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New York State Sen. Jim Gaughran announces a donation drive for furloughed government employees Jan. 10. Photo from Gaughran's office

As the federal government shutdown drags into the fourth week, Huntington area boaters and elected officials have come together to help provide relief to furloughed federal employees and their families.

The Greater Huntington Council of Yacht and Boating Clubs, which represents more than 20 boat and watercraft organizations, announced Jan. 10 a gift card donation drive to help the U.S. Coast Guard personnel who safeguard the waters of the Long Island Sound.

“Year-round the brave and dedicated men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard stand ready to
respond to any emergency,” said Jackie Martin, executive officer of the boat council. “They continue to report to work even though they are not getting paid. They still have bills to pay and many have families to feed.”


Donations of food, personal hygiene items, household supplies, pet foods and gift cards for federal employees can be dropped off at:

• Gaughran’s District Office
   99-111South St., Suite 250
  Oyster Bay, NY

• Stop & Shop
   60 Wall St.
   Huntington, NY

• Long Island Cares
   220 Broadway
   Huntington Station, NY

• Long Island Cares
  10 Davids Drive
  Hauppauge, NY

Donations of gift cards for U.S. Coast Guard personnel can be sent to:

  The Greater Huntington Council of Yacht and Boating Clubs
    P.O. Box 2124
    Halesite, NY 11743

All checks must be made payable to “Chief Petty Officer Association” with Shut Down Fund CT-NY in the memo line.

Martin said the idea for a gift card drive came from her husband who previously served in the U.S. Navy. She said he knew the Coast Guard personnel operating out of Eatons Neck and Hartford, Connecticut, are considered part of the Department of Homeland Security during peacetime and, as a result, have not
received a paycheck since the shutdown began Dec. 22.

“He remembered how tough it was to live from paycheck to paycheck,” she said. “When you have a young family and are trying to live paycheck to paycheck it’s difficult.”

Coast Guard staff has cut back on all nonessential services but must be available to respond to emergency  situations. Some of its members travelfrom as far away as Jersey City to do four-day shifts at the base.

“There are people out there boating even in this weather,” Martin said. “There’s commercial fisherman and clammers out on our waterways.”

In addition to gift cards, the boating council will accept monetary donations to purchase gift cards to
be distributed among the Coast Guard by their respective commanders based on need.

Huntington’s boaters are not the only ones to have launched a donation drive in efforts to help out federal
employees in need. New York State Sen. Jim Gaughran (D-Northport) made one of his first acts of
office Jan. 10 to announce a food and supplies drive alongside state Assemblyman Charles Lavine
(D-Glen Cove) at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, which has been shuttered by the government shutdown.

“Our federal workers don’t have the luxury of sacrificing their paychecks for an undetermined amount of time,” Gaughran said. “Federal workers on Long Island are now expected to choose between feeding their families or paying their mortgage.”

Gaughran and Lavine are working to set up a network of supermarket, business and offices to serve as
collection sites for donations to go to federal employees. Items being collected include food, personal care items, common household supplies, pet food and gift cards. He stressed that due to state laws the elected
officials and their offices cannot accept cash donations on behalf of federal workers.

The state senator said he started the initiative after speaking with Paule Pachter, chief executive officer of Hauppauge-based Long Island Cares food bank, who stressed that winter is often the most difficult season with the agency already helping approximately 450 families. Resources are quickly becoming stretched thin.

LI Cares will help collect and distribute food, personal hygiene items and other donations collected
to federal employees already directed to the agency through its channels, according to Gaughran.

“I hope this is a short food drive that it won’t be necessary for a long period of time,” he said.  “I hope the government in Washington, D.C., does its job and reopens soon.”

MEET PRISSY!

Prissy

Patiently waiting at Kent Animal Shelter for a new home, this 2-year-old sweetheart has one blue eye and one brown eye. Prissy has had a rough start to life but is ready to put all that behind her and put her best paw forward. Rescued from a high kill shelter down south, she’s very sweet and is just looking for someone to love. Could that be you? 

Prissy comes spayed, microchipped, and up to date 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 Prissy and other adoptable pets at Kent, call 631-727-5731 or visit www.kentanimalshelter.com.

By Heidi Sutton

What is art and what is not? Ultimately art is in the eye of the beholder, yes? But what if your two best friends don’t agree with you? Which is more important? Friendship or art? These are just a few of the questions explored in Theatre Three’s latest offering, “Art” by Yasmina Reza (“God of Carnage”). The one-act drama runs on the Main stage through Feb. 2.

From left, Antoine Jones, Matt Senese and Steve Kyle in a scene from ‘Art’. Photo by Brian Hoerger

The French play premiered in Paris in 1994. Translated by Christopher Hampton, it opened in London’s West End in 1996, and then headed to Broadway two years later for a 600 performance run. The original New York cast featured Alan Alda, Victor Garber and Alfred Molina. By the time the show closed in 1999, it had garnered many awards including a Tony for Best Play and the Lawrence Olivier Award for Best Comedy.

Serge (Steve Ayle), Marc (Antoine Jones) and Yvan (Matt Senese) have been best friends for the last 15 years. A dermatologist by profession, Serge decides to start collecting art and purchases a contemporary painting for $50,000. The modern artwork is 3 feet by 4 feet and has a white background with “fine white diagonal lines” (if you look closely —— very closely). 

He is eager to show it off when Marc comes over, handling it ever so carefully as he brings it out for air.  At first Marc tries to be polite and says nothing as Serge has him look at the painting from different angles but finally can’t control himself. “You paid $50,000 for this white s—?” Marc asks in disbelief and their friendship takes a dark turn.

When Yvan is shown the painting, he is rather ambivalent about it. “I didn’t like the painting … but I didn’t actually hate it,” he reports back to Marc. “Well, of course not, You can’t hate what’s invisible! You can’t hate nothing!” exclaims Marc, who is getting more agitated by the minute. 

The cast of ‘Art’. Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions Inc.

Although he has more pressing things to worry about like planning a wedding with his fiancé turned “bridezilla,” Yvan finds himself playing referee and trying to diffuse the situation. In the end, however, the argument is not really about a painting but about friendship, its boundaries and how we should treat and speak to each other. 

Director Linda May has assembled the crème de la crème of actors to relate this comedy. Steve Ayle (“12 Angry Men,” “I Hate Hamlet” ) is the quintessential Serge, Antoine Jones (Festival of One-Act Plays, “A Chrismas Carol”) is exemplary  in the role of Marc while Matt Senese (‘The Addams Family”) is hilarious as Yvan. The three work perfectly together to produce a wonderful evening of live theater. 

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present “Art” on the Mainstage through Feb. 2. Running time is 1 hour 30 minutes with no intermission. Contains adult language. The season continues with the musical “Nine” from Feb. 23 to March 23 and “The Miracle Worker” from April 6 to 28. Tickets are $35 adults, $28 seniors and students, $20 children. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

PHONECEPTION!

Daria Martorana snapped this artistic photo at Cedar Beach in her hometown of Mount Sinai in December. She writes, “It’s ‘phoneception!’ I took a photo of my iPhone X’s camera screen with my Sony A6000. Sunsets are among my favorite photos to capture because they produce stunning shots with little need for much effort or planning. Although I do enjoy manipulating photos in Lightroom, there’s something to say about a winter sunset with the bright pink and orange tones that only requires a bit of exposure and detailing.”

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The Carriage Shed pictured post stabilization. Photo from Caroline Church of Brookhaven

The Carriage Shed at the Caroline Church of Brookhaven continues to receive a makeover.

The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation announced Jan. 11 it had recently awarded the church a matching grant of $10,950. The grant is to cover the cost of replacing the cedar roof on the shed, and according to Barbara Russell, a junior warden at the church and Town of Brookhaven historian, work has already started on the roof as Jan. 15.

The grant marks the second time in the last two years the church has received funds from the foundation. The first matching grant of $23,700 was awarded in 2017 and was used to help stabilize the shed, which was built in 1887. The shed’s internal framework needed replacing as the supporting locust poles were sinking into the ground, according to Russell.

The historian said the congregation was grateful to the foundation for its help.

“Our shared commitment to telling the story of our rich heritage of our communities is exemplified in our ongoing collaboration,” Russell said. “We look forward to the full restoration of the shed in time for our [upcoming] anniversary celebration.”

Father Richard Visconti, rector of Caroline Church, above, watches the Carriage Shed roof being installed. Photo from Caroline Church of Brookhaven

Kathryn Curran, executive director of the Gardiner foundation, called the shed “an icon to the community.” When a nonprofit like the Caroline Church applies for a matching grant from the foundation, she said, they must have the full funding match in place. She added two-part projects like the shed are not unusual.

“There are times when an organization needs to break the project into doable funded portions,” she said. “When a RDLGF grant is awarded, an applicant must complete that first contracted grant and have their final report accepted by the foundation before another application will be reviewed. The Caroline Church applied for two separate grants in two years to complete this project.”

Located on the east side of Bates Road on the church’s property, the Carriage Shed is one of four contributing structures to the church being on the National Register of Historic Places. The shed was initially intended for members to park their carriages while attending services and in later years was used for parishioners to park their cars.

The Caroline Church celebrates its 296th anniversary later this month. Russell said the congregation will commemorate the milestone at their 9:30 a.m. service Jan. 27, and an event to celebrate the restored shed will be held at a later date.

Former newspaper adviser Edward Wendell, center, is pictured with MCPL director Sophia Serlis-McPhillips and Comsewogue Public Library director Debbie Engelhardt.

By Karina Gerry

Middle Country Public Library librarians Stephanie Vecchio and Carol Gray look through issues of The Quadrangle from the 1970s. Photo from MCPL

A retired Newfield High School teacher’s forgotten files turned out to be a treasure for Middle Country Public Library.

Edward Wendol donated original issues of The Quadrangle to the library last month in hopes of preserving a unique piece of history. The Quadrangle, the Newfield High School paper, was supervised by Wendol during 1970-76. Wendol kept the papers all these years in a file in his attic, where he admits he forgot about them until he stumbled upon them one day.

“With the popularity of items being digitized today, I thought this would be the perfect item to be digitized at the Middle Country Public Library [in the district] where I worked,” Wendol said. “I thought it would be the most appropriate place to bring them.”

During his 27 years with the school district, Wendol worked as an English teacher and volunteered to serve as the adviser to The Quadrangle after having a positive experience at his own high school newspaper.

“I had students that were with me their entire high school career,” Wendol remembered fondly. “I think several of them may have even ventured into the journalism aspect.”

Wendol, who has served as a trustee on the Comsewogue Public Library board since 1972, Debbie Engelhardt, director of the Comsewogue library, and Sophia Serlis-McPhillips, director of MCPL, met in December at the Middle Country library so Wendol could hand over his original editions of the paper.

Copies of Newfield High School’s The Quadrangle, above, were donated to Middle Country Public Library in December by Edward Wendol.

“I thought it was absolutely incredible that Mr. Wendol kept all those papers from way back when,” Serlis-McPhillips said. “To have the foresight to do that and the fact that he wanted to give them to the library, I just thought was tremendous that he cared enough about working at Newfield and working at Middle Country school district.”

While the library’s website has a digitized photo collection of the old pictures they’ve received in recent years, this is the first time, in Serlis-McPhillips time at the library at least, that they have been given any type of periodical or newspaper.

“We’re just in the process of cataloging them and putting them on our website so that anyone can share them,” Serlis-McPhillips said. “You know it’s interesting to go back and look at the ads and the events that they were doing, and it kind of gives you a picture of history.”

With his donation, Wendol’s biggest hope is that past students are able to see their work.

“The reason why I brought it to Middle Country where the school district is located is to see if there are students who still live in the school district,” Wendol said. “If they have access to the public library and are willing to say, ‘Hey, let’s see what you have regarding my old high school newspaper at my old high school that I attended.’”

By Heidi Sutton

“Do you trust me?” It is a question Aladdin asks Jasmine several times during the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts’ current production of Disney’s “Aladdin Jr.” but one that I ask you now. If you do, then grab your children and run, don’t walk, to see this show. They (and you) will love every minute of it.

Based on the popular Disney animated film with music by Alan Menken and book by Chad Beguelin, the show whisks audiences away to the fabled city of Agrabah where the evil Jafar (Alex Mahr), advisor to the Sultan (Logan O’Leary), and his parrot Iago (Max Lamberg), seek to retrieve a magic lamp hidden in the Cave of Wonders. They enlist the help of a street rat named Aladdin (Cole Napolitano), a “diamond in the rough,” who becomes trapped in the cave. When he finds the lamp and polishes it, a magical genie (Ryan Romanelli) appears and grants him three wishes.

After tricking the genie in getting him out of his predicament, Aladdin uses his first wish to become a prince in order to woo the lovely Princess Jasmine (Priscilla Russo). When “Prince Ali” arrives at the palace, Jafar recognizes Aladdin and has him thrown in the dungeon. When his friends Babkak (Michael Puglisi), Omar (Jonathan Setzer) and Kassim (Matt Peluso) try to rescue him, they end up in the dungeon also. Aladdin uses his second wish to set them free. With only one wish left, Aladdin must choose between benefiting himself or doing what is morally right.

Expertly directed by Courtney Braun, the musical features a cast of 20 uber-talented actors ranging in age from 10 to 16 who all do a fantastic job.

From the very first scene when the genie appears on stage to introduce the other characters in “Arabian Nights,” the audience is mesmorized. 

The script is clever and funny and the musical numbers are delightful. Along with the familiar —“A Friend Like Me,” “Prince Ali,” “A Whole New World”— there are fresh new songs including “Babkak, Omar, Aladdin, Kassim” and “These Palace Walls.”

The impressive set, designed by Tim Golebiewski, features panels on either side of the theater that rotate to reveal a marketplace, a cave full of jewels and a palace; and the Arabian costumes, designed by Chakira Doherty, are just beautiful. Images on the back wall of the stage constantly change to show different scenes of the city, and a video played during “A Whole New World” gives the illusion that the carpet is actually flying.

SPAC has gone all out with this production, a rarity with children’s theater, and has produced something magical. Don’t miss this one. Trust me.

Running time is 1 hour and 15 minutes with intermission and booster seats are available. Costumes are encouraged. Stay after the show for a meet and greet with Aladdin, Jasmine and Genie in the lobby.

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 East Main St., Smithtown will present Disney’s “Aladdin Jr.” through Feb. 24. Children’s theater continues with “The Little Mermaid Jr.” from March 16 to April 28 and “The Emperor’s New Clothes” from July 13 to Aug. 18. All seats are $18. For more information or to order, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org.

All photos by Courtney Braun

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Construction can resume on the site of the future Stony Brook Square shopping center. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Construction can resume at a future shopping center.

At the Dec. 17 Town of Brookhaven Planning Board general meeting, the board members handed down a split decision for Stony Brook Square, a shopping center under construction across from the Stony Brook train station on Route 25A. In the summer, Little Rock Construction and its president Parviz Farahzad received a stop-work order after significant field changes were discovered by the town. The changes made to the approved construction plans included widening of a driveway, two buildings’ locations shifting a few feet and the addition of 19 parking stalls at the rear of the property.

Farahzad’s attorney, Hauppauge-based Tim Shea, said at the Nov. 5 planning board meeting that even though numerous professionals and town officials had previously reviewed the site plans, once construction got underway the new engineer and general contractor realized changes needed to be made.

“It went under construction, and it turned out it wasn’t going to work and raised traffic and safety issues.” Shea said.

In addition to three planning board meetings in the last few months, representatives from Little Rock Construction met with the Three Village Civic Association in October to discuss the field changes. In 2017, the developer had met with the civic association and residents during Route 25A visioning meetings and discussed community members concerns regarding the shopping center on the state roadway.

‘It went under construction, and it turned out it wasn’t going to work and raised traffic and safety issues,’

— Tim Shea

At the Dec. 17 meeting, the board members approved some modifications, including the location of the most western structure, known as building 1, toward the front of the shopping center being shifted a few feet from the original plan, widening of the curb cut onto Route 25A and driveway access from 24 to 30 feet.

The board denied the revised building location of a second building, which was constructed a few feet back from its original planned location, and construction of 19 previously land-banked parking spaces. The denial means the developer must construct the structure, identified as building 5, at the location originally approved by the board, which will bring it in line with building 1. The recommendation states the land-banking of the 19 parking spaces, which will be adjacent to the northern property boundary, require a minimum of a double row of evergreen plantings 7 feet high and 5 feet in diameter.

In the last few months, members of the civic association have been vocal in their opposition to field changes at the construction site.

“It’s fortunate that the town planning board understood the importance of the original site plan — a plan that was mutually agreed upon by the town, the community and the developer,” said Herb Mones, land-use committee chairperson for the civic association. “The Planning Board decision mandates the adherence to most aspects of this original plan and is an important reminder to developers to follow the rules.”

Civic association vice president George Hoffman echoed Mones’ sentiments.

“We are pleased that the town’s planning board stuck to its guns and rejected Mr. Farahzad’s request to modify his site plan after he was found to have made significant changes that were not in conformance to the site plan that was a product of discussions with the civic association.”

Farahzad declined to comment on the planning board’s decisions.

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Maggie Webber, 14, of Lake Grove, is crowned the 2018 Mid-Atlantic Regional Champion in Irish dancing. Photo by Debbie Lynch-Webber

By Karina Gerry

Lake Grove resident Maggie Webber has once again left her mark at the Irish dance regional championship.

The 14-year-old Centereach High School freshman was crowned the 2018 Mid-Atlantic Regional Champion in Irish dancing in the girls under-14 category, previously taking home the title in 2017 as well. The two-time champion is no stranger to the competition, having attended regionals every year since she was 5 years old.

My ultimate goal is just to continue to love dance and to enjoy performing, and to just have fun everywhere I go and with the people I’m with while at class or competitions.”

— Maggie Webber

“It’s definitely nerve racking at times,” Maggie said. “[Especially] right before you go on stage, because you want to make sure you remember all of the things you’ve practiced. But when you get on stage it’s really exciting to just perform and have a good time.”

Regionals, which are held every year in Philadelphia in November, saw Maggie score a perfect 500, with each judge granting her performance a score of 100. While the award is always appreciated, it’s not the main goal for her.

“My ultimate goal is just to continue to love dance and to enjoy performing, and to just have fun everywhere I go and with the people I’m with while at class or competitions,” she said.

In the Webber household, Irish dance is a family tradition. Maggie’s mom, Debbie Lynch-Webber, owns Mulvihill-Lynch School of Irish Dance in Lake Ronkonkoma and has herself been dancing since the age of 7, when her mother, an immigrant from Ireland, signed her up for classes. In the years since, she has passed her love for the sport onto her daughter.

“My daughter just lives and breathes for it,” Lynch-Webber said. “She loves it, so it was never my push or anything — she just absolutely had such a passion for it from when she was 3.”

Someone competing at Maggie’s elite level has to train seven days a week. When she’s not practicing at the studio, she’s doing cross training at Parisi Speed School at World Gym in Setauket.

“As a dancer it is still extremely important to train and work on power strength and speed,” said Ryan Whitley, Parisi program director. “As an Irish step dancer, Maggie needs to have excellent body coordination, balance and speed. While we might not be actually dancing in classes here, she is still becoming a better dancer and athlete with everything she does in class.”

‘Dance is definitely one of the most important parts of my life.’

— Maggie Webber

Despite her busy schedule, Maggie has made sure to make time for other things, like hanging with her friends and playing on the Centereach varsity field hockey team, but nothing has replaced her love for dance.

“Dance is definitely one of the most important parts of my life,” Maggie said. “It’s always been with me ever since I was born, so I can’t imagine my life without it.”

Down the road, Maggie hopes to follow in the footsteps of her mom and receive her teaching certificate. In terms of the near future, she hopes to continue to dance her best and maintain a similar placement as the year before. With the World Irish Dancing Championships coming up in April, she would like to come in near last year’s fifth-place finish.

“Each year that I dance, whether the placement shows it or not, I do feel I mature and I improve as a dancer and as a competitor,” Maggie said.

Huntington High School graduate Landary Rivas Argueta steps forward to speak about the GoFundMe for Alex at the Jan. 7 meeting. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

Among the outpouring of emotions by Huntington residents Monday night, were tears and calls on the community to come to the aid of Alex, the Huntington High School student who was deported to his native Honduras in July 2018.

Landary Rivas Argueta, a 2016 graduate of Huntington High School, said he and his fellow Latino community members made a GoFundMe account titled “Justice for Alex” after reading the New York Times Magazine article published Dec. 27.

“I’ve been working closely with Alex’s family and brother, as me and my friends have made a GoFundMe to help the family given everything that’s happened,” he said.

This family is very hard working and have done all they can to try to protect their son.”

—Justice for Alex GoFundMe page

Alex’s family has racked up approximately $25,000 in bills since their son’s plight began between legal fees, transportation costs, loss of wages and providing for him while living in Honduras, according to the GoFundMe site.

“This family is very hard working and have done all they can to try to protect their son,” the GoFundMe page read.

While admitting he didn’t know Alex when he was living in Huntington, Rivas Argueta said he’s gotten involved simply as it’s the right thing to do.

Several other Huntington residents pleaded with Huntington school district administrators to take what actions they can to help Alex.

“Huntington High School must get rid of Operation Matador, reunite Alex with his family, close the detention centers and treat all people of color  with respect,” Huntington resident Susan Widerman said.

Huntington board of education trustee Xavier Palacios said he’s received dozens of emails, phone calls and text messages from alumni ranging from San Diego to New Jersey  asking how they can be of help.

“Few times do I see the outpouring of compassion that I’ve seen in Alex’s case,” he said.

The GoFundMe has raised $1,500 of its $10,000 goal as of 8 p.m. Jan. 8. The page can be found at www.gofundme.com/rehbs-justice-for-alex. Social media updates are being posted under #justiceforalex and #justiciaparaalex.d

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