Authors Posts by TBR Staff

TBR Staff

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

by -
0 404
A makeshift memorial is erected at the scene of the fatal Cutchogue crash. Photo by Phil Corso

Tragedy hit close to home over the weekend — countless lives were shattered when an alleged drunk driver slammed into a limousine carrying a group of eight young women, killing four who hailed from our own North Shore communities.

Saturday’s Cutchogue crash captivated communities near and far. Those who knew the women, and even those who didn’t, mourned, as the crash sent shock waves across the Island.

Brittney Schulman, Lauren Baruch, Stephanie Belli and Amy Grabina were friends, daughters, girlfriends, sisters and young women just starting their adult lives. Tragic doesn’t even begin to explain what happened on that Cutchogue road.

But the women weren’t alone, and the surviving four women, who remain hospitalized as of Monday, need our support.

At a press conference on Monday, Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota told a crowd of reporters, many of whom came from affiliate stations and out-of-town papers, to be reasonable, in light of a recent incident in which a member of the press entered the hospital in an attempt to see one of the survivors.

“We have four who survived, who certainly have suffered horrible, horrible trauma,” Spota said. “Not only bodily trauma, but certainly mentally. And we have people — reporters — who are trying to sneak in to talk to these young women. I just think that we really should — let’s all think about it and let’s be reasonable here.”

We find these actions disrespectful to the victims and survivors and their families and do not stand behind them. As journalists, we understand the responsibility news organizations have to inform the public about events such as this, but sneaking into a hospital room is excessive, and it is not right to serve a readership at a victim’s expense.

As a community newspaper, we are protective of the neighborhoods we cover because we live here. When we get word of car crashes, many of us have to wonder if a loved one was involved. What happened on Saturday could have happened to any one of us.

To the women recovering, the families affected and the communities trying to come to terms with these losses, we will still be here to listen if and whenever you are ready to speak. Our thoughts are with you.

Participants paddle across Northport Bay in a previous Distant Memories Swim. File photo by Rohma Abbas

Alzheimer’s Disease Resource Center, Inc. announced that Bryan Proctor, a Huntington resident and a physical education teacher, will lead a team of swimmers in the 12th Annual Distant Memories Swim on Tuesday, July 28, to draw attention to the disease that impacts more than 60,000 families on Long Island.

In its lifetime, the swim has raised in excess of $100,000 for those with Alzheimer’s disease and their unpaid caregivers. Opening ceremonies are expected to begin at 9 a.m. Proctor and his teammates will take to the water at 9:15 a.m.

The swim will start at Asharoken Beach and move across Northport Bay to Knollwood Beach in Huntington — a distance just under three miles. The swim will also help raise funds for Alzheimer’s Disease Resource Center, Inc. The goal is to raise $20,000.

The issue is close to Proctor, as his grandfather and aunt died from the disease.

“Bryan is a champion for those with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Mary Ann Malack-Ragona, executive director and CEO of Alzheimer’s Disease Resource Center, Inc. “He is a role model for the youth of our country.”

Over 5 million people in this country are currently living with Alzheimer’s.

“It is my hope that substantial funds will be raised to assist Alzheimer’s Disease Resource Center,” Proctor said.

For more information about this event, visit For more information about ADRC, please contact Malack-Ragona  at (631) 820-8068 or visit

The Cole Bros. clowns have some fun with the audience. Photo from Cole Bros.

By Rachel Siford

The circus is coming to town or to Suffolk County that is. The Cole Bros. Circus TO THE MAX show will be making several stops in our area in the next few weeks. First stop will be next to the Center Moriches High School, 313 Frowein Road, on July 30 and 31 with shows at 5 and 8 p.m. The troupe will then move on to Farmingville’s Pennysaver Ampitheater at Bald Hill on Aug. 1 and 2 with performances at 2, 5 and 8 p.m. The final stop will be in Middle Island at 1251 Middle Country Road, on Aug. 8 and 9 with shows again at 2, 5 and 8 p.m. The Middle Island and Farmingville shows are hosted by Fire Marshal’s Benevolent Association of Brookhaven Inc. while the Center Moriches show is hosted by the South Bay Home Association.

German Fassio balances high above the ground. Photo from Cole Bros.
German Fassio balances high above the ground. Photo from Cole Bros.

The shows will feature a variety of acts including the Aguilar family on the high wire, the magic of Lana & Co. complete with grand-scale illusions, feats of equilibrium, aerial ballet with Cloud Swing and, of course, clowns. Led by Max the Clown, Cole’s Clown Alley will play a hilarious Game of Throwns.

Along with elephants, Nerger’s Tigers will be showcasing Bengal and Siberian tigers, and Clever Canines will also be performing. ThunderDrome will entertain the crowd with motorcycle tricks, and the circus will finish off each show with a bang, literally, with the Human Cannonball shooting out of the World’s Largest Cannon at 5g velocity.

Before every show, there is a tent raising where Cole Bros. Circus sets up 40 tons of equipment and 2,000 seats for each location. Forklifts are needed to set up colorful vinyl that rise to the top of the five-story-high king poles to create the canopy. Patrons are welcome to come to the tent raising and also to view the exotic animals before the show and to see the performers practice.

Tickets are available at or by calling 1-888-332-5200. General admission is $21 for adults ($16 in advance), children (ages 2-12) tickets are also $16. Free tickets for children are available on the website. General admission may be upgraded to reserved seats.

by -
0 457
Photo from SBU

By Greg Monaco

Stony Brook University’s Seawolves may sport the color red, but our campus is getting “greener” every day.

The University is devoted to creating a more environmentally friendly campus by learning and implementing new sustainable practices, a mission sparked in 2007, when Stony Brook signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. Since then, they’ve made major strides by improving transportation, planting and energy-usage efforts.

These efforts put Stony Brook University on The Princeton Review’s Green Honor Roll, a recognition given to only 24 schools. The Princeton Review also ranked Stony Brook No. 4 in its “Top 50 Green Colleges of 2015,” making this the sixth consecutive year The Princeton Review recognized the University.

In April 2013, the University unveiled its state-of-the-art SBU Wolf Ride Bike Share system to provide a zero-emission commuting option on campus. Originally consisting of four solar-powered stations and 48 bicycles, the program has grown to eight stations and 63 bikes, and students have enjoyed more than 14,000 rides.

To encourage the use of alternatively fueled vehicles, the University installed 10 electric vehicle charging stations on campus. To date, more than 700 cars have been charged with a total output of 2.596 MW.

The National Arbor Day Foundation named Stony Brook University a Tree Campus USA recipient in 2013 and 2014, recognizing our dedication to campus forestry management and environmental stewardship. The University boasts a robust planting program, designed to beautify the campus and engage students, faculty and staff in learning sustainable planting techniques during the Office of Sustainability’s hands-on Growing Red Days.

The University is committed to reducing its energy usage by undergoing a large, interior-lighting retrofit, encompassing more than 35 academic buildings. The project as a whole will replace more than 55,000 interior light fixtures with new energy-efficient lamps.

With the help of students, faculty and staff, Stony Brook University will continue to develop a more eco-friendly environment, serving an ongoing goal of securing a sustainable future for the university campus, the community and the world.

Greg Monaco is the Sustainability Coordinator at Stony Brook University.

A recently released quail sits on a log at Caleb Smith State Park Preserve in Smithtown. Photo by Talia Amorosano

By Talia Amorosano

A record number of bobwhite quails were released this year, and many of the students, teachers and parents who raised the birds helped welcome them to Caleb Smith State Park Preserve in Smithtown on Saturday.

For 12 years, Eric Powers, a biologist and wildlife educator, has been at the forefront of organizing the annual quail release at Caleb Smith and other parks in the area. He described this year’s event as the largest one yet, as a record number of schools raised the quail chicks and 1,400 quails were released.

“The idea of bringing back the quail is to bring balance back to our ecosystem,” Powers said at the rainy morning release.

Unlike nonnative guinea fowl, which “eat good wildlife” like salamanders and dragonflies, northern bobwhite quail are native to Long Island and play a vital role in controlling tick populations without harming other native species, according to Powers.

Children and parents watch quail being released. Photo by Talia Amorosano
Children and parents watch quail being released. Photo by Talia Amorosano

Those in attendance included volunteers, students, teachers and Long Island comedian Joey Kola, who said that he “saw this program and jumped on right away” after personally experiencing Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a tick-borne illness transmitted to humans through a tick bite.

Attendees initially gathered inside the park’s nature museum, where they learned about the quail, viewed preserved eggs and touched feather samples before listening to Powers’ talk.

“What we see is we get this immediate clearing of ticks [after the quail are released],” Powers said, but “cats are outright hammering these birds.”

Powers described indoor-outdoor cats as the biggest threat to quail upon their release, and suggested people make use of what he referred to as “catios” — enclosed patios where cats can get outside without hunting native animals.

However, because this is the first year the Caleb Smith quail cage has reached overcapacity — forcing a few hundred quail to be released earlier — Powers is optimistic the quail population may begin to take hold on its own if school and community participation continues to increase.

Kids and adults alike were certainly enthusiastic about the release, as they gathered in the pouring rain to watch 500 birds abandon their cage and taste freedom for the first time. The quail were tentative at first, but as soon as one group took flight others ran through the crowd and into the woods. The remaining quail were released later on in the day.

A few observers got a truly interactive experience when frantic quail landed on their umbrellas and even perched on their arms. And after the initial release, teachers and students took boxes of quail to various locations around the park and carried out their own private releases.

Only time will tell how many of the birds will survive in the wild, but with increased community awareness that quail have the potential to lower the population of disease-ridden ticks, and a better understanding of the dangers posed to quail by cats, it seems likely that the birds most recently released will have a better chance of survival than those released in the past.

Rachel Goldsmith is crowned Miss Teen New York last October. Photo by Richard Krauss

By Rita J. Egan

After being crowned Miss Teen New York International in October, Dix Hills resident Rachel Goldsmith is ready to represent her state and share the stage with teens from around the globe. The New York competition was the first time the 14-year-old entered a pageant, and she is thrilled about competing at the Miss Teen International Pageant in Jacksonville, Fla., on July 30 and August 1.

Rachel Goldsmith is crowned Miss Teen New York last October. Photo by Richard Krauss
Rachel Goldsmith is crowned Miss Teen New York last October. Photo by Richard Krauss

When she won the crown at the New York pageant, Rachel said everything was a blur to her. “It was nothing like I ever experienced before,” she said.

However, the recent graduate from West Hollow Middle School is no stranger to the pageant circuit. Growing up she, along with her father Steven and brothers Daniel and Jonathan, would watch her mother, Lidia Szczepanowski-Goldsmith, participate in pageants and win titles such as Mrs. New York America and Mrs. New York International.

Rachel said she remembers her mother looking so beautiful on stage and thinking to herself that she wanted to be in pageants, too. She also remembers how much fun the family would have traveling and attending the events.

“The whole thing was just a really positive family experience. It was positive for my mom; it was positive for the future. It was amazing overall,” Rachel said.

The pageant participant said she is looking forward to meeting contestants from all over the United States, as well as the world, at the Miss Teen International event in Florida. She is also eager to present her platform, which is to raise awareness when it comes to teen suicide.

Rachel said she went through a rough time in middle school at first. However, she quickly learned to reach out to her parents and others. Her experience led Goldsmith to research teen depression and create the website U Will B Ok, where teens can visit for information and to share their stories.

“Middle school is that one time where if you ask any parent or older teen, they’ll all say that, ‘Yeah, middle school is awful.’ And, it’s that time when kids don’t really know who they are — they’re still discovering themselves, and they are in groups and they’re trying to figure out how to treat people. There are a lot of cliques. They don’t know who they are as a person, so they need to click off of other people to feel like they belong somewhere, and sometimes around that time it’s really hard for the kids that aren’t in the cliques,” Rachel said.

Rachel Goldsmith, Miss Teen New York International, receives a proclamation earlier this year from the Town of Huntington Board of Trustees, from left, Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D); Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D); Supervisor Frank Petrone (D), Councilwoman Susan A. Berland (D) and Councilman Gene Cook (I). Photo from Town of Huntington
Rachel Goldsmith, Miss Teen New York International, receives a proclamation earlier this year from the Town of Huntington Board of Trustees, from left, Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D); Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D); Supervisor Frank Petrone (D), Councilwoman Susan A. Berland (D) and Councilman Gene Cook (I). Photo from Town of Huntington

Her mom understands the demands on teenagers nowadays, with their studies, testing and extracurricular activities. While Rachel does extremely well in school academically and is a high honor roll student, her mother said, like many young teens, she had a hard time fitting in at first.

“It was very difficult at that transition time, where everyone is trying to find themselves, because she didn’t fit in anywhere,” Szczepanowski-Goldsmith said.

Over the last few years, Rachel has become more comfortable in her own skin and said she has adapted a punk fashion sense. Her mother said when you meet her, her daughter is the epitome of what you wouldn’t expect from a beauty queen. However, while her everyday style may not say pageant winner, her volunteer work does.

In addition to her website, for several years Rachel has been the teen ambassador and a volunteer for the National Organization for Women’s Safety Awareness Inc., where she has participated in fashion shows and sold merchandise to raise money. The pageant winner also visits veterans and organizes parties with the organization Yes We Care Inc.

Rachel, who in her spare time enjoys archery, scuba diving and watching “The Walking Dead,” dreams of one day becoming a special effects makeup artist for movies, where prosthetics and makeup are needed to create monsters and zombies. She said if that doesn’t work out, she would love to do something in a creative field such as graphic design, illustrating, marketing or journalism.

Rachel Goldsmith is interviewed before being crowned Miss Teen New York last October. Photo by Richard Krauss
Rachel Goldsmith is interviewed before being crowned Miss Teen New York last October. Photo by Richard Krauss

For now, Rachel directs her energy toward preparing for the upcoming pageant, and she said she and her mother are having a lot of fun doing so. Szczepanowski-Goldsmith says her daughter’s decision to participate in this competition has provided them with more mother-daughter time. The two not only shop together to find the perfect outfits, but her mother also helps her prepare for the interview segment, sometimes even asking her questions in the car.

Rachel said she isn’t nervous about whether or not she’ll be Miss Teen International when she starts Half Hollow Hills High School East this September. She said she has learned from her mother to enjoy the overall experience of participating in pageants, including the preparation.

“You can’t just focus on the moment. You have to look at what it took to get to that point,” her mother said.

Szczepanowski-Goldsmith has also taught her daughter to go into a pageant with no expectations, and most important of all, to just be herself. “I just want her to have a positive experience. I know how wonderful and how much fun it was for me, and I think that it’s really all about the journey, and I think she’s going to have a great time,” Szczepanowski-Goldsmith said.

To visit Rachel’s website, go to To find out more about the Miss Teen International Pageant, visit their official site at

By Talia Amorosano

Despite 95-degree weather, car enthusiasts young and old gathered at Heritage Park in Mount Sinai on Saturday to get up close and personal with old and new local cars.

Cars displayed were in pristine condition and many had been refurbished or restored. Attendees were able to view parts of the cars that they wouldn’t normally see, as many owners propped the trunks and hoods open to enable full viewing. Because some cars were accompanied by informative signs with origin stories, or were staged with time-period-appropriate memorabilia, the car show was surely a learning experience even for already knowledgeable viewers.

By Rita J. Egan

Vocalist Amber Ferrari has been busy preparing a brand new show that she will debut at Port Jefferson’s Theatre Three on Aug. 1. Well known on Long Island for her brilliant “Joplin’s Pearl” production, dedicated to 60s icon Janis Joplin, this time around Ferrari has decided to take on a living legend — Madonna.

The show, titled “Material Girl Featuring Amber Ferrari,” will open with the singer performing songs from Adele, Heart, Alanis Morissette, Aretha Franklin and more, including a couple of her own songs. Ferrari said the second half will consist entirely of Madonna’s hits from the 80s, as well as “Vogue,” which hit the charts in 1990.

Amber Ferrari as Madonna. Photo by Rich Balter Photography
Amber Ferrari as Madonna. Photo by Rich Balter Photography

Unlike “Joplin’s Pearl,” where Ferrari wears a wig and is dressed head-to-toe like Joplin, in this show the singer will wear costumes inspired by Madonna’s famous wardrobe, but she won’t pretend to be her.

“It’s going to be more about enjoying Madonna’s fun music,” Ferrari said.

The singer said she and her husband Chris started discussing the idea of a Madonna show a few years ago and kept it in mind until they had some free time. The couple is excited about the fact that potentially they will have two productions to perform for their audiences. Ferrari is also thrilled to sing more pop songs, as opposed to the rock songs she is known for performing.

“I wanted to pick another icon in a different genre other than rock, because my first set is usually the majority rock ‘n roll,” the singer said.

Douglas Quattrock, director of development, and group sales and marketing coordinator at Theatre Three, has known Ferrari since they performed together in “Woodstockmania: Woodstock in Concert” at the theater a decade ago. He said the audience is in for a fun night, and he knows the singer’s unique and versatile voice can handle any artist’s songs.

“It’s going to be something new, but with the same energy. She throws 120 percent into everything she does. She’s just amazing,” Quattrock said.

Ferrari said she grew up listening to Madonna and lists “Material Girl,” “Into the Groove,” “Holiday,” “Dress You Up,” “La Isla Bonita,” “Like a Virgin,” and “Express Yourself” among her favorites. She said she always thought they were dynamite songs, and she’s including all of them in the Aug. 1 production.

The singer has been busy rehearsing the last few weeks with her fellow band members, which include her husband Chris on guitar, Eddie “Yaz” Yeznach on bass and Jim Carroll on drums. At the Aug. 1 show, Ferrari and band will also be joined by Frank Centrone on keyboard, Billy Aberle on background vocals, and the singer’s father, Bob Hansen, on percussions.

In addition to rehearsals, Ferrari has been working on the costumes for the show, including an 80s-style wedding dress and outfits inspired by Madonna’s “Material Girl” gown and “Lucky Star” outfit. She invites the audience members to join in on the ‘80s fun by asking them to wear their favorite outfit from the decade.

“I think it’s going to be a blast, and I think everyone is going to be surprised. It will take them back to the ‘80s,” Ferrari said.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson, will present “Material Girl Featuring Amber Ferrari” on Aug. 1 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $35 and may be purchased by calling 631-928-9100 or by visiting

by -
0 446

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Every time a young person dies because of a heroin overdose, I take pause and I ask myself, “What is it going to take to end this horrific epidemic? When are people going to take their heads out of the sand? When will people realize that their voices need to be raised to challenge a government that is broken and misguided and a health care system that is more fixated on finance than on treatment?”

In recent months, every media outlet has done an exposé on the heroin epidemic on Long Island. Each piece has underscored that the epidemic is not getting better — but rather, is getting worse.

The working class person and the poor have few to no options when it comes to residential treatment for addictions; the two treatment options that are free have waiting lists in the double-digit numbers.

The classic insurance company line: “fail at outpatient treatment first and then we’ll pay for a 30-day inpatient treatment program.” Parents who have insurance for outpatient treatment or can afford to pay out-of-pocket are doing this.

A record numbers of heroin and opiate addicts are failing — they are dying! These are senseless deaths that need not happen.

It is unconscionable that insurance companies are allowed to get away with murder!

Parents need to be more vigilant for their children who are trapped in the dysfunction and disorder of addiction and other destructive behaviors. Enabling them is counterproductive and basically harmful, if one is serious about recovery.

Every month, at least two or three families come to see me about their children who are out of control because of drug use. We talk about their son or daughter’s drug history and drug of choice. They ask me what they should do. They ask for recommendations.

When I outline what I think they need to consider, I see panic in their eyes and realize their lack of understanding as to the seriousness of heroin addiction. From my experience as an addictions specialist, most young people between the ages of 18 and 35 need long-term residential treatment, 12 to 18 months, if they have any hope of recovering.

What amazes me is their initial response. I have worked with young people battling heroin addiction for more than 25 years; my training and experience tell me that the average heroin addict needs long-term care if they hope to reclaim their life. After I say that, a growing number of parents begin to make excuses, and minimize the seriousness of their son or daughter’s addiction.

Honestly, these parents are in denial. I further remind them that while their children are in treatment there are no cell phones, no computers and no access to social media. They must be focused on recovery and that is hard work.

Life on a good day is hard work; recovery is even harder when trying to reclaim one’s life. It is a demanding process. It is one day at a time and some days it’s one minute at a time. However, I know change and transformation are possible. I see it firsthand every day, as I witness broken and wounded young men embrace the challenge and the hard work of reclaiming their lives.

As a community, we need to work harder at educating people about addiction and its many faces, and create a stronger community of support, compassion and concern. I am encouraged and inspired every day by our community. It gives me hope that this epidemic one day will end!

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

Get healthier before the season ends

By Lisa Steuer

Summer is in full swing. Ideally, you would have started working toward your summer body a few weeks or even months ago. But if you still have some progress to make, here are some last minute steps to get in better shape before summer ends.

Increase water intake. Leave a full 24 to 32-oz water bottle by your bed every night, and when you wake up in the morning, immediately drink that as you get ready. During the night your body hasn’t taken in much liquid, so it’s thirsty in the morning. Drinking water immediately in the morning gets your systems running and can aid in fat loss. You’ll also find that it’s very energizing. In addition, increase your water intake throughout the day, aiming for a gallon. Stay away from soda and other sugar-laden beverages.

Drinking water immediately in the morning gets your systems running and can aid in fat loss.

Eat a healthy breakfast. This can set you up for eating healthy the rest of the day. Try Greek yogurt with fruit, an omelet with veggies, or throw some fruit, natural peanut butter and almond milk in the blender for a delicious smoothie you can take on the go.

Prepare your lunches for the week every Sunday. Being prepared is one of the most important keys to success when it comes to health and weight loss. An example of a meal you can easily make in bulk: 4 oz. of lean ground turkey or chicken, one-fourth cup of quinoa, and one cup of veggies like broccoli. Bake the broccoli in the oven while making the quinoa and meat on the stove, and before you know it you’ve got a week’s worth of healthy lunches.

Replace your morning coffee with green tea with lemon at least a few times a week. While black coffee is healthy, the cream and sugar that often accompanies coffee is full of calories. Green tea has zero calories, contains antioxidants and has been shown to aid in fat loss.

Order smart at restaurants. It’s not as difficult as one may think, especially because many restaurants now have healthier menu sections. As a basic rule, look for words on the menu like grilled, baked or broiled and stay away from anything fried or breaded.  If possible, view the menu online before you go so that you’re prepared.

Increase cardio activity. Try to do something at least five days a week. Schedule a run every morning or a walk every evening. Go for a bike ride or swim laps. Sign up for a new and different fitness class each week. Just get out and get moving!

Have fun experimenting with new recipes. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring. Experimenting with new recipes can help keep you motivated. Try out healthy swaps— for instance, more often than not, you won’t even notice the difference when you swap out sour cream for Greek yogurt. Check out for some great ideas.

Green tea has zero calories, contains antioxidants and has been shown to aid in fat loss.

Be active during downtime. While at home watching TV, do some crunches, planks, sit-ups, jumping jacks, etc. Do some squats while you’re heating something up in the microwave. Get creative!

Cut down on sugar, alcohol and sodium. It’s OK to have a treat once a week or so, but you may find that when you cut out sugar and alcohol, you’ll feel much better anyway. When a sweet craving strikes, try a small piece of dark chocolate or a chocolate protein shake. And while we do need some sodium in our diet, too much will lead to bloating.

Track your food intake with a food log or app like My Fitness Pal. You may be surprised at how much you’re actually consuming without realizing it.

Sign up for a 5K that occurs in the fall. It will keep you on track this summer and help motivate you to stay active. Even if you’ve never done a 5K before, it’s a great way to challenge yourself. You’ll feel amazing when you cross that finish line after all your hard work!

Lisa Steuer is the managing editor of FitnessRx for Women and FitnessRx for Men magazines. For more fitness tips, training videos, healthy recipes and print-and-go workouts that you can take with you to the gym, visit and