Above, Richard Boziwick smiles with his wife. Photo from Boziwick

One Northport man has helped bring the spark back into the village’s New Year’s Eve celebration.

Richard Boziwick, owner of R. P. Luce & Company Inc. on Scudder Avenue in Northport, helped Northport Harbor ring in the new year by organizing a fireworks show. He said the Centerport Yacht Club used to have an annual fireworks display that was suspended about seven years ago. He used to look forward to watching them from the Northport Yacht Club every year and wanted to bring that celebration back for everyone in Northport to experience.

“It was great to bring this back for the village,” Boziwick said in a phone interview. “It’s neat to have something on the off-season and I think it’s something we needed.”

Boziwick has lived in the village since 1983 and is known to be deeply active within the community. He first got involved with the community’s coveted annual Cow Harbor race in 1985 as a runner, became a volunteer soon after, and was eventually appointed director for the race. He has also spent years on the Northport Planning Board and now serves as chairman.

As director of the Cow Harbor race and chairman of the planning board, Boziwick said he has been able to develop relationships with countless people throughout the village.

“I am in positions that have high visibility within multiple municipalities, so I meet a lot of different people,” he said.

He has been a member of the Northport Yacht Club for the past 20 years and is the rear commodore there, so his reach expands to the nautical community. A rear commodore assists the commodore in his or her duties to maintain the yacht club.

Through these relationships, Boziwick was able to reach out and hear not only that other residents wanted the fireworks back, but that they were willing to contribute to the costs.

The event was almost entirely funded by Northport businesses and organizations. The three major contributors were Northport Yacht Club, Centerport Yacht Club and the Great Cow Harbor 10k. Other smaller community sponsors included Northport Copy, Tim’s Shipwreck Diner, the Northport Historical Society and Jones Drug Store.

Boziwick said this first year of fireworks was quite a success, with more than 500 people coming to view the fireworks in Northport while sipping on hot chocolate and eating cookies supplied by Tim’s Shipwreck Diner.

He said that plans have already been solidified for next year’s fireworks, which he hopes will expand the show in terms of the types of pyrotechnics.

“I just love fireworks and I think it’s unique to have them on New Year’s, since so many towns and villages usually have them on the Fourth of July,” he said. “It’s been great to bring this back to the village because, in the end, it’s got to be something for the village.”

He also said he feels this is a chance for the Cow Harbor race to give back to the community and say thanks for allowing them to use the village every year to host this race.

“This event is meant for the people of Northport and their friends,” he said.

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Photo by Al Semm/Port Jefferson Village digital archive

It was 44 years ago this week that a tank barge split in half in Port Jefferson Harbor, prompting a U.S. Coast Guard investigation.

The barge I.O.S. 3301 — which was connected to the towing vessel Martha R. Ingram and functioning as one with that vessel — had just finished off-loading more than 100,000 barrels of gasoline and almost 50,000 barrels of furnace oil in the incident on Monday, Jan. 10, 1972, according to a Coast Guard report. It went to turn around in the “shallow harbor” that morning but “as the last mooring line was being released, the vessel suddenly broke almost completely in half, and the two ends sank to the bottom. The barge was less than 1 year old.”

Photo by Al Semm/Port Jefferson Village digital archive
Photo by Al Semm/Port Jefferson Village digital archive

That crack in the middle of the ship went all the way across the main deck, down both the barge’s starboard and port sides and across almost half of its bottom. The forward and aft sections of the ship formed a 21-degree angle with the sea, the Coast Guard reported.

The vessel had arrived at the Consolidated Fuel Oil Company terminal in Port Jefferson Harbor the day before the sinking, after taking off from the Houston area on New Year’s Day and making a stop in Bridgeport, Conn. The Coast Guard reported that no one was injured in the sinking, but the barge was significantly damaged and the Martha R. Ingram, the adjacent pier and a tug on the scene sustained some damage.

In addition, “Residue of the ruptured tanks on the barge and piping on the pier caused some minor petroleum pollution to the harbor.”

Photo by Al Semm/Port Jefferson Village digital archive
Photo by Al Semm/Port Jefferson Village digital archive

The Coast Guard cited deficiencies in the barge’s steel as factors in the damage to the ship, but also said its primary cause was “uneven distribution of cargo and ballast at the extremities of the vessel.”

The crew members were able to get off the ship safely despite crew at the bow being cut off from lifesaving equipment, which was located at the stern.

Although the sea was calm that day, water temperatures were close to freezing — according to the Coast Guard, the air temperature was 46 degrees Fahrenheit but it was 40 degrees in the water.

The 584-foot barge “split in a manner which has occurred many times at ambient temperatures in structures fabricated from mild- and low-alloy steels.”

Tom Rotanz poses for a photo with a gold medal and trophy after the U-19 team he was an assistant coach of won a world championship. Photo from Tom Rotanz

A familiar face is stepping onto the college lacrosse scene.

Tom Rotanz, a former head boys’ lacrosse coach for Shoreham-Wading River for 18 years, will helm St. Joseph’s College’s new men’s lacrosse program, which will begin its first season in spring 2017.

“It’s something I always wanted to do,” Rotanz said of joining the college ranks. “I think any competitive athlete and coach wants to show someone what good can come from having the right people around you and the good players that are willing to commit themselves, and I hope to have another successful tenure at St. Joseph’s.”

Tom Rotanz will be the first head coach for St. Joseph's College's men's lacrosse program. Photo from Tom Rotanz
Tom Rotanz will be the first head coach for St. Joseph’s College’s men’s lacrosse program. Photo from Tom Rotanz

Rotanz has a long history with lacrosse.

His elder brother was on the team that won Ward Melville’s first Long Island championship in 1974, and the younger Rotanz was part of the squad that won the second and third in 1976 and 1977. The lacrosse captain earned All-American honors as a senior in 1977, after his team also made it to the New York State championship game, the first one for lacrosse. The boys lost that game, 12-11.

From there, he was the captain of the Suffolk County Community College lacrosse team that won a national championship and earned All-American honors twice. He then repeated that feat at Adelphi University, where he was also named an All-American twice.

“Tom was a great player,” said his former high school coach, and a legend on the lacrosse scene, Joe Cuozzo. “He was a great competitor, had a great sense of humor about him, and I really enjoyed working with him.”

As a coach himself, with the Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats’ program only a year old, Rotanz took over a roster of 14 players, including six freshmen. The team went 1-15 his first season, scoring 38 goals on the year. But seven years later, the team was ranked fourth in the country, after winning a New York State championship and scoring close to 400 goals.

“It snowballed into something that was really neat to be a part of,” he said. “In the last 13 years I was there, we won 10 county championships, five Long Island and three New York State. People always wondered why or how we kept winning every year and being ranked one or two in the county. I say if you have bright kids that buy into the system, I think anything is possible.”

Tom Rotanz gets water dumped on his head by a former Shoreham-Wading River team after a win. Photo from Tom Rotanz
Tom Rotanz gets water dumped on his head by a former Shoreham-Wading River team after a win. Photo from Tom Rotanz

Rotanz earned his first of six Suffolk County Coach of the Year honors in 1999, two years before he led the program to its first county championship in 2001. In 2002, the program repeated as Suffolk champs en route to Long Island and New York State titles. The team also swept Suffolk, Long Island and New York State championship titles in 2007 and 2012.

In 2012, the coach added to his list of accolades, serving as an assistant for the 2012 USA Men’s U-19 lacrosse team that won a world championship.

Now, he hopes to be able to bring that same success to St. Joseph’s, and Shantey Hill, assistant vice president and senior director of athletics and recreation for the college, thinks Rotanz is the perfect fit.

“We were very lucky in that Coach Rotanz applied,” she said, referring to the school’s intensive, national search across all NCAA institutions. “He has a plethora of experience, and … he knows the landscape of Long Island, and he’s very well-connected with his peers to be able to do good recruiting for what we’re looking for.”

For Rotanz, being on the scene as long as he has and being a part of Long Island lacrosse, serving as an assistant coach at Smithtown West for the last two years, will be beneficial throughout the recruiting process for the Golden Eagles.

“I’m very close friends with a lot of the Suffolk and Nassau coaches, so they’re already contacting me with players that they think will be a great fit, kids that they think would really like to play for me; so that’s the neat thing.”

He added, laughing, “I think there will be a lot more kids that think about not leaving the Island now, hopefully.”

Tom Rotanz makes a save during a Ward Melville boys' lacrosse game. He helped the team to two Long Island championship titles and a New York State championship appearance. Photo from Tom Rotanz
Tom Rotanz makes a save during a Ward Melville boys’ lacrosse game. He helped the team to two Long Island championship titles and a New York State championship appearance. Photo from Tom Rotanz

According to Hill, the school decided the time was right for a lacrosse program after seeing that a number of Division III student-athletes in the college’s Skyline Conference that commit to play lacrosse come from Long Island and that there was interest with incoming and current students. The college also built a new outdoor athletic facility.

Hill said St. Joseph’s found the right coach in Rotanz.

“We think we hit a home run with coach Rotanz,” she said. “He’s not only a wonderful coach, but also a great man, and he will do great things. We’re looking forward to him not only being the face of the lacrosse program, but also being a mentor to our male student-athletes. His tenure speaks for itself. He’s very well-connected, and he has good relationships with lots of people, and that’s something you can’t put a price tag on.”

Cuozzo, who was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, said he used to go to Shoreham-Wading River practices and games to watch his former athlete, and has been thrilled with his approach to the game.

“The way he treats kids, he’s a real student of the game, and I can’t say enough on how proud I am of his accomplishments,” he said. “He brings a winning attitude.”

Rotanz, who said he tries to emulate the ways and successes of his former coach, is competitive, according to Cuozzo.

“He hates to lose — I think he got that from me,” he said, laughing. “I wasn’t a very good loser.”

Luckily, neither one of them has had to do much of that.

Tom Rotanz coaches from the sidelines of a Shoreham-Wading River boys' lacrosse game. Photo from Tom Rotanz
Tom Rotanz coaches from the sidelines of a Shoreham-Wading River boys’ lacrosse game. Photo from Tom Rotanz

Cuozzo compiled a 699-73 record while at the helm of the Patriots’ program. In 2007, he became the head coach at Mount Sinai, where he brought his win total to 747 in his four years before retirement. During his tenure with the Wildcats, Rotanz amassed a 256-99 record.

Cuozzo also thinks Rotanz will be able to draw athletes to the school.

“A lot of kids like to leave Long Island when they are finished with high school — they don’t want to stay local — but knowing Tom, he’s very convincing,” Cuozzo said. “He’ll do his homework. He’ll go out and scout, he’ll go to high school games and he’ll talk, make phone calls. He’s very organized, he’s very knowledgeable about the game, and there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s going to be successful there.”

Three trustee seats up for election next Wednesday

The upcoming budget vote is at the library on Thompson Street. File photo

By Giselle Barkley

Port Jefferson Free Library will soon have a full board of trustees for the first time in a while, after an election on Jan. 13 in which four candidates are running for three seats.

Residents can meet the group at the library on Monday, at 7 p.m., including incumbents Laura Hill Timpanaro and Susan Prechtl-Loper with newcomers Carl Siegel and Joel Rosenthal.

Susan Prechtl-Loper is running for the Port Jefferson library’s board of trustees. Photo from the candidate
Susan Prechtl-Loper is running for the Port Jefferson library’s board of trustees. Photo from the candidate

The two candidates who win the most votes will secure seats with five-year terms and the third-place finisher will win a seat that carries a two-year term.

The shorter term is available after former Trustee Harriet Martin vacated her seat on the board, leaving a couple of years left on her term.

Hill Timpanaro, the current board president, has been a trustee for the past five years and is seeking re-election. She heads the library’s planning and building committee and has worked on several projects, including securing grants and modernizing the library to keep up with changes in technology.

“The library is moving into a time of change, not only for PJFL but for the libraries in general,” Hill Timpanaro said in an email. “As technology continues to change patrons’ needs we have the opportunity to create a community cornerstone that suits a diverse clientele and becomes [an] anchor for the community.”

Laura Hill Timpanaro is running for the Port Jefferson library’s board of trustees. Photo from the candidate
Laura Hill Timpanaro is running for the Port Jefferson library’s board of trustees. Photo from the candidate

Hill Timpanaro has lived in Port Jefferson for 15 years. Outside the library, she’s also helped secure funds to build a garden at the Port Jefferson elementary school.

She hopes to continue her work on expanding the library in a new term, especially now that the library has acquired two adjacent properties — a residence on Thompson Street and a business on East Main Street.

Fellow incumbent Prechtl-Loper, the board’s financial officer and a member since 2013, is also seeking re-election, with the goal of further improving the library and its services.

She said the biggest accomplishment for the trustees since she first joined was when the library purchased the Scented Cottage Garden property on East Main Street in May, to help satisfy the library’s parking and general needs.

For Prechtl-Loper, a village resident for more than 20 years and a library member for more than 50, the institution is like home.

Carl Siegel is running for the Port Jefferson library’s board of trustees. Photo from Valerie Schwarz
Carl Siegel is running for the Port Jefferson library’s board of trustees. Photo from Valerie Schwarz

“I grew up in the library,” she said. “I have really fond memories there.”

Siegel, like the incumbents, is no stranger to the board of trustees. He served from 1994 to 1999 and is hoping to return this year.

During Siegel’s previous tenure, he helped establish the children’s library and an adult reading room, among several other projects. Now that building plans are underway to address a parking shortage and add a room to host live performances, Siegel wants to help execute those projects.

He was an English teacher at the Port Jefferson high school for 23 years before retiring in 1992. Since then, he’s been active in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Stony Brook University, which offers a variety of courses to its older students. He served as its president in 1997.

For Rosenthal, whose has lived in Port Jefferson Village for 50 years, the election is a new phase. While he’s never been a trustee, Rosenthal is aware of the library’s plans for expansion and would like to work with fellow trustees on the projects.

Joel Rosenthal is running for the Port Jefferson library’s board of trustees. Photo from Valerie Schwarz
Joel Rosenthal is running for the Port Jefferson library’s board of trustees. Photo from Valerie Schwarz

“With the tremendous changes in technology, [the trustees] should make some informed decisions about the library,” he said in an interview.

Rosenthal is a distinguished professor emeritus of history at Stony Brook University. He was also previously the chair of the history department and took on other administrative roles before partially retiring from the university.

Although Rosenthal said he would prefer the two-year seat to a five-year seat, he would “take what I can get.”

Voting is at the library on Wednesday, Jan. 13, between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m.

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The Smith homestead at 55 Main St., also known as the old house on the hill. The black walnut tree in the rear yard that was a spindly shrub in 1910 was destroyed in the Aug. 4, 2015 storm. Photo from Beverly Tyler

By Beverly C. Tyler

One of the most common names connected with the history of the Three Village area is Smith. Records compiled by Leroy and Alvin Smith indicate that there were four Smith families who settled in Setauket in the 17th century.

The first to arrive was Richard “Bull” Smith who came from Southampton in 1656 and who later founded Smithtown, then known as Smithfield, in 1663. The next to settle in Setauket was Arthur Smith, a Quaker, who was admitted as a townsman in December 1659. Arthur had left Southold to avoid further punishment for being a Quaker and evidently found a more receptive and tolerant community in Setauket. He was also probably well known to the men from Southold who had founded Setauket in 1655.

Robert Smith was the next to arrive, coming from Southold in 1667. Robert, who had lived close to Arthur there, was probably a relative but no relationship has been established. Town records indicate that Robert and Arthur lived near each other in Setauket as well. Robert sold his entire estate in October 1682 and left no known descendants.

The fourth Smith to settle in Setauket was Col. William “Tangier” Smith who arrived about 1689. Smith settled on what is now Strong’s Neck and built his home, which he called St. George’s Manor. When his great-granddaughter Anna Smith married Selah Strong, the neck passed to the Strong family (“Three Village Guidebook,” No. 88). In addition to Strong, the descendants of “Tangier” Smith include many other early Three Village families. The colonel and his wife Martha had a total of 13 children but only six are known to have produced future generations. In addition to the Strongs, the family genealogy includes the Woodhulls, Mounts, Brewsters, Hulses and many others including some of the descendants of “Bull” Smith.

Arthur Smith and his wife Martha, who had settled in Setauket in 1659, had four known sons:

• The first, Thomas, was born about 1646 and died about 1685. He was married to Joanna Longbotham of Setauket and had at least one son, Thomas.

• A second son, John, was born before 1649. He had a wife named Rebecca and at least two children, Deborah and John.

• Third son, Benjamin, was born about 1655 and produced one son, Benjamin Jr. Benjamin Sr. is thought to have been the builder of the Smith homestead.

• The fourth son, Arthur Jr., was born sometime before 1659 and had at least three sons: Arthur, Daniel and Samuel.

The majority of the known descendants of Arthur Smith, the Quaker, are descended from his grandson Daniel. Daniel had eight children, four of whom died single. Many of the descendants of Daniel’s other children are still living in the Three Villages.

Daniel married Mary Thompson, daughter of Samuel and Hannah Thompson in 1720. Daniel was Brookhaven Town treasurer in 1733-37 and then town clerk until 1775. Town meetings were held at the Smith home and thus the house was the seat of town government for many years. Daniel died July 31, 1784, and his son Timothy, born Sept. 3, 1730, inherited the homestead (“Three Village Guidebook,” No. 76). Timothy, who married Zurviah Smith, is believed to have lived with his wife and children in the homestead by 1766. During the American Revolution, as detailed by descendant Julia Smith, Timothy outwitted the British — who searched his home many times — by hiding his guns in the foundation of the house and his gold in tobacco leaves.

The Smith homestead has undergone many changes since it was built circa 1685. It was thought to have had a long sloping — or catslide — roof, possibly added about 1705, making it known as a saltbox house. However, the general architecture and timber-frame construction leave many unanswered questions. There is no doubt that the house grew and changed, much as the family grew and changed. It remained the Smith homestead until the last family member in the house died in 1948, a period of continuous occupation for more than 250 years.

Amos, son of Timothy and Zurviah, inherited the farm and homestead when his father died in 1790. His mother continued to live in the house until her death in 1809. As detailed in an old account book, Amos undertook repairs to the house in 1796 and in 1801 “built new end to the house.” It is quite possible that this “new end” was built for the comfort of Amos’ mother Zurviah.

Amos was a successful farmer and served as the Brookhaven Town tax collector in 1805-10. He also served as one of the town constables in 1803-12. Amos was a slaveholder according to “Records of the Town of Brookhaven from 1798 to 1856,” page 91), and a note attached to the family bible that read: “Amos Smith made return that he had a female Child Born of a Slave of his on the 12th Day of March 1803. Childs name is Cloe.” The bible note for March 1824 lists the two children of Cloe, who by then was a freed slave.

In 1810 Amos, age 40, married Ruth Bennett, age 23, and the couple raised four children: Harriet, Isaac, Timothy and Julia Ann. Amos added 40 acres in Stony Brook in 1806 and another 10 acres in 1821; he also held deed to another 40 acres. In 1826, Amos was elected as one of 36 town fence viewers and retained the position until it was incorporated into the jobs of the commissioners of highways in 1830. He died on Christmas Eve 1844, and wife Ruth died July 13, 1852; they are buried in Caroline Church graveyard just west of the entrance walk.

Isaac J. Smith (1813-81), son of Amos and Ruth, was the only child to outlive his parents. He married Sarah Ann Petty (1824-95) in February 1844 and inherited the family homestead after his father’s death. Isaac was a militia captain and the homestead became known as the Major Isaac Smith house. Isaac was an avid horseman and loved to race. As detailed by Miss Kate Strong, Smith was overtaken by a horse and light rig, made a challenge and won the race. He had not realized that he had challenged Robert Bonner, editor of the New York Ledger and a superb horseman. Bonner said, “I could not spoil his fun by beating him, he was having such a good time.”

Isaac and Sarah had, according to family information, as many as fourteen children, a number of whom died young and are buried near their parents in the Caroline Church cemetery. Piecing together family census and church records we can confirm at least 12. The three unmarried children who lived in the homestead well into the 20th century were Emily Sarah (1850-1937), who was known as Aunt Em to her sister’s children; William Lawrence (1865-1938); and Julia Sophia (1863-1948), known as Miss Julia Smith in the community. Julia told many stories about her family and the homestead. A number of these stories were told to Kate Strong, who included them in her “True Tales” written for the Long Island Forum.

As detailed by Arthur Smith descendant Elinore Bryant, about 1990, there were papers and deeds found in the house along with notes and articles written by Julia Smith; an old account book found in the attic; the Brookhaven tax book of 1806; and a paper fastened to the family bible describing the birth of family slaves. These are all, hopefully, still in possession of family members. Bryant wrote that there were “many beautiful pieces of 17th- and 18th-century furniture … still in use when Miss Julia Smith occupied the house.” She also noted that when the house was sold in 1948, many of Daniel Smith’s tools — “(he) was a cordwainer (shoemaker) by trade” — were still in the shed.

Today the Smith homestead, a community treasure, is being lovingly and carefully restored. Sections of the house reflect the different family needs that occurred as each generation of Smiths added to the home and changed it. Many of these alterations now present a somewhat confusing array of disparate modifications, all of which make understanding the history of the house more interesting and challenging. However, most of the major changes to the house occurred during the first two centuries of its existence. As a result the house, as a home, reflects in many ways the lifestyle of the colonial period.

As Bryant wrote, “To cross the threshold over the old mill stone, was to enter another world. The old floorboards glow in the kitchen with the patina of three centuries, while beneath the wide-throated chimney huge black kettles and utensils hang on the crane, a reminder of the daily chores of the colonial housewife.”

Beverly Tyler is the Three Village Historical Society historian.

Ward Melville at the Stony Brook Village Center, circa 1950s. Photo from WMHO

Long before there were the Gates and the Zuckerbergs of the world, there was Ward Melville.

A major Long Island philanthropist and national business leader, the scope of Ward Melville’s generosity and vision included significant restoration of historic structures, purchase and preservation of environmental and commercial properties, education and countless other endeavors.

Ward Melville’s dream was to create a “living Williamsburg,” a place where history and culture would blend with natural beauty. Along with architect Richard Haviland Smythe, he designed what was to become the first planned business community in America, the Stony Brook Village Center. The Three Village area — Stony Brook, Setauket and Old Field — has been forever changed because of this forward-thinking benefactor.

Melville was president of Melville Corporation, the third largest retailer in the United States with some 10,000 stores, which owned Thom McAn Shoes, Marshall’s, CVS Pharmacies, Kay-Bee Toys, Wilson’s Leather and Suede and more. He also donated the very land that today houses one of our nation’s leading research institutions, Stony Brook University.

The Stony Brook Community Fund, now the Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO), was founded in 1939. On Jan. 19, 1940, Ward Melville hosted a dinner at the Three Village Inn to present his plan for the future of Stony Brook Village. On Jan. 19, 2016, this milestone will be commemorated at the Three Village Inn where it all began to “Celebrate What Was … Be Part of What’s To Come.”

Starting at 6 p.m. with live music by The Tom Manuel Trio, cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, dinner, dessert and coffee, guests will enjoy the same menu from 1940, hear Melville’s original speech and see the original model of the village. There will even be chocolate cigars in place of real ones enjoyed in the day.

The evening continues with an 8 p.m. sneak preview of The Jazz Loft next door, which will soon showcase a historic collection of over 10,000 items of jazz memorabilia and serve as an education and jazz performance venue as well. This 6,000-square-foot structure, formerly the site of the Suffolk Museum, now the Long Island Museum, was another of Melville’s philanthropic works. Bringing this culture to Stony Brook Village is a case of history repeating itself while looking toward the future.

During the ‘50s and ‘60s, the likes of Tony Bennett and Lionel Hampton performed at the Dogwood Hollow Amphitheatre in the very spot where WMHO’s Educational & Cultural Center now stands in Stony Brook Village. The vision that Ward Melville had over 75 years ago still resonates today and the results of his efforts on behalf of the citizens of Stony Brook and beyond, both economically and culturally, will continue to touch generations for many years to come.

Tickets are $125 per person and seating is limited. Proceeds will benefit The Jazz Loft. For further information call 631-751-2244 or register online at

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Dr. Benjamin Luft at the Stony Brook WTC Wellness Program, where he serves as director. File photo

The story of Sept. 11, 2001 will live on through the eyes of emergency responders who witnessed the tragedies up close, thanks to a program based out of Stony Brook University.

Benjamin Luft, MD, the Edmund Pellegrino professor of medicine at Stony Brook University School of Medicine and director of the Stony Brook WTC Wellness Program, announced on Dec. 22 the donation of the first installment of a collection of oral histories provided by 9/11 World Trade Center responders to the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center. The Center will become the permanent home of the collection, known as the “Remembering 9/11 Oral History Project.”

Luft, along with colleagues, established the project by recording the histories of responders who attended the Stony Brook WTC Wellness Program, which cares for some 6,900 responders. After hearing many moving stories from his first responder patients, Luft said he came to believe that their experiences should be part of the nation’s history. In 2009, he and colleagues then began to record some their patients’ stories as oral histories.

By 2011, the Library of Congress formally expressed interest in serving as the repository for the collected oral histories and other documentation created by the project, which included stories from police officers, firefighters, paramedics, construction workers and others who worked at Ground Zero after the attacks. The project was featured on a special edition of the CBS news program “60 Minutes,” called “Remembering 911,” on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

“It is such a privilege for me to act as a conduit and be able to gift to the Library of Congress, our national repository of knowledge, our first 200 interviews with those who responded to the horrific attacks of 9/11,” Luft said.

Luft also thanked both U.S. Reps. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) and Peter King (R-Seaford) for supporting the project, “from which the first installment of oral histories comes at a time of great anxiety considering the recent repeated terrorist attacks on our soil and elsewhere in the world.”

“No one else had the first-hand experience of being at Ground Zero on 9/11 quite like our brave first responders — their memories of that day will always be with them,” said Israel, who helped facilitate the collaboration with the Library of Congress. “Now thanks to the work of Dr. Benjamin Luft, who has collected the stories of our heroic responders, their memories will be preserved as part of the Library of Congress as a permanent collection for future generations of Americans. For those who sacrificed their lives but survived that tragic day, their memories and stories will forever be preserved as a part of our nation’s history.”

The collection includes some 200 oral histories, each one about an hour or longer, and more than 1,000 digital photographs, manuscript materials, logbooks and indexes involving the personnel who responded to the terrorist attack on the WTC towers and who worked on response to the event, including rescue and recovery work on the building debris pile.

“These stories are the responders’ gift to our nation, now and for generations to come,” Luft said. “Listening to them, with their descriptions of courage, love, sacrifice and survival, inspires us and informs us on how we need to be unified and care for one another during this time of unease.”

The donation is only a portion of what the Stony Brook WTC Program has collected, and future installments are expected, Luft said.

“After the attacks on Sept. 11, 2011, more than 50,000 workers from across the country descended on New York City to assist. Their first-hand accounts describe the unimaginable devastation of the WTC attack,” said Elizabeth Peterson, director of the Library’s American Folklife Center (AFC). “In these interviews, the responders describe the details of their disaster work, the atmosphere at their worksite, and the personal impacts of this disaster.”

The AFC and its predecessor, the Archive of Folk Culture, have collected public oral histories and other documentation following major events in U.S. history, such as the bombing of Pearl Harbor, which brought the United States into World War II.

Arthur and Irene Sniffin receive the President’s Award from Huntington Historical Society. Photo from Claudia S. Fortunato-Napolitano

A longtime Huntington couple has dedicated more than 40 years to improving the quality of information available to Huntington residents by volunteering at Huntington Historical Society.

Arthur and Irene Sniffin moved from Massapequa to Huntington in 1966 and have been immersed in the history of the town ever since.

“I always had an interest in local history,” Arthur Sniffin said in a phone interview. “When we moved, I was looking for something to do with history and the historical society was a perfect fit.”

Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) put the spotlight on their work earlier this year when he handed them a county proclamation for being awarded the President’s Award for Excellence in Service from their historical society this year.

“Our community owes Irene and Artie a debt of gratitude for the countless hours they have dedicated to preserving our local history and helping many of us discover our own family origins,” Spencer said in a statement.

Arthur Sniffin began working at the historical society as a trustee and then treasurer, while Irene Sniffin volunteered at the resource center and eventually became the historical society’s librarian, where she helped update the archives.

Arthur Sniffin is credited as being the founding chairman of the historical society’s genealogy workshop, and both he and his wife worked together over the years to organize genealogy courses, called root seminars, which helped people from across Long Island better understand how to search for history on their ancestry.

”As people get older and retire, they want to know more about where they came from,” Irene Sniffin said in a phone interview. “They want to become more aware of who their ancestors are, so we helped them find that information.”

She said they were both able to help people get interested and better in touch with their family history.

The Sniffins’ family history is also impressive. Arthur Sniffin is a direct descendant of Thomas Powell, a prominent figure from Long Island in the late 15th and 16th century, who secured the land transaction known as the Bethpage Purchase. According to Arthur Sniffin, once he started working at the historical society, he learned that one of his ancestors was actually the first recorded death in Huntington Town.

“The more I was helping people, the more I ended up learning myself,” he said.

The Sniffins have also helped with the transition of the archives from the old resource center to the new library, which will be located on Main Street next to the Huntington Arts Council. They collected residents’ information, including obituaries and features from newspapers in the past several centuries, to make sure the historical society’s record of the town is maintained.

“The history of the town and the people have to be preserved,” Irene Sniffin said. “I think people forget that when they get caught up with the many other parts of a normal routine, but it’s important. I felt like I was doing something constructive that needed to be done.”

She said it was both exciting and surprising to be honored by the historical society and Legislative Spencer and Arthur Sniffin said he agreed.

“It was an honor to be honored,” he said.

Dr. Ron “The Mazzacutioner” Mazza, left, squares off in the ring against Commack’s Sinai “The Mountain” Megibow, right, in the Long Island Fight for Charity. Photo from Jen Vaglica

A Commack man who packs a big punch used it for good when he stepped into the ring to help raise money for Long Island charities.

Long Island Fight for Charity hosted its 12th Main Event on Nov. 23 at the Hilton Long Island in Melville. Months of training came to an end when 26 business professionals turned volunteer boxers put their gloves on and stepped into the ring. In the fifth bout of the evening, Sinai “The Mountain” Megibow of Commack and investigative counsel, private investigator, founding partner of Radius Investigations in Melville entered the ring to face his opponent, Dr. Ron “The Mazzacutioner” Mazza of Northport and Chiropractor at Synergy Multicare Professionals in Westbury. Both boxers landed solid hits on each other in the three one-minute rounds, impressing all the judges.

“I love martial arts and boxing, and I love Long Island, so I thought this was an ideal way to combine my interests with doing some real good for my community,” Megibow said. “It’s been a great experience. The training was fantastic and I’m very glad we were able to raise a lot of money to help people.”

More than 1,200 attendees packed the ballroom at the Long Island Hilton and were treated to food and beverages donated by more than 35 local restaurants and wine and spirits companies. Over several months, the boxers raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, accomplishing their goals by hosting individual and team fundraisers across Long Island.

Sinai and the other boxers trained for months, at least twice a week to start, ramping up to almost every day in the final weeks leading up to the main event. In the process of training for their bouts, the boxers improved their physical stamina and, in total, lost hundreds of pounds. There is no other charity event like this anywhere in the country, where local business professionals raise money for charity and step into the boxing ring in front of a large crowd of friends and supporters.

“Stepping into the ring was one of the greatest experiences I had in my life. It feels amazing to both get in the greatest shape in my life and help local Long Islanders’ in need,” Mazza said.

Proceeds from Long Island Fight for Charity will be donated to The Long Island Community Chest, The Genesis School and the National Foundation for Human Potential. When the final tally is complete, the Long Island Fight for Charity will be over its $1 million goal.

Local businesses and professional firms sponsoring this year’s 12th Main Event include: Barnes Iaccarino & Shepherd LLP; Alure Home Improvements; PricewaterhouseCoopers; Fat Guy Media; Farrell Fritz; Saxena White P.A.; Local 1298; AmWINS Brokerage of NJ; Crystal & Company; RedTree Radiology; Local 60; Local 342, UMD, ILA; Carter, Deluca, Farrell & Schmidt LLP; Excavators Union Local 731; St. Hugh-St. Elizabeth Baseball League Inc.; Local 223; Jonis Realty; UPS Foundation Inc.; Francesco’s Bakery and L. Graziose Plumbing & Heating.

For more information about this event and to volunteer as a boxer for the 13th Long Island Fight for Charity, taking place on Nov. 20, 2016, visit

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A memorial will rest on the pre-existing hill on the new Tom Cutinella Memorial Field. Photo from Ryan Ledda

Shoreham-Wading River High School’s “Tommy Tough” slogan is not only changing the culture of the Wildcats football team — it’s changing the community.

When Tom Cutinella passed away from an on-field collision last year, sophomore Ryan Ledda was right in the middle of thinking about what he should do for his Eagle Scout project. Ledda didn’t know Tom, but his sister Gabriella did, and after seeing how the loss affected her, coupled with what he saw during a Clemson University football game, his memorial idea was born.

“Before each game, the Clemson team comes onto the field touching a memorial called Howard’s Rock, and I figured I could do something similar to that,” Ryan Ledda said. “That the team could come out and touch the memorial for good luck before each home game. My goal is that everyone in the school could be connected to Tom without him being there. So no one will forget him.”

First, Ledda presented the idea to high school Principal Dan Holtzman, before going to the board of education.

“I thought it was an impressive one,” Holtzman said. “It was well-received by the board of education and they gave Ryan the go-ahead. I think it is a meaningful and thoughtful project and one that I hope encourages students at all grade levels to engage in community-oriented projects.”

Ryan Ledda, whose Eagle Scout project will raise money to fund a memorial in Tom Cutinella’s name. Photo from Ryan Ledda
Ryan Ledda, whose Eagle Scout project will raise money to fund a memorial in Tom Cutinella’s name. Photo from Ryan Ledda

The proposal was a 4- by 20-foot retaining wall on a pre-existing hill on the field that would have a concrete base with pavers stacked on top. In the middle will be a pedestal with a bronze bust of Cutinella. The bronze piece will be life size.

“I thought it was a very big project — I was very nervous,” Ledda’s mother Jennifer Ledda said. “I myself didn’t know the Cutinellas, but after Ryan went to the board and got approval I met Mrs. Cutinella. I found out how the boy was outstanding in every aspect of what he does. It reminded me of all of the kids who do good.”

According to Ryan Ledda, the project is estimated to cost $30,000-$40,000. The approval was quick by the board, but the approval by Boy Scout Troop 161 in Shoreham took longer.

“You need to fill out a long application and they send it back with improvements and revisions,” he said. “But they thought it was a great idea. A lot of the Eagle board members knew Tom’s family so they wanted to help out. Once they heard how much it was going to cost they got a little freaked out, but I told them how I was going to raise money and how important it was because of how Tom affected the community.”

To help fund the project, bricks are being sold that can be engraved, to rest atop the base. Smaller bricks cost $125, while larger ones cost $250.

“Those who went to school with him will always remember him, but kids to come that didn’t know him might not, so hopefully this can help them honor Tom,” Ledda said.

The sophomore created a website where the bricks can be purchased, and he handed out flyers in front of the school that were donated by a local printing company. To purchase a brick, go to There is also a GoFundMe account raising funds for the base of the memorial and bronze statue.

The goal is to reach $20,000. Currently, 34 people have donated a combined $3,271 in the last month. Fourteen of those people have donated $54 or $154, representing Cutinella’s jersey No. 54. To donate to this project, go to

For Shoreham-Wading River varsity football coach Matt Millheiser, he thinks all projects done in Cutinella’s name have been beneficial for the community.

“Outside of football, you see so many projects and so many things done — whether it’s a run or a blood drive or this Eagle Scout project — that are done in Tom’s name, he said. “It really shows the impact he had as a person and some of the good things that are being done by his friends and family and even people that didn’t know him, in the things they do throughout their lives. I think it is part of his long-standing effect.”

As for the memorial, the head coach knows it will only add to the field.

“I think it’s a great, worthy cause and idea — they’re all good things to remember their friend and brother who was lost,” Millheiser said. “‘Tommy Tough’ kind of changed the culture of Shoreham-Wading River football and the way the kids viewed how they went to work, how they practiced and how they prepared and how they carried themselves, and it really speaks to his legacy.”