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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.

Cedar Beach file photo

By Madeleine Emilia Borg

I have a very hard time saying goodbye. It becomes particularly apparent when something that has been there your whole life as a constant reminder that things are as they should be, suddenly one day is snatched away from you. Somewhere I have known that it can’t always go on this way. That this will also have to come to an end. Still, once it occurs, it is no less devastating.

It’s truly amazing to have had a place to return during the summertime. Loving arms that have welcomed me and a bed to sleep in, its worn lace spread getting thrown off every single night because of the nearly unbearable heat. And as soon as I had the light on, all the bugs ended up in the book I was reading. Almost always that book was borrowed from the Port Jefferson Free Library. Despite the various little critters, I would never trade those nights and days for anything in the world.

The Beach House, hidden away in Miller Place, Long Island and the people I’ve shared my experiences with there own a piece of my heart. With its typical northeastern faded gray shingles, the black roof one can crawl onto out of almost every room upstairs and the dreamy view all the way to Connecticut, where the fire works during Fourth of July light up the horizon as if it is burning. And for the first time in my life I won’t be able to visit it again. Because sometimes even old houses at New York’s end that have served as second homes must be emptied of all memories and sold to another family who can harvest the same pleasures and joys from it as much as its past cherishing owners.

The winding gravel path up from the road where the trash cabinet stands, its carved out blue whales on both doors and the sign in the tree with the black painted letters “Henry’s Place”, indicating that a home lurks beyond all the overgrown lush greenery.

The barefoot schlepp from the splintery board walk bridge up the steep slope, when the soles of our feet are numb after stepping around on tiny rocks laid scattered all over the dazzling white beach, but which we’ve always called pebbles and therefore they feel somewhat kinder than ordinary stone.

The outdoor shower that stills smells so much of cedar wood and security although it is over 23 years old. When I let the tepid water sprinkle down over my sun flushed shoulders it doesn’t hurt even a bit.

Below the hill where the magnificent deer family usually observes us through the screen window in the kitchen as we prepare for dinner making a salad. Slicing satiny tomatoes, chopping onions and carving out avocados that we’ve carefully selected at Jimmy’s down the road. He always sneaks butterscotch and sour watermelon lollipops into the grocery bags.

Having trouble falling asleep and the feeling of time standing completely still, while impatiently awaiting the next morning when I’ll hear the much anticipated sound of car doors opening and the rest of my favorite people. Uncles and aunts and cousins I call siblings will come up the driveway with smiles bigger than their faces. We’ll be racing down the stairs, the aching stir pounding under my rib cage.

Freshly caught seven-dollar lobsters from the little fish store that Nana brings in brown paper bags, the ones we dip into melted butter for our own version of a Swedish crayfish party. My cousins and I squeal from the carpet stairs in enchantment mingled with terror as we sit and watch how she puts them in the big black boiling pot, one by one. Afterwards my brother throws the remains to the seagulls after we gingerly go down to the water and rinse off. He really should get into baseball, someone says and we stop and grill marshmallows until we need to find our way back with a flashlight.

When my younger cousin and I as eight- and 10-year-olds invade our grandparent’s closets, smear on all the makeup we can find, attach the loose fitting garments with sparkly hair clips and wobble down the long stairs in way too high heels, feeling them slightly chafe but it doesn’t really matter because we hear everyone clapping and cheering us on from below.

Thirty-one years ago, my family purchased a beach home in Miller Place. It became a haven and gathering place for three generations of families and friends. It was a place of endless parties, a place for recuperation and healing. Located on four acres of land plus beachfront property, with unobstructed views of the Long Island Sound, it was truly a place of sanctuary back in the day, when Miller Place was full of sod fields, not strip malls and homes … but people get old, families and friends drift apart and life takes us all on different paths. Very sad to have given it up … but sometimes letting go breathes new life into all. My 21-year-old niece, Madeleine, who grew up in Sweden, spent the last 18 summers at the beach house with us. These are her memories. — Paul Singman

Early, calm crossword puzzle breakfasts with Poppy on the porch when the air is still clean and pure, only a few motor boat’s distant soothing hum. I make a sesame bagel with salmon and cream cheese, he opts for a bowl of cereal. And so we sit and listen to exactly nothing and just enjoy each other’s presence.

The few bright blue hydrangea bushes that survived the fire we never mention, where I pass the house next door and the contrasting reality looming between the bamboo shoots. Nana planted new ones adjacent to the facade later on, which quickly morphed into something jungle-like. It just grows bigger every year.

The attic holding Mom’s poufy wedding dress, a sandbox shaped like a giant turtle, my great uncle’s trumpet played in grand symphony orchestras, black and white photographs neatly tucked into worn heavy albums with burgundy spines and travel diaries from the sixties.

The huge and frayed weather polished log which fits my little brother and I perfectly in our daily occupations of playing shop and bakery, or reclining on each of its curved sides while trying not to spill our Animal Crackers and cheese sticks in the sand. Nana comes over sometimes to buy a lemon meringue pie and some rolls, or she’s looking for a new gown she can wear to the imaginary ball that very evening. We always have something just right to offer.

During an unusually dramatic and moist storm, the outdoor furniture with blue and white striped cushions blowing off along the corner of the house, lightning strikes down the chimney and dances for a few seconds over the glossy parquet living room floor.

Lazy evenings after a shower when my mother wraps me in a fluffy bathrobe and I clamber up on Nana’s unusually high raised bed. Stacked over bricks overlooking the complete paradise we find ourselves in, we start reading in the mellow comfort of each other’s camaraderie. My best friend. Earlier I left a note that ceremoniously invited her to this particular activity and would like it to continue forever.

The squirrel that gets in through a broken screen at the height of a pine tree, running across the fireplace, leaving adorable sooty paw prints in the sink and in the light purple bathtub which always tends to be filled with foam of lavender and violets, fittingly enough.

The dusty ceiling fan I stand straight beneath, closing my eyes just to breathe in the familiar salt breeze and coconut scent of Coppertone sunscreen which we continue to use even though all of us have grown up, even the smallest ones.

The back den with its sugary wood scent and photo collage of everyone of us from all times and places spread across the entire wall, Every time I look I see something new.

Short adventure walks that turn into running after we discover a vacant diving dock and quickly swim over only to throw oursleves in and scramble back up for hours at a time.

The wine bottle we manage to steal from the liquor cabinet and share with some we’d met the other day at McNulty’s ice cream parlor. Now sitting out among the dunes at the rotunda where we keep the umbrellas and swimming noodles I talk fervently to everyone except the person who’s mouth I’d like to graze with my own but I never dare to.

The bursting cotton candy sky, never ceasing to stun its audience, soon shifting into thick endless navy sprinkled with glowing dots. I look up at them from a swing in the sprawling storybook tree protecting a spot of the otherwise yellowed, prickly lawn. Crickets whose melodies slowly fill the night among the fireflies that we vainly try to capture in glass jars with holes in them.

The grand, annual birthday party in the middle of July that seems to get more stifling the older I get. Guests pouring in from all over the country, people I barely know but like already kiss both my cheeks and take my hand in theirs. Roaring laughter and animated gestures in a flurry of pastel cake frosting and white linen and without much blood involved, we’re still the world’s biggest family and I love each and every one of them.

And finally. The initial, delicious chills finding their way along my spine as I try not to slip getting into that remarkable ocean. All kinds of colors, textures and creatures emerge from underneath as quickly as they vanish and I’ll always be a mermaid here. Inching further in, I hear someone count to three and suddenly I’m completely underneath even though I’d demonstratively spun my hair up in a bun earlier to catch as many freckles as possible. I guess this is what heaven feels like. As I loosen the elastic from my head, I let myself float up slowly, opening my eyes to the glittering murky light and greeting a sun burning my forehead in a way that is only divine.

Goodbye beautiful house, you will be dearly missed.

Elsa Posey is to be honored by the Northport Historical Society at the Northport Yacht Club next week. Photo from Posey

By Susan Risoli

Elsa Posey, founder and director of Northport’s Posey School, will be recognized by the Northport Historical Society next week for her lifelong commitment to dance education.

A dinner and dance in Posey’s honor will be held on May 30 at 7 p.m. at the Northport Yacht Club. Proceeds from the event will support the historical society’s community and education programs.

In an interview this week, Posey said she was grateful to be honored and pleased that the recognition would bring attention to the dance school she opened in 1953. She brought her love of dance to Northport because it is her birthplace, she said, and because “I love it here. I’m a sailor. Just being near the water is important to me.”

Posey describes herself as a dance historian. She and her staff teach the legacy of choreography and the freedom of improvisation. Building on tradition in dance means the individual dancer is “never alone. You are supported by all the dancers that went before you,” Posey said.

Dancing is alive with what she called “the spirits, the ancestors” of those who have performed and loved dance through the ages. Posey School students often recreate historic dances, the founder said, including minuets from the 1400s and 1500s. Posey said her students will perform excerpts from the ballet “Swan Lake” — a work from the 1800s, she pointed out — at Northport Middle School on June 6.

A distinguishing characteristic of her school is the lack of recitals. Posey is not a fan, she said, of recitals where children are not really dancing but merely reproducing steps by rote. Instead, “we do performances when the dancers have something to show,” she said. “They’re performing with the music, to bring out the elements that were intended in the role.” That flow between dancer and music is achieved through performance plus education, Posey said. She herself was trained at the School of American Ballet in New York City as a youngster. Today her students — who range in age from preschoolers to seniors — take classes in ballet, modern dance, jazz, folk and country dances.

Elsa Posey is to be honored by the Northport Historical Society at the Northport Yacht Club next week. Photo from Posey
Elsa Posey is to be honored by the Northport Historical Society at the Northport Yacht Club next week. Photo from Posey

The school is not about competition among students. “We don’t compare one person with another,” Posey said. “It’s not that you’re better than somebody else.”

Dance inspires in many ways, Posey said, and can even improve lives. “I help the children understand dance as a part of history and their culture,” she explained. Appreciating cultural differences, and the values held by those who live in other places, “is what makes us better people.”

Make no mistake — though dance is surely physical, it’s much more than athletics, Posey said. “Dance is not a sport. It’s an art.” Musicians, too, she said, know that music and movement can create “an opening of the mind.”

Posey was the founder and first president of the National Dance Education Organization, which gave her its Lifetime Achievement Award. She is current president of the National Registry of Dance Educators, a group of master teachers of dance.

Heather Johnson, director of the Northport Historical Society, said the organization is honoring Posey because “she always talks about how great the community is here. But she’s part of what makes it wonderful.” Posey “is so very dedicated to her students,” Johnson said. “And she’s also been a supporter of the historical society.”

In a press release from the historical society, Steven King, president of the society’s board, said, “The entire Northport community has benefited greatly from Elsa Posey’s commitment to providing dance instruction and performance.”

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By Heidi Sutton & Ernestine Franco

After a winter punctuated with one snow or ice storm after another, it’s hard to believe that spring has finally arrived. Avid gardeners hibernating in their homes for what seemed like months have been keeping their spirits high by perusing the gardening catalogs for the latest plants and products, all the while patiently waiting for the ground to thaw.

In perfect timing, All-America Selections recently announced its list of new varieties of flowers and vegetables for 2015.  Names like Emerald Fire, Butterscotch, Jolt Pink, Dolce Fresca and Tidal Wave Red Velour are enough to get any gardener excited about trying something new.

Since 1932, this nonprofit organization has annually tested new varieties of flowers and vegetables in various locations throughout the United States and Canada. Judges look for improved qualities such as disease tolerance, early bloom or harvest dates, taste, unique colors and flavors, higher yield, length of flowering or harvest, and overall performance.

Here’s what the judges had to say about some of the award winners:

The Northeast can now plant entire gardens using these AAS winning varieties, all of which have been proven to have superior performance.

For a complete list of the new plants chosen by the AAS, as well as other information about the organization, visit their website at www.all-americaselections.org.

Costly joyride
A 28-year-old Commack man was arrested in Smithtown on May 21 and charged with second-degree grand larceny of property valued over $50,000. Police said that on May 20 the man entered a fenced yard on West Jericho Turnpike in Smithtown and stole a Ford F250 pickup truck and trailer, loading it with a type of equipment. The man was also charged with fourth-degree criminal possession of marijuana, third-degree burglary and unlawful growing of cannabis at his Scarlett Drive residence.

Bowled over
A 31-year-old Melville man was arrested on May 21 and charged with petit larceny. Police said that on April 28 at about 9 p.m., the man took cash from a bowling bag.

Assaulter apprehended
A 22-year-old man from Oakdale was arrested on May 21 and charged with two counts of assault, one charge in third degree. Police said that the man kicked a female victim who was lying on the ground at about 2 am at a location on Ocean Avenue in Ronkonkoma. Around the same time he struck a male victim with a baseball bat at the same location.

Senior struck
Police arrested an 18-year-old man from Smithtown on May 23 and charged him with second-degree
assault, injuring a victim 65 years or older. Police said the young man punched a male victim at the Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove at about 4:45 p.m. numerous times, causing him head and face injuries. The assailant was arrested at his home on Hofstra Drive in Smithtown later that day.

Smash ’n dash
An unknown person smashed the rear window of a 2005 Honda Pilot on Nesconset Highway in Smithtown and stole a backpack and laptop. The incident occurred between 9:30 and 10:15 p.m. on May 21.

Porsche problems
Someone stole Tiffany sunglasses and a child’s pocketbook out of a 2015 Porsche parked at a movie theater in on Route 347 in Stony Brook on May 21. The incident happened sometime between 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Helmet heist
A male complainant told police someone stole his Rangers hockey helmet while he was at Napper Tandy’s Irish Pub on East Main Street, Smithtown on May 20. The incident occurred sometime between midnight and 2 a.m.

Mailbox mischief
Someone pulled a mailbox off its post and damaged it on 1st Avenue in Kings Park on May 23 at 1:30 a.m. There are no arrests.

Drug bust
A 19-year-old woman from Lake Grove and a 17-year-old man from Stony Brook were arrested on May 20 at about 6:40 p.m. in Stony Brook on drug-related charges. Police said the Lake Grove woman was charged with loitering and unlawful use of a controlled substance after being observed in a car on the corner of Shelbourne Lane and Sycamore Circle in Stony Brook with the man, purchasing prescription pills from him without a prescription. Police said the man, who is from Shelbourne Lane, was charged with three counts of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance with the intent to sell and fourth-degree criminal possession of marijuana.

Car theft
An unknown person scratched the driver side of a 2012 Kia at the beach on Christian Avenue, entered the car and stole cash from a pocketbook inside. The incident occurred between 11:30 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. on May 24.

Not so bright
A glass sunroof on a 2007 Hummer parked on Woodfield Road in Stony Brook was smashed with a large rock, sometime between 11 p.m. on May 22 and 3 p.m. on May 23.

iSad
Someone broke the driver side window of a 2014 Nissan Sentra parked on Nesconset Highway and stole an iPad mini sometime between 7 and 9:30 p.m. on May 21.

Vehicle damaged
An unknown person damaged a 2007 Subaru parked on Cinderella Lane in Setauket-East Setauket sometime between 10 a.m. on May 23 and 10 p.m. on May 25.

Phone jacked
An unknown male went into a female complainant’s pocketbook and took her white iPhone sometime at 2 p.m. on May 20 at Stop&Shop on Route 25A in East Setauket.

Tire trouble
Someone punctured the front passenger side tire of a 2009 Honda Civic parked in a lot on Main Street in Setauket-East Setauket on May 22.

Wallet woes
An unknown person removed a Stop&Shop shopper’s wallet containing cash and gift cards on Route 25A in Setauket-East Setauket sometime between 2:15 and 2:30 p.m. on May 20.

Department store dash
Someone entered Kohl’s on Nesconset Highway and fled with assorted items without paying for them at about 4:50 p.m. on May 21 in Setauket-East Setauket.

Caught with drugs
Police arrested a 26-year-old East Setauket man at about 11 p.m. on May 21 and charged him with second-degree criminal contempt and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. Police said the man was arrested on Ringneck Lane for violating an order of protection and was found in possession of heroin.

ID, please
A High Street homeowner in Port Jefferson reported that his employee identification card was stolen out of his 2006 Subaru in the afternoon on May 23.

Unlocked
An unknown person stole items from an unlocked 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee parked inside an open garage on Nadia Court in Port Jefferson. According to police, the person stole a GPS device, a purse, a phone charger and a debit card on May 20.
An unknown person stole men’s sunglasses from an unlocked Dodge Durango parked outside an East Broadway residence in Port Jefferson on May 20.

Double trouble
Two vehicles, a 2003 Ford and a 2014 BMW, were keyed and scratched on May 20 on Old Post Road in Port Jefferson.

First-class crime
A Shore Road resident in Mount Sinai reported on May 22 that their metal mailbox had been damaged.

Look through my window
A Helme Avenue resident in Miller Place reported that a window screen located in the back of their home had been damaged on May 21.

Not playing around
An unknown person pushed an air-conditioning unit into a home on Bayville Drive in Sound Beach in order to gain entrance on May 22 and stole one PlayStation and one Nintendo console.

Uprooted
A Robin Road homeowner in Rocky Point reported on May 24 that someone had removed pots and planters and tossed them throughout the backyard. The resident also noticed a rear gate at the home was open.

Stylish thief
Police arrested and charged an 18-year-old Miller Place woman with petit larceny on May 22 after she concealed various shirts and costume jewelry at the Rocky Point Kohl’s and went to leave without paying for the merchandise.

Taking sides
An unknown person threw rocks at an Oxhead Road home in Centereach and damaged the siding of the residence on May 24.

Getting smashed
A North Coleman Road man in Centereach reported that he found the rear window of his 2004 Chevy smashed by a stone when he got up and went to his car on May 25.

Sliced
An unknown person damaged a garden hose — possibly with a knife — at a Norwalk Lane residence in Selden on May 24.

Dollar dollar bills
Police arrested a 26-year-old Medford woman in Selden on May 23 for stealing assorted goods and personal care products from a Selden dollar store.

Shout!
A Middle Country Road gas station employee reported that a man came into the station’s convenience store and started shouting on May 20. The suspect then got into his car and rammed one of the gas station vacuums, causing damage.

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By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

May and June are the months of the year when we celebrate our mothers, our fathers and our graduates. It is a time of year to pause in the midst of all the chaos, despite a world filled with hate and discrimination.

So often I have filled this space with stories of those who have been suffering. These stories have challenged me to stay the course, helping others for over 30 years to reclaim their lives.

It is no secret that our county is being ravaged by the reckless use of heroin. What is equally frustrating is the growing denial among so many people about the seriousness of this epidemic health crisis.  Every quarter of our community is showing resistance, from the government, to our schools and most painfully from our parents.

How many young adults have to lose their lives before people stand up and shout “no more!” Are you willing to commit yourself to positive action, even if it makes you uncomfortable? Every parent’s nightmare is burying a child. To lose a child because of reckless decision making and behavior is even more tragic.

There are not enough easily accessible beds for those who seek long-term treatment. Opiate addiction cannot be effectively treated with a 28-day model. Too many insurance companies will only pay for residential care, if one fails at outpatient treatment. If one knows anything about opiate addiction, one knows that approach is a sure death sentence.

In our own community, too many have lost their lives while doing outpatient treatment. The few residential programs that are accessible in our community are short-term at best — and that is if insurance will cover it. Too many health care plans will only pay for five or six days — maybe 12 days max! How do you focus on recovery if you think you might be homeless in a few days  — starting all over again?

Despite these horror stories, people are getting better, entering recovery and learning how to live productive lives.

A story of hope:

TJ is a young man who was born into privilege. His parents are well educated and successful, materially speaking. While he was in high school, he developed a serious opiate addiction and was able to effectively hide it from his parents and his teachers. He was out of control and almost died on numerous occasions.

TJ is a smart, articulate, engaging and talented young man. When he was confronted about his addiction and his out-of-control behavior, he denied he had a problem and refused any kind of treatment. Only when he was in the bowels of dysfunction and depression did he finally agree to treatment. He agreed to long-term treatment and signed a contract for a year to 18 months.

It was not an easy road for TJ, but today he has four years of healthy recovery.He recently graduated from a local liberal arts college and will begin Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Service, pursing a master’s degree in clinical social work so he can help others not walk the road that almost cost him his life.

He will be the first to admit that he is where he is today because his parents stopped enabling and rescuing him. Instead, they empowered him to reclaim his life and walk the road less traveled and live!

Fr. Pizzarelli is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

In the final stretch of the season, the Huntington girls’ track and field team enjoyed another sensational performance, winning numerous medals at the Suffolk Freshman Sophomore Championships at Longwood.

Betty Huitt throws shot put for Huntington. Photo by Mike Connell
Betty Huitt throws shot put for Huntington. Photo by Mike Connell

“It was a solid showing on a windy and cool evening,” Huntington head coach Shawn Anderson said. “It puts us in a positive position for next week.”

The Blue Devils followed by competing in the Section XI divisional championships on Tuesday, May 26, and today, May 28, at Northport.

At the Suffolk Freshman Sophomore Championships, Huntington tenth-grader Betty Huitt won the sophomore shot put title with a toss of 32-10.25 feet on her last attempt.

Jeannie Clerveaux finished 13th with a throw of 27-01.25 feet.

Nicole Abbondandelo finished first among all freshmen in the 3,000-meter run, crossing the line in a new personal best time of 10 minutes, 44 seconds.

“She ran very even splits, even in a tough headwind and chilly temps,” Anderson said.

Anna Gulizio enjoyed a big day.

She finished second in a field of 35 in the sophomore 400 dash in a time of 1:01.26. The teenager was also second out of 24 competitors in the sophomore triple jump, leaping 33 feet 6 inches on her final attempt.

Gulizio placed 10th out of 30 competitors in the sophomore long jump, cracking the 16-foot barrier by soaring 16-00.50. It marked a new personal best distance.

The top three steeplers in the county squared off this year, including Huntington’s Suzie Petryk, Ward Melville’s Molly Drearie and Miller Place’s Laura Nolan.

Anna Gulizio takes a big leap for Huntington track. Photo by Mike Connell
Anna Gulizio takes a big leap for Huntington track. Photo by Mike Connell

“It was a windy day and tight race and the three of them ran away from the competition,” Anderson said.
In the end, Petryk ran her own race and held off her opponents, dictating the pace from the starting gun and winning wire to wire in 7:02.21.

“It’s another confidence booster heading into next week’s divisional meet and state qualifier,” Anderson said.

In other action for the Blue Devils:

Alexis Pastorelli (5:12.40), Louise Koepele (5.27.81) and Niamh Condon (5:37) all hung tough in the windy conditions in the 1,500-meter. Pastorelli’s time placed her ninth overall out of 33 runners in the sophomore race.

With the wind at their back, Christina Reinersten (14.38 seconds) and Lianna Dechairo (14.70 seconds) both enjoyed fast races in the 100 dash, and Christina Reinersten (30.50 seconds), Gabriella DeLuca (30.92 seconds) and Lianna Dechairo (31.20 seconds) turned in strong performances to conclude their seasons on a high note in the 200 dash.

Betty Huitt (88 feet 8 inches) placed sixth overall, just two feet off her best in discus, and Jeannie Clerveaux threw 78 feet 5 inches.

The team of Pastorelli, Koepele, Condon and Abbondandelo ran strong, finishing in 10:26.40, which was good enough for third place in the 4-by-800 relay.

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Stock photo

Thanks to legislation introduced by Suffolk County Legislator Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma), the county could be the next municipality in the nation to create safe spots — public locations where residents can exchange goods and conduct private sales.

Similar safe havens have been created throughout the United States — in Georgia, Missouri and Connecticut, for example — in response to crimes committed against people using websites like Craigslist to buy and sell goods. While the majority of Craigslist transactions occur without incident, there is always the chance of someone taking advantage of the situation, whether it be robbing the other person in the transaction or physically harming them in some way.

We applaud Muratore, a former Suffolk County police officer, for looking into this simple solution to deter unscrupulous individuals from harming others.

But if the county does move forward with this idea, we hope the locations will be in active places; be monitored by surveillance; be heavily signed, notifying visitors that it is a safe spot and is being monitored; and provide residents with safety tips for engaging in such exchanges in an effort to be even more proactive than reactive.

As Muratore said, “Technology is changing the way people are doing business,” and we have to change with it.

Kiernan Urso as Oliver, Jennifer Collester Tully as Nancy and Steve McCoy as Bill Sikes in a scene from ‘Oliver!’ Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

By Stacy Santini

Bravo! Bravo! The vociferous roar emanating from the admiring standing spectators after the closing act at Theatre Three last Saturday evening was definitely symbolic of the caliber of Jeffrey Sanzel’s “Oliver!” Sanzel recreates Broadway on our local stage as only he can do with this meritorious musical, once again proving that his ability to recreate classical gems in such an appealing manner is unsurpassed. Adults and children alike gleefully piled into the bustling near sold out theater anticipating how this Dickens masterpiece would unfold; and unfold it did, brilliantly.

Of the numerous adaptations of Charles Dickens’ second novel, “Oliver Twist,” Lionel Bart’s accommodation emphasizes the author’s thematic visions exquisitely, and it is no surprise that Andrew Lloyd Weber credits Bart as the father of the British musical. It premiered at the Wimbledon Theatre on June 30, 1960, and much like the original director/choreographer team of Peter Coe and Malcolm Clare, Theatre Three’s Jeffrey Sanzel and Marquez have created a production of potential award winning magnitude.

“Oliver!” is the tale of a young orphan boy who unbeknownst to him was born into a wealthy lineage. Seemingly destined to a life toiling away in 1800 workhouses, his fate takes a turn when he meets a group of thieving pickpockets masterminded by a man named Fagin. The triumph of good over evil eventually prevails, but the ending is secondary to the journey Oliver must take to reach that destination.

Kiernan Urso as Oliver at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson. Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.
Kiernan Urso as Oliver at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson. Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

With a cast of 57, many still in middle school, this could not have been an easy feat, but the synchronization, timing and actual performances are so exceptional that the enormity of the show takes a back seat to the world-class depiction as it releases itself to the audience.

The moment Kiernan Urso takes the stage as Oliver viewers are held captive. His sweet, melodic British accent and sympathy-evoking countenance are merely precursors for his performance of the infamous song, “Where Is Love?” It is all over after that as the audience is utterly and completely engrossed in the story line.

As his savior, Mr. Brownlow, played by Ron Rebaldo states, “There is something in that boy’s face,” and yes there is. Kiernan, a sixth-grader at Longwood Middle School, undoubtedly will be adding numerous roles to his repertoire in years to come.

Each actor in this musical has certainly earned his or her placement among this ensemble, but there are a few that not only stand out but soulfully elevate their characters to lofty heights and usher this “Oliver!” into a new dimension.

Dickens’ examination of external influences corrupting what is innately pure could not be depicted without the character of Fagin, portrayed by Sanzel. Not only does he direct “Oliver!” but he also takes the stage as this charismatic charlatan. We are all used to seeing him as Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol,” which he does so phenomenally that one would think it would be an adjustment to see him in another Dickens’ role, but our fears are very quickly laid to rest when he comes out of the gate with a rendition of “Pick a Pocket or Two” and commands the stage with all the veteran finesse to which viewers have grown accustomed. Sanzel has a unique ability to take unsavory characters and make us not only like them but want to know them. The abhorrent behavior Fagin displays is transcended by Sanzel, and as he rouses with his adolescent gang of thieves we are periodically thrown into hysterics with one liners such as “Go to bed or I will sing again.”

Returning to Theatre Three’s stage is the stunning raven-haired Jennifer Collester Tully as Nancy. Her vocal range is superior and she is resplendent in this role. Struggling with her relationship with the repugnant character Bill Sikes, played by Steve McCoy, she brings new meaning to the cliché of a woman standing by her man. Her performance is so heartfelt that as she sings the forlorn, “As Long As He Needs Me,” we are beguiled to the point of tears. Partnering her with the baron of maleficent characters, Steve McCoy, was smart and their chemistry is palpable. As expected, McCoy portrays Sikes as intensely as he does Jacob Marley in “A Christmas Carol” and Jean Valjean in “Les Misérables.”

More than noteworthy are performances by Linda May as Old Sally and Hans Hendrickson as The Artful Dodger. May’s shrill deliverance of her abusive rants are piercing and repugnant, as they should be, and Hendrickson’s Dodger is amusingly coy.

New to the Theatre Three family is Doug Vandewinckel as Beadle Bumble. As one of the initial characters introduced, his presence on stage cannot be overlooked. The banter between him and Widow Corney, played by Phyllis March, is delightful, and the whimsical, “I Shall Scream” is a welcome debut to the comedic elements of the story.

The set sustaining all the mayhem and debauchery is stark and fitting. The costumes and set design induce a feeling of poverty and desperation. Although the simplicity is not indicative of lack of detail, the production staff — including Ellen Michelmore, James Kimmel, Steven Uihlein, Peter Casdia, Alexander Steiner, Tyler D’Accordo, Kristen Lees, Amanda Meyer, Bonnie Vidal, Brad Wilkens, Tim Moran, Michael Quattrone and Jacob Ziskin — have created a daunting synergistic panorama.

The movement upon stage is perfection. Each nuance as choreographed by Marquez seems obligated to sustain the music and acting laid out before the audience. The accompanying orchestra led by Jackson Kohl realizes the purity of Sanzel and Marquez’s vision fully as well and the talent of musicians Mike Chiusano, Marni Harris, James Carroll, Don Larsen and Kohl should not be overlooked.

“Oliver!” is by far one of the finest productions to grace Long Island stages and exactly as it ought to be. It more than entertains — it delivers countless levels of enjoyment and raises the bar for future artistic aspirations universally. Kudos Theatre Three, Kudos.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present “Oliver!” through June 27 on the Mainstage. Tickets range from $15 to $30. For more information, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

From left, Joe Deriso, Dottie Sottichio and Mary Anne Deriso pose at the farm stand. Photo by Irene Ruddock

By Irene Ruddock

For the past 17 years, Ann Marie’s Farm Stand, owned by Mary Anne Deriso and her husband Joe, has been a fixture on North Country Road in Setauket, providing the community with fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers and friendly conversation.

Season after season, there was always a reason to stop by, whether it was for Ann Marie’s strawberry-rhubarb and blueberry pies, herbs and tomato plants for the garden, a hanging plant for the deck, pumpkins, special goat cheese from an “out east farm,” Christmas trees or just to visit with the goats, bunnies, chickens and Timothy the miniature horse. And who can forget the fresh corn? A summer without fresh-picked corn from Ann Marie’s would be impossible!

It has been the meeting place that Americans so love to find, a place to congregate, almost like a town square. I think we all yearn for that community touch and we surely found it at Ann Marie’s. Artist Al Candia recently commented, “Ann Marie’s is such a wonderful resource to have in the community; there’s a charm to that country farm stand as it is part of the roots of the area. The history of Long Island was always devoted to farming so we all want to hold on to that for as long as possible.”

“It is so inviting and people-friendly that it is like something from a movie about Americana. Ann Marie’s retains the sense of a small-town feel in the finest tradition,” said Assemblyman Steve Engelbright (D-Setauket)in a Dec. 29, 2011, article in the Village Times Herald.

The end of an era is drawing near as the farm stand will close on June 15 to relocate to Port Jefferson Station. The landlord has decided to sell the property.

Stopping in for a visit, I met up with Mary Anne’s daughter Jackie (the farm is named after her third child Ann Marie). “What did you like about living here?” I asked. Jackie replied, “It was very comforting having my parents so close by since our home is right on the property. Living here, you really got to know a lot of people and you always felt like you were a part of the community. When I became a nurse, I realized how many families I knew and were already a part of my life. It made treating them so special to me.”

When I entered the building, I spoke with Dottie Sottichio, who came to Ann Marie’s to work “from the old place [on Old Town Road],” and never left because “I met the two greatest people I ever knew — Mary Anne and Joe Deriso, and now they are part of my family.” Mary Anne says, “Dottie has to stay now because we can’t live without her!” I then sat down with Mary Anne to ask her a few questions about her 17 years in Setauket.

What is the best part of the having the farm stand?
The people! Over the years, the customers have become your friends and they are a part of your everyday life. We developed true friendships — we laughed together, we cried together. We watched all the kids grow up and witnessed the good and the sad parts of their lives. We lived their lives as much as we lived ours. Children who came with their parents now come back to visit and that is always special. They tell us their stories about what they remember about being here. Some are funny, some I can’t tell! But there is such a warmth in my heart for all of them.

What are your fondest memories of the farm stand?
Oh, when the children are playing with the animals and watching my own children grow up here.

What was the biggest surprise?
The biggest surprise was when (in 2011) my aunt called to tell me to look in the [Village Times Herald] paper because there’s a story about me. I asked, “Is it good or bad?” It was then that I learned that I had won “Woman of the Year in Business.” One of my customers even sent flowers. Another surprise is that recently one of our customers insisted on holding the mortgage for us so that we could purchase a little house!

What is it like working with your husband every day?
Working with your husband is “interesting!” Every woman out there knows what I mean! No, honestly, I couldn’t do it without him. We’re a team. He does all the buying and farming and I work behind the desk. It’s been a wonderful journey for us!

What about the other people who worked here?
Well , Tom came to work with us about 20 years ago [at the previous location on Old Town Road] and never left. He’s part of our family now and we visit him often in the Mills Pond Nursing Home in St. James. Claude Riley and everyone who works here usually stay or come back to visit.

What is in your future?
We feel very blessed to have found a new farm stand location at 680 Old Town Road, Port Jefferson Station, right by Jayne Blvd. [The number will be 631-371-6197. The hours will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week.] We will miss our old home and this farm stand, and we really appreciate not only all our customers but the landlord who we had a good working relationship with over the years. They were always there to support us. We are also touched by the benefit art sale that the Setauket Artists are going to have on May 29 and May 30. I hope people come to look at the wonderful art. We are so excited about it. Thanks to everyone for all your years of loyal friendship! Hope to see you at our new farm stand!

Irene Ruddock is coordinator of the Setauket Artists.

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Long Island residents hold a rally to call for justice for crime victims in the Huntington area, most of them Hispanic. File photo by Rohma Abbas

By Rich Acritelli

Our nation has lately been rocked by protests that are springing up around the country in response to perceived unequal treatment, mostly at the hands of law enforcement. But these sorts of movements are nothing new — Americans of all colors and creeds have a history of protesting the government and bringing about positive change.

Since the first European explorers and settlers made their way to this continent, Native Americans have experienced some of the greatest hardships. While there are some positive stories in American history, like that of Sioux runner Billy Mills winning the gold medal in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics for the 10,000-meter race, such stories were rare. The reservation system was built on poverty and has historically had high rates of suicide, depression, alcoholism and drug abuse. During the 1970s, major tribal groups banded together to protest for enhanced rights from the government. From briefly occupying Alcatraz Island in San Francisco to taking over the Bureau of Indian Affairs building in Washington, D.C., it was their goal to work with the government to better the lives of Native Americans.

After Japan’s Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, the fearful U.S. government removed Japanese-Americans from their daily lives on the West Coast. Loyal people who paid taxes, were productive citizens and had their children learn about the Constitution were viewed as enemy combatants. More than 110,000 citizens were forced into internment camps from California to Arkansas. From 1942 to 1946, the Japanese were imprisoned and had all of their rights stripped from them. Ironically, some of the most valiant U.S. soldiers who had served in the bloody fighting in Italy’s mountainous terrain during World War II were Japanese-Americans. With their loved ones imprisoned at home, the soldiers were highly decorated and even wounded fighting against the Nazis.

But unlike other historic groups that fought back against injustice, the Japanese Americans did not mount any movement of criticism against their internment, and there was no public or political sympathy for them. It was some 40 years later when Congress finally listened to several weeks of testimony that described the horrors of internment. In 1988, the government formally apologized for the wrongdoing and compensated affected citizens with reparations.

Once World War II ended, black soldiers who defended their country arrived home to a government that was still unwilling to fully grant equal rights to them. Some African Americans who fought with distinction in the European and Pacific theaters were lynched in their uniforms when they returned home, a report that sickened President Harry S. Truman. In 1948, he desegregated the armed forces. But racism was not over — since the end of the Civil War, black citizens had to contend with unfair treatment, such as  poll taxes to keep them from voting and the resentment and violence of the Ku Klux Klan. Black Americans responded fully during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s, including with the civil disobedience under Martin Luther King Jr.

As a young man, Cesar Chavez realized that massive inequalities plagued the Latino pickers in the California fields. After spending two years in the military, Chavez began his life’s mission to help the migrant workers, who had little voice in their society. His earliest efforts of aiding others were to ensure that Hispanic people had support dealing with police discrimination, violence, tax problems and immigration issues. Chavez’s social work was also geared toward gaining respect from the California government to help the thousands of workers who strenuously labored in the fields. He extensively traveled in that state to gauge the needs of the workers. During the 1960s, his labor movement reached the impoverished vegetable and fruit pickers. Through nonviolent protests, Chavez and his followers asked Americans not to buy the products that they were harvesting in order to put pressure on the large businesses and farms to be fairer with their wages and labor practices. At various points during the movement, Chavez fasted several times to bring attention to the economic, social and political needs of the workers and citizens he represented. By the 1970s, the pickers’ movement achieved success, with many of the farmhands gaining union contracts. The United Farm Workers Union earned the right to collectively bargain.

It is an American right to protest unfair treatment at the hands of the local, state and federal government. While many inequalities still exist in our society, past movements have demonstrated that peaceful protests for change do work. Change has and always will come to this nation, but it cannot be positive if won through violence against people or property.

Rich Acritelli is a social studies teacher at Rocky Point High School and an adjunct professor of American history at Suffolk County Community College. He was a staff sergeant in the New York Air National Guard 106th Rescue Wing in Westhampton Beach.

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