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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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The Mary Louise Booth House. Photo by William P. Steele

By Rita J. Egan

On Jan. 27, the childhood home of a writer, editor and translator of the 1800s, Mary Louise Booth, was officially listed on the National Register of Historical Places. Members of the Yaphank Historical Society were anticipating the news since the New York State Board for Historic Preservation approved the house for submission in the beginning of December.

The Mary Louise Booth House exhibit room. Photo by William P. Steele
The Mary Louise Booth House exhibit room. Photo by William P. Steele

Tricia Foley, historian for the Yaphank Historical Society who is working on a book about Booth, said the house, located at the intersection of E. Main Street and Yaphank Avenue, was built in 1829.

“It’s an early house of the period at the beginning of Yaphank’s development. In 1800 there were only 20 houses here and by the 1840s there were 200,” she said.

Foley said the Long Island ½-house is a one-story structure with an attic, two windows in the front and a door on the left. This was so if the owners added an extension, the door could be in the middle, according to the historian. Foley said many of the ½-houses were custom built, and the Booth house features beaded edges around all the windows as well as fireplace mantles in the parlor and bedroom with an unusual detailed, carving style.

Its inclusion on the list means the historical society can apply for more grants and there’s increased protection against demolition in the future, according to Foley. The group hopes to apply for a grant in the near future for renovation.

“There is a bay window in the kitchen, in the keeping room, and when we get more funding we would like to remove it, because it’s not period appropriate. It was probably put on later in the 19th century or early 20th century,” the historian said.

An exhibit documenting Booth’s life, who was born in 1831, is on display at the house. The Yaphank native was one of the first female reporters for The New York Times and the author of “History of the City of New York.” Foley said this book was originally intended to be a school textbook, but once the publisher realized just how significant the work was, it was released for public distribution.

The Mary Louise Booth House parlor. Photo by William P. Steele
The Mary Louise Booth House parlor. Photo by William P. Steele

Booth was also the founding editor of Harper’s Bazaar when the magazine started as a weekly in 1867 and worked with the publication for 22 years until her death in 1889, according to Foley. The historian said the editor did her best to educate women about the pressing subjects of the era.

“She was a suffragist and abolitionist, and she quietly brought in women’s issues into the different features and columns every week to keep women apprised of what was happening. She didn’t express her opinions, but she let people know very quietly,” she said.

While Booth remained objective when it came to the articles she published, outside her office, the editor and her friend Susan B. Anthony were involved in working toward equal pay for teachers. The former Yaphank resident was also part of the Women’s Suffrage movement, and she was the secretary of the 1855 Women’s Rights Convention in Saratoga Springs. The writer and editor was considered an abolitionist as well, and during her research, Foley found that Abraham Lincoln sent Booth a letter for her efforts in the Union cause. The president was impressed by the writer’s personal work as well as inspired by a book she translated from French to English called “Uprising of a Great People” by Count Agénor de Gasparin.

Foley said Booth, who during her lifetime translated over 40 books from French to English, was also involved in the Statue of Liberty transaction due to her translating and networking abilities. The translator introduced the statue’s sculpture, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, to key players in New York City such as bankers and government officials. The historian said Booth showed a gift for language at a young age. After she and her family moved from Yaphank to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, when she was 14 years old, the future translator taught Latin classes as a teenager and also attended a French academy to practice conversational French.

The Mary Louise Booth House. Photo by William P. Steele
The Mary Louise Booth House. Photo by William P. Steele

“She had such a gift for language. She picked up conversational French very easily,” Foley said.

The historian said she isn’t surprised that Booth’s childhood home, which is the last remaining residence of her lifetime, was recognized on the register considering her work, which influenced the country and New York State history. The house, which was originally located on E. Main Street across from where it stands today, had various owners throughout the years until it became the property of the Kinney family after World War II. When the family donated the house to Suffolk County Historic Services in 1998, it was moved to its current location, and the Yaphank Historical Society became the steward of the home, according to Foley.

The public can visit the Mary Louise Booth Childhood Home Sunday afternoons in July and August or by appointment. For more information, visit www.yaphankhistorical.org or call 924-3401.

Prickly
A Hastings Drive woman called police to report an incident of criminal mischief at her Stony Brook home — an unknown person cut branches from the front of her shrub sometime between April 11 at 8 p.m. and April 12 at 10 a.m.

Boozy banter
A man reported to police an incident of harassment on April 12. He told police that at about 8:20 p.m. in the wooded area on the west side of Waldbaums on Nesconset Highway in Setauket-East Setauket, he and another individual who may have been intoxicated made a verbal threat to him.

A leg up
A 36-year-old man from West Hempstead was arrested on Nicolls Road in Stony Brook on April 8 and charged with third-degree criminal mischief of property greater than $250 in value. Police said he kicked a female victim’s passenger door of a 2008 Honda Civic, causing damage, on Church Street in Lake Ronkonkoma on April 4. He was arrested days later in Stony Brook at 3:30 p.m.

Drugged driving
Police said a 21-year-old woman from Setauket was arrested on Old Town Road in Setauket-East Setauket on April 12 and charged with first-degree operating a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs and fifth-degree criminal possession of marijuana. Police said she was driving a 2006 Nissan southbound on Old Town Road when she was pulled over at about 6:40 p.m.

Reckless
A 22-year-old man from Centereach was arrested in Setauket-East Setauket on April 11 at about 5 a.m. and charged with first-degree reckless endangerment and first-degree burglary. Police said the man fired a shotgun on Ringneck Lane in Setauket. Police also tacked on a burglary charge at the precinct — they said on March 29, at about 3 a.m., the man went into a home on Old Town Road and struck a man in the head.

Shoplifter caught
Police said a 32-year-old man from Southampton was arrested in Setauket-East Setauket on April 10 and charged with petit larceny. Police said he was arrested at the corner of Chester and Belle Meade Road for stealing assorted items from Walmart in South Setauket at about 10:20 p.m.

Busted with heroin
Police said a 28-year-old old man was arrested in Stony Brook on April 7 and charged with third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, with the intent to sell. Police said that at about 12:45 p.m. on Route 347 on April 7 he was in possession of heroin in a 2014 Chevy Camaro.

Sweater snatcher
Someone stuffed a sweater into a purse and walked out of Target in South Setauket on Pond Path on April 7 at 2:05 p.m. without paying for it.

Taxi!
A cab was waiting outside of a Port Jefferson Main Street bar on April 12 when shortly after 3 a.m. a man walked up to the vehicle and kicked the side view mirror.

Punched
An argument on Main Street in Port Jefferson got physical on April 11 when one of the people punched the other in the face.

What a tool
Two unknown people entered a storage facility property on Jamaica Avenue in Port Jefferson on April 10, just before midnight, and removed a toolbox from a pickup truck.

Undeserved tip
A male entered a counter service restaurant on Main Street in Port Jefferson on April 9 and removed the tip jar. Two others accompanied the man, who then took the money and disposed of the jar.

Need a lift
Police reported an unknown person, or persons, shattered a 2014 Jeep’s liftgate on April 7 on Main Street in Port Jefferson.

Do not disturb
A resident of Henearly Drive in Miller Place reported receiving a dozen harassing phone calls from an unknown caller from April 7 to April 8.

Pocketed
A 2005 Honda Odyssey owner reported that a pocketbook containing credit cards and cash was stolen from the vehicle while it was parked on Miller Place Road in Miller Place on April 6.

Tracked
A resident of Halesite Drive in Sound Beach reported that an unknown person put a tracking device on his Jeep Cherokee. The incident was reported on April 9.

Through the basement window
Between 10:30 a.m. and 11: 30 p.m. on April 11, an unknown person broke a home’s basement window on Begonia Road in Rocky Point. Police said no items were taken from the home, and it doesn’t appear anyone entered the residence.

Call the coppers
A home on Hallock Landing Road in Rocky Point was ransacked at some point between April 8 and April 12. According to police, copper piping and various electronics were stolen from the residence.

Parking wars
Police responded to a confrontation at the Walmart parking lot in Centereach on April 11. Police said a woman reported that after opening her door and accidently hitting another person’s car, the individual became angry and started yelling. They then keyed the side of her vehicle.

Re-routed to jail
A 24-year-old Centereach woman was arrested in Centereach on April 7 for petit larceny after she stole routers, cables and merchandise from a Centereach store on March 24.

Slashed
A complainant on Elmwood Avenue in Selden reported his 2005 Ford’s tires were slashed on April 10.

Burglar caught
Police arrested a 22-year-old Centereach man on April 11 in connection with a March 29 burglary in which he and another person entered an East Setauket dwelling, threatened its inhabitant with a handgun and then struck the victim on the head. The man was charged with first-degree burglary with a dangerous instrument.

Put a ring on it
A 20-year-old Ronkonkoma man was arrested in Selden on April 10 for fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property. Police said the man sold a stolen ring at a pawnshop.

Getting physical
A 24-year-old woman from Lake Ronkonkoma was arrested in Smithtown on April 12 and charged with third-degree assault, with intent to cause physical injury. Police said that on April 11 at 1:35 a.m. on Church Street in Lake Ronkonkoma she punched a female victim in the head, and the victim required medical attention. The woman was arrested at the precinct in Smithtown.

Joyride
Three individuals were arrested after midnight in Smithtown on April 11 after police conducted a traffic stop on Jericho Turnpike and found drugs on passengers seated in a 2003 Chrysler. A 21-year-old man from Ridge and a 22-year-old man from Centereach were both arrested and charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance — heroin. A 21-year-old from Bellport was also arrested and charged with fifth-degree criminal possession of marijuana.

Shoplifter busted
Police said a 23-year-old man from Commack was arrested in Smithtown on April 11 and charged with petit larceny. The man took assorted items from a Walmart on Veterans Highway in Smithtown at about 11 a.m. without paying for them. He was arrested at that location.

Pills, CD player, taken
Someone reported to police that a CD player and prescription drugs were stolen from a location on Bishops Road in Smithtown sometime between 8 p.m. on April 1 and 3 a.m. on April 11. There are no arrests.

Screen damaged
Someone cut the screen window of a residence on Lisa Court in Nesconset at 3 p.m. on April 3, though nothing was stolen from the location. There are no arrests.

Spending spree
A Clover Lane resident of Kings Park reported to police that his or her identity was stolen last week. An unknown person attempted to make purchases using a Citibank credit card. The attempted purchases didn’t go through, police said. The person tried to buy groceries from a supermarket in Astoria, items from an Armani Exchange in Staten Island and items from a Macy’s in Staten Island.

Angry customer
Police said they received a report of a disorderly customer at a West Jericho Turnpike location in Smithtown on April 8 at about 2:30 p.m. Police said the customer picked something up from off the counter and threw it against the wall, damaging the item to the tune of $50.

Time-less
A complainant told police that her watch went missing from her home on Hunter Place in Smithtown, sometime between 2 and 4 p.m. on April 3.

Windshield damaged
Someone reported to police that the windshield of a 2015 Kia Soul parked in the driveway of a Belinda Court home in Nesconset was cracked sometime between 7 p.m. on April 10 and 8 a.m. on April 11.

Items jacked
Someone cleaned out a 2014 Volkswagen Passat parked on Landing Road in Kings Park. A complainant reported that several items were stolen from within the car: tools, clothing, money, a driver’s license, paperwork and other items. The incident occurred at 9:48 p.m. on April 9, according to video surveillance.

Pizza with a side of punch
A 37-year-old man from Greenlawn was arrested in Huntington on April 12 and charged with disorderly conduct, fighting and violent behavior. Police said he punched a man in the nose in front of Little Vincent’s Pizzeria on New York Avenue in Huntington at about 2:15 a.m.

Hulk smash!
A 28-year-old man from Huntington was arrested in Huntington on April 10 and charged with criminal mischief, with intent to damage property. Police said that at 3:15 p.m. on March 30 he kicked the bumper and ripped off the passenger side mirror of a 2010 Honda Accord on Park Avenue. He also threatened a male victim with a hammer.

Female struck
Police said a 27-year-old man from Huntington was arrested in Huntington on April 12 and charged with third-degree assault, with intention to cause physical injury. The man struck a female victim in the face at about 2 a.m. in East Northport at 2nd Avenue and 4th Street. He was later arrested on Route 25 and Round Swamp Road in Huntington.

Cop kicked, spat on
A 16-year-old female from Huntington Station was arrested in Huntington on April 11 and charged with second-degree harassment. Police said she kicked a uniformed officer in his legs at 11:50 p.m. on Tuthill Street. She also later spit on the police officer at the precinct.

Shoplifter caught
An 18-year-old East Northport woman was arrested in Huntington on April 7 and charged with petit larceny. Police said she stole assorted items from Walgreens on Larkfield Road in Commack on April 4 at 9:40 a.m.

Wallet, phone taken
Someone removed a female’s wallet and phone from Finley’s of Green Street in Huntington at 1 a.m. on April 12. Police said the complainant reported that a wallet containing credit card, her iPhone, cash, driver’s license were stolen.

Woman struck
A female bartender at The Dublin Jack in East Northport on Larkfield Road reported a male suspect struck her across the face at 3:20 a.m. on April 11. There were no injuries.

Jewelry lifted
An unknown person stole assorted jewelry from a home on New York Avenue in Huntington sometime between April 6 at 9 p.m. and April 10 at 7 p.m. There are no arrests.

Scammed
A White Hill Road resident in Lloyd Harbor reported to police on April 7 that he or she was the subject of a scam. Someone called the home claiming they were from the IRS.

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Ward Melville’s freshmen ice hockey team poses for a group photo after winning its second consecutive Suffolk County title. Photo from Billy Williams

The Ward Melville freshman ice hockey team capped off an undefeated season by winning the Suffolk County  Hockey League championship on March 3- with a win over Sachem.

The team finished the season with a record of 31-0, and has not lost a game in two years, with a record of 62-0.

This is back-to-back titles for the freshman team that had a dominant lineup led by Matthew Crasa, who was named the most valuable player of the playoffs, and sniper Jason Ruszkowski.

The team was led by head coach Mark Devlin, and assistant coaches Frank Catalina, Bobby Gazura and George Rainer.

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By Leah Dunaief

Who would have believed it? After the grueling winter we have all lived through, it is spring — finally, certainly, surely, unarguably spring. The relief, the excitement, the miracle of this annual rebirth is here. So I am suggesting that we live in the moment, at least for a few moments, and plan to enjoy our surroundings.

How do we celebrate the season? Here are some of my suggestions.

For starters, go outside and breathe deep breaths that won’t freeze your windpipes. Unless you are in the middle of traffic, you can smell the fresh earth.

Look up at the limbs of the trees. There are beautiful, symmetrical buds readying themselves to burst into bloom. Look under tucked away places, like the eves of your house. You might see birds building a nest to receive and shelter their young. Listen to those birds singing. They are bustling with activity as they serenade those who listen. Note the forsythia contributing bright yellow to the edges of driveways and roads, bolstered by smiling daffodils at ground level. The usual cast of characters is also pushing its way into our field of vision: crocus, hyacinths and any number of weeds that aren’t paid to blossom but do so to join the riot of color.

The weather this weekend sounds pretty nice, so get out those garden tools, but leave time to wander over to a beach and enjoy the views of calm water and the early distant sailboats. Bring The New York Times or your laptop and have breakfast on the sand Sunday morning. Get on your bike, take a long walk through the ’hood and chat with neighbors you haven’t seen in months. No, they weren’t away for the winter, they were just hibernating in their homes.

If you wish, write and tell us what your particular rituals are for welcoming the season. In the meantime, let’s celebrate: Oh, Happy Spring!

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By Daniel Dunaief

What Hillary Clinton needs is a slogan. Now that she’s declared that she is, indeed, running for president, she needs to let the world know what she’s all about.

The problem is she’s spent the last quarter of a century in the public eye. How can someone who lost the presidential primary in 2008, whose husband’s peccadilloes provided endless fodder for the late-night TV hosts and whose every move, comment or speech let us know who she is and what she’s all about?

I have a few suggestions:

• “Campaign Clinton IV”: The first two were about Bill, the third one was a dress rehearsal and the fourth time is the real thing.
• “She’s nicer than you think”: That’s not hard to imagine. She doesn’t exactly come across as warm, fuzzy and relatable. She has the opposite public persona of her husband, whose charm and hospitality play so well on TV.
• “25 years in the making”: A woman who has written two autobiographies and who was the first lady for eight years may finally make it out of the primaries.
• “Long day’s journey into the White House”: Borrowing from Eugene O’Neill, Clinton has gone through many dramas, subplots and struggles on her way to running for the most important job in the land.
• “About Time”: Did you see that charming movie with this title with Rachel McAdams? This slogan could suggest it’s about time a woman became president. Then again, maybe if, like the movie, she could travel back in time, she’d change a few things.
• “Let the first family back in”: The Democrats seem to love her these days. Why not suggest that she and her biggest fan, largest supporter and No. 1 asset and liability, return to the White House together?
• “We’ll be back”: I know Arnold Schwarzenegger is a Republican, but wouldn’t it be cool if he introduced her campaign in his Austrian Terminator accent? (Or, perhaps, borrowing from “Jaws II”: “Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the White House again.”)
• “Interns need not apply”: OK, that’s a cheap shot.
• “The ultimate battle of the sexes”: Let’s see who runs the country better, a wife or her husband? We’ve had fathers and sons — the Adamses and the Bushes — and the Roosevelt cousins. How about we try a married couple?
• “Time for new revelations”: Every so often, it seems as if there’s a new revelation about the Clintons. Think about how many more revelations from staff members, former cooks and the U.S. Secret Service we might have if the Clintons once again occupy the White House?
• “The publishing business needs this”: Book publishing and publishing in general don’t seem to be as profitable as in the past. Bookstores are closing and small publishers are struggling to keep up with the endless space in the Internet. Surely a Clinton campaign and, possibly, a presidency would give new life to an industry that desperately needs a few more blockbuster political books before it finds the next Charles Dickens?
• “It’s time to watch late-night TV again”: “Saturday Night Live” and late-night talk show hosts must be cheering the possibility. They don’t even need to create new characters or find people who can look and act like the Clintons.
• “Grandma knows best”: Forget about her role as first lady, senator or secretary of state, who would dare argue with a grandma?

Let battle commence but it’s going to be a long, drawn-out affair. There are still 572 days to go, whatever the slogan.

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From unfunded mandates to grounds maintenance, school districts are burdened with many costs, but high energy bills don’t have to be one of them.

State Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset) recently introduced legislation that would strengthen the state’s support of alternative energy systems in school districts. All types of alternative energy systems — whether solar, wind and/or geothermal  — would be eligible for state building aid. The legislation would also remove a requirement that has the systems meet an 18-year payback window in order to receive aid. These changes make sense, as they’ll empower school districts to go green while also saving taxpayers money.

A few school districts on the North Shore have discussed installing solar panels on their building roofs, while two — Miller Place and Three Village — are moving forward with plans to install the panels. In Miller Place, the panels are expected to save the district more than half its utility budget. In Three Village, by the time the project is paid off, the district could be saving hundreds of thousands of dollars.

While we encourage other school districts to investigate how alternative energy systems could help their districts reduce costs, we also hope they’ll continue searching for ways to reduce their energy consumption. Replacing an energy source with a clean alternative is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t do anything to address a greater energy consumption problem that pervades our communities, including in our schools.

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Smithtown West’s Jimmy Caddigan makes a diving shot outside the crease in the Bulls’ 17-0 win over Deer Park. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

After a sluggish first quarter, the Smithtown West boys’ lacrosse team shook off the cobwebs and went on a scoring frenzy, shutting out Deer Park 17-0 on their home turf, to keep the Bulls atop the League II leaderboard at 6-0.

Scoring two goals in the first quarter, Smithtown West junior midfielder Dan Caroussos was on fire for his team, and scored his hat trick goal off an assist from junior attack Joe Zara with 7:14 left to play in the first half, to bring the sore to 5-0.

From there, it was a Bulls scoring clinic.

Smithtown West’s Danny Caroussos receives a pass in traffic. Photo by  Bill Landon
Smithtown West’s Danny Caroussos receives a pass in traffic. Photo by Bill Landon

Freshman attack Kyle Zawadzki banked two goals, and Zara, sophomore midfielder Danny Riley and senior attack R.J. Ehli tacked on a goal apiece to end the second quarter leading 9-0.

Smithtown West head coach Bob Moltisanti said his team lacked focus when opportunity came knocking in the first quarter.

“We had our chances to score, but a dropped pass or a feed that was a little bit off or deflected by a stick and then we missed the cage,” he said. “We did a much better job in the second quarter. The kids did a nice job — they’re aggressive and they’re playing fundamentally sound defense.”

Caroussos was absent in the second half, after playing the first with a heavy heart. Just a day before he was to celebrate his birthday, he instead suffered the passing of his grandfather. He left the game at halftime to attend the wake.

Just seconds into the third quarter, Zawadzki found the cage to join Caroussos with a hat trick, to edge ahead 10-0.

The freshman attack continued to pick up where Caroussos left off, and found the cage a fourth and fifth time, to close out the third quarter leading by a score of 15-0.

From there, Moltisanti rotated his bench players to give the non-starters some playing time.

Junior midfielder Danny Varello owned the faceoff, winning almost all attempts at the “X,” which put the Deer Park defense to work.

“Danny’s faceoff performance has been tremendous this season,” Moltisanti said.
Zawadzki added that early in the game his team made mistakes, but made the proper adjustment to come away with the dominant win.

Smithtown West’s R.J. Ehli cuts outside past a Deer Park defender, maintains possession and heads toward the cage in the Bulls’ 17-0 win Tuesday. Photo by  Bill Landon
Smithtown West’s R.J. Ehli cuts outside past a Deer Park defender, maintains possession and heads toward the cage in the Bulls’ 17-0 win Tuesday. Photo by Bill Landon

“We telegraphed our passes early in the game, but we got better reads and better feeds.” Zawadzki said. “Coach told us after the first quarter that we’d better pick it up because we’re not looking good.”

The Bulls held the ball for most of the fourth, and scored two goals while running out the clock, to bring the final score to 17-0.

According to Varello, teams like Deer Park, who have yet to find their first win, are always teams to be wary of.

“They may not be on the leaderboard, but they’ve got athletes and you’ve got to expect a team like that is going to hit you,” Varello said. “So against a team as athletic as they are, I know I’m going in with the mind-set that I can’t miss any faceoffs because if I do, we’re going to lose it.”

Moltisanti said his Bulls’ real test will be on Thursday, when they square off against Half Hollow Hills East on the road for a battle of two undefeated teams.

The opening faceoff is scheduled for 5 p.m.

Smithtown West is atop the leaderboard with crosstown rivals Smithtown East at 6-0, while Half Hollow Hills East and West Islip are also undefeated at 5-0 and 4-0, respectively.

Jean Linzee will portray Emily Dickinson. Photo from the WMHO

In honor of National Poetry Month the Ward Melville Heritage Organization will host a live dramatic performance titled “Artists & Poets,” showcasing iconic American poets, Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, at the Educational & Cultural Center, 97P Main St., in Stony Brook Village on Sunday, April 19, from 2 to 5 p.m. The event will  feature Jean Linzee as Emily Dickinson and Darrel Blaine Ford as Walt Whitman.

A former Long Island biology teacher and world-traveled ornithologist, Ford not only has a striking physical resemblance to Walt Whitman but a personal affinity with him since childhood, when he was given a copy of “Leaves of Grass” and was “hooked ever since.” He has been recreating Whitman’s persona for over 30 years and continues to maintain his legacy today by visiting schools and libraries as the famous poet.

Linzee is a Yale graduate and has taught English and theater at The Stony Brook School for over 20 years. Her experience includes not only teaching but also acting, directing and writing. She has conceived, written and performed in many of her own one-woman shows, as well as William Luce’s “The Belle of Amherst,” based  on the life of Emily Dickinson, which she has performed in England, Poland, Switzerland and throughout the United States.

There will be a special interaction with the audience and the actors, who will perform in an impromptu skit embodying the personas of Dickinson and Whitman as if they were meeting for the first time. The performance is $20 per person and will include refreshments.

There will also be a free art exhibit on site including works by Pat Solan, Flo Kemp and members of the Stony Brook Photography Club. Additional dates for the free art exhibit are April 16, 17, 18, 20 and 21.

For further information, please call 631-689-5888 or visit www.stonybrookvillage.com.

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By Jonathan S. Kuttin

As more baby boomers reach retirement age, they’re realizing the valuable role Social Security will play as a source of lifetime income. Claiming Social Security benefits can be far more complex than you may realize. Here are seven essential things about Social Security to understand as you determine how Social Security will fit into your overall retirement income strategy:

You can start claiming benefits any time between ages 62 and 70: When you’re working and paying Social Security taxes (via your paycheck), you earn credit toward your Social Security retirement benefits. To qualify for these benefits, you need to contribute at least 40 credits to the system, which is typically 10 working years (although it does vary). Alternatively, if you have never worked and you’re married to someone who qualifies, you may earn a spousal benefit. When claiming your own benefit, you can begin receiving Social Security at age 62 or delay receiving Social Security up to your 70th birthday.

Full retirement age is changing: The age to qualify for a “full” retirement benefit from Social Security used to be 65. Now it is up to 66 (for those born between 1943 and 1954). It increases by two months per year for those born between 1955 and 1959. For those born in 1960 or later, full retirement age is currently defined as 67.

The longer you wait, the larger your benefit: The amount of your benefit depends on the age you choose to first begin receiving Social Security. For example, if you collect beginning at 62 and your full retirement age is 66, your benefit will be about 25 percent lower. On the flip side, your benefit will increase by about 8 percent each year you delay taking Social Security after your full retirement age up to your 70th birthday.

Spousal benefits give married couples extra flexibility: If both spouses worked, they each can receive benefits based on their own earnings history. However, a lower earning spouse can choose to base a benefit on the higher earning spouse’s income. A spousal benefit equals 50 percent of the other spouse’s benefit. Note that if you claim a spousal benefit before full retirement age, it will be reduced. The maximum spousal benefit you can collect is by taking the benefit at your full retirement age (based on the benefit your spouse would earn at his or her full retirement age).
You also can choose to collect a spousal benefit initially and delay taking your own benefit, allowing your benefit amount to increase. Then you can claim your benefit when you turn 70.

There may be a long-term advantage if a higher earning spouse delays Social Security: If the higher earning spouse is older (or has more health concerns that could affect longevity), it may make sense to delay taking Social Security as long as possible up to age 70. When the spouse with the higher benefit dies, the surviving spouse will collect the higher benefit that was earned by the deceased spouse. The higher the deceased spouse’s benefit, the larger the monthly check for the surviving spouse.

Claiming benefits early while still working can reduce your benefit: If you begin claiming Social Security before your full retirement age but continue to earn income, your Social Security benefit could be reduced. If your earnings are above a certain level ($15,720 in 2015), your Social Security checks will be reduced by $1 for every $2 you earned in income above that threshold. In the year you reach full retirement age, that threshold amount changes. $1 is deducted for every $3 earned above $41,880 up to the month you reach full retirement age. Once you reach full retirement age, you can earn as much income as you want with no reduction in your Social Security benefits.

Benefits you earn may be subject to tax: According to the Social Security Administration, about one-third of people who receive Social Security have to pay income tax on their benefits. You may want to consult a tax professional to determine what impacts this will have on your overall benefits.
These essential points are just a beginning. There’s much more to consider. Consult with your financial advisor, tax professional, your local Social Security office and/or Social Security’s website, www.ssa.gov, to find out more before you make your final decisions about when to first claim Social Security benefits.

Jonathan S. Kuttin is a  private wealth advisor with Kuttin-Metis Wealth Management, a private advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. in Melville, NY. He specializes in fee-based financial planning and asset management strategies and has been in practice for 19 years.

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Patricia Thompson photo from Stony Brook University

By Daniel Dunaief

Patricia Thompson gets a call from her sister Kathy Hobson when people in San Angelo, Texas — where Thompson grew up and where her sister and brother live — when someone has cancer. They want to know what Thompson thinks of their treatment.

While Thompson is not a medical doctor, she has been working as a scientist to develop ways to discriminate high-risk patient populations from low-risk patients to limit “toxic treatments in low-risk individuals” and improve the efficacy of aggressive treatment in high risk-patients. The goal, she said, is to better treat patients based on the specific pathobiology of their disease.

Thompson, who came to Stony Brook University last October as a professor of pathology and associate director of Basic Research at the Cancer Center, is pleased with the support from the university.

“There’s a real convergence of factors, including a strong commitment from the leadership, the Simons Center and the university medical school faculty and staff at Stony Brook,” she said. “We all want to see the Stony Brook Cancer Center bring prestige to our community, attract the finest talent in cancer research and clinical care and attract innovators and job builders.”

Thompson said Cancer Center Director Yusuf Hannun, Medical School Research Dean Lina Obeid, Pathology Department Chairman Ken Shroyer, and Dean of the Medical School Ken Kaushansky have all led the charge.
Shroyer is pleased Thompson joined the effort. “Bringing her here was an incredible coup,” he said. She brings “real national prominence” and led one of the “most important clinical and translational research programs in breast and colorectal cancer.”

Thompson is committed to furthering her own research studies, while balancing between critical basic science discoveries and their clinical impact.

For some scientists, she wants to assist researchers as they move from the bench to the first human study. She helps them understand who needs to be involved to advance a potential diagnostic tool or novel treatment.

Still, she endorses the benefits of basic research. “Application is always an important long-term goal, but scientific exploration for new discovery is critical to advancements,” she said. Applied and basic research are “neither mutually exclusive approaches.”

Thompson studies colorectal and breast cancer because both have an inflammatory component and an immune element. She’s exploring what is shared between these two cancers as common targets for prevention and treatment.

Colon cancer provides a window that helps scientists and doctors understand the way cancer progresses.
“Our ability to study the premalignant to malignant progression in colorectal cancer has provided important basic knowledge of how cancers develop and taught us about how cells defend against tumorigenesis and how these systems fail,” she said.

Thompson went through some formative professional and personal experiences during graduate school that shaped her career. In the mid-1990s, she was studying an autoimmune disease in which she worked on an animal model with a neuroimmunologist.

“I wanted to know that all this work I was doing with animals was contributing to the disease in humans,” she said.

Around the same time, her father, Jim Thompson, who owned and operated Angelo Tool Company, learned he had stage IV colorectal cancer. He was diagnosed in 1995, before major advances in colorectal cancer treatment. Her father received compassionate care use of a new therapy, enabling him to live for three more years, considerably longer than his initial two-month prognosis. If he had been diagnosed five years later and received a platinum-based regimen, he would have “gained even more time,” she said.

Thompson said she and her family struggle with the fact that her father showed symptoms he kept to himself, largely out of fear. If his cancer had been detected earlier, she believes it is likely he could have been cured.

She suggests people not be “afraid of a cancer diagnosis” and recommends “routine screening” and consultation with a doctor if they show symptoms.

Thompson lives in Rocky Point with her husband, Michael Hogan, who is the vice president of life sciences at Applied DNA Sciences.

As for her work, Thompson believes her research might help physicians and their patients.
Her research aims to develop “diagnostic tests that help in prognosis” while identifying “patients that may achieve more benefit from aggressive chemotherapy,” she said.

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