Times of Middle Country

A horseshoe crab no more than 4 years old. Photo by Erika Karp

The Brookhaven Town Board has officially backed Supervisor Ed Romaine’s push for a horseshoe crab harvesting ban at town parks and properties.

At a meeting on July 16, councilmembers unanimously supported a resolution that requests the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation close North and South Shore parks and underwater lands to horseshoe crab harvesting and recommends strategies to reduce the harvesting. State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) also spoke at the meeting and threw in his support for the effort, as it would help protect the crab population — which, according to some reports, has decreased.

“I support this resolution and encourage its passage and compliment the very fact that it has been initiated,” said Englebright, who chairs the Assembly’s Committee on Environmental Conservation.

State Assemblyman Steve Englebright, right, and a local fisherman, left, speak at a Brookhaven Town Board meeting. Photo by Erika Karp
State Assemblyman Steve Englebright, right, and a local fisherman, left, speak at a Brookhaven Town Board meeting. Photo by Erika Karp

In May, Romaine announced he would seek a horseshoe crab harvesting ban for areas within 500 feet of town-owned waterfront properties. Fishermen often use horseshoe crabs for bait, but the crabs are also used for medicinal purposes, as their blue blood, which is worth an estimated $15,000 a quart, is used in the biomedical and pharmaceutical industries to detect bacterial contamination in drugs and supplies.

Advocates for the ban have said the crabs, whose species is 450 million years old, play a vital role in the ecosystem, as birds like the red knot eat the crabs’ eggs.

Local parks covered within the town’s request include Port Jefferson Harbor; the western boundary of the Mount Sinai inlet; underwater lands and town-owned shoreline of Setauket Harbor; and Shoreham Beach.

The DEC already has bans in place at Mount Sinai Harbor and West Meadow Beach.

In addition, the town asked the DEC to consider mandating fishers to use bait bags and/or artificial bait; banning the harvesting of horseshoe crab females; and establishing full harvest bans several days before and after full moons in May and June — the crabs’ nesting season.

Those latter recommendations were not included in the original resolution, but were added after weeks of discussion on the issue.

Local baymen have said their livelihoods would be jeopardized by any further restrictions, and the seamen remained opposed to the resolution last Thursday. Many also disagreed with officials that the crab population was decreasing.

“If you were with us you would know the quantities are there,” Florence Sharkey, president of the Brookhaven Baymen’s Association, said at the meeting.

Sharkey added that alternative baits have been tried, but don’t work.

Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine holds a horseshoe crab as he calls on the state to ban the harvesting of the crabs within 500 feet of town property. Photo by Erika Karp
Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine holds a horseshoe crab as he calls on the state to ban the harvesting of the crabs within 500 feet of town property. Photo by Erika Karp

Despite the testimony, the Town Board moved forward with resolution, which had been tabled for nearly two months. Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) called the decision a difficult one.

During public comment, Englebright invited the fishers to speak before his committee, as the state is wrestling with the issue as well.

The assemblyman introduced legislation in March that would impose a moratorium on harvesting horseshoe crabs and their eggs until 2021. While the bill wasn’t voted on in the last legislative session, a different bill, which outlines similar recommendations to the DEC regarding crab conservation and management, was approved.

Englebright said the law would be revisited in two years. He said he hoped the DEC would get better data on the crabs in the future as well.

While the state continues to grapple with the issue, Englebright noted the town’s requested ban is different, as it pertains to parkland.

“This is a park and public expectation is different than [at] the general shoreline,” he said. “A park is usually a place that animals have the opportunity to have refuge.”

By Talia Amorosano

Despite 95-degree weather, car enthusiasts young and old gathered at Heritage Park in Mount Sinai on Saturday to get up close and personal with old and new local cars.

Cars displayed were in pristine condition and many had been refurbished or restored. Attendees were able to view parts of the cars that they wouldn’t normally see, as many owners propped the trunks and hoods open to enable full viewing. Because some cars were accompanied by informative signs with origin stories, or were staged with time-period-appropriate memorabilia, the car show was surely a learning experience even for already knowledgeable viewers.

Celeste Nazario photo from SCPD

A missing Centereach woman who police said may have been suicidal has been found dead.

The Suffolk County Police Department had issued a Silver Alert for 60-year-old Celeste Nazario early Monday morning, under a program to help find missing people with special needs. Police said at the time that she had depression and was possibly suicidal, and asked for the public’s help to find the Rosemary Lane resident.

She had last been spotted on Saturday morning, when her landlord saw the Portuguese woman leave her house on foot at about 10 a.m.

Police said Monday evening that she had been found dead, and called the apparent cause of her death “non-criminal.”

Isabella Nelin and Isabella Petriello pose for a photo with their lacrosse sticks at the Brine National Lacrosse Classic. Photo from Anthony Petriello

Both girls made the team, again.

And although Isabella Petriello and Isabella Nelin were not able to help the Long Island sophomores defend the Brine National Lacrosse Classic championship title the girls won as freshmen, they’re just happy to be able to continue to play the sport they love.

“Lacrosse is my passion — it’s really taken over my whole life,” Petriello said. ”It’s helped me not only to be a better athlete, but it’s helped me with everything. With my time management skills, my ability to focus, to accept failure, and to just keep working hard.”

The athletes, both defenders, continued to work hard at the lacrosse classic in Midlothian, Virginia, outscoring much of the competition despite an early loss, and cruised to the semifinals, where the team fell to would-be champion Pennsylvania, 8-4.

“It was a great experience,” Petriello said. “It was an honor to get the chance to play with such talented girls that share the same passion as me.”

Nelin’s mother, Karen, was just proud of her daughter for making the team for a second year in a row, and is proud of what her daughter has been able to accomplish since she first joined the sport in the seventh grade.

“I feel like Bella can definitely get the job done,” Karen Nelin said. “I have such confidence in her. She’s a fast runner, she’s very tall, and she’s also good when her teammate needs help to slide. She’s a voice out there. Even when the offense has the ball, she’s out there encouraging them, and is confident and supportive.”

Petriello said the loss pushed her to want to do bigger and better things in the future.

“You go into it expecting the things that you did last year because you’ve been working so hard, and it definitely was hard, I wont lie, but failure and losing are a part of being successful,” she said. “When I don’t reach my goal the way I want to, that’s what I use to light my fire. It helps me keep fighting to get to where I want to be in life.”

And Isabella Petriello’s father, Anthony, said his daughter has some things you simply can’t teach.

“She has that grit, that desire and that heart every single time she goes out there,” he said. “That gives her the ability to help her teammates and do the things that she needs to do on the field, along with her teammates, to get the job done.”

Although Isabella Petriello has been involved in the sport longer than Isabella Nelin, both have been named strong players. Petriello uses more aggression, while Nelin likes to be more tactical.

The defenders play for the Long Island Top Guns travel team, but Petriello picked up the sport when she was in second grade, playing for the Brookhaven Town team before playing for Miller Place.

“She lives and breathes lacrosse for her ultimate goal of playing at the college level,” Anthony Petriello said, adding that his daughter plays volleyball for the school team, as well as in a Middle Country school district lacrosse league on Thursday evenings. “What a reward for parents to see their child succeed in anything in life.”

Nelin, on the other hand, picked up a lacrosse stick for the first time in seventh grade after her friends tried to get her to join.

“I was a little rusty at first, but I’d go over their house and ask them to please throw and catch with me,” she said, laughing. “Even when we don’t even plan on practicing, we end up grabbing sticks and going outside and having a pass. Once you start playing the sport, you don’t stop. I feel like I always have a stick in my hand.”

Although she started later, Nelin has trained with many coaches, including local defender Shanna Brady of Smithtown, who played for St. Anthony’s and currently plays for NCAA tournament-winning University of Maryland. Nelin also plays varsity lacrosse for Ward Melville.

The girls like the team aspect of defense, and work well together on the field.

“We both know where the other one is on the field at all times and know what the other person will do, and it makes it a lot easier,” Petriello said. “[Isabella Nelin] is always pushing herself and, especially me and others, to be better,” she said.

Nelin is also comfortable working alongside her Long Island teammate.

“The coaches don’t know us, so when they ask who wants to start on defense, we both stand next to each other and try to raise our hands at the same time,” Nelin said, laughing. “We both want to get on the field at the same time. I can trust her when she says she has my right and tells me to force a player somewhere so we can double-team her.”

And Brine’s Long Island team’s coach Megan McCormack, noticed the girls’ chemistry quickly.

“They were both very talkative, very aggressive,” she said. “They worked well with one another and meshed well with the other girls on the team.”

Nelin is excited to see where the future will take her.

“Lacrosse really means a lot to me,” she said. “I feel like it’s my future. I’d love to play in college and it’s helped me meet a bunch of new people. It’s opened new doors for me; I’ve traveled to a bunch of different states and it’s just been amazing. I feel like it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.”

McCormack believes that Nelin and Petriello’s futures will be bright.

“You can see and pick up on that chemistry right away,” she said. “I knew that they felt comfortable with one another. They knew what each other did well and what each other needed, whether or not they should push one another, so I thought they really complemented each other well. I know they both had successful lacrosse careers ahead of them.”

They buzz and flutter and they are disappearing from Long Island’s environment. Pollinators are on the decline on the Island and nationwide.

According to the National Wildlife Federation, native pollinators such as Monarch butterflies have decreased in numbers by more than 80 percent in the past two decades. Native bee populations, among other indigenous pollinator species, are also on the decline, which can put local farms at risk as less pollinators mean less pollination.

But Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) hopes to help Long Island farmers combat the population decline with her new Educational Agriculture Support Initiative, which aims to increase the amount of native plant species on Long Island, starting with the Heritage Park in Mount Sinai.

“The history of Heritage Park is [that] we wanted to take care of the rural character and the heritage of the area,” Lori Baldassare, president of Heritage Trust, said about how the park got involved with Anker’s initiative. According to Baldassare, Anker has a long history with the park so “it just seemed like a natural place to do [a] … demonstration garden.”

Honeybees, above, which are native to Europe are efficient pollen collectors and honey producers but they are not effective pollinators because pollen sticks onto their legs so well. They are one of the few bee species that live in a hive. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Honeybees, above, which are native to Europe are efficient pollen collectors and honey producers but they are not effective pollinators because pollen sticks onto their legs so well. They are one of the few bee species that live in a hive. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Although Anker has teamed up with Heritage Trust, Girl Scouts of Suffolk County, Long Island Native Plant Initiative, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County and the Suffolk County Soil and Water Conservation District to help create a pilot native plant species garden at Heritage Park, she said that it will take more than the individuals from these organizations to bring back local pollinator species.

“I need people to participate,” she said. “I need people to understand that this is really important. If we don’t preserve [the environment] nobody else will.”

According to Polly Weigand, executive director of the plant initiative and senior soil district technician for the conservation district, the team is trying to provide the pilot garden with various native plant species, including native grasses, which will attract and sustain pollinators throughout the year. While these plants are neither flowering nor the most visually appealing, Weigand said the grasses provide a place for insects to lay their eggs and shelter during the winter months.

While some invasive or nonnative plants, like butterfly bush, can provide food for native butterflies, it isn’t sufficient for these insects to lay their eggs or seek shelter. Native insects evolve with the native plants in the area. The evolution allows these creatures to use a plant for shelter and sustenance. Although some invasive or nonnative plants can provide food and habitat for these small creatures, this is not always the case.

“Plants have a little chemical warfare that they play with the species that are going to [prey] on them,” Weigand said. “They put out toxins to try to keep the animal from eating the leaves.”

It takes several generations before an insect can successfully utilize the foreign plants for their life cycle.

But according to Robin Simmen, community horticulture specialist for the cooperative extension, and Laura Klahre, beekeeper and owner of Blossom Meadow in Cutchogue, in addition to the lack of suitable plants, the use of pesticides and lack of suitable habitat for Long Island pollinators are some of the many factors contributing to the decline in the native species.

Polly Weigand, left, of the Long Island Native Plant Initiative, and county Legislator Sarah Anker, right, discuss native plant species for Anker’s Educational Agriculture Support Initiative pilot garden at Heritage Park in Mount Sinai. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Polly Weigand, left, of the Long Island Native Plant Initiative, and county Legislator Sarah Anker, right, discuss native plant species for Anker’s Educational Agriculture Support Initiative pilot garden at Heritage Park in Mount Sinai. Photo by Giselle Barkley

“We used to just think that we would get these free pollination services from nature,” Klahre said. “But in the future that may not be the case because there aren’t enough flowers around [and] we have so many pesticides.”

Pesticides that target unwanted pests, like ticks, are also detrimental to native bees, which live underground.

When the toxins seep into an area in close proximity to native insects, some eventually develop dementia.

Klahre also mentioned the lack of open space as an issue as it jeopardizes the livelihood of the bugs.

While Klahre does not know by how much the native bee population has declined, she said they are struggling to maintain their populations just like their European counterpart, the honeybee. According to Klahre there are about 4,000 different bee species nationwide and 450 different species in New York state alone.

Unlike docile native bees like mining, mason or sweat bees, honeybees are not efficient pollen collectors.

Native bees are among the best pollinators for a variety of plant species. The native bees also yield higher quality and longer lasting fruits like apples or cherries, which can have a thicker outer skin; a thicker skin means that the fruits have a longer shelf life than those pollinated by honeybees.

Although Anker said farms across Long Island are affected by the decline in pollinator species as they are forced to import pollinating bees to the locations, Klahre said she only saw a disruption in growing produce with home gardeners.

Monarch butterflies, above, fly from their wintering grounds in Mexico to Long Island, which serves as their breeding range during the summer. Monarchs born during the summer only live three to five weeks in comparison to overwintering adult Monarchs that can live up to nine months. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Monarch butterflies, above, fly from their wintering grounds in Mexico to Long Island, which serves as their breeding range during the summer. Monarchs born during the summer only live three to five weeks in comparison to overwintering adult Monarchs that can live up to nine months. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Pollinators like bees usually have a route that they go on to collect pollen and nectar before returning to their habitat. If these insects are not accustomed or attracted to a homeowner’s property, it is unlikely that the pollinator will visit the area. This is especially the case for homeowners who have a simple grass lawn.

While some grasses help native insects, a bare lawn does not provide a pollinator with the necessary sources of food in order to survive.

But Anker’s goal is to educate the community about the best way to attract and support these insects using appropriate native plant species like milkweed, among others.

“I’m actually looking to have [pilot gardens] throughout Suffolk County,” Anker said in regards to her initiative.

The plant initiative has selected the types of native plants that will go into Anker’s pilot garden, which could be designed and constructed toward the end of August.

Individuals like Klahre believe there is enough time to heal the environment and help increase native pollinators like bees, but she does acknowledge the reality of having little to no pollinators.

“In China there are some areas that are so polluted that they actually have people that are going from flower to flower in orchards with feathers moving the pollen,” Klahre said. “I just never want us to get to that point.”

Car parts thief sought
Suffolk County Police are seeking the public’s help in identifying and locating a man who stole catalytic converters from vehicles in Hauppauge earlier this month.
Police said the man stole 10 catalytic converters from commercial vehicles parked at three businesses on Oser Avenue in the early morning hours of July 3.
Suffolk County Crime Stoppers offers a cash reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest. Anyone with information about this crime is asked to call anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.

High interrupted
A 26-year-old man from East Northport was arrested in Smithtown on July 12 and charged with driving while ability impaired by a combination of drugs and alcohol. Police said the man was driving a 1995 Honda and crashed into a tree on Route 25A and Oakside Road in Smithtown. He was arrested at 2:19 a.m. Police did not know which drug the man was on.

Rowdy gun-wielders arrested
Two individuals were arrested on July 8 in Smithtown and charged with second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Police said a 20-year-old man from Central Islip and a 20-year-old woman from Brooklyn possessed loaded handguns, and both were arrested on Nesconset Highway at 8 p.m. The man was also charged with obstruction of government administration — for flailing his legs and refusing to be placed in a police car — and two counts of menacing in the second degree, for displaying a handgun to two separate women shortly before his arrest. The woman was charged with disorderly conduct — police said she threatened others in a parking lot.

What a pill
Suffolk County Police arrested a 29-year-old man from Kings Park on July 12 at about 9 p.m. and charged him with criminal possession of a controlled substance. Police said he was arrested on 4th Avenue in Kings Park, where he was found in possession of prescription pills.

Check yourself
Police said someone stole a checkbook from a man’s 2010 Lexus LX450 parked on West Main Street in Smithtown on July 12 at about 7 a.m. There have been no arrests.

Cash out
Someone removed a register box containing cash from LA Fitness on East Main Street in Smithtown sometime between 10 p.m. on July 11 and 8 a.m. on July 12. There have been no arrests.

Wheel of misfortune
Someone took four wheels and tires from a 2014 Toyota Tundra at Smithtown Toyota on East Jericho Turnpike in Saint James between 6 p.m. on July 11 and 11 a.m. on July 12. There have been no arrests.

Coming down from a high
Suffolk County Police arrested a 24-year-old man from Setauket and a 22-year-old female from Stony Brook on July 10 in Stony Brook and charged them with loitering and unlawful use of a controlled substance. Police said the pair were observed at a location on North Country Road in Stony Brook in a Ford Taurus in possession of heroin. The duo was arrested at 8:37 a.m., police said.

Car looted
Police said an unknown person took money and a gift card from a 2015 Ford parked on Blinker Light Road in Stony Brook. The incident was reported on July 10 at 6:30 p.m.

Road bump
Someone stole a bicycle from outside a garage on Braemer Road in Setauket. The incident happened sometime between 10 p.m. on July 11 and 9 a.m. on July 12.

Jewelry jam
Police said someone stole jewelry from Kohl’s on Nesconset Highway in Setauket on July 11 at 6:45 p.m. There have been no arrests.

Purse pickpocketed
Police said a woman reported that someone stole her license and credit card from her purse as she was shopping at Walmart on Nesconset Highway in Setauket. The incident occurred on July 9 at 2 p.m., police said.

Money mystery
Police said an Antler Lane resident from South Setauket reported that someone used his Chase banking card to make several cash withdrawals between July 1 and July 9. There are no arrests.

Bank withdrawal woes
Police said that a Stalker Lane resident from Setauket reported someone used his bank information to make three unauthorized withdrawals between July 8 and July 9. There are no arrests.

Car trouble
Things got a little crazy on Woodhull Avenue in Port Jefferson Station on July 4, at around 10:05 p.m., when someone threw items at a 2013 Hyundai and damaged a car door.

Midnight mischief
An unknown person slashed the driver side tire of a 2007 Hyundai parked on Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station on July 3.

Ride denied
A woman reported being harassed by a cab driver on June 30 at around 3 p.m. According to police, the complainant said she called a cab service to pick her up from a dollar store in Port Jefferson Station, but the driver refused to take her. He then allegedly pushed her and took her grocery bags out of the cab and drove away.

Bad luck
A 2008 Toyota’s side view mirror was damaged on July 7 while parked on Dayton Avenue in Port Jefferson Station.

Cloned
Police received two reports of cloned credit cards in the Port Jefferson Station community on July 7. According to police, a resident on Magnolia Drive reported an unknown person had cloned their ATM card and made withdrawals using their pin. Another resident on Pine Street made a similar report.

Razor-sharp
The person who demanded money at the USA Gasoline on Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station got quite the surprise on July 6. According to police, the suspect went into the station shortly after 9:30 p.m. with a razor blade and demanded cash, but the quick-thinking complainant grabbed a knife and chased the intruder out of the store.

Taking flight
A 20-year-old Mount Sinai resident was arrested and charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, third-degree fleeing from an officer in a motor vehicle and third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle on July 9. Police said the woman was driving a 1999 Chevy north on Route 112 in Terryville at around 3 p.m. when police attempted to pull her over. As the officer approached her vehicle, the woman pulled away, almost striking two vehicles, and exceeded the speed limit on Route 112 before pulling over again. Police discovered Roxicodone, a prescription opioid, in her possession.

I saw the sign
A homeowner’s 10 “no parking” and “no trespassing” signs on North Country Road in Miller Place were spray-painted or torn down on July 10.

Lock ‘em up
A wallet full of credit cards and cash was reported stolen on July 8 from an unlocked 2007 Chevy parked at a residence on Ann Street in Miller Place.

Thumb war
A 56-year-old Miller Place man was charged with second-degree assault and second-degree menacing after he stabbed a man in the finger. The incident took place on July 8 at the suspect’s Avery Lane home.

Dashed board
On July 8 at 9 p.m., a Washington Avenue, Centereach, resident reported the dashboard of their 2010 Nissan was damaged.

Grocery games
A woman reported on July 7 that her wallet, with $2,000 in cash, was stolen from her shopping cart at the Centereach Mall Walmart.

Screened
A home on Rosemary Lane in Centereach had a window screen damaged on July 12.

Picking up
An unlocked 2008 Ford pickup truck parked at a Bank Street residence in Selden was robbed of a tablet and money on July 7.

Nicolls Road. File photo by Rachel Shapiro

A man was seriously injured in Centereach on Wednesday afternoon when he lost control of his SUV and was ejected during a crash.

The Suffolk County Police Department said 35-year-old Michael Negron was driving north on Nicolls Road when he lost control of the 1997 Ford Explorer and hit a guardrail. From there, the car entered the median and overturned onto the southbound side of the road.

Police said Negron was ejected from the Ford.

The Bellport resident was listed in serious condition at Stony Brook University Hospital, police said.

There were no other passengers in the vehicle.

Police impounded the Explorer for a safety check. Detectives from the SCPD’s 6th Squad are investigating the crash.

Anyone who may have witnessed the crash or have information about it is asked to call detectives at 631-854-8652.

The Wardenclyffe site in Shoreham. File photo by Erika Karp

“A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart,” reads one of many quotes from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s “Faust” contained in “Tower to the People.” If this is so, Tesla’s heart must have been ablaze with electrical impulses and potential for change.

By Talia Amorosano

On Friday, people of all ages congregated at Shoreham-Wading River High School to celebrate a very special occasion: Nikola Tesla’s 159th birthday.

They came bearing monetary gifts in the form of ticket purchases to see filmmaker Joseph Sikorski’s “Tower to the People” Long Island premiere at the school, which is located a little more than a mile and a half away from Tesla’s Wardenclyffe laboratory. The proceeds from the event will be used to fund the continued restoration of the site — Tesla’s last.

Using bold, mixed media visuals, color saturated re-enactments and original photographs from the early 1900s, the film documents the history of Tesla’s work at Wardenclyffe, a former potato farm, where the inventor planned to complete what he anticipated would be his greatest invention and contribution to mankind — a 187-foot-tall tower capable of transmitting free wireless energy to the entire world.

“A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart,” reads one of many quotes from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s “Faust” contained in “Tower to the People.” If this is so, Tesla’s heart must have been ablaze with electrical impulses and potential for change. Among the literal highlights of Tesla’s career documented in the film are his successful attempt to wirelessly illuminate incandescent light bulbs from three miles away, creation of the Tesla coil and introduction of alternate current electricity, reception of transmissions from stars and ability to produce artificial lightning that author and Tesla scholar Jack Hitt described as being “so powerful that the thunder of it was heard miles away.”

"Tower to the People" filmmaker Joseph Sikorski speaks at Shoreham-Wading River High School on Friday, July 9. Photo by Talia Amorosano
“Tower to the People” filmmaker Joseph Sikorski speaks at Shoreham-Wading River High School on Friday, July 9. Photo by Talia Amorosano

Unfortunately for Tesla, his brilliant moments are dimmed by disappointment during his later life. The film portrayed Tesla’s persistence when, among other negative events, former funder J.P. Morgan, refused to pay for the completion of the tower and even dissuaded other potential investors from financing him. After writing pleading letters and attempting to come up with the money himself, in an emotion-wrought scene, Tesla’s Wardenclyffe tower is destroyed by dynamite explosion, as ordered by the U.S. government.

However, “Tower to the People” does end on an uplifting note with the story of Wardenclyffe’s salvation through Internet crowd-funding; explorations of the modern-day property that is now owned by the nonprofit group, Tesla Science Center; and volunteer efforts to clean up Tesla’s run-down laboratory and turn it into a science center.

“As a kid, my parents could never get me to do yard work, but if you ask me to mow Tesla’s lawn, how awesome is that?” said a volunteer on the cleanup crew in the film.

Throughout the event, the crowd was clearly electrified, erupting into applause several times during key moments of the film, and afterwards honoring Sikorski’s homage to Tesla and Wardenclyffe with a standing ovation.

Most of the audience also stayed for a question and answer session with Sikorski and Jane Alcorn, president of the Tesla Science Center, during which Sikorski expressed his belief that there are tunnels under Wardenclyffe and Alcorn revealed hopes to potentially excavate these tunnels after the primary grounds-cleaning goals are achieved, “as time and money permits.”

Finally, a special guest and distant relative of Tesla, Dusan Stojanovic, of True Global Ventures, took the podium to donate $33,000 to the Wardenclyffe project effort. He also gave money to three young inventors whose innovations were inspired by Tesla; most notably, giving $15,000 to a young man involved with creating clothing with his invention, the Electroloom, a 3-D fabric printer.

Alcorn hopes the completed science center will be open to the public in a few years, and in the meantime, plans to continue fundraising efforts until the property is fully restored.

If you are interested in donating to the science center, getting involved with grounds cleanup, or learning more about the Wardenclyffe property, check out www.teslasciencecenter.org.

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Middle Country’s Christine Gironda may switch to midfield position at Iona College

Gironda bobbles the ball to take possession off the draw. File photo by Desirée Keegan

By Clayton Collier

After serving as an integral part of the Middle Country girls’ lacrosse team that went undefeated in the regular season, Christine Gironda will continue her playing career at Iona College.

The 6-foot 1-inch All-County defender said Iona was an easy choice for her.

“Everybody always talks about the feeling they get and after visiting so many schools,” she said. “I didn’t get it until I went to Iona. Everything from the coaching staff, players, campus, academics and atmosphere made my decision very easy.”

Michael Gironda, Christine’s father, said the location is perfect for all parties.

“We’re really proud of her,” he said. “And it’s great because it’s far enough where she feels she is away, but close enough where we can still make her games, or even do her laundry.”

For Middle Country head coach Lindsay Dolson, she said she is happy for her senior, but also sorry to see her go.

“She’s been taking the draw for us for the past three years,” she said. “We don’t have anyone near her height coming up, so it’ll definitely be a big miss.”

Gironda’s father said he originally thought soccer would end up being his daughter’s primary sport, but, eventually, she began to gravitate more toward lacrosse. Because Gironda became fully committed to lacrosse later in her high school career, her father said he believes the best is yet to come.

“Because she started so late, I honestly feel her best lacrosse is in front of her,” he said. “She hasn’t peaked; she has more upside.”

Also as a result of joining lacrosse later on, Iona did not get a look at Gironda until the Under Armour All-American tryouts, where she caught the eye of head coach Michelle Mason. It was there that they invited her to practice at the program’s camp, where Mason said Gironda shined.

“She just crushed it,” Mason said. “She just kept getting better throughout the whole day; like every drill we ran, she was picking it up really quick.”

Now that Gironda is committed to attend Iona in the fall, Mason said she will look to get her new player involved in a variety of roles, including potentially moving the Middle Country product to the midfield position.

“I think she’s got a great finish to her shot and her decision making and lacrosse IQ are great,” she said. “There’s a really good foundation for us to build on.”

Mason said she hopes to increase the aggression of Gironda on the field come this fall.

“If we could get her to be a little more aggressive and not as much of a gentle giant, then I think she could be a real dominant force on offense for sure,” she said. “She has a lot of intangibles that really set her apart.”

Gironda listed her aggression as one of her biggest improvements over the course of a banner year for the Mad Dogs in which the lacrosse program made it to the Suffolk Class A finals, falling in double- overtime to West Islip, 11-10.

Overall, Dolson said it was the senior leadership of Gironda — as well as fellow seniors Nikki Ortega, Ashley Miller, Serena Ruggiero and Alison Dipaola — that proved to be crucial in putting together as successful of a season as they did.

“This group has been dedicated and hardworking in and outside the classroom, on the field,” she said. “They really bring everyone together on the field.”

As for Gironda, although she said it will be hard to leave her second family behind, she is excited for the opportunity ahead at Iona.

“A new chapter is always so bitter sweet,” she said. “I will miss this team so much, but will always have these memories. I am so excited to go on this new journey and now I will get to experience two amazing teams.”

Suffolk Republicans select candidate with experience serving as town councilman, building commissioner

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone file photo

The Suffolk County executive race is on.

Jim O'Connor is stepping up to challenge Steve Bellone for Suffolk County Executive. Photo from Jim O'Connor
Jim O’Connor is stepping up to challenge Steve Bellone for Suffolk County Executive. Photo from Jim O’Connor

County Republicans have selected Jim O’Connor to challenge Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) in November. And in his words, O’Connor said he could not be more honored to represent his party in the pivotal race.

“John Jay LaValle [chairman of the Suffolk County Republican Committee] called me up and asked me if I would be interested in the position, and I said of course,” he said. “Why wouldn’t you be interested in that position?”

O’Connor, now a resident of Great River, is a partner in the Manhattan law firm of Maroney O’Connor LLP. He has a long resume of working in local government, starting in the Town of North Hempstead in 1998 as an elected councilman, where he served until 2001. From 2006-08, O’Connor was appointed building commissioner for North Hempstead.

He had a very brief run at the Nassau county executive spot in 2001 — for approximately 48 hours, to be exact — before the Nassau Republicans chose to back candidate Bruce Bent instead.

O’Connor’s opponent, Bellone, also garnered similar public service accolades before assuming office at the county level in 2011. Bellone served on the Babylon Town Board for four years, starting in 1997, and was then elected supervisor of Babylon Township in 2001.

Since being voted into office, Bellone said he was proud of passing three consecutive balanced budgets under the tax cap, securing a $383 million investment in clean water infrastructure — the largest of the county in 40 years — and negotiating labor contracts that make new employees more affordable and requires new employees to contribute to health care costs.

“We must continue to move Suffolk County forward,” Bellone said in an email through a spokesperson. “While we have made a lot of progress there is so much work left to do.”

Specifics of moving Suffolk County forward, Bellone said, include continuing to hold the line on taxes, creating new jobs, growing the economy and keeping young people on Long Island.

Bellone also said he is interested in utilizing better the many assets that Suffolk County has, including Stony Brook University, Brookhaven National Laboratory and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. If re-elected, he said he wants to make sure the county is leveraging those assets to create innovation jobs.

But O’Connor said he found flaws in the way that Bellone has handled the financial aspects of the county.

“The attitude is, ‘Let’s put off tomorrow what we could do today,’ and that is hurting my children and my children’s children, in terms of the amount of debt that will fall on their shoulders,” O’Connor said in a phone interview.

Under an O’Connor administration, there would be an implementation of a Suffolk County debt management plan, which would start the process of a debt ceiling, much like what has been done in Washington D.C., O’Connor told Times Beacon Record Newspapers in an exclusive interview.

“It’s a simple concept,” he said. “Let’s look at the county’s existing revenue streams and compare it to the county’s maturing debt in an effort to retire, or reduce, the interest payments that will burden future generations of Suffolk residents.”

Suffolk County has $180 million of structural deficit and more than $1.5 billion in cumulative debt, according to O’Connor, who said these factors have led the New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, a Democrat, to say that the county is in fiscal distress. O’Connor said he wants to stand up for the taxpayers of the county.

According to Bellone, when he first entered office, Suffolk County’s finances were in free fall, with a deficit of more than $400 million. He has since cut the deficit significantly by shrinking the government by more than 10 percent.

“I know that Suffolk County taxpayers are overburdened,” Bellone said. “That’s why I am committed to staying under the property tax cap at the same time as I cut my own salary and volunteered to be the first employee in the history of Suffolk County to directly contribute to their health care.”

Keith Davies, campaign manager for Bellone, said his candidate was the right choice for residents to continue moving Suffolk County forward: “Steve Bellone has a proven record of protecting our tax dollars and our quality of life. He’s balanced three consecutive budgets, kept taxes under the tax cap and protected our drinking water by investing in our clean water infrastructure.”

The Suffolk County Republicans, however, said they believed O’Connor would lead the county in a better direction.

In a statement, LaValle said O’Connor’s reputation from both Democrats and Republicans from North Hempstead is what drew him to asking him to fight for the position.

“He’s a guy that is very well respected of course by Republicans in the area, but also by many Democrats,” LaValle said. “In this day and age of almost political hate, here is a guy where not only Republicans but prominent Democrats were speaking very highly of him. That stuck with me.”

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