Authors Posts by Rita J. Egan

Rita J. Egan

Rita J. Egan
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Michael Ehrlich decided to embark on a 125-mile walk to raise funds for juvenile diabetes research after his daughter Rachael was diagnosed with the condition. Photo from Michael Ehrlich

By Rita J. Egan

Walking is more than a form of exercise for one South Setauket father; it’s one step closer toward his mission to raise awareness of Type 1 diabetes as well as raise funds to find a cure.

Michael Ehrlich will begin a 125-mile walk Oct. 16 from Times Square in Manhattan, where he works, to Montauk. His hope is to raise $25,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

The 46-year-old took on the mission after his daughter Rachael, 13, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, also called juvenile diabetes, last year. It was during a trip to Hershey Park in Pennsylvania when the R.C. Murphy Junior High School, Stony Brook, student became ill and fainted in a hotel lobby. When the family returned home, Ehrlich’s wife, Leanne, took Rachael to a doctor who diagnosed her with the life-threatening condition.

Ehrlich said the walk will take him approximately two to three days. It’s an adventure he will undertake with sporadic 20-minute rest periods and without replenishing his supplies. He will carry a hydration pack that holds the equivalent of five bottles of water and bring with him a head lamp, extra socks, a windbreaker, carb-heavy protein bars and sweets. Ehrlich will also be equipped with a GoPro camera to record his journey.

Rachael and her mother support his efforts and the preparation, which has included overnight walks, involved for the trip. 

“I’m really proud of him, because I see first of all the commitment to do it and train and walk overnight,” his wife said. “Sometimes, he would get home at 10 a.m. and get into bed because of walking all night.”

Ehrlich demonstrates the GoPro camera that will record his journey that will start Oct. 16. Photo from Michael Ehrlich

He has been preparing for Oct. 16 by increasing the miles he walks with each trip. The last few weeks, Ehrlich has been walking approximately 40 miles or more once a week. He has traveled on foot from his home to Wildwood State Park in Wading River, and after one of his daughter’s soccer games, from East Meadow to South Setauket. He has also walked from Rocky Point to West Hampton along the Paumanok Path, and one day after work, he walked to Floral Park in Queens.

Ehrlich said he has always enjoyed camping and hiking. His 86-year-old father, Richie, still walks a few miles a day.

“It must be in my genes,” Ehrlich said. 

The idea came to him one day while sitting on the train from Manhattan. Ehrlich said he knew he wanted to raise money for finding a cure for juvenile diabetes and realized it needed to be a fundraiser that would be original to capture people’s attention. He saw the Manhattan skyline and that’s where it hit him to walk from the city to the end of Long Island.

He has done more than walking to prepare for his campaign. After initial trips where his feet would hurt, Ehrlich began researching the proper way to walk. He discovered chi walking, which has helped reduce his foot pain.

He planned out his trip with Google Maps for the best possible route. Ehrlich said walking along the South Shore seems to be the best way because the roads are less hilly and winding. He will travel from Manhattan to Long Island by crossing over the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge. He is looking forward to seeing the diverse neighborhoods of Queens before walking through the South Shore’s villages.

“I’m really proud of him, because I see first of all the commitment to do it and train and walk overnight.”

Leanne Ehrlich

Ehrlich has set up the Facebook page, Manhattan2Montauk, that currently has more than 100 followers to promote his walk. He is already at $15,000 toward his $25,000 fundraising goal. He said many believe that Type 1 diabetes is the result of a child not eating well or the parents feeding them sugary food, which is not true. He said the disease is genetic; however, researchers are not certain what triggers it in some individuals and not others.

“A lot of people confuse Type 1 and Type 2, and they are actually completely different,” Ehrlich said. “They shouldn’t even be called the same thing.”

He also wants others to know the obstacles those suffering from diabetes go through. The Ehrlich family is waiting for their health care insurance to approve an insulin pump that will be beneficial for their daughter. Ehrlich said his daughter regularly asks him if they received approval yet. As a father, he hopes his fundraiser will give her hope that one day a cure will be found and she won’t have to worry about things such as an insurance company’s approval for a medical device.

“They’re close to finding a cure,” Ehrlich said. “It’s going to happen in the next 10 or 15 years. Maybe the money we raise will help find a cure.”

Jason Rice, director of development with JDRF, said representatives from the foundation will join Ehrlich for the first few miles and the organization fully supports him. Rice said while others have walked a few miles to raise money, this is the longest walk he remembers being done.

“This is truly a special event to take on this walk across Long Island,” Rice said.

Updates on his journey will be posted on the Manhattan2Montauk Facebook page.  Ehrlich said he encourages others to join him for the first few miles of his Oct. 16 walk, which will begin at 9 a.m. at 3 Times Square in Manhattan.

Map shows the conceptual plans of developing the Gyrodyne /Flowerfield property in St. James. Image from Suffolk County

Some Brookhaven residents and Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) are concerned about the potential negative impact development of a St. James property might have on Stony Brook Road.

On Aug. 2, the Suffolk County Planning Committee approved the conceptual subdivision of a 62-acre parcel of land in St. James owned by Gyrodyne, LLC. The property, known locally as Flowerfield, borders Route 25A and Stony Brook Road, and the plan includes approval for a 150-room hotel, two medical office buildings and two assisted living facilities.

One of the suggestions given at the August meeting to relieve possible traffic issues on Route 25A was to use a road that crosses over train tracks on the land parcel, passes through private property and utilizes a road owned by Stony Brook University where drivers would then be led to Stony Brook Road.

After Gyrodyne received approval from the county, resident Cindy Smith founded the Coalition of Greater Stony Brook Action Committee in the hopes of mobilizing local civic groups and providing a voice for the thousands of permanent residents in the village. Smith, along with local residents and Romaine, attended the planning committee’s Oct. 4 meeting to express their concerns to the members.

During an August meeting of the Suffolk County Planning Committee, it was suggested to use a currently closed street which leads to Stony Brook Road if development in St. James leads to increase traffic on Route 25A. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Smith said she took exception to the planning committee not seeking input from the surrounding communities. While a  developer has not been named and the Gyrodyne property is not yet on the Smithtown planning board’s agenda, she said she is concerned that no traffic studies or environmental assessments have been conducted and there has been no estimate of the impact on the local infrastructure. In regards to traffic, the commission in their resolution suggested the future applicant consider a bike share program to help reduce short distance motor traffic.

Romaine said he attended the Oct. 4 county planning committee meeting after receiving inadequate notification of the August meeting. He said the town only received 48 hours notice, and it lacked an environmental assessment form, a project description and usage of the property.

The supervisor said with Nicolls and Stony Brook roads being the only two ways to access Stony Brook University, quality of life has been impacted negatively in the area, especially on Stony Brook and Oxhead roads, due to traffic. He added the university also owns property that borders the Gyrodyne land on the east. On the grounds is the Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology where new buildings are being erected, which could cause even more traffic in the area from the center’s employees.

“We don’t need additional traffic from the Gyrodyne development pouring onto Stony Brook Road,” Romaine said. “We will strongly oppose that and we will explore all of our legal options to do exactly that.”

Smith, who is a member of Friends of Stony Brook Road, which works to address traffic and speeding issues on the street, said due to the university being state property, they do not need to follow local planning procedures or receive approval. She said she believes the lack of a master plan has created a problem and said she feels the Gyrodyne project lacks the same foresight.

“It’s really a quality of life issue — it’s safety,” she said. “It’s another town’s economic boom and Brookhaven’s financial demise because all the traffic will be on Brookhaven roads.”

Stony Brook Road residents deal with cars backed up on the street during rushed hour traffic and are concerned about the Gyrodyne project increasing the problem. Photo by Jonathan Kornreich

Smith, who lives on Stony Brook Road and works from home as a business consultant, said another issue is that the property borders 25A, which is a historic corridor, and she is concerned its value as such will be jeopardized. She said the goal of the coalition is not to impede development but to demand a better master plan when it comes to properties such as Gyrodyne’s and the areas that surround it.

“If we are going to develop it, and it’s certainly the right of that landowner to do that, let’s do it smartly,” she said. “Let’s do it with sustainability, and let’s do it with community input and let the other local officials from the Town of Brookhaven understand what’s going on and let them have a say in it, too. Because it’s going to affect the Town of Brookhaven, even though it’s in the township of Smithtown.”

Romaine said he is also concerned with added traffic on Route 25A, pointing to the intersection of the state thoroughfare with Stony Brook Road where bends in the road cause limited sight issues. He said both are beyond their capacity.

“In my view we have too much traffic and congestion now, and I want to make sure we don’t have any additional,” Romaine said.

George Hoffman, co-chair of the Citizens Advisory Committee for Route 25A, which conducted visioning meetings for residents in the Three Village area earlier this year, was also in attendance at the Oct. 4 meeting. He echoed Smith’s sentiments that there should have been more input from the community. He said he hopes Smith is successful in getting others involved in the coalition.

“Maybe this is the issue that gets us all at the same table to start working in a uniformed way where we start to talk,” Hoffman said. “I really think we need that.”

Romaine also sent a letter Sept. 20 to Smithtown Planning Board Chairman Conrad Chayes expressing his concerns and recommendations. He said while the county did not require a traffic study and only recommended one, he has faith that Smithtown will mandate it. When it comes to developments such as Gyrodyne, the supervisor said he is willing to work with the state, county and other towns.

“To think that people can blindly put traffic out on Stony Brook Road without us putting up a fight, they are going to be sadly mistaken,” he said. “Brookhaven is definitely going to fight this.”

Requests for comments from representatives of Gyrodyne were not returned by press time.

Last year's presidential election motivated Shoshana Hershkowitz to become more politically active and encourage others to do the same. Photo from Shoshana Hershkowitz

The 2016 presidential election campaign motivated a South Setauket mother of two young children to become more politically active and teach others how to do the same.

Shoshana Hershkowitz, a registered Democrat who considers herself a Progressive, has become a familiar face at local political rallies while balancing motherhood and teaching. In January she founded the Facebook group Suffolk Progressives — a page with nearly 1,000 followers — in order to engage others in political conversations and educate them on how to become more active in government. The page includes discussions and videos viewable to those interested in learning what they can do to become more civically engaged, even if they’re busy. 

Hershkowitz, a lecturer at Stony Brook University and conductor of the Stony Brook Chorale, said she credits her Israeli parents for her passion. She said her family was able to discuss politics, even with those who disagreed with them, without the discussions leading to arguments.

“I grew up at the dinner table talking about [politics] so that is something I always felt comfortable with and something we’re supposed to do,” she said.

Hershkowitz at a recent political rally. Photo from Shoshana Hershkowitz

Before her children were born, she volunteered for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, and knocked on doors, including in Pennsylvania, encouraging others to vote for him. After she gave birth to her oldest child, she said she didn’t have as much time to be as entrenched in politics as she would have liked. With the little time she had, she campaigned for local candidates and occasionally wrote a political blog, called Jew Kids on the Block.

“This election kind of re-galvanized me, I think which is true of so many people, and then it just kind of took off from there,” Hershkowitz said. “It started as a coping mechanism for me, and then it just sort of turned into what I thought would be an interesting opportunity to teach other people how to engage in political activism in a way that fits their lifestyle.”

She said when she was first trying to figure out how to make her voice heard, she started making calls to local members of congress including U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley). Zeldin has referred to the people who stake out his Patchogue office as “liberal obstructionists” in the past.

“I can make a difference at home in my pajamas,” she said.

Hershkowitz said she is also a big believer in writing letters to newspapers, something she had been doing before President Donald Trump (R) ran for office. She even helped to conduct a workshop about writing letters at U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi’s (D-Glen Cove) office.

“Now I realize that it’s a really important vehicle,” she said. “It changes the narrative in your community in a way that I think social media doesn’t. You can certainly talk to people you agree or disagree with on social media, but I still think that the newspaper has an outreach that social media does not at this point.”

More than a few of Hershkowitz’s letters have appeared in this newspaper.

She said she began taking her children to rallies during the last year, which has enabled her to become even more active on the local political scene. Her children have joined her at the January Women’s March on Washington in Port Jefferson Station, the March for Science at Stony Brook University and protests in front of Zeldin’s office.

Hershkowitz said she makes sure a rally will be a peaceful and safe one before bringing her children. She said she didn’t take them to a vigil in Port Jefferson the day after the Charlottesville protests, because she said she didn’t have the words to explain to them what happened in Virginia. She said she also limits their exposure to broadcast news.

“They see me call congress, they see me do all these things, and I will explain why I’m doing it, but I try to make sure their consumption of media is really limited in this time,” she said. “It’s hard to contextualize that for such young kids.”

The South Setauket resident balances political activism with motherhood and work as an instructor and chorale director. Photo from Shoshana Hershkowitz

Hershkowitz said the Suffolk Progressives Facebook page began as like-minded friends sharing thoughts on various topics. Among those friends is Stefanie Werner, who she met last year at a child’s birthday party.

“As someone who is also a strong supporter of progressivism and democratic values, it was amazing to form an instant kinship with a person who held the same beliefs and desires for change,” Werner said. “Shoshana is a powerhouse of energy and exuberance, resolving to revolutionize our political process and those who represent us.”

Cindy Morris, the Democratic candidate for Brookhaven Town Clerk, met Hershkowitz at a Democratic committee event for activists. Morris said Hershkowitz has made the grassroots efforts available to people with all levels of experience with her work that  goes beyond marches and rallies. One example is Hershkowitz posting a video on Facebook explaining how to call local legislators and strategies once they’re on the phone.

“She has made politics less intimidating and more inspiring, galvanizing and easier to participate in than ever before,” Morris said.

Hershkowitz also has met many local lawmakers in her travels, including Port Jefferson Village Mayor Margot Garant. The mayor described Hershkowitz as a spitfire “who is finding her voice during a time when others are afraid to speak up.” Garant said the activist is persistent, yet never demeaning, when she speaks with others, even if their opinions differ.

“She’s exemplary on how we all need to be with one another, “ Garant said.

Hershkowitz said her mission is to continue encouraging others to speak up.

“I hope that people realize that this isn’t someone else’s work, this is all of our work, and it can be just a couple of phone calls every day and making that a ritual like brushing your teeth is enough,” she said. “Don’t wait for someone else to do that work right now.”

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Cans with positive messages in Spanish spotted by Linda Obernauer when dropping off donations at Teatro Yerbabruja. Photo from Linda Obernauer

By Rita J. Egan

Members of a Setauket church are doing their part to help strangers more than 1,500 miles away.

After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico Sept. 20 and left the majority of the more than 3.4 million residents without electricity and no easy access to food and supplies, Linda Obernauer, a church elder of Setauket Presbyterian Church, said she knew something had to be done.

Obernauer, chair of the church’s Peace and Justice Committee, began working with the Central Islip-based Teatro Yerbabruja to collect donations for the victims. The theater company is a grassroots organization that strives to inspire social changes through community, art and education.

The church elder said at first friends brought donations to her home before she set up a drop-off location at Setauket Presbyterian Church. The church is collecting ready-to-eat foods, instant coffee, baby wipes, adhesive bandages and powdered milk. Obernauer said the organization has plenty of diapers and bottled water.

Donations will be sent to Puerto Rico where many streets such as this one in San Juan were flooded after Hurricane Maria. Photo from Rafael Candelaria

She said the church is deeply involved in community outreach, especially in Port Jefferson Station with their furniture bank Open Door Exchange, and recently she has met many people whose families have been affected by the hurricane and the recent earthquake in Mexico. Obernauer said she feels collections such as this one are what the congregation’s faith calls them to do.

“This is all interconnected on how we honor our neighbors when they are in need,” she said.

Obernauer said she has already transported a pickup truck filled with donations to the Central Islip organization and plans on driving another truckload this week. She said she isn’t surprised by the congregation’s generosity, as they are always quick to donate.

“I think it’s a really good community effort,” she said. “When people reach out, they are getting heard and people are helping.”

Teatro Yerbabruja’s director Margarita Espada said the nonprofit will send donations via private freight. She said the theater is currently collaborating with Suffolk County Community College and working with a few organizations in Puerto Rico that are trying to get supplies to small towns, which have been difficult to reach due to debris in the roads. Another obstacle during the first week was the Jones Act, which President Donald Trump (R) temporarily lifted Sept. 28. The act requires all goods shipped between U.S. ports to be shipped by U.S. vessels and for them to be primarily operated by Americans.

Espada said she has worked on outreach projects with Obernauer in the past, and she’s grateful for her and the church members’ help.

“I think it’s great because they are showing support for Puerto Rico,” she said.

Obernauer said items can be dropped off at the church office until Oct. 10 between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Setauket Presbyterian Church is located at 5 Caroline Ave., Setauket.

The show must go on. Despite the rain and chilly temperatures Sept. 30, the Stony Brook Community Church held its annual Apple Festival on church grounds. As usual, the event was filled with apple dishes, homemade soups and chili, cider and barbecued food. Attendees were also able to purchase goods from various vendors. Last but not least, apple pies and Apple Festival merchandise were available to purchase and bring home to remember the day.

On Oct. 1 more than 150 runners and walkers took to the streets of Stony Brook to participate in the Soles for All Souls 5K Run/2K Walk. Organized by All Souls Episcopal Church in Stony Brook, the morning included live entertainment by local band Down Port, pre-race stretches led by Inspired of Port Jefferson, raffles and a ceremony where awards were presented by age group. Brendan Roller of Melville was the first to cross the finishing line in 18 minutes, 46 seconds, and East Setauket’s Leana Wiebelt was the first female to complete the race in a time of 20:39. East Setauket resident John Barker, the only participant in the 80 and older category, finished the race in 48:20 .

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

By Rita J. Egan

Three Village’s approval was overwhelming.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Calone said Setauket Presbyterian congregants are in awe of Rogers.

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

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

SBU President Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr. delivered his annual address to the university community Sept. 27. File photo from Stony Brook University

During his annual address, Stony Brook University’s president celebrated the past and looked forward to the future.

President Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr., delivered his State of the University Address to the Stony Brook campus community Sept. 27.

He said the first graduating class of 1961 consisted of approximately 40 students. In 2017, the university granted 7,313 degrees and certificates, including master’s and doctoral degrees that did not exist the first year.

The number of buildings has also changed on campus from a few to 136 structures.

Stanley said the students attending the university come from more diverse backgrounds compared to bygone decades. Diversity he said is something Stony Brook is committed to.

“We hope to reflect the diversity of the state we live in as well as the country we live in,” he said.

Stanley said while the number of international students has increased since 1957, this is the first year the amount of freshmen from other countries has decreased. He said he has received feedback that a number of international students are hesitant to study in the United States due to changes in immigration policies. The president is a supporter of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals plan instituted by former President Barack Obama (D). He said students protected by DACA at the university come from tough economic backgrounds yet succeed academically and epitomize the American Dream. He said SBU is committed to working with legislators to create a pathway for the students.

Stony Brook University President Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr. File photo

“Stony Brook University I hope has communicated to the campus and the world our support for these students,” he said.

Stanley said the university is trying to change the way it recruits in order to create more diversity within the crop of faculty members, as well.

Another development at Stony Brook through the years has been the change in athletic success. The president said most teams originally operated as club sports, then developed into Division 3 and eventually Division 1 teams.

Stanley touched on the addition of Southampton Hospital as part of the Stony Brook University medicine family, which occurred this past summer.

“It’s really going to improve service at both hospitals,” he said.

The president said with a $1.7 billion budget, Stony Brook University Hospital serves 400,000 patients and offers a Level I trauma center, while the newly dubbed Stony Brook Southampton Hospital serves 100,000 with a $175 million budget.

He said the university is currently working on the Medicine and Research Translation Building and construction is scheduled to be completed in spring of 2018. The eight-level 240,000-square-foot building and 225,000-square-foot new Bed Tower will create opportunities for scientists and physicians to work side by side in the hopes of advancing cancer research and imaging diagnostics.

Stanley also addressed the university’s $24 million deficit, and he said he knows SBU can overcome it. The president said the biggest issue was the failure of the state as the university has not been included in state allocations in recent years

“I absolutely support faculty and staff getting raises, they are completely appropriate,” he said.

Despite the deficit, hundreds of faculty members and students have been welcomed to Stony Brook University while the number of administration positions has decreased. The president said administrators are “working harder than they ever been before to help the university.”

Stanley has asked department heads to look at their needs when an instructor leaves, and to consider if the workflow can be adjusted if the position cannot be filled. The goal, he said, is to have the least amount of impact on students.

The president said The Campaign for Stony Brook to raise funds for scholarships and research is $559.2 million toward a $600 million goal. It strives to reach the goal by June 30, 2018.

Michael Schaefer, with Barbara Donovan and Joan Hubbard in 2016, has resigned as Poquott Village board trustee. File photo

A few months after the June 2017 trustees election, the Village of Poquott board is experiencing changes once again.

Village clerk Joseph Newfield read a resignation letter from trustee Michael Schaefer at the Sept. 14 village board meeting. Schaefer cited needing to attend to family issues in the letter. Mayor Dee Parrish has not yet appointed a trustee to replace Schaefer.

The resignation comes two months after John Mastauskas resigned, also due to personal reasons. Parrish appointed Christopher Schleider to replace Mastauskas, and he will complete the former trustee’s term, which ends in 2018. Mastauskas won his seat in 2016 after running as a write-in candidate.

On June 20, Poquott residents voted out Harold Berry, who received 170 votes, while newcomer John Richardson received 195. Incumbent Jeff Koppelson was voted back in with 180 votes, and despite candidate Debbie Stevens challenging the results and filing a lawsuit, he retained his seat after she revoked her complaint.

Before she dropped the dispute, the Suffolk County Board of Elections recanvassed ballots June 29. Stevens, who earned 178 votes, said if the opportunity arose to become trustee, she would be willing to accept the position.

“I think I would be a fair, honest, concerned, helpful trustee,” Stevens said. “I would cater to what the residents want and not what I want.”

In interviews in June, both Richardson and Stevens said they felt the village has been polarized in recent years, and the mayor and board of trustees were not hearing residents’ concerns.

Koppelson said resignations are not unusual when it comes to a volunteer position such as trustee.

“As people decide to run or be appointed, we’re trying to make them understand this is a job, and it’s a volunteer job, so you have to be able to put in the time and energy,” Koppelson said.