Community

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Hoyt Farm Nature Preserve in Commack. Photo from Facebook

Two childhood friends whose shared tie is a community they love are planning a celebration of what makes Commack unique.

The newly revived and first Commack Day will be held Oct. 6 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Hoyt Farm Nature Preserve off New Highway. Everyone’s invited, Commack resident or not, to help revive a tradition and bring it into the modern era.

James Manikas, a Commack resident and local real estate agent, said the idea of hosting a community festival first came up when he was reminiscing over high school memories with his friend, Commack native Dean Spinato.

There’s a Smithtown day, St. James day, a Nesconset day, Huntington fall festival, even Northport Cow Harbor Day, all of the surrounding towns have something like this.”

— James Manikas

“There’s a Smithtown day, St. James day, a Nesconset day, Huntington fall festival, even Northport Cow Harbor Day, all of the surrounding towns have something like this,” Manikas said. “Wouldn’t it be cool to shut down
Commack Road and have a big fair?”

The real estate agent said upon talking to older Commack residents, including his mother, he learned the community did once host an annualget together at Hoyt Nature Preserve, but the event hadn’t been held in close to 30 years.

“I think I may have attended it as a child,” he recalled.

Earlier this year, Manikas started posting videos and photos on Facebook suggesting a community celebration be revived. As his social media posts gained traction, Spinato, who works organizing marketing events, reached out to him offering to help.

I reached out to Jimmy and said, ‘I’m onboard,’” he said. “We’ve been friends since junior high, so let’s do this the right way. Let’s do a donation, give back and get the community involved.

The first idea of shutting down Commack Road to hold a street fair was met with several roadblocks.

“Commack has nothing because it’s split between Huntington and Smithtown,” Spinato said. “We’d have to go to both towns and see which road we would be able to shut down and get permits.”

They sought a special event permit from the Town of Smithtown to use Hoyt Farm Nature Preserve, harkening back to the past. A committee of lifelong “Commackians” was formed to begin assembling a lineup of entertainment, food and music.

When you find out someone is from Commack, you simply gravitate to them, it has that strong sense of community.”

— James Manikas

“When you find out someone is from Commack, you simply gravitate to them, it has that strong sense of community,” Manikas said. “I want people to see what a great town it is.”

The event will feature live music from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. including performances by 3 Dudes from Commack, Full Circle Live, Killing Time and 70’s Flashback. Several local and chain restaurants have agreed to donate food for the event, according to Manikas, which will be available for tasting.

“You’re allowed a table there to promote any kind of business,” he said. “We’d prefer it to be a Commack business first.”

A listing of all the businesses that have pledged to be involved can be found on the event’s website at www.commackday.com. Tickets are $10 in advance through eventbrite or $15 cash-only on the day of the event. A portion of the proceeds will be given to the Commack Fire Department.

“These people are here, protecting us and our community, who are strictly volunteer,” Manikas said. “I think the least we can do is give back to them.” 

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Port Jefferson High School. File photo by Elana Glowatz

Most school district administrators and staff, like students and teachers, are able to take the summer to recharge and unwind. In Port Jefferson School District, Fred Koelbel, director of facilities and transportation, gets no such respite.

The overseer of all things buildings and grounds in the district was at the Sept. 17 board of education meeting to fill the board and the public in on the work done during the summer months and beyond. Some projects were completed using capital reserves while others were handled “in-house” by district employees, though virtually all were completed prior to the start of the 2018-19 school year.

“We had the opportunity to see a lot of these improvements firsthand, and I certainly would commend the staff that worked on them, it was impressive,” board President Kathleen Brennan said.

Koelbel spoke about some of the bigger projects accomplished by his team of workers.

“The biggest project we undertook, and it actually started before the summer, was the complete renovation of the electrical distribution system in the high school,” Koelbel said.

Beginning during spring break, Hauppauge-based All Service Electric Inc. re-fed power lines through underground trenches. Previously, power lines from outdoor polls into the school were fed along overhead lines, susceptible to the elements and to trees. The job was completed during the summer.

“This did two things for us — now if our power goes out, part of the grid went out and we’re much higher priority to get restored,” Koelbel said. “Before when it was, a tree knocked down a line on our property, it was just our property was out, and the neighborhood might still be on and we might not be as high of a priority. But now we also have more reliable service because it’s underground, so it’s not affected by the trees.”

He said the task wasn’t easy for the vendor and commended the job.

“It snowed on them, it rained, the trenches filled up with water, their boots were getting stuck in the mud and the clay, but they persevered and got lines in,” he said. “We couldn’t be happier with the work they did.”

The new underground feeds will soon also house the school’s cable and phone lines, eliminating the need for any cables fed to the school overhead.

Many of the projects were simpler to complete, though not necessarily less time consuming. The high school track was torn up and resurfaced. The second phase of a multiyear roof replacement project continued. Sidewalks in front of the high school were replaced, as were crumbling bricks in the façade of the exterior of the building. The section of the high school driveway nearest to the main entrance on Barnum Avenue was repaved.

One of the more visually noticeable upgrades took place in the high school gymnasium. Koelbel said a new sound system and video board were installed, and the walls were repainted purple and white.

“It really has a flavor of ‘welcome to our house,’” he said of the refurbished gym.

In the elementary school, the floors of two classrooms were removed and replaced, as were the carpeted floors in a couple of hallways.

“It’s like a huge Petri dish, it’s not a good choice,” he said of carpeting in elementary school hallways, which was replaced with tile flooring.

Several doors to classrooms in the elementary school were replaced as part of another multiyear implementation, as many were beginning to show their age, according to Koelbel. Door locks in both school buildings were upgraded as well.

Blinds on the windows of classrooms in both buildings were replaced with rolling shades. Additional security cameras were added across district buildings, as were fire extinguishers for every classroom, and several fire alarms were also upgraded at the high school.

District Superintendent Paul Casciano and Assistant Superintendent Sean Leister each commended Koelbel and the district’s staff for completing the projects in time for the start of school.

OVER THE RAINBOW

Helen Badoyannis of Setauket captured this radiant photo in her hometown. She writes, “ I took this photo on July 22 following a downpour resulting in an exquisite rainbow with brilliant colors and demarcations. I happened to be passing by the historic Thompson House and took this just before the rainbow disappeared.”

Send your Photo of the Week to leisure@tbrnewspapers.com.

Photo courtesy of Kent Animal Shelter

MEET ADAM!

Photo courtesy of Kent Animal Shelter

Patiently waiting for a new home at Kent Animal Shelter, Adam is a 6-year-old Lab mix who seems to get overlooked because he’s not a puppy. But he’s young in spirit and at heart, so we hope you’ll consider adding him to your family! Adam comes neutered, microchipped and as up to date as possible on vaccines.

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

 

The cast of 'The Addams Family'. Photo by Brian Hoerger

By Heidi Sutton

Halloween is still a few weeks away, but there’s something creepy and kooky and altogether spooky going on at Theatre Three that’s not to be missed.

The theater opens its 49th season with the musical comedy “The Addams Family,” a nostalgic trip down memory lane for fans of this atypical clan, and judging by the packed house on opening night, that amounts to quite a few.

Created by Charles Addams, the lovable, albeit macabre, family first appeared in a New Yorker comic strip in 1938 but truly came to life in the 1960s ABC television series starring John Astin and Carolyn Jones as Gomez and Morticia. The two film versions in the 1990s paved the way for the Broadway musical in 2010 starring Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth.

The cast of ‘The Addams Family’. Photo by Brian Hoerger

Last Saturday’s opening performance began as it should, with the audience snapping their fingers or clapping their hands to the iconic theme song, and suddenly they appeared — all the familiar, eccentric characters we have all come to love — Gomez (Matt Senese), Morticia (TracyLynn Conner), Uncle Fester (Rick Grossman), Grandma (Ginger Dalton), Wednesday (Jessica Murphy), Pugsley (Max Venezia), Lurch (James Taffurelli) and Thing and Cousin Itt (both played by Cameron Turner). What followed was a fun, wonderful evening of live theater.

Directed by Jeffrey Sanzel, the show opens, most fittingly, in the family cemetery (“Oh the intoxicating smell of the graveyard!”) as the family lets their ancestors out of a mausoleum to celebrate what it is to be an Addams. It is here that we see the first of many “Thriller”-inspired musical numbers, expertly choreographed by Nicole Bianco, that dominate the show.

The storyline revolves around Wednesday who is all grown up and has fallen in love with a “normal boy,” Lucas Beineke (Matt Paredi) from Ohio (“the swing state!”), and wants to bring him and his parents, straight arrow Mal (Steve Ayle) and the perfectly rhyming Alice (Linda May), over for one “normal night.” She confides in her father that she wants to marry Lucas and makes him promise not to tell her mother yet, putting Gomez in several hilarious sticky situations and leading up to his solo, “Trapped (like a corpse in the ground).”

Matt Senese as Gomez and Jessica Murphy as Wednesday. Photo by Brian Hoerger

Uncle Fester, on the other hand, recruits the ancestors to find out if this is really true love, and if so, to help it along. Dressed in ghostly white costumes, they float in and out of every scene as they spy on the family’s affairs.

As the Beineke family arrive, they are invited to take part in the family game, Full Disclosure, during which everyone takes a sip from a sacred chalice and reveals something they’ve never told anyone. When Pugsley steals a magical potion from Grandma (“One swig of that and Mary Poppins turns into Madea!”) and pours it in the chalice, the evening takes a dark and eventful turn.

Accompanied by an outstanding eight-member band led by Jeffrey Hoffman, the 20 musical numbers perfectly tie the storyline together.   The costumes by Chakira Doherty are wonderful, especially for the ghoulish ancestors, and the Gothic set, cleverly designed by Randall Parsons includes panels that swivel and rotate to reveal different scenery. As the actors sing their solo or duet, they move toward the edge of the stage as the curtain closes, allowing the set to be quickly changed for the next scene.

With exceptional vocals, the entire cast become fully immersed in their individual character. The chemistry between Gomez and Morticia is as alive as ever. Morticia: “I feel darkness and grief and unspeakable sorrow.” Gomez: “I love it when you speak sexy, Cara Mia.” 

Matt Senese as Gomez and TracyLynn Conner as Morticia. Photo by Peter Lanscombe

Although she’s in love, Wednesday’s inner darkness makes several appearances, and Uncle Fester is as lovable as ever (yes, he is still in love with the moon.) Pugsley secretly loves to be tortured (electrocuted to be precise) by his big sister, Grandma is still wacky and Lurch is still grunting; but in the end they are just one big family that has to deal with every day issues just like everyone else.

In his director’s notes, Sanzel sums it up perfectly. “The ultimate message of ‘The Addams Family’ musical is to find out who you are so you can be true to yourself. Whether vacationing in the sewers of Paris, starting out in a new marriage or finding the spark in an old one, or flying to your true love (‘To the moon, Alice!’), the Addams Family and ‘The Addams Family’ remind us to ‘live before we die.’”

Go see this wonderful show. You’ll find much to cherish.

Stay after the performance for a photo with the cast on stage if you wish — the $5 donation goes to support the theater’s scholarship fund.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present “The Addams Family” through Oct. 27. Tickets are $35 adults, $28 seniors and students and $20 children ages 5 to 12. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

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Some Three Village residents became concerned when they received an advertisement for a deer management program offering its services. File photo

Recently, Setauket residents living just outside of Old Field received a postcard that raised some eyebrows, and so they reached out to The Village Times Herald with their concerns.

Long Island Wildlife Control, a group of bowhunters, sent out a postcard to Three Village residents advertising its free deer management program for private property owners. The card listed the program as New York State Department of Conservation Nuisance Wildlife Control licensed. With this license, the group can charge a fee and can hunt with a homeowner’s permission outside of hunting season, according to the postcard, if the owner feels the animals are a nuisance.

Jean Darrow, Village of Old Field animal warden and resident, who is opposed to the hunting, said she has heard from local residents who are both for and against deer hunting.

“If it’s legal, there’s nothing we can do,” she said, adding it disturbs her that the hunters involved in the program can hunt even outside of hunting season.

Frank Kentoffio from Patchogue, who is part of the LIWC deer management program, said he and others have hunted on the North Shore for years and are familiar with the overpopulation of deer and the potential problems that arise from them, including tick-borne diseases and the animals eating plants.

“We’re just hunters that are trying to reduce the numbers so federal sharpshooters don’t come in and wipe them out,” Kentoffio said, adding the members of the group are highly trained and must pass a qualification test every 30 days.

He said when asked to hunt on private property, members of the program first check out the location to ensure neighbors’ houses are 150 feet or more away. If not, and they cannot secure the neighbor’s permission, they do not hunt on the property in question.

He said when they hunt on a residential property, the hunters set up a central area and don’t wear camouflaged clothing. They also use plastic sleds to put the deer in to prevent leaving blood behind.

“We try to keep everything as low key as possible,” he said.

Kentoffio said the hunters do everything possible to keep deer, which may travel from about 30 to 40 yards after being shot with a bow, from running on a neighbor’s property. If the animal does, he said the hunters will ask the property owner before stepping in their yard. He said he has never had an animal run into the road.

The group focuses on shooting does, which it believes is the best method to reduce the population, he said, unlike the average bowhunter who may go out to shoot a buck or two just for a trophy.

“By shooting a buck, another buck is just going to come in and impregnate all the does,” he said. “Shooting a buck doesn’t really help the problem because each doe has between two and three fawns every year.”

Darrow said she believes the best solution is to neuter the bucks because it’s easier, and they can get multiple does impregnated at a time. She also said another solution is hormones for the does to stop the estrous cycle.

“It’s not being painful to anything,” Darrow said. “It’s just stopping something that doesn’t have to happen to as many animals.”

She said there are ways to deal with deer, including putting up a 7-foot fence around plants, adding homeowners should check with their town’s or village’s regulations before installing one. The animal warden said rutting season, when the bucks run after the does to mate, will soon begin, and drivers should be cautious on the roads after dusk. She also said the deer tend to stay away from properties with dogs, and if humans make noise when they see them, they will run away.

Reviewed by Sabrina Petroski

Beth Rosiello

Have you ever wondered what it was like inside the womb before you were born? In Beth Rosiello’s first children’s book, “Inside Mommy’s Tummy” (Dorrance Publishing), you can find out! With fun anecdotes from the point of view of the baby, and colorful photographs and animations, this book is a wonderfully creative way to get the inside scoop.

“Inside Mommy’s Tummy,” meant for children ages 3 to 8, transports the reader into the world of the baby before they are born; what they hear and who talks to them. Since the story is based on her family, Rosiello includes pictures of the parents, siblings, grandparents and even the family dog! We follow the pregnancy from start to finish, finding out the gender of the baby, what the nursery looks like and the experience of birth.

In a recent interview, the Centereach author gave some insight on how the book came about and the process of getting it published.

Tell me about yourself. 

I’ve been married to my husband Frank for 32 years. We have two boys, Matt and Steven, and two grandchildren, Sean and Brianna. I’m into a lot of different things creatively speaking — crocheting, crafting, sewing, reading and writing and I love spending time with my family and friends. Currently I am semiretired.

What were your favorite books growing up? 

I would sit for hours reading all kinds of books but my favorite were the Nancy Drew mystery series.

Why did you write this children’s book?

I have always wanted to write children’s books but just never had the time. I wanted to do something special for my granddaughter and that’s how this came about.

How did your family react when you told them you had an idea for a book?

My family was very supportive of my book. I actually wrote it first and then told them about it. They all loved the idea and were very proud of me.

Why did you choose to write a story from the point of view of a baby ?

I didn’t so much choose this as it just came to me. I woke up in the middle of the night with the idea and thought it would make a great book from the baby’s point of view.

Are the people in the story based on real people? 

Yes, it was written around my granddaughter, Brianna, but it incorporates my whole family.

How did you go about getting the book published? 

I sent the book to a couple of different publishers — I never realized there were self-publishers as well as regular book publishers. I should have done more research. I apparently went with a self-publisher, so it did cost me a lot to get it published, but I’m still glad it’s out there.

What was it like working with a publisher? 

The process was easy; they helped me every step of the way, answered my questions and were there if I needed them.

How did you come up with idea to use real pictures? 

The drawings just weren’t working out. I even tried using an app to convert the pictures to drawings, but they weren’t working. 

What was it like receiving your first copy of the book?

It was totally amazing. I was in heaven and so proud of the book. 

Where is the book available?  

The book is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to write a book?  

I would say go for it if you have a bucket list and writing is on it. I did and I couldn’t be happier. It is very satisfying to do something like this even if you only do it once. At least you can say you did it and got it published. Not everyone can say that.

Time to make a scarecrow

Last year’s submission from Emma S. Clark Memorial Library titled ‘Old Mother Goose’ Photo by Heidi Sutton

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization is currently accepting submissions for its annual Scarecrow Competition. This will be the 28th year the spooky, silly, scary six-foot creations will adorn the pathways of picturesque Stony Brook Village Center for visitors to enjoy and vote for their favorite.  

Official entry forms will be available in most Stony Brook Village Center shops, at the offices of WMHO at 111 Main St., second floor, in Stony Brook or online at www.stonybrookvillage.com. Categories are divided into Previous 1st place winner/Professional, Adult/Family and Children’s. Registration deadline is Sept. 28 and there is an entry fee of $15. Winners will be announced at WMHO’s annual Halloween Festival on Oct. 31. 

Visitors to the Stony Brook Village Center shops have the opportunity to cast their vote for their favorite scarecrow during the month of October. Voting ballots will be available in all Village Center shops and eateries or at the WMHO office. For full information on this and other Stony Brook Village events, call 631-751-2244.

A new sign bears witness to the toll Sept. 11, 2001 continues to exact from South Huntington and the surrounding communities.

Town of Huntington officials unveiled a sign dedicating Iceland Drive as “NYPD Officer Mark J. Natale Way” in honor of a South Huntington resident who died of a 9/11-related illness. About 100 family members, friends and his former colleagues gathered for the Sept. 14 ceremony on what would have been his 56th birthday.

“Officer Natale dearly loved his family, friends, colleagues and community as the number of people gathered here to celebrate his life today shows the impact he made on all of us,” Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) said. “The sign we are unveiling today is a reminder of his legacy.”

“The sign we are unveiling today is a reminder of [Mark Natale’s] legacy.”

— Chad Lupinacci

Natale was a South Huntington native who graduated from Walt Whitman High School before joining the New York City Police Department in 1985. He was stationed with the 94th Precinct in Greenpoint when the planes hit the World Trade Center towers during the 9/11 attacks. Natale guided dust-covered people fleeing lower Manhattan over the bridges into Brooklyn and onto ferries to New Jersey. In the days following the attacks, he stood guard at the gates surrounding ground zero.

Natale died May 4 of brain cancer at his South Huntington home, which was brought about by his exposure to the scene.

“We have not as a nation or region spent enough time honoring and remembering those people in the aftermath of 9/11 who went into harm’s way and paid the same exact supreme sacrifice with their lives as those who perished that day,” Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) said. “Today, we proudly recognize Officer Mark Natale as a hero.”

This was the second ceremony Huntington town officials have hosted in as many months, dedicating a street in honor of first responders who have died of 9/11 related illnesses.

“The fact of the matter is that more uniformed and un-uniformed personnel who took part in the search, rescue and recovery operations that perish will surpass the number of people who were killed on Sept. 11, 2011,” Suffolk County Legislator Tom Donnelly (D-Deer Park) said. “We can never, ever repay people like Mark Natale for what they did that day, or in the weeks and months afterward.”

“When you pass by NYPD Officer Mark J. Natale Way, take a moment to look up at the sign and smile.”

— Mayra Natale

Donnelly said the health care issues faced by 9/11 responders is of “epidemic proportions” and estimated one individual per week is dying as a result of their service following the attacks.

“[Mark Natale’s] battle and bravery he demonstrated after 9/11 also serves as a beacon of hope for those who continue to fight 9/11-related illnesses,” Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) said. “By naming this street and showing his acts of bravery, he provides who to those who are still out there fighting.”

Natale’s wife, Mayra, thanked all those who attended the ceremony alongside the couple’s three children Dominick, Catherine and Lauren for honoring her husband’s memory along with one special request.

“We all lost a piece of our hearts when we lost Mark,” she said. “He will live on eternally in our good deeds and the love we share with one another. When you pass by NYPD Officer Mark J. Natale Way, take a moment to look up at the sign and smile.”

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The names of 163 first responders were added to the long list of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, losing their lives in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Saturday in Nesconset.

The Nesconset 9/11 Responders Remembered Park hosted its 14th annual ceremony Sept. 15 where a bell tolled for each name added to the memorial wall. Crystal Gajewski-Borella, the vice president of the 9/11 Responders Remembered Park Foundation that maintains the site, said it’s painful to see the number of names increasing every year.

“We added 163 names this year – this is the most amount of names we’ve added since we started,” Gajewski-Borella said.

“We added 163 names this year – this is the most amount of names we’ve added since we started.”

— Crystal Borella

Families members from across the U.S. came to the small corner park in the Town of Smithtown hamlet to honor those listed on the ever-growing wall first unveiled in 2011. Many used thin sheets of receipt paper to trace the names of their loved ones. Patrick Franklin flew in from California to honor his father, Detective Sean Franklin of the New York City Police Department, who died from 9/11-related respiratory issues in 2017.

“It’s a really beautiful memorial, and I’m happy they put in everyone who died from sickness after,” Franklin said.

The 11 members of the Pilcher family came from as far away as Utah to honor Robin Pilcher, Captain of Utah Task Force One who died of pancreatic cancer in 2017.

“Being here today is exciting because we get to remember our dad,” Pilcher’s daughter, Brandie Paterakis, said. “If he could have died in any way, this is the way he would have wanted to go, in honor and as a hero, sacrificing his life for others.”

Many 9/11 first responders and volunteers who helped dig through the rubble looking for survivors and clearing the area now suffer from a number of diseases tied to their service from respiratory infections to cancers.

“9/11 was the longest day in the history of days, but it’s not over – people are still dying.”

— John Feal

The September 11th Victims Compensation Fund was created following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks to provide compensation for any individual who was injured or the family of those killed as result of the attack. It was renewed by President Barack Obama (D) in 2011 and again in 2015, extending benefits through 2020. Many 9/11 responder advocates fear the fund will not be renewed in 2020.

Nesconset resident John Feal, president of the FealGood Foundation that advocates for health care benefits for first responders, said the impetus is on elected officials to see these people receive the proper support. Feal regularly travels up to Washington D.C. to advocate for 9/11 responder’s health care.

“9/11 was the longest day in the history of days, but it’s not over – people are still dying,” Feal said. “We have to keep fighting so we don’t have to keep adding names to this wall.”

The park foundation is looking for donations to help maintain and add to the park grounds. For more information on how to donate or volunteer, visit www.respondersremembered.com.

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