all easy, the results stand.

Volunteers help construct the gardens at Heritage Park. Photo from Lori Baldassare

Still, the process was grueling at times. Both Brookhaven town and the county wanted active recreation, namely baseball and soccer fields. The town, especially, wasn’t into designing passive space with ingredients of a walking path and playground, but mostly a space for, as Drewes called it, “free play.” He remembers the then town parks commissioner mentioning he would never use such a space for jogging, so close as it was to two major roads.

“The way the greenways program worked is they needed a partner to maintain it,” Baldassare said. “They weren’t willing to develop it, they needed a partner, and the county said they wanted a municipal partner, but the town was not willing to do all the things we wanted in the park.”

Before they were willing to sign on to the county, the town also wanted to have a civic partner.

The assemblyman came into the picture, agreeing with the civic about needing to maintain the heritage of the area. He said he reached out to his colleagues at the state, county and town levels to help open those conversations. 

One difficulty they encountered was finding funds to buy the particular section of The Wedge that was still zoned for commercial.

The property was owned by Vinny Bove, a local entrepreneur and developer. Englebright recalled him as a “rather rugged individual,” and didn’t expect that he would be such a kindred spirit. Speaking with him, he found Bove was more than willing to keep the property up for sale until the state could gather the funds for the civic to buy the property.

“His welcoming attitude and his willingness to embark on the journey of uncertainty that was worthy of the community’s heritage, made it possible,” Englebright said.

The smiley face made from tulips is erected nearly every year. Photo from Lori Baldassare

Of course, the next issue was that the civic had to be legally able to accept state funds, needing to be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, categorized as a land trust. It was then the Heritage Trust was formed, which incorporated in 2000.

The past trust president and now treasurer recalls much haggling over which municipality would fork over the funds for which part of the project. After the section was designated for park, it would be years before the first shovels finally entered the ground in 2003 when it all started to come together.

The county would buy most of the land, with one section now owned by the trust. The town would build the walking paths and baseball and soccer fields, and town lawnmowers continue to maintain the space.

“All the voices were speaking of the green space,” Englebright said. “Just amazing loving work the parks department of the town invested itself into.”

20 years, 20 more

From a few baseball fields and passive green, the park grew. More state assembly grants and loads of private fundraising helped gather the money to build the barnlike structure that has become the Heritage Center, the main headquarters not just for the trust but also for  the civic groups and a gathering spot for other local groups and events.

Amy Satchell was a volunteer since almost the beginning, helping to fundraise for the center and installation of the playground, which went up years after the park was fully built. Every year around the holidays Satchell goes to help decorate the center and the large pine tree just outside its doors.

Heritage Center at Heritage Park is used by the trust for its events. Photo by Kyle Barr

“Many people had an idea that it would be the town center, the town square of Mount Sinai,” she said. “You can see now after all this time all the wonderful amenities that are provided.”

Drewes has seen more and more amenities come to the park, including his own idea for the now-annual parade of flags, a display of flags from nations across the world on the Avenue of America, a stretch of the walkway that encloses the park.

The longtime Mount Sinai resident, now 83, is retired. He can lean back on a park bench and look at all the work he and his civic compatriots have helped accomplish.

“I’m gratified and extremely happy that what we as citizens proposed and volunteers worked tirelessly to create is valued by so many people,” he said.

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said she has seen the effectiveness of the project and has proposed a similar agreement for a spot in Middle Island. The location is the site of a now-demolished K-Mart across from Artist Lake along Middle Country Road. 

“It has inspired me to take the model and replicate it,” Anker said.

Baldassare said that as the park reaches its 20th year, very few things remain as part of the original design, with only a splash pad and a few other odds and ends left. For the trust, it means the end of an era, and the start of a new one.

Fundraising has always been a difficulty, with the trust having an annual budget of around $300,000, the members have to fundraise what they don’t get through sponsorships and grants almost all by themselves. These funds also help to pay the several part-time staffers the trust needs for its ongoing efforts.

“People think it must be taxpayer dollars that take care of the center, and it’s not, we always have to raise money,” Satchell said.

They host events every year like the spring and summer carnivals, but those are dependent on weather. The trust treasurer recalled one year that was incredibly lean because of adverse weather conditions during one of its main fundraising events.

The park always requires more volunteers and is looking for more ideas to take the park through the next 20 years. 

Though many who visit the park assume that it must have always been there, for the trust and its volunteers, that can only be a good thing.

“When people say that, for them, the park has always been there, that’s fantastic,” Satchell said. “We want it to be that anchor in the community that people think it’s always been there. I do hope it always will be.”

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Richard F. Murphy Sr.

Richard F. Murphy Sr. of Brockton, Massachusetts, formerly of Riverhead and Sanibel Island, Florida, died Aug. 15 at Blue Hills Health and Rehabilitation Center at the age of 88. Richard was the husband of the late Gail (McLoughlin) Murphy. 

Born in Manhattan and raised and educated in Elmont, he was the son of the late William and Anna (Hughes) Murphy. Richard served with the Marines during the Korean conflict. He had been employed as an electrical engineer for 20 years by Con Edison and retired after 25 years from the New York City Board of Education. 

Richard was the father of Robert Murphy of Long Beach, Barbara Murphy and Donna Jones (Dean) also from Brockton, the late Richard Murphy Jr., Suzanne Savino (Mark), Barbara Amoruso (Paul) and Jayme Hubbs (Jamie) all of Huntington. He was the grandfather of Emily and Brian Jones; Abigail Murphy; Nikolai, Stefan and Mimi Mazut; Olivia, Julia, Elle and Ben Amarouso; and Lily Hubbs. He was the brother of the late Margaret Silveri. He is survived by his brother William Murphy Jr. of Northport. 

Visitation was held at Nolan Funeral Home in Northport on Aug. 23. Funeral services were held at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs in Centerport on Aug. 24. Graveside services will be held at a later date in Pine Hill Cemetery, West Bridgewater. 

Michael A. Leddy

Michael A. Leddy of Northport died on Aug. 8. He was the beloved father of Meghan (Nester) Chamale and Michael Leddy; loving grandfather of Anthony, Victoria, Manny and Emma Chamale; dear brother of John Leddy, Mary Ann Lanigan, Christopher Leddy, Mark (Patty) Leddy and the late Brian (Sandy) Leddy. Services were held Aug. 9 at Nolan Funeral Home. A funeral Mass was celebrated Aug. 10 at St. Anthony of Padua Church, East Northport. Interment followed at St. Philip Neri Cemetery, East Northport.

James Patrick O’Connor Jr. 

James Patrick “Butch” O’Connor Jr. of Northport died on Aug. 1. O’Connor was a retired police officer with the Suffolk County Police Department. He was the loving husband of Cynthia; beloved father of Brian (Katie) O’Connor and Kari (Michael) Callahan; cherished grandfather of Lauren O’Connor, Michael Hankey, James O’Connor, Ashley Callahan and Alexandra Callahan; dear brother of Joseph (Judi) O’Connor, the late John (Linda) O’Connor and the late Dolores (the late Anthony) Turano;  and devoted cousin of Nicholas (the late Patricia) Apriceno. Funeral services held Aug. 6 at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Northport. Cremation was private. 

Myrna Fannin

Myrna Fannin of East Northport died on Aug. 19 at 86 years of age. She was the beloved wife of the late Wayne Fannin; loving mother of Barbara, Dwight (Teresa), Kathy and Debbie Adair Fannin; and dear grandmother of Evan Goodwin and Shaun Fannin. Services were held at Nolan Funeral Home. Prayer services were held at the funeral home on Aug. 23 followed by burial at Calverton National Cemetery.

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Dr. Leonard D. Hamilton, of Crane Neck in Old Field, a medical researcher who played a key role in the discovery of the structure of DNA, died June 29 at the age of 98.

In the late 1940s and early ’50s, he developed techniques for extracting and purifying mammalian DNA, which he supplied to Maurice Wilkins and his associates to enable them to generate X-ray crystallography images from which the double helical structure of DNA was inferred — the discovery for which Maurice Wilkins, James Watson and Francis Crick shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1962.

Born in Manchester, England, Hamilton received medical degrees from Balliol College, Oxford University, and a doctorate in biochemistry from Trinity College, Cambridge. He married Oxford student Ann Twynam Blake in 1945. They came to The University of Utah in Salt Lake City in 1949 on a one-year grant and decided to stay. He worked at what is now Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City from 1950-64, primarily on DNA in collaboration with Wilkins at Kings College, London, and on cancer research and treatment. He also worked for the U.N. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, contributing to its seminal report on that subject in 1962. He continued his biomedical research as head of the Division of Microbiology, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and became a professor of medicine at Stony Brook University in 1968. From 1973 until his 1994 retirement, he led a team at Brookhaven analyzing the health effects of different energy sources.

Hamilton’s wife Ann — a New Democratic Coalition and pro-choice activist, who worked as a psychiatric social worker at the Sunrise clinic in Amityville — died in 1997. He is survived by daughter Jane Dorwart; two sons, Stephen Hamilton and Dr. Robin Hamilton; seven grandchildren; and sister Elaine Wolfe of Great Neck. 

Donations to The Nature Conservancy in his name would be appreciated by the family.

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Mike DelGuidice and Big Shot, covering Billy Joel hits and more, strode onto the stage in Rocky Point Aug. 27, blowing out the summer concert series with classic rock hits to a packed crowd.

The last in the Downtown Rocky Point Summer Concert Series, sponsored by the Rocky Point VFW Post 6249 and Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) was held on the lawn of St. Anthony of Padua R.C. Church.

Members of MS Girl Scout Troop 2750 stand behind board members of the MPMS Historical Society on the new bench. Photo by Kyle Barr

Fifteen years ago, Mount Sinai Girl Scout Troop 2750 created an herb garden at the landmark William Miller House, the home base of the Miller Place Mount Sinai Historical Society. For years, that garden remained unattended, and it was years later when new members of Troop 2750 came in to fix it up, continuing to maintain the small patch of basil, dill and lady’s mantle.

On Saturday, Aug. 24, modern troop members took their dedication one step further as they built a new bench by hand that will remain behind the historic house.

“The kids who are taking care of this now are the descendants of the original same troop,” said Antoinette Donato, the vice president of the historical society. “We say it was meant to be … the garden is historically appropriate and accurate.”

Alex Valentine installs plaque on the new bench. Photo by Kyle Barr

Troop members Julia Endelson, Kathryn Rooney, Alex Valentine, Mackenzie Navins, Emily Caputo, Kayla Knoetgen and Carina Muratore all aided in building the bench, sitting just over 3.5 feet off the ground. Both revitalizing the garden and the bench was part of the scouts silver awards.

Troop leader Jennifer Endelson said troop worked on the project throughout the month of July for two nights a week. Local resident Kevin Rooney was instrumental in designing and showing the Scouts what tools to use and how to build it. The young people in Troop 2750 enjoyed the project, though they were surprised about how much math was involved in creating its dimensions.

“Learning about the different kind of wood that was out there, going through the list of everything, purchasing the equipment and using tools they weren’t too familiar with,” Endelson said.

Troop members Rooney, Valentine, Endelson, Navins, Caputo, Knoetgen and fellow troop member Jordan Deblasio have been caring for the garden over the past several years. Donato said their service has been vital, adding she hopes they continue to aid the historical society.

“There is nothing more noble than volunteering your life,” she said.

Miller Place resident Margaret Doscher-Cibulka said she was a fellow former Girl Scout. When addressing the Scouts, she said the group can create lifelong companions.

“I want you to know my friends from Girl Scouts are still my friends,” she said. “I wish you all the best of luck.”