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TBR Staff

TBR Staff
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TBR News Media covers everything happening on the North Shore of Suffolk County from Cold Spring Harbor to Wading River.

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Jaden Martinez drives the baseline for the Warriors in a 58-44 victory at home against West Islip Jan. 25. Photo by Bill Landon

Comsewogue trailed by two at the half time break before erupting in the third quarter, scoring 10 unanswered points to surge ahead of West Islip at home Jan. 25. The Warrior defense shut the door in the final eight minutes of play to win the League IV matchup 58-44.

Comsewogue senior Jaden Martinez led his team in scoring with 14, Milan Johnson, back in action after an injury, netted 11 and teammates Michael McGuire and Matt Walsh banked 10 points apiece.

In victory the Warriors improve to 5-3 in league, 9-7 overall and are back in action with a road game against Smithtown East Jan. 29. Game time is 4 p.m.

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Shoreham-Wading River freshman Annie Sheehan shoots for two for the Wildcats at home against Bayport-Blue Point Jan 24. Bill Landon photo

The Wildcats had a score to settle against visiting Bayport-Blue Point Jan. 24, having lost to the Phantoms by eight points earlier in the season. Senior Abby Korzekwinski and Sophie Costello, the freshmen, combined for a powerful one two punch netting 15 points apiece winning the league VI matchup 57-50. Shoreham-Wading River senior Hayden Lachenmeyer finished with eight points and freshman GraceAnn Leonard banked seven and with it, clinched a playoff berth.

The win lifts the Wildcats to 8-5, 10-7 overall with three games remaining before post season play begins.

The Wildcats retake the court with a road game against Amityville Jan. 31. Game time is 6:30 p.m.

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Stacey Wohl, center, with her daughter at her shop Be(Cause) Lifestyle Boutique in Wading River. Photo from Wohl

By Leah Chiappino

Local entrepreneur Stacey Wohl has moved her store, Be(Cause) Lifestyle Boutique, which first opened Nov. 22, from its original East Northport location to Wading River Square. Despite the change in location, it still has the same mission, to give people with disabilities a chance at employment.

In 2015, Wohl opened Cause Cafe in Northport, a restaurant that employed people on the autism spectrum, with the help of her parents, Susan and Gerald Schultz. Her interest in doing so was taken from her own two children, Brittney, 22, and Logan, 20, both of whom have autism.

Wohl says the business struggled because of the lack of a nonprofit being able to subsidize the rent. Her children were unable to work in the kitchen as the environment could get chaotic, and it grew very loud. 

“When you own a business, you have to do everything, and I am not a chef,” Wohl said. “It was a very large undertaking that we weren’t prepared for.”

Despite putting her best efforts into it, Wohl was forced to shut down the restaurant when it was not able to sustain itself and personal tragedy struck. In 2016, Cause Cafe was featured on the Rachel Ray Show, which sent Wohl on a cruise with her children and parents. Two days into the trip, her father had a heart attack while dancing with her mother on the ship and passed away. 

When the family returned home, Wohl closed the doors, as she felt the need to care for her mother, who was mourning the loss of a husband of 55 years.

Wohl’s first love is fashion, having been a showroom salesperson, fit model and boutique owner in her 20s, so she opened Be(Cause) Lifestyle Boutique in East Northport. However, tragedy struck again when her mother passed away three weeks later. Wohl relocated to Wading River after her daughter got accepted to a day program in Abequogue.

“I saw the need for a place like this,”
Wohl said. 

The front of the store has a coffee bar with repackaged baked goods to take home, complete with inspirational coffee mugs for sale. The back of the store is filled with apparel and gifts that mostly come from women-owned companies and charitable causes. There is local artwork for sale as well as her own coffee brand. 

“I want the store to be a place where people go to buy a gift, and not just feel like they are doing something for charity,” Wohl said. 

Recently the business has been struggling. Business boomed over Christmas, but after the holidays business slowed down. 

“I only sold one $3 dollar cup of coffee today,” Wohl said. However, she affirms the community has been very supportive. Wohl hopes that people will make the store their go-to place to grab a cup of coffee and is even looking to expand to have art classes and job training. She is also hoping to make a clothing line from her former fashion background. 

“I lost that part of myself in [dedicating myself to my children] for the past 20 years.”

The boutique is located at 6278 Building A, #2 along Route 25A in Wading River and is open Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 5.p.m. Online ordering is also available through the boutique’s website at www.becauseboutiquecafe.com.  

Aerial shot of Mercer propery. Photo from Google Maps

By David Luces and Donna Deedy

What is going on with the Mercer project?  

Since the Dec. 12 planning board meeting in Head of the Harbor, when Robert Mercer’s site plan application for a 8,633-square-foot tool shed was considered, a string of people have quit village government. 

Richard Warren of Inter-Science Research Association, an environmental consultant hired by the village to review the plan, resigned unexpectedly. During the Dec. 12 hearing, he concluded that the Mercer application was incomplete.  

Village attorney, Anthony Tohill, also resigned Jan. 15. 

Meanwhile, Christopher Modelewski, Mercer’s attorney for the project, has requested that the upcoming public hearing, schedule for Jan. 28 be postponed. 

“No, we haven’t heard back from village officials,” the attorney said in a phone call.  

Harlan Fisher, chair of the village planning board, was traveling and could not be reached for comment. An employee from village hall confirmed that they had received a letter from Modelewski requesting a postponement. The employee disclosed that at this point they have not been told to cancel the hearing as Fisher is currently away. They declined to speak on the two resignations. 

Meanwhile, Anthony Coates, who is leading a coalition of neighbors opposed to the project, has requested from the Attorney General’s office a review of the project’s proceedings, which Coates said violates laws governing procedures.  

“At a public hearing in December, it became clear that Village residents overwhelmingly oppose this plan to commercialize and forever alter the rural Harbor Road corridor,” he said in a letter. “What was not clear at the time is that Village government had apparently known about the project for months before Village residents were informed, and has engaged in a non-transparent, secretive and potentially unlawful process, engineered by people inside Village government, to approve the project before residents had any idea what was going on.”

Coates said the group’s concerns center around a meeting of the Village Planning Board on Sept. 10. Meeting minutes, he said, show that the board voted to accept a partial abandonment of subdivision, a required first step toward approval of the project. The coalition argues that the action, taken without notice to village residents, was an illegal segmentation of the environmental review for the project under state law. 

“Neither the chairman of the planning board, nor any members of the public, attended the meeting,” Coates said. “Members of the planning board who did attend the meeting were provided no notice that the Mercer matter would be discussed. Planning board members who asked questions about the project were advised that the questions were not relevant. This was for all intents and purposes a ‘secret meeting’ of the planning board under New York State open meetings law and held exclusively for the benefit of the applicant.”

The coalition also sent a letter to Attorney General Letitia James (D), citing potential violations of the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), the State’s Open Meetings Law, as well as the Public Officers Law and requested a review by her office. 

Huntington Hospital’s four midwives, from left, Laura Jabbour, Jessica Hilsenroth, Michele Mayer and Lindsay Price. Photo from Northwell Health

Huntington Hospital’s four midwives are now seeing patients at Northwell Health Physician Partners ob/gyn offices in Commack and Smithtown. 

Midwives Michele Mayer, Jessica Hilsenroth, Laura Jabbour and Lindsay Price have office hours at 777 Larkfield Road in Commack and 222 East Middle Country Road, Suite 114 in Smithtown. In addition, the midwives see patients at Huntington Hospital’s Women’s Center at 270 Park Ave. in Huntington.

“In response to patient requests, we have begun seeing women at these convenient offices to better serve the residents of Suffolk County,” said Mayer, supervisor of Huntington Hospital’s midwife practice. 

Midwives provide care to women from their first gynecologic visit through menopause with comprehensive prenatal care and natural childbirth; well woman exams; treatment of common gynecologic issues; and contraception consultation, initiation and surveillance.

To schedule an appointment with a Huntington Hospital midwife, please call 631-351-2415. 

For more information about the Northwell Health Physician Partners Obstetrics and Gynecology call 631-775-3290 (Smithtown office) or 631-470-8940 (Commack office).

After successfully partnering with the American Cancer Society for October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Panera Bread locations owned and operated by Doherty Enterprises on Long Island, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island donated $16,276.09 to the organization. 

In October, Panera Bread raised awareness and funds for the organization by donating a portion of the proceeds from its Pink Ribbon Bagel to the American Cancer Society, which is dedicated to saving lives, celebrating lives and leading the fight for a world without cancer. 

“Because of the passion and commitment of incredibly generous and caring supporters such as Panera, its employees and customers, the American Cancer Society can attack breast cancer from every angle through research, education, advocacy and services,” said Marie Cimaglia, director of community development, Long Island. “Together, we can ensure that no one in any of our communities fights breast cancer alone.”

The Pink Ribbon Bagel was offered at participating Panera Bread locations owned and operated by Doherty Enterprises on Long Island including East Northport, Farmingdale, Hauppauge, Huntington Station, Huntington Village, Lake Grove, Lake Ronkonkoma, Port Jefferson Station and Riverhead.

Pictured from left, Marie Cimaglia, American Cancer Society; Cara Ziff, general manager of Panera Bread Plainview; Greg George, vice president of operations, Panera Bread; Christine Haskell, American Cancer Society.

Photo from Panera Bread

The Vanderbilt Museum's Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium is a state-of-the-art, 147-seat facility that features educational and entertainment shows. Photo by Jennifer Vacca

The Suffolk County Legislature has voted to permanently rename the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum Planetarium in honor of Charles and Helen Reichert of Fort Salonga.

The Reicherts, whose long-standing philanthropic contributions have made meaningful impacts across Suffolk County, entered into an agreement with the Vanderbilt Museum in 2013 and pledged to support the planetarium’s mission and programs through a 20-year donation worth approximately $1.7 million. The vote was taken at the December general meeting.

Legislator William “Doc” Spencer said, “I’ve had the privilege of knowing the Reicherts for a number of years and have seen firsthand how their giving has made a difference in Huntington.”

He continued, “Their continued generosity and willingness to provide resources to the community and important causes never ceases to amaze me. With Charlie and Helen’s support, the Museum and Planetarium will continue to thrive and provide thousands of students and visitors with access to the historical and astronomical wonders found right here in Centerport. This is a fitting tribute to a generous and humble family, which I am proud to support.”

Charles Reichert owns several IGA grocery stores. Through the years, he and his wife have donated more than $4 million to nonprofit, public institutions and health facilities from Huntington to Southold. These gifts include approximately $1.2 million to Huntington Hospital and $1 million to New York State for the betterment of Nissequogue River State Park.

Among many other projects, the couple also has donated funds to upgrade the Southold police communications dispatch center, purchased new uniforms for local public school sports teams, established a $6,000 annual scholarship for high school students, restored the Old Burying Ground in Southold and funded the reconstruction of the church steeple at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Northport.

Lance Reinheimer, former executive director of the Vanderbilt, said, “The Reicherts are deeply committed to preserve and improve the quality of life for all Long Islanders. They are shining lights in the community, deserving of this distinction for their widespread support of organizations throughout the county.”

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum is located at 180 Little Neck Road in Centerport. For more information, call 631-854-5579 or visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

Community members and public officials gather in Smithtown for a public hearing on the development of the Flowerfield/Gyrodyne property in St. James. Photo by David Luces

By Cindy Smith

As a Smithtown native who mobilized my neighbors to study the Gyrodyne project and speak at the hearing, and having spoken myself, I am gratified at what was predominantly an open-minded reception. Clearly many residents had not been informed of the grossly negative impact that project might have, and why they should insist the Smithtown Planning Board ask more questions before rubber-stamping the proposal.

Cindy Smith. Photo by Jim Lennon

Based on research by dozens of concerned residents, including nationally known environmental advocates like Carl Safina, we testified to evident prior use of lead arsenate, methyl bromides and excessive nitrates at Flowerfield — a fact not mentioned in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). We documented how the Planning Board excluded data concerning traffic, provided evidence of potential harm to Stony Brook Harbor and surrounding waterways, and — disturbingly — rebuffed regional officials like Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) who sought to provide information about shared infrastructure and planned regional development.

We also presented economic evidence that many jobs potentially created by the development will produce low-paying, minimum-wage positions — and that the property might actually be removed from the tax base, causing it to shrink rather than grow.

Lastly, we shared our concern that the development will trigger more high-density use along historic 25A, creating more suburban sprawl.

As a descendant of Richard “Bull” Smith, I envision a shared North Shore future that values both our history and our tomorrows. I hope Smithtown residents will visit us online at www.UnitedCommunitiesAgainstGyrodune.com and at Facebook.com/UnitedCommunitiesAgainstGyrodyne.

The conversation is not over! The Planning Board will accept written comments through 5 p.m. Jan. 24. Residents should also communicate their concerns directly to Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R).

Thank you, Smithtown, for welcoming your neighbors into the planning process. 

Cindy Smith

United Communities Against Gyrodyne Development community group

(Click on the photo to see the entire image)

NORTHERN LIGHT

Dawn Olenick of Baiting Hollow captured this cool sunset photo along Edwards Avenue in Calverton on Jan. 2. She writes, ‘Mother Nature sets the stage … I just push a button.

Send your Photo of the Week to leisure@tbrnewspapers.com

 

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BOE also provides prekindergarten updates, comment on mandated vaccine

A parent speaks out about proposed changes to secondary school start times. Photo by Andrea Paldy

 By Andrea Paldy

The first school board meeting of 2020 brought new voices to an old discussion.

“I do not deny the research and scientific data on adolescent health.”

— Riley Meckley

After months of parents, students and alumni speaking to Three Village Central School District administrators and school board members about the importance of changing the secondary school start times, two speakers came forward to offer a new perspective on last fall’s hot topic.

Ward Melville sophomore Riley Meckley spoke on behalf of students who did not want the high school to start later.

“I do not deny the research and scientific data on adolescent health,” she said. “It is definitely true.” 

But she noted that as “appealing” as getting an extra hour of sleep was, most students would still stay up late to study, watch Netflix or surf social media. What concerned Meckley and the students and teachers she spoke with was the negative impact on sports, clubs and after-school jobs, she said. She also spoke of the “hassle” for teachers dealing with athletes leaving ninth period early to get to their away games, as well as the inconvenience of trying to get home in time for their young children.

At December’s meeting, Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich and Jeff Carlson, deputy superintendent for business services, presented 10 possible scenarios for moving the high school start time from 7:05 to 8:20 a.m. In each case, it meant the high school day ended later, cutting out what Meckley referred to as that “precious time” between 2 and 3 p.m., when students could meet for clubs or extra help.

In half of the scenarios, the change meant that elementary schools might begin and end earlier than they do currently.

“We don’t want to lose services, and we definitely don’t want to pay any more money.”

— Matt Rehman

This raised objections from Matt Rehman, the father of elementary school-aged children, who said change spurred by the “loud minority,” in spite of the “silent majority,” would come at the expense of parents with younger children who would have to find a way to get their children off the bus as early as 1:55 in the afternoon.

“We don’t want to lose services, and we definitely don’t want to pay any more money,” he added.

Brian Latham, a high school teacher in a neighboring district and Three Village parent, said he was not opposed to the time change, but like Rehman, he was opposed to the idea, proposed in some scenarios, of moving the sixth graders to the junior highs and the ninth graders to the high school. 

“Forcing them to move to a higher class level earlier is not in their best interest,” Latham said.

“I see on a day-to-day basis how ninth-grade students can suffer when they are pushed up with upper division students too early,” he said.

Latham said that he would be willing to pay more money or cut from other programs in order to maintain “the structure that makes this district one to be admired around Long Island.”

Pedisich assured those present that no decisions had been made and that the school start time committee, which will have its first meeting in February, will consider the original 10 scenarios in addition to new ones.

Additionally, the district will be looking for input from focus groups and will survey parents, staff and students districtwide, the superintendent said.

“We want to do what’s best for our entire school community … for students in grades K-12,” Pedisich said.

“We understand that there are challenges,” she said, specifically mentioning the fiscal, transportation and educational challenges that each proposed option may pose. “That is why the committee needs to take the time, because our students deserve that from us. And our community deserves that.”

“I see on a day-to-day basis how ninth-grade students can suffer when they are pushed up with upper division students too early.”

— Brian Lathan

 

Prekindergarten

In preparation for 2020-21 preschool enrollment, Nathalie Lilavois, director of elementary curriculum, delivered a presentation on the district’s free preschool curriculum and tuition-based enrichment program.

This year the preschool is at capacity and students had to be turned away, she said. Ninety-five students participate in the free preschool for half of the day and stay for the tuition-based enrichment program for the other half. The other 106 students are half-day students who only take part in the free preschool program.

While the preschool curriculum, taught by a New York State certified teacher, is aligned to the New York State preschool standards, the enrichment program exposes children to STEM concepts through games and guided play and encourages hands-on learning through inventions. It is the only preschool enrichment program in the country that is inspired by National Inventors Hall of Fame inductees, Lilavois said.  

Applications will be accepted through Feb. 24, and if needed, a lottery will take place on the Feb. 26 with notification on Feb. 28. 

HPV vaccine

School board president William Connors responded to comments he received about the school board’s letter to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) regarding the proposal to mandate the HPV vaccine as one of the battery of vaccinations a student must receive to attend school.

“We normally don’t get involved in political issues,” he said, but the board felt that the mandated vaccine was “administrative overreach” and “inappropriate.”