The brochure kicks off with a video greeting from Supervisor Frank Petrone. Photo from Huntington Town

Huntington is bringing the future to the present with their new parks and recreation brochure.

For the first time, the town’s parks and recreation department seasonal catalog will be available online in a digital version. Aside from including the standard information like information on the town’s athletic programs, camps and other activities the town offers, this digital brochure also included videos of some activities and the ability to sign up directly from the guide with a single click.

A view of the front cover of the 2016 spring parks and recreation brochure, the first digital one released by the town. Photo from Huntington Town
A view of the front cover of the 2016 spring parks and recreation brochure, the first digital one released by the town. Photo from Huntington Town

“This interactive brochure brings the Town of Huntington into the 21st century,” Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) said in a video as he welcomes residents to the department’s new online brochure. “This is government of the future, allowing residents to find necessary information and to take care of business without having to come to town hall. We are proud of this brochure and the way residents can access the brochure and its great features from their home computers, tablets or smart phones.”

The guide, which changes pages just like flipping pages in a book, has real-time information on whether an activity is oversubscribed or if there is a waiting list, as well as updates on schedule changes. If someone has questions or concerns with any program, they can fill out a brief message in one click that will be sent to the head of whichever program they are asking about.

“The concept came about because we were sending these out to every household in paper format,” Stephen Carballeira, who works in the information technology department for the town, said in an interview. “Ninety-three percent of people were signing up online anyway, but the biggest complaint we used to get was that they’d get it [the brochure] in the mail but they couldn’t really figure out a way to work our system and sing up. It was just a big frustration.”

A.J. Cater, town spokesperson, said that the possibilities with this brochure are “endless” and that this guide will continue to grow and expand.

The parks department has stopped mass printing and distribution of the brochure, which will save the town $50,000 each year. Not only is this decision cost effective, but it also greatly reduces the amount of paper waste the town produces, making it an environmentally friendly move as well, officials said.

But there’s more.

This new brochure saves money, makes programs and information more accessible to the public and reduces the town’s carbon footprint, while also making the town money, the town said.

While the interactive brochure cost about $3,000 to create, the town has made $7,000 in revenue from ads — and that’s just from this first issue alone. Carballeira said ads have a life of about four weeks, and then are replaced with new ones.

Currently, many town businesses cover the pages of the brochure, and their ads are just as interactive as the rest of the information. The Little Gym of Huntington has an ad that features a video of young children playing in the gym, and Roar Energy Drink has an ad with a coupon anyone can print out.

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East Setauket native to look into North Shore development

Robert Reuter speaks at an event at the Setauket Post Office. File photo

The North Shore’s economic well-being relies on the community coming together and having meaningful conversations, and the Three Village Community Trust is helping to do just that.

The group announced it would be hosting its second talk in the “Join the Conversation” series on Thursday, March 24, at 7:30 p.m. at the Setauket Neighborhood House, with Robert Reuter discussing the last century’s commercial development along Route 25A.

Reuter, an East Setauket native, has been involved with Three Village’s various historical and cultural organizations for years and currently is also president of the Frank Melville Memorial Foundation, a founder of the Three Village Community Trust, and a member of Brookhaven’s Historic District Advisory Committee. Reuter earned a bachelor of architecture degree from Virginia Tech and is known for his product design work for Knoll Furniture.

“The Three Village area as we know it today began with communities located for their relationships to the water, both fresh and salt,” Reuter said. “These population centers grew to support their own commercial areas and community centers primarily linked by North Country Road, the major route for east-west travel on Long Island’s North Shore. North Country Road became State Route 25A, and as our population grew and automobiles became ubiquitous, 25A provided the spine for commercial growth of our linear downtown.”

This presentation will concentrate on the Setauket and East Setauket area, illustrating the changes in commercial activity along the North Country Road, Route 25A corridor over the last century. It will also include a segment with photographs and maps from the Three Village Historical Society archive.

The Three Village Community Trust’s “Join the Conversation” series focuses on the quality of life and sustainability in the Three Village community.

“What makes a great community also contributes to its sustainability: people who care and are engaged, great open spaces for nature and for people to enjoy, a vibrant local economy with good jobs, walkability, and a diversity of housing and transportation choices,” the group said in a statement. “Because the Town of Brookhaven is embarking on a land use study and plan for the NYS Route 25A corridor — our own Main Street — most of the series will address issues that relate to community planning and to the corridor. We urge everyone to be a part of these conversations.”

All programs will be held at Setauket Neighborhood House. They are open to all and free — a donation of $5 would be welcome to cover expenses. Refreshments will be served.

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A new model will invite kids to Rocketship Park. Photo from Port Jefferson Village

By Elana Glowatz

The new Rocketship Park’s entrance will be a blastoff to the past.

A new model will invite kids to Rocketship Park. Photo from Port Jefferson Village
A new model will invite kids to Rocketship Park. Photo from Port Jefferson Village

Port Jefferson Village announced on Tuesday that TRITEC Real Estate Company has built and donated a rocket ship model to go in the playground once it’s reconstructed, paying tribute to its past.

While it’s formally known as Clifton H. Lee Memorial Park or Kip Lee Park, the spot off Barnum Avenue at Roessner Lane got the Rocketship nickname from a popular piece of playground equipment that has since aged out of use. Some residents have lamented the loss of the rocket and the fact that the design plans for the new park, which began forming a few years ago, didn’t include one.

The plans call for more natural-looking playground equipment with a high level of handicap-accessibility, including what looks like a giant tree house and a pirate ship that harkens back to the village’s shipbuilding days. There are also plans for swings with different types of seating, walkways, picnic tables, plantings and other play equipment.

Adrienne Kessel, the chair of the Treasure Your Parks Committee that has fundraised for the park reconstruction and operates under the Port Jefferson Harbor Education and Arts Conservancy, previously said play equipment that looks like a rocket is hard to find.

Kessel launched the effort to revamp the downtown children’s park when she was a village trustee. After looking at security features in the wake of vandalism at the site, Kessel saw the need for a full makeover.

“It began with a conversation about adding better lighting but that wasn’t the answer,” she said in a previous interview. “When we went to fix the damaged pieces, we weren’t able to find them. The equipment was obsolete.”

She focused on increased accessibility for kids with special needs because, “Every child should have the chance to play. I couldn’t imagine a park a child couldn’t utilize.”

The reconstruction is expected to cost roughly $550,000 and as of this week, village spokeswoman Jill Russell said, the committee had brought in more than $200,000 toward that goal, between donations of both money and services.

According to the village’s rocket announcement, the first work phase is scheduled to start in October.

TRITEC, which is also working on an apartment complex on the other side of Barnum Avenue at West Broadway, built the rocket ship so that when the park is redone, it “will serve as a lasting reminder of the original rocket ship that first graced the park in 1972,” the village said in a statement.

The company worked on the project for the nonprofit Long Island Home Builders Care, with the help of Huntington-based Kleet Lumber Co., Long Island-based Pro-Coat Painting, and sprinkler system contractor Central Outdoor Services in Port Jefferson Station.

“The model will be placed alongside the entranceway to the new playground and will incorporate ornamental plaques into the design that will highlight the park’s history as well as the generous contributions from the playground’s in-kind donors,” the village said.

Russell explained that the historical information will make mention of the previous rocket: “So that when you come to Rocketship Park, you actually know why it’s called that.”

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Dana Urbinati and her team of students took a break from rehearsals Monday night to pose for a photo. Photo by Heidi Sutton

For the past 29 years, students  at Comsewogue High School have showcased their eclectic talents with the community at “A Night for Jason,” a student-run variety show produced in honor of Jason Mariano, a child in the school district who succumbed to leukemia in 1987. This year’s event will take place on Friday, March 18, at 7 p.m. in the school’s auditorium.

The money raised from the event benefits Friends of Karen, a tristate children’s charity with an office in Port Jefferson, that offers emotional, financial and advocacy support for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families in order to keep them stable, functioning and able to cope.

“This is always such a great way to keep our students involved in caring for our community,” said Dana Urbinati, a teacher at the high school and coordinator of the event. “Along with the talents and energy of everyone involved, we want people to know that the funds raised are going to help some very special families in our communities.”

A diverse  mix of talents have graced the stage in the past and this year is no exception. Emceed by Jason Kellar, Eli Smith, Aleyna Kaya, Nicholas Keller and Ethan Wright, the evening will feature 22 acts including musical performances by the high school’s Jazz Band and female choir, Tapestry, along with singing, dancing, comedy and student bands. “This is an extremely talented, hardworking group and I’m just so grateful that we are able to help such an amazing charity,” said Urbinati.

Comsewogue High School is located at 565 N. Bicycle Path, Port Jefferson Station. Tickets for this one-night event are priced at $12 in advance by calling 631-474-8179 or $15 at the door. For more information about Friends of Karen, call 631-473-1768.

Several decades after its creation, the Friends of St. Patrick continue a 66-year-old tradition with its annual St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Residents sported green clothing, face paint and accessories on Sunday, March 13, to celebrate the not-for-profit’s Miller Place-Rocky Point parade. Members of the Suffolk County police department, local fire departments and elected officials joined the queen and royal court, and other groups in the parade. U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), New York State Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) and Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) were among those who treked more than two miles down Route 25A, from the Flying Pig in Miller Place to Broadway in Rocky Point.

While the parade celebrated this Thursday’s St. Patrick’s Day, it is also a way to unite the community, said Grand Marshal and Friends of St. Patrick committee president John Barchi.

“Back in those days these houses were just summer rentals, so the regular population was locked up all winter,” Barchi said about the late 1940s and early 1950s. “[It was] like ‘where is everybody? Let’s get everybody out.’”

In light of long, dreary winters in the area, businessmen John Sullivan and George Faulkner founded the Friends of St. Patrick’s committee in 1949. The duo established the committee to come up with a way to draw people out of their homes after the winter.

Now tens of thousands of residents attend the celebration. Upwards of around 50,000 residents have attended the organization’s parades in the past. But the not-for-profit doesn’t only hold the parade. It also organizes fundraising events associated with the celebration, like the crowning of the royal court.

For Queen Samantha Wooley, of Rocky Point, and members of her royal court, Ladies Janice Pearson and Emma Sweeney, the experience was exciting.

“You’re really representing the town so everyone’s eyes are on you,” Wooley said.

Wooley added that being a member of the royal court means supporting the community and being a role model to little girls. The opportunity also allows them to try something new.

“You put yourself out of your comfort zone and it’s really special,” Sweeney added.

Although the parade’s first Queen, Peggy McKenna, used a historic 85-year-old carriage to ride down Broadway, this year’s royalty drove down Route 25A in a Mercedes Convertible.

While the area and various aspects of the celebration has changed since the first parade in 1950, over the past few years the event became Suffolk County’s largest and second oldest parade, according to the Friends of St. Patrick’s website.

Barchi, who has been a member of committee for the past 18 years, was grateful to be the Grand Marshal for this year’s parade.

“Working with a group of the most honest, loyal and dedicated individuals who put this project together year after year is nothing short of a great honor and privilege,” Barchi said in an article on the Friends of St. Patrick website. “Their commitment to this community event, and the camaraderie among us is truly unique.”

Hundreds of people gathered into Huntington Village on Sunday, March 13 to watch the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. Participants included bag pipers, local legislators, and local fire departments.

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By Bob Savage

Locals shaved their heads for a good cause on Saturday at Schafer’s restaurant in Port Jefferson, raising money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and research into childhood cancers.

Among those going bald were TBR News Media’s own Michael Tessler, who said goodbye to his curly locks.

The Huntington YMCA, where the Healthy Weight and Your Child program is conducted. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Healthy eating habits and children don’t always mix in this day and age, but Christina Butcher is not letting that stop her.

Butcher, fitness center coordinator at the Huntington YMCA, is at the forefront of a new program — Healthy Weight and Your Child — that focuses on promoting good choices for young children who have struggled with maintaining a healthy weight.

“This gives kids the support they need and the opportunity to make healthy lifestyle choices,” Butcher said in a phone interview.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity now affects 17 percent of all children and adolescents in the United States. One in six children are obese and one in three are overweight, which could lead to serious health problems including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and mental health issues.

Healthy Weight and Your Child is a 12-month program geared toward 7 to 13-year-old children who are in the 95th percentile or higher on the body mass index scale. All participants must be cleared for physical activity by a health care provider or school nurse, and be accompanied by a parent or caregiver at every meeting.

Christina Butcher is fitness center coordinator and a personal trainer. Photo from Butcher
Christina Butcher is fitness center coordinator and a personal trainer. Photo from Butcher

“Parents usually make most of the food decisions in the home, so we want them included in this learning process,” Butcher said.

The program is meant to focus on social issues in health and engage the whole family on understanding how the home environment influences the choices that lead to unhealthy food selections.

Aside from eating habits, the program also highlights the importance of regular physical activity and behavioral changes.

Butcher said kids participate in different activities like dodgeball, spud and relays, to stay active.

“My favorite part of the program is the family unity,” she said. “There are a lot of siblings in the program, and even just the single children with parents are participating in a great bonding opportunity.”

Currently, Healthy Weight and Your Child at the YMCA has about 35 children signed up. The program is offered on Wednesdays from 5:30-7:30 p.m., and is also available at the Silas Wood Sixth Grade Center in the South Huntington school district on Mondays from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Aside from being in charge of all fitness programs the YMCA offers, Butcher is also a personal trainer at the fitness center in the YMCA.

“I have the opportunity to work with small groups to help achieve their fitness goals,” she said. “Whether it’s working on upper body strength to be able to pick up their grandchild, or getting over an injury or working toward a sport goal, I love the diversity training that the YMCA offers. It’s the best part of being a trainer.”

Maureen Pouder, third from left, poses for a photo with Town of Brookhaven officials and members of the American Legion after receiving recognition for her artwork. Photo from the Town of Brookhaven

From a flower to an old barn, artist Maureen Pouder draws her inspiration from the simple things in life.

The Miller Place resident was honored during the Town of Brookhaven’s last meeting on for her work on an old mailbox for the American Legion Arthur H. Clune Post 1533 in Mastic Beach. Pouder, a recreation specialist for the Town of Brookhaven, met members of the post around four months ago through Marcel Van Orden, a post member and one of Pouder’s art students at the Mastic Recreation Center.

Van Orden was originally tasked with reinventing the post’s mailbox. Pouder came on board after Van Orden mentioned it in conversation. In a couple weeks, the duo transformed the old rusted delivery mailbox into an American-inspired mural depicting the American flag and a bald eagle. The mailbox will help collect unserviceable flags, which the legion burns every Flag Day, said past post commander, George Barnes. He added that the mailbox mural was so beautiful that he hates to put it outside.

Maureen Pouder stands to the right of the American Legion Arthur H. Clune Post 1533’s new flag depository mailbox she painted. Photo from the Town of Brookhaven
Maureen Pouder stands to the right of the American Legion Arthur H. Clune Post 1533’s new flag depository mailbox she painted. Photo from the Town of Brookhaven

“Painting [it] like a mural brings attention,” Pouder said. “People will walk past a mailbox and not take a second look. But when it’s painted like a mural they really look at it and they’ll see it’s a flag depository.”

Receiving town recognition is an honor for Pouder, who started working for the municipality in 2008. For the past several years, she’s held art classes at the Blue Point, Shoreham and Mastic recreation centers where she teaches watercolor, oil and acrylic painting skills. The artist also runs Brookhaven’s annual art shows, which are held in Port Jefferson.

Pouder has painted murals for the Cedar Beach Nature Center, among other places on Long Island. Last year, the artist decorated a bra to help raise $2,000 for breast cancer. She used wool roving and barbed pin to create flowers and butterflies on the bra.

She’s a very talented artist … she’s also a very hard worker,” said Kurt Leuffen, superintendent of Brookhaven’s parks and recreation department. “She’s been teaching art for the last couple of years [and] she’s done a very good job. I would say all participants really enjoy her as an instructor — she’s very good, she’s very thorough and she’s very helpful.”

Leuffen has known Pouder for nearly 25 years. He added that town employees and those at Pouder’s recreation centers are proud of her and lucky to have her as an employee.

While Pouder knows various art media, she said she loves painting with watercolor, acrylic and oil paint the most. Although she can finish a watercolor painting in a couple of days, oil paintings take her several weeks, as they need more time to dry. Pouder added that she gets more joy when she donates her time to work on a painting like her mailbox mural, because she knows her work is truly appreciated.

“Maureen’s artwork and volunteerism is very well known throughout the community,” said town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point). “We are all grateful that she shares her time and talent so generously.”

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This 1797 map by surveyor Isaac Hulse shows ‘Drown Meadow Bay,’ which is now called Port Jefferson Harbor. Image from the Port Jefferson Village historical archive

For the last 180 years, it’s been Port Jefferson. But before that, the village had a peculiar name given that shipbuilding was its main industry.

When John Roe, an Irish shoemaker, became the first permanent European settler to make his home there in 1682, “the settlement was called Drowned Meadow because the area that now comprises most of the commercial district was a marsh that flooded every high tide.” That’s according to the book “Images of America: Port Jefferson,” written by Port Jefferson library staffers Robert Maggio and Earlene O’Hare. They said, “That flooding, and the steep hills and deep ravines that surrounded the marsh, made farming difficult, and the village grew slowly. In fact, by 1800, there were only a handful of houses.”

But the village did grow. It became home to several shipbuilding families, to the point where the name “no longer seemed to fit [the village’s] progressive image,” the book said.

It was Elisha Bayles, the head of the Bayles shipbuilding family, who got the ball rolling. According to an account by the late George Moraitis, a local cemetery historian, the Bayles patriarch came to Drowned Meadow in 1809 from Mount Sinai and “was a strong [Thomas] Jefferson Democrat.” He “urged the renaming” to Port Jefferson.

A vote on the matter took place at a schoolhouse on March 7, 1836. According to “Images of America: Port Jefferson,” the residents “voted overwhelmingly” in support of the name change.

The Long-Island Democrat newspaper published a notice of the change later that month, describing the vote as occurring “at a large and respectable meeting of the inhabitants” chaired by Daniel Tooker.

From there, the village became more and more of what residents know today. The “Images of America” book noted that the year after the renaming vote, William L. Jones, of another prominent shipbuilding family, “began filling in the ‘drowned meadow’ by building an 18-foot-wide elevated road across its center. … This was the beginning of today’s Main Street.”