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'Some 1,300 communities in the U.S. now have no newscoverage at all.' - Pew Research Center

By Donna Deedy

It’s often said that a free press is a pillar of democracy, a fourth branch of government, capable of shining a light on corruption to reveal truth. History is full of cases where news stories have exposed unethical or criminal behavior, essentially helping to right a wrong. 

Consider the story on the Pentagon Papers, which showed how the federal government misled the public about the Vietnam War. When congressional leaders didn’t act, newspapers filled a role. 

Think of the news story about lead contamination of Flint, Michigan’s water supply and the Boston Globe’s series that exposed the widespread cover-up of childhood sexual abuse by Catholic priests. Most recently, the Miami Herald’s series “Perversion of Justice” is credited for exposing the crimes and lenient punishment of Jeffrey Epstein, who allegedly operated a sex-trafficking scheme with underage girls. 

These are just a few cases with incredible breadth and scope that show how journalism raises awareness and ultimately prompts change. Countless other stories underscore the value and impact of journalism, and the news is not always necessarily grim. Aside from exposing bad actors or twisted policies, journalists also celebrate all that is good in a community and can bring people together by showing the great achievements of ordinary people. 

Any way you look at it, news matters. 

In the last decade and a half, though, it’s become increasing difficult for newspapers to survive. Newsroom employees have declined by 45 percent between 2008 and 2017, according to the Pew Research Center. Some 1,300 communities in the U.S. now have no coverage at all in what are called “news deserts.” This spells trouble for democracy. Thankfully, Congress is now opening a door to take a look at the situation. 

A six-minute YouTube video created by The News Media Alliance, the news industry’s largest trade organization, explains what people need to know about the situation. Entitled “Legislation to Protect Local News,” if you haven’t seen it, it’s worth your time. 

In summary, technology — think internet and smartphones — has had a phenomenally positive impact in increasing the demand for news by expanding readership and engagement. In fact, just 2 percent of the U.S. population in 1995 relied on the internet to get news three days a week, according to Pew Research Center. By 2018, 93 percent of the population accessed at least some news online. But while news is more widely circulated, this shift to online platforms is also at the root of the news industry’s struggle. 

Terry Egger, publisher and CEO of Philadelphia Media Network said in the video that he recognizes the power and beauty of the Facebook and Google’s distribution models, but he also sees in detail how they are eroding the news industry’s ability to pay for its journalism. 

“Facebook and Google are able to monetize their distribution of our content, nearly 80 to 85 cents of every dollar in advertising digitally goes to one of those two platforms,” he said. 

The bottom line: News is supported largely by advertisements. By creating and distributing content to an audience, news outlets essentially broker their reach to advertisers looking for exposure. Accessing news through Facebook and Google has essentially disrupted that business model.

Facebook and Google have generated over the last year $60 billion in revenue, explains U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), chairman of the U.S. House Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee in the video. In contrast, news publishers’ revenue is down about $31 billion “over the last several years.”

Cicilline senses that something needs to be done to help local papers and publishers survive. He, along with Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) and Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), have introduced in April a bill called Journalism Competition and Preservation Act of 2019, H.R.2054. 

The bill provides a temporary safe harbor where publishers of online content can collectively negotiate with dominant online platforms about the terms under which their content may be distributed. 

Collins, ranking member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, called the bill a first step to see if the nation can bring fairness to smaller and local and regional papers. So far, the legislation continues to gain momentum. 

Danielle Coffey, counsel for the News Media Alliance, stated in a recent email interview that the journalism preservation bill is receiving voices of support from both sides of the aisle. The organization is looking for more sponsors to be added. “We aren’t asking for the government to save us or even for the government to regulate or change the platforms,” said David Chavern, president and CEO of News Media Alliance. “We’re just asking for a fighting chance for news publishers to stand up for themselves and create a sustainable digital future for journalism.”

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) said that he is monitoring the bill’s progress.“A free press has been essential to the maintenance of our democracy and keeping people informed,” he said. “As the way Americans consume their news evolves, we must ensure that tried-and-true local journalists are receiving their fair share so they can continue to serve their readers for generations to come.”

Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) is equally in agreement. “Our democracy is strongest when we have a free and diverse press,” he said. “From national to local news, events and happenings, we need the quality journalism of the free press to keep the public aware of what is happening in their country, state, town and local communities.”

Residents are urged to contact their congressman, Zeldin (631-289-1097) or Suozzi (631-923-4100), and ask them to become co-sponsors of H.R.2054: Journalism Competition and Preservation Act of 2019.

 

Caged migrant children at U.S. Mexico border

By Donna Deedy

Local U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D–Glen Cove), after visiting detention centers along the southern United States border July 13 with 15 other House Democrats, has returned to his Huntington office alarmed. The situation, he said, is awful.  

U.S. Immigration Detention Center. photo from Tom Suozzi’s Office

“We need to make the humanitarian crisis at the border priority number one,” Suozzi said. “The system is broken.”

The group toured and inspected facilities that are currently holding Central American migrants seeking asylum and met with several migrant families to hear, first-hand, their experiences and what can be done to help.

“America is better than this,” he said. “I have worked on this issue since before I was elected mayor of Glen Cove in 1993 and I will continue to fight for solutions consistent with our American values.” 

During the visit, Suozzi learned that only 20 to 30 migrants seeking asylum are processed each day. This provides an incentive for people to cross in between ports of entry, he said, and once apprehended, they then turn themselves in to seek asylum. In turn, this leads to their detention.

“My recent trip to the border makes it clear that this issue is incredibly complicated and has been for decades. The policies and rhetoric from this administration have exacerbated the problem, permeating a culture of fear that forces many immigrants further into the shadows.” 

 The congressman is calling for action, insisting that all delegates work together to:

•Address the current humanitarian crisis at the border.

•Secure borders in a smart and effective way.

•Create stability in the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras that account for almost 90 percent of current immigrants.

•Protect the legal status of Dreamers and people with temporary protective status and their families with renewable temporary protection and a path to citizenship.

The tour coincided with rallies held in Huntington village and across the country and the world in protest of the policies and inhumane practices at U.S. border with Mexico. 

Suozzi was a guest on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on July 16, where he said that “the president has, once again, shifted the conversation away from important policy issues toward a racial divide in our country.”

The Rev. Duncan Burns, of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Huntington, attended the Huntington rally “Lights for Liberty” and spoke to the crowd that gathered July 12. Suozzi’s trip to the border, the reverend said, has sparked greater concern.

“We encourage people to raise their voices and to call their members of Congress to urge them to work together to find solutions,” he said. “The Episcopal Church is completely backing both parties to find a solution to this humanitarian crisis.”

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) did not respond to phone and email requests for comment on his position on the issue.

June 30, 2019- New York City, NY- Governor Andrew Cuomo on World Pride and the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall signs legislation banning Gay and Trans Panic Legal Defense and marches in 2019 World Pride Parade. (Darren McGee- Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

By Donna Deedy

State Sen. Jim Gaughran (D-Northport) has had a banner year. As a freshman senator serving the greater Huntington region, he introduced 68 bills with more than half passing the Senate, according to his office, and 26 percent passing both branches of the state Legislature.

Looking back, Gaughran said in a recent interview the 2019 legislative session, which ended June 20, will be regarded overall as remarkable. He attributes his success rate to the fact that the Senate was comprised of so many freshman senators.

His proudest accomplishment, he said, was passing a bill to provide disability benefits to civilian public employees who responded to Ground Zero after the 9/11 terrorist attack. The bill, called S5898D, offers relief to overlooked workers, such as transit employees and civil engineers who are sick, suffering from severe conditions and are dying from cleanup-related afflictions.

Timothy DeMeo, a first responder for the N.Y. State Department of Environmental Conservation, said he is grateful to Gaughran for getting the legislation passed within four months. 

“This law is long overdue and will help so many of us who need to retire to be able to fully address our health concerns,” he said.

DeMeo arrived at the Twin Towers just as the second plane struck and was injured by falling debris. His vehicle, he said, flipped over and pancaked. He has required multiple surgeries and is scheduled for more. DeMeo worked for the DEC for 20 years and logged more than 1,000 hours over the course of four months removing hazardous waste from Ground Zero. Today, he suffers from respiratory ailments and other conditions.

“I call myself the forgotten responder, because I’m not afforded the same benefits of my respected colleagues,” he said. 

Some of Gaughran’s other legislative achievements include making the 2 percent property tax cap permanent, allowing for early voting in elections and backing the state’s red-flag law, which establishes rules that keep guns out of the hands of people who are mentally ill. 

Gaughran said he opposed bail reform and allowing undocumented immigrants the ability to qualify for a driver’s license, two controversial bills that passed both the Senate and the Assembly and were ultimately signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). 

In the fall, while lawmakers are out of session, Gaughran expects to hold hearings with his constituents. One issue he’d like to see addressed is high property taxes. 

“We may need to open a discussion on consolidation,” he said. Schools, counties and local governments, he said, should work to share more services, which can reduce costs.

With regard to the Long Island Power Authority, Gaughran sponsored several bills. One bill, which proposed financial aid to school districts impacted by LIPA’s tax certiorari cases, stalled in committee. The other bill, S5122A, aimed to prevent LIPA from collecting back taxes through tax lawsuits. The Senate passed the latter LIPA bill unanimously and the Assembly introduced identical legislation, but it remained under legal review in the Assembly and was never put to a vote. Gaughran said that LIPA CEO Tom Falcone and LIPA lobbyists had a strong presence in Albany, after he successfully introduced the LIPA bill. He plans to take the issue up again in next year’s session.

LIPA’s press office did not respond to email requests for comments about its lobbying efforts related to the bills. Record requests filed under New York’s Freedom of Information Law are still pending.

Overall, Gaughran would like to see improvements made to the state’s budget process. Legislators, he said, are bombarded with bills right before the April 1 budget deadline.

“We really have to fix the budget process,” he said. “It’s policy as much as money.”

Photo from Governor’s office

Dr. Caroline Englehardt and Dr. Richard Rusto were elected to the Belle Terre village board.

Village of Belle Terre residents have spoken, electing a newcomer candidate over an incumbent during a village election June 18.

  • Incumbent candidate Dr. Richard Rusto retained his seat with 106 votes.
  • Newcomer candidate Dr. Caroline Englehardt won a seat with the most votes of all candidates at 108.
  • Incumbent candidate Judy Zaino received the least number of votes at 96.

In addition, there were 24 write-in candidates.

A high majority of people—95% nationwide—support organ donation, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Yet, only 29% of adults in New York have actually enrolled in the state's program. Left to right: Mark Cuthbertson, Christian Siems and Michele Martines raise awareness to improve organ and tissue donor rates. Go to Mydmv at dmv.ny.gov to register.

It’s as simple as signing a box on the back of your state driver’s license. Yet, New York ranks dead last in the country for the percentage of residents registered as organ donors, according to LiveOnNY, a nonprofit organization helping New Yorkers live on through organ and tissue donation.

The people in Huntington Councilman Mark Cuthbertson’s (D) office know firsthand how critical it is to participate in the program. Both Cuthbertson and his legislative aide Michele Martines have children that needed transplants. Their ordeal has motivated them to spread the word about the importance of signing the organ donation registry.

“You can save a life,” said Martines.

In 2015, her 21-year-old son Christian received a heart transplant. He was diagnosed at age 18 with dilated cardiomyopathy and suffered cardiac arrest about a year later. Luckily for Christian and his mother, they ultimately received a call that they found a donor. Martines said many are not that lucky and die waiting for a donor.

“We didn’t know at the time that the left side of his heart had failed and if he didn’t get the call for his heart he would have passed away that night.”

Every 18 hours a New Yorker dies waiting for a donor, she said. “In New York it can take up to seven years to receive a kidney or liver transplant.”

Cuthbertson also has been affected personally by organ transplants. His son, Hunter was diagnosed in 2016 with aplastic anemia during a precollege physical. The condition causes a failure of the bone marrow to produce the necessary amount of red blood cells. The chance of finding a perfect match in bone marrow with a relative is only 20 percent, but he found that his brother was a perfect match. In 2017, Hunter received a bone marrow transplant.

“I was elated when I learned he was a match, I dropped to my knees and I was crying,” Hunter said in a May 2018 Times of Huntington article.

Despite efforts in recent years to improve the rate of organ donations, New York still lags behind the rest of the country.  Only 32 percent of New York State residents are signed up as organ donors. The nationwide average is 56 percent.

Since his surgery, Christian has taken up public speaking to local schools and advocating the need for organ donors.

“We need to educate more people about organ transplants,” Martines said. “Christian goes out and talks to kids and tells them his story.”

And the Town of Huntington has moved to the forefront of advocating the need for more donors on the registry. Beginning in 2018, the town began hosting a 5k Run to Save Lives, which highlights the statewide problem. Participants at this year’s event helped raise $11,000. All proceeds went to three nonprofits that handle and advocate organ and tissue donations:  LiveOnNY, Be the Match and Team Liberty.

Dr. Alan Gass, medical director of heart transplant and mechanical circulatory support at Westchester Medical Center oversaw Christian’s transplant surgery. He said there needs to be more education about organ donations.  He wants people to know that transplants work and it’s not just the rich and famous who receive organs.

“Most patients live on for decades after getting a transplant,” he said.  “Being a donor is the ultimate way of giving back.”

Martines said she hopes the work she and others are doing will eliminate misconceptions and help increase the number of people who sign up to be donors. “We’ll continue to try and make a difference here,” she said. “My son is alive because of a total stranger.”

A post on a Gofundme page set up by Joseph Dwyer has confirmed Melissa Marchese, 18, of Shoreham died due to her injuries June 14.

“With a heavy heart, deep sorrow and tremendous regret, I write to inform you that Melissa Marchese has gone to be with the Lord,” Dwyer wrote. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Melissa and the Marchese family. Thank you all for your generous donations during this time of unthinkable sadness and utter despair. God Bless.”

The Gofundme page raised nearly $20,000 from 294 people in six hours.

*Original story

A Shoreham teen was seriously injured in a crash at the corner of Route 25A and Miller Avenue the evening of June 13.

Suffolk County Police said Evan Flannery, of Shoreham, was driving a 2007 Hyundai Elantra southbound on Miller Avenue and was turning left into Route 25A when his car was struck by a 2006 Honda Accord, being driven westbound on Route 25A by Michael Troiano, of Ridge, at approximately 6:50 p.m.

A passenger in the Hyundai, Melissa Marchese, 18, of Shoreham, was airlifted via Suffolk County Police helicopter to Stony Brook University Hospital with serious injuries.  Flannery, 17, and another passenger in the Hyundai, Caroline Tyburski, 18, of Shoreham, were transported to St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson with non-life-threatening injuries. Troiano, 34, was transported to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead with non-life-threatening injuries.

Marchese has been known as a standout softball player in SWR, having been recognized as All-League in the Scholar-Athlete Team in March and is committed to the University of Hartford for softball.

The Shoreham-Wading River Central School District said they have canceled all high school final exams for June 14 and released the following statement:

“Our hearts and thoughts are with the impacted students and their families. The district’s mental health team will be available in the high school library for student support today.”

A Gofundme for Marchese and her family can be found here.

The vehicles were impounded for safety checks. Anyone with information about this crash is asked by police to call the Seventh Squad at 631-852-8752.

Voting booths at Rocky Point High School. File photo by Kyle Barr

Rocky Point has two open trustee seats. Board member Scott Reh, who was sworn in to the board Jan. 14 to fill the seat vacated by Joseph Coniglione earlier this school year, has said he has no plans on securing re-election in May and will let other candidates run for his seat. The candidate with the most votes will serve for the three-year term. The candidate with the second highest number of votes will serve the remainder of Coniglione’s term which is one year. The candidates this year are Susan Sullivan, Michael Lisa and Jessica Ward. Rocky Point will host its elections and budget vote May 21 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the high school gym.

Michael Lisa:

Lisa moved to Rocky Point seven years ago with his wife to raise their three children. Currently one is in sixth grade, one in fourth grade and next fall his youngest son will start kindergarten, according to a Facebook post. He has been an educator in the Massapequa School District for the last 21 years, and has coached at both the high school and middle school levels. 

“I am seeking the opportunity to serve on the board of education and use my experience as a teacher to listen first, lead with compassion and attentiveness to the needs of the members of our school community,” he said. ”And more importantly build strong partnerships with administration, students and teachers to work towards a common goal to benefit the children of Rocky Point.”

Susan Sullivan:

The former educator and assistant principal of Rocky Point High School has lived in the district for the past 34 years. She has been on the board for the past six years and recently served as board president. 

“I want to continue giving back to the community that gives so much back,” she said. 

Sullivan points to the AP and honors programs the districts offer as a strength and wants to keep taking Rocky Point to great places academically. She mentioned the tremendous work done on buildings in the district as part of bond works, though she stressed making sure they are being aware of the tax cap when it comes to the budget. 

Being retired, Sullivan said she has a lot of free time and would be able to attend many events throughout the district. With Rocky Point appointing a new superintendent, in Scott O’Brien, Sullivan is looking forward to working with him and continuing to build great relationships with teachers and administrators. 

Jessica Ward:

The challenger has lived in Rocky Point for the past 12 years and has four children in the district. She previously ran for a trustee seat six years ago but did not win election. After some time to reflect on it, Ward decided to put her name in the race again. 

The Rocky Point resident said, as a smaller district, they’ve been able to do great things over the years. One area she thinks the district is doing well in is the AP and honor programs the district offers. 

As a parent with children in the elementary, middle and high school, as well as a former employee of the district, she said she feels she has a unique perspective in the inner workings of the school system. 

Ward said she would like to see improvements in the mental health and social services being provided to students. She said she is concerned about the prevalence of e-cigarettes and Juuls in schools and wants to make sure parents are educated about this issue. 

The mother of four would like to see more security guards on school grounds who would have more of a presence. She also would like to maintain the athletics programs in the district. 

“I think it’s important to be present,” Ward said. “I believe I’m approachable and I am someone who will fight tirelessly to take care of the students and staff.” 

The Shelf at East Main officially opened its doors April 19 and welcomed an array of local artists, who all said they were happy for the rare opportunity to show off their work.

The new consignment-style shop is similar to the typical art gallery, since artists show their work and give a percentage of sales to The Shelf.  But, Diane Walker, the new store owner, said that her operation is different, because it’s intended to be more encouraging to local artists. 

Kyle Kubik, Walker’s son and an artist himself, said people were coming in at the last hour to get their work on display.

“There’s no out of pocket expense to them, and it’s up to us, and them, to promote the venue,” Kubik said.

Walker, a 25-year resident of Mount Sinai, opened the shop to try and give those artists the opportunity to really flesh out their passions in a noncompetitive space, something that gives local artists a leg up in an often cutthroat field.

Now that The Shelf is open, here’s a small helping of some of the artists who have their stuff on display. All had a similar frame of mind, saying that there are very few spaces like the Shelf where they can display their work without an upfront cost or upfront judgment.

The Shelf at East Main, located at 218 E. Main St., Port Jefferson, is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Walker said she expects she will soon start to open up the store for events outside regular hours. More information is available at www.visittheshelf.com.

Kyle Kubik

Walker’s son and an artist specializes in making video game and other pop culture inspired shirts and paraphernalia. He often ran the convention scenes and art shows from Long Island to New York City, and his mother saw the hustle that went into promoting one’s work as an artist. Kubik called it a gamble when one traveled to such events.

A customer holds one of Kyle Kubik’s shirts. Photo by Kyle Barr

“There’s a lot of competition out there, and there’s a high barrier to entry,” he said. “In my experience with conventions, I’ve walked out of events with a few thousand dollars in your pocket. I’ve walked out of events where I’m a thousand short, because I had to travel somewhere. Because of that hot and cold aspect, that’s what’s difficult for artists.”

He added that in some cases, even with quality work, some people simply don’t believe their work is good enough to be on display.

“We have macramé, we have knitted pieces,” he said. “You could put it up and be in a huge pool of people, or you can be in a local place with people in your community.”

More of Kubik’s work can be found at: www.kylevonkubik.tumblr.com/.

Crystal Wyllie

Crystal Wyllie speaks to a shopper. Photo by Kyle Barr

Wyllie, a Setauket resident, has been doing ceramic pottery since her college days, and opened up her own small workshop in her parent’s garage. She first learned about The Shelf from her aunt, the owner of Cardinal Realty in Port Jefferson, just next door to the new shop. 

“There aren’t many places where local artists can show their work in a noncompetitive atmosphere,” Wyllie said. “And I think it’s incredible to see what our community is capable of creating.”

To find more of Wyllie’s work, visit: @crystalmariepottery on Instagram or her website at www.crystalmariepottery.com.

Paul Cammarata 

One of Paul Cammarata’s photos. Photo by Kyle Barr

Cammarata is a local photographer, taking his inspiration from the idyllic sights of Port Jefferson, nearby Stony Brook and beyond. His photographs feature alluring destinations, images of classic cars, still lives and nature.

A graphic designer by trade, Cammarata got back into photography in the last few years after being convinced by a friend and watercolor artist. 

“Galleries can cost an artist a fortune — or you don’t get the right exposure sometimes,” he said. “Hopefully with the way [Walker] worked it out it’s a win-win for everybody.”

Cammarata’s work can be found at: www.fineartamerica.com.

Tracey Elizabeth

Tracey Elizabeth holding her painting. Photo by Kyle Barr

Elizabeth’s day job is photography, but she said her true passion is painting. 

To her, the new store is an opportunity not just for her, but for the community of small-town artists who are still looking to break out. It also gives the chance for the local community to see the creativity of their community.

“I live in Port Jeff, so I like that [Walker’s] using local artists,” she said. “It’s helping local artists, and it being a small town it really needs those small-town artists to be represented.”

Elizabeth’s photography can be found at: www.traceyelizabeth.com.

Paul Motisi 

One of Paul Motisi’s projects. Photo by Kyle Barr

Motisi works in graphic design, producing designs for shirts, album covers and more. He started doing freelance work out of college, and recently he started creating spray-painted stencil portraits and selling them on Etsy. He has portraits of characters from Rocky Balboa to The Dude from “The Big Lebowski.” Now his images sit in person inside The Shelf in Port Jefferson. He said many art shows and conventions can be hard to work with.

“Usually those people are very standoffish — they usually want you to jump through hoops, but these people were just so ready to have people involved,” Motisi said. “These places are in short supply.”

Motisi’s work can be found at his website: www.paulmotisi.com, or at his Etsy page at: www.etsy.com/shop/motisistencilart.

State senators at THRIVE press conference. Photo by Maureen Rossi

Advocates say new budget has wins for people in recovery

By Maureen Rossi

With the opioid epidemic still endemic throughout Suffolk County and beyond, New York State senators are hoping the new state budget will mean more help for those in the throes of addiction.

Measures woven into and passed in the state budget include increasing access for those suffering with substance use disorder to access 28-day inpatient and outpatient programs without prior insurance authorization.  They also include money for a recovery high school start -up and no prior authorization for medication- assisted treatment.  

“These are critical reform measures,” said New York State Sen. Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood). In addition, she touted another reform, which will require emergency rooms to enact screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment for all overdose patients before they are released. For the first time, emergency room doctors will also initiate medically-assisted treatment to overdose patients prior to their release, utilizing drugs like buprenorphine that alleviate the craving for opioids including heroin. 

Long Island advocates rally in Albany for the state to do more about the opioid crisis on LI Lobby Day in March. Photo from Friends of Recovery NY

Martinez was joined by her Democratic colleagues at a press conference in Islandia April 12.  Senators Anna Kaplan (D-Great Neck), James Gaughran (D-Northport), Kevin Thomas (D-Levittown) and Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) gathered at THRIVE Long Island, a community center for people in addiction recovery whose funding was a legislative win three years back.

The Island’s Democrats were joined by stakeholders to celebrate critical initiatives passed in this year’s state budget to combat Long Island’s pernicious opioid epidemic. Those stakeholders include parents of those lost to the epidemic, those in recovery and those in the prevention and addiction field, including the CEO of Family & Children’s Association Jeffrey Reynolds, of Smithtown.

 “There is still much work to be done to combat the opioid epidemic we are seeing here on Long Island,” Martinez added.  She looked to Reynolds to the right of the podium and shared that he was tenacious in getting the Long Island’s senators’ attention as the hours dwindled in budget meetings. “He used social media and tagged every single one of us and let us know what funding was missing in the budget.”

Kaplan said the crisis affects every community, every school and every community.   

“Too many innocent souls have been lost to this disease, they have been failed time and again,” Kaplan said.  “We are done with half-measures — we will do everything we can to help people get into long-term recovery.”  

One such measure included and passed in the budget was the funding of another THRIVE center for Nassau in Hempstead. The doors are scheduled to open next month.

Kaminsky met with some Long Island parents who lost loved ones to the epidemic prior to the budget process. Figures released by the addiction experts on Long Island put that figure at 3,400 since 2010.

“When a parent tells you the story of how they found their child (dead), you want to make sure another parent doesn’t experience that,” said Kaminsky.   

When it came to budget negotiations that lasted around the clock, the state senator said they would not take no for an answer.  

Suffolk County has long been a powerhouse when it comes to shining a light on the opioid epidemic and taking legislative measures to address it. Packages of historic bills have been pushed through statewide by Suffolk County advocates. The county is one of the state’s hardest hit counties and they were the first county in the country to file a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, the makers of the drug OxyContin.  

Reynolds addressed the senators on behalf of the sixty-plus advocates present.  “ ‘Thank you’ seems insufficient. You promised on campaign trails you would do good for Long Island. Thank you so much for your efforts,” he stated.

However, Reynolds promised that he and the Long Island advocacy movement will always ask the senators to do more. 

County officials at Cordwood Landing County Park in Miller Place announce free park access. Photo by Kyle Barr

Suffolk County legislators announced April 16 all county residents will have free access to all county parks April 20 through April 28.

Parks Appreciation Week will coincide with National Parks Week, which promotes free access to all federally-owned parks.

Normally residents require the county parks Green Key Card, which charges $30 for a three-year pass; otherwise they would have to pay a parking fee. During the week the county will have no admission required.

“We have this luscious, beautiful woodland that we can enjoy,” said legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai).

During the week, Suffolk officials are also promoting a number of programs in many county parks.

For more information, go to Suffolk County’s parks website at https://www.suffolkcountyny.gov/Departments/Parks  or call Suffolk County Parks Department at 631-854-4949.

Here are some of the events going on during the week:
  • St. James General Store –New Spring Displays and old fashioned items available at the store. The St. James General Store is an historic and is a National Historic Landmark has been in continuous operation since it was built in 1857 by Ebenezer Smith. It held St James’ first post office. It is considered to be the most authentic general store in the United States.
  • Long Island Maritime Museum is hosting fun Spring Break Classes for Children April 22-26
  • The Seatuck Environmental Association (550 South Bay Ave Islip, New York 11751)  is hosting their The 10th Annual Eco-Carnival Saturday, April 27, 2019 A full day of educational family fun featuring nature programs , live animals, music, art and food to celebrate Earth Day 2019
  • Vanderbilt Museum will be hosting its annual Bunny Fest, located at 80 Little Neck Road in Centerport Saturday, April 20
  • The Vanderbilt Museum’s Spring Creative Workshops for Children (180 Little Neck Road) Centerport, April 22-26 offering a different program each day
  • Versatile Steel Silk Band Returns to Planetarium (180 Little Neck Road) April 27 @ 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
  • North Fork Environmental Council  is hosting a 5K Walk/Run –  Help “Save What’s Left” April 28. Indian Island Proceeds will be used to fund the 2019 NFEC Scholarship Fund. This fund will give two scholarships to high school seniors that plan to pursue environmental.
  • DEC Free Fishing at Southaven Park April 23 10am-12pm. In this fishing event participants can fish for free, where they supply all bait, rods, and tackle for free, no freshwater fishing license necessary. In addition to fishing, participants can learn about fish identification, fishing equipment and techniques, angling ethics and aquatic ecology.
  • Long Island Greenbelt is holding its STUMP POND CIRCULAR “CHOCOLATE” HIKE April 25 at 9:00 AM – 5.7 miles – moderate – varied – Info Nancy B., 631-682-0035. Hike around the 120-acre pond in Blydenburgh Park: bring drinks and snack: rain or shine, although extreme weather cancels; meet at the south entrance of Blydenburgh County Park, opposite the County Offices on NY 347 in the parking lot just east (above) the entrance booth; enjoy a chocolate snack when over.
  • Long Island Greenbelt LAKELAND County Park TO WESTBROOK: April 27 9:00 AM – 6 miles – moderate – flat – Info: Tom or Sherri, 631-567-9484. See Honeysuckle Pond, the Connetquot River, historic hatchery and mill and more on a walk-through Lakeland County Park and Connetquot River State Park Preserve; rain cancels; bring water; meet at Westbrook sports complex; from So. St. Pkwy. Exit 45E, follow Montauk Hwy. east over LIRR bridge to an immediate left onto Wheeler Rd.; park at bottom of hill.
  • Long Island Greenbelt San Souci Stroll April 28 10:00 AM – 4 miles – moderate – mostly flat – Info: Kathie, 631-682-5133.    We will explore two trails in the pine barrens of this county park in Sayville; heavy rain cancels; meet at park entrance on Broadway Avenue turn left to park; parking is limited; overflow parking on Broadway Ave. or side street opposite entrance.
  • Long Island Beach Buggy Association Beach clean-up of Smith Point County Park on April 27
  • Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center at Munns County Park Nanny Class. Learn how to assist our hospital staff in feeding the orphaned babies this Spring in this class. No experience necessary. We will train you. Commit to a minimum of 3 hours per week. Ages 16 and over. Call 631-728-WILD(9453) to register
  • North Fork Audubon-Earth Day and Get To Know Your Local County Park Saturday April 20 at 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Inlet Pond County Park 64795 County Rd 48 Greenport Celebrate Earth Day and “Get To Know Your Local County Park Day” with The North Fork Audubon Society at Inlet Pond County Park.  The Nature Center will be open and there will 2 guided nature walks at 10 AM and 12 PM respectively. This is a family fun day, so adults and children are welcome. Come discover Inlet Pond County Park and learn about the North fork Audubon Society as well. For more information contact Tom Damiani at (631)-275-3202
  • Sagtikos Manor Earth Day Clean-up Monday April 22 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. 677 Montauk Highway West Bay Shore Bring your gardening gloves and weeding tools and we will provide the rest.
  • Nissequogue River and Kayak Rentals open for Paul T. Given County Park, Smithtown call for tide and rental information 631-979-8422.
  • Scout Stewardship Day at SCMELC Mon 4/22/19 Hours 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Calling all scout troops. Join us for a celebration of Earth Day to learn about and get directly involved with the restoration and stewardship efforts of CCE’s Marine Program. Projects will include eelgrass restoration, shellfish population enhancement, a beach clean-up and more!
  • This program is intended for scouts ages 6-18 with their leaders. All children must be accompanied by an adult, this is not a drop-off event. Advanced registration REQUIRED via Eventbrite Fee $10/person
  • Blydenburgh Rowboat rentals available daily 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Southaven Rowboat rentals available daily 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.

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