Port Times Record

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Austin Sperl, left, runs in the 4x400-meter relay race for Comsewogue. Photo by Harry Posnanski

By Clayton Collier

The Comsewogue boys’ track and field program added to an already banner year this past weekend, breaking a pair of school records as six athletes placed at divisionals as the host team.

Having already broken the 100-, 200-, 400- and 1×400-meter relay records this season, the Warriors tacked on to their historic season, taking the 800 and 4×400 relays school records Friday.

Head coach Brad Posnanski, currently in his 19th season at the helm of the program, said this year’s squad has been one of the best teams he has coached at Comsewogue.

Arman Hezarkhani leaps over the hurdle for Comsewogue. Photo from Arman Hezarkhani
Arman Hezarkhani leaps over the hurdle for Comsewogue. Photo from Arman Hezarkhani

“This was probably the best season we’ve had in 12 years,” said Posnanski, whose team will head to state qualifiers at Port Jefferson this coming weekend.

Seniors Austin Sperl and Conner Holroyd, as well as juniors Aidan Reindl and Ivan Almanzar, clocked in at a school record 3 minutes, 23.58 seconds, passing the previous mark by just under a second and taking third in the divisional race.

In the 800, Sperl’s record time of 1:55.73 eclipsed the previous school mark by one-hundredth of a second, taking second place in the divisional meet. In addition to the 4×400 record that the All-State runner anchored, Sperl also holds the school record in the 400 and was part of the record-breaking 4×100 team.

Sperl said the 800 record meant a great deal to him because he has been running the event since eighth grade.

“I was really excited because I didn’t think I got it,” he said. “Then, when I made it to the line, my coach told me. It was sweet. That was probably my favorite school record that I got.”

With a senior core consisting of Sperl, Holroyd, shot-putter Jason Hank, 4×100 team member and hurdler Arman Hezarkhani, and 800-runner Nick Lepore, it was a bittersweet final home meet.

“It was very emotional,” said Hezarkhani, who was sick that day and almost didn’t participate in the meet. “I remember when I was on the blocks for the 400 hurdles; that just kept going through my head: ‘This is the last race, this is the last race.’ It was an awesome way to end my high school career. Not end — almost end it.”

Austin Sperl sprints to the finish line in a relay race at the boys’ divisional meet at Comsewogue. Photo by Harry Posnanski
Austin Sperl sprints to the finish line in a relay race at the boys’ divisional meet at Comsewogue. Photo by Harry Posnanski

Hezarkhani placed fourth in the 400 hurdles. Also placing were Reindl, who took fifth in the triple jump, and junior Gavin Holroyd, who placed seventh in discus.

Hezarkhani and Sperl will be the two seniors continuing their track careers into college. Sperl, who Posnanski described as “one of the top runners” he’s coached, is headed to the University at Albany this fall. Hezarkhani will attend Carnegie Mellon University, a place that he feels will fulfill his various needs.

“I’ve always liked to balance academics and athletics,” he said. “I think I will be able to maintain my excellence in both there.”

Sperl’s mother, Donna, credits the coaching staff for the team’s success, saying the mix between Posnanski and assistant coach Mike Cohen is a winning formula.

“Coach Cohen is very personable, very outgoing and jokes around with them a lot, so it’s a good balance,” she said. “[Posnanski] is very strict and he demands a lot out of them physically, but he’s very quick to text them or call them to tell them ‘good job.’”

Looking ahead toward next year, Comsewogue will return a junior who has already made waves. Almanzar holds the school record in the 100 and 200, with times of 10.9 and 22.2, respectively, and was a member of the record-breaking 4×100 squad. Also among the junior returners are Reindl, Gavin Holroyd and Alex Velasquez; the latter  will return after sitting out the majority of this past season with an injury.

Hezarkhani said that although this season is not finished yet, he is confident in next year’s team’s abilities.

“I think the team is going to be strong,” he said. “We have a lot of talent, a lot of hard workers, and that is just what it comes down to, really.”

The entire company of ‘Puss in Boots’ at Theatre Three. Photo by Sarah E. Bush, Theatre Three Productions Inc.

For too short a time, Theatre Three’s Children’s Theatre is presenting a delightful adaptation of “Puss in Boots” on the Mainstage. Written by Steve McCoy and Jeffrey Sanzel, the story is loosely based on the 17th century fairy-tale by Charles Perrault, sans the ogre and with a surprise ending.

In Theatre Three’s version, ‘Boots’ chronicles the journey of a poor boy named Christopher. Kicked out of his home by his two older brothers and their wives, with no possessions but his father’s cat, Puss, Christopher sets off to the palace of King Vexmus to seek his fortune. He soon discovers that the cat can talk and wants to help him. A plan is hatched to pose as the rich Marquis of Carabas to win the heart of Princess Anafaizia and the adventure begins.

Jeffrey Sanzel directs a cast of 10 adult actors who deliver a first-rate performance. Hans Paul Hendrickson shines in the leading role of Christopher and also serves as storyteller. His kind and sweet personality quickly gains the sympathy of the audience. Amanda Geraci is wonderful as Puss. Your ‘basic cat of all trades,’ she sings and dances in practically every scene with boundless energy.

Jenna Kavaler is the beautiful Princess Anafaizia, who quickly reveals that her beauty is only skin deep. Bobby Montaniz and Andrew Gasparini are a terrific team as Christopher’s mean brothers, Amos and Shank. Their antics up and down the aisles to try to catch Christopher with a large net are priceless. James D. Schultz is in top form as the bumbling King Vexmus. Hilarious as usual, he clearly enjoys being onstage, making children and adults laugh. Schultz is perfectly matched with newcomer Tiffany Bux as Queen Ire. Bickering like an old married couple, they are very entertaining. Dana Bush as Ida, Marquéz as Missy and Gabrielle Comanda as Julia are a great supporting cast.

Choreographed by the super talented Marquéz and accompanied on piano by Steve McCoy, the musical numbers are a real treat, from the sweet duet “Take a Moment for Yourself,” sung by Geraci and Comanda, to the catchy tune of “Song of the Marquis of Carabas.” At last Sunday’s performance, many children were observed rocking back and forth in their seats to the music, taking it all in.

The set is simple but effective, utilizing props from the set of the theater’s evening performances of “Oliver!” Imagination is called for, especially when Puss takes the royal family on a tour of her master’s lands. The costumes, designed by Aimee Rabbitt are spot on, with sharp contrast between the rich and the poor.

Overall, Theatre Three’s “Puss in Boots” is funny, entertaining and a perfect introduction to the magic of live theater. Meet the cast in the lobby after the show for a meet-and-greet and photo opportunities.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson, will present “Puss In Boots” on June 6 and 13 at 11 a.m. followed by “Jack & the Beanstalk” from July 10 to Aug. 7 and “The Pied Piper” from Aug. 7 to 15. Tickets are $10 each, with group discounts for 10 or more. For more information, please call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

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Hurricanes have caused power outages in recent years. File photo

With several emergency services packed into a small area, Port Jefferson Village officials hope to secure a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority toward building a local backup energy grid to be used in case of a crisis.

The village applied for the NYSERDA grant to build the backup grid, known as a microgrid, through a statewide competition because of the critical community services that cannot stop functioning during a power outage, Mayor Margot Garant said.

“During a severe weather event such as we had with [hurricanes] Irene and Sandy, where the hospitals lost power and some of us lost power — some up to 14 days, [and the] hospitals were out eight to 10 days — those … patients that were on critical care services were put in harm’s way,” Garant said at the village board of trustees meeting Monday night. “So basically if we have a microgrid during those severe weather systems … where the overall grid goes down, we flick a switch and keep our critical services online.”

Microgrids are independent of the regional grid and rely on their own power-generating resources. NYSERDA may award up to $40 million total to help communities around New York State build those microgrids.

Port Jefferson Village is not the only municipality on Long Island applying for a slice of the pie. Huntington Town officials recently agreed to pursue the grant funding for their own microgrid, to support buildings like Huntington Hospital and the town’s wastewater treatment plant. And a month ago, NYSERDA awarded the first five grants — $100,000 each — to communities from Buffalo to East Hampton, so the applicants could perform feasibility studies on their projects.

NYSERDA expects to announce the next round of grant winners soon.

“We have two major hospitals, a ferry, a railroad station, our own school district, a village hall, a wastewater treatment facility, a groundwater treatment facility, an ambulance company,” Garant said. “We have a lot of emergency services-related components within a very small radius.”

Port Jefferson is listed on the NYSERDA website as one of five “opportunity zones” on Long Island where microgrids might reduce strain on the regional utility system and have other positive benefits. The other zones are Long Beach, Montauk, Hewlett Bay and Inwood. Statewide, there are eight other regions that have their own opportunity zones.

With a $100,000 grant, the village would work with consultants and local stakeholders, like the fire department, to research the Port Jefferson project. In choosing which projects to award grants to, NYSERDA is using criteria such as the area’s level of vulnerability to outages, how a microgrid would improve community function and the possible effect on ratepayers.

Although power generation and distribution in the United States used to operate at a more local level, the grids have become more regional over time to make the utilities more cost-effective and reliable, according to NYSERDA’s website.

“These systems are, however, vulnerable to outages that can impact large regions and thousands of businesses and citizens, particularly as a consequence of extreme, destructive weather events,” the website said. “Microgrids could help minimize the impact of these outages by localizing power generation, distribution and consumption so that a fallen tree or downed wire will not interrupt critical services for miles around.”

Projects awarded the $100,000 grants to perform feasibility studies will later be eligible to apply for more funding under the NYSERDA program, to advance the microgrid construction efforts.

Robert Pearl will once again take the helm at Norwood Elementary School. File photo by Elana Glowatz

Along with freshly sharpened pencils and blank notebooks, the new school year will also bring several administrative changes to Comsewogue schools.

Special education teacher Robert Pearl will be the new principal at Norwood Elementary School, replacing longtime leader Leah Anesta, and James Hilbert, a John F. Kennedy Middle School social studies teacher and part-time dean, will become the new assistant principal at JFK.

The Comsewogue School Board of Education officially approved Pearl and Hilbert on Monday night, along with some other personnel changes, such as giving 15 educators increased work hours for the upcoming school year, with 10 teachers promoted to fulltime positions.

Pearl served a stint as interim principal from September to December, when Norwood Principal Leah Anesta took a leave of absence to care for an ill parent. Now she is retiring, after being with the district for more than 10 years.

Pearl, who has lived in the community for almost two decades, has said he would like to increase the elementary school’s involvement with parents and the community.

Hilbert’s hiring is part of a more complicated switch.

Comsewogue was operating with a dean at the middle school and one at Comsewogue High School, both part-time officials who had teaching responsibilities. Starting next year, to create more flexibility, those dean positions are being replaced with full-time assistant principals.

Bill Bodkin is retiring as the high school’s dean of students after many years, and is being replaced by two assistant principals: Jinu Mathews, who is already on board, and one more who has yet to be hired to replace Pearl, who entered the high school position upon Anesta’s return but will soon leave to once again step into her shoes.

The middle school already had one assistant principal, Theresa Etts, in addition to part-time dean Hilbert, so there will now be two of those full-time staffers at that school.

County Executive Steve Bellone cites increased savings for taxpayers

Steve Bellone, Barry Paul and John Kennedy, Jr. spotted at a recent press event. Photo from Suffolk County

The merger of the offices of Suffolk County treasurer and the Suffolk County comptroller is being moved up by two years — a move Executive Steve Bellone’s office claims will save taxpayers even more money than originally anticipated.

The treasurer’s office will be folded into the comptroller’s office on Jan. 1, 2016 instead of a planned 2018 deadline, and the groundwork for the transition has already begun, with changes in the treasurer’s office implemented as early as January this year.

A whopping 62 percent of Suffolk County voters overwhelmingly supported a referendum to combine the two offices in a vote , and ever since then, plans have been put into action to complete the merger.

Merging the departments is expected to save taxpayers more than $3 million, according to Bellone’s office in a statement. Moving the merger up by two years saves more money because the county can eliminate positions sooner. Also, implementing new human resources software will allow the county to realize more savings.

The merger includes abolishing the treasurer’s position, as well as two deputy treasurer positions. Five positions have already been eliminated from the treasurer’s office. These positions included staff members who had retired or left the office and were not replaced, since the positions were deemed no longer necessary. 

Interim Treasurer Barry Paul has been spearheading the merger, and it is the main reason he was brought into the position. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone nominated Paul to the post when previous Treasurer Angie Carpenter was named Islip Town supervisor and left the office in early January of this year.

Bellone has worked with Paul and Comptroller John M. Kennedy Jr., whose two offices will become one. However, at first, Kennedy was not in favor of the merger. During Kennedy’s campaign for comptroller last year, he strongly opposed the referendum and the merger.

“I had concerns with the separation of functions and the new oversight of the two offices,” Kennedy said. Once he was elected into office and realized the public’s support for the move at the polls, Kennedy said he altered his point of view.

“I try to be guided by the will of my constituents, and they wanted to see consolidation so I am now on board,” Kennedy said.

Originally the merger was scheduled to be complete in January 2018, since Carpenter’s term as treasurer was from 2015 to 2017. Once Carpenter stepped down, there was an opportunity to bring on Paul and speed up the process.

Previously, Paul was a Bellone staffer, and once he finishes overseeing the merger of the treasurer’s office with the comptroller’s office, he will return to his post there. For Paul, the treasurer appointment was always a short-term assignment.

“All existing personnel from the treasurer’s office will go under Kennedy, and Kennedy has really embraced that,” Suffolk County Deputy County Executive Jon Schneider, who has worked on the merger as well, said in a phone interview. “This merger will save taxpayers money, while delivering better services.”

Another place that the treasurer’s office has been able to save money is with regards to a backlog of providing tax refunds. As of May 14, the backlog tax refunds were reduced by a third, coming down to 7,810, whereas over a month before, the number of backlog tax refunds was 11,830, according to Bellone’s office.

The backlog is expected to be completely eliminated by July, and will save the taxpayers more than a million dollars in reduced interests costs annually.

The new merged office will also host Munis software in the county’s IT system, which will save another $150,000 to $200,000 dollars. Munis is an integrated enterprise resource planning system that manages all core functions, including financials, human resources, citizen services and revenues.

In a statement, Paul said he has been following Bellone’s mandate to make the treasurer’s office as efficient as possible, and is confident in this timeline and the work his office has been doing to save taxpayer dollars.

New York native to start on July 6

MaryEllen Elia succeeds John B. King Jr. as the state’s next education commissioner. Photo from state education department
MaryEllen Elia succeeds John B. King Jr. as the state’s next education commissioner. Photo from state education department

MaryEllen Elia, a former Florida superintendent, will succeed John B. King Jr., as New York’s next education commissioner and local education leaders across the North Shore are anxiously waiting to see if she’ll pass the test.

The New York State Board of Regents formed a seven-member search committee in January to find a replacement for King, who announced he was leaving his seat after accepting a federal senior advisor position to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

For a decade, Elia served as the superintendent of Hillsborough County, Florida, and was named state Superintendent of the Year in 2015. She is credited with much success in Hillsborough, as her district won $100 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help develop a teacher evaluation system that used student standardized test scores as a key factor.

The system, Empowering Effective Teachers, received national praise from Duncan and the American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, who stated in a press release the system provides extensive support for teachers and pay structure incentivizes teachers to take on more challenging positions.

Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said in a press release that Elia has a remarkable record of working collaboratively with parents, students and teachers to get things done, which was crucial to make sure the implementation of the Common Core Learning Standards went smoothly for students and teachers in Florida.

Elia is delighted to return back to New York, and said in a press release that she is happy to work on behalf of the children. She still considers herself a teacher at heart, and believes that a good teacher is also a good listener.

The New York native had her first teaching job in Sweet Home Central School District in Amherst, N.Y., where she taught social studies for 16 years. In 1986, when her family moved to Florida, she became a reading teacher for three years and then held various administrative positions in the district until her departure.

During Elia’s 10-year tenure as superintendent of Hillsborough, students have received national recognition for their achievement. Fourth and eighth grade students earned high reading scores than any of the other 22 districts that participated in the 2013 Trial Urban District Assessment.

All of Hillsborough districts public high schools placed on the Washington Post’s list of “America’s Most Challenging High Schools” in 2012 and 2013.

Former state education Commissioner John B. King Jr. at a community forum. File photo by Erika Karp
Former state education Commissioner John B. King Jr. at a community forum. File photo by Erika Karp

King stepped down last December amidst much controversy, specifically for his methods of implementing the highly controversial Common Core in New York.

Superintendents, politicians and members of the community all found problems with King’s techniques, feeling that the Common Core was rushed into the schools and not given enough time for teachers and students to understand it. Another fault was his background, which lacked any teaching jobs. King was a co-founder of Roxbury Prep, a charter middle school in Massachusetts.

“I was the first to call for his resignation, he developed a hostile approach and seemed oblivious to his role,” New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) said.

Englebright said he hopes Elia will provide a fresh look at the system, and that she’ll bring her background as both a teacher and an administrator to the schools of New York.

One thing is for sure; Elia has her work cut out for her.

“I think she has a monumental task ahead of her, “ Timothy Eagen, Kings Park’s superintendent said. “On Long Island, about 50 percent of students in grades three through eight refused to take the assessments this past year. There is a lot of work to be done.”

Middle Country school district Superintendent Roberta Gerold felt there wasn’t a collaborative culture surrounding the application of the Common Core under King’s tenure.

“There needs to be a responsible conversation, and I don’t think we had that with King, he was reluctant to slow down,” said Gerold, who also serves as president of the Suffolk County School Superintendents Association.

Fellow superintendent, Joe Rella, of Comsewogue, said he is desperate for a more collaborative and ongoing conversation.

“This reform dialogue needs to stop, he said. “We need time to examine what has happened. I am optimistic on Elia’s hiring until further notice.”

The superintendent’s prayers may just be answered, as Elia stated that her first item of business as commissioner will be listening to the members of the community, parents, teachers, students and administrators.

Johanna Testa, vice president of the Miller Place Board of Education, said while she is 100 percent happy to see a new commissioner, who has experience teaching in New York, she still has some concerns over Elia’s track record of student test scores being tied to teacher evaluations.

“I’m just not convinced she’s the right person for the job,” Testa said.

Cedar Beach file photo

By Madeleine Emilia Borg

I have a very hard time saying goodbye. It becomes particularly apparent when something that has been there your whole life as a constant reminder that things are as they should be, suddenly one day is snatched away from you. Somewhere I have known that it can’t always go on this way. That this will also have to come to an end. Still, once it occurs, it is no less devastating.

It’s truly amazing to have had a place to return during the summertime. Loving arms that have welcomed me and a bed to sleep in, its worn lace spread getting thrown off every single night because of the nearly unbearable heat. And as soon as I had the light on, all the bugs ended up in the book I was reading. Almost always that book was borrowed from the Port Jefferson Free Library. Despite the various little critters, I would never trade those nights and days for anything in the world.

The Beach House, hidden away in Miller Place, Long Island and the people I’ve shared my experiences with there own a piece of my heart. With its typical northeastern faded gray shingles, the black roof one can crawl onto out of almost every room upstairs and the dreamy view all the way to Connecticut, where the fire works during Fourth of July light up the horizon as if it is burning. And for the first time in my life I won’t be able to visit it again. Because sometimes even old houses at New York’s end that have served as second homes must be emptied of all memories and sold to another family who can harvest the same pleasures and joys from it as much as its past cherishing owners.

The winding gravel path up from the road where the trash cabinet stands, its carved out blue whales on both doors and the sign in the tree with the black painted letters “Henry’s Place”, indicating that a home lurks beyond all the overgrown lush greenery.

The barefoot schlepp from the splintery board walk bridge up the steep slope, when the soles of our feet are numb after stepping around on tiny rocks laid scattered all over the dazzling white beach, but which we’ve always called pebbles and therefore they feel somewhat kinder than ordinary stone.

The outdoor shower that stills smells so much of cedar wood and security although it is over 23 years old. When I let the tepid water sprinkle down over my sun flushed shoulders it doesn’t hurt even a bit.

Below the hill where the magnificent deer family usually observes us through the screen window in the kitchen as we prepare for dinner making a salad. Slicing satiny tomatoes, chopping onions and carving out avocados that we’ve carefully selected at Jimmy’s down the road. He always sneaks butterscotch and sour watermelon lollipops into the grocery bags.

Having trouble falling asleep and the feeling of time standing completely still, while impatiently awaiting the next morning when I’ll hear the much anticipated sound of car doors opening and the rest of my favorite people. Uncles and aunts and cousins I call siblings will come up the driveway with smiles bigger than their faces. We’ll be racing down the stairs, the aching stir pounding under my rib cage.

Freshly caught seven-dollar lobsters from the little fish store that Nana brings in brown paper bags, the ones we dip into melted butter for our own version of a Swedish crayfish party. My cousins and I squeal from the carpet stairs in enchantment mingled with terror as we sit and watch how she puts them in the big black boiling pot, one by one. Afterwards my brother throws the remains to the seagulls after we gingerly go down to the water and rinse off. He really should get into baseball, someone says and we stop and grill marshmallows until we need to find our way back with a flashlight.

When my younger cousin and I as eight- and 10-year-olds invade our grandparent’s closets, smear on all the makeup we can find, attach the loose fitting garments with sparkly hair clips and wobble down the long stairs in way too high heels, feeling them slightly chafe but it doesn’t really matter because we hear everyone clapping and cheering us on from below.

Thirty-one years ago, my family purchased a beach home in Miller Place. It became a haven and gathering place for three generations of families and friends. It was a place of endless parties, a place for recuperation and healing. Located on four acres of land plus beachfront property, with unobstructed views of the Long Island Sound, it was truly a place of sanctuary back in the day, when Miller Place was full of sod fields, not strip malls and homes … but people get old, families and friends drift apart and life takes us all on different paths. Very sad to have given it up … but sometimes letting go breathes new life into all. My 21-year-old niece, Madeleine, who grew up in Sweden, spent the last 18 summers at the beach house with us. These are her memories. — Paul Singman

Early, calm crossword puzzle breakfasts with Poppy on the porch when the air is still clean and pure, only a few motor boat’s distant soothing hum. I make a sesame bagel with salmon and cream cheese, he opts for a bowl of cereal. And so we sit and listen to exactly nothing and just enjoy each other’s presence.

The few bright blue hydrangea bushes that survived the fire we never mention, where I pass the house next door and the contrasting reality looming between the bamboo shoots. Nana planted new ones adjacent to the facade later on, which quickly morphed into something jungle-like. It just grows bigger every year.

The attic holding Mom’s poufy wedding dress, a sandbox shaped like a giant turtle, my great uncle’s trumpet played in grand symphony orchestras, black and white photographs neatly tucked into worn heavy albums with burgundy spines and travel diaries from the sixties.

The huge and frayed weather polished log which fits my little brother and I perfectly in our daily occupations of playing shop and bakery, or reclining on each of its curved sides while trying not to spill our Animal Crackers and cheese sticks in the sand. Nana comes over sometimes to buy a lemon meringue pie and some rolls, or she’s looking for a new gown she can wear to the imaginary ball that very evening. We always have something just right to offer.

During an unusually dramatic and moist storm, the outdoor furniture with blue and white striped cushions blowing off along the corner of the house, lightning strikes down the chimney and dances for a few seconds over the glossy parquet living room floor.

Lazy evenings after a shower when my mother wraps me in a fluffy bathrobe and I clamber up on Nana’s unusually high raised bed. Stacked over bricks overlooking the complete paradise we find ourselves in, we start reading in the mellow comfort of each other’s camaraderie. My best friend. Earlier I left a note that ceremoniously invited her to this particular activity and would like it to continue forever.

The squirrel that gets in through a broken screen at the height of a pine tree, running across the fireplace, leaving adorable sooty paw prints in the sink and in the light purple bathtub which always tends to be filled with foam of lavender and violets, fittingly enough.

The dusty ceiling fan I stand straight beneath, closing my eyes just to breathe in the familiar salt breeze and coconut scent of Coppertone sunscreen which we continue to use even though all of us have grown up, even the smallest ones.

The back den with its sugary wood scent and photo collage of everyone of us from all times and places spread across the entire wall, Every time I look I see something new.

Short adventure walks that turn into running after we discover a vacant diving dock and quickly swim over only to throw oursleves in and scramble back up for hours at a time.

The wine bottle we manage to steal from the liquor cabinet and share with some we’d met the other day at McNulty’s ice cream parlor. Now sitting out among the dunes at the rotunda where we keep the umbrellas and swimming noodles I talk fervently to everyone except the person who’s mouth I’d like to graze with my own but I never dare to.

The bursting cotton candy sky, never ceasing to stun its audience, soon shifting into thick endless navy sprinkled with glowing dots. I look up at them from a swing in the sprawling storybook tree protecting a spot of the otherwise yellowed, prickly lawn. Crickets whose melodies slowly fill the night among the fireflies that we vainly try to capture in glass jars with holes in them.

The grand, annual birthday party in the middle of July that seems to get more stifling the older I get. Guests pouring in from all over the country, people I barely know but like already kiss both my cheeks and take my hand in theirs. Roaring laughter and animated gestures in a flurry of pastel cake frosting and white linen and without much blood involved, we’re still the world’s biggest family and I love each and every one of them.

And finally. The initial, delicious chills finding their way along my spine as I try not to slip getting into that remarkable ocean. All kinds of colors, textures and creatures emerge from underneath as quickly as they vanish and I’ll always be a mermaid here. Inching further in, I hear someone count to three and suddenly I’m completely underneath even though I’d demonstratively spun my hair up in a bun earlier to catch as many freckles as possible. I guess this is what heaven feels like. As I loosen the elastic from my head, I let myself float up slowly, opening my eyes to the glittering murky light and greeting a sun burning my forehead in a way that is only divine.

Goodbye beautiful house, you will be dearly missed.

Costly joyride
A 28-year-old Commack man was arrested in Smithtown on May 21 and charged with second-degree grand larceny of property valued over $50,000. Police said that on May 20 the man entered a fenced yard on West Jericho Turnpike in Smithtown and stole a Ford F250 pickup truck and trailer, loading it with a type of equipment. The man was also charged with fourth-degree criminal possession of marijuana, third-degree burglary and unlawful growing of cannabis at his Scarlett Drive residence.

Bowled over
A 31-year-old Melville man was arrested on May 21 and charged with petit larceny. Police said that on April 28 at about 9 p.m., the man took cash from a bowling bag.

Assaulter apprehended
A 22-year-old man from Oakdale was arrested on May 21 and charged with two counts of assault, one charge in third degree. Police said that the man kicked a female victim who was lying on the ground at about 2 am at a location on Ocean Avenue in Ronkonkoma. Around the same time he struck a male victim with a baseball bat at the same location.

Senior struck
Police arrested an 18-year-old man from Smithtown on May 23 and charged him with second-degree
assault, injuring a victim 65 years or older. Police said the young man punched a male victim at the Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove at about 4:45 p.m. numerous times, causing him head and face injuries. The assailant was arrested at his home on Hofstra Drive in Smithtown later that day.

Smash ’n dash
An unknown person smashed the rear window of a 2005 Honda Pilot on Nesconset Highway in Smithtown and stole a backpack and laptop. The incident occurred between 9:30 and 10:15 p.m. on May 21.

Porsche problems
Someone stole Tiffany sunglasses and a child’s pocketbook out of a 2015 Porsche parked at a movie theater in on Route 347 in Stony Brook on May 21. The incident happened sometime between 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Helmet heist
A male complainant told police someone stole his Rangers hockey helmet while he was at Napper Tandy’s Irish Pub on East Main Street, Smithtown on May 20. The incident occurred sometime between midnight and 2 a.m.

Mailbox mischief
Someone pulled a mailbox off its post and damaged it on 1st Avenue in Kings Park on May 23 at 1:30 a.m. There are no arrests.

Drug bust
A 19-year-old woman from Lake Grove and a 17-year-old man from Stony Brook were arrested on May 20 at about 6:40 p.m. in Stony Brook on drug-related charges. Police said the Lake Grove woman was charged with loitering and unlawful use of a controlled substance after being observed in a car on the corner of Shelbourne Lane and Sycamore Circle in Stony Brook with the man, purchasing prescription pills from him without a prescription. Police said the man, who is from Shelbourne Lane, was charged with three counts of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance with the intent to sell and fourth-degree criminal possession of marijuana.

Car theft
An unknown person scratched the driver side of a 2012 Kia at the beach on Christian Avenue, entered the car and stole cash from a pocketbook inside. The incident occurred between 11:30 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. on May 24.

Not so bright
A glass sunroof on a 2007 Hummer parked on Woodfield Road in Stony Brook was smashed with a large rock, sometime between 11 p.m. on May 22 and 3 p.m. on May 23.

iSad
Someone broke the driver side window of a 2014 Nissan Sentra parked on Nesconset Highway and stole an iPad mini sometime between 7 and 9:30 p.m. on May 21.

Vehicle damaged
An unknown person damaged a 2007 Subaru parked on Cinderella Lane in Setauket-East Setauket sometime between 10 a.m. on May 23 and 10 p.m. on May 25.

Phone jacked
An unknown male went into a female complainant’s pocketbook and took her white iPhone sometime at 2 p.m. on May 20 at Stop&Shop on Route 25A in East Setauket.

Tire trouble
Someone punctured the front passenger side tire of a 2009 Honda Civic parked in a lot on Main Street in Setauket-East Setauket on May 22.

Wallet woes
An unknown person removed a Stop&Shop shopper’s wallet containing cash and gift cards on Route 25A in Setauket-East Setauket sometime between 2:15 and 2:30 p.m. on May 20.

Department store dash
Someone entered Kohl’s on Nesconset Highway and fled with assorted items without paying for them at about 4:50 p.m. on May 21 in Setauket-East Setauket.

Caught with drugs
Police arrested a 26-year-old East Setauket man at about 11 p.m. on May 21 and charged him with second-degree criminal contempt and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. Police said the man was arrested on Ringneck Lane for violating an order of protection and was found in possession of heroin.

ID, please
A High Street homeowner in Port Jefferson reported that his employee identification card was stolen out of his 2006 Subaru in the afternoon on May 23.

Unlocked
An unknown person stole items from an unlocked 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee parked inside an open garage on Nadia Court in Port Jefferson. According to police, the person stole a GPS device, a purse, a phone charger and a debit card on May 20.
An unknown person stole men’s sunglasses from an unlocked Dodge Durango parked outside an East Broadway residence in Port Jefferson on May 20.

Double trouble
Two vehicles, a 2003 Ford and a 2014 BMW, were keyed and scratched on May 20 on Old Post Road in Port Jefferson.

First-class crime
A Shore Road resident in Mount Sinai reported on May 22 that their metal mailbox had been damaged.

Look through my window
A Helme Avenue resident in Miller Place reported that a window screen located in the back of their home had been damaged on May 21.

Not playing around
An unknown person pushed an air-conditioning unit into a home on Bayville Drive in Sound Beach in order to gain entrance on May 22 and stole one PlayStation and one Nintendo console.

Uprooted
A Robin Road homeowner in Rocky Point reported on May 24 that someone had removed pots and planters and tossed them throughout the backyard. The resident also noticed a rear gate at the home was open.

Stylish thief
Police arrested and charged an 18-year-old Miller Place woman with petit larceny on May 22 after she concealed various shirts and costume jewelry at the Rocky Point Kohl’s and went to leave without paying for the merchandise.

Taking sides
An unknown person threw rocks at an Oxhead Road home in Centereach and damaged the siding of the residence on May 24.

Getting smashed
A North Coleman Road man in Centereach reported that he found the rear window of his 2004 Chevy smashed by a stone when he got up and went to his car on May 25.

Sliced
An unknown person damaged a garden hose — possibly with a knife — at a Norwalk Lane residence in Selden on May 24.

Dollar dollar bills
Police arrested a 26-year-old Medford woman in Selden on May 23 for stealing assorted goods and personal care products from a Selden dollar store.

Shout!
A Middle Country Road gas station employee reported that a man came into the station’s convenience store and started shouting on May 20. The suspect then got into his car and rammed one of the gas station vacuums, causing damage.

Kiernan Urso as Oliver, Jennifer Collester Tully as Nancy and Steve McCoy as Bill Sikes in a scene from ‘Oliver!’ Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

By Stacy Santini

Bravo! Bravo! The vociferous roar emanating from the admiring standing spectators after the closing act at Theatre Three last Saturday evening was definitely symbolic of the caliber of Jeffrey Sanzel’s “Oliver!” Sanzel recreates Broadway on our local stage as only he can do with this meritorious musical, once again proving that his ability to recreate classical gems in such an appealing manner is unsurpassed. Adults and children alike gleefully piled into the bustling near sold out theater anticipating how this Dickens masterpiece would unfold; and unfold it did, brilliantly.

Of the numerous adaptations of Charles Dickens’ second novel, “Oliver Twist,” Lionel Bart’s accommodation emphasizes the author’s thematic visions exquisitely, and it is no surprise that Andrew Lloyd Weber credits Bart as the father of the British musical. It premiered at the Wimbledon Theatre on June 30, 1960, and much like the original director/choreographer team of Peter Coe and Malcolm Clare, Theatre Three’s Jeffrey Sanzel and Marquez have created a production of potential award winning magnitude.

“Oliver!” is the tale of a young orphan boy who unbeknownst to him was born into a wealthy lineage. Seemingly destined to a life toiling away in 1800 workhouses, his fate takes a turn when he meets a group of thieving pickpockets masterminded by a man named Fagin. The triumph of good over evil eventually prevails, but the ending is secondary to the journey Oliver must take to reach that destination.

Kiernan Urso as Oliver at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson. Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.
Kiernan Urso as Oliver at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson. Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

With a cast of 57, many still in middle school, this could not have been an easy feat, but the synchronization, timing and actual performances are so exceptional that the enormity of the show takes a back seat to the world-class depiction as it releases itself to the audience.

The moment Kiernan Urso takes the stage as Oliver viewers are held captive. His sweet, melodic British accent and sympathy-evoking countenance are merely precursors for his performance of the infamous song, “Where Is Love?” It is all over after that as the audience is utterly and completely engrossed in the story line.

As his savior, Mr. Brownlow, played by Ron Rebaldo states, “There is something in that boy’s face,” and yes there is. Kiernan, a sixth-grader at Longwood Middle School, undoubtedly will be adding numerous roles to his repertoire in years to come.

Each actor in this musical has certainly earned his or her placement among this ensemble, but there are a few that not only stand out but soulfully elevate their characters to lofty heights and usher this “Oliver!” into a new dimension.

Dickens’ examination of external influences corrupting what is innately pure could not be depicted without the character of Fagin, portrayed by Sanzel. Not only does he direct “Oliver!” but he also takes the stage as this charismatic charlatan. We are all used to seeing him as Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol,” which he does so phenomenally that one would think it would be an adjustment to see him in another Dickens’ role, but our fears are very quickly laid to rest when he comes out of the gate with a rendition of “Pick a Pocket or Two” and commands the stage with all the veteran finesse to which viewers have grown accustomed. Sanzel has a unique ability to take unsavory characters and make us not only like them but want to know them. The abhorrent behavior Fagin displays is transcended by Sanzel, and as he rouses with his adolescent gang of thieves we are periodically thrown into hysterics with one liners such as “Go to bed or I will sing again.”

Returning to Theatre Three’s stage is the stunning raven-haired Jennifer Collester Tully as Nancy. Her vocal range is superior and she is resplendent in this role. Struggling with her relationship with the repugnant character Bill Sikes, played by Steve McCoy, she brings new meaning to the cliché of a woman standing by her man. Her performance is so heartfelt that as she sings the forlorn, “As Long As He Needs Me,” we are beguiled to the point of tears. Partnering her with the baron of maleficent characters, Steve McCoy, was smart and their chemistry is palpable. As expected, McCoy portrays Sikes as intensely as he does Jacob Marley in “A Christmas Carol” and Jean Valjean in “Les Misérables.”

More than noteworthy are performances by Linda May as Old Sally and Hans Hendrickson as The Artful Dodger. May’s shrill deliverance of her abusive rants are piercing and repugnant, as they should be, and Hendrickson’s Dodger is amusingly coy.

New to the Theatre Three family is Doug Vandewinckel as Beadle Bumble. As one of the initial characters introduced, his presence on stage cannot be overlooked. The banter between him and Widow Corney, played by Phyllis March, is delightful, and the whimsical, “I Shall Scream” is a welcome debut to the comedic elements of the story.

The set sustaining all the mayhem and debauchery is stark and fitting. The costumes and set design induce a feeling of poverty and desperation. Although the simplicity is not indicative of lack of detail, the production staff — including Ellen Michelmore, James Kimmel, Steven Uihlein, Peter Casdia, Alexander Steiner, Tyler D’Accordo, Kristen Lees, Amanda Meyer, Bonnie Vidal, Brad Wilkens, Tim Moran, Michael Quattrone and Jacob Ziskin — have created a daunting synergistic panorama.

The movement upon stage is perfection. Each nuance as choreographed by Marquez seems obligated to sustain the music and acting laid out before the audience. The accompanying orchestra led by Jackson Kohl realizes the purity of Sanzel and Marquez’s vision fully as well and the talent of musicians Mike Chiusano, Marni Harris, James Carroll, Don Larsen and Kohl should not be overlooked.

“Oliver!” is by far one of the finest productions to grace Long Island stages and exactly as it ought to be. It more than entertains — it delivers countless levels of enjoyment and raises the bar for future artistic aspirations universally. Kudos Theatre Three, Kudos.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present “Oliver!” through June 27 on the Mainstage. Tickets range from $15 to $30. For more information, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

From left, Joe Deriso, Dottie Sottichio and Mary Anne Deriso pose at the farm stand. Photo by Irene Ruddock

By Irene Ruddock

For the past 17 years, Ann Marie’s Farm Stand, owned by Mary Anne Deriso and her husband Joe, has been a fixture on North Country Road in Setauket, providing the community with fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers and friendly conversation.

Season after season, there was always a reason to stop by, whether it was for Ann Marie’s strawberry-rhubarb and blueberry pies, herbs and tomato plants for the garden, a hanging plant for the deck, pumpkins, special goat cheese from an “out east farm,” Christmas trees or just to visit with the goats, bunnies, chickens and Timothy the miniature horse. And who can forget the fresh corn? A summer without fresh-picked corn from Ann Marie’s would be impossible!

It has been the meeting place that Americans so love to find, a place to congregate, almost like a town square. I think we all yearn for that community touch and we surely found it at Ann Marie’s. Artist Al Candia recently commented, “Ann Marie’s is such a wonderful resource to have in the community; there’s a charm to that country farm stand as it is part of the roots of the area. The history of Long Island was always devoted to farming so we all want to hold on to that for as long as possible.”

“It is so inviting and people-friendly that it is like something from a movie about Americana. Ann Marie’s retains the sense of a small-town feel in the finest tradition,” said Assemblyman Steve Engelbright (D-Setauket)in a Dec. 29, 2011, article in the Village Times Herald.

The end of an era is drawing near as the farm stand will close on June 15 to relocate to Port Jefferson Station. The landlord has decided to sell the property.

Stopping in for a visit, I met up with Mary Anne’s daughter Jackie (the farm is named after her third child Ann Marie). “What did you like about living here?” I asked. Jackie replied, “It was very comforting having my parents so close by since our home is right on the property. Living here, you really got to know a lot of people and you always felt like you were a part of the community. When I became a nurse, I realized how many families I knew and were already a part of my life. It made treating them so special to me.”

When I entered the building, I spoke with Dottie Sottichio, who came to Ann Marie’s to work “from the old place [on Old Town Road],” and never left because “I met the two greatest people I ever knew — Mary Anne and Joe Deriso, and now they are part of my family.” Mary Anne says, “Dottie has to stay now because we can’t live without her!” I then sat down with Mary Anne to ask her a few questions about her 17 years in Setauket.

What is the best part of the having the farm stand?
The people! Over the years, the customers have become your friends and they are a part of your everyday life. We developed true friendships — we laughed together, we cried together. We watched all the kids grow up and witnessed the good and the sad parts of their lives. We lived their lives as much as we lived ours. Children who came with their parents now come back to visit and that is always special. They tell us their stories about what they remember about being here. Some are funny, some I can’t tell! But there is such a warmth in my heart for all of them.

What are your fondest memories of the farm stand?
Oh, when the children are playing with the animals and watching my own children grow up here.

What was the biggest surprise?
The biggest surprise was when (in 2011) my aunt called to tell me to look in the [Village Times Herald] paper because there’s a story about me. I asked, “Is it good or bad?” It was then that I learned that I had won “Woman of the Year in Business.” One of my customers even sent flowers. Another surprise is that recently one of our customers insisted on holding the mortgage for us so that we could purchase a little house!

What is it like working with your husband every day?
Working with your husband is “interesting!” Every woman out there knows what I mean! No, honestly, I couldn’t do it without him. We’re a team. He does all the buying and farming and I work behind the desk. It’s been a wonderful journey for us!

What about the other people who worked here?
Well , Tom came to work with us about 20 years ago [at the previous location on Old Town Road] and never left. He’s part of our family now and we visit him often in the Mills Pond Nursing Home in St. James. Claude Riley and everyone who works here usually stay or come back to visit.

What is in your future?
We feel very blessed to have found a new farm stand location at 680 Old Town Road, Port Jefferson Station, right by Jayne Blvd. [The number will be 631-371-6197. The hours will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week.] We will miss our old home and this farm stand, and we really appreciate not only all our customers but the landlord who we had a good working relationship with over the years. They were always there to support us. We are also touched by the benefit art sale that the Setauket Artists are going to have on May 29 and May 30. I hope people come to look at the wonderful art. We are so excited about it. Thanks to everyone for all your years of loyal friendship! Hope to see you at our new farm stand!

Irene Ruddock is coordinator of the Setauket Artists.

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