Times of Huntington-Northport

Prickly
A Hastings Drive woman called police to report an incident of criminal mischief at her Stony Brook home — an unknown person cut branches from the front of her shrub sometime between April 11 at 8 p.m. and April 12 at 10 a.m.

Boozy banter
A man reported to police an incident of harassment on April 12. He told police that at about 8:20 p.m. in the wooded area on the west side of Waldbaums on Nesconset Highway in Setauket-East Setauket, he and another individual who may have been intoxicated made a verbal threat to him.

A leg up
A 36-year-old man from West Hempstead was arrested on Nicolls Road in Stony Brook on April 8 and charged with third-degree criminal mischief of property greater than $250 in value. Police said he kicked a female victim’s passenger door of a 2008 Honda Civic, causing damage, on Church Street in Lake Ronkonkoma on April 4. He was arrested days later in Stony Brook at 3:30 p.m.

Drugged driving
Police said a 21-year-old woman from Setauket was arrested on Old Town Road in Setauket-East Setauket on April 12 and charged with first-degree operating a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs and fifth-degree criminal possession of marijuana. Police said she was driving a 2006 Nissan southbound on Old Town Road when she was pulled over at about 6:40 p.m.

Reckless
A 22-year-old man from Centereach was arrested in Setauket-East Setauket on April 11 at about 5 a.m. and charged with first-degree reckless endangerment and first-degree burglary. Police said the man fired a shotgun on Ringneck Lane in Setauket. Police also tacked on a burglary charge at the precinct — they said on March 29, at about 3 a.m., the man went into a home on Old Town Road and struck a man in the head.

Shoplifter caught
Police said a 32-year-old man from Southampton was arrested in Setauket-East Setauket on April 10 and charged with petit larceny. Police said he was arrested at the corner of Chester and Belle Meade Road for stealing assorted items from Walmart in South Setauket at about 10:20 p.m.

Busted with heroin
Police said a 28-year-old old man was arrested in Stony Brook on April 7 and charged with third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, with the intent to sell. Police said that at about 12:45 p.m. on Route 347 on April 7 he was in possession of heroin in a 2014 Chevy Camaro.

Sweater snatcher
Someone stuffed a sweater into a purse and walked out of Target in South Setauket on Pond Path on April 7 at 2:05 p.m. without paying for it.

Taxi!
A cab was waiting outside of a Port Jefferson Main Street bar on April 12 when shortly after 3 a.m. a man walked up to the vehicle and kicked the side view mirror.

Punched
An argument on Main Street in Port Jefferson got physical on April 11 when one of the people punched the other in the face.

What a tool
Two unknown people entered a storage facility property on Jamaica Avenue in Port Jefferson on April 10, just before midnight, and removed a toolbox from a pickup truck.

Undeserved tip
A male entered a counter service restaurant on Main Street in Port Jefferson on April 9 and removed the tip jar. Two others accompanied the man, who then took the money and disposed of the jar.

Need a lift
Police reported an unknown person, or persons, shattered a 2014 Jeep’s liftgate on April 7 on Main Street in Port Jefferson.

Do not disturb
A resident of Henearly Drive in Miller Place reported receiving a dozen harassing phone calls from an unknown caller from April 7 to April 8.

Pocketed
A 2005 Honda Odyssey owner reported that a pocketbook containing credit cards and cash was stolen from the vehicle while it was parked on Miller Place Road in Miller Place on April 6.

Tracked
A resident of Halesite Drive in Sound Beach reported that an unknown person put a tracking device on his Jeep Cherokee. The incident was reported on April 9.

Through the basement window
Between 10:30 a.m. and 11: 30 p.m. on April 11, an unknown person broke a home’s basement window on Begonia Road in Rocky Point. Police said no items were taken from the home, and it doesn’t appear anyone entered the residence.

Call the coppers
A home on Hallock Landing Road in Rocky Point was ransacked at some point between April 8 and April 12. According to police, copper piping and various electronics were stolen from the residence.

Parking wars
Police responded to a confrontation at the Walmart parking lot in Centereach on April 11. Police said a woman reported that after opening her door and accidently hitting another person’s car, the individual became angry and started yelling. They then keyed the side of her vehicle.

Re-routed to jail
A 24-year-old Centereach woman was arrested in Centereach on April 7 for petit larceny after she stole routers, cables and merchandise from a Centereach store on March 24.

Slashed
A complainant on Elmwood Avenue in Selden reported his 2005 Ford’s tires were slashed on April 10.

Burglar caught
Police arrested a 22-year-old Centereach man on April 11 in connection with a March 29 burglary in which he and another person entered an East Setauket dwelling, threatened its inhabitant with a handgun and then struck the victim on the head. The man was charged with first-degree burglary with a dangerous instrument.

Put a ring on it
A 20-year-old Ronkonkoma man was arrested in Selden on April 10 for fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property. Police said the man sold a stolen ring at a pawnshop.

Getting physical
A 24-year-old woman from Lake Ronkonkoma was arrested in Smithtown on April 12 and charged with third-degree assault, with intent to cause physical injury. Police said that on April 11 at 1:35 a.m. on Church Street in Lake Ronkonkoma she punched a female victim in the head, and the victim required medical attention. The woman was arrested at the precinct in Smithtown.

Joyride
Three individuals were arrested after midnight in Smithtown on April 11 after police conducted a traffic stop on Jericho Turnpike and found drugs on passengers seated in a 2003 Chrysler. A 21-year-old man from Ridge and a 22-year-old man from Centereach were both arrested and charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance — heroin. A 21-year-old from Bellport was also arrested and charged with fifth-degree criminal possession of marijuana.

Shoplifter busted
Police said a 23-year-old man from Commack was arrested in Smithtown on April 11 and charged with petit larceny. The man took assorted items from a Walmart on Veterans Highway in Smithtown at about 11 a.m. without paying for them. He was arrested at that location.

Pills, CD player, taken
Someone reported to police that a CD player and prescription drugs were stolen from a location on Bishops Road in Smithtown sometime between 8 p.m. on April 1 and 3 a.m. on April 11. There are no arrests.

Screen damaged
Someone cut the screen window of a residence on Lisa Court in Nesconset at 3 p.m. on April 3, though nothing was stolen from the location. There are no arrests.

Spending spree
A Clover Lane resident of Kings Park reported to police that his or her identity was stolen last week. An unknown person attempted to make purchases using a Citibank credit card. The attempted purchases didn’t go through, police said. The person tried to buy groceries from a supermarket in Astoria, items from an Armani Exchange in Staten Island and items from a Macy’s in Staten Island.

Angry customer
Police said they received a report of a disorderly customer at a West Jericho Turnpike location in Smithtown on April 8 at about 2:30 p.m. Police said the customer picked something up from off the counter and threw it against the wall, damaging the item to the tune of $50.

Time-less
A complainant told police that her watch went missing from her home on Hunter Place in Smithtown, sometime between 2 and 4 p.m. on April 3.

Windshield damaged
Someone reported to police that the windshield of a 2015 Kia Soul parked in the driveway of a Belinda Court home in Nesconset was cracked sometime between 7 p.m. on April 10 and 8 a.m. on April 11.

Items jacked
Someone cleaned out a 2014 Volkswagen Passat parked on Landing Road in Kings Park. A complainant reported that several items were stolen from within the car: tools, clothing, money, a driver’s license, paperwork and other items. The incident occurred at 9:48 p.m. on April 9, according to video surveillance.

Pizza with a side of punch
A 37-year-old man from Greenlawn was arrested in Huntington on April 12 and charged with disorderly conduct, fighting and violent behavior. Police said he punched a man in the nose in front of Little Vincent’s Pizzeria on New York Avenue in Huntington at about 2:15 a.m.

Hulk smash!
A 28-year-old man from Huntington was arrested in Huntington on April 10 and charged with criminal mischief, with intent to damage property. Police said that at 3:15 p.m. on March 30 he kicked the bumper and ripped off the passenger side mirror of a 2010 Honda Accord on Park Avenue. He also threatened a male victim with a hammer.

Female struck
Police said a 27-year-old man from Huntington was arrested in Huntington on April 12 and charged with third-degree assault, with intention to cause physical injury. The man struck a female victim in the face at about 2 a.m. in East Northport at 2nd Avenue and 4th Street. He was later arrested on Route 25 and Round Swamp Road in Huntington.

Cop kicked, spat on
A 16-year-old female from Huntington Station was arrested in Huntington on April 11 and charged with second-degree harassment. Police said she kicked a uniformed officer in his legs at 11:50 p.m. on Tuthill Street. She also later spit on the police officer at the precinct.

Shoplifter caught
An 18-year-old East Northport woman was arrested in Huntington on April 7 and charged with petit larceny. Police said she stole assorted items from Walgreens on Larkfield Road in Commack on April 4 at 9:40 a.m.

Wallet, phone taken
Someone removed a female’s wallet and phone from Finley’s of Green Street in Huntington at 1 a.m. on April 12. Police said the complainant reported that a wallet containing credit card, her iPhone, cash, driver’s license were stolen.

Woman struck
A female bartender at The Dublin Jack in East Northport on Larkfield Road reported a male suspect struck her across the face at 3:20 a.m. on April 11. There were no injuries.

Jewelry lifted
An unknown person stole assorted jewelry from a home on New York Avenue in Huntington sometime between April 6 at 9 p.m. and April 10 at 7 p.m. There are no arrests.

Scammed
A White Hill Road resident in Lloyd Harbor reported to police on April 7 that he or she was the subject of a scam. Someone called the home claiming they were from the IRS.

The Northport Public Library. File photo from library

Northport-East Northport Public Library district voters overwhelmingly approved a nearly $10 million budget to fund both Northport and East Northport libraries’ operations in 2015-16.

The voters also elected two trustees —incumbent Georganne White and newcomer Jacqueline Elsas, according to library Director James Olney in a phone interview on Wednesday. Longtime trustee Robert Little, who had sat on the board for 13 years and sought reelection, did not win another term.

In total, 530 people voted in favor of the budget, while 68 people voted “No,” Olney said. “I’m actually very pleased with the figures,” he said. “The 530 is not only great, but we tend to have about 100 ‘No’s each year and I’m happy to see those numbers decline.”

As far as trustees go, White was the top vote getter, amassing 415 votes. She was elected to a five-year term. Elsas received 358 votes and was elected to serve a four-year term, filling the seat of former trustee Patricia Flynn who stepped down early to become a district court judge. Little received 285 votes.

The library’s spending plan translates to an approximately $6.80 increase in taxes for an average library district resident with a home assessed at $4,000. And the proposed budget stays within a New York State-mandated cap on tax levy increases.

Some of the highlights of next year’s budget include increased funding for adult, teen and children programming, $140,000 in capital and technological improvements at both buildings; an uptick in professional fees and a decrease in projected revenues. The tax levy will increase from $9.5 million to $9.6 million, or about 1.46 percent.

Olney said he is happy with the results and the library is now looking ahead to May, when library staff will be hosting a celebration marking 75 years of public library service in East Northport. That celebration, which is open to the public, will take place on Saturday, May 16 at 1:30 p.m. at the East Northport Public Library on Larkfield Road. It will feature games for children, crafts, a pickle booth, historical artifacts and more.

“It will be a nice time,” Olney said.

Spending plan includes funding for 25 positions

Jim Polansky file photo by Rohma Abbas

The Huntington school board voted to adopt a $120.3 million proposed 2015-16 budget that funds nearly 25 additional positions, including a new high school assistant principal, as well as two additional soccer teams at J. Taylor Finley Middle School.

Board members adopted the spending plan at a meeting on Monday night, but not without lengthy discussion on one last-minute budget amendment to add girls and boys soccer teams to Finley. A majority of board members were in favor of including about $38,000 in funding for the two teams, something for which some parents have been clamoring. However, board President Emily Rogan and Vice President Jennifer Hebert were against the move. The pair said they felt the money could better benefit students in other ways, like funding a full-time primary school librarian, an additional psychologist at the high school or putting the money toward robotics.

“While I am a big supporter of sports … I don’t necessarily think that adding another soccer team to the middle school is going to reach as many kids as some of the other things we’ve talked about,” Rogan said.

In the end, trustees Tom DiGiacomo, Bill Dwyer, Xavier Palacios and Bari Fehrs supported adding the teams. DiGiacomo said parents have long been requesting the teams.

“This is not an anomaly,” he said. “This is something that has been in the conversation for several years now.”
The 25 additional positions are a mix of instructional, noninstructional, administrative and contingency staff, Superintendent Jim Polansky said in an interview on Wednesday morning. The superintendent said 11.7 positions are instructional and six are noninstructional, the latter including some teachers’ aides. The number also includes the addition of a new high school assistant principal position, a district Science, Engineering, Technology and Math, also known as STEM, coach and five contingency positions. Contingency positions are included in the budget in case they’re needed based on enrollment or other factors.

In Monday night’s budget presentation, Polanksy unveiled the district’s state aid figures. The district will be getting an additional nearly $1.5 million in aid from the state next year, bringing the total to about $14.1 million.

The aid will allow the district to pay for five contingency positions, at a cost of $352,275, the high school assistant principal at $193,859 and the district STEM coach at $89,361. Those costs include salary and benefits, according to Polansky’s presentation.

An additional assistant principal is needed to assist with managing the 1,400-student high school and collecting data on teachers. Polansky said currently, two administrators oversee operations there, and if one student is having a bad day, an administrator could spend an entire day working on the issue, leaving the high school in the hands of one administrator.

If approved by voters on May 19, the budget would increase by 2.36 percent over this year’s spending plan, from $117.6 million to $120.3 million. The budget stays within a state-mandated cap on property tax levy increase. For the average resident with a home assessed at $3,622, taxes would increase next year by about $184.

The budget also includes a proposition asking voters to allow the district to spend just over $1 million in capital monies it already has in reserve to pay for state-approved projects.

The school board budget hearing is on May 11, and the budget vote and trustee election are on May 19.

New DNA-based marker technology to aid town residents in securing property

Above, a view of the technology, called DNANet. Photo from Applied DNA Sciences

A new public safety pilot program in Huntington Station puts crime-fighting in the hands of residents by providing them with innovative DNA-based technology to mark up property susceptible to burglary.

Last week, Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) was joined by County Executive Steve Bellone (D) and other elected officials in Huntington Station, where a new device manufactured by Stony Brook-based Applied DNA Sciences was introduced as part of a pilot program in the town. The kit called DNANet comes with a special marker that can be used to mark up to 100 valuables and assets in a home in an effort to keep track of goods if stolen or removed from the home.

“When I was approached last year by the scientists at Applied DNA Sciences with this unique technology, it was clear that it has great potential to be an effective tool in keeping communities safer,” Spencer stated in a press release. “Increasing public safety in Huntington Station and all of Suffolk County has always been a central focus of mine. Bringing in this resource will make this great community even better.”

Suffolk County is paying for the pilot program, which will cost $25,000.

The kits will be distributed to 500 homes in Huntington Station in areas with high burglary rates. Residents will be asked to perform in the study, mark up items and register them with the company.

The mark is not visible to the naked eye. A UV lamp will be needed to see the distinctive mark.

“You can’t see it [and] you can’t scratch it off,“ Spencer said in a phone interview Monday.

When items are stolen, burglars tend to trade the goods to pawn shops for quick cash. The new device will also force shop owners to carefully record data when items are pawned.

“Now it will be harder to pawn stolen goods,” Spencer said.

Once an item with the DNA code is run through the website’s database, it will match to a particular person and address. In the past, reuniting goods with an owner has proved to be difficult because there is no proof of ownership, according to Spencer. The mark would help prove ownership, he said.

Spencer hopes this new initiative will help increase item recoveries, theft convictions and decrease low level petit theft.

“This technology is another tool our police can use against crime,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said in a press release. “Our police will be able to address and solve theft of personal property with the information made available by DNAweb.”

According to Spencer, studies show the DNA mark has proven to last up to 350 years. Also if the owner sells an item, a call can be made to have the item removed from the database to prevent confusion.

The program is expected to begin in Huntington Station and Huntington shortly as officials wanted to focus in areas with high crime. The program will be evaluated after six months to see if there has been an improvement in recoveries and convictions. Residents who participate in the program can also put signs on their lawns alerting people the system is in use.

Once the evaluation is over, the Suffolk County Police Department will decide whether to recommend the program expand.

The Commack School District is investigating reports of students from its high school spotted wearing offensive T-shirts once again, administrators said.

The district said on its website that pictures surfaced on social media from an off-campus house party during spring break last week showing students sporting anti-Semitic T-shirts. It was the second incident of its sort over the last several months, adding onto a September occurrence when students posed for photos wearing T-shirts that spelled the word “rape.”

“Our attorneys have advised us that given the fact that this incident took place off campus, during a recess, and during an event that was not school-sponsored, the school is limited in its ability to address this matter,” the district said on its website. “However, the district is taking all necessary steps to investigate and will impose discipline related to this where legally permissible.”

The names of the students were not disclosed, as the district is not legally permitted to do so.

Back in September, the district disciplined five high school students after pictures of them wearing inappropriate T-shirts surfaced on social media. A statement on the district’s website at the time outlined the incident, which occurred during the last period of classes on Thursday, Sept. 18, when all Commack High School seniors assembled on the bleachers of the varsity field to take the annual senior photo. Soon after that photo was taken, another picture was posted on Twitter of five smiling male students in T-shirts spelling out “rape,” with a sixth pretending to be bound by the wrists.

Moving ahead, the district said it would continue to provide programs to reinforce student sensitivity of others.

“The district would like to state that the actions of these students are not representative of the student body at Commack High School, and is committed to the district’s mission statement to foster a caring community of learners. We do not condone or permit any form of discrimination, bullying, or hateful messaging,” the statement said. “The district will also make counseling available to any student involved in or affected by this incident. The welfare of our students is always our paramount concern.”

Harborfields’ Mikayla Bergin reaches over an East Islip defender and rockets the ball toward the cage in the Tornadoes’ 14-13 win Tuesday. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Down 3-0 five minutes into the game, the Harborfields girls’ lacrosse team may have been down but not out, battling back to edge out host East Islip 14-13 Tuesday to continue a four-game winning streak.

“They left everything out on the field and as a coach, win or lose, when your girls play with heart and pride and never give up, that’s the greatest moment,” Harborfields head coach Kerri McGinty said. “You’re always going to have lulls in a game, but it’s about perseverance, being resilient and coming out on top.”

With 18:07 left to play in the first half, after junior midfielder and attack Angela Deren intercepted a pass, she sent the ball to junior attack Caitlin Schaefer, who dumped it in up high in front of the net for the Tornadoes’ first point.

Harborfields began winning possession of the ground balls off the draw, and four minutes after her first goal, Schaefer came through with another goal off a pass after a foul call to pull within one, 3-2.

Harborfields’ Caitlin Schaefer, who finished the game with six goals, scoops up a ground ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Harborfields’ Caitlin Schaefer, who finished the game with six goals, scoops up a ground ball. Photo by Desirée Keegan

After two East Islip goals, the Tornadoes answered with two of their own to pull within a goal again, and after winning the next draw, junior midfielder Ella Simkins pushed her way up to the front of the net and sent a straight shot to the back of the cage. Her goal tied the game 5-5 with 5:49 left in the half, but a minute later, East Islip countered to maintain the lead.

“We really worked as a team today,” Simkins said. “Every game we play, we play with so much heart. It’s amazing to see everyone get each other’s back. Even if they score a goal we’re back and scoring even more.”

And Simkins did.

The junior midfielder opened the scoring of the second half with another goal to yet again tie the game, and Schaefer scored her hat trick goal on the next play less than a minute later off an assist from senior midfielder, attack and co-captain Nicole Bifulco, to give the Tornadoes their first lead of the game, 7-6.

“We knew we had to prepare for this game and the last few practices it’s been all about preparing for East Islip and it was so awesome as a coach to see everything we practiced come to fruition,” McGinty said. “You get down, but you have to stay up and that’s something we talk about in practice.”

The teams continued to trade the lead until sophomore midfielder Falyn Dwyer scooped up a ground ball and rushed to an open front of the net and, from the right side, knocked it into the opposite corner for a 13-11 advantage with 6:42 left to play.

East Islip countered at 5:20, and after possession flip-flopped to both sides of the field, Bifulco netted a goal of her own before East Islip again made it a one-goal game.

Harborfields’ Nicole Bifulco maintains possession of the ball with two East Islip players at her hip. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Harborfields’ Nicole Bifulco maintains possession of the ball with two East Islip players at her hip. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The Tornadoes’ defense held it down with a minute left, and with two ticks on the clock, the team forced a turnover to seal the deal.

“It’s such an adrenaline rush; my heart’s beating out of my chest — to storm the field with everybody is amazing,” Schaefer said following the win. “Our hard work paid off, and it’s important for us to stick together as a family and keep our effort and consistency up.”

McGinty said she always believes that her team will come through in the end.

“I think my defense did a hell of a job,” she said. “Defense really never gets the recognition attack gets, but coming down to the draw controls, the doubles, that last few minutes holding them off. Every single component on the field came together.”

Schaefer finished with six goals, Simkins tallied two goals and three assists and Deren tacked on a goal and three assists to lead Harborfields in points.

With the win, the Tornadoes improve to 5-1 in Division II and look to extend their winning streak when they travel to Westhampton on Thursday at 4 p.m.

“No game is ever perfect, you can always get better,” McGinty said. “You can always improve, so we go into the rest of the schedule, it’s pretty tough, but we hope we can keep rolling with the wins.”

Pol pitches bill to broaden alternative energy use

State Sen. Carl Marcellino is behind new legislation aimed at aiding schools to go green. File photo by Elana Glowatz

School districts looking to go green could see more green for it, if proposed state legislation to help school districts pay for alternative energy projects makes its way through Albany.

New York State Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset) has sponsored legislation that would strengthen the state’s support for alternative energy in school districts. Currently, there’s state building aid available for the installation of wind and solar systems, but Marcellino’s legislation allows all types of alternative energy systems to be eligible for building aid.

Also, currently, only alternative energy systems that meet an 18-year payback window are eligible for aid, but Marcellino’s proposed law removes that requirement, according to Debbie Peck Kelleher, director of the state Senate Investigations and Government Operations Committee.

“It would allow all systems to get the building aid,” Kelleher said.

Most districts see an average reimbursement between 70 to 75 percent of the project cost, she said.
In an interview last week, Marcellino said school districts turning to alternative energies provide a boon to taxpayers, because of energy savings in utility costs over time.

“It’s a win-win all the way around.”

Marcellino’s legislation has been referred to the Senate’s education committee, and has support from assemblymen Chad Lupinacci (R-Melville) and Andy Raia (R-East Northport).

Long Island school officials have pondered solar panel installations, and some districts have embarked on projects of their own.

Last year, Miller Place school district green-lighted a $4.3 million project to install solar panels on the roofs of its four school buildings. The project qualified for $3.7 million in state aid, according to Danny Haffel, the executive director of energy solutions on Long Island of Johnson Controls, a Wisconsin-based technology and energy-savings solutions company that the district worked with. Haffel added that the project would save the district more than $243,000 — close to half of its utility budget — in annual energy costs.

Under the contract with Johnson Controls, the district, which would lease the panels for $362,528 a year over 15 years, would be guaranteed those savings, so that in case the savings are not realized through the solar panels, Johnson Controls would foot the bill.

“The Miller Place school district’s decision to pursue alternative energy projects including solar power will not only benefit the environment, but is anticipated to produce financial savings for the district,” Superintendent Marianne Higuera said in a statement. “If the use of alternative energy sources like solar can produce bottom-line cost savings for other school districts or municipalities like it is projected to do for our school district, then this option may be beneficial.”

Beefing up state aid to school districts for these kinds of systems is a good thing, Haffel said in an interview this week.

“What would be really cool and to me would make sense — which would in the long run help every school district and every taxpayer — is to make all renewable work 100 percent aidable and that the school district would receive 100 percent state aid,” he said. “Now you have no electric bill, and you just helped out the taxpayer for the rest of their lives.”

School administrators in Huntington and Northport-East Northport have considered going solar.

Julia Binger, president of the Northport-East Northport school board, said her district had discussions in the past about going solar, but found it to be too cost prohibitive. With this new legislation, combined with what officials have said is a drop in price for solar panels, going solar is “a question that would be worth reconsidering,” Binger said.

In Huntington, school board member Tom DiGiacomo noted that the district’s aging roofs could make solar costly for the district. But it’s still worth considering, he said.

“I think that we need to look at renewable energy as a way to saving money for school districts,” he said. “Quite honestly, the state should be empowering the school districts and the taxpayers ultimately to find ways to save money by using [renewable] energy.”

Eight people are interested in running for two seats

File photo by Rohma Abbas

The weather isn’t the only thing warming up.

With eight people interested in two seats on the Democratic-controlled Huntington Town Board, local party leaders will soon have to roll up their sleeves to choose their picks for the slots.

On the Democratic side, incumbent Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) will seek a fifth term in office. Afghanistan war veteran and Northport-East Northport school district teacher Darryl St. George, of Centerport tossed his hat into the ring earlier this year. Huntington Business Improvement District President Keith Barrett, of Melville, is taking a second stab at nomination after screening for Town Board in 2013. And political science adjunct professor Jim Kelly, of Huntington, who is a retired Nassau County Police Department EMS supervisor, also plans on screening.

The Democrats are screening candidates next week, according to Huntington Town Democratic Committee Chairwoman Mary Collins.

Republicans have already screened Jim Leonick, an East Northport attorney, Janet Heller-Smitelli, a Huntington attorney and Jennifer Thompson, a Northport resident and member of the Northport-East Northport school board. They’ll also screen Independence Party member and incumbent Councilman Gene Cook (I), who said he’s seeking his final term.

The party plans to host another round of screenings tomorrow evening, Toni Tepe, Huntington Town Republican Committee chairwoman said, where she expects two more individuals to screen.

Election Day is Nov. 3.

Susan Berland
Berland, of Dix Hills, has been in office since 2001. During her time in office, she’s sponsored legislation regulating bamboo and blight in Huntington Town, and she spearheaded the effort to televise all official town meetings, according to her bio on the town’s website.

The councilwoman is a member of the Huntington Lighthouse Preservation Society, Kiwanis Club of Huntington and the Board of Directors of the International Dyslexia Association of Long Island.

This election is still important, despite the fact that the Democrats control four out of five seats on the board, Berland said.

“I think every election year is crucial. It takes the town in a specific direction. I want to keep it in a positive direction both, economically and realistically.”

Gene Cook
An Independence Party-member, Cook, 53, of Greenlawn, is seeking the nod for a second four-year term on the board. If elected, Cook said it would be his last term in office. He said he believes in term limits, and that board members shouldn’t serve more than two terms.

Asked why he’s running, Cook said he has taken issue with the way the Democratic majority has spent money. He said he’s proud of projects he’s been able to do at no cost to the taxpayer, like getting a group of businesses together to pave the parking lot of the VFW Post 1469 Nathan Hale in Huntington Station.

“I don’t want the children of the future to be paying for our mistakes and I believe that’s the way it’s going,” he said.

Darryl St. George
St. George, 32, a Democrat from Centerport, declared that he is running for the board earlier this year, and is open to waging a primary election if the party does not choose him. A local teacher and veteran, St. George, 32, served as a Navy corpsman with the U.S. Marines and is interested in tackling the “the scourge of addiction” on a townwide level, he said in an interview earlier this year. The cause is personal, as he lost his 21-year-old brother, Corey, to a drug overdose. The tragedy expedited his release from the Navy in 2012. St. George also teaches social studies at Northport High School.

“I think there’s a few reasons why I want to run,” he said in the earlier interview. “Service is a big part of it: My time in the Navy, my time as a teacher has taught me to value my service to the community.”

Jim Leonick
Leonick, 53 and a Republican, said he wants to run because he has an interest in the future of the town for his children and his neighbor’s children. Leonick is concerned about overdevelopment, transparency at town hall and is interested in exploring term limits for council people — “because I don’t think that it’s right for a number of reasons for anyone to be in a position for as long as some of the town council people have been in their offices.”

Leonick is an attorney with a practice Leonick Law, PLLC, located in East Northport. He’s been involved in a number of local organizations, including serving as a Boy Scout leader, a past president of the Rotary Club of East Northport and a past board member of the East Northport Chamber of Commerce, among others.

“I’ve been involved in a lot of different community things and now I think its time to run for office.”

Keith Barrett
This would be Barrett’s second stab at the nomination, after losing out to Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) in 2013. Barrett, 49, of Melville currently works at town hall as the deputy director of general services. He also owns Barrett Automotive in Huntington Station and is the leader of the Huntington Station Business Improvement District — a group he’s belonged to for 11 years — where he said he’s worked to unify the community and beautify the neighborhood.

At town hall, he said he’s learned a lot about budgets and has already made changes in the General Services Department that have saved taxpayers money. For example, he streamlined state inspections of town vehicles through investing in an inspection machine and getting employees certified in motor vehicle inspections. “I’m a business guy,” he said. “Running town hall is a business. I’d like to make it easier for the residents and businesses to be able to facilitate government.”

Janet L. Heller-Smitelli
Heller-Smitelli is a civil litigator who has lived in Huntington for more than 20 years. She screened with Republicans to run for either Suffolk County Legislature — the 17th Legislative District seat held by Lou D’Amaro (D-North Babylon) — or for Town Board. In a statement, she said she’s been active with the Boy Scouts and has served as an assistant scoutmaster.

Heller-Smitelli said she’s been a member of the Republican committee for 10 years. She said she’s running because she believes there needs to be a “fresh vision and renewed spirit” when it comes to the issue of development.

“I am interested in running for office in order to advance my belief that the Town of Huntington needs to be more selective in the development and use of vacant and available parcels of land. Too often we have seen the result of inappropriate and short-sighted projects that result in a drain of our resources and adversely affect our infrastructure.”

Jim Kelly
Kelly, 64, a Democrat, is a Huntington Station resident. He is a retired EMS supervisor with the Nassau County Police Department and is currently an adjunct professor of political science at St. Joseph’s College.

Kelly said he has experience in emergency management — at Nassau County’s Office of Emergency Management, he served as bioterrorism coordinator, where he learned the ins and outs of being prepared for acts of terrorism and natural disasters.

Kelly’s passionate about preserving open space, because he feels it is disappearing.

If elected, Kelly would like to focus on the issue of crime and gangs in Huntington Station and said the way to battle the problem is to provide educational alternatives for youth. He also said he’d partner with state and county officials to offer greater drug rehabilitation and mental health counseling programs.

“Because of the issues in Huntington Station, the entire town is getting a bad rap in the media. It’s not justified and it’s not right.”

Jennifer Thompson
A Northport resident, Thompson screened with the Huntington Town Republican Committee on March 31.

Thompson sits on the Northport-East Northport school board. She first got on the board in 2010, after being appointed to complete former Vice President Arlene Munson’s term. She was re-elected to another three-year term on the school board last year.

In an interview last year, Thompson said she wanted to serve on the board again because she wanted to see some projects through, namely getting the district through a tax assessment challenge on the Northport power plant from the Long Island Power Authority. If it is resolved in favor of LIPA, Northport-East Northport school district residents could see a drastic increase in property taxes, as LIPA would contribute a smaller chunk to the tax pool.

Thompson didn’t return calls seeking comment.

This version corrects a quote by Keith Barrett.

Music, food and games at SPARKBOOM event on Saturday

Wantagh native AJ Estrada strums a tune from his latest project, ‘Archibelle.’ Estrada will be performing at an event in Huntington on Saturday. Photo from AJ Estrada

By Julianne Cuba

On Saturday, a LaunchPad Huntington on Main Street will be home to an event that merges art, music, food and games, all while showcasing Long Island talent.

The event, called “ART BYTES: A Special #ARTNTECH Event,” is the brainchild of LaunchPad Huntington, a business accelerator and event space on Main Street in Huntington, Long Island Visual Professionals and SPARKBOOM, a project of the Huntington Arts Council that aims to support Long Island artists.

Raj Tawney, who is head of public relations & media for SPARKBOOM, said the program has hosted dozens of events since its first in 2013. Saturday’s event is expected to attract at least a few hundred people — but more than expected always seem to show up.

“The program exists because we felt there wasn’t enough opportunity for Generation Y and millennials in regards to emerging creative talent in Long Island,” Tawney said. “So, we developed this program give opportunity to younger artistic types in the area, so they don’t feel like they need to run to Manhattan to seek opportunity.”

One ART BYTES artist is AJ Estrada, a jack-of-all-trades. Estrada — a native of Wantagh — sings, plays the guitar and paints digitally. Estrada will be singing and performing songs from his new project, “Archibelle.” And his artwork will be on display in the featured artist gallery.

“I think this event, and SPARKBOOM, in general, has done a tremendous amount of work in curating and bringing together creatives from all over Long Island,” Estrada said. “They’re truly an outstanding group of people.”

Alexa Dexa, a Lindenhurst native who takes the name Dexa after her paternal grandmother, will also be performing at ART BYTES. Dexa, who is a 2011 graduate of Berklee College of Music, will be performing selections from her upcoming album, “Year of Abandon,” which, according to Dexa, is a collection of “toychestral” electronic pop songs concentrated on the meanings of the word “abandon.”

Accompanying Dexa’s own voice will be her toy piano, pitched desk bells and electronic beats she handcrafts.

“Any event that supports and showcases local music and musicians in their local neighborhoods is doing a great service to the arts community and the general public,” Dexa said. “Events like this absolutely strengthen the cultural validity of Long Island and certainly keep me from straying too far for too long while on tour.”

The event is free, with a $5 suggestion donation. It will take place at LaunchPad Huntington, at 315 Main Street on the second floor.

A view of the ‘I Matter’ art project at Northport Public Library. Photo from Dina Rescott

A local group that empowers children through character education and art is hosting a celebration and fundraiser event on April 30, where the public can come and see what it is all about.

Around 90 Commack, Huntington and Northport youth who participated in the “I Matter” art and character education project that was featured at local libraries in the past year will be honored at the John W. Engeman Theater at 6 p.m. prior to a performance of “A Chorus Line” at 8 p.m.

The “I Matter” project is an education and leadership program founded by the Center for Creative Development based in Huntington. It aims to inspire and empower students to make healthy decisions and steer clear of destructive behavior.

Several presenters from the project are expected to attend the event, including Rob Goldman, the center’s director; New York State Assemblyman Andrew Raia (R-East Northport); corporate sponsors and more.
The project’s new theme song, “Shine On,” will be debuted by writer and recording artist Alan Semerdjian. Choir members from Huntington schools will be featured on the song.

“It’s really bringing the community together,” Raia said in a statement. “We need to uplift the self-confidence of our teens and this is just the perfect program to do that.”

Participation in the “I Matter” project allows children to take part in a workshop environment where they share thoughts and feelings face-to-face, make photographic portraits of each other and more. The project also prompts public conversation and community involvement to address social issues and drug use.

Tickets for the event can be purchased and donations and sponsorships can be made at the website www.imatterproject.org/donate.html.

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