Community

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Sidewalks being installed on Stony Brook Road near the university and the Research and Development Park. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Motorists driving along Stony Brook Road are currently witnessing what happens when the state and town work together.

In July, work began toward the north end of the corridor between Oxhead Road and Development Drive, in the vicinity of Stony Brook University. In 2016 state Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) secured a $1 million grant from the New York State Dormitory Authority through its State and Municipal Facilities Capital Program to fund a traffic safety improvement project on the road. An additional $75,000 was acquired by state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) through the state multimodal program, and Town of Brookhaven Highway Supervisor Dan Losquadro (R) said the town has contributed an approximate additional $815,000, for a total of about $1.9 million.

“The project involves several components that are going to enhance safety for not only drivers, but also, just as importantly, for pedestrians with the university,” Losquadro said.

Most notable to drivers and pedestrians are the sidewalks being added between Oxhead Road and SBU’s Research and Development Park. There will be drainage improvements, according to Losquadro, as well as retaining walls at spots where there are significant grade changes with the sidewalks, in order for the walkways to be Americans with Disabilities Act compliant.

Losquadro said based on talks with university officials, community members and traffic studies conducted by the town, there was a need to improve vehicular flow at the Oxhead Road intersection and the school’s South Drive intersection. The highway superintendent said there will be a new signal and turning lane into Oxhead Road so cars can cue up at the light and not impede the flow of northbound and southbound traffic. The project will also entail a larger turning lane into South Drive which will have dedicated turning arrows, meaning those making a left turn from Stony Brook Road  will not have to worry about oncoming traffic turning in front of them.

“It will move many more cars out of that southbound queue, so traffic can flow much more freely southbound,” Losquadro said.

There will also be a new traffic signal at the Research and Development Park. At the end of the project, which is estimated to be the middle of October, the road will be resurfaced between Oxhead and the R&D park, and new decorative lights that will match ones used on the south end of the corridor will be installed.

The highway superintendent said in addressing both vehicular and pedestrian traffic, the project also takes into consideration both current and future needs, especially with future development at the R&D park.

“In speaking with the university, we want to plan for the future,” Losquadro said. “We want to future proof this. We want to make sure that even if the volume between the university and R&D park is lower now, as far as walkers, one of the reasons for that may be there is no safe way for those people to walk.”

The highway superintendent said he hopes the changes will encourage more people to use non-vehicular transit, meaning less traffic.

SBU spokesperson Lauren Sheprow said the university is grateful to all involved.

“The campus community at Stony Brook University is exceptionally grateful to have these new roadway improvements that will make it safer for those walking and biking near campus,” Sheprow said. “It would not have been possible without $1M in state Senate funding secured by Senator Flanagan and nearly the same amount by Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro. We are also grateful to Assemblyman Steve Englebright who provided funding that enhanced the project’s beauty and added safety through the addition of LED decorative street lights.”

Losquadro said there is a long-term plan for the corridor including hopes to work on the southern portion of the corridor near Route 347 in the near future, but a timeline for that project depends if money is included in the upcoming capital budgets.

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Aerial view of Indian Hills Golf Course, where developers want to build 98 townhouses.

A proposed development at Indian Hills Golf Course in Fort Salonga is once again drawing criticism and the ire of a community. A public hearing scheduled for Sept. 18 will open discussions on the environmental impact statement for the construction of 98 town houses. 

In August of 2018, the Town of Huntington’s planning board issued a positive declaration to the developers, Hauppauge-based Northwind Group. The environmental impact statement review is the next step of the approval process. 

The upcoming presentation will focus on how potential development would impact water quality of local watersheds, the area’s steep slopes, coastal erosion zones, traffic and other issues.

John Hayes, president of the Fort Salonga Property Owners Association, said the proposed development is massive and will negatively impact local roadways and surrounding wetlands, among other things. 

“We’ve been opposed to the development, it’s not something the community wants,” he said.

The project, dubbed the Preserve at Indian Hills, is a 55-and-over clustered housing development. In addition to the 98 town houses, the project also includes a new fitness center with an expanded clubhouse alongside the existing golf course.  

Previously, the association asked town officials to place a moratorium on new developments in the Crab Meadow Watershed area, which includes Indian Hills. It came after town officials released a draft of the Crab Meadow Watershed Plan, done by GEI Consultants. 

The study’s goal was developing a community-driven stewardship plan that highlights best practices in the future management of the watershed area, according to a March 2018 TBR News Media article. It also focused on evaluating the environmental conditions of the land around the Jerome A. Ambro Memorial Wetland Preserve in Fort Salonga.

“The study showed that the watershed area is built out to its zoned density, we believe there shouldn’t be close to 100 homes built there,” Hayes said. 

The proposed development has been a decisive topic in the Huntington community for close to three years. Over the years, the developers have tried to change zoning for the property from 1-acre single family to open space cluster district, in the hopes of building homes on the property. They also changed the initial plans from building 108 units to 98. 

“We expect public comment on our application which is permitted within our current zoning,”   Jim Tsunis, managing member of The Northwind Group said in a statement. “Our professionals will address all concerns during the hearing on Sept. 18 and the extended public comment period.”

The president of the association said they remain skeptical of the development and plan to attend the upcoming planning board hearing. 

“We will be there to challenge their findings and we’ll counter their points,” Hayes said. 

Residents can review the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the town’s website under the Planning and Environment Department page: www.huntingtonny.gov/indian-hills-deis-july2019. 

After the public hearing, the town will be accepting public comments through Oct. 18 either online or letters can be mailed to: Huntington Town Hall, Department of Planning & Environment (Room 212), 100 Main St., Huntington, NY 11743.

Following public comments, the next steps for the development would be a final environmental impact statement and a possible preliminary subdivision hearing.

Josie the bulldog, the organization’s mascot, is resting up for this Sunday's fundraiser.

By David Luces

For the seventh year running, the Long Island Bulldog Rescue will host its Barbecue and Yard Sale fundraiser on Sunday, Sept. 15 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will be held at 304 Frowein Road in Center Moriches on the grounds of a horse farm.

“The fundraiser helps us cover the cost of medical bills and other services for these dogs,” explained Laurette Richin, executive director of LIBR. “It also allows us to educate people on the breed and it brings in people who are interested in either fostering or adopting.”

A number of bulldogs will be on hand for visitors to meet and interact with, as well as volunteers to answer questions.

Richin said while the Stony Brook based organization serves areas of the Northeast, the majority of bulldogs they take in are found on Long Island, which increases the need for them to find local foster homes and individuals who are willing to adopt.

The executive director said before adopting individuals should consider making sure a dog will fit their lifestyle and that they are ready to take on a full-time responsibility.

“There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about this breed,” she said. “Many believe that bulldogs are good for apartment dwellers — they are not necessarily couch potatoes.”

Richin mentioned bulldogs become very attached to their owners and said potential adopters should also consider how they may fit in with young children and other dogs or cats.

For the past 20 years Richin along with LIBR volunteers have rescued thousands of bulldogs; last year alone they saved 340.

For Richin, it all began when she was asked to stop by the Little Shelter Animal Rescue to check on an older bulldog. When she looked at the dog’s teeth she realized it was a puppy that was atrophied due to being in a crate all the time.

“I was leaving the shelter and I couldn’t stop thinking about it and I was like, I can’t leave it there,” she said.

Richin went back and took the dog home and helped nurse it back to health.

“It feels great to be able to help these dogs, it’s just wonderful,” the executive director said. “We’ve been grateful to the people that have donated to us over the years.”

The fundraiser will include a yard sale, a mobile dog grooming van from Jill’s Pet Spa, face painting, a Frisbee contest, a bake sale, raffles, mystery boxes, a visit from Jester Jim and a duck race. The barbecue will include hot dogs, hamburgers and pasta salad for sale donated by event sponsors Iavarone Brothers.

All proceeds from the fundraiser will go toward providing medical, behavioral and other services to save the lives of bulldogs. Admission is free and the rain date is Sept. 22. For more information on LIBR visit www.longislandbulldogrescue.org.

The Slambovian Circus of Dreams. Photo by Tom Moore

By Melissa Arnold

At Benner’s Farm in East Setauket, there’s a sense of going back in time. The 15 acres that make up the private family farm have been cared for by local families since the 1700s, and current owners Bob and Jean Benner have worked hard to maintain that historic atmosphere. Along with growing organic produce and hosting a variety of educational events, the farm is also well-known for its seasonal festivals held throughout the year.

Quarter Horse

This weekend, Benner’s Farm will tune up for the 8th annual Fiddle & Folk Festival, offering guests a chance to experience traditional folk and bluegrass tunes along with modern spins on the genre. Emceed by Bob Westcott, the program includes performances by the Slambovian Circus of Dreams, Quarter Horse, Eastbound Freight Bluegrass Band, Taylor Ackley and the Deep Roots Ensemble.

The festival is a revival of a similar event held for many years at The Long Island Museum in Stony Brook, said farm owner Bob Benner.

“I used to play violin when I was a kid, and my wife and I were involved with the Long Island Traditional Music Association for a long time,” said Benner. “The farm has been around since 1751, and back then, people made their own music and danced in barns for socialization and entertainment. We try to keep that same ambiance today by offering opportunities to come out and hear live music of all kinds.”

Taylor Ackley and the Deep Roots Ensemble

The event barn’s Backporch Stage will serve as the main stage for the festival, while the Shady Grove Stage will offer workshops and Q&A opportunities with headlining musicians, allowing audiences to get to know them on a deeper level. In addition, the Jam Junction Stage will play host to musicians of any skill level who want to take a turn on the platform alone or with friends.

“The Fiddle & Folk Festival is one of the nicest ways you can spend a Sunday on Long Island, and you get to hear an entire day of music you might not otherwise experience,” said Amy Tuttle, program director of the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council, which sponsors the event along with Homestead Arts, WUSB and Times Beacon Record News Media. “We have a broad reach, and use our contacts to bring in nationally-known performers and people in the community to entertain,” she added.

Taylor Ackley and the Deep Roots Ensemble from Stony Brook bring together classical musicians from the area to play old-time mountain music with unique instrumentation, Tuttle said. Ever heard bluegrass played on a French horn? Now’s your chance.

Eastbound Freight Bluegrass Band

The Eastbound Freight Bluegrass Band is the longest-running bluegrass ensemble on Long Island with all of its founding members still performing. The close-knit group has played together for more than 20 years, and it’s evident in their sound, Tuttle said. “They have a tightness in their music that can only come from being together for such a long time.”

Eastbound Freight will offer a fiddle workshop during the afternoon for anyone interested in learning more about the instrument and playing in the folk genre.

Quarter Horse, a local six-man ensemble, blends traditional folk sounds with elements of rock, alternative, blues, jazz and country music. The band, which formed five years ago, offers a younger take on folk music, Benner said.

The Slambovian Circus of Dreams

Known as pioneers of Americana, the Slambovian Circus of Dreams has been recognized in publications around the globe for its unique sound and showmanship. The whimsical group from Sleepy Hollow is known for its classic rock influences and varied instrumentation, from mandolin to cello and theremin. Benner said that they’ll be working Eastern European music and yodeling into their set this year. “They’re a fantastic group and so much fun to watch,” he said.

Children will enjoy the event as well as the festival offers a Kids Corner with storytelling and music, a chance to feed the farm animals and a ride on the Big Swing.

As the day draws to a close, stick around for a traditional barn dance with live music and a caller and bring home some organic produce.

“People don’t want to leave because it’s such a peaceful and fun atmosphere. You can forget about the rest of the world for a day, get out in nature and let your stress go,” said Tuttle.

The 8th annual Fiddle & Folk Festival will be held at Benner’s Farm, 56 Gnarled Hollow Road, E. Setauket on Sept. 15 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets in advance are $15 adults, $13 seniors and children; tickets at the door are $18 adults, $15 seniors and children. There is no rain date. Bring seating. For more information, call 631-689-8172 or visit www.fiddleandfolk.com.

By Rita J. Egan

From now through Oct. 27, the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts is celebrating a change that has nothing to do with the seasons but more with hot flashes, weight gain, hot flashes, restlessness, mood swings, hot flashes, memory loss, night sweats and did I mention hot flashes? The theater closes out its 17th season with the hilarious  “Menopause The Musical.”

Amy Burgmaier

With book and lyrics by Jeanie Linders, the story follows four strangers who get acquainted during a lingerie sale at New York City’s Bloomingdale’s. Despite different personalities and backgrounds, they find out they have something in common — the change of life. Bonding over the symptoms of menopause, the play has appealed to women in their 40s, 50s and beyond since it first debuted in Orlando in 2001. With clever remakes of classic songs from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, the show can be an entertaining production for men but is probably best enjoyed as a ladies’ night out.

Seth Greenleaf skillfully directs a talented cast of four women, Monica Palmer, Nancy Slusser, Jenny McGlinchey and Amy Baugmaier, who display immense comedic ability and singing voices to match.

Monica J. Palmer

Palmer approaches her role as the businesswoman with the right amount of confidence and attitude, while Slusser is a sassy Soap Star. McGlinchey is the perfect choice for Earth Mother as she easily and hysterically transforms from zen hippie trying to manage her symptoms to an imperfect woman just waiting for a symptom to pass. Baugmaier, as the housewife, is sweet and endearing. All four also show enough vulnerability for the audience to believe that their characters would befriend three strangers in the middle of the Big Apple.

The audience will quickly identify with songs such as “Change, Change, Change,” a hilarious take on Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools,” and “Stayin’ Awake/Night Sweatin,” a twist on the hits “Stayin’ Alive” and “Night Fever” from the movie “Saturday Night Fever.” Like most songs in the musical, they detail the changes women go through with a healthy dose of humor.

Jenny McGlinchey

As the show progresses, each scene and number garners more laughter, whether it’s  Earth Mother singing “My Husband Sleeps Tonight” to the tune of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” to share her woes about insomnia, or all the actresses performing “Sane and Normal Girls”/“Thank You Doctor” (“California Girls”/“Help Me Rhonda”) as each of the women professes her gratefulness for the prescriptions prescribed by her doctor.

During the reprise of “I’m Flashing,” a spin on the song “I’m Sorry,” Palmer’s character apologizes for her hot flashes. Slusser also has some fun flirting with the audience during the reprise of “Hot Flash” (“Hot Stuff”) where her singing talent is front and center.

One of the funniest scenes takes place when Baugmaier tries on lingerie in the store’s dressing room and Palmer suddenly appears dressed like Tina Turner singing “What’s Love Got to Do With It.” The laughs kept coming as Baugmaier sings a beautiful version of “Only You” to her newfound friend — a vibrator. From beginning to end, the cast keeps the audience in stitches.

Nancy Slusser

Set designer Bud Clark and costume designer Sue Hill also deserve a round of applause. Clark has built a set that is simple yet incorporates pieces that easily create the feel of a department store, while Hill’s costumes fit the characters perfectly (Palmer’s Tina Turner outfit is sensational). Musical director Melissa Coyle and her orchestra as always navigate the hits seamlessly the entire show.

By the end of the night, it’s impossible not to have a new attitude about this season of life as the audience is invited to join the actors on stage for a celebratory dance.

The theater is now in the midst of a fundraising campaign to restore its light bulb marquee, and it’s no surprise that they want to highlight their offerings with quality productions such as “Menopause The Musical.”

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 East Main St. Smithtown, will present “Menopause The Musical” through Oct. 27. Running time is 90 minutes with no intermission. Performances are 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets range from $36 to $40. For more information, visit www.smithtownpac.org or call 631-724-3700.

MEET MELODY!

This week’s featured shelter pet is Melody, an 8-month-old, tortoiseshell kitten with beautiful green eyes. Melody is extremely sweet and friendly and loves to cuddle. She would be a great addition to a family with children.

Melody is spayed, microchipped and is up to date on all her vaccines.

Kent Animal Shelter is located at 2259 River Road in Calverton. The adoption center is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information on Melody and other adoptable pets at Kent, call 631-727-5731 or visit www.kentanimalshelter.com.

Photo courtesy of Kent Animal Shelter

Libraries across Suffolk County will have to deal with changes to the number of e-book copies allowed to them. Photo by Kyle Barr

As the internet has connected the world, libraries across Suffolk County have never been as linked as they are today with both patrons and each other.

The written word is strong, despite claims to the contrary, especially with the proliferation of e-books and audiobooks. Suffolk County’s Library System allows for libraries to request books from fellow libraries and gives access to multitudes of e-books and audiobooks alike, all free on request, barring a wait list.

Some publishing companies are not happy with the status quo.

Macmillan Publishers, an international corporation and one of the top five publishing houses across the globe, announced its intent to limit the number of copies allowed to libraries to one for the first eight weeks of release starting Nov. 1. After those eight weeks, they can purchase “expiring” e-book copies which need to be re-purchased after two years or 52 lends.

The Port Jefferson Library will have to deal with changes to the number of e-book copies allowed to them. Photo by Kyle Barr

While this decision has rocked libraries across the country, in Suffolk County, as the interlibrary program and e-book lending is handled by the Suffolk Cooperative Library System, that will mean one copy of an e-book for the entire system, according to Kevin Verbesey, director of the county library system. Just one e-book license for the whole of Suffolk and its near 1.5 million residents for the first eight weeks of its release.

To add some perspective, Verbesey said a hot new title could have thousands of residents on a wait list for the title, and the county library system usually tries to have one copy of said book for every two or three people requesting it. Like any anticipated piece of media, new and highly anticipated titles are most often sought and bought in those first eight weeks. Following that, barring renewed interest from something like a movie deal, attention begins to wane. Basically, the library system, which would usually purchase hundreds of licenses of that book, will effectively be restricted from having any. 

In socioeconomic terms, Verbesey said it means people who can afford it can buy a book. Those who can’t afford it will have their access restricted.

“In some parts of the county where there’s not great socioeconomic need, people have the option to ‘press buy’ and buy it for $12, but that’s not the case everywhere,” Verbesey said. “Rich people can have it, but poor people can’t.”

The North Shore is one of Suffolk County’s heaviest concentration of library users, the county library system director said. Those patrons could see some of the biggest impact of this decision.

Debbie Engelhardt, the Comsewogue Public Library director, said her patrons are savvy and know when books are set to hit the street, and they depend on the library to have e-book copies available.

North Shore Libray will have to deal with changes to the number of e-book copies allowed to them. Photo by Kyle Barr

“We have a long history of working very hard to get things into people’s hands as quickly as we can,” she said. “Think about a tiny little library someplace, they can buy one, and then all of Suffolk County can buy one. It just doesn’t seem equitable.”

Engelhardt said libraries often have deals to purchase books cheaper than retail price through deals with publishers. They will also create lease agreements to gather numerous copies of whatever is popular at the time, so they are not later burdened with multiple copies of that same tome. 

Ted Gutmann, the director of the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library, also pointed to the interlibrary loan system, which means not every library will need to purchase every book as long as it’s available nearby. 

E-books, on the other hand, are purchased by libraries for sometimes five times its original asking price. A regular e-book could cost around $12. A library or library system will purchase it at around $50 or $60, according to Verbesey. This is because libraries need to buy the licensing agreement of the copy in order to lend it to multiple people over the course of its license before the agreement expires in a few years. Each publisher has different policies on how long the licenses last and what is the cost for relicensing a product. 

The Suffolk library system has an annual budget of $14 million, with $4 million being spent directly on e-books and for the services of Overdrive, an application used by libraries to distribute their electronic media. E-books currently make up approximately one of every four checkout items from libraries in Suffolk. 

Despite the price of these books, Verbesey said they are happy to purchase what can be hundreds of licenses of that one e-book if there’s demand. This new policy would make it pointless to purchase any copies.

Macmillan did not respond to a request for comment, but in its original July 25 letter to Macmillan authors and agents announcing the change, CEO John Sargent wrote, “It seems that given a choice between a purchase of an e-book for $12.99 or a frictionless lend for free, the American e-book reader is starting to lean heavily toward free … Our new terms are designed to protect the value of your books during their first format publication. But they also ensure that the mission of libraries is supported. They honor the libraries’ archival mandate and they reduce the cost and administrative burden associated with e-book lending. We are trying to address the concerns of all parties.”

The changes came after the corporation tested a 16-week embargo with e-books from its subsidiary Tor Publishing, concluding e-book lending had a negative impact on sales.

The Emma S. Clark Memorial Library will have to deal with changes to the number of e-book copies allowed to them. Photo by Kyle Barr

Overdrive CEO Steve Potash condemned the move, calling the company’s original test data faulty adding that very few Tor e-books are available in public library catalogs. He pointed to other studies that showed libraries had no material impact on e-book sales.

Authors published under MacMillan include romance author Nora Roberts, young adult fantasy based in African myth Tomi Adeyemi, and even famous and deceased authors such as C.S. Lewis. The company is also set to publish whistle-blower Edward Snowden’s memoirs this month, which is sure to become a hotly requested item.

And though the libraries have no control over the publisher’s requests, some expect the onus to fall on the individual libraries themselves. 

“When a library serving many thousands has only a single copy of a new title in e-book format, it’s the library — not the publisher — that feels the heat,” said American Library Association President Wanda Brown in a July 25 statement. “It’s the local library that’s perceived as being unresponsive to community needs,” she added.

Engelhardt pointed to data from the national Library Journal’s Generational Reading Survey for 2019, which showed 42 percent of those surveyed purchased the same book they borrowed from the library, and 70 percent bought another book of the same author of a book they borrowed. She added libraries are some of the biggest promoters for individual books, authors and literacy in general, and Macmillan may only be hurting its own brand.

While the limitation on e-book lending won’t be in effect until November, libraries are already preparing to tell their patrons why Macmillan books won’t be available electronically. 

“We’re going to have to explain the publisher is not working with local libraries,” she said.

 

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Emma Clark library decorated this summer for the children’s Summer Reading Club. Photo from Emma S. Clark Memorial Library

Emma S. Clark Memorial Library’s budget is projected to increase slightly in 2020, and Three Village school district residents will get a chance to vote on it Sept. 18.

Voters will be asked to approve the library’s 2020 budget of $5,495,366, which is a 1.99 percent increase over the 2019 budget of $5,388,195. While the budget includes an increase of $5,560 in employee salaries, it also consists of a decrease of $37,589 in benefits.

Library Director Ted Gutmann said this past year some full-time Emma Clark employees retired. They were mostly replaced by part-time workers when it was practical, which has impacted salaries and decreased benefits.

Books, e-books, materials, classes and events will see a $51,200 increase in 2020 and building and operations an increase of $6,000. The library’s estimated income for 2020 dips by $82,000.

Orlando Maione, president of the library’s board of trustees, said the board looks for cost-saving methods and applies for grants whenever possible. When the building’s lighting was converted to LED lights, he said it also helped the library save on utility bills. Over the past few years, mechanical equipment has been converted into energy-efficient units which also saves money.

“Whenever we can, we’re constantly looking for ways to save money and not use taxpayers’ money,” Maione said.

The board president said he feels the library and trustees have built trust with residents in that the board will keep costs down.

“Since we all live in the community, and we’re all taxpayers, it’s our money as well,” he said.

Gutmann said he is grateful for the community’s support in the past and feels voting on the budget is important.

“They have the opportunity to voice their opinion,” Gutmann said. “I’m hopeful that they’ll continue to support the library as we’re proposing.”

Registered voters can cast their ballots on the library’s budget between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. Sept. 18 in the Periodicals Room of Emma S. Clark Memorial Library, located at 120 Main St. in Setauket.

For more detailed budget information, visit www.emmaclark.org.

Fire departments from Wading River to Mount Sinai came to the 9/11 Community Memorial in Shoreham Sept. 11, 2019 to commemorate that fateful day. Photo by Kyle Barr

By Rich Acritelli

Sitting down to write this story about 9/11, there is the constant reminder of how beautiful this day was with brilliant sunshine, warm weather and the buzz in the air of people going about their daily responsibilities.  It seems like yesterday that this same sort of memory that was some 18 years ago completely changed the course of American history. As people were handling their daily routines of putting their children on the bus and going to work, people in Manhattan and Washington, D.C., endured harrowing terrorism that shook the foundations of those cities. In the rural area of Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the wreckage and the remains of Flight 93 were found.

Fire departments from Wading River to Mount Sinai came to the 9/11 Community Memorial in Shoreham Sept. 11, 2019 to commemorate that fateful day. Photo by Kyle Barr

Some 18 years later, families and friends still struggle with getting through this particular day. While there are students in our local schools who were not yet born when these attacks occurred, this terrible moment is still with us. As many of our students did not see the constant news coverage about the attacks waged on our nation by Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, 9/11 essentially became one of the longest days ever in our country. It remained with us for months and years, as our mind flashed images of the two planes that destroyed the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and Flight 93 that would have been used to target the Capitol or the White House.  

Americans were shocked at the news reports of the failed attempts of the shoe and underwear bombers to destroy other commercial airlines and anthrax that was sent to noted journalist Tom Brokaw. Today, young adults that like to attend popular concerts at Jones Beach do not remember the military presence in the Atlantic Ocean near the venue. The federal government ordered aircraft carriers that were in view of the amphitheater to fly fighter missions over major cities, including New York, to guard against the potential use of civilian aircraft that could possibly target major buildings and landmarks. In a total sense of shock, Americans were reeling from the earliest moments of terrorism that had clearly impacted our way of life.

Never before had Americans repeatedly watched the news coverage of citizens on American soil desperately running for their lives away from buildings that were collapsing around them. In many cases, they did not stop moving until they were across the Brooklyn Bridge, covered in dust and debris, with looks of despair on their faces. For months, North Shore rescue and demolition workers sifted through the wreckage of lower Manhattan to search for survivors and the remains of lost ones. In the tristate area there were daily reminders of 9/11 through the numerous funerals that were held for many of the 2,977 people that were killed.  And it was almost 19 days after the terrorists hit the U.S. that the military struck the Taliban and its allies in Afghanistan. Just this week alone, as peace talks continued between America and the Taliban, a car bomb derailed the negotiations and our soldiers are still operating to guard against terrorism in Afghanistan. While many local people are concerned that other parts of this country have forgotten about this date, 18 years ago showed the iron spirit of American resolve and willingness to help each other.

The Sound Beach Fire Department held its annual 9/11 ceremony Sept. 11. Photo by Greg Catalano

This was an attack that had never been waged against the U.S. before, but the American people presented an immense amount of comradery; caring for fellow citizens who were struggling from the attacks. At once, there was an outpouring of patriotism. Walmart was unable to keep up with the demand of its customers who wanted to purchase American flags.  People wrapped yellow ribbons around porches and trees and patriotic signs hung in businesses, schools and churches honoring the rescue workers at ground zero. Fire and emergency crews from every corner of this nation and Canada descended on Manhattan to help the New York City Fire Department. Both the New York Yankees and Mets participated in raising the spirits of the recovery workers by having their players meet with them in Lower Manhattan and honoring their tremendous sacrifices when baseball came back to America at Shea Stadium in Flushing, Queens. Huge flags were presented by the military that covered the length of Giants Stadium during the national anthem. When motorists crossed over the George Washington Bridge, it was done under a flag that could be seen for miles.   

President George W. Bush, through a heightened security presence, was at the World Series that had been pushed back due to the 9/11 attacks. He attended the New York Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks game where he stood on the pitcher’s mound, presented a thumbs up to the crowd and threw a strike to the catcher. At this time, former New York Jet’s coach Herm Edwards was asked football questions about an upcoming game and he told the reporters with tears in his eyes that sports is not everything. As the Meadowlands is within sight of the city, the Jets could see the smoke rise from the wreckage. He stated his team’s thoughts and prayers were with the rescue workers at ground zero.  Today, you can visit the National 9/11 Memorial in New York City and see a powerful sports exhibit that is connected to these attacks and how our local teams used athletics to help provide a sense of comfort and distraction during this tragic time.

Fire departments from Wading River to Mount Sinai came to the 9/11 Community Memorial in Shoreham Sept. 11, 2019 to commemorate that fateful day. Photo by Kyle Barr

Just recently, local leaders from the FEAL Good Foundation were in Washington, D.C., to lobby the government to prevent the discontinuation of the Zadroga Bill.  Retired New York City Police Officer Anthony Flammia strenuously worked with other rescue workers to promote the importance of this legislation to congressional members from every part of the U.S. The organization was determined to pass legislation that continued to help rescue workers suffering from 9/11-related health conditions. Longtime comedian Jon Stewart stood next to men and women from the FEAL Good Foundation to place pressure on congressional leaders to put their differences aside and pass this vital bill. Stewart openly wondered how our government was prepared to turn its back on survivors that unflinchingly answered the call on this date. Shortly after speaking to a congressional committee, NYPD Detective Luis Alvarez passed away from the poor health condition that he had gained as a result of his time at and near ground zero.

Over the course of American history, there have been many serious events that our nation has had to rebound from through the will of its citizens. 18 years ago, this dynamic character of our country rose out of the darkest moments of terrorism to show the world that Americans will always stand together. May we always remember our rescue workers, War on Terror veterans and those Americans that are currently struggling with 9/11-related illnesses. 

Rich Acritelli is a social studies teacher at Rocky Point High School and an adjunct professor of American history at Suffolk County Community College.

Centereach residents joined members of their fire department to remember those who were lost Sept, 11, 2001 in a memorial ceremony.

Held at the Centreach Fire Department’s headquarters on South Washington Avenue Sept. 11, the ceremony began with firefighter Bryan Elsesser singing the national anthem.

In addition to board of fire commissioners Chairman Thomas Doyle address to the crowd, a musical performance was provided by members of the Centereach High School Choir and a candlelight ceremony honored those who died.

Talat Hamdani was the first to light a candle in honor of her son Mohammad Salman Hamdani, who was a New York Police Department cadet and a first responder at Ground Zero.

After the ceremony, the fire department provided hamburgers, hot dogs and refreshments for those in attendance.