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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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Middle Country's Denzel Williams sprints to the finish line during a meet earlier this season. File photo by Bill Landon

By Clayton Collier

Middle Country track standout Denzel Williams had an admirable performance at the divisional meets at Comsewogue this past weekend, taking second and third in the 200- and 100-meter events, respectively.
Most students would be thrilled to have finished with such marks, but Williams considered it a bad day at the office.

“I’m not really satisfied,” he said. “I definitely think I could have gotten first. It was just an off day and hopefully, come state qualifiers, I think I can and I should place first in my events. Definitely in the 200.”

The All-League junior will head to state qualifiers at Port Jefferson High School this upcoming weekend, looking to make a comeback from his divisional results. Williams finished the 100 in 10.9 seconds, and the 200 in 22.2.

Joining him at the qualifiers will be fellow junior Middle Country track and field athlete Chris Weiner, who will compete in the pole vault.

Middle Country track coach George Royce said he believes that Weiner, who did not place at the divisional meet, will bounce back at state qualifiers, as he said the wind gave him a little trouble. As for Williams, Royce says he hopes to see his star athlete build on his divisional times.

“I think he’s going to do even better this weekend, once we fine tune a couple things,” Royce said. “The sprint races all depend on how they feel that day.”

Denzel Williams competes in the long jump for Middle Country. File photo by Bill Landon
Denzel Williams competes in the long jump for Middle Country. File photo by Bill Landon

For Williams, a key to success is having a short memory, something that, as a three-sport athlete, he has had ample opportunity to develop.

In the fall Williams is a running back and safety on the football team, in the winter he’s a combo guard for basketball, and in the spring he sprints.

Williams said track is particularly beneficial, as it helps him stay fit year-round.

“It keeps me in shape for all my sports,” he said. “It only helps you get better. It won’t hurt you. You get faster; stronger.”

Among all three of his coaches — Royce, head football coach Joseph Piccinnini and head basketball coach Anthony Agostino — one theme was consistent in describing Williams: a hard worker.

“He’s probably the best all-around athlete I’ve ever coached in terms of speed and jumping ability,” Agostino said. “He’s a tremendous leader. He works hard and he’s admired by his peers and faculty. He’s the real deal.”

Williams said the most difficult part about being a three-sport athlete is balancing school work.

“It’s difficult, but you’ve got to maintain,” he said. “It’s a lot of late-night studying, but that’s the price you pay. It’s worth it in the end.”

Though Royce said there have been some occasional scheduling conflicts, he feels it is important for young athletes to play multiple sports.

“Nowadays a lot of coaches think that kids should be playing their sport all year round, but I disagree,” he said. “I think most good athletes can do three sports. It’s beneficial for them, too.”

Although early, Williams said he is leaning toward football in college, but said track is a possibility as well. He has been looked at by a number of local programs, including the University of Massachusetts, Lowell; Stony Brook University and Fordham University.

Piccinnini said one of Williams’ most valuable tools is his speed, and it doesn’t just help him in track, but also on the gridiron.

“He’s got that closing speed and that breakaway speed needed,” he said. “That’s a great thing to have, and he has it.”

Williams will see what happens in the remaining year. In the meantime, he has his hands full finishing up track season before getting ready for football. Royce is confident that Williams will be successful in whatever he chooses.

“He’s determined,” Royce said. “He’s gifted with tremendous speed and jumping abilities. The sky’s the limit with how far he’s going to go.”

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Austin Sperl, left, runs in the 4x400-meter relay race for Comsewogue. Photo by Harry Posnanski

By Clayton Collier

The Comsewogue boys’ track and field program added to an already banner year this past weekend, breaking a pair of school records as six athletes placed at divisionals as the host team.

Having already broken the 100-, 200-, 400- and 1×400-meter relay records this season, the Warriors tacked on to their historic season, taking the 800 and 4×400 relays school records Friday.

Head coach Brad Posnanski, currently in his 19th season at the helm of the program, said this year’s squad has been one of the best teams he has coached at Comsewogue.

Arman Hezarkhani leaps over the hurdle for Comsewogue. Photo from Arman Hezarkhani
Arman Hezarkhani leaps over the hurdle for Comsewogue. Photo from Arman Hezarkhani

“This was probably the best season we’ve had in 12 years,” said Posnanski, whose team will head to state qualifiers at Port Jefferson this coming weekend.

Seniors Austin Sperl and Conner Holroyd, as well as juniors Aidan Reindl and Ivan Almanzar, clocked in at a school record 3 minutes, 23.58 seconds, passing the previous mark by just under a second and taking third in the divisional race.

In the 800, Sperl’s record time of 1:55.73 eclipsed the previous school mark by one-hundredth of a second, taking second place in the divisional meet. In addition to the 4×400 record that the All-State runner anchored, Sperl also holds the school record in the 400 and was part of the record-breaking 4×100 team.

Sperl said the 800 record meant a great deal to him because he has been running the event since eighth grade.

“I was really excited because I didn’t think I got it,” he said. “Then, when I made it to the line, my coach told me. It was sweet. That was probably my favorite school record that I got.”

With a senior core consisting of Sperl, Holroyd, shot-putter Jason Hank, 4×100 team member and hurdler Arman Hezarkhani, and 800-runner Nick Lepore, it was a bittersweet final home meet.

“It was very emotional,” said Hezarkhani, who was sick that day and almost didn’t participate in the meet. “I remember when I was on the blocks for the 400 hurdles; that just kept going through my head: ‘This is the last race, this is the last race.’ It was an awesome way to end my high school career. Not end — almost end it.”

Austin Sperl sprints to the finish line in a relay race at the boys’ divisional meet at Comsewogue. Photo by Harry Posnanski
Austin Sperl sprints to the finish line in a relay race at the boys’ divisional meet at Comsewogue. Photo by Harry Posnanski

Hezarkhani placed fourth in the 400 hurdles. Also placing were Reindl, who took fifth in the triple jump, and junior Gavin Holroyd, who placed seventh in discus.

Hezarkhani and Sperl will be the two seniors continuing their track careers into college. Sperl, who Posnanski described as “one of the top runners” he’s coached, is headed to the University at Albany this fall. Hezarkhani will attend Carnegie Mellon University, a place that he feels will fulfill his various needs.

“I’ve always liked to balance academics and athletics,” he said. “I think I will be able to maintain my excellence in both there.”

Sperl’s mother, Donna, credits the coaching staff for the team’s success, saying the mix between Posnanski and assistant coach Mike Cohen is a winning formula.

“Coach Cohen is very personable, very outgoing and jokes around with them a lot, so it’s a good balance,” she said. “[Posnanski] is very strict and he demands a lot out of them physically, but he’s very quick to text them or call them to tell them ‘good job.’”

Looking ahead toward next year, Comsewogue will return a junior who has already made waves. Almanzar holds the school record in the 100 and 200, with times of 10.9 and 22.2, respectively, and was a member of the record-breaking 4×100 squad. Also among the junior returners are Reindl, Gavin Holroyd and Alex Velasquez; the latter  will return after sitting out the majority of this past season with an injury.

Hezarkhani said that although this season is not finished yet, he is confident in next year’s team’s abilities.

“I think the team is going to be strong,” he said. “We have a lot of talent, a lot of hard workers, and that is just what it comes down to, really.”

Stuart Zagnit as Max Bialystock in a scene from ‘The Producers,’ Photo by Michael DeCristofaro

By Charles J. Morgan     

The musical “The Producers” opened at the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport last week and did not disappoint. Adapted by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan from Brooks’ 1968 film of the same name, it tells the story of a down-on-his-luck Broadway producer, Max Bialystock.

Once nicknamed the “King of Broadway,” Bialystock has recently produced a series of turkeys (“…the critics left at intermission”); so he must produce a hit or go broke. His easily swayed, near psychotic auditor Leopold Bloom shows him how to make millions by producing a flop! Both rummage through a pile of manuscripts until they find one entitled “Springtime for Hitler,” extolling the virtues of the Nazi party. Putting this one on had to be a failure! Off they go in search of the author and to find an “angel.”

Stuart Zagnit and Joel Newsome played the hilarious plotters as Max and Leo, respectively. They were so contrasted as the Machiavellian hard-as-nails fixer to the trembling, quivering weaker partner who still carries a piece of his infant security blanket. Both have lively tenor voices — Zagnit the mighty organ,  Newsome the exquisite violin.

Gina Milo, as Ulla the voluptuary, had all the right (and left) moves, topping this panoply of pleasure with a powerful soprano. Her “If You Got It, Flaunt It” number expressed it all.

The two plotters find their author in Franz Liebkind played by John Plumpis — a wacko Nazi in Luftwaffe steel helmet, imitation jackboots and a stick — he is all over the boards intoning a somewhat mangled German accent but coming on quite strong in Act II’s “Der Guten Tag Hop-Clop” and in Act II’s “Haben Sie  Gehört Das Deutsche Band?”

The gay community is well represented with Roger DeBris, handled smoothly by Ian Knauer, and Carmen Ghia, played languidly by Christopher Sloan. Knauer is well over the two-yard mark, leading one to believe that height was a requisite. Why? Because the height of the lissome female ensemble only added to their beauty, referring to Emily Blake Anderson, Molly Jean Blodgett, Mary Callahan and Laura Otremba. A marvelous performance, especially those kicks.

Choreography was by the ubiquitous and deeply talented Antoniette DiPietropolo with direction by Igor Goldin. DiPietropolo had a massive job on her hands. The cast was large and the ensemble equally so. Yet, as usual, she brought out a clear terpsichorean reality, including one done in walkers. Goldin was similarly charged with clear individualization and interpretation of characters. He succeeded handily.

At this juncture your scribe must reveal his impressions of the show’s music. James Olmstead leads a six-piece outfit featuring the incomparable Joe Boardman on trumpet, the trombones of Brent Chiarello and Frank Hall, Russ Brown on bass, Mark Katz on reeds and Josh Endlich on percussion driving it along.

Boardman has a tone redolent of Charlie Shavers with a whiff of Dizzy Gillespie. The sound of gunshots in Act II was actually rimshots by Endlich. Talk about accurate cuing. In fact, after final curtain this group did a little jamming. Your scribe was loath to leave his seat so much was he enjoying a trip down 52nd Street in the late forties.

This was a beautifully mounted production — something the Engeman is quite good at.

The John W. Engeman Theater will present “The Producers” through July 12. Tickets are $69. For more information, please call the box office at 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.

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An exterior view of the Stony Brook University Cancer Center. Photo from SBU

By L. Reuven Pasternak, MD

Thanks to major advances in cancer prevention, early detection and treatment, many patients are enjoying longer lives and maintaining their quality of life, as the number of cancer survivors grows.

Anyone living with a history of cancer — from the moment of diagnosis through the remainder of life — is a cancer survivor, according to the National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation. In the United States alone, there are more than 14 million cancer survivors. That’s cause for celebration, and for the past 10 years, that’s exactly what we’ve been doing at Stony Brook University Cancer Center at our annual National Cancer Survivors Day event.

Stony Brook’s 11th annual celebration will take place on Sunday, June 14, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Cancer Center, and will feature a talk about the Cancer Survivorship Movement by inspirational speaker Doug Ulman. A three-time cancer survivor and a globally recognized cancer advocate, Ulman, with his family, founded the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. The nonprofit organization is dedicated to supporting, educating and connecting young adults who are affected by cancer. Ulman is also known for his work at LIVESTRONG and now as president and CEO of Pelotonia.

All cancer survivors are invited, whether they were treated at Stony Brook or not. In addition to Ulman’s talk, attendees can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, musical entertainment and light refreshments. They can also participate in the very moving Parade of Survivors. To register, visit www.cancer.stonybrookmedicine.edu/registration or call 631-444-4000.

Cancer Center staff members actively partake in the day’s events and look forward to reconnecting with patients. It’s gratifying for them to see the strides these survivors have made throughout the years to lead normal and productive lives after a cancer diagnosis.

National Cancer Survivors Day is just one of a number of ways Stony Brook reaches out to the community. The Cancer Center has created many initiatives and programs to help make life a little easier for patients with cancer, including support groups, cancer prevention screenings and the School Intervention and Re-Entry Program for pediatric patients.

As a leading provider of cancer services in Suffolk County, Stony Brook is constructing a state-of-the-art Medical and Research Translation (MART) building that will focus on cancer research and advanced imaging and serve as the home of our new Cancer Center. Located on the Stony Brook Medicine campus, this 245,000-square-foot facility will allow scientists and physicians to work side by side to research and discover new cancer treatments and technology.

The MART will double Stony Brook’s capacity for outpatient cancer services and enhance all cancer care for Long Island and beyond. And once it is completed in 2016, we’ll have one more reason to celebrate life after a cancer diagnosis.

L. Reuven Pasternak, MD, is the CEO of Stony Brook University Hospital and vice president for health systems, Stony Brook Medicine.

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Mount Sinai senior attack Dan Bullis looks for a cutter as he races around the circle in the Mustangs’ 7-6 Class B Long Island championship loss to Manhasset at Stony Brook University on May 30. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Mount Sinai senior midfielder Zack Rudolf maintains possession of the ball as he cuts inside past a Manhasset player in the Mustangs’ 7-6 Class B Long Island championship loss at Stony Brook University on May 30. Photo by Bill Landon
Mount Sinai senior midfielder Zack Rudolf maintains possession of the ball as he cuts inside past a Manhasset player in the Mustangs’ 7-6 Class B Long Island championship loss at Stony Brook University on May 30. Photo by Bill Landon

With 28 seconds left, Nassau County champion Manhasset scored the go-ahead goal to edge out the Suffolk County title-winning Mount Sinai boys’ lacrosse team, 7-6, in the Long Island Class B championship game Saturday night at Stony Brook University’s Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.

“It’s just frustrating,” Mount Sinai head coach Harold Drumm said. “When you play your heart out and you give it everything you have and you don’t come out as the winner, it’s hard to accept.”

As the two teams collided, Mount Sinai found itself lighting up the scoreboard first with three unanswered goals.

Senior midfielder Tony DiMonti drove home an unassisted shot, followed by senior midfielder Zack Rudolf, and then junior midfielder Griffin McGrath dished one up to senior attack Dan Keenan, who split the pipes for the 3-0 lead.

Manhasset broke the ice with a goal to end the first quarter, and added another to open the second, but Mount Sinai senior attack Dan Bullis got the call next, finding the back of the cage unassisted at the 7:32 mark to edge ahead, 4-2.

Demonstrating that any position on the field could score, Mount Sinai sophomore defenseman Lucas Capobianco-Hogan went the distance, as the longstick buried his shot, as his team took a 5-2 advantage into the half.

Mount Sinai senior midfielder Tony DiMonti shoots and scored in the Mustangs’ 7-6 Class B Long Island championship loss to Manhasset at Stony Brook University on May 30. Photo by Bill Landon
Mount Sinai senior midfielder Tony DiMonti shoots and scored in the Mustangs’ 7-6 Class B Long Island championship loss to Manhasset at Stony Brook University on May 30. Photo by Bill Landon

Both teams traded goals in the third quarter, with Manhasset scoring first, and Keenan following off a feed from Bullis, to help the Mustangs stay out in front, 6-3, to start the final stanza.

Manhasset owned the final 12 minutes of play, and scored three unanswered goals to tie the game at 6-6 with 4:02 left in regulation.

The game looked as though it was heading into overtime, but with 28 seconds left on the clock, a spin move in front of the cage led to the Indians scoring the go-ahead goal. Mount Sinai won the ensuing faceoff, but could not respond as the clock expired, ending the Mustangs’ season.

Drumm said he was proud of his team for playing hard and giving it all they had.

“I told the kids it’s been a great season for Mount Sinai, and this has been a special season for us,” Drumm said. “They’ve got to look at themselves in the mirror and decide what’s important in life.”

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By Bill Landon

Fresh off its Suffolk County title victory three days earlier, the Smithtown East boys’ lacrosse team had the upper hand on Syosset, leading 8-7 after two quarters of play at Lavalle Stadium at Stony Brook University Saturday afternoon, but failed to tally another goal thereafter, falling in the Long Island Championship Class A matchup, 14-8.

“We struggled with simple exchanges; we threw the ball away,” Smithtown East head coach Jason Lambert said. “If you make too many turnovers against a good team like this at this point of the season, it’s going to bite you. And we got bit today, big time.”

Smithtown East struck first when senior attack and co-captain Brian Willetts fed junior attack Dan Rooney for the score, and senior midfielder and co-captain John Daniggelis found the cage unassisted a minute later, to put the Bulls out front, 2-0.

Syosset responded, but Daniggelis answered right back unassisted, to help his team edge ahead 3-1.

In the final minute of the quarter, Syosset scored two quick goals to tie the game heading into the second stanza, but Smithtown East lit up the scoreboard with four unanswered goals just midway through the 12-minute span before the halftime break, all of which were unassisted.

Willetts scored twice, Daniggelis split the pipes for his hat trick goal, and sophomore midfielder Connor Desimone drove one home to break out to a 7-3 lead.

Syosset fired back with a quick score seconds after the fourth goal, and stretched the net again two minute later to close the gap.

Looking to clear the ball, Smithtown East senior goalkeeper Sean Turner looked to clear the ball, only to have it picked off. With no defender in the vicinity, he immediately paid the price for his error, as Syosset scored to trail by one, 7-6, at the five-minute mark.

With 3:49 left in the half, Desimone found the back of the net, but that concluded the scoring for Smithtown East in the game. Syosset scored once more before the break, and the Bulls took an 8-7 lead into the third.

The Bulls weren’t firing on all cylinders in the second half, and began to miscue, loosing control at the faceoff and struggling with passing — allowing seven unanswered goals along the away.

“We struggled with lack of possession and when we did get it we had far too many turnovers,” Lambert said of his team’s play in the second half. “They beat us to ground balls today, they had actual possessions and they killed us in transition. The two things that we said we couldn’t do today was turn the ball over and loose in transition, and we did both.”

The Bulls concluded their season with an 11-0 record in Division I in the regular season, and followed with four Class A playoff wins, the last, an 11-10 win over Ward Melville in double overtime for the Suffolk County title. This is the second year in a row that Smithtown East came up short in the Long Island Championship title game.

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By Susan Risoli

Acupuncture might be a health care system that works for you. It’s relaxing. It can give you more energy. Acupuncture treatments promote wellness and healing.

The World Health Organization has published a long list of conditions that acupuncture treats effectively. (“Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials.”) The list includes various types of pain, including headache and back pain,  depression, stress and side effects of chemotherapy.

Because Chinese medicine embraces several components, your acupuncturist will offer more than just acupuncture. He or she may be a practitioner of herbal medicine. It’s likely that they will talk to you about healthy exercise, such as tai chi or qigong — and these are activities they probably have done themselves. He or she might give you nutritional guidance. He or she may also be trained in massage or Asian bodywork — Tui na and Amma are examples. For thousands of years, these ways of healing have helped people, so you may want to ask your acupuncturist how you can learn more about these modalities.

How do you find a licensed acupuncturist? Like you would any other professional: ask around among your friends. Chances are you already know someone who’s been treated with Chinese medicine. Your medical doctor, chiropractor or massage therapist also may know a good acupuncturist. Or you can check the practitioner listings on the websites of the Acupuncture Society of New York, www.asny.org), or the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, www.NCCAOM.org. Be aware that in New York state, licensed acupuncturists are independent practitioners, and you will not need a doctor’s referral to start acupuncture treatment. The websites mentioned give information about the training and credentials necessary to practice acupuncture. Your health insurance might or might not cover acupuncture treatments; you’ll need to discuss it with your practitioner.

Acupuncture itself involves insertion of very thin, flexible needles, at specific places on the body. The guiding principle of acupuncture is that the places where the needles are inserted — acupuncture points — help the body direct and adjust the energy that is flowing through your organ systems. This energy is called qi (pronounced “chee.”) Acupuncture supports your body and helps it work better so that underlying diseases and their symptoms can be treated effectively.

So what is a typical acupuncture treatment like? During the first appointment, you’ll fill out some paperwork, as you would at any medical visit. Your practitioner will perform a thorough intake and health history. He or she may ask questions you’ve never been asked, or even thought about before. That’s because, in Chinese medicine, many aspects of the body and its functions give clues about the patient’s overall health. The acupuncturist will look closely at your tongue, and feel your pulse at several places on each wrist. The appearance of your tongue, the quality and speed of your pulses, and the questions you answer all give clinical information that will help the acupuncturist plan your course of treatment. If you have questions about Chinese medicine, or your specific treatment, your acupuncturist is there to listen. He or she will be happy to discuss it with you.

Susan Risoli is an acupuncturist, a practitioner of herbal medicine and has been trained in Amma, a type of Asian bodywork.

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By Lisa Steuer

Getting into shape after giving birth can seem like a challenge. You may have gained a little more weight than you ever have before, you are not feeling your best, the baby is up all night and your to-do list has increased dramatically. But with the right support and plan of action, it is possible to not only lose the baby weight, but to get in even better shape than you were before giving birth.

Fit4Mom
One organization that is helping many moms get into shape is Fit4Mom, a franchise with more than 1,300 locations nationwide, said Britney Pagano, mom of two and founder of Fit4Mom Long Island.  In fact, many Long Island moms have lost 70 or 80 pounds with the program, according to Pagano.

Fit4Mom Long Island classes are held at Sunken Meadow State Park in Kings Park, Heckscher Park in Huntington and Belmont Lake State Park in North Babylon. There are also classes in Nassau. For the full schedule, visit http://nassauandsuffolk.fit4mom.com. Stroller Strides, which is Fit4Mom’s most popular program according to Pagano, is a “Mommy and Me” type class. The children sit in strollers while the moms go through a 60-minute stroller-based workout that combines intervals of cardiovascular and resistance training. The nationally certified class instructors incorporate songs and activities to keep the kids entertained.

But Fit4Mom is more than just fitness classes, said Pagano. It’s about connecting moms, making friends and finding support. In addition to workouts, there are playgroups and monthly moms-night-out events.

gal-getting-ready-w“A lot of moms have told me that our program specifically has really saved them from postpartum depression because it’s given them something to do,” said Pagano. “It was helping them lose weight and meet friends, and they didn’t have the guilt of leaving their child in someone else’s care so that they can do something for themselves.”

Tips for Success
In addition to attending Fit4Mom classes like Stroller Strides, here are some other tips for getting your body back after baby:

Consult your doctor.
Before you start any kind of fitness program, be sure to check with your doctor. He or she knows your individual situation and can advise you when it’s best for you to return to being active. In addition, your doctor may be able to suggest a personalized approach for you.

Find a little time when you can work out during the day.
Once you get the OK from your doctor to work out and do any kind of cardio activity, get in a few minutes here or there doing squats, push-ups, crunches, high knees, other bodyweight or cardio moves or a fitness DVD, even if you can only do a few minutes at a time. You don’t have to do the workout all at once for it to be effective. Just find the time when you can. Visit www.fitnessrxwomen.com/life-health/fit-moms for tons of at-home workouts for moms and more tips.

Get out and go for a walk.
Get outside! Get the stroller and bring baby along for a ride.

Work on building your at-home gym.
Since you may find it hard to get to the gym, there are a few items that are fairly inexpensive that can help you get a good workout right in your own home. Resistance bands, a medicine ball, dumbbells, a jump rope and a stability ball are a good start.

Listen to your body.
If your body is telling you that you need to sleep, and the baby is sleeping, then you should sleep, too. If your energy is lacking, it’s all the more reason to get into a good fitness regimen, because this can help your energy levels, said Pagano.

Fuel up.
You won’t be able to get back in shape if your diet is not in check. Make sure to take care of yourself with a balanced diet: drink plenty of water, eat plenty of fruits and veggies and get your protein. Pagano encourages her clients to find the one day a week where they can get to the grocery store — when there is someone to look after the child — and use that day to plan out all the meals for the week. Chop up all the vegetables and fruit and put into single serve bags. “This way, during the week when hunger strikes, you just have to look in the refrigerator and everything is already done and prepared for you.”

Make time for yourself.
“A lot of times, especially with new moms, we kind of get lost in that and taking care of the baby,” said Pagano.  “But make it a priority to take care of yourself.”

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

By Jane Lee Bock

Huntington schools have taken a big step toward ensuring that local taxpayers continue to see some money back in state rebates this year.

School districts have formed a consortium to help reign in expenses, implementing one more of the mandatory steps needed to comply with the regulations of the three-year state property tax freeze credit.

The credit is a new tax relief program that reimburses qualifying homeowners for increases in local property taxes on their primary homes, according to the program’s website. The credit applies to school districts in 2014 and 2015 and to most other municipalities in 2015 and 2016.

Cold Spring Harbor school district has been designated the lead agency for the consortium and is partnering with Western Suffolk BOCES to coordinate the plans and submit them to the state by June 1, 2015. In total so far, 19 districts are eligible to participate in this joint effort. Northport, Huntington, Harborfields and Cold Spring Harbor have officially joined the consortium.

William Bernhard, interim assistant superintendent for business at Cold Spring Harbor. File photo by Karen Spehler
William Bernhard, interim assistant superintendent for business at Cold Spring Harbor. File photo by Karen Spehler

In 2014, New York property owners received a rebate if their school district stayed within the state’s 2-percent property tax cap when developing its budget. In 2015, property owners will get a rebate if the districts demonstrate that they have plans that will develop efficiencies and cost savings, and their local municipal taxing districts stay within the tax cap. In 2016, the rebate requirements will be aimed at only municipalities, requiring them to stay within the tax cap and develop cost savings.

The state estimates this three-year program will result in $1.5 billion in taxpayer savings. This consortium meets the requirements of the government efficiency plan component of the property tax freeze credit.

No specific savings have been announced yet because the plans have to be submitted and approved by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance and any savings created by efficiencies implemented before 2012, when the freeze was initially created, are allowed to be included in each district’s component of the plan.

“What they have allowed us to do is that if we had some prior efficiencies that were instituted prior to June 2012, which is the first year of the tax cap, we can use that towards demonstrating our savings,” William Bernhard, interim assistant business superintendent of the Cold Spring Harbor school district said in a phone interview. “Many districts had to do that to stay within the tax cap.”

In addition, by grouping the districts together, they will be required to save one percent of their tax levy combined, instead of individually, he said. Those savings must be realized through the 2016-17 school years.
Bernhard said he hasn’t seen the full plan yet because the information has not been submitted.

Visit www.tax.ny.gov/pit/property/property_tax_freeze.htm for more information on the property tax freeze credit program.

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Bill Stewart's Kings Park hobby shop. Photo by Jenni Culkin

By Jenni Culkin

An entrepreneur from the North Shore is making his hobby into a new career.

Bill Stewart, the owner and sole employee of Filadelfos Toy & Hobby, decided after 20 years as an IT worker that he was looking for a job with more fun, stability and control over his profession.

“I decided to turn my hobby into a business,” Stewart said in an interview.

According to Stewart, “filadelfo” is a modernized form of the Greek “Philadelphia,” which means “brotherly love.”

Bill Stewart proudly shows off one of his favorite items at his Kings Park hobby shop. Photo by Jenni Culkin
Bill Stewart proudly shows off one of his favorite items at his Kings Park hobby shop. Photo by Jenni Culkin

Since 2010, Stewart has been selling his merchandise through the Internet. In late March of this year, Stewart made the leap to establish a physical shop on 12 Main St. in Kings Park. The shop stands parallel with the local train station, has an exterior decorated with pinwheels and whirligigs and plays 1980s music from inside the storefront.

The store’s interior is about 200-square-feet in size and fits comic book merchandise, model planes and cars, action figures, cards and so much more.

Stewart said he runs the shop simply “for the love of the stuff” that he sells and not to make excessive profit margins or achieve any goals of expansion.

The shop hosts sessions to play games such as the Magic card game and Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game. On Saturdays at noon, Filadelfos already hosts a Dungeons & Dragons competition for residents.

If people are also looking for something that is difficult to find, they can ask Stewart whether or not he can find and sell it to them. Stewart sometimes makes purchases directly from the manufacturers.

Stewart is currently waiting for Shopkins, popular new toys that are modeled after food and have faces and online profiles, to stock his store with.

There are also plans to expand if his current shop experiences enough success.

Visit www.frchobby.com to find out more about Stewart’s store.

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