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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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With less than two weeks to go before New York State’s primaries, we’ve been ramping up our coverage of the 2018 elections at TBR News Media. One thing has become abundantly clear: There are a seemingly endless number of hurdles for who can run, their campaigns and how to vote.

In Shoreham, Rocky Point Fire Chief Mike Yacubich has fought to stay on the ballot after citizens in the state’s 2nd Assembly District challenged his petitions to be the Republican candidate to run for the seat. Their objections were based on the fact that he and his son share the same name — and that there was no distinguishing middle initial indicated on the forms — which they argued could have led to confusion for voters.

In Northport, Democratic hopeful Michael Marcantonio was found ineligible to run for the state’s 12th Assembly District after it was brought to the court’s attention he cast his vote in North Carolina in 2014. At the time, he was a law student at Duke University and didn’t realize judges may rule that ballot severed his five-year residency in New York, which is the time required to run for political office.

In Huntington, Republican candidates have petitioned to create a “Stop LIPA” ballot line for the Nov. 6 elections. Their opponents have filed objections. It has raised questions about when Stop LIPA became a legitimate third party and cast doubts on which elected officials are rallying against the utility’s attempt to get the taxes lowered on its Northport plant, an issue we see as local and party-less.

Throughout the summer, we’ve seen voter drives encouraging teenagers to register before heading off to college. The process of simply obtaining an absentee ballot requires completing a preliminary application that needs to be hand delivered to the Suffolk County Board of Elections Yaphank office or snail mailed at least seven days in advance, and casting an absentee ballot then requires a second trip to the post office. Also, being required to work during polling hours is not listed as a valid reason for obtaining an absentee ballot.

Our state laws regarding how to run for office and how to cast a vote need to be simplified. The process needs to be streamlined and modernized. Our failure to do so hurts both Democrats and Republicans, it knows no party lines. Rather, it collectively silences the voices of aspiring politicians looking to make a difference, employees working long hours to make ends meet and uninformed youth who find too many barriers between them and the polling booths.

First, information on how to run for office and eligibility needs to be made clear and more easily available to the public. A fundamental concept to our democracy is that anyone can run for office — but they have to know how and what to do.

In New York state, anyone with a valid driver’s license can register to vote online and change their party affiliation. Given this is possible, we fail to see any reason why a request for an absentee ballot should not also be fileable via email or an online form on Suffolk County Board of Elections’ website with an electronic confirmation given.

With the technology available today, it’s hard to believe we’re locked into pen-and-paper forms and snail mail to register political candidates for elections and to vote if temporarily out of state. It’s time we re-examine these methods. Participating in democracy should be getting easier, not more difficult.

Photo from Island Christian Church Demolition begins as workers clear out the old materials in the sanctuary of Island Christian Church. Photo from Island Christian Church

Construction is currently underway at Island Christian Church of East Northport for the total renovation of its sanctuary. The original building, now the youth center of the church, was built in 1965. In the mid-1980s, a major addition was undertaken, adding classrooms, offices and a 10,000-square-foot multipurpose auditorium, which is where Sunday services have been held since it opened in 1987. Since that time, another addition occurred in 2008, which increased lobby space, classrooms and offices. 

Over the last few years, it became apparent that the sanctuary space was in need of a face-lift, after 30-plus years of continual use. Called RENEW 2018, the project will entail new staging and lighting, wall covering, carpeting and HVAC. New audio, visual and lighting equipment will also be installed. 

“This is such an exciting time for Island Christian Church,” said senior pastor the Rev. Mike O’Connor, adding, “We have had so many milestones in this auditorium, including over 3,000 Sunday services, 759 baptisms, over 100 weddings almost 300 baby dedications. Now, we get to see it fully renovated for this and the next generation — for the next 30 years, the Lord willing.” 

“All the funds needed for this renovation were generously provided for by our congregation, so there is no debt,” he said.

Completion is expected sometime before Christmas 2018. In the meantime, Sunday services will be taking place in the church gymnasium, which served as the sanctuary in the original building. 

“We’ve come full circle it seems, but we are blessed to be able to have the space to accommodate our congregation during construction. In fact, the community is always welcome to check it out. Sunday service times will remain at 9 and 10:45 a.m.,” said O’Connor.

Island Christian Church is located 400 Elwood Road in East Northport. For further information, call 631-822-3000 or visit www.islandchristian.com.

Jim Molloy explores imaginative new subjects and styles in solo exhibit

'Primary Colors'

By Melissa Arnold

Artist Jim Molloy of Miller Place has earned a reputation as a nautical and landscape painter, and it’s easy to see why. His oil-on-canvas masterpieces of lighthouses in Maine, the local harbors of Stony Brook, Port Jefferson and Mount Sinai, or the intricate components of a sailboat will transport you to another place. His award-winning work has been showcased up and down the East Coast.

These days, though, Molloy is exploring something completely different. And it all started with a trip to the antique store.

‘Entropy’

“I found some [children’s] blocks and thought they would make a nice still life,” said Molloy, 53. “From there I started working with Tinker Toys, LEGOs, things like that, anything I could find.”

The new focus on what he calls “abstract realism” has given Molloy a surge of fresh ideas, and he’s ready to share them with the world. His first solo exhibit, entitled Primary Colors, will debut at Gallery North in Setauket on Aug. 30.

 

Art has always been a part of Molloy’s life, and he worked for decades using his talents wherever he could — as an illustrator for technical manuals, in the advertising industry, making 3-D models, doing custom airbrush work on vehicles and the list goes on. His real passion was for painting, however, and 12 years ago he left the workforce to paint full time.

It was easy to keep up his old rhythm of waking up and getting to work, said Molloy, who paints daily in his home studio. Self-taught, he honed his skills through hours of reading and study.

“After I quit my job, I visited museums and read every book I could get my hands on [about painting],” he said, adding he is especially inspired by Andrew Wyeth, Edward Hopper and Winslow Homer.

There are also the artists that encouraged and collaborated with him along the way. Among them are Irene Ruddock, president of Setauket Artists, who met Molloy at an art festival years ago. He began to exhibit with the group, and in 2015, they named him their Honored Artist.

“People are attracted to Jim’s paintings, not just because of his skillful techniques, but because of their soulfulness,” Ruddock said. “His work contains that special quality that tugs a bit at your heart, where you know that you are not just looking at something — you are feeling something that is warm and rare. In short, his paintings become memorable.”

‘Square Meal’

The journey to Primary Colors began last year at Gallery North, when Molloy was featured in a group exhibit titled The Art of Eating. Each work in the show focused on food, and Molloy’s contribution was a whimsical painting of children’s blocks arranged to resemble a plate of sushi with a pair of chopsticks.

The painting, an oil-on-panel work titled “Square Meal,” captured the attention of Gallery North Executive Director Judith Levy.

“I was amused by it. It was unique, interesting and fun,” said Levy in a recent phone interview. “When Jim approached me about an exhibit, I told him I would love to focus on that painting. It’s important for us to show a range of different ideas, and I’m very excited.” The show will also be on view during the gallery’s 2018 Outdoor Art Show and Music Festival on Sept. 8 and 9.

The process of creating each painting is a true labor of love for Molloy. Once he finds a subject that interests him, he’ll take it home and set it up in the studio. But before the painting begins, Molloy takes a photo of the subject that he can work from as time goes on. Getting the perfect angle and lighting is painstaking, and Molloy often shoots 100 photos or more before getting it just right.

‘Express’

In total, 32 works of art will be showcased during Primary Colors, many of them created within the past year with the exhibit in mind. The title hints at a common theme — each painting features the three primary colors — red, yellow and blue — in a prominent way. The paintings vary in size, from 6-by-12 inches to 3-by-5 feet, and all will be available for purchase.

“People in this area know me for my landscape art, so I’m honestly a little nervous about how they’ll respond to this exhibit,” Molloy admitted. “But I think it’s fun and colorful. In the beginning, when I first started painting [in this way], I never would have noticed the little details. But now I see everything differently. It’s a new perspective.”

Primary Colors will be on display from Aug. 30 to Sept. 21 at Gallery North, 90 North Country Road, Setauket. The public is invited to an opening reception on Aug. 30 from 5 to 7 p.m., and Molloy will be the featured artist at the gallery’s ArTalk series on Sept. 16 from 3 to 5 p.m. For more information about the exhibit, visit ​www.gallerynorth.org​ or call ​631-751-2676.

To see more of Jim Molloy’s artwork, visit ​www.molloyart.com.

Images courtesy of Gallery North

By Yusuf A. Hannun, M.D.

Dr. Yusuf Hannun

Recently the New York State Department of Health (DOH) reported elevated levels of leukemia, bladder cancer, thyroid cancer and lung cancer in three central Long Island communities — Farmingville, Selden and Centereach. 

As Suffolk County’s only academic-based cancer research facility, Stony Brook University Cancer Center has researchers working with DOH scientists to interpret the data and look at possible causes of these high incidence rates.

More information and analysis are needed

The state’s reports raise important questions about possible reasons, what the results mean and what can be done to change them. First, we need to determine which subtypes of the four cancers are responsible for these higher incidence rates. Each type of cancer can be divided into subtypes, based on certain characteristics of the cancer cells, and these subtypes may have distinct causes and risk factors. It’s important to know the subtype of a cancer to identify the possible causes.

Also, it is important to know whether mortality rates from these cancers are higher in the three Long Island communities than they are in the rest of the state. This information is critical because sometimes increases in incidence rates are due to improved diagnosis and detection. We must determine if the data in the DOH study truly are the results of higher incidences, which can be assessed by determining whether the higher incidence rates have translated into higher mortality rates. 

Findings for Farmingville, Centereach and Selden

Bladder cancer, lung cancer, thyroid cancer and leukemia were diagnosed at statistically significant elevated levels in Farmingville, Centereach and Selden, according to the DOH data. The cancer incidences were identified with information from the New York State Cancer Registry.

The registry collects reports on cancer diagnoses from health care providers, which include the sites of tumors, the stages when diagnosed, the cell types of the cancer, treatment information and demographic information. Every person diagnosed with cancer in New York state is reported to the registry. The incidences also were identified from statistical mapping of neighborhoods in the three communities. 

We learned that, from 2011 to 2015, the following number of cases occurred:

• 311 cases of lung cancer, 56 percent above statewide rate

• 112 cases of bladder cancer, 50 percent above statewide rate

• 98 cases of thyroid cancer, 43 percent above statewide rate

• 87 cases of leukemia, 64 percent above statewide rate

Cancer research

With all the resources of an academic medical center, the Stony Brook Cancer Center will move quickly to examine the findings from this study.

Transforming cancer care is the driving force behind the construction of our new cancer center, which will be located in the 240,000-square-foot, eight-story Medical Research and Translation (MART) building opening in November. It is where researchers will revolutionize breakthrough medical discoveries and create lifesaving treatments to deliver the future of cancer care today.

For more information on the DOH study, or the Stony Brook Cancer Center, call us at 631-638-1000 or visit www.cancer.stonybrookmedicine.edu.

Dr. Yusuf A. Hannun is the director of the Stony Brook University Cancer Center and vice dean for cancer medicine.

Over 15 local restaurants will participate in this year’s Evening of Wine Under the Stars. Photo courtesy of HHS

By Sabrina Petroski

Eat, drink and be merry at An Evening of Wine Under the Stars! Hosted by the Huntington Historical Society, the 28th annual celebration will be held on Thursday, Sept. 6 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on the grounds of the Dr. Daniel W. Kissam House Museum (1795), located at 434 Park Ave. in Huntington Village. With delicious food and drink from local restaurants, wineries and breweries, live music from the band Ladies Drink Free (a blend of gritty funk, R&B/soul, pop rock and modern jazz) along with a silent auction and raffles, guests are sure to have a night full of fun.

This year’s event will honor The Paramount and its owners, Jim Condron, Dominick Catoggio, Stephen Ubertini and Brian Doyle. “We are thankful to them for restoring the Huntington Theater, built in 1927,” said Lorraine Kelley, the chairperson for the event. “The Huntington Theater is an important part of our history. The Founder’s Room at The Paramount is also part of the walking tour and pub crawl led by town historian Robert Hughes.”

Participating restaurants as of press time include Mr. Sausage, Culinary Studio, California Pizza Kitchen, Crew Kitchen, Babalu NY, IMC, Shamrock Pub, Christopher’s Pub, Kerber’s Farms, The Sandbar, Miko, Black and Blue, Crabtree’s, Duck Island Bakery, Copenhagen Bakery, Jeff’s Surf & Turf and Red Restaurant. Wine will be provided by Bottles and Cases, Joanina and Millbrook Wines, a Hudson Valley winery; and three local breweries will be present — Blind Bat Brewery, Oyster Bay Brewing Company and HopWins Brewery.

One of the highlights of the evening will be the silent auction and raffle in the historic Kissam Barn. Auction items will include a shed from Burt Lumber, a fishing trip with Skip Hartmann, a wine tasting at Total Wine in Westbury for 20 people (wine included), a reproduction handmade dining room table and chairs and a reproduction handmade queen size bed. Baseball memorabilia items will also be auctioned, as well as an original piece of artwork from “The Lockhorns” that has been generously donated by cartoonist Bunny Hoest. 

This year the society will be using Bidpal/OneCause for the first time to allow participants to bid on auction items while also purchasing their tickets online. For those who cannot attend, but wish to bid on the auction items or contribute to the society, it will be possible to register and bid from home. Participants do not need to attend or buy a ticket to bid.

Donations of approximately 40 raffle baskets have been received from merchants in Huntington, Greenlawn, Cold Spring Harbor and Northport, filled to the brim with restaurant gift cards, spa and beauty salon gift cards, baskets of wine, free passes for Pilates and dance lessons and various books.

“This event is our most important fundraiser of the year,” said Kelley. “The money we raise allows us to offer free programs to the community such as the Sheep to Shawl Festival in May and Apple Festival in October. It also gives us the funding to restore and maintain our four historic properties. We are so grateful to all the restaurants and businesses who are donating food, wine and gifts to help us reach our goal.”

Tickets for An Evening of Wine Under the Stars are $75 for members and $90 for nonmembers. Any remaining tickets will be sold at the door for $100. For further information, please call 631-427-7045, ext. 401, or visit www.huntingtonhistoricalsociety.org.

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Jamie Ortega, a former lacrosse player at Middle Country, playing for University of North Carolina this spring. Photo from University of North Carolina

By Desirée Keegan

University of North Carolina standout Jamie Ortega wanted to live up to the hype after being named Inside Lacrosse’s No. 1-ranked freshman attacker, and she did just that with a record-breaking first season with a Tar Heels team that reached the NCAA semifinals.

Jamie Ortega’s
2018 headshot for the
University of North Carolina. Photo from University of North Carolina

The Centereach native was tabbed National Rookie of the Year as well by the lacrosse-centric publication, and Freshman of the Year by the Atlantic Coast Conference, navigating her way to be the top goal-scorer on a deep North Carolina offense. She shot 57.4 percent for 70 goals and added 16 assists while starting in all 18 games, scoring multiple goals in each of the Tar Heels’ final 14 contests, including 12 in a three-game span in the NCAA tournament. Her 86 points broke UNC’s single-season record while she led all ACC rookies and ranked fourth overall in the conference. Her 70 goals also broke a 2008 record (50) for most goals scored by a freshman in a season, ranked second overall in the ACC and tied for 11th in Division I.

“She’s a tremendous talent,” 23-year North Carolina head coach Jenny Levy said. “[Myself and my coaching staff] have done this for a long time, and when you see ‘It’, you see it. She really has multiple weapons — she can dodge, feed and play off-ball — and she’s done that for a long time. She’s had the most tremendous freshman year we’ve ever had.”

Levy, who is considered among the best coaches in women’s lacrosse history, ranking third in NCAA Division I history in career wins and is a two-time national champion and a two-time National Coach of the Year, said she challenged Ortega to perform at a high level after UNC graduated a huge class of seniors. She said she hadn’t put that type of pressure on a freshman in a long time, and said she thought Ortega responded.

“I wasn’t really expecting being ranked the top recruit in the nation, and it did make me nervous because I felt like I had to live up to that expectation, but it also made me want to work harder, because I wanted to prove I was the No. 1 lacrosse recruit in the nation,” said Ortega, who was also named to the Inside Lacrosse ILWomen All-Rookie Team and All-America third team. “Being named the Rookie of the Year means a lot to me because it showed that through college — which is really hard, because it’s not like high school, everyone’s good — I can still stand out.”

She credited her teammates, like Marie McCool, a decorated player in her own right, for pushing her to become better, and giving her opportunities to succeed.

McCool said Ortega proved she was a force all her own, especially after the freshman recorded her 15th goal of the conference tournament, which broke a North Carolina record set by attacker Molly Hendrick the season prior.

“I don’t let things get to me. I feel I can push through adversities and the challenges defenders face me with.”

— Jamie Ortega

“Jamie Ortega is a special player,” McCool told The Daily Tar Heel. “She’s only a freshman and the confidence that she plays with — you don’t see it often with freshmen.”

Ortega played her best lacrosse the second half of the season. She scored a career-high seven goals and closed out a 10-0 first-half run in a 20-10 win against Duke University April 21. The performance was one goal shy of the UNC single-game record set in 2002.

Ortega grew accustomed to the spotlight in high school, having experienced facing double-teams throughout her six years on her Middle Country high school team, which she led to its first Suffolk County title and state championship game in 2017. Even a switch from midfield to attack couldn’t slow her down this season.

“It just comes so natural to her, playing the game how it is supposed to be played,” Middle Country head coach Lindsay Dolson said. “Jamie did an awesome job on defense and offense for us. She definitely led the team in that aspect.”

Her senior year she tallied 98 goals and 45 assists and finished as New York state’s all-time leader in points with 588 (402 goals and 186 assists). She was also a five-year varsity starter and two-time all-county pick on Centereach High School’s soccer team.

Jamie Ortega reverses in front of the cage during a 2017 Middle Country lacrosse game. Photo by Bill Landon

“I’m a pretty confident person,” Ortega said. “I think that’s really important for other players to have. I don’t let things get to me. I feel I can push through adversities and the challenges defenders face me with.”

Through all her triumphs she also had some unique experiences as a Tar Heel, like when she faced her older sister Nikki, an attack for the University of Notre Dame. The sisters scored unassisted and back-to-back for the first goals for each of their teams in UNC’s come-from-behind win.

“It was stressful, because you want them both to win,” their mother Susan said, laughing. “I’m so proud of them, and one thing with Jamie is she’s always trying to get better and her hard work really paid off. Jamie is the most humble kid you’re ever going to meet. She doesn’t talk about herself, she doesn’t watch herself, and I think that makes it even more impressive to me because she’s all about the game and playing, and playing with her team, and having fun doing it.”

Jamie Ortega also had the chance to play minutes from her home when Stony Brook University hosted the NCAA playoffs for North Carolina, which made its 10th appearance in the NCAA tournament semifinals, including seven in the last 10 years. She had four goals and one assist in the team’s final appearance of 2018 against James Madison University, earning All-NCAA Tournament Team honors.

If that all wasn’t enough, Ortega is giving back to a sport that’s given so much to her.

She worked a camp called Top of the Class at Lawrence Academy in Massachusetts with her assistant coach Phil Barnes, who runs it with Harvard University head coach Devon Wills. Many Ivy League schools and coaches were there, along with six of her UNC teammates. She said working with the freshman to junior players felt natural.

“I didn’t feel like I was coaching — it felt like I was just hanging out with some lacrosse girls,” Ortega said. “This is definitely something I never expected, because I’m not one to brag, but being an idol to others really motivated you more. Lacrosse means everything to me, and to be able to play, and to still play at this level, making memories with my teammates, trying to succeed with them and giving back to others has been a privilege.”

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We get it — if you read our newspapers or just about any other media that cover Long Island, you’ve heard enough over the past decade about the legal battles going on between several school districts and townships versus Long Island Power Authority.

If you feel like you’re on LIPA overload, we have some significant news — a major development occurred in the cases last week. A New York State Supreme Court judge determined that the 1997 Power Supply Agreement between National Grid, which owns the power plants, and LIPA, which transmits that electricity to customers, did not contain any language, or “promise,” that prevented the utility companies from seeking to have taxes they pay on the power stations reduced.

The good news is this decision may signal there’s a light at the end of the tunnel to this endlessly drawn-out court battle. We fear the positives may end there.

LIPA has said that its intention in filing these lawsuits is to be able to reduce energy bills for its customers, as it hopes to pay out less in property taxes. On its face, the company’s goal appears to a good thing for residents of Huntington and Brookhaven townships, who will likely see a reduction in their monthly electrical bills should LIPA be victorious, except for the residents in Northport and Port Jefferson, who will see a property tax increase. These odds seem an increasingly likely fact in recent weeks as courts have ruled twice  in LIPA’s favor.

However, these legal battles have been waged for nearly a decade, racking up what we can only imagine are substantial legal bills from lawyers hired to represent the municipalities and the school districts involved. Then adding in fees paid for a third-party mediator when sit-downs begin in September, we find ourselves asking, “At what cost?”

We hope to find out just how much taxpayers’ money has been spent on legal fees for the duration of the saga, so keep an eye out for that. And for what? The “Hail Mary” play that a court would determine the 1997 PSA had implied a legally binding promise that LIPA wouldn’t seek a reduction in its property taxes.

It was such a risky play for Brookhaven Town and Port Jefferson Village that those two municipalities have agreed to settle the cases out of court to avoid exposure to the risk of years of back pay should the issue actually end up in a trial loss for the two entities. Still, why did it take Brookhaven and Port Jeff until 2018 to finally reach a settlement while legal fees kept accruing?

All of this can also be looked at against the backdrop that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has set a goal for 50 percent of the state’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2030. Who’s going to pay for the solar and wind producing plants necessary, for example, to get on track in reaching that goal? We don’t think we’re going out on a limb in speculating that at least some of that cost will fall on LIPA’s customers.

While we’d like to think we’re inching closer to a day when we no longer have to report on legal issues pertaining to LIPA, a positive resolution for all stakeholders is going to take significantly more work. In reality, it should have been resolved long ago.

The festival will have lots of carnival rides and games for families to enjoy. File photo by Bob Savage

By Sabrina Petroski

Souvlaki, gyros, baklava, oh my! Is your mouth watering yet? Try all of these dishes and more as the Greek Orthodox Church of the Assumption in Port Jefferson celebrates its 57th annual Port Jefferson Greek Festival from Aug 23 through 26. This year’s event will feature carnival rides, traditional dance performances, live music, games and culinary delights. 

Come for the delicious food and stay for the dancing!

Authentic Greek dishes such as gyros, moussaka, tiropita, souvlaki and spanakopita will be served up, along with sweet desserts such as melomakarona, galaktoboureko, kourabiedes, koulourakia, baklava and loukoumades, a fried dough pastry favorite.

According to Marisa Raptis, the president of the Parish Council, members of the church will be making the food on sight and fresh to order. Popcorn, cotton candy and pretzels will also be available. 

Guided tours of the church will be available throughout the day, and over 30 vendors will be scattered around the church grounds selling jewelry, home                                                                                           goods, clothes, beauty products, candles and other handmade items. 

One of the main attractions at the festival is the over-the-top sweepstakes that the church holds. This year 315 prizes will be awarded including cars — a 2018 Mercedes Benz GLC 300 4Matic is first prize — an Alexa Smart Device, a Bose Home Theater, an iPod Touch, a Nespresso Mini, cash prizes and much more. Tickets for the sweepstakes are $100 each, limited to 4,999 tickets — meaning that one out of 16 will win a prize. The drawing will be held on Aug. 26 at 7 p.m.

The festival will have lots of carnival rides and games for families to enjoy. File photo by Giselle Barkley

In addition, there will also be live performances throughout the weekend for guests to enjoy. The Hellenic Dance Troupe will be performing on Saturday as well as the church’s Youth Dance Troupe, showing off the traditional Greek style of dance. A five-piece band will take the stage Friday through Sunday with tunes that will make you want to get up out of your seat, and a DJed fireworks show will turn heads on Friday and Saturday night, weather permitting. 

“People should come because we are one of the largest Greek festivals on Long Island,” said Raptis in a recent email. “Where else can you go on a Friday night and eat dinner under the stars while listening to live music and watching fireworks?,” adding, “I am most excited about being with my Greek community for four days as we show our love for our culture to everyone with music, food and dancing!”

The festival will take place, rain or shine, from 5 to 10 p.m. on Aug. 23, 5 to 11 p.m. on Aug. 24, 1 to 11 p.m. on Aug. 25 and 1 to 10 p.m. on Aug. 26. Tickets are $2 per person, and children under 12 can attend for free. A shuttle service will be available from Ward Melville High School to the church. Raffle tickets may be purchased online at www.portjeffgreekfest.com. 

The Greek Orthodox Church of the Assumption is located at 430 Sheep Pasture Road, Port Jefferson. For more information, call the church office at 631-473-0894.

By Beverly C. Tyler

Telling stories about the men and women of the Culper Spy Ring and portraying Setauket spy leader Abraham Woodhull has been one way for me to bring local history to life for both residents and visitors to this area. Reading about the Culper spies is also important, so I have written a number of articles and recommended books that tell the story. I have recently read and enthusiastically recommend “Kayleigh & Conner Detectives Inc. and King The Spy Dog” for children of all ages.

The cover of Dana Lynn Zotter’s first children’s book.

Written and illustrated by Dana Lynn Zotter, this 174-page soft-cover book tells the story of two children, Kayleigh and Connor, who spend their last week of summer vacation visiting their great-grandparents in Stony Brook who live in a historic house that holds all kinds of secrets. 

When the children find a gravestone with the name KING engraved on it in the roots of an old tree, their great-grandfather tells them that there was once a legendary spy dog named King in the area who has appeared as a ghost. The siblings meet a local boy and, as detailed on the back cover, “Three children search for the truth about ghosts, legends, and Long Island’s Culper Spies.”

Zotter has woven a delightful tale of a family and their experiences in the Long Island communities of Stony Brook, Setauket and Port Jefferson together with an accurate portrayal of the men and women involved in the Revolutionary War Culper Spy Ring. This well-crafted story vividly transports the reader to the historic hamlet of Stony Brook where the children explore their great-grandparents’ Colonial-era home and the shoreline of this picturesque community.

As Kayleigh and Connor explore, they discover mysteries connected with the house and the community, including an appearing and disappearing black dog named King. Agreeing to become detectives and follow the clues, the children discover how the Culper spies operated and how King the spy dog became an important member of the Culper Spy Ring.

Their travels take them along West Meadow Creek and as far as the Village of Port Jefferson where they meet General Lafayette on a recreated 18th-century French warship, which actually visited Greenport in 2015. At one point the children are mysteriously transported back to the Revolutionary War and join the Culper spies and King the spy dog on a brief spy adventure.

The Setauket Presbyterian Church and cemetery

“Kayleigh & Conner Detectives Inc. and King The Spy Dog” features 22 illustrations, including a recipe for invisible ink and a spy code, along with a list of historic places to visit. The drawings, including one of the Setauket Presbyterian Church and cemetery, help bring the story to life without taking away from the writing, allowing readers full use of their imaginations. I enjoyed the story and easily identified with the characters. 

Dana Lynn Zotter, who describes herself as a gardener, poet, artist and finder of four-leaf clovers, has crafted a wonderful story that will delight children and make historians smile.

“Kayleigh & Conner Detectives Inc. and King The Spy Dog” is available at the Three Village Historical Society’s gift shop, 93 North Country Road, Setauket. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. For more information, call 631-751-3730 or visit www.tvhs.org.

Author Beverly C. Tyler is the Three Village Historical Society historian and pens a biweekly column in the Village Times Herald titled History Close at Hand. 

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