Community

The Northport Chamber of Commerce hosted the 14th annual Halloween Hayride in Northport Village Park on Sunday, Oct. 25. There was pumpkin-decorating, a petting zoo, Halloween treats and a costume contest. A hayride pulled by a Ford tractor took children on a ride through the park.

Accompanied by classic cars blasting out the Baha Men’s song, “Who Let the Dogs Out,” costumed dogs and their owners march in the 9th Annual “Howl-ween: Corky’s Canine Costume Parade Celebration” on Sunday, Oct. 25. The parade, created by Alyssa Nightingale, features dozens of dogs and humans parading down Main Street in Cold Spring Harbor and participating in costume contest, doggie party and sidewalk sale at Harbor Hounds.

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It was a howling good time at the Port Jefferson Harvest Festival on Sunday, Oct. 25. Dogs came out in their best costumes to celebrate Halloween a little early and there were woodcarving demonstrations and activities for kids.

Sal and Gina Mingoia perform at the Sound Beach civic’s Pet Adopt-A-Thon on Saturday, Sept. 26, at the outside of the Hartlin Inn. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Sal Mingoia grew up in a musical family, and now, so does his 17-year-old daughter and performer in crime, Gina.

The daddy-daughter duo began performing together five years ago after Sal Mingoia invited his daughter to one of his gigs. Gina Mingoia showed an interest in music at a very young age, according to her father, and her interest sparked his idea to invite his then 12-year-old daughter to the bar where he was scheduled to perform.

“I’m nobody’s warm-up act,” Sal Mingoia said.

Since then, the Shoreham pair took the stage together — Sal Mingoia on the guitar and vocals and Gina Mingoia as the lead singer — performing country and original songs the daughter writes. While Sal Mingoia is no stranger to the music scene, as he started performing in bands at 14 years old, he and his wife Denise never thought their daughter would perform.

“She was the shyest kid,” her mother said. “She would be hiding here behind me.”

The first time their daughter sang for an audience was during a family event. Her mother remembered her sitting on a chair in front of the refrigerator looking at a sheet of music as she played the guitar and sang for her family. This was before a teacher made her a lead character in a school play, which helped Gina Mingoia combat her shy demeanor.

Last year, her voice and determination took her as far as “The Voice.” After auditioning for the show last July, the judges told her to come back and they would automatically put her through to the second round. She has yet to go back and try out.

For Sal Mingoia, entering the music scene was not as nerve-wracking. His father was a jazz guitar player before he passed away, and although Sal Mingoia never received formal lessons, his father tapped into his musical abilities when he was a child. The father’s three brothers and sisters are also musically inclined. Family functions like birthdays and holidays such as Christmas are never a dull moment for the Mingoia family as each event allows the family to perform together.

While singing is fun for the family and the daddy-daughter duo alike, practicing and performing is a balancing act for Sal Mingoia and his daughter. The summer months are busier for the pair as they regularly perform at the Baiting Hollow Golf Club. However, during the academic year Gina Mingoia, a Shoreham-Wading River student, balances school and other activities while her father’s availability is more limited, as he also serves as a Suffolk County policeman and a performer for a folk rock band.

“It’s not easy — I have to schedule myself a few days in advance,” Mingoia said regarding scheduling practice with his daughter.

The two admitted that practices can be stressful.

“Singing is easy, you just have to hear the song once and then you can sing,” Gina Mingoia said. “But to learn the guitar part, you have to play around with [the song] and find the notes you’re looking for. It stresses me out when he doesn’t know what he’s going to do ahead of time.”

Finding appropriate songs to perform is another issue. When it comes to performing cover songs, the pair needs to find a song that works for them, both musically and lyrically. The song must be appropriate for the two to sing, but they also need to transform the piece. On the radio, the music incorporates several instruments, background singers and other levels, but for the daughter and her father, it’s just them and a guitar.

Performing at sensitive events like fundraisers for Gina Mingoia’s former friend, Tom Cutinella, a Shoreham-Wading River High School football player who died last year after suffering a fatal injury from a collision during a game, are also difficult. The two usually “feel out the crowd” to see what songs might work best.

While the duo figures out their plan as they practice for gigs, Sal Mingoia said he doesn’t mind if his daughter goes solo.

“For me, I’m just kind of her back-up band,” he said. “I think it’s a unique thing that it’s a father-daughter thing. Not too much of that is happening, but if someone wanted to sign her and throw me aside, that’s perfectly fine.”

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Event raises money for cancer patients

Michele Pincus, a breast cancer survivor, walks in the show. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Pink Aid Long Island hosted its second annual fashion show and luncheon to benefit victims of breast cancer at Mitchells|Marshs in Huntington on Thursday, Oct. 15.

Pink Aid is a nonprofit organization, with branches in Connecticut and Long Island and seeks to support breast cancer survivors and provide screenings to women in   financial need.

Pink Aid’s grant programs provide services like free breast cancer screenings and help cover nonmedical expenses such as wigs, recovery garments and transportation for patients undergoing treatment.

The event featured a fashion show with models wearing Mitchells fall 2015 and spring 2016 lines. There were also silent and live auctions, where items ranging from a Gucci iPad case to a two-night stay at an inn in Ireland were prizes.

Allison Mitchell, president of Pink Aid Long Island, said she was proud of how this event has grown in just one year. Last year, the event raised more than $225,000 from its 300 attendees.

She said while they can only fit a certain number of people in the store for the event, they also had the option of an online auction this year for those who didn’t have a chance to reserve a ticket.

“Pink Aid helps women that are underinsured or not insured to get through their treatment and their diagnosis,” Mitchell said. “I think it’s really important we’re giving back to women here on Long Island right in our backyard [who] are struggling with treatment and keeping their families together.”

Mitchell’s husband Chris heads the Huntington store, previously known as Marshs, which is part of an independent family chain. “We own a retail store [here] with a lot of amazing clothes,” he said. “Women love clothes and this event allows us to have women come and support other women while having a fun day that is really a celebration.”

During the Celebration of Life portion of the fashion show, breast cancer survivors walk the runway in Mitchells after the professional models. The survivors are accompanied by an escort, specifically someone who supported them during their journey, according to Diana Mitchnick, co-chair of the Celebration of Life fashion show.

“I am going to walk this year,” she said. “I am very excited and a little nervous.”

Mitchnick said the entire event is uplifting, and that the room is filled with love and support: “Everyone who has been through the breast cancer journey knows how much help you need. Many people don’t have it and they need it.”

This year’s guest speaker was Marisa Acocella Marchetto, a breast cancer survivor and award-winning cartoonist and graphic novelist. Her graphic novel, “Cancer Vixen: A True Story,” follows her journey from when she discovered she had breast cancer through to the end of her treatment.

“What a positive impact you’ve made creating real positive change,” Marchetto said to the room. “You’ve made Strong Island ever stronger.”

From left, Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright, Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn, state Assemblyman Steve Englebright and state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie pose for a photo with historical documents. Photo by Giselle Barkley

He is not only the first African-American Speaker of the New York State Assembly, but also the first speaker to visit various districts on Long Island, as far as one long-standing North Shore lawmaker can remember.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) visited Setauket on Oct. 20, and met with residents and North Shore government officials, including Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket); Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station); and state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket).

“This happens about once every … well, it never has happened,” Englebright joked. “It’s pretty amazing.”

While touring the area was on Heastie’s agenda, his visit was also about getting better acquainted with the needs and concerns of residents in areas like Setauket, he said.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie stands in front of Patriots Rock. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie stands in front of Patriots Rock. Photo by Giselle Barkley

“When members get up and speak in conference, when they talk about what’s important to them or where they want us to concentrate or try to do things in the budget … [visiting the districts gives] me a better idea of what they’re speaking about,” Heastie said in an interview.

Heastie was elected Speaker of the NYS Assembly on Feb. 3. Since his election, Heastie has tackled a variety of issues including education, homelessness, financial stability for families and minimum wage, among other areas of concern.

The speaker also has ties to the greater North Shore community, as he graduated from Stony Brook University in 1990 with a degree in science. State Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) was recently named the Senate majority leader, making the North Shore’s presence strong in the state Legislature.

Although Heastie had limited time to mingle, Englebright guided Heastie around various areas in Setauket, touring the community’s coveted Greenway  Trail, and introducing him to the history of the region and the role it played in the birth of the United States, starting with Patriot’s Rock in Setauket, where the famous Battle of Setauket was fought.

Officials from Stony Brook University library were on hand to deliver the speaker a copy of a famous letter George Washington signed at West Point during the Revolutionary War.

“I used to teach political science and American history,” Heastie said. “So I’m kind of a history buff. It’s just something that was a little different than other parts of the tour, so this was nice — particularly with it being so close to the college that I graduated from.”

After learning about Long Island’s link to the Culper Spy Ring, dating back to the Revolutionary War era, the speaker stopped at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, followed by a visit to Gallery North in Setauket.

Throughout the visit, Englebright and other North Shore leaders used their time with the speaker to reiterate some of the region’s most pressing issues, including preservation and environmental sustainability. Englebright also reaffirmed Heastie’s desire to tour the districts as a means of helping those he represents and serves as speaker.

“He’s very interested in visiting the various districts and learning of what his members are working on,” Englebright said. “I’m one of his senior members, and I’m very grateful he wants to come out and see what are the things I’m really focused on in the district.”

Bill Glass is a newly appointed village justice in Port Jefferson. Photo from Glass

Bill Glass has big robes to fill.

The local lawyer was appointed Port Jefferson village justice on Monday afternoon to hold the seat of Peter Graham, a judge who served more than 30 years on the village bench before he died last week.

Glass, a 60-year-old former village prosecutor, attorney and trustee who has lived in Port Jefferson his entire life, was previously an assistant district attorney in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, where he worked under village Trustee Larry LaPointe in the Rackets Bureau.

“He’s a person of the highest character and I think he’ll do this village proud,” LaPointe said at the village board of trustees meeting Monday.

A graduate of Fordham Law School and a longtime fire department volunteer, Glass currently runs his own practice out of Port Jefferson, representing fire and emergency medical service groups throughout Suffolk County.

“I’ve never been behind the bench so this should be interesting,” he told the board at the meeting.

Glass signed his oath of office the same day he was appointed, and will wield the gavel until at least June, when there will be a village election to fill the justice seat for the three years remaining on Graham’s term.

Graham had been most recently re-elected to a four-year term this past June.

The coming election is one in which Glass plans to run, he said in a phone interview Tuesday. He added that he brings “a lifelong commitment to living in this village to the job.”

The new justice previously tried to win Graham’s seat in a 2011 election, but voters overwhelmingly supported the incumbent.

“It’s my home, it’s my community and I like to see things done right here,” Glass said about his interest in serving as a justice, adding he hopes he can “begin to live up to the reputation that [Graham] left behind.”

Graham was known for his vibrant personality, particularly his sense of humor. His life was full of color, between being born on Independence Day, abandoning the seminary after four years of study in favor of practicing law, and his service in the U.S. Army. After he died last week, those who knew him called him irreplaceable.

“I’m certainly not in a very real sense replacing Pete, because you can’t really replace Pete,” Glass said at the board meeting. “What a huge character and a valued part of the village. But I’m certainly going to do my best to do so.”

According to the new justice, he is concerned about villagers’ quality of life, which is why he wants to tackle issues from the bench.

As she appointed him to the bench on Monday afternoon, Mayor Margot Garant said, “I don’t know another attorney and resident of the village who is more up to the task.”

Gen. George Washington (John Galla) with his headquarter’s flag. Photo by Heidi Sutton
Gen. Benedict Arnold (Brian Cea). Photo by Heidi Sutton
Gen. Benedict Arnold (Brian Cea). Photo by Heidi Sutton

The chilly 45-degree weather did not deter almost 300 brave souls who came out for a special walk through local history last Saturday night as the Three Village Historical Society held its 21st annual Spirits Tour, “The Culper Spy Ring: From Secrecy to Victory.”

“The Culper Spy Ring has really been making news lately,” Carolyn Benson, one of the tour guides, said. This tour shows “how many people from this area were involved.”

The host of the tour, Emma S. Clark, whose name graces the library in Setauket and was portrayed by Karin Lynch, set the scene for what was to come.

“The Culper Spy Ring was a group of men known as the Secret Six who helped George Washington win the war. … Their identity was so secretive that Gen. Washington never knew their true identity. Their messages were written in code and their letters were in invisible ink,” she said. “Tonight you will meet with these patriots and some loyalists who will share their stories with you about what it was like during and after the war.”

Helen ‘Morningstar’ Sells and Nellie Edwards of the Setalcott Nation. Photo by Heidi Sutton
Helen ‘Morningstar’ Sells and Nellie Edwards of the Setalcott Nation. Photo by Heidi Sutton

The 1.5-hour tours ran throughout the evening, beginning with the Young Historian tours. Each group, carrying flashlights and lanterns, was led through the cemeteries of the Setauket Presbyterian Church [established in the late 17th century] and the Caroline Church of Brookhaven [established in 1729].

All the key players were present, from the ring’s most active operatives — Maj. Benjamin Tallmadge, Caleb Brewster, Austin Roe, Anna Smith Strong, James Rivington and Robert Townsend — to Gen. George Washington and Abraham Woodhull, the leader of the Culper Spy Ring, to Gen. Benedict Arnold, the infamous traitor. Woodhull, portrayed by Dennis O’Connor, appeared at the foot of his own grave in the Presbyterian cemetery during the tour.

Lesser-known community spirits made appearances as well, including Bette Harmon, born into slavery to the Strong family; Maj. John Andre, a British spy whose capture exposed Benedict Arnold as a traitor; loyalist Col. Benjamin Floyd; patriot Rev. Zachariah Greene; and a special appearance by  Setalcott Nation members Helen “Morning Star” Sells and Nellie Edwards. In total, 20 spirits were conjured to provide an insight into their lives during the Revolutionary War. The period costumes, provided by Nan Guzzetta, gave the entire event an eerily authentic feel.

Private David Williams (George Monez), Major John Andre (Pat DiVisconti), Private Isaac Van Wart (Sage Hardy). Photo by Heidi Sutton
Private David Williams (George Monez), Major John Andre (Pat DiVisconti), Private Isaac Van Wart (Sage Hardy). Photo by Heidi Sutton

At each stop, the spirits gave out secret codes that, when compiled and decoded, formed a secret letter for Gen. Washington, who was the last stop of the night.

Nine-year-old Alex Perrone, of Stony Brook, was experiencing the tour for the first time with his mother, Lauren, but came well prepared.

“My mom and I read a book called ‘Redcoats and Petticoats,’” he said.

Alex enjoyed the tour, especially meeting Washington and learning about the Setalcott tribe and their longhouses, and said he would definitely do it again. His mom agreed, adding, “I just thought it was really informative and I thought the actors were wonderful and I think it was a great way to learn about local history and this special place.”

In all, the 21st annual Spirits Tour was a rare historical treat. For more information, visit the historical society at www.tvhs.org.

Tommy and Sue Sullivan pose for a photo in front of their soon-to-be old, Superstorm Sandy-damaged house prior to revamping. With hard hats on, the two prepare to help Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk County help renovate their home. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Tommy Sullivan has always been paying it forward.

So when Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk reached out to help renovate his Sandy-damaged home, he said he was overcome with emotion.

“We’re really overwhelmed by this,” Tommy Sullivan said of he and his wife Sue’s reaction to the help and support they’ve received. “It was looking hopeless for us for a while. We couldn’t have done this ourselves. It was just way, way too much work and, again, we’re just so overwhelmed and happy and just very, very grateful.”

The effort to help the Sullivan family started when members of the VFW Post 6249 in Rocky Point heard about the damage done to the Rocky Point home. When Superstorm Sandy hit in 2012, the house sustained roof damage that could not be repaired. As time went on, the damages became worse, which rendered the house unlivable for Tommy Sullivan, a U.S. army veteran, and his wife Sue, a substitute teacher. The family was forced to spend several nights out staying at friends’ homes.

The front of the Sullivan's house shows the exterior and roof damage brought on by Superstorm Sandy. Photo by Desirée Keegan
The front of the Sullivan’s house shows the exterior and roof damage brought on by Superstorm Sandy. Photo by Desirée Keegan

But John Rago, outreach coordinator for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs project known as the Suffolk County United Veterans group, stepped up to help the Sullivans find sanctuary when he met Diane Burke, executive director and CEO at Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk County at a luncheon in Patchogue back in March.

At a meeting for the Community Development Corporation of Long Island, Rago explained the program’s support and services for veteran families, which included a rapid-rehousing and homeless prevention program for veterans.

“We were reaching dead ends all over the place and I happened to be sitting at the luncheon across from Diane and I introduced myself,” he said. “I asked her if she did teardown and rebuilds, and she said yes, so I started to tell her about Tommy and before I even finished she said, ‘We’re in.’”

Burke said she was more than happy to help who she saw as such a well-deserved recipient.

“I thought, ‘We have to make this happen,’ and we just put the pieces together and we’re here to support a local veteran to recreate a place to call home,” Burke said of the initiative. “Not only did Tom serve our country, but he continues to serve our community, so that is absolutely what we’re about. It’s great to partner with somebody who understands volunteerism and actually lives it.”

Tommy Sullivan was a member of the West Point band for three years when he served during the Vietnam War. He is an original member of Johnny Maestro & the Brooklyn Bridge, a musical group best known for their million-selling rendition of Jimmy Webb’s “The Worst That Could Happen,” and has been performing solo since then at charity organizations and events.

Some events include Long Island State Veterans Home’s annual Golf Classic, Wounded Warrior Project events, Rocky Point high school’s Veteran’s Day and 9/11 ceremonies. Just last Friday, the veteran sang at cancer benefit for a friend with brain cancer.

“When people with a good cause call, we never turn it down, because that’s it’s own reward,” he said. “Whenever I get a call, especially from the vet’s organizations, I’m there. I set up my stuff and I sing, and it feels great to have this support. We’re all the same kind of people here and it’s special because it’s all about the heart. Everyone here has a big heart and we’re just very happy.”

Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point), who said she knows the Sullivans as longtime residents, said the work Tommy Sullivan does for his community is extraordinary.

“It’s a very exciting time for all of us to be able to help them because they’ve helped so many people through their advocacy and their volunteering,” she said. “He has the voice of an angel. It’ll bring goose bumps to you. It really, really will.”

The councilwoman also said she sees the family as more than deserving of this renovation.

“They pay it forward all the time,” Bonner said. “They never ask for anything in return, and they’ve fallen on some difficult times — probably from volunteering so much and not asking for money. Helping is so easy to do, and it’s the best part of my job. I believe it is part of the main reason why we have public service, such as council people.”

The work for the eight-week project began on Oct. 19 with several different projects including reframing and reroofing; the installation of new electric, plumbing; new interior fixtures; remodeling to the flooring, kitchen and bathroom; and new windows and doors throughout the home.

“I’m very happy that they decided to help Tommy and Susan out and I can’t wait until we give them the keys to their brand new house,” Rago said. “It’s nice to help a veteran, especially one that gives back so much to the veteran community.”

Sue Sullivan said she was excited to remain in the couple’s same home they’ve lived in since 1996, and said the love and care she has received is what she believes life is all about.

“Everyone taking care of everybody — we dedicate our lives to that,” she said. “This is the most wonderful thing that could happen in our lives besides marrying each other. As community members, we want everyone to know we’re here for them for anything. If you need us, we’ll come. Everything that everyone is doing and the way they’re contributing, they’re our family now, and that’s just a forever family.

John Martin demonstrates how to use intranasal Narcan in Northport. File photo by Rohma Abbas

Northport High School’s Students Against Destructive Decisions will be dedicating more than a week to raising awareness of drug and alcohol abuse by hosting programs to cultivate prevention and support recovery beginning on Thursday.

Known as the Northport-East Northport Recovery, Awareness and Prevention Week, the programs kick off at the Northport American Legion Hall on Oct. 22 at 7 p.m., where families will gather to share their experiences with addiction. The Suffolk County Police Department will also provide Narcan training for the community.

The weekend will feature drug take-back programs at local libraries. The take-back campaign, manned by the village police department, will start at the Northport Public Library on Saturday, Oct. 24, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and continue on Sunday, Oct. 25, from 1 to 5 p.m.

The county police department’s 2nd Precinct will also man a post at the East Northport Public Library on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Residents are able to participate in an anonymous drug drop-off, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at each police precinct, according a press release by the high school’s SADD club.

The club has partnered with the Northport-East Northport Community Drug and Alcohol Task Force, the office of county Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport), the village police and the county police’s 2nd Precinct to host these events.

Darryl St. George, a social studies teacher at Northport-East Northport school district, is a SADD club adviser. He became involved with the cause after losing his brother Corey to a drug overdose.

In an interview this week, St. George said he feels the week’s events, particularly the Narcan training and the drug take-back program, would make a great impact through helping train people in potentially saving lives and by taking drugs off the streets — drugs that put lives at risk.

“I think that this is very meaningful,” St. George said. “I think that this is one of those events that will have very real results.”

Ending on Thursday, Oct. 29, there will be a number of events at the schools in the district and this year, for the first time, programs will take place at elementary school level.

“Of course the message will be delivered in an age-appropriate way, but nevertheless the message will be the same — say ‘no’ to drugs,” he said.

The programs will culminate in a press conference outside the Northport Village Hall, where officials will report the results to the community.

The large numbers behind opioid-related deaths and Narcan saves justifies the need for these kinds of events, St. George said. According to a recent statement from the office of County Executive Steve Bellone (D), there were more than 250 opioid-related deaths in Suffolk County and 493 Narcan saves in 2014.

“This week, specifically, the Narcan training and the drug take-back program give me a renewed sense of hope that we are doing something that will have tangible results,” Tammy Walsh, a SADD adviser said in a statement. “The drugs we are taking off the streets could stop a kid from overdosing or possibly getting addicted. The Narcan training we are providing is empowering people to be in a position to save lives. We are still in this fight.”

For questions about these events, contact St. George at darryl.stgeorge@northport.k12.ny.us.

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