Port Times Record

Ponrakit ‘Rio’ Puorcharoen gets to know New York with a trip to the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan. Photo from Lynellen Nielsen

A new student roaming the halls of Comsewogue High School is getting into a New York state of mind.

Ponrakit Puorcharoen journeyed to Long Island from Thailand this year to attend school because he “wanted to learn about a new culture.”

The 15-year-old foreign exchange student, who goes by the nickname Rio, hails from Nonthaburi, a city near Bangkok and the Gulf of Thailand.

Rio said in a phone interview that he did not get to choose where he was going to be placed, and did not know much about New York before arriving stateside. His host family — Lynellen and Rick Nielsen and their sons, Jeremy and Josh — has tried to show him around, taking him to New York City. He saw the Museum of Modern Art and Times Square, which Rio thinks is “crazy, with the amount of people there.”

His family in Port Jefferson Station got involved in part because of the host mom’s childhood memories.

Foreign exchange student Ponrakit ‘Rio’ Puorcharoen takes a trip to the aquarium with his host family. Photo from Lynellen Nielsen
Foreign exchange student Ponrakit ‘Rio’ Puorcharoen takes a trip to the aquarium with his host family. Photo from Lynellen Nielsen

“When I was a child, my family had a foreign exchange student, and it was a really positive experience,” Lynellen Nielsen said in a phone interview. “I thought it was something that Jeremy should experience as well.”

Jeremy is a senior at Comsewogue High School, two years ahead of Rio, while Josh is enrolled at Hunter College.

Lynellen Nielsen described the process of applying for the foreign exchange program as “serendipitous.”

She and her family had considered hosting a student many times, but didn’t begin the process until she discovered a friend of hers had begun working for the International Student Exchange Programs. After the family applied, Nielsen said once the organization approved them, they were able to choose from a number of students to host for the year.

“We saw [Rio] had similar interests, like animals, cooking, technology and art,” she said. “We thought he would be a great match.”

Although Rio arrived in the United States on Aug. 9, he didn’t get to Long Island until Aug. 22 because he went though a training program.

“His first question when he walked into our house was, ‘What’s the Wi-Fi password?’ so he’s just like any other kid around here,” Nielsen said with a laugh.

Since Rio has adjusted to his new living situation, he and his host family have been able to bond over many different activities. He has cooked basil pork and other traditional Thai dishes for the family, and the host mom, in turn, introduced him to strawberry pie and banana bread.

In terms of school life, Rio said he has not found many differences between school in America and school in Thailand. He said the only real difference is that students don’t get to choose the classes they take back home, and that Americans use the word “soccer” for the same sport he calls “football,” which he finds “a little weird.”

“My favorite thing to do so far has just been relaxing with the family,” Rio said. “They are very chill.”

Kings Park cash theft
A 25-year old woman from Wyandanch was arrested after police said she stole money from a resident’s home on Hileen Drive in Kings Park sometime between Aug. 28 and Aug. 29. She was arrested on Sept. 25, at the 4th Precinct, at 8:27 p.m. and charged with petit larceny.

Taking the greens from Walgreens
At Walgreens on East Main Street in Smithtown, on Sept. 27, an unknown man stole four boxes of blood sugar level test strips at 7:04 p.m.

Heroin is Hero-out
On Sept. 25, an 18-year old man from Ronkonkoma was arrested on Dorchester Road in Smithtown after police said he had possession of heroin on him and a hypodermic syringe at 12:30 p.m. He was charged with seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and possession of a hypodermic instrument.

Theft at Sevs
At 7-Eleven, on North Country Road, in Village of the Branch, on Sept. 25, an unknown person stole a bicycle that was left unlocked in the parking lot at 1:40 p.m.

From cell phone to cell holding
Police said a 27-year old man from Plainview was arrested for stealing security cameras from Street Walk Cell Phone Accessories kiosk at the Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove on Sept. 8 at 7:30 p.m. He was arrested at the 4th Precinct on Sept. 25 and charged with petit larceny.

No more sushi for sush-you
On Sept. 23, a 45-year old man from Plainview was arrested at the 4th Precinct, at 9:23 p.m., for stealing on two different occasions according to police. On Feb. 28, he stole sushi from a ShopRite in Hauppauge and on Apr. 30, at 3:58 p.m., he stole grocery items from a business on Portion Road. He was charged with petit larceny.

Under the sheets
A 30-year old woman from St. James was arrested on Sept. 23 at the 4th Precinct for a previous theft on Aug. 17. Police said she stole bed sheets from a residents home on Ronkonkoma Avenue at 11:28 a.m. She was charged with petit larceny.

A sweet bluetooth
On Sept. 8, police said a 40-year old woman from St. James stole a Wii remote, Bluetooth headset and an HDMI adaptor at 8:17 p.m., from Centereach Mall in Commack. She was arrested at the 4th Precinct at 12:26 a.m. and was charged with petit larceny.

Knuckle to see here
A 24-year old man from Wyandanch was arrested on Sept. 24, on the corner of Jericho Turnpike and Townline Road in Commack, at 11:08 p.m., when police said he had possession of a metal knuckle knife and marijuana He was charged with fifth degree criminal possession of marijuana and fourth degree criminal possession of a weapon.

Red cards all around
Four teens were arrested on Sept. 30 for damage police said they caused earlier that month. Cops said four 17-year-olds —Nicolas Collins and Eric Lamay, both of Greenlawn, and Michael Plackis and Julius Dimino, both of East Northport — drove a vehicle on soccer fields at the Northport Soccer Park in Northport sometime between Sept. 11 at 9 p.m. and Sept. 12 at 7 a.m. and caused an estimated $10,000 worth of damage. In photos capturing the damage, some of the fields were observed covered in tire marks, rendering them unusable. All four were charged with second-degree criminal mischief. Attorney information for the individuals wasn’t immediately available.

Crybaby
A man stole three baby monitors, valued at approximately $300, from a Target in East Northport on Deposit Road on Sept. 10 at 10:30 a.m. 

Hit and run
A 19-year-old man from Huntington was arrested on Sept. 27 after police said he struck a woman to the ground and ran off with her purse at 4:30 p.m. on West 22nd Street in Huntington. Police said he then resisted arrest and gave false identification when he was finally apprehended. He was charged with petit larceny, second-degree robbery, causing physical injury, resisting arrest and false impersonation.

Hunger pains
A woman was reported to have stolen grocery items and makeup from Waldbaum’s on Pulaski Road in Greenlawn on Sept. 27 at 7:30 p.m.

It’s art
On Sept. 25, a man from Commack was arrested at the 2nd Precinct for a crime police said he committed on Sept. 8. Police said he spray-painted security cameras at The Red Barn and Motel in Elwood at 12:05 p.m. He was charged with third-degree burglary and illegal entry with intent.

Hide ya kids, hide ya bike
A resident of Derby Avenue in Greenlawn reported that two unknown subjects entered the person’s garage at 7:15 p.m. on Sept. 24 and fled with a mountain bike.

Just wanted to rock out
A 33-year-old man from Huntington was arrested for throwing a rock through a glass window of a Payless ShoeSource on Jericho Turnpike in Huntington at 5:50 p.m. on Sept. 25. He was arrested at the scene and charged with third-degree criminal mischief with intent to damage property.

Wrong kind of a mixer
Police said a 23-year-old woman from Nesconset possessed a controlled substance and marijuana at 7:40 p.m. on Sept. 25 on the corner of Broadway and Grafton Street in Greenlawn. She was charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and possession of marijuana.

Not cool for school
A 40-year-old man from Huntington Station was arrested at Huntington High School at 7:40 p.m. on Sept. 25 for driving while intoxicated, according to police. He was taken to the 2nd Precinct and charged with aggravated driving while intoxicated.

One way to make an impact
On Sept. 27, police said a 33-year-old man from Huntington Station stole an impact driver tool from Home Depot in Huntington Station at 4:30 p.m. He was charged with petit larceny.

Uncoachable
On Sept. 24, someone told police that two male employees of Huntington Coach Corporation got into a verbal disagreement on Deposit Road in East Northport at 6 p.m.

Wake and bake mistake
Police said a 38-year-old man from Port Jefferson Station was arrested for operating a vehicle while ability impaired by drugs. The man was allegedly driving a 2001 GMC Yukon down Jeanne Avenue and Nancy Drive on Sept. 26 at 9:30 a.m., swerving and running through stop signs. Police discovered him in possession of marijuana and arrested him at the scene.

Booze and blunders
A 31-year-old man from Sound Beach was charged with operating a vehicle while ability impaired on Sept. 25. Police said the man was driving a 2001 Volkswagen north on Old Town Road in Port Jefferson Station that night when he got into a car crash. Police discovered the man was intoxicated and arrested him at the scene.

Police are irresistible
On Sept. 26 at 2:45 a.m., a 45-year-old man from Miller Place was charged with resisting arrest. Police were interviewing the man about an undisclosed case on Wedgewood Lane in Miller Place when the man began harassing an officer. The man then resisted as police arrested him.

Three times the fun
Police said a 50-year-old man from Ronkonkoma was arrested on Sept. 26 for unlicensed operation of a vehicle after driving a 1984 Suzuki north on Holbrook Road in Lake Ronkonkoma. Police have revoked his license three times in the past.

What’s in a name?
A 29-year-old man from Port Jefferson Station was arrested for false impersonation on Sept. 26 on Campo Avenue in Selden after he gave an officer a name other than his own. Police didn’t say why officers were speaking to the man.

Signaled out
On Sept. 25, a 19-year-old man from Hauppauge was arrested for operating a vehicle while impaired by drugs. Police pulled him over after he turned left onto Nicolls Road without using his turning signal and discovered that the man was impaired.

Minor mishap
Police said a 51-year-old man from Ronkonkoma was arrested for selling tobacco to minors in Stony Brook on Sept. 24, after police said he sold tobacco to two 17-year-olds.

A bite at the beach
A 19-year-old man from Sound Beach was arrested on Beach Street for obstructing governmental administration, harassment and resisting arrest on Sept. 26, around 1:25 a.m., after stepping in front of police as they conducted an investigation. The man then refused to put his hands behind his back when police arrested him. Once the man was in the police cruiser, he bit an officer who was buckling the man’s seat belt.

Fender-bender buzz
On Sept. 27, around 1:46 a.m., police arrested a 29-year-old woman from Miller Place for driving while ability impaired. Police said she was driving a 2008 Jeep west on Route 25A in Rocky Point when she got into a car crash and police discovered she was intoxicated.

What a steal
Police said a man stole a 2007 Honda CRS on Sept. 26 around 2:30 p.m., from a residence on Dayton Avenue in Port Jefferson Station. Police said the victim put an ad on Craigslist to sell the car and received a response from an unidentified person who was interested in the Honda. When they met to discuss the car, the man got into it and drove off.

Shady thief
An unidentified person stole two sunglasses from a 2013 Jeep parked on Mount Sinai Avenue in Mount Sinai on Sept. 26.

Cell phone swiped
On Sept. 26, an unidentified person went into the Kohl’s on Route 25A in Rocky Point and stole a woman’s cell phone.

A tasty target
Police arrested a 48-year-old woman from Lake Grove on Sept. 25 for petit larceny. The woman stole assorted food and other items from the Target on Pond Path in South Setauket.

Mad for makeup
A 37-year-old woman from Port Jefferson Station was charged with petit larceny on Sept. 26 after she stole makeup from the Walmart on Nesconset Highway in East Setauket. Police arrested her at the scene.

Sod off
On Sept. 25 an unidentified person drove an all-terrain vehicle and damaged seeded crops at the DeLalio Sod Farm in Shoreham.

Clean getaway
Police said an unidentified person stole soaps, body wash, men’s clothing and two laundry baskets from the Centereach Mall on Sept. 27.

Barn break-in
An unidentified person cut a lock at a Dairy Barn on Middle Country Road in Selden on Sept. 27 around 2:31 a.m., attempting to enter the property, but police said nothing was stolen and the suspect fled the scene.

Cash and cards
Someone stole cash and credit cards from a 2015 Honda Pilot on Sept. 25, while the car was parked in a parking lot on Nesconset Highway in Stony Brook.

File photo by Arlene Gross

The North Shore is bracing for what the National Weather Service called a hazardous weather outlook in effect for Suffolk County from Thursday, Oct. 1 until Tuesday, Oct. 6.

Heavy rains are possible later this week through the weekend with the potential for gale force winds Friday and Saturday, according to weather reports. Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) said his department was tracking the storm and preparing for a swift response.

“Currently, there are conflicting reports for the track of Hurricane Joaquin and my staff and I will be diligently tracking this storm,” Losquadro said. “The Brookhaven Highway Department has its equipment ready and our crews will be out working to address whatever this storm may bring our way.”

Losquadro said if residents see downed wires during this time, they should stay away from them and simply report them to PSEG immediately at 1-800-490-0075. To report a Highway related issue, residents can call (631) 451-9200.

Residents should also make sure to keep ice in a cooler and have plenty of food and water in their homes, as well as batteries in case of a power outage. Losquadro said it was important to keep cell phones fully charged and use them as little as possible in case of a power outage.

Residents can quickly report an outage by texting “OUT” to PSEGLI (773454), which will send confirmation that an outage has been submitted and will begin receiving ongoing updates as the status of outage changes. This requires one time registration. To register text REG to 773454.

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Save-A-Pet kittens are up for adoption at the annual Kitten Shower. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Save-A-Pet Animal Rescue and Adoption Center is hosting its annual Kitten Shower on Saturday, Oct. 3, offering felines for adoption.

The event, at the shelter on Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station, will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., when kittens can be adopted for $50. The furry friends are all spayed or neutered, are up-to-date with their vaccines and have had flea prevention treatment applied.

Refreshments will be served.

The shelter is also requesting donations of much-needed supplies, like canned kitten food, Purina Kitten Chow, and kitten milk replacement, for kittens in local foster homes.

For more information or to learn how to volunteer for the nonprofit organization, call Save-A-Pet at 631-473-6333.

Shoreham-Wading River midfielder Melissa Manzello knocks in her penalty stroke in the Wildcats' 2-0 blanking of Port Jefferson on Sept. 28. Photo by Desirée Keegan

A penalty stroke was all the Shoreham-Wading River field hockey team needed to top Port Jefferson Monday.

The Royals came out with more gas, but they were running on fumes by the middle of the first half and couldn’t stop the Wildcats, who ultimately won the game, 2-0.

Although at first the Wildcats had difficult controlling the ball on the lumpy grass field at Port Jefferson, their luck changed with six minutes left in the first.

While Shoreham made a shot at the cage, Port Jefferson freshman goalkeeper Catrina Alvarez fell on the ball, giving junior midfielder Melissa Manzello a penalty stroke.

Manzello wound up and shot straight past Alvarez, who made nine saves on the day, for the 1-0 lead.

“I think today we came together as a team and really worked hard to the end,” the midfielder said. “We worked on our passing and it feels really good to take what we’ve learned in practice to the field.”

Port Jefferson's Phalina Sciara and Shoreham-Wading River's Taylor Flanagan race for the ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Port Jefferson’s Phalina Sciara and Shoreham-Wading River’s Taylor Flanagan race for the ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Manzello said it helps that the Wildcats have a strong defense to back up the team. Led by co-captain Gabrielle Campo, the defense sent the ball back into Royals territory over and over, leading to fewer shots on goal for Port Jefferson. The Wildcats’ keeper, Megan Daly, only had to make three saves to seal the shutout.

“There is definitely a better team atmosphere and it’s grown since the beginning of the season,” Shoreham-Wading River new head coach Allie Franklin said. “It takes a while to figure out how slow or fast a field is and they figured out that the little passes were working, and that definitely advanced the ball up the field better for us than the big hits today.”

After taking a 1-0 lead into the halftime break, the Wildcats raced out onto the field in the second hungry for more. They dominated the time of possession, rattling off several shots on goal until, with 3:17 left to play, forward Brianna Fischetti received a pass from midfielder Taylor Flanagan and sent the ball crashing into the back of the cage for added insurance.

“We’re still really young, so I’m very proud of how they played today,” Port Jefferson head coach Deb Brown said. “We’ve been having a hard time communicating and I think they came out on fire today — we just got a little too tired in the second half. We need to build up the endurance going forward.”

To Port Jefferson senior midfielder Michelle Bourguignon, the team has already improved since last season and she hopes the Royals can still make a playoff push despite their 1-5 Division III record.

“We’re really good at working together to bring the ball up the field,” she said. “We just need to work on finishing.”

Port Jefferson defender Andreya Harvey fights for possession amid a swarm of players. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Port Jefferson defender Andreya Harvey fights for possession amid a swarm of players. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Shoreham-Wading River senior forward and co-captain Nina Mostaccio likes that her team was able to find the open space on the field and communicate to move the ball toward the goal.

“I think as the game progressed we got more hungry in the circle,” she said, referring to the area around the net. “We wanted more goals, and the speed increased as we moved up the field as the game progressed. When you work as a team and are successful, that’s the greatest feeling.”

The Wildcats, 4-2 in Division III after the win, will travel to Miller Place on Wednesday, while the Royals will travel to Babylon. Port Jefferson will host Sayville on Friday at 4:30 p.m., while Shoreham-Wading River will host Southampton that day at 4 p.m.

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Mayor Margot Garant discusses the new historic letter mounted on the wall at the Drowned House Cottage museum in Port Jefferson. Photo by Giselle Barkley

It was such a well-kept secret, it took more than 200 years to come to light.

Port Jefferson Village officials unveiled the newest historic addition to the Drowned Meadow Cottage museum last week: a letter that links Port Jefferson’s Roe brothers to then-Gen. George Washington’s Culper Spy Ring, which covertly worked to advance the rebel cause during the Revolutionary War.

Loyalist soldier Nehemiah Marks wrote the letter on Dec. 21, 1780, to inform his comrades that Phillips and Nathaniel Roe, among others, helped supply Setauket-based spy Caleb Brewster with information to pass on to the Patriots.

A historic letter detailing the involvement of Port Jefferson brothers in George Washington's Culper Spy Ring is on display at the Drowned Meadow Cottage. Photo by Giselle Barkley
A historic letter detailing the involvement of Port Jefferson brothers in George Washington’s Culper Spy Ring is on display at the Drowned Meadow Cottage. Photo by Giselle Barkley

According to Mayor Margot Garant, a former Port Jefferson high school student found the letter two years ago while researching the Revolutionary spy ring at the University of Michigan and contacted the mayor. The next step was getting the letter authenticated.

“The authentication for this letter is so critical,” Garant said in an interview before last week’s event at the cottage, the former home of Phillips Roe. Villagers had long had suspicions that he and his brother were important “not only to village history but to the history of the Revolutionary War, and instrumental in the spy ring. That was kicked around as a rumor for many years and never authenticated.”

The Roe brothers came from modest means, according to Georgette Grier-Key, a historical consultant who authenticated the letter and designed its exhibit at the cottage. Their father, John Roe, was a shoemaker, but Phillips was more successful: He owned a wood business, as well as a ship. He used those resources to help to discreetly pass along information in the Culper Spy Ring.

But before the letter, some people doubted the area’s extensive involvement.

“There was some … organizations that didn’t really believe Port Jefferson had a claim to being part of the spy ring,” Grier-Key said. “Now we have [a] primary document source that says otherwise from a Loyalist perspective.”

The letter also links another North Shore neighborhood to the spy ring: Mount Sinai. Old Man’s Road is among the locations listed in the message, after a Patriot informant named James Smith was spotted receiving information there.

Many attend the unveiling of a historic exhibit at the Drowned Meadow Cottage in Port Jefferson. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Many attend the unveiling of a historic exhibit at the Drowned Meadow Cottage in Port Jefferson. Photo by Giselle Barkley

During a ribbon cutting and open house ceremony at the museum last week, Grier-Key said it is possible that towns farther east of Port Jefferson and Mount Sinai could have been a part of the ring too. For now, Garant said, the letter officially puts Port Jefferson and hamlets like Mount Sinai “on the map” for their involvement in the ring and their contribution to the war.

That recognition is reaching across Long Island — Michael Goudket, a program instructor from Raynham Hall Museum in Oyster Bay attended the event to show his support for the Drowned Meadow Cottage museum, saying there is a new sense of appreciation for the Island’s involvement in the Revolutionary War.

“People are starting to appreciate that even though Long Island doesn’t make the history books with big battles … we have the most interesting spy stories,” Goudket said.

The historic letter is on display at the museum alongside other documents, like Phillips Roe’s last will and testament and a list of individuals who still owed him money upon his death in 1792.

Those who were involved in the letter’s discovery and authentication hope to uncover more information about the spy ring.

This version corrects the exact date of Nehemiah Marks’ letter.

Stock photo

Thirteen more mosquito samples have tested positive for West Nile virus in Suffolk County, bringing the total this year to 192, according to Dr. James L. Tomarken, the county’s health commissioner.

The samples were collected from Sept. 15 through Sept. 17, from the following areas: three from West Babylon, one from North Patchogue, one from Selden, one from Patchogue, one from Port Jefferson Station, one from Setauket, one from South Huntington, one from Bay Shore, one from Islip, one from Holbrook and one from Smithtown.

One human has tested positive for West Nile this year. The 55-year-old man from the Town of Islip was admitted to a local hospital in late August upon experiencing symptoms consistent with the virus, according to a Suffolk County Department of Health Services statement on Sept. 11.

The virus, first detected in birds and mosquito samples in Suffolk County in 1999 and again each year thereafter, is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito.

“The confirmation of West Nile virus in mosquito samples indicates the presence of West Nile virus in the area,” Tomarken said. “While there is no cause for alarm, we urge residents to cooperate with us in our efforts to reduce the exposure to the virus, which can be debilitating to humans.”

To reduce the mosquito population around homes, residents should try to eliminate stagnant water where mosquitoes breed. Other tips include disposing of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding containers; removing discarded tires on the property; making sure roof gutters drain properly, and cleaning clogged gutters; turning over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use; changing the water in birdbaths; cleaning vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds and keeping shrubs and grass trimmed; cleaning and chlorinating swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs; and draining water from pool covers.

Most people infected with West Nile virus will experience mild or no symptoms, but some can develop severe symptoms including high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis, according to Dr. Tomarken. The symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent. Individuals, especially those 50 years of age or older, or those with compromised immune systems, who are most at risk, are urged to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

There are a number of ways to avoid mosquito bites. Residents are advised to minimize outdoor activities between dusk and dawn; wear shoes and socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirts when outdoors for long periods of time or when mosquitoes are more active; use repellent; and make sure all windows and doors have screens.

To report mosquito problems or stagnant pools of water, call the Suffolk County Department of Public Works’ Vector Control Division at 852-4270.

For medical questions related to West Nile virus, call 854-0333.

To learn more about how mosquitoes are captured and tested for mosquito-borne diseases in Suffolk County, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtaO-GkF8Yc

To learn more about how mosquitoes are prepared for West Nile virus testing, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebOvsdiln-8.

For further information on West Nile virus, visit the Department of Health Services’ website: http://www.suffolkcountyny.gov/Departments/HealthServices/PublicHealth/PreventiveServices/ArthropodborneDiseaseProgram/PreventingMosquitoBorneIllnesses.aspx

Officials gather to see the cesspool at Alan Marvin’s house in Nesconset on Thursday, Sept. 24. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone (D) gathered with public officials and members of the community on Thursday to celebrate the third annual national SepticSmart Week.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s SepticSmart Week, which runs from Sept. 21 to 25, is a nationally-recognized week meant to inform and encourage homeowners on how to properly maintain their septic systems.

Suffolk County officials also hope this week will educate homeowners on how their septic systems impact local water quality.

“It’s a time to focus on the issues that are and haven driven water quality, and the issues that allow us to reverse the decline we’ve seen in our water quality,” Bellone said.

Suffolk County currently has 360,000 unsewered lots with cesspools and septic systems that contribute to nitrogen pollution in the county’s surface and groundwater, according to a statement from Bellone’s office. More innovative wastewater septic systems and updated programs will help reverse the decades of decline in the county’s water, the county executive said.

“This is a testament to the importance of this problem,” Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D- Setauket) said. “Nitrogen is seeping into our groundwater and reeking havoc.”

Bellone’s “Reclaim Our Water” initiative is one that partners with the liquid waste industry to overhaul the county’s liquid waste licensing program. Changes proposed to the licensing process would require training and continuing education for the many specialized services within the liquid waste field.

“These proposed training and requirements will create accountability and increase consumer confidence, as property owners can be assured that the company they hire has been trained to best service the specific septic system they have and protect Suffolk County’s ground water,” according to a statement from Bellone’s office.

Bellone said a partnership Suffolk County has developed with the Long Island Liquid Waste Association is helping improve relationships between the private sector and their customers in water waste management.

“It’s making sure the private sector is set with the tools they need to help homeowners with these new advanced waste water septic systems,” Bellone said.

Other members of Suffolk County government were excited by the new water quality initiatives.

“We’re involved in a historic initiative in Suffolk County to address a serious threat to our environment and our economy,” Peter Scully, deputy county executive for water quality said. “We’re always happy and anxious to work with the private sector on solutions.”

This event was held at Nesconset resident Alan Marvin’s home. Officials inspected Marvin’s cesspool and observed how it had changed over time.

Marvin said he was lucky to be have been chosen because he learned afterwards that his septic system is set to overflow by December, and he would have had to call for emergency services. He said he was not aware of that.

“It’s an important issue,” he said. “I don’t think most homeowners realize when they go to the bathroom what it affects. This is a good way for Suffolk County residents to learn.”

Farm dog Tucker, the author and her morkie, Charles Crawford up at the crack of dawn. Photo from Stacy Santini

By Stacy Santini

This is the third in a four-part series. Miss part two? Read it here.

As epic as this pilgrimage was for me, I would be remiss if I did not consider the impact this all had on my pup. There were numerous Steinbeck moments as my morkie, Charles Crawford, and I greeted each day. It is with complete certainty that I can say I would not have made it through WWOOFing without my little companion. Not only was he a constant reminder of where we came from, but because of him, I was always home and never lonely.

As I delved further into my self, I witnessed Charlie discover parts of his personality I am not sure he knew existed. His patience was tested on a daily basis as he mingled amongst his peers at Owen Farm. While I was out in the pasture, he would spend his time under Ruth’s watch in the kitchen, befriending our fellow WWOOFers’ long-haired black Chihuahua, Shao. After several initial teeth-baring scuffles, they became companions and would follow each other around, exchanging the alpha role frequently.

Dealing with so many different furry personalities, Farmer Chuck learned how to defend himself against a playful, but aggressive, young yellow Labrador named Tucker and how to avoid the predatory, mountain lion-like feline, Pickles. Always leaning toward the side of caution, I was constantly aware of his whereabouts, as Karl the cow and the Arabians were eager to trample little beings in their way. Charlie held his own, but every night as we fell into bed, we both took slumber comforted by knowing our door was locked and it was only the two of us.

Although WWOOFing at Owen Farm was mostly comprised of labor, there were hilarious moments that, to this day, will make me giggle. One morning, when I was wheelbarrowing the hay out to one of the furthest fields, one of my comrades unbridled the horses too quickly. They came charging for me and I just started running back and forth as fast as I could, dumping all the hay to the ground. I must have looked like a player in a PAC-MAN game as I glanced back and caught Camille and Greg rolling on the ground with laughter.

One evening, late at night, as Charlie and I were cuddled up sleeping, we were awoken to the sound of our latch door lock being jiggled. It was pitch black and stillness had settled on the farmhouse hours beforehand. We were frozen with fear and overwhelmed by visions of Freddy Krueger. I was not prepared to meet my death in this manner and finally gained the courage to put the light on and open the door. In front of me stood the largest cat I had ever seen attempting to open the door with his paw. Surreal, to say the very least.

When our time at Owen Farm came to an end, we said our good-byes, travelled a bit, and headed to the foothills of the White Mountains. Patch Farm in Denmark, Maine, was to be our next WWOOF retreat. Swinging to the other side of the pendulum, Patch Farm is a demesne in its infancy, focused on planting and cultivating organic crops. Owned by a passionate young farming couple, BrennaMae Thomas and Brandon McKenney, arriving there was like reaching nirvana when it comes to rural living.

From the exterior, the residence was a quintessential New England country farmhouse. But when you entered, it resembled a SoHo loft. Together, the couple had renovated and created an immaculate art deco space that was not only comfortable, but so aesthetically appealing that it should have been photographed for Architectural Digest. My room, which was large and refreshing, all white, with a fireplace and views of the White Mountain range, was a welcome change to my prior living conditions. We had plenty of running water and were able to shower or soak our weary limbs in the big claw foot tub on a daily basis. This may not seem extraordinary, but trust me, in the world of New England organic farming, it is a luxury.

Complying with my overall experience, this ambience still brought the unexpected. My bedroom was filled with ladybugs. Hundreds of red wings speckled with black spots clung to the plastic covering our windows, reaching for sunlight. At night, they would drop down and become our bed partners. There was something very joyful about living amongst these little beetles.

Outside of the six goats and twelve chickens, Patch Farm is all about growing and sustainable living. My hosts were extremely rousing about their work and breathed, ate and slept farming, but moderation was their motto when it came to WWOOFers. We did not commence our chores until after 7 a.m. and ate a hearty breakfast and only worked until about one or two in the afternoon. The rest of the time was ours to rest, explore, study and enjoy the simplicity of rural living.

Not to say that the work we assumed was not difficult, as it was, but I often felt as though I was at an agricultural college with BrennaMae as my professor. She was extremely knowledgeable regarding all aspects of sustainable living and permaculture. We would be walking amongst the fields and she would start to zealously jump around as she had just noticed some type of clover growing underfoot.

With enthusiasm, she taught us about crop rotation, the benefits of landscape cloths, and major vegetable families and how they work together. In a very short time I was able to identify Allium, Brassica, Cucurbita and Solanaceae genus groups. We planted seeds in their “state-of-the-art” greenhouse and watched as they germinated and cotyledons began to show.

After some time out in the field and our nose in books, such as “The Earth Care Manual: A permaculture Handbook for Britain and Other Temperate Climates” by Patrick Whitefield, BrennaMae gave us an assignment to design her new permaculture herb garden.

Permaculture is about creating edible landscapes that emulate the symbiotic interactions in a natural ecosystem. After hauling rocks into a tractor to clear the fields for planting — a back-breaking endeavor — or attempting to fold up 350 feet of slippery land-covering in mud, I would retreat to the family room to draw blueprints of mandala and keyhole gardens, my contribution to BrennaMae and Brandon’s potential edible oasis.

Although learning to farm was my main objective, I allowed time to travel and investigate the Northeast. With Charlie riding shotgun, my Jeep Patriot carried us from Portland, Maine back to Saratoga Springs and New Paltz and so many places in between.

Like what you’ve read? Check out the final installment here.

Stacy Santini is a freelance reporter for Times Beacon Record Newspapers. Look for her adventures at Patch Farm in Denmark, Maine, in the next issue of Arts & Lifestyles.

Village park’s redesign unites North Shore community

Port Jefferson middle schoolers Erica Graci, left, and Lucas Welinder, right, display the designs they created that will be turned into two of the tiles that will grace the walls of the park. Photo by Heidi Sutton

By Erin Dueñas

It’s been more than two years that a major renovation for Rocketship Park in Port Jefferson Village has been in the works, and according to former village trustee Adrienne Kessel, chair of the committee dedicated to the redesign, it all started with a light.

The overhaul of the park, formally known as the Clifton H. Lee Memorial Park, began after vandals destroyed some of its equipment, prompting the village to look into repairs in addition to added security features, according to Kessel.

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

As chair of the Treasure Your Parks committee, which operates under the Port Jefferson Harbor Education and Arts Conservancy, Kessel looked into replacing the playground. During her research she realized that what was already in the park made it nearly impossible for anyone with a disability to enjoy it.

“You can’t even push a stroller through,” Kessel said of the sand that covers the park’s surface. “I thought about a child in a wheelchair or even a parent or guardian in a wheelchair or with a cane and how the park was not accessible to them. That had to change.” The goal for the new park is for it to be accessible to everyone, disabled or not. “Every child should have the chance to play. I couldn’t imagine a park a child couldn’t utilize,” she said.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, both newly constructed and altered facilities that accommodate the public — including recreational facilities such as playgrounds — must be readily accessible by people with disabilities. Kessel said the new park will exceed the ADA guidelines with features such as a poured ground surface that will provide easier mobility, a swing that can accommodate a wheelchair and a bridge feature that even those with limited mobility can use.

“We want everyone to have full freedom of the entire park,” Kessel said.

In addition to play features including a tree-shaped climbing piece called Robins Tree House and a play pirate ship, the park will also include sitting walls, natural looking walkways and shade trees.

The Consalvo family of Port Jefferson, who lost their daughter and sister Danielle to a drunk driver 19 years ago, donated funds to create an “enchanted” entry to the park in her memory. “When we heard about the renovation of the park, we knew this would be the perfect place to sprinkle some of her fairy dust,” said her sister Monica Consalvo.

“This timeless children’s park, which was visited by Danielle herself, brings smiles and laughter to all that visit. What was especially captivating to us was how this park would become one to include all children, not just those that easily walked onto the swing or climbed up the ladder of the slide, but to those who were challenged and needed a helpful hand. How inspiring that our small village would create a park that welcomed all and embraced the opportunity for a special needs child to swing alongside their peers,” she added.

Another planned feature also caught the attention of the Consalvo family. A three-sided, free-standing wall will be included in the park, displaying tiles that can be superimposed with artwork or commemorative messages created by members of the community.

According to Monica, Danielle not only enjoyed the park as a child but was an avid artist who was always drawing or sculpting with clay. “The connection was there,” she said.

Students from Port Jefferson Middle School, where Monica teaches special education, raised funds to purchase two mosaic tiles that would appear on the wall. She then organized a contest open to all the middle schoolers calling for original artwork that would appear on the tiles.

“We left it open as to what should be represented on the tiles. We told them what it would be used for, but they were free to put their creativity on it,” Monica said. The student body then voted on artwork entries, choosing two winning tiles last year created by now eighth-grader Erica Graci and now seventh-grader Lucas Welinder.

“What a legacy for a middle school student to have their design in the heart of our village to one day be shown to their children,” said Monica.

“As educators, we often tell our students to celebrate our differences and embrace our uniqueness, but how often do we get the opportunity to create a moment that brings this message to life?” she asked.

Danielle’s mother, Barbara Consalvo, noted that Lucas’ design struck a familiar chord with the family. “It was something very similar to what Danielle would have done. It was such a coincidence,” she said. Barbara said that her family was happy to contribute to a park her daughter used to go to. “When the opportunity presented itself, we wanted to be a part of it,” she said.

Estimates for the renovation are projected at $550,000. According to Kessel, about half of that amount has been secured, but fundraising efforts continue.

A GoFundMe site has been created and a Party for the Park Under the Harvest Moon fundraiser hosted by Ruvo, 105 Wynn Lane, and Old Fields Restaurant, 318 Wynn Lane, Port Jefferson, is scheduled for Oct. 1 from 7 to 10 p.m. The event will take place outside between the two restaurants. Rain date is Oct. 8. Tickets are $50 in advance by visiting www.rebuildrocketship.org or $60 at the door.

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