Port Times Record

The exterior of Wahlburgers in Port Jefferson Station. The restaurant sign was recently removed. File photo

Restaurant chain Wahlburgers officially closed its only New York location in Port Jefferson Station at 4837 Nesconset Highway over the past weekend. 

Donnie Walhberg takes photos with a fan during his December, 2018 appearance. Photo by Rita J. Egan

A statement was issued on the restaurant’s Facebook page on Jan. 26 that read, “To our Port Jefferson Wahlburgers fans: Our Wahlburgers location in Port Jefferson has served its final burger. Thank you for all the love since we opened our doors in 2016! We look forward to seeing you all again at one of our other restaurants in the future!”

Donnie Wahlberg, co-owner of the chain along with brothers Mark and Chef Paul Wahlberg, last visited the location on Dec. 28, 2018. The interior decor was filled with photos and memories celebrating the Wahlberg brothers’ life journeys from Dorchester neighborhood kids to rising chef and international superstars.

Known for its gourmet burgers, sandwiches, tater tots, macaroni and cheese and frappes, the chain is currently in 18 states including New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts as well as Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom.

The shuttered Port Jefferson Station site has played host to a number of eating establishments over the years including Eldorado Southern Bar & Grill, Road Trip American Ale House and the Driftwood Inn. Plans are currently underway to open a new restaurant within the next few months.

Compiled by Heidi Sutton

Lower Merion High School in Pennsylvania is also where Kobe Bryant went to school. Photo from Google Maps

By Benji Dunaief

People sometimes ask, “Where did you grow up?”

I grew up in Lower Merion, an unassuming quiet suburb about 20-30 minutes outside of Philadelphia. I attended the local public schools, including Lower Merion High School, or just “LM” for short. Most would probably agree that LM is an above average public school, but they’d also probably agree that it’s not particularly extraordinary, except for one reason. Kobe Bryant went to Lower Merion High School.

Benji Dunaief

My freshman year coincided with the opening of LM’s brand new school building. The old building had been there for over 100 years, and the district had decided to start anew. On my first tour of the new school when I was still an eighth grader, one feature stood out to me above the rest – the soon-to-be-named Kobe Bryant Gymnasium. The gym, paid for in part by a substantial donation from Kobe, was to be a testament to the storied history of Lower Merion sports over the century since the school’s founding.

Of course, that history is heavily punctuated by Bryant’s own legacy. The perimeter of the gym is plastered with murals of Kobe in LM jerseys, his name is scrawled in massive cursive over the entrance and a glass case housing memorabilia from Kobe’s LM career is located just outside the gym. A very well-vacuumed LM embroidered rug was placed at the foot of the case, and my friends and I used to joke that its real purpose was for students to pay respects by bowing down to the “Kobe shrine.”

A few months into my freshman year, LM planned a gym dedication ceremony for the ages. The ceremony was scheduled to coincide with a matchup between the Lakers and the Sixers in Philly, so that Kobe would already be in town. The black-tie event featured a performance from popular local rapper Chiddy Bang, and a myriad of celebrities were in attendance, including several members of the Philadelphia Phillies who showed up to support Kobe, and nearly the entire Lakers team came too. Tickets for students and community members were in the hundreds of dollars.

I’m not going to lie, when I first saw everything, I thought it was way over the top. I thought he was just another celebrity personality in the middle of a big publicity stunt. But then I heard the stories from old teachers who had taught him way back when. Stories about how friendly and eager he was to learn — he still kept in touch with his English teacher. Stories from former classmates and students who had seen him in the halls — always smiling and laughing — or had the opportunity to sit down and talk with him — he always made time to talk with alumn. Then I joined the basketball team, the Aces, (to film games and create video highlights and definitely NOT to play) and saw how he still guided and influenced that team 18 years after he took his last fadeaway in the maroon and white. He aided the team both physically, by gifting crates upon crates of his branded warm-up attire, jackets, and sneakers (even creating special “Aces Edition” Kobe’s), and spiritually, by frequently tweeting to support the Aces and inviting them to his basketball camps. His relationship with head coach Gregg Downer remained strong, and the two frequently talked. Kobe called Downer the most influential coach in his entire career. Studying Downer’s gritty, give-everything-you-got coaching philosophy, it’s not hard to see that helping to shape the scrappy and relentless style of play Kobe became famous for.

Most high schools have notable alumni. For example, Cheltenham High School, which is just on the other side of town, has an insane number of famous alumni, including Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, 15-time Grammy Award winner Michael Brecker, and rapper Lil Dicky. But you would probably not have first associated those people with Cheltenham. When I’m out somewhere wearing Lower Merion apparel, whether in Europe, Canada, Chicago or Los Angeles, people will recognize the name, and it’s usually followed by a “huh, Kobe.”

Kobe Bryant isn’t just an alum of Lower Merion. Kobe Bryant took an active role in shaping the culture and the ideals of Lower Merion and he simultaneously allowed himself to become shaped by it, to the point where there was hardly a way to separate one from the other. Kobe Bryant made Lower Merion his own.

When people ask me “Where did you grow up?” I say, “Lower Merion, I went to Kobe Bryant’s high school.”

Benji Dunaief is director of TBR News Media produced films “One Life to Give” and its sequel, “Traitor: A Culper Spy Story.”

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Jaden Martinez drives the baseline for the Warriors in a 58-44 victory at home against West Islip Jan. 25. Photo by Bill Landon

Comsewogue trailed by two at the half time break before erupting in the third quarter, scoring 10 unanswered points to surge ahead of West Islip at home Jan. 25. The Warrior defense shut the door in the final eight minutes of play to win the League IV matchup 58-44.

Comsewogue senior Jaden Martinez led his team in scoring with 14, Milan Johnson, back in action after an injury, netted 11 and teammates Michael McGuire and Matt Walsh banked 10 points apiece.

In victory the Warriors improve to 5-3 in league, 9-7 overall and are back in action with a road game against Smithtown East Jan. 29. Game time is 4 p.m.

At the Jan. 1 fundraiser, Patti Kozlowski, left with tie-dye shirt, Danielle Warsaw, Kate HIggins, Tara HIggins, flanked by Warsaw’s four daughters. The HIggins said the family showed real strength after the tragedy of their father passing. Photo from Kozlowski

On New Year’s Day, Tara Inn in Port Jefferson was flooded with people, from young children to adults, people from Port Jefferson to people in Brentwood, all to support a family who lost their father from cancer.

Locals and attendees helped raise close to $20,000 for the Warsaw family of Manor Park. Wayne Warsaw, a teacher and football coach in the Brentwood school district, died Dec 8. at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. He had only received news of his diagnosis of neuroendocrine cancer 30 days before he passed.

His family, which includes his wife Danielle and four young girls, all attended the fundraiser. One of the children had also battled and fought off cancer at a young age.

Tara and Kate Higgins, whose family owns Tara Inn, said well over 100 people came to the event. Funds were raised through raffles and T-shirt sales. On those shirts there was a quote from Wayne Warsaw saying, “Life’s too short, do what you love and do it with all your heart.”

The Higgins normally provide the food and drink for the fundraiser, absorbing the cost to the business themselves. Bartenders also donate their time and tips. The place was packed “wall-to-wall,” said Kate Higgins, who helps run the restaurant full time.

“It was great to see Port Jeff and the businesses go out for this.”

Kathleen Barber Mercante

Other businesses in the community also donated their time and efforts to the event. Just a few examples include Terryville’s Port Jeff Sports, which donated shirts, Butcher Boy in Mount Sinai donated food and Joe DeNicola, the owner of Ruvo in Port Jeff and Del Fuego in St. James, donated gift cards for the raffles.

Brentwood’s South Middle School Assistant Principal Kathleen Barber Mercante, a Port Jefferson resident, also thanked all the people who donated their time for the event.

“It was great to see Port Jeff and the businesses go out for this,” she said at a Jan. 6 village meeting. 

Patti Kozlowski, who runs the grassroots community organization North Shore Neighbors Helping Hands, learned about the family through their GoFundMe, which as of now has raised over $19,000 for the family. Her group normally helps local families fight cancer, and so she reached out to the person organizing the GoFundMe and brought it to Higgins’ attention.

She said that once Danielle Warsaw learned about her husband’s diagnosis “all bets were off.”

The night of the fundraiser was filled with both Tara Inn regulars, who often support the restaurant’s fundraisers, and of many friends, family and community members of the Manor Park family.

“It was a complete cross section of the community,” Kozlowski said. “It warms my heart to bring so many aspects of their community together.”

The Higgins family has had generations now of providing such fundraisers. Joseph Higgins was honored by TBR News Media in 2017 for his help in getting over $15,000 for Hurricane Harvey relief, along with years of other fundraisers including for the employees of Billie’s 1890 Saloon after a devastating fire. Previous fundraisers held at Tara Inn also helped the Port Jefferson School District with over $7,000 to construct their veterans memorial outside the high school.

“We try to do it for an individual or family rather than a major organization — they get all the funds,” Tara Higgins said.

Her sister agreed that it was less of a generally nice thing to do, but more of an obligation.

“I almost feel like it’s our responsibility, that the community has supported this business for over 40 years, it’s just a small way we can pay back,” Kate Higgins said. 

 

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The pro-Trump sign hung up Jan. 21 was the same sign the shop hung in 2017 during inauguration. Photo by David Luces

In time for the start of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump (R),  a banner was hung above Roger’s Frigate candy and ice cream shop in Port Jeff reading “In Trump We Trust” on the building’s second floor. 

Barabara Sakovich, the village clerk, said the building and planning department has issued a new order to remedy to the owner, George Wallis, after it was hung. The village has maintained the sign violates code 250-31D regarding signs, specifically the size and material of the sign being hung across the building’s second floor.

Frigate General Manager Roger Rutherford did not immediately respond to request for comment.

The clerk said she had already received some complaints as of Wednesday, but other than the violations of code, the village cannot restrict freedom of speech.

The business owner has five days, starting Jan. 21, to remove the sign or face a financial penalty.

The sign that was first spotted Jan. 21 was the same banner hung on the building in 2017 during the president’s inauguration, which had caused both ire and praise from the local community. That sign had been ordered down by the Village of Port Jefferson, saying it violated village code.

In October last year, the village board unanimously passed a resolution reducing the number of days a sign can be up before it must be removed from 30 to five. Village Attorney Brian Egan said the change was to cut down on time that the board felt was too long for a violating sign to be up, especially when applying for a permit is “not burdensome.”

He added that the courts and village comply with a broad reading on the first amendment, but municipalities such as the village have rights to impose “content-neutral” regulations, such as size, material, ect. Those regulations were in place before the frigate originally installed the sign in 2017.

The candy store owner had put up the same sign three years ago in January 2017, during Trump’s inauguration. The banner caused several days of controversy before it was taken down. Rutherford said at the time the plan had already been to take the sign down after a few days. 

Reaction on community Facebook groups was similarly divided as it was three years ago, with some congratulating the shop while others claimed they had been boycotting the shop since 2017.

Wallis has been a character in Port Jefferson for decades, and the Frigate has become a major staple within that community. The owner of the candy store, as well as the neighboring The Steam Room, has also been known as a maverick in some of his past decisions on his properties, such as in 2002 when he replaced a statue of Thomas Jefferson with one of an eagle to commemorate those lost in 9/11, according to the New York Times.

Additional reporting by David Luces

Mariano Rivera made an appearance at Brookhaven Town Hall Jan. 16 in support of his proposed Honda dealership in Port Jefferson Station. Photo by David Luces

Yankees National Baseball Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera was known throughout his professional career for his knack of nailing down tough victories. On Jan. 16, baseball’s all-time career saves leader added another victory to his business career when he won approval of a zoning change from the Brookhaven Town Board for a proposed Honda dealership in Port Jefferson Station.

“It feels great to be able to be a part of Port Jefferson Station, we’re excited to make new friends, be able to help others and do the right thing for this community.” 

– Mariano Rivera

The dealership on Route 112, dubbed Mariano Rivera Honda, could open later this year if the town Planning Board approves a site plan. The Town Board voted 7-0 to rezone parts of the 8.1-acre property to allow expansion of an existing building and construction of a new one. The Planning Board has yet to set a date to hear Rivera’s plan. 

“It feels great to be able to be a part of Port Jefferson Station,” Rivera said after the vote. “We’re excited to make new friends, be able to help others and do the right thing for this community.”

Don King, the Kings Park-based lawyer representing Rivera, said the business will be a good fit in the community 

“They love him, the excitement is there — I had one guy tell me he wants to buy a car in [Yankee] pinstripes,” he said. 

The Hall of Fame pitcher met with the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association last May to discuss the project. While the civic submitted a letter to the town with no complaints, Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said there were a few suggestions that would help the site fit better into the area. 

“The [sales and service] building was originally 55,000 square feet and we reduced down to 35,000,” King said. “The neighbors asked if we could do something smaller and we would if we got permission from Honda — and we did.”

Rivera’s plan also calls for expanding an existing 6,425-square-foot auxiliary building by more than 30 percent and increasing the parking lot’s capacity to hold over 350 vehicles. The dealership would be built at an existing car dealer site at 1435 Route 112, between Jefferson and Washington avenues.

King said they don’t have a date yet of when the dealership could open but said it comes down to a number of things like designs tweaks and how soon the Planning Board can review the site plans. Once these are approved and necessary permits are obtained, construction will start. 

After the hearing, Rivera interacted with Yankees fans and residents who came out to Town Hall in Farmingville. He posed for pictures and signed autographs for a number of Brookhaven officials. 

“This man has the golden touch,” Councilman Dan Panico (R-Manorville) said after the hearing concluded. 

 

Bob Lynch and his dog Kallie visit local schools to offer therapy dog services. Photo by Kyle Barr

Bob Lynch and his dog Kallie are magnetic, or at least it seems that way to watch people come forward, asking gingerly if they can pet the dog, her tail waving frantically.

Coming into the TBR News Media offices, Kallie was the star of the show, and Lynch just let her work her magic. She doesn’t make a sound, instead just walking toward people asking to be petted. 

Lynch, a 73-year-old Mount Sinai resident, has been volunteering his time working with therapy dog services for the past several years. He’s owned Kallie, a keeshond, since she was a puppy, and they have been a team for five years. Though he works part time as a risk management consultant, he finds his biggest joy nowadays is taking Kallie where she’s needed most, on a voluntary basis, through the local chapter of Love on a Leash, which provides these services free of charge.

“[Keeshonds] were bred to be babysitters — when they see kids they light up, they love kids, and going to school is perfect for that.”

– Bob Lynch

Kallie has been to nursing homes, veterans homes and hospitals, but where she’s been that her breed might be best at is at schools. 

“[Keeshonds] were bred to be babysitters — when they see kids they light up, they love kids, and going to school is perfect for that,” he said. “The work in itself is fulfilling, you walk into a room and see the smiles, and see the demeanor of the people change very quickly.”

Lynch will soon be at the Port Jefferson high and middle schools often as part of a new pilot program in the district that they say will relieve stress among students.

Christine Austen, the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said she was contacted by Lynch last year and submitted it to the curriculum committee as a pilot, which they approved. The pilot program will run twice a month for four months starting in February and ending in May. A mailer and email will be sent to parents asking them whether they would like to opt out of such visits with the dog, whether it’s from allergies or a fear of animals. Austen said the decision of whether the dog is allowed in certain classes would be treated like allergies.

When presented at the Jan. 14 board meeting, some trustees expressed concerns about safety. Austen said the dog trainer would not be allowed alone with a student at any time and would always have a faculty member present.

Tara Sladek-Maharg, who teaches social studies and psychology in both the middle and high schools, originally brought in a therapy dog for her AP psychology class last year. She had become enthused about the idea of a therapy dog in the classroom after witnessing firsthand what a demonstrably positive effect it had on her own father, when trainer Linda Christian and her dog Murphy, also of Love on a Leash, came to Stony Brook University Hospital and showed him love and compassion after he had a seizure and was going through rehabilitation.

“He goes into rehab and he just sits and goes to each individual person and just lays his head down on them — petting the dog is just so calming,” she said. 

Bringing Murphy into the classroom so that the students could review classical conditioning was a transformative experience, Sladek-Maharg said. She has done more research into just why these dogs have such a positive impact on so many. The research shows that being around such dogs has a significant effect on a person’s neurotransmitters and hormones and significantly reduces fear and stress.

Studies have also shown such animals have a positive effect on elementary school students, especially in helping them speak up in public or in class.

“Today our students are very stressed — our staff is very stressed, so having the presence of a dog is just a wonderful outlet,” she said. “They don’t discriminate, especially if they are trained therapy animals. They don’t have any reason to make somebody feel self-conscious, and they have a calming effect on us.”

“Just petting the dog, they get this feeling of unconditional love.”

– Catherine Lynch 

Other school districts that have experimented with therapy dogs in classrooms have come away talking of success. Lynch has been a regular at events hosted in the Longwood school district, Miller Place School District and Ward Melville in the Three Village district. 

Miller Place High School Library Media Specialist Catherine Lynch brings in therapy dogs once a year during testing to help students relax during such a stressful time. One thing she has noticed is students regularly put away their phones when interacting with the dogs, instead talking and petting the dogs or speaking with each other.

“Just petting the dog, they get this feeling of unconditional love,” she said, adding she would like to see the program expanded to multiple times throughout the school year.

In the Comsewogue school district, special education teacher Tom King has been taking his therapy-trained labradoodle to his classes for years. Last June, during exam season, the district brought in multiple dogs into the school cafeteria to interact with students. 

Love on a Leash is a national organization that started in San Diego in the 1980s as a volunteer organization for therapy dogs. The organization has expanded to include chapters across the U.S. and several thousand members. The Long Island chapter was founded about a decade ago and includes over 150 members and just around 25 “active” participants covering Suffolk, Nassau and parts of Queens.

Theresa Schwartz, the chapter president, said schools have been expanding such programs with therapy dogs. When she started about three years ago, schools would ask her to come in during testing times, but that has expanded into doing reading programs in elementary schools, after-school wildlife clubs, SEPTA events and even offering support services during emotionally fraught times, such as when a teacher or a student passes away.

The fact that Love on a Leash is a nonprofit volunteer organization makes the program unique, Lynch said. From the start, people who train the dogs and take them around are also their owners, living with them 24/7, and they have personally seen the ways a dog has helped bring people who are truly suffering a little bit of joy.

“I think I can speak for most of our volunteers doing this kind of thing, [it] makes the team, the dog and the handler, feel better, and makes other people feel better,” she said. “You see what joy your dog can bring to other people.”

Young people in an environment like school, Austen said, respond especially to animals. It has even had a positive impact on faculty.

“It just seems to take down the level of anxiety,” she said. “There are so many instigators of that, whether it’s cellphone use or social media — all of that constant stimulation. Then there are the academics at the high school, and the push to perform.”

If successful, which she expects the program will be, she wants to expand it to the elementary school, where studies have shown therapy dogs have a positive impact on helping people speak up in class.

 

By Heidi Sutton

One of Theatre Three’s most important offerings, in my opinion, is its children’s theatre series. Each show teaches a moral lesson — don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t be a bully — while introducing young audiences to live musical retellings of wonderful fairy tales including “Cinderella,” “Pinocchio,” “Hansel & Gretel” and its latest offering, “Little Red Riding Hood: A Tale of Safety for Today.” The adorable show opened last Saturday and runs through Feb. 22. 

While it follows the Brothers Grimm version closely, the story is used as a tool to teach “stranger danger” in a most effective way. Written by Jeffrey Sanzel and Kevin F. Story, the musical centers around a little girl named Amanda Sally Desdemona Estella Barbara Temple, although everyone in town calls her Little Red Riding Hood because she always wears the red cape her Granny Beckett made for her. 

When her grandmother sends Little Red Riding Hood’s mother a letter complaining “no one ever comes to visit. I might as well get eaten by a wolf!,” Amanda and her twin sisters, Blanche and Nora, head over the river and through the woods to bring her some Girl Scout cookies. Halfway there, Little Red Riding Hood tells her sisters to go back home because Nora is nursing a terrible cold. Now alone, she encounters a stranger (William “Billy” de Wolf) and commits a series of safety mistakes, placing her grandmother and herself in a dangerous situation.

Director Jeffrey Sanzel leads an adult cast of six who have the best time acting out this clever script.

Steven Uihlein serves as storyteller and does a terrific job introducing each scene, giving his own opinions and interrupting the show when he deems it necessary. Uihlein also plays numerous supporting roles, including a policeman, doctor and mailman.

Nicole Bianco is perfectly cast as Little Red Riding Hood, although she does love saying her long name a bit too much! Lol! Krystal Lawless tackles the challenging role of the forgetful Mrs. Temple with ease. Constantly mixing up her children’s names and attempting to make a cup of tea for Nora out of feathers, wrenches, sticky notes, etc. she draws the most laughs. 

Kyle Breitenbach has much fun in the role of the Wolf, who is all bark and no bite. Special effects make his stomach rumble and he is always asking the audience if they have any steak or a bone on hand. One of the best scenes is when the Wolf chases Granny Beckett around the bed, and when she steps away, he goes around many times more before he realizes she’s gone.

Michelle LaBozzetta has the most exhausting role in the show, skipping on stage as Blanche, turning the corner and reappearing as her twin sister Nora, hunched over and suffering from a cold. What a workout! LaBozzetta is so convincing that young children will not make the connection. 

But it’s Ginger Dalton as Granny Beckett who steals the show. Dripping with sarcasm, she pulls out all the stops to try to get her family to visit her and even fakes getting sick. Her solo, “Who’s at My Door?,” is superb.  

During the last 10 minutes of the show, the actors discuss the safety mistakes that Little Red Riding Hood made, including talking to strangers and giving out her grandmother’s address, and what she should have done instead.

The musical numbers, accompanied on piano by Douglas Quattrock, are fun and catchy, especially “Little Red Riding Hood” and the tap dance number “To Granny Beckett’s House We Go.”

The great story line, the wonderful songs and the important message it conveys makes this show a perfect reason to catch a performance. Meet the entire cast in the lobby after the show for photos.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents “Little Red Riding Hood: A Tale of Safety for Today” is for ages 3 and up through Feb. 22. Children’s Theatre continues with “Hansel & Gretel” from Feb. 29 to March 21, “The Adventures of Peter Rabbit” from April 8 to 25 and “Snow White & the 7 Dwarfs” from May 23 to June 6. Tickets are $10 each. For more information or to order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

Photos by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

John Feal, president and founder of the FealGood Foundation, has been a long-time advocate for first responders. Photo by Kyle Barr

Families, first responders, survivors, and the families of anyone who died in the past 18 years due to 9/11 related illness now will have more time to re-apply and file a claim after the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund extended its deadline for another year.

Individuals will have until July 29, 2021 to file a claim.

The new rule change gives the families of all 9/11 first responders or downtown workers, residents and students who died more than two years ago, from 2002 until the present, the chance to receive an award from the VCF. The VCF is also reviewing past submitted wrongful death claims and will make awards to the families whose wrongful death claims were denied due to missing the old two-year deadline.

Previously, the VCF required that the families of people who died from a 9/11-related illness to register their claim within two years from the date of death. The harsh old “two years from the date of death” deadline caused the denial of many VCF wrongful death claims for not meeting the two-year deadline. According to Ronkonkoma-based Turley Hansen & Rosasco, LLP, a 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Specialty Law Firm, only 2 percent of eligible families have filed for this benefit.

“We have many clients that missed this deadline, because they did not know that a cancer (or other death causing disease) was 9/11 related, did not know that the VCF applies to non-first responders or were wholly unaware of the VCF program until the recent news — when it was too late,” said attorney Daniel Hansen, of the firm.

According to a recent report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), about 410,000 people were exposed to the 9/11 related toxic dust released into the air in lower Manhattan in the area surrounding the World Trade Center site. An estimated 67,000 of those 410,000 exposed people have died since 2001.

Out of the 67,000 exposed people who have died in that time, only 1,173 families have filed wrongful death claims.

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin. File photo by Kevin Redding

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY-1) was named to President Donald Trump’s (R) legal defense team regarding the Senate’s impeachment trial, which just began today, Jan. 21.

Seven other members of the U.S. House of Representatives have also been named to the team as well. Zeldin has been a big proponent of the president and has decried the impeachment trial constantly on cable news shows and on Twitter. The other members of the team have also been outspoken allies of Trump, including fellow Rep. Elise Stefanik, whose district includes a large part of upstate New York. 

“The President NEVER should have been impeached in the first place!” Zeldin wrote to Twitter, also congratulating his fellow congress members on being assigned to the legal team.

The White House statement announcing Zeldin’s position said that such officials have already provided guidance to the White House Team, and derided the impeachment proceedings in the house, saying it was “concocted” by Democrats.

People planning to run against Zeldin were quick to condemn him for accepting the position. In a release, Nancy Goroff, a Stony Brook Democrat planning to run for the 1st congressional seat, said the congressman “has his priorities upside down and backwards, caring more about lying for President Trump than standing up for his constituents.”

For a full Q&A of Zeldin and his thoughts on impeachment, visit: http://tbrnewsmedia.com/one-on-one-with-lee-zeldin/