Community

By Ed Blair

One was a Broadway star who flew as Peter Pan, vowed to “wash that man right out of my hair” in South Pacific, and frolicked with the Von Trapp children in “The Sound of Music.” The other was a sweet southern singer and popular TV hostess who urged viewers to “See the USA in your Chevrolet.”

Audiences will have the opportunity to learn about the lives of two legendary stars while enjoying musical highlights from the iconic ladies’ careers, as The Ward Melville Heritage Organization presents “Holiday Wishes from Mary Martin & Dinah Shore” at its Educational & Cultural Center in Stony Brook Village. Actors will portray the duo in a beautifully decorated seasonal setting through Jan. 11. The event, presented by St. George Living History Productions, is followed by a high-tea luncheon featuring finger sandwiches and delectable desserts.

Mary Martin
Mary Martin

 

As a girl, Mary Martin took an early interest in performing. She channeled her creative impulses by teaching dance, opening her own studio in Mineral Wells, Texas. Fate intervened, however, and when her dance studio burned down, Martin decided to leave Texas and take her shot at making it in Hollywood.

After a number of auditions proved fruitless, Martin got her break when she caught the eye of Oscar Hammerstein, who thought her voice could play on Broadway. She became an overnight sensation in her stage debut in 1938, when the 25-year-old won audiences over with her poignant rendition of “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” in Cole Porter’s “Leave It to Me!” Martin followed up with a Tony Award for her role in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific.” The classic song from the show, “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair,” was actually written at her suggestion, and Martin dutifully washed her hair on stage every night during the run — eight times a week.

The now-famous star added Tony Awards for her performances in the title role in “Peter Pan” and as Maria in “The Sound of Music.” She also starred in “Annie Get Your Gun” and played opposite Robert Preston in “I Do! I Do!” Martin made media history, when, on March 7, 1955, NBC broadcast a live presentation of “Peter Pan.” The musical, with nearly all of the show’s original cast, was the first full-length Broadway production to air on color TV. The show attracted a then-record audience of 65 million viewers, the highest ever up to that time for a single television program. Martin won an Emmy Award for her performance. Mary Martin died in 1990 at the age of 77. There are two stars bearing her name on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Dinah Shore
Dinah Shore

As a student at Vanderbilt University, Tennessee native Dinah Shore began her career by performing her own short program on a Nashville radio station. After graduation in 1938, she moved to New York City, where she landed a job as a singer on WNEW. Her career progressed slowly, but she scored a few hits and became more well known during the World War II years, when she traveled with the USO, performing for the troops. “I’ll Walk Alone,” “I Love You for Sentimental Reasons” and “Buttons and Bows” were all major hits that catapulted her to stardom.

Shore appeared in a few films, but she made her impact on television as TV sets became standard features in homes across the nation in the early 1950s. Her variety show made its debut in 1951. It evolved into “The Dinah Shore Chevy Show” in 1956, which became a mainstay through 1963. Shore’s warmth and engaging personality appealed to TV audiences, and she followed her earlier successes by hosting popular talk shows — “Dinah’s Place,” “Dinah!” and “Dinah and Friends.” Along the way, she accumulated 10 Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award and a Golden Globe Award.

Shore also had a passion for golf. She founded the Colgate/Dinah Shore Winner’s Circle Golf Championship and sponsored the Dinah Shore Classic for a number of years, earning her an honorary membership in the Ladies Professional Golf Association Hall of Fame. Three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame honor Dinah Shore, who died in 1994 at the age of 77.

What led writer/director Sal St. George to pair Martin and Shore in his production? “Mary did a special with Noel Coward in 1955, and that inspired me to ponder what a collaboration between her and Dinah would be like,” he explained. “It is a nostalgic part of the Golden Age of television of the 1960s when ‘Specials’ or ‘Spectaculars’ were well produced and had legitimate star quality. This is also Dinah’s 100th birthday year, so we took this opportunity to celebrate her life.”

St. George added, “This is also our 15th year presenting programs for WMHO. We wanted to make this show different and more glamorous than ever before. Consequently, we thought about adding a second celebrity guest. We have never had two high profile women together on the stage. This is the perfect holiday show for the family — great tunes from the Broadway songbook, plenty of good old-fashioned comedy and dazzling costumes — plus an appearance by Peter Pan. Who can ask for more!”

The WMHO Educational & Cultural Center, 97P Main St., Stony Brook will host “Holiday Wishes from Mary Martin & Dinah Shore” through Jan. 11. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday shows are at 11:30 a.m.; Sunday shows at 12:30 p.m. The high-tea luncheon performance, catered by Crazy Beans, is sponsored in part by the Roosevelt Investment Group Inc. General admission is $50; seniors 60 and over $48; groups of 20 or more $45. Advance reservations are required by calling 631-689-5888. For more information, visit www.wmho.org.

A previous year’s entry depicts Port Jefferson’s Village Hall. File photo by Heidi Sutton

Calling all gingerbread house enthusiasts and architects! Time to start your ovens! Suffolk Lodge No. 60 Ancient, Free & Accepted Masons will be hosting its 6th Annual Gingerbread House Contest during the 21st annual Port Jefferson Charles Dickens Festival on Dec. 3 and 4.

gingy

Every year thousands of people attend this wonderful festival to see the transformation of Port Jefferson Village into a town out of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

All Gingerbread House Contest submissions will be on display during the festival in the basement of the Port Jefferson Masonic Temple, 312 Main Street on Dec. 3 from noon to 10 p.m. and Dec. 4 from noon to 5 p.m. Entries will be judged for their creativity, execution and originality by a panel of judges that includes celebrated local artists and chefs.

First prize in the adult category will be $500, runner-up receives $200. In the under-18 category, first prize is a $125 Amazon gift card, and runner-up is a $75 Amazon gift card. All Gingerbread House Contest entry registrations must be submitted by Sunday, Nov. 23. For complete details, printable and online registration forms and rules, please visit www.gingerli.org. For further information, call 631-339-0940.

Douglas Quattrock as Bob Cratchit in a scene from ‘A Christmas Carol’. Photo from Theatre Three

By Melissa Arnold

Acting has been a part of Douglas Quattrock’s life for decades now, but like a kid at Christmas, he waits all year to take the stage for Theatre Three’s “A Christmas Carol,” which opens this weekend. Quattrock, 52, of Selden, is director of development, group sales and special events coordinator for the theater. On stage, he’s Bob Cratchit, the long-suffering clerk of Ebenezer Scrooge and the father of Tiny Tim. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Quattrock as he prepares to play the quintessential character for the 27th year.

How long have you been with Theatre Three?

I performed in my first show at Theatre Three in 1982 and became an official part of the staff in 2004.

What got you interested in acting?

I grew up in New York City and then moved out to Long Island in high school. I had to take an elective, and they had a spot open in chorus, but I didn’t realize I could sing. After that I spent a lot of time in the music room and taught myself to play piano. From there I got involved with the school’s productions and discovered I had a passion for it, whether I was acting or on the stage crew.

When did you first appear in ‘A Christmas Carol’?

Back in 1989, I was doing a show in East Islip, and (director) Jeff Sanzel saw me perform. He came backstage and asked me if I would audition for Bob Cratchit for the upcoming production at Theatre Three.

From left, Doug Quattrock as Bob Cratchit and Jeffrey Sanzel as Scrooge in a scene from 'A Christmas Carol.' Photo from Theatre Three
From left, Doug Quattrock as Bob Cratchit and Jeffrey Sanzel as Scrooge in a scene from ‘A Christmas Carol.’ Photo from Theatre Three

Did you hope to play Bob Cratchit from the beginning?

Absolutely. I’d seen the production before and a few friends had done the role before me. I’ve loved the story for as long as I can remember. I love [Cratchit’s] hope and connection to his family — he comes from a large family, just like I do. We grew up in a small apartment and my parents always struggled to make Christmas special for us, even if they couldn’t afford much. They taught us it was all about family.

Do you feel you’ve brought anything new or different to the role?

As I’ve gotten older, I come to appreciate more the value of family and what really matters in life … I focus so much on that in the role. I hope people can see that, and that my family knows how much I love and appreciate their support.

Tell me about the cast.

While Scrooge, Mr. Fezziwig and myself have been the same for many years, there are also new people that come onboard every year. They bring a fresh, new energy to the show and new dynamics. For example, I’ve (appeared with) many different women who were playing Mrs. Cratchit over the years. Each of them has her own way of playing the role, which affects our relationship on stage. It’s really exciting to see how it changes with time.

From left,The Cratchit family, sans Tiny Tim, from left, Jace Rodrigues, Marquez Stewart, Douglas Quattrock, Zoe Kahnis and Kellianne Crovello in a scene from last year’s ‘A Christmas Carol’. Photo from Theatre Three
From left,The Cratchit family, sans Tiny Tim, from left, Jace Rodrigues, Marquez Stewart, Douglas Quattrock, Zoe Kahnis and Kellianne Crovello in a scene from last year’s ‘A Christmas Carol’. Photo from Theatre Three

What is it like working with the young people in the cast?

The children are just amazing. It’s fun to watch them grow up and go on to other roles in the show or other productions over the years. [Director] Jeffrey [Sanzel] works so hard to instill good values and responsibility in them, to let them know how important they are to the show. If they’re not on stage, they’re either watching rehearsals or doing homework — they need to keep up with every aspect of their lives. Theater provides such a wonderful outlet of expression and education for children.

What is it like working with Jeffrey Sanzel as both director and Scrooge?

He has so much passion and warmth not only for this story, but for everything he does here professionally. I consider him a friend. It’s amazing for me to watch him make the transformation into Scrooge — he’s very scary. It’s especially so because he’s also my boss in real life! But we have a unique relationship.

Is the show scary? Are there any special effects?

Yes, it is scary — we don’t recommend it for children under five, and if they’re five, they shouldn’t sit in the front. There are fog machines, strobe lights, loud noises, darkness, voices from below, a 14-foot ghost and much more. We recommend that they watch other versions of “A Christmas Carol” first so they have an idea of what the show’s about.

Is this your favorite time of year?

Without a doubt!

‘A Christmas Carol’ will be adding extra shows during the Port Jefferson Dickens Festival, which falls on Dec. 3 and 4 this year. What do you most enjoy about the Dickens Festival weekend?

It’s amazing seeing how the whole village embraces this production. They decorate [Port Jefferson] so beautifully and everyone comes together to support what we do. It’s like the whole place comes to life.

What is so special about community theater?

It’s about taking limited resources and creating the best productions from that. We create with heart, imagination and a lot of hard work. That comes from within. And when a show goes well, it’s that much more exciting and valuable.

People have said that you always make them teary-eyed in your last scene with Scrooge. How does that make you feel?

That’s my favorite scene, even though it’s the shortest between us. From Bob’s perspective, the whole story has been building up to that moment, when Scrooge says (Bob’s) son, Tim, will walk again. Scrooge has so many redemptive moments in the last few minutes of the show, and it’s so powerful. I love knowing that moves people. I want people in the audience to see that even the tiniest gestures of kindness can mean so much to someone. That is Christmas to me. If the audience can walk away with that message, and capture the spirit of the season, then I’ve done my job.

“A Christmas Carol” will run at Theatre Three, 412 E. Main St., Port Jefferson, from Nov. 19 to Dec. 30. All tickets are $20 in November and range from $20 to $35 in December. For information or to purchase tickets, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

By Melissa Arnold

It’s hard to live in the Three Village area without noticing the beautiful neighborhoods around us. And it’s easy to fantasize about the ornate period homes. Each year, local residents team up with the Three Village Historical Society to offer visitors from across Long Island a rare, festive peek at a few of them with a Candlelight House Tour. This wonderful event, which will be held on Dec. 2 and 3 this year, has been a mainstay of the North Shore’s holiday season for almost 40 years. But it began as just a simple fundraiser.

 

A scene from last year's Candlelight House Tour. Photo form TVHS
A scene from last year’s Candlelight House Tour. Photo form TVHS

At the end of the 1970s, the Three Village Historical Society was meeting in the Setauket Neighborhood House on Main Street. The building wasn’t in the best shape, however, and members of the society starting brainstorming on ways to repair it. It was Eva Glaser who came up with a unique idea: What if they charged a small fee to take visitors inside the area’s historic homes? Elaborate holiday decorations would make the tours even more interesting, she thought. Those first tours of 1979 were a great success, and the event is now one of the historical society’s biggest annual fundraisers. Proceeds will benefit community and in-school educational programs.

“A lot of people use [the tour] as a kickoff for the holiday season since it’s always the first weekend in December,” said tour co-chair Patty Yantz. “It’s wonderful seeing families all come out together, and then go out to dinner or start their shopping for the holidays. We see people from all generations come together.” The tour features different homes every year, so you’ll never get the same experience twice. The event is so popular that Three Village homeowners are often the first to approach the society to get involved. “People are so generous in their willingness to open up their homes and be a part of the tour. We take time looking at each house on the tour and then look at the elements that they might have in common that could lead to a theme,” Yantz explained.

A scene from a previous Candlelight House Tour. Image from TVHS
A scene from a previous Candlelight House Tour. Photo from TVHS

This year’s theme, Visions of Historic Setauket: A Look Back in Time, will feature five decorated homes. Gallery North and the historical society’s building will be decorated as well. “Setauket has a perfect little historic enclave near the [Frank Melville Memorial] park, and we have a tremendous amount of photos and documents from the area in our archives,” said Patty Cain, also a tour co-chair. “The houses in the tour all circle around the [park’s] pond, which makes it possible for us to have a walking tour this year. We were very lucky.”

The participating homeowners work with volunteer professional decorators to deck the halls for the tour. Afterward, they can keep those decorations to use for years to come, Cain said. She added that Eva Glaser, the inspiration behind the original house tours, will be participating this year. Tour participants have three different times to choose from, each offering a unique experience.

Visitors enjoy a previous Candelight House tour. Image from TVHS
Visitors enjoy a previous Candelight House tour. Photo from TVHS

The darkness of Friday evening makes the lights and luminarias on the tour especially pretty. At each stop, hors d’oeuvres and wine will be served courtesy of local restaurants, followed by a reception at the Old Field Club in Setauket. Those hoping for an early start can take a Saturday morning tour that begins with breakfast at the club. There’s also an option for the tour alone in the afternoon. Each tour allows visitors the freedom to park wherever they’d like, and to visit the homes in any order.

Guides will greet visitors at each home and take them through in small groups to keep the experience intimate. Once inside, there’s a specific path to follow, where guides will explain the special elements of each room. In addition, the tour admission ticket is actually a historical booklet full of information and photos. Yantz said that many families keep these booklets over the years as both a historical record and memento. Admission to the house tour also includes access to SPIES!, an interactive exhibit about the Culper Spy Ring, and the Chicken Hill: A Community Lost in Time exhibit at the historical society, as well as admission to the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook, Yantz said. “I think the best part about it is hearing all the wonderful comments from people that come out. There’s never been a complaint on the weekend of the tours, and the joy on people’s faces, seeing people come together, is very special. It’s such a positive force in the community,” she said.

The Three Village Historical Society’s 38th annual Candlelight House Tour will be held the evening of Friday, Dec. 2, and the morning and afternoon of Saturday, Dec. 3. Depending on the option you choose, tickets range from $40 to $100 per person. For more information, please call 631-751-3730, email info@tvhs.org or visit www.tvhs.org.

The Stony Brook University Chapter of Black Lives Matter. Photo by Douglas MacKaye Harrington.

By Douglas MacKaye Harrington

Last weekend the Three Villages confirmed that it is not just people of color who want to revamp the justice system in America. A coalition of community groups gathered at the Stony Brook LIRR station to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

Members of Black Lives Matter Stony Brook Chapter, Building Bridges in Brookhaven, North Country Peace Group, the White Coats for Black Lives Stony Brook Medical School chapter, and the Racial Concerns Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Stony Brook marched together.

The Racial Concerns Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Stony Brook created the march, after a banner in support of Blacks Lives Matter was vandalized this past year. Barbara Coley, co-chair of the Racial Concerns Committee, said the aim of the walk is to highlight the need for change in America’s law enforcement.

“Our goal for this march and rally is to focus attention on the criminal justice system that needs reform because it targets poor black and brown boys and men,” she said. “We march and rally to show our support for the movement for black lives.”

But the more than 200 Black Lives Matter supporters were not the only participants in attendance Saturday.

Several dozen North Country Patriots members were also on the scene. The North Country Patriots have been meeting at that location for years in support of American troops and veterans. The group originated out of support for President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003.

“All lives matter, especially our troops. These people have no respect.”
— Howard Ross

They came to share their opposition to the movement with shouts of “All lives matter” and “Blue lives matter” in response to the marchers’ chants of “Black lives matter.”

Vietnam Veteran Howard Ross expressed his opposition to Black Lives Matter.

“I don’t disagree with them, because I believe all lives matter, but they don’t look at it that way and that is the sad part,” he said. “All lives matter, especially our troops. These people have no respect; it has nothing to do with Black Lives Matter. These people have no respect for our country and our democracy.”

Fran Ginter, another resident gathered with the North Country Patriots, held up a sign to support the power she believed all Americans should have.

“My sign says #Balls Matter,” Ginter said. “And ‘balls’ meaning the strength and honor and courage that the American people have. And we shouldn’t be dividing each other with Black Lives Matter. We should be uniting one another with American Lives Matter, Balls Matter.”

Most Saturdays the patriot group outnumbers the peace group, but on this day, the several hundred Black Lives Matter supporters upped the volume on the opposition.

Ryan Madden said he does not think being a Black Lives Matter supporter means you can’t also support veterans, along with many other groups in America.

“It’s [Black Lives Matter] one of the most open and intersectional movements, and it’s not mutually exclusive from supporting vets,” he said. “It’s supporting black vets, disabled vets, trans vets, all people from all shades and backgrounds.”

When he heard people on the other side of the street yelling, “All lives matter,” in response to their chants of “Black lives matter,” he said the real issue isn’t being focused on.

“I think they have a problem with the word black, and that’s the problem,” Madden said. “Like what was just chanted, all lives won’t matter until black lives matter, until indigenous lives matter, until trans lives matter. It [All Lives Matter] thinks it’s being this inclusive framework, but it’s not. It’s not listening to people who are saying our lives don’t matter in this society currently.”

While many members of the march held the south curb, engaging their opposition activists across the road, a majority formed a circle beneath the trees for a rally on the knoll to listen to poems, prose, and speeches in support of the movement.

“I think they have a problem with the word black, and that’s the problem.”
—Ryan Madden

Among rally participants were the White Coats For Black Lives from Stony Brook University Medical School. Second year medical student Toni McKenzie explained the organization’s purpose.

“White Coats For Black Lives is a national initiative that works to eliminate racism in health care,” she said. “We work in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement because we believe inadequate community policing and mass incarceration often affects the psychosocial health of our minority patients.”

Suffolk County Police Department had a dozen officers on hand to control traffic and ensure safety during the protest. Officers walked on the road alongside the marchers to control the eastbound cars that traveled closest to the protest route.

This raised dissent with some protestors.

I am a little discouraged by the character of this march,” Marcus Brown, a member of the Black Lives Matter group said. “I was under the impression that we would only be having a police escort across 25A and Nicolls Road because it is such a perilous intersection. That was part of the condition of our organization’s participation in this march, that there would not be a police escort the entire way. Because Black Lives Matter does not concede the police and the black community as having mutual interest. We believe that our interest is fundamentally antagonistic to the police in this country whose social function is to maintain racial order at the expense of black people.”

Despite the criticism of police presence, the event was seen as huge success.

Mark Jacket of Building Bridges said the event helped bring more awareness to the community.

“The turnout is phenomenal!” he said. “The importance of having this in a place like Stony Brook, in a place that is a predominantly a white community, is to acknowledge that there are bad things happening in America. Even though it is not happening in our immediate neighborhood, it is happening in the nation we live in. White people need to admit that racism is still strong in America, and if they are not comfortable with that, they need to stand up and say something about it.”

Additional reporting contributed by Victoria Espinoza.

Local Boy Scout Troop 454 helps beautify the Greenway Trail as part of a community service project, led by James Nielsen. Photo by Alex Petroski

The popular walking trail that connects Setauket and Port Jefferson Station is getting much needed TLC from some of the community’s youngest leaders.

Fifteen-year-old James Nielsen of Terryville Boy Scout Troop 454 organized a clean-up effort on the Port Jefferson Station end of the Greenway Trail Oct. 29 and has future plans to create a sign post with a smartphone scannable QR code that will provide historical information alongside a bench in the trail. The plan would be part of James’ process to become an Eagle Scout.

At the other end of the 3.4-mile long nature trail, Eagle Scout candidate Jake Linkletter also organized a clean-up effort and fundraised for a new kiosk in the Gnarled Hollow Road parking lot in Setauket.

Local Boy Scout Troop 454 helps beautify the Greenway Trail as part of a community service project, led by James Nielsen. Photo by Alex Petroski
Local Boy Scout Troop 454 helps beautify the Greenway Trail as part of a community service project, led by James Nielsen. Photo by Alex Petroski

The cleanups were started to remove brush and litter from the trail as part of a beautification process.

Charles McAteer, chairman of the not-for-profit organization Friends of the Greenway Trail, is grateful for all of the work being done by local Scouts, which he called “invaluable.”

“This community spirit is what has and continues to make the Greenway the community gem we all hoped it would be,” McAteer said in an email. “Civic groups like Scouts have contributed via their fundraising thousands of dollars for improvements to the trail as well as hundreds of man hours in cleanups and creating the various improvements. As mentioned, all to help the community keep the Greenway clean — fulfilling the needs of our citizens.”

James said he feels the community service efforts are important because it shows how many people care about the area and its trail.

“I’ve [been] sending out emails to the people in my troop and the people I’ve been working with on the project — the fundraising people who have been working to get my project improved — It’s been a bit of work, but I’ve been glad for all the help that I’ve been getting,” he said. “I feel like it’s a good community.”

James attends JFK Middle School, and his parents Steven and Jean are both teachers in the Comsewogue School District.

From left Marc Difilippo, Jake Linkletter, AJ Colletta and David Linkletter install a new kiosk on the Setauket end of the trail. Photo by Nick Koridis
From left Marc Difilippo, Jake Linkletter, AJ Colletta and David Linkletter install a new kiosk on the Setauket end of the trail. Photo by Nick Koridis

“It has been an unbelievable experience to watch him,” James’ father said of his son. “When he started he was kind of shy and introverted, and to watch him grow throughout the years in Scouts — taking a leadership role … I’m so proud of him.”

James’ mother stressed the importance of doing something positive to benefit the community.

“It’s really nice to see something positive in Port Jefferson Station,” she said. “I feel like living here forever, we need some things to be proud of, some things for our community. But to have some pride, and see all of these residents working together, it’s just very, very exciting. I’m proud of James and the Boy Scouts.”

Strathmore Bagels in Setauket donated bagels on the morning of the cleanup. James has also set up a crowd-funding website where community members can donate money to support his project. He has received almost $450 in donations, and his ultimate goal is to raise $800. To contribute to his efforts visit www.youcaring.com/james-nielsen-659986.

Nurses from St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center and St. Charles Hospital have a new contract. File photo by Alex Petroski

The final hurdle was cleared to avoid a work stoppage for nurses at two North Shore hospitals.

Registered nurses from St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown and St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson voted overwhelmingly to approve a new contract Nov. 10 — they had been working without a contract since March 2015.

The New York State Nurses Association identified inefficient staffing, health benefits and a pay increase as the key issues they wanted addressed during negotiations, and according to a statement, all three were achieved. Additional nurses will be added to shifts at both hospitals, nurses will receive a three percent pay increase and an increase in health benefits, according to a statement from the union.

After about 18-months of negotiations, the NYSNA and hospital administration from both facilities reached a tentative agreement for a new contract to avoid a work stoppage Nov. 5, and the Nov. 10 vote made it official.

“Nurses at St. Catherine are always willing to stand up for safe patient care.”

— Tammy Miller

“The nurses at St. Charles Hospital are happy to ratify an agreement that protects both nurses and patients,” Tracy Kosciuk, RN and president of the local bargaining unit at St. Charles Hospital, said in a statement. “The issues were so important to our nurses that we took a strike vote that overwhelmingly passed, by a vote of 96 percent, and we were willing to hold a two-day strike. We are grateful to have a union behind us to speak up and educate the community on these important issues, and we look forward to working with the community in the future.”

Kosciuk, who has been at the hospital for nearly three decades, said in a phone interview last week that the tentative agreement was reached in part thanks to a “marathon” negotiating session that spanned from the afternoon Nov. 4 until about 9 a.m. Nov. 5. Nurses at both hospitals, who are among about 40,000 in New York State represented by the NYSNA, had voted to authorize the union to give notice of a strike in October, though that never manifested.

“I’m happy with what we were able to retain in regards to nurse-patient ratio with the intensive care unit,” Kosciuk said. Typically six nurses are staffed for shifts in the ICU, though Lorraine Incarnato, a nurse at St. Catherine’s in the ICU for nearly 30 years, said, during a picket outside of the hospital in April, she frequently worked shifts with five or even four nurses on duty.

“It’s causing a lot of friction between administration and staff,” Incarnato said in April. “When you have staff working always short [staffed], always extra, and then knowing that there’s not the respect factor there, they’re unhappy. Unhappy staff doesn’t keep patients happy. We try to put on a really happy face, because the patients come first.”

Administration members from both hospitals were also glad to avoid a work stoppage.

Nurses and their supporters picket outside St. Charles Hospital on April 8, calling for higher staffing levels and encouraging passing drivers to honk in solidarity. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Nurses and their supporters picket outside St. Charles Hospital on April 8, calling for higher staffing levels and encouraging passing drivers to honk in solidarity. Photo by Giselle Barkley

“We are pleased to have reached a fair settlement and I’d like to commend both bargaining teams who worked very hard to reach this agreement,” Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer at St. Charles Jim O’Connor said in a statement prior to the vote. “St. Charles Hospital is proud of our professional nursing staff and the high quality of care they provide to the members of our community.”

Leadership from St. Catherine of Siena expressed a similar sentiment.

“We are pleased to have reached a tentative agreement which is subject to ratification by NYSNA members at our hospital,” St. Catherine’s Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Paul J. Rowland said in a statement last week.

The more-than-a-year-and-a-half negotiating session featured pickets at both hospitals, with nurses frustrated by inadequate staffing and seeking better health benefits and a pay increase in their next contract.

“All of these issues affect retention and recruitment,” Tammy Miller, a nurse at St. Catherine of Siena, said in a statement in October. “Keeping and attracting experienced nurses are essential to quality care.”

Miller was proud of the efforts put forth by the union and nursing staff since their contract expired.

“Nurses at St. Catherine are always willing to stand up for safe patient care,” she said in a statement after the vote.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini speaks at an event in Huntington Station. File photo by Victoria Espinoza.
SCPD Police Comissioner Tim Sini listed facts like the ones above of officers curbing criminal levels in Huntington Station. Image by Victoria Espinoza
SCPD Police Commissioner Tim Sini listed facts like the ones above of officers curbing criminal levels in Huntington Station. Image by Victoria Espinoza

By Victoria Espinoza

Crime in Huntington Station is officially on the decline — and the Suffolk County Police Department has the numbers to prove it.

Law enforcement and town officials gathered at the 2nd Precinct Nov. 14 to update the community about decreasing crime in the area and efforts to help improve the quality of life for residents.

According to Sini, in the last 28-day period compared to the same 28-day period in 2015, violent crime decreased by 71.4 percent, and year-to-date, violent crime is down by 12.9 percent. Property crime is also down 11 percent year-to-date.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini said intelligence-led policing and community policing are critical to their success in Huntington Station. He has focused on using crime and intelligence data to drive how the department allocates resources and develops strategies to make Huntington Station a safer place to live.

“It is impossible to achieve the results we’ve achieved without the true partnership of community members, local governments, county and state government,” Sini said at the press conference. “It’s very important we continue to collaborate to reduce crime and increase the overall quality of life for Huntington Station. We’re going to continue to be vigilant and fine-tune our community-led policing model.”

Sini said the statistics illustrate strides the department has made in the area.

“Those are significant numbers in isolation, but when you consider the fact that 2015 was a record low police districtwide, it’s very impressive,” Sini said.

Sini also stressed the importance of deploying enough county and state resources to Huntington Station to help curb crime.

“Me and my leadership team made a commitment to ensure that significant assets are deployed in the 2nd Precinct,” he said.

Assets include members of the Firearm Suppression Team, a mix of officers and detectives, who have worked to decrease gun-related violence, assets from the Highway Patrol Unit to increase traffic enforcement, members of the SAFE-T Team, which handles drunk driving enforcement, as well as additional foot and bike patrols in the area.

“This is a tremendous amount of work and a tremendous amount of resources put into this area,” Sini said. “It involved a lot of cooperation with our local officials, particularly at county, town and state level and of course engagement with the community.”

Sini said as a result of these additional assets from Aug. 8 to Nov. 12, there were 276 individuals arrested in Huntington Station, for a total of 398 charges. Greenlawn also has seen an impact from these efforts, with 25 arrests and 29 total charges. Nearly 1,500 tickets have been given out, 46 high-visibility checkpoints have been established — which helped lead to 10 arrests and 407 tickets. Ten targeted New York State liquor association inspections were carried out, which resulted in four arrests. The SAFE-T team alone responded on 41 occasions to the Huntington Station area for a total of 33 DWI arrests and five arrests for other charges.

Huntington Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) said community members played a crucial role in the department’s success.

“Nothing would get done unless you collaborate,” Petrone said. “I think part of the reason that this is being done so well is because there is a community concern. There is community input. They are the eyes and the ears. They brought forth much information to us and the county. This is the only way we will really solve these problems.”

New York State Assemblyman Chad Luppinacci (R-Huntington Station) echoed Petrone’s statements.

“This is a very personal issue to myself, having been born and raised in Huntington Station,” he said. “I feel gratified that all the levels of government are working together. We also want to thank our businesses and civic associations who have been working along with us. We know Huntington Station is a great place to raise a family, for businesses to be welcome, and we want people to continue to feel safe.”

District hires outside company to gather community input

Community residents speak up about what characteristics they're looking for in a new superintendent for the Shoreham-Wading River school district. Photo by Kevin Redding

Shoreham-Wading River turns to the community for guidance in its nationwide search for a permanent replacement for outgoing Superintendent Steven Cohen, who retired over the summer after holding the position for five years.

On Monday night, Bob Freier and Joann Kaplan of District Wise Search Consultants led a community forum at Shoreham-Wading River High School to gauge the public’s opinion on what kind of characteristics and credentials they seek in the district’s next full-time superintendent, a position the district aims to fill by July 1 of next year.

Currently, the district has an interim superintendent in Neil Lederer, who took on the job in August and signed a 10-month contract that ends June 30. The school’s district clerk said Lederer has made no comments in regards to applying for the full-time superintendent position himself, but that it’s a “moot point” as the board of education has hired the superintendent search committee and is now actively looking for someone new.

Joann Kaplan and Bob Freier of District Wise Search Consultants led a community forum at Shoreham-Wading River High School to gauge the public’s opinion on what kind of characteristics and credentials they seek in the district’s next superintendent. Photo by Kevin Redding
Joann Kaplan and Bob Freier of District Wise Search Consultants led a community forum at Shoreham-Wading River High School to gauge the public’s opinion on what kind of characteristics and credentials they seek in the district’s next superintendent. Photo by Kevin Redding

When the question was raised by a member of the community forum as to why Cohen — who is currently serving as interim assistant superintendent at Sachem Central School District — left Shoreham-Wading River, Freier and Kaplan said the reason was unknown.

The search consultants explained that the two major factors that play a role in superintendents leaving are money and the changing of school boards. But taking on interim positions is quite common when somebody retires, said Kaplan. Usually if they’re not quite ready to stay home full-time, they serve as interim until a district gets back on its feet.

At that, the room full of parents was in complete agreement that the district should try to find somebody who’s “not retiring.”

“The purpose of this conversation is to get your feedback,” Freier said. “As parents, what do you think are some of the important characteristics that you’re looking for in the next superintendent of the school district?”

Those in attendance were vocal that whoever serves as educational leader in the district should be well-versed in New York State’s political climate, the Annual Professional Performance Review, Common Core, and state testing. The parents also said they’re looking for someone who is organized on a business level, considering they’ll be in charge of a school budget of roughly $60,000,000; has classroom experience; and has climbed the ladder from teacher to administrator. The parents also stressed thinking out of the box and being creative, and most importantly, they want someone who has students’ best interests — and not the superintendent’s own — in mind.

“I guess we’re saying we want everything,” said Chris Blake, from Shoreham.

He said it’s important that the next superintendent has an overall appreciation of the environment he or she is in, and has a good relationship with the community.

“I think it’s very important that we’re not looking at curriculum, standards and tests … that we’re really looking at what kids need and what’s best for kids.”

— Jeannine Smith

“It’s very important to make the community feel comfortable with you … to be able to approach you,” Blake said. “Not come in and just have one message and then the curtain closes and we’re just waiting for the next appearance.”

Blake said the district has had that happen in the past.

“They should be vested in the district,” he said. “It’s not just a stop-over and come in with all these preconceived notions on how they’re going to do things.”

Jeannine Smith, from Shoreham, said she wants someone who puts the kids first.

“I think it’s very important that we’re not looking at curriculum, standards and tests … that we’re really looking at what kids need and what’s best for kids,” Smith said. “I want my children to go to school every day and have teachers know that they can do what they need to do to get them from one point to another. I want that flexibility.”

Freier and Kaplan told the forum that as a company, they don’t intend on rushing to find just anybody who will take the position. The two said that they take the community’s feedback very seriously. They will even use it to shape the questions that will ultimately be asked to candidates in preliminary interviews for the position.

“We’re not just filling a position … we’re finding the right person for Shoreham-Wading River,” said Kaplan. “Meeting with all of you is crucial.”

If you have any input on characteristics or qualities for the next Shoreham-Wading River superintendent, contact District Wise Search Consultants at shorehamwrsup@districtwisesearch.com.

The Rocky Point GearHeadz with coach Chris Pinkenburg, a physicist at Brookhaven National Lab. File photo by Desirée Keegan

“It’s finally happening,” award-winning Rocky Point-area robotics coach Chris Pinkenburg said. “After six years in the making we will have a FIRST Robotics Competition team.”

This was the goal for him and his GearHeadz since day one. The team competed in lower divisions in the FIRST LEGO League to build experience and grow to be able to compete in the higher-level league.

In February, the team was crowned Second Place Champions in the FLL Long Island Championship Tournament and went on to represent the area in the North American Open Invitational Championship Tournament in May. The GearHeadz competed against 74 teams — all regional and state champions from the U.S. and Canada, as well as international guests from Germany and South Korea.

The team’s hard work paid off, as the GearHeadz claimed second place in programming in its final year as an FLL team. This award recognizes a team that utilizes outstanding programming principles, including clear, concise and reusable code that allows their robot to perform challenge missions autonomously and consistently. The team also placed in fifth place overall.

“It’s very heartening to see kids involved in this kind of work. We’re proud of what they have been able to accomplish and we wish them more success in the future.”

— Jane Alcorn

It is the second championship win in a row for two members, and the third championship win for two of the founding members.

As a result of its continued growth, the GearHeadz gained a new science connection.

The GearHeadz now have affiliation with the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe in Shoreham, and the future collaboration will help the team as it ventures into the FRC.

A more advanced team needs more space than the Pinkenburgs’ basement, which is where the team currently practices and builds.

“Space is the biggest problem, so I approached the Tesla Science Center in April or May to see if they would be interested to host a robotics team,’ Pinkenburg said. “They are absolutely in favor of this. It also fits well into their plans for the science center.”

The Tesla Science Center, while currently working on turning some of the lab into a museum, is also working on hosting space for local community groups and an incubator where scientists can conduct experiments, build and share ideas. While the space is not going to be ready for this upcoming season, which begins in January, the plan is to move to permanent housing next season.

“With the Tesla Science Center we have a long-term future,” Pinkenburg said.

The center’s president, Jane Alcorn, hopes the partnership will give the team more visibility and  said it’s exactly the kind of thing the site wants to foster and work with and would like the team to one day be Tesla’s GearHeadz.

“Since Tesla is one of the fathers of robotics it seems very appropriate,” she said. Nikola Tesla also invented the first remote control. “Part of our mission is to have groups like this.”

The Rocky Point-based robotics team, GearHeadz, after competing in the North American Open Invitational Tournament. File photo from Chris Pinkenburg
The Rocky Point-based robotics team, GearHeadz, after competing in the North American Open Invitational Tournament. File photo from Chris Pinkenburg

But besides space, an FRC team needs more money. That’s where Bohemia-based North Atlantic Industries came in. The organization contacted Pinkenburg after FIRST pointed it in Rocky Point’s direction. The company offered to sponsor the GearHeadz with up to $6,000 dollars in matching funds.

“This was really great news,” Pinkenburg said. “It was the breakthrough we needed.”

In order to compete in 2017, the GearHeadz must raise at least $15,000 to purchase equipment and pay the FRC fees. The six-week season begins in January, but the team must come up with the funding by mid-November. So far, the group has raised close to $3,000, and the matching grant enables the team to pay for the $6,000 registration fee that is due this month.

The registration comes with a robot base kit and one competition, which will take place from the end of March to the beginning of April at Hofstra University.

“We still need additional material for the robot — you are allowed to spend $4,000 but my guess is that it’ll be around $1,500,” Pinkenburg said. “We need tools — we have some promises for donations in that department already — and we would like to participate in a second competition, which is another $4,000. That’s where the $15,000 comes from. If we match the money from North Atlantic Industries we’ll be close to this.”

Pinkenburg said from his team’s past experience he believes the GearHeadz are well-prepared to have a good start in its new division. Since it’s a community-based team — not limited by school district boundaries when accepting new members — he hopes that the team can continue to grow.

“I hope that this will turn into something where many kids from the North Shore communities profit from,” he said.

Information about the team and a sponsor form may be found on the GearHeadz’ website at www.rockypointroboticsclub.com. The group also set up a GoFundMe site: www.gofundme.com/Gearheadz. 

“We’re excited to see what this robotics club can do, especially since they’re doing so well,” Alcorn said. “It’s very heartening to see kids involved in this kind of work. We’re proud of what they have been able to accomplish and we wish them more success in the future.”

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