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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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File photo

With warmer weather comes an urge to leave the house, and we expect, as usual, there will be a lot more cars on the road, so now is a good time to remind our readers not to lose their cool behind the wheel.

Whether a driver made a mistake — as we all do from time to time — or not, it can be terrifying for that person when another motorist becomes enraged and takes it out on them. We’ve all experienced tailgating or obnoxious horn-honking, and some of us have been victims of more dire cases of road rage, like prolonged following and actual physical violence or threats. In the less confrontational incidents, frustrated and angry drivers often lash out because it’s easy to hide in the anonymous bubble of a car, when they would not have been so bold to display such anger in person. In the more extreme cases, the mad drivers may have had a screw or two loose to begin with and might have acted out no matter the location or circumstance.

We understand that daily stresses factor into this problem, and Long Island’s immense traffic congestion doesn’t help the frustration we might already be feeling while in the car. But consider this: The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that aggressive driving is a factor in more than half of all traffic fatalities, according to 2009 data. In those cases, “motorists are concerned with the others’ aggressive driving while many are guilty themselves.”

Terrible accidents involving mangled cars happen all the time, but they don’t have to happen over things as petty as payback for being cut off or revenge on a slow-moving vehicle. We urge our readers to slow down when they’re seeing red behind the wheel and take some time to think about what the other person’s situation might be before lashing out. Give each other the benefit of the doubt because we are all humans who make mistakes. Let small road infractions go with a deep exhale. Rising tempers don’t give us license to rage on the road. And the consequences can be deadly.

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The latest 100 names are read off before being unveiled as part of Nesconset’s own memorial wall in honor of those lost after lending helping hands in the aftermath of September 11 in 2001. Photo by Jenni Culkin

By Jenni Culkin

There was not a dry eye in the 9/11 Responders Remembered Park as the greater North Shore community came together to commemorate the lives of first responders who died from September 11-related illnesses.

The Nesconset park, at the intersection of Smithtown Boulevard and Gibbs Pond Road, was dedicated to victims of the horrendous terrorist attack and was crowded with hundreds of residents and families as 100 new names were added to its memorial wall on May 16.

“They are the reason we get out of bed,” said John Feal, founder of the FealGood Foundation, who acted as the master of ceremonies. “Thank you for allowing us to serve you.”

The wall already had more than 500 names, but those who spoke at the somber ceremony did so with the same sort of hurt felt when the attack first occurred in 2001.

“Like everyone here today, I pale in comparison to those who are going on the wall,” Martin Aponte, president of the park, said during the ceremony with a voice full of emotion.

The service featured various patriotic musical performances and words from elected officials.

“We thank you, from the bottom of our hearts,” said Suffolk County Legislator Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset), “I commit to you that I will always stand watch over this park.”

Elected officials from neighboring towns joined the Nesconset community in honoring the lives of the 9/11 responders.

“We are truly a country of greatness and heroes,” said Legislator Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore).

Toward the end of the ceremony, the sons of fallen responders read the names that were going to be etched into the memorial wall. Each name was followed by a solemn bell toll.

Shortly after the names were all read, the sun started to show itself above the memorial park. Feal and those who played active roles in leading the ceremony made it very clear during and after the ceremony that they were grateful for the amount of people attending the ceremony despite the rainy weather.

“It’s humbling to see this many people come out,” Feal said. “For people to withstand Mother Nature truly showed the American spirit.”

Aponte said there are trees among the park’s foliage that are direct descendants of a tree that survived the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11. One of these trees was given to the Hauppauge Fire Department and another was also given to the Nesconset Fire Department as tokens of appreciation for each department’s contribution to the park.

A memorial ceremony is usually held, and is expected to continue to be held, every May during Memorial Day week and every September during the anniversary of the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.

The park has plans to eventually recognize and honor the service dogs that have passed away due to 9/11-related illnesses, Aponte said. There are also plans to place signs on the Long Island Expressway that lead travelers to the park from nearby exits but there are no definite dates at this time.

The park’s upkeep and development is dependent upon donations that can be made on the park’s website, which is at respondersremembered.com. The Greater Smithtown Chamber of Commerce is also going to be hosting a golf outing to benefit the park in early August.

“We built this park so history does not get distorted,” Aponte said.

David Stein is joyous after winning a contest for Northport-East Northport school board. Photo by Rohma Abbas

By Rohma Abbas & Victoria Espinoza

Voters in the Huntington, Northport-East Northport, Harborfields and Cold Spring Harbor school districts resoundingly approved their districts’ proposed 2015-16 budgets and elected a number of newcomers to local school boards.

Both Harborfields and Northport-East Northport school board races had contests this year — in Harborfields, five candidates vied for three seats, and in Northport-East Northport, a pool of seven were competing for three slots.

Huntington and Cold Spring Harbor had races in which trustees ran unopposed.

Huntington
Voters in the Huntington school district approved a $120.3 million budget, 1,228 votes to 301. Proposition 2, which allows the district to spend just over $1 million in capital reserve monies to pay for state-approved projects, passed 1,252 votes to 251.

Four people ran unopposed for re-election or election: board President Emily Rogan received 1,193 votes, board members Xavier Palacios and Tom DiGiacomo collected 1,139 votes and 1,185 votes, respectively, and newcomer Christine Biernacki garnered 1,189 votes. Rogan, Biernacki and DiGiacomo won three-year terms.

As the lowest vote getter, Palacios will serve the remaining two years on a term of former Vice President Adam Spector’s vacated seat.

“We will maintain our efforts toward achieving cost savings and efficiencies, while preserving the goal of providing students across the district with a high quality education that promotes an affinity for learning as well as college and career readiness in an increasingly global and technologically-driven society,” Superintendent Jim Polansky said in a statement.

Tammie Topel is joyous after winning a contest for Northport-East Northport school board. Photo by Rohma Abbas
Tammie Topel is joyous after winning a contest for Northport-East Northport school board. Photo by Rohma Abbas

Northport-East Northport
In Northport-East Northport, the $159.6 million budget was approved, 3,281 to 788, in a turnout that school officials there called stronger than usual. Proposition 2, which allows the district to spend $1.2 million in capital reserves, was approved 3,561 to 504. Longtime Trustee Stephen Waldenburg Jr., who has served on the board for 15 years, was voted out in a heated race against six others for three seats, amassing 1,290 votes. Incumbent David Badanes, 2,446 votes, was re-elected to another term. Candidate Tammie Topel, former school board member, got her seat back after declining to seek re-election last year, with 2,130 votes and newcomer David Stein, who championed a successful grassroots parental movement to get full-day kindergarten included in this year’s budget, enjoyed victory to the board, with 2,548 votes.

Newcomers Peter Mainetti, Josh Muno and Michael Brunone missed the mark as well, with Mainetti garnering 1,018 votes, Muno receiving 542 votes and Brunone getting 1,039 votes.

Stein said he’s looking forward to working with his colleagues on the school board as his first order of business.

“I feel that the will of this entire community, that did great things this year, was just heard. This is what we’ve been working for. The community put kindergarten together; they did it as a community effort.”

Waldenburg said he “would’ve liked to won,” but the community has spoken.

“I’ve given it my all for 15 years and I’m grateful that I was able to serve that long,” Waldenburg said. “I appreciate it. The community wants somebody else; that’s their choice.”

Newly elected Trustee Tammie Topel and incumbent David Badanes also spoke positively about their victories.

“I feel on cloud nine. I feel really great,” Topel said.

The United Teachers of Northport, the district’s teacher’s union, endorsed the three candidates who won, according to Antoinette Blanck, the president of the union. She said she was “thrilled” the budget passed, especially because of full-day kindergarten.

Harborfields
Voters in Harborfields approved their budget with high marks — 82.5 percent voter support for an $80.5 million spending plan, with 1,442 voting in favor and 305 voting no. Voters also supported a proposition on the ballot to establish a new capital reserve fund, with 79.4 percent in favor.

Incumbents Donald Mastroianni and board President Dr. Thomas McDonagh were returned to the board, and voters elected newcomer Suzie Lustig. Mastroianni earned the most votes, at 1,017, McDonagh earned 958 votes and Lustig got 953 votes.

Candidates Chris Kelly and Colleen Rappa fell short.

Mastroianni and McDonagh are both incumbents; serving their ninth and seventh year, respectively. Lustig, a resident of the Harborfields district for 22 years, will be serving on the board for her first time.

Lustig said she wants to focus her time on making sure all students at Harborfields receive a well-rounded education that is competitive for the 21st century.

“Our school has to be of a holistic level, some children may be gifted in science or they may be gifted in music, and we need to make sure we represent everybody for a competitive environment,” Lustig said.

Lustig has served as the Harborfields Council of PTAs “Get Out the Vote” chairperson for three years now, and has served on the district’s advisory committee since 2013, as well as holding many different PTA positions since 2007.

Mastroianni, who has served on the board since 2006, believes that the biggest challenges Harborfields faces as a district are state-imposed, including the gap elimination adjustment on school district aid, a deduction from each school district’s state aid allocation that helps the state fill its revenue shortfall.

Mastroianni also hopes to focus on current district committee work regarding building usage and full-day kindergarten.

“I think full-day kindergarten is definitely possible, but we have to take a hard look at the costs and the sustainability,” Mastroianni said.

McDonagh wants to focus on many of the projects that have just begun this year, including the capital improvement bond project, and evaluating the need for facility modifications over the next few years.

“The projects being considered include both athletic facilities and educational facilities, as well as just general district facility needs like bathrooms and other facilities,” McDonagh said.

Cold Spring Harbor
In Cold Spring Harbor, voters approved a $64 million budget, 335 votes to 130. Proposition 2, which moved to spend capital reserve money on various projects, passed 318 to 107. Proposition 3, to establish a new capital reserve fund, was approved 314 to 114. Board President Anthony Paolano and Trustee Ingrid Wright ran unopposed for re-election and received 366 and 359 votes, respectively.

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Charlie Leo lost his re-election bid in Kings Park. File photo by Erika Karp

By Phil Corso & Barbara Donlon

Residents gave a thumbs up to school budgets throughout Smithtown and its neighboring districts, including Commack, Hauppauge and Kings Park.

Smithtown’s $229.5 million budget passed, 2,582 to 762. School board President Christopher Alcure, who ran unopposed, was re-elected with 2,395 votes, while newcomer Jeremy Thode was elected with 2,144 votes.

The board largely assembled together in the district clerk’s office Tuesday night as the results came in before eventually filling the board room around 10 p.m. for the final reading of the numbers.

“I am very thankful that the budget passed, it clearly was a fiscally responsible budget that supports our school district and mission,” said Thode, who was not present when the board read the results aloud Tuesday night. “I am also humbled by the overwhelming personal support of the community in my election. I would like to thank everyone for their belief in me and look forward to helping all the students and families in Smithtown.”

MaryRose Rafferty lost her bid, garnering 862 votes, but said she looked forward to working with the board on the other side of the microphone nevertheless.

“I’m not going away, I will still be the voice of the people for the people,” she said.

A second proposition on the Smithtown ballot, related to capital reserves, passed 2,507 to 715.

Community members passed Commack’s $185.1 million budget 1,927 to 575.

In Hauppauge, voters passed the district’s proposed $105.4 million budget, 1,458 to 442. Michael Buscarino and Stacey Weisberg were elected to the board with 1,098 and 1,122 votes, respectively. Candidate Susan Hodosky fell short, with 984.

Kings Park voters came out to support the district’s $84.7 million budget as well on Tuesday.

The community voted in favor of the budget 2,065 to 577. There was also voting on two propositions, regarding bus purchases and a capital project to replace the high school roof. Both passed, 1,998 to 542 and 2,087 to 455, respectively.

Voters ousted Vice President Charlie Leo (1,108 votes) and voted in incumbent Diane Nally (1,821) and newcomer Kevin Johnston (1,886) for the two open seats on the district’s board of education.

“The community spoke and I am fine with that,” Leo said.

The district’s budget included a 2 percent tax levy increase while keeping its current curriculum, extra curricular activities and adding a wish list of items that included an additional social worker, new musical instruments and class size reductions.

“It was uncomfortable at best because of my long association with Charlie Leo and Diane Nally but it was the right time to run for a seat on the Kings Park Board of Education,” Johnston said. “My goals are to provide the best education for students at Kings Park while being financially responsible to the taxpayers.”

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Eddie Munoz celebrates a goal. Photo by Clayton Collier

By Clayton Collier

With 13 goals in the first half, the No. 4-seeded Ward Melville boys’ lacrosse team made quick work of No. 5 Half Hollow Hills East in a 17-1 routing Tuesday in the Suffolk County Class A quarterfinals.

Ward Melville head coach Jay Negus stressed to his team the need for a full 48 minutes of quality play to best their opponent.

“I’m very, very happy with the team’s effort today,” he said. “All year long I’ve been on them to play four quarters of Ward Melville lacrosse together, and today was it. … We put it all together today and at the perfect time. This is a very dangerous team when we can do that.”

Hills East head coach Gordie Hodgson said the Patriots were in control of the game the whole way through.

“I thought Ward Melville dominated in every aspect of the game,” he said. “They dominated on the faceoff and counter possession, and we weren’t able to generate offense because of it.”

Dan Bucaro maintains possession with Half Hollow Hills East players racing to stop him. Photo by Clayton Collier
Dan Bucaro maintains possession with Half Hollow Hills East players racing to stop him. Photo by Clayton Collier

In retrospect, all the Patriots needed was a 10-minute stretch to put the game out of reach for the Thunderbirds.

Ward Melville senior attack Dan Bucaro notched the first goal of the afternoon with just over five minutes remaining in the first quarter, muscling past a pair of Hills East defenders to sneak one past Thunderbirds goaltender Jordan Eichholz on the left side of the net. The goal was Bucaro’s first of four on the day.

“I came out fast and ready to go — the team really got me going,” he said. “Everyone came together today.”

The Georgetown University-bound senior said his work isn’t done with Ward Melville, and his goal opened the floodgates for the Patriots, as they tacked on an additional eight goals over the next 10 minutes of play.

Sophomore midfielder Eddie Munoz, who was responsible for two of those eight goals, said Negus told the team at halftime that the kind of offensive output the Patriots had has always been possible for the team.

“He said this was one of our first games this year that we played a full half,” Munoz said of Negus’ message to the team, while up 13-1. “We started off slow this season, so he said it was the first time that we started a first half well, and told us to just keep going.”

Senior attack Billy McGinley had a trio of goals, while classmates and midfielders Jake McCulloch, James Kickel and John Burgdoerfer each scored twice as well.

The lone Thunderbirds goal came on a deflection from Ward Melville junior goaltender D.J. Kellerman.

“He had a goal,” Bucaro said, with a laugh. “He played great, really. He’s just got to keep it up.”

Kellerman made eight saves on the day.

The Patriots will head to Northport Friday for the semifinals, taking on the No. 1-seeded Tigers at 4:15 p.m. at Veterans Park. Ward Melville will enter the game with a chip on their collective shoulder. The last time the two teams matched up, Northport scored four goals in the final quarter to edge out the Patriots, 7-6. Bucaro said his team is hungry to get the win the second time around.

“I’m expecting a really tough game,” he said. “They’re a very good team. We’ve got to get payback; we’ve got to get angry and be ready to play.”

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Budget approved with nearly 77 percent of the vote

By Jenni Culkin

The Rocky Point Union Free School District’s proposed $78.78 million 2015-16 school year budget was approved Tuesday with great support.

The spending plan, which increased by 2.46 percent from the current year, passed with 788 votes compared to 237 votes against.

The budget maintains just about all programs and activities. However, as the district was faced with a large increase in special education costs, administrators moved to decrease the district’s Striving for Higher Achievement at Rocky Point, known as SHARP, at the elementary level. While the after-school component of the program is eliminated, summer SHARP will continue and after-school extra help will still be offered.

Residents also re-elected incumbent school board Vice President Scott Reh to the board, while Ed Casswell was elected and will fill Trustee John Lessler’s seat. Lessler did not seek re-election. Reh received 670 votes and Casswell received 588. Unsuccessfully, Donna McCauley garnered 452 votes.

More than 40 people waited patiently for the election and budget results in the Rocky Point High School Auditorium on Tuesday evening.

Reh, the 48-year-old athletic director for Mount Sinai schools, has served on the board for five years. He said he will “advocate for transparency” and “try to give every student the opportunity to succeed” during his next term on the board.

“My plans are to continue working with the current board,” Reh said.

In a phone interview Wednesday morning, Casswell, 50, said he was excited to be part of the team. The Center Moriches High School principal said he will draw his attention to a capital improvements bond referendum the board is considering moving forward.

Some residents have voiced concerns over social media that the election of both candidates — who were endorsed by the district’s teachers union — creates a singular point of view on the school board, as all the trustees come from education backgrounds or deal with educators.

In a phone interview, McCauley, who ran last year as well, expressed a similar concern. She said she plans on asking the board to reconsider its candidacy requirements and enact stricter requirements for public entities endorsing candidates.

“I have nothing against [the teacher union], but it creates an unfair advantage,” she said.

While this is her last time running, she vowed to stick around.

“I will continue to be involved in any way that I am able,” she said.

But Casswell said that as a trustee he is a parent first and believes everyone is looking out for the kids.

“We’re working for the betterment of our children,” Casswell said. “Under that premise, I don’t’ think I have any concerns about excluding any groups of individuals.”

Erika Karp contributed reporting.

The cover jacket of Jack Kohl's book, That Iron String. Photo from Kohl

By Stacy Santini

“Call me Portsmouth” … so the opening line of Jack Kohl’s new book, “That Iron String” could read. Faintly echoing thematic visions from “Moby Dick,” Kohl’s character, Portsmouth, narrates a sophisticated storyline much as Ishmael does in Melville’s world-class epic novel. Not for a very long time has Long Island birthed an author who unabashedly delivers a tale so worthy of recognition. “That Iron String” cannot be called an easy read, but it is not meant to be. Its intricately woven plot certainly entertains, but its value lies in the book’s prodigious subject matter, esoteric themes and philosophical questions.

Author Jack Kohl. Photo from Kohl
Author Jack Kohl. Photo from Kohl

A Northport native, Kohl’s adoration for the picturesque towns that hug the Long Island Sound is apparent. There is a fond innocence for the town that has claimed him and this easily translates in “That Iron String,” which is set in a fictional small water-side enclave on Long Island called Pauktaug. Describing his utopic passion for Long Island, Kohl states, “As I walk along the beaches of the north shore, I see Long Island in the light of the tremendous shadow of New England. It is right there across the water; almost as if New England is a giant hen that laid an egg which became our home.” With main character names such as Portsmouth and Boston, his affinity for all things New England is also appreciable, and theoretical relevance from authors such as Emerson, Thoreau and Hawthorne play a prominent role in development of the novel’s copious themes. The title itself, “That Iron String,” is a derivative from the famous Emerson essay, “Self-Reliance.”

Identification as author joins Kohl’s prestigious resume and is aligned with pianist, musical director, conductor and scholar. Classically trained, Kohl commenced his piano studies as a child under Marie Babiak; he went on to attend the pre-college division of The Juilliard School, completing his educational tenure with a doctor of music arts degree in piano performance. Currently associate musical director at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson, Kohl has accompanied numerous theatrical productions over the decades and continues to perform as a solo pianist in both the classical tradition and jazz. It is not surprising that his novel draws deeply from his experience in those genres.

The piano is at the forefront of “That Iron String,” and both the instrument and the music that emanates from it are personified and central to the plot. When discussing one of the driving forces that inspired him, Kohl speaks of Moby Dick. “Of all the interpretations of Moby Dick, I most related to the analysis that was a hyper-burlesque of Emersonian Transcendentalism.” Kohl has an erudite vernacular, and one often feels they are in a Victorian tea parlor when speaking with him. However, do not let the dogma of this inspiration frighten you because the book unwraps itself beautifully and has all the components that will keep a reader’s attention. Murder, mystery, intrigue, competition, love, and family values are all interwoven within the philosophical, amorphous boundaries.

The Pianist plays to a different audience with an intensely thought-provoking tale of passion, achievement
and murder.

The book is essentially about two cousins, Portsmouth and Boston, who are raised in Pauktaug by close relatives. Growing up under sweeping elm trees, the Calvinistic idealism of their youth seems to be grounding for one and muddying for the other. From an early age when they were not skinning knees running through woods and frolicking about on the local beaches, they both studied classical piano. Eventually, the pair parted ways as they individually moved away from Pauktaug to complete collegiate studies and become concert pianists.

Although both did exceptionally well, it is overwhelmingly apparent that one of them is more than gifted with infinite skills and supernatural ability. This ability drives him further and further into isolation and forces self-introspection that is revealed throughout the novel in a series of letters. The plot unfolds slowly as they return home to practice for a competition for which they have both qualified after many, many years of not seeing one another. There are numerous surprises along the way as well countless representations of beautiful imagery.

Longing to debunk clichés, Kohl knew the book would have to be much more substantial than a storyline about a pianist who struggles and would eventually have some kind of victory over those struggles. Kohl wanted something more for his potential readership than the unoriginality of that type of theme. While sketching notes, Kohl examines how he started to unravel a deeper image of that concept, “I thought what if I had a pianist who knows there is nothing he can do to be playing better than he is and is still very idealistic about his fellow man. He wants to persist and keep playing but his career begins to wane in competitions according to the judges and he doesn’t understand why; who or what is to blame? He starts to develop this anger and it builds up and builds up, where is this anger to go? This was my jumping off point for the plot.”

When conversing with Kohl, one will find that one of his favorite words is “balderdash,” which can be translated to mean “senseless talk or writing,” ironic for an author who has written a novel that is anything but.

“That Iron String” is available for purchase at www.amazon.com.

Cold Spring Harbor
Voters passed a $64 million budget, 335 votes to 130. Proposition 2, to spend capital reserve money on various projects, passed 318 to 107. Proposition 3, to establish a new capital reserve fund, passed 314 to 114. Board President Anthony Paolano and Trustee Ingrid Wright ran unopposed for re-election and received 366 and 359 votes, respectively.

Commack
Community members passed Commack’s $185 million budget 1,927 to 575.

Comsewogue
The district’s $85.2 million budget passed, 1,024 to 204. Proposition 2, to add bus service for 38 John F. Kennedy Middle School students, passed 1,096 to 134. Three people ran unopposed for board seats and were elected, board President John Swenning, Trustee Rick Rennard and newcomer Louise Melious.

Harborfields
An $80.5 million budget passed with 82.5 percent voter support. Voters also supported a proposition on the ballot to establish a new capital reserve fund, with 79.4 percent in favor. Incumbents Donald Mastroianni and board President Dr. Thomas McDonagh were returned to the board, and voters elected newcomer Suzie Lustig. Candidates Chris Kelly and Colleen Rappa fell short.

Hauppauge
Voters passed the district’s proposed budget, 1,458 to 442. Michael Buscarino and Stacey Weisberg were elected to the board with 1,098 and 1,122 votes, respectively. Candidate Susan Hodosky fell short, with just 984 votes.

Huntington
A $120.3 million budget passed, 1,228 votes to 301. Proposition 2, to spend just over $1 million in capital reserve monies to pay for state-approved projects, passed 1,252 votes to 251. Four people ran unopposed for re-election or election: board President Emily Rogan got 1,193 votes, board members Xavier Palacios and Tom DiGiacomo received 1,139 votes and 1,185 votes, respectively, and newcomer Christine Biernacki garnered 1,189 votes. Rogan, Biernacki and DiGiacomo won three-year terms. As the lowest vote-getter, Palacios will serve the remaining two years on a term of a vacated seat.

Kings Park
Voters passed an $84.7 million budget, 2,065 to 577. A second proposition on the ballot, regarding a school bus purchase, passed 1,998 to 542. A third proposition, regarding a capital project to replace the high school roof, passed 2,087 to 455. Incumbent Diane Nally was re-elected to the board with 1,821 votes, while newcomer Kevin Johnston was elected with 1,886 votes. Incumbent Charlie Leo fell short in his re-election bid, garnering 1,108 votes.

Middle Country
Middle Country’s $236 million budget passed, with 1,863 votes in favor and 579 against. All three school board incumbents — President Karen Lessler and Trustees Jim Macomber and Arlene Barresi — were running unopposed and were re-elected to their seats.

Miller Place
Newcomer Keith Frank won a seat on the school board, edging out candidate Michael Manspeizer, 781 to 287.
“I’m just looking forward to the next three years,” Frank said. “I have big shoes to step into.”
Residents also passed the district’s $70 million budget, with 964 voting in favor and 262 voting against.
Board President Michael Unger said voter turnout was low “as a result of a good budget and good candidates.”

Mount Sinai
Voters approved the $56.7 million budget with 1,241 in favor and 316 against. Newcomer Michael Riggio was elected to the board with 993 votes, followed by incumbent Lynn Capobiano, who garnered 678 for re-election to a second term. John DeBlasio and Joanne Rentz missed election, receiving 624 and 321 votes, respectively.

Northport-East Northport
The $159.6 million budget passed, 3,281 to 788. Proposition 2, to spend $1.2 million in capital reserves, passed 3,561 to 504. Incumbent David Badanes, former trustee Tammie Topel and newcomer David Stein were elected to the board, with 2,446 votes for Badanes, 2,130 for Topel and 2,548 for Stein. Incumbent Stephen Waldenburg Jr. fell short of re-election, with 1,290 votes. Newcomers Peter Mainetti, Josh Muno and Michael Brunone missed the mark as well, with Mainetti garnering 1,018 votes, Muno receiving 542 votes and Brunone getting 1,039 votes.

Port Jefferson
Voters passed a $42.4 million budget, 491 to 130. Proposition 2, to create a new capital reserve fund that would help replace roofs throughout the district, passed with 467 votes in favor and 122 against.
Trustee Vincent Ruggiero was re-elected to the board with 468 votes. Write-in candidates Tracy Zamek, a newcomer, and Trustee Mark Doyle were elected with 246 and 178 votes, respectively. There were a number of other community residents who received write-in votes, including former board member Dennis Kahn, who garnered 58 votes.

Rocky Point
The $78.7 million budget passed with 788 votes in favor and 237 against. Board Vice President Scott Reh was re-elected to a third term, with 679 votes. Newcomer Ed Casswell secured the other available seat with 588 votes. Candidate Donna McCauley missed the mark, with only 452 votes.

Shoreham-Wading River
The school budget passed, 910 to 323. Michael Fucito and Robert Rose were re-elected to the school board, with 902 and 863 votes, respectively.

Smithtown
Smithtown’s $229.5 million budget passed, 2,582 to 762. School board President Christopher Alcure, who ran unopposed, was re-elected with 2,295 votes, while newcomer Jeremy Thode was elected with 2,144 votes. MaryRose Rafferty lost her bid, garnering just 860 votes. A second proposition on the ballot, related to capital reserves, passed 2,507 to 715.

Three Village
Voters passed a $188 million budget, 2,401 to 723. Incumbents William F. Connors, Jr. and Deanna Bavlnka were re-elected, with 2,200 and 2,052 votes, respectively. Challenger Jeffrey Mischler fell short, garnering only 1,095 votes.

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Kings Park pitcher Cassandra Cancemi slides safely into third base in the Kingsmen’s 6-3 loss to Longwood in the first round of the Class AA playoffs on May 18. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Trailing 6-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning with two outs, the No. 6-seeded Kings Park softball team rallied to score two runs to close the gap against visiting No. 11 Longwood, but the Kingsmen’s efforts were not enough, as the team fell 6-3 in the opening round of the Class AA playoffs Monday.

Kings Park outfielder Kristen Plant makes contact in the Kingsmen’s 6-3 loss to Longwood in the first round of the Class AA playoffs on May 18. Photo by Bill Landon
Kings Park outfielder Kristen Plant makes contact in the Kingsmen’s 6-3 loss to Longwood in the first round of the Class AA playoffs on May 18. Photo by Bill Landon

Longwood never trailed, scoring the first run in the opening inning. With a runner in scoring position though, Kings Park sophomore pitcher Cassandra Cancemi fanned the batter to retire the side.

Kings Park tied the game in the bottom of the second when junior first baseman Gianna Cancemi smacked the ball deep to right field for a stand-up double, driving in senior catcher Ariana Ambrosio, but that was all the team could do until late in the game.

Longwood knocked on the door in the top of the fourth, loading the bases with two outs, and if Cancemi felt the pressure on the mound, she didn’t show it as she calmly struck out the batter to end the inning.

In the top of the fifth, senior second baseman Cheyenne Giarraputo scooped the ball out of the dirt to get the force at the bag, and helped the team capitalize on the only double play of the game, when she threw the ball to first at a waiting Cancemi, to retire the side.

Kings Park sophomore Amanda DeLaura took over on the mound to start the sixth inning, and Longwood scored two runs early to jump out to a 3-1 lead, and scored its fourth on a passed ball at home plate.

The Lions looked to put the game away, and crossed the plate two more times to take a 6-1 advantage into the bottom of the seventh.

With their backs against the wall in the bottom of the seventh with two outs, Kings Park junior outfielder Kristen Plant wouldn’t let her team go down quietly, and drove in a run with a shot to right center, to pull within four.

Kings Park first baseman Gianna Cancemi catches an infield fly ball in the Kingsmen’s 6-3 loss to Longwood in the first round of the Class AA playoffs on May 18. Photo by Bill Landon
Kings Park first baseman Gianna Cancemi catches an infield fly ball in the Kingsmen’s 6-3 loss to Longwood in the first round of the Class AA playoffs on May 18. Photo by Bill Landon

Kings Park junior third baseman Taryn McGinley’s bat spoke next with a long shot that scored Plant, to close the gap 6-3.

“It was tough when we got the two outs in our last at bat, but we were hopeful that we could rally back,” Giarraputo said. “We’ve done it before this season.”

With a final smack of the bat, Kings Park hit one into shallow right field, where a charging outfielder was able to track it down to end the game, and Kings Park’s season.

“We rallied back there late and that’s what we’ve done all season — we’d come back from a deficit and we usually clinched it,” Kings Park head coach Kim McGinley said. “But you can’t have four errors in the field and expect to win the game.”

Kings Park concluded its season with a 12-6 record in League III play, and despite graduating five seniors, will return eight juniors and two sophomores to the roster next season, with the hope of avenging the early postseason loss.

“In the bottom of the seventh I wasn’t worried about winning as much as playing as hard as we could,” Ambrosio said. “We gave it our best, and left it all out on the field today.”

Kiernan Urso as Oliver and Jeffrey Sanzel as Fagin in a scene from ‘Oliver!’ at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson. Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

By Erin Dueñas

Twelve-year-old Kiernan Urso can trace his love of acting back to preschool where a creative teacher engaged him and his classmates in games of “Let’s Pretend” where the only limit was their imaginations.

“She let us choose whoever we wanted. We would all pick a character, and she would write a script based on the characters,” said Kiernan. “I remember once there was a play with Peter Pan and Rocky Balboa and three Disney princesses. That’s when I learned that performing was a way of communicating.”

In addition to “Let’s Pretend” sessions, the Longwood Middle School sixth-grader said he would accompany his father, a teacher in Longwood, to the plays put on at school.

“I remember sitting in the front row and thinking I can see myself doing that.”

On May 23, Kiernan will take to the stage as the title character in “Oliver!” at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson.

It will be his third time on the main stage there, having appeared in “A Christmas Carol” as Scrooge as a Boy this past year and Tiny Tim the year before. Kiernan said he is excited to play Oliver.

“He is very innocent but very strong,” Kiernan said of his character. “He can survive anything. Despite his life, that hasn’t gone well, he’s a fighter and he won’t give up.”

But playing the title role, which puts him in nine of the play’s 12 scenes, is also making Kiernan nervous.

“Playing the main character is nerve-wracking,” he said. “What are people going to think? I don’t want to disappoint anyone.”

With rehearsals at least five times a week, preparing for “Oliver!” has taken up a lot of Kiernan’s time, but he manages to complete schoolwork thanks to supportive teachers and making good use of his time.

“I get my homework done during the school day and maybe some in the morning,” he said. “I don’t know how I do it but it works out.”

The demanding rehearsal schedule also keeps Kiernan’s mom Christina busy, driving her son back and forth from their home in Ridge to Port Jefferson.

“It’s all worth the crazy hours. It’s such a great experience for him” she said. “To see that spark in your child’s eye — to see him love it and not just like it. It’s all worth it.”

A self-described movie buff, Kiernan said he enjoys watching movies with a lot of drama, and he said he would love to appear in a horror movie one day. He is a big fan of television as well, counting the ABC show “Once Upon a Time” as a favorite.

“I love how they twist fairy tales and compress them with our modern world,” Kiernan said. “I would love to be on that show someday. I don’t even care what character I would play.”

Kiernan said eventually he would like to audition for commercials and possibly even Broadway. A dream role would be to play King Triton in “The Little Mermaid.”

“He’s in control and I like the feeling of how he can boss people around.”

For now Kiernan is enjoying his time at Theatre Three, which he said is unlike anything he has ever experienced.

“The adults here treat you like one of them,” he said. “They are not distant and they try to help you out and do what it takes to make you comfortable.”

Kiernan said he is particularly inspired by Jeffrey Sanzel, who is directing “Oliver!” and playing the role of Fagin. Sanzel also plays Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol.”

“The way he directs, acts and portrays any character he plays is amazing,” Kiernan said. “I want to be like that when I grow up.”

Sanzel is equally impressed with Kiernan.

“When he auditioned for Oliver, we saw something truly extraordinary,” Sanzel said. “It was a combination of raw honesty and underlying fire. In Kiernan, we saw the passion and the light that shines through underneath. The audience will root for him from the first moment to the last.”

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson, will present the timeless musical “Oliver!” from May 23 to June 27. For more information, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

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