Uncategorized

Three Village budget vote is May 21. File photo by Greg Catalano

By Andrea Paldy

With residents set to vote on the school budget May 15, Three Village officials reviewed pertinent financial details at a public hearing during the May 2 school board meeting.

$209.8 million budget stays within cap

A main point is that the district will stay within the 1.97 percent cap on the tax levy increase without the need to cut programs, Jeff Carlson, the district’s superintendent for business services, said to those gathered for the Wednesday meeting.

School board president William Connors is running unopposed for his seat on the board. File photo by Andrea Paldy

Highlights of the $209.8 million budget include measures to increase student safety and well-being and to support elementary science and music programs.

Cheryl Pedisich, district superintendent, said the district will hire an additional guidance counselor at Ward Melville High School, as well as a psychologist to administer tests throughout the district to “free up” school psychologists to offer more counseling and guidance. She said security is multi-faceted.

“It’s not just infrastructure and security staff,” she said. “It’s also clinical staff.”

Three Village will receive $34.4 million — an increase of $833,579 —  in aid from the state, Carlson said.  It does not include building aid, which is tied to capital projects that vary from year to year.

The administrators said that declining enrollment at the elementary level, secondary student course preferences, retirements and administrative restructuring, all serve to ease the path for program enhancements.

A decrease of 120 to 130 elementary-age students could mean a reduction of two full-time equivalent positions in the early grades.  Pedisich said that would enable the district to add three teaching assistants to two from existing staffing as it prepares for the 2020 implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards. Lower student numbers also mean that the district can offer third-grade orchestra in the fall.

At the secondary level, changes in course enrollment could lead to a decrease of two to three FTEs, said Pedisich. As a result, the upcoming budget will be able to support an assistant athletic trainer to provide coverage for junior varsity games and seventh- and eighth-grade contact sports, as well as the addition of one full-time equivalent clerical staff member. Each junior high will have its own assistant to support the media specialists with the roll-out of the one-to-one device program that equips seventh through ninth graders with Chromebooks, the superintendent said.

“We have excellent programs and services, and the community has supported us in those efforts.”

— William Connors

Additional positions include one FTE for maintenance and shifting the transition coordinator, who assists special needs students in their move to the next stage after high school, from a contract position to one that is in-house.

Administrative retirements offer the district an opportunity to save funds by combining positions, while also being more “effective in terms of the delivery of curriculum,” Pedisich said.

With the retirement of the high school chair of foreign languages, a new position that oversees foreign language and English as a New Language is being created districtwide for kindergarten through 12th grade. Similarly, the retirement of the assistant director of health and physical education, who oversaw high school programs, will result in a coordinating chair of physical education and health for elementary grades and one for all secondary grades. The district will not replace the administrator retiring from the child nutrition program, Pedisich said.

In other changes, Ward Melville High School principal, Alan Baum, will move to the North Country administrative building to become Executive Director of Secondary Curriculum and Human Resources. William Bernhard, principal at P.J. Gelinas Junior High, will become the new high school principal.

Two trustees up for vote

Besides the budget, residents will also vote for school board trustees. School board president William Connors and trustee Deanna Bavlnka are running unopposed to hold their seats.

Connors, the father of three Ward Melville High School graduates, is running for his third term since being elected in 2012. He previously served on the board from 1994-2006 and said during a recent interview that his time on the board has taught him that the community will support a “reasonable” budget, sometimes at “great financial sacrifice.”

Deanna Bavlnka, elected for the first time in 2011, is running unopposed for her seat on the Three Village school board. Photo from candidate

“We have excellent programs and services, and the community has supported us in those efforts,” said Connors, who retired from his position as associate vice president of academic affairs and college dean of faculty at Suffolk Community College in 2011.

He noted that the district offers first-rate programs, catering to all students, at all grade and academic levels, and now that also includes pre-kindergarteners. The next step, he said, is adding more vocational courses to address the needs of students whose next stop may not be college.

Connors said he takes his role as board president seriously.

“I try to present a public voice of the board,” he said. “I try to represent the board of education and what we stand for and advocate for the district.”

Fellow trustee and Ward Melville graduate Bavlnka also is proud of the district’s free prekindergarten program offered at Nassakeag Elementary School.

Director of human resources at P.W. Grosser Consulting, Bavlnka listed among the district’s recent accomplishments the elementary STEM program, establishment of writing and math centers at the secondary schools and the one-to-one device program currently in its first year at the district’s junior highs.

Bavlnka was elected for the first time in 2011, and like Connors, notes the challenge of sustaining quality programs while remaining fiscally responsible.

“As a board trustee, we represent the entire school community,” she said in an email.  Bavlnka added that the board accepts accountability for clearly representing the community “both from an educational and budgetary perspective.”

The vote for the Three Village school budget and board trustees will take place May 15, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.  Residents zoned for Arrowhead, Minnesauke and Nassakeag elementary schools will vote at Ward Melville High School. Those zoned for Setauket Elementary will vote at P.J. Gelinas Junior High, and residents in W.S. Mount Elementary zoning will vote at R.C. Murphy Junior High.

JoS A. Bank shop remains closed as of 1 p.m. May 7.

By Sara-Megan Walsh

A car crashed through the wall of a Huntington Village shop Saturday afternoon, sending shoppers scrambling for cover.

Suffolk County police and Huntington Fire Department volunteers responded to reports of a vehicle careening into the side of JoS. A. Bank clothing store, on the corner of Main Street and Stewart Avenue, May 5 at approximately 4 p.m, according to fire department spokesman Steve Silverman. Police said an elderly woman driving a 1999 Subaru, traveling westbound on Main Street, had attempted to make a right turn onto Stewart Avenue when she lost control of the vehicle.

The driver suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was transported via Huntington Community First Aid Squad to Huntington Hospital for treatment, according to Silverman. There were six individuals inside the store at the time of the accident who escaped uninjured.

The Town of Huntington Building Department was notified of the crash and sent to check the building for structural damage.

Tom Laurice, manager for the Huntington JoS. A. Bank location, said the store was closed May 6 and remained closed as of 1 p.m. May 7 as the building’s structural integrity still needed to be evaluated by a Huntington Town building inspector.  Laurice said he hopes to reopen for business following whatever repairs are deemed necessary this week.

A parade of tall ships into Galveston, Texas, includes the Picton Castle, left, and the Oosterschelde, based in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Photo by Beverly C. Tyler

By Beverly C. Tyler

In “Two Years Before the Mast,” R.H. Dana Jr. wrote in 1840, “However much I was affected by the beauty of the sea, the bright stars, and the clouds driven swiftly over them, I could not but remember that I was separating myself from all the social and intellectual enjoyments of life.”

Sail handling aloft the Picton Castle is accomplished by its experienced sailors. Photo by Beverly C. Tyler

I spent a week this April as a crew member on the training barque Picton Castle. This square-rigged sailing ship is similar in size and function to the Mary and Louisa that my great-grand-aunt Mary Swift Jones sailed on to China and Japan in 1858.

I wanted to experience, in a small way, what my Aunt Mary experienced and observed as the wife of Captain Benjamin Jones on their three-year voyage. I know, of course, that a week on the Picton Castle is not really comparable to an almost round-the-world voyage, but I also knew that it would have to do. I came away from the experience with a new understanding of life aboard one of the many tall ships that travel the world today with crews learning sail handling and working together to achieve the goal of maintaining a historic ship under sail.

Having visited the Picton Castle in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia; Auckland, New Zealand; and Greenport, Long Island, between 2011 and 2015, I felt the romance of the old sailing ship and hoped I would have a chance to sail on her. I thought that seeing and feeling her with full sails moving almost silently through the water would be the part I would enjoy the most.

After a week on board, handling lines under close supervision and doing all the necessary chores that keep this tall ship functioning, I came away with an appreciation of the crew members with whom I worked. This is a hard-working and dedicated group from the officers and lead seamen to the advanced trainees who together instructed the new trainees in the basics of safety, line and sail handling and the myriad of jobs that have to be done every day. One I became fairly good at — whipping the bitter ends of lines to finish them off and prevent unraveling.

John the sailmaker works every day to maintain Picton Castle’s inventory of sail and teaches sailmaking to some crew members. Photo by Beverly C. Tyler

My first days on duty I shadowed one of the trainees who had been on the Picton Castle for a year, including a winter trip through the North Atlantic when ice covered much of the running rigging, making it very difficult to move the lines through the blocks that control the sails. There were no beginning trainees on this leg of the voyages to and from Lunenburg, the home and training port for most of the regular crew, as they had to function quickly and decisively under severe conditions.

I asked my instructor why he chose this type of work. He told me that he had been boating along the Atlantic coast with his grandfather since he was a child and growing up had done all the things that were expected of him — an education, a degree and a resulting steady job. By the time he was 30, he realized he needed a change and the sea was calling him back. He said he has found what he wants to do with his life — he loves to be at sea and he knows he is good at it. He has picked up the routine and the skills quickly and is proud of the work he is doing on Picton Castle, working the deck and teaching new trainees.

On watch we worked lookout and helm together as well as working lines from the complicated array of gear — lines and equipment — that controls the spars and sails. We were fortunate to have our watch group of 11 assigned to the 4 to 8 watch, both a.m. and p.m., on the trip from Galveston, Texas, to Pensacola, Florida. My instructor noted that this was the best watch this time of year since we are on duty for both sunrise and sunset. On the first 4 to 8 a.m. watch after two days of rain, wind and 4- to 6-foot seas, we were in the Gulf of Mexico 60 miles from the nearest land.

During his trip learning how to be a ship crew member, historian Beverly Tyler experienced two days of rough seas. Photo by Beverly C. Tyler

The sky was clear, and the stars were brighter than any sky I had seen since crossing the Atlantic in the U.S. Navy in the late 1950s. The Milky Way shone brightly, and there were so many stars it would be difficult to add more stars between the ones I could see. It made me realize how important the sky was to the ancient civilizations who observed it every night that was not overcast. All the various constellations were easily identified along with the planets.

After a week on the Picton Castle, I had to reevaluate what I had gained from the experience. The most important to me was the people I met, especially the officers and crew who spend countless hours instructing and reinstructing us no matter how long it took and how many times they had to go over the same information. My fellow new trainees, many of whom became friends for a week, were dedicated to learning and the hard work that went with it. Next in lasting importance and wonder was the night sky and the changeover from dusk to dawn in the morning as the crescent moon rose followed by the sun. Next was this beautiful sailing ship itself that inspired all of us with its abilities, functionality and beauty.

Beverly C. Tyler is Three Village Historical Society historian and author of books available from the society at 93 North Country Road, Setauket. For more information, call 631-751-3730 or visit www.tvhs.org.

by -
0 1471

Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci said construction scheduled to begin in March

The master plan for the spray park at Elwood Park is revealed September 2017. The plans are in memory of a Huntington resident Paul Tuozzolo, who was killed in the line of duty. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

Huntington’s first interactive water park is one step closer to construction with the approval of town funding.

Huntington Town Board unanimously voted to appropriate $230,000 for the construction and installation of a spray park in honor of fallen New York City police Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo within Elwood Park at their Feb. 6 meeting.

“It’s important that we are recognizing a wonderful family and an officer who died in the line of duty who has left behind two young children who will no doubt be using the spray park,” Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) said. “It’s a nice way to remember Officer Tuozzolo.”

Children Austin and Joseph Tuozzolo sit with a family member at the spray park’s unveiling in September 2017. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

Huntington resident Tuozzolo, 41, was working for the 43rd Precinct in the Soundview section of the Bronx in November 2016 when he was shot and killed responding to what was reported as a home invasion, but later turned out to be a domestic incident. A police dispatcher told responding officers that a man who had broken into the home was fleeing in a car, which Tuozzolo swiftly tracked down. Upon approaching the vehicle, the suspect opened fire and shot Tuozzolo who later died of his injuries.

“It’s a very fitting way to remember the sacrifices of Sgt. Tuozzollo who lost his life back in 2016,” Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) said. “It’s a real tribute to his life, legacy and the work he did on behalf of protecting people and the community, making sure public safety was there to help.”

The police officer is survived by his wife, Lisa, and two young sons, Austin and Joseph.

“The two most important children in his life were his sons, Austin and Joseph, and the moment he walked through the doorway upon returning from work, our home lit up as bright as the sun from the smiles on everyone’s faces,” Lisa Tuozzolo said, at the September 2017 unveiling of the spray park plans. “[The] dedication is a fitting tribute to the devotion he had toward his children and I know that he is smiling down with great pride, knowing that his boys will have laughter and smiles at this spray park.”

The spray park is set to cover a 2,500-square-foot area with
approximately 1,600 square feet of active play features that will be purchased from playground equipment manufacturer
Waterplay Solutions. Its equipment will include a shade structure, six park benches, a 4-foot vinyl-coated chain-link fence and a memorial trellis naming the park.

The preliminary estimated cost of the project is $450,000. The town board’s Feb. 6 action appropriated $230,000 from the Parks and Recreation Capital Improvement Reserve Fund, which will not incur any additional debt service payments. Other sources of funding will include using money paid by the developer of The Seasons at Elwood as part of the community benefits agreement with the town.

Lupinacci said the town remains on track with its initial plans to break ground on construction of the spray park in March 2018. It is slated to be the first interactive water park completed in the Town of Huntington, with second to be built at the James D. Conte Community Center in Huntington Station

Democrat town board members question hiring process, diversity of town appointments

Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci. File photo by Sara-Megan Walsh.

The first wave of Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci’s (R) appointments to his new administration has sparked allegations of bias and possible nepotism.

Huntington Town Board voted 3-2 to appoint 11 directors to various town departments at their Feb. 6 meeting. The vote was sharply split along party lines with Democrats Councilman Mark Cuthbertson and Councilwoman Joan Cergol raising objections based on the hiring process, or lack of one.

“We have 11 appointees and 11 white males,” Cuthbertson said. “If we were looking to recruit an executive team for high school sports, this might be a good start. We are looking to run a diverse and dynamic town. I think we need to have at least considered other candidates.”

Lupinacci’s Appointments:

•John Clark
Director, Dept. of Environmental Waste Management
$120,000 annual salary

•Paul Ehrlich
Vice chairman, Planning Board
Unknown compensation

•Leah-Michelle Jefferson
Equal Employment Opportunity officer
$2,000 Stipend

•Matthew Laux
Deputy director, Dept. of Environmental Waste Management
$118,000 annual salary

•Brooke Lupinacci
Liaision officer, Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program
No stipend

•Richard McGrath
Member, Zoning Board of Appeals
Compensation unknown

•William Musto
Deputy director, Dept. of Parks and Recreation
$100,000 annual salary

•Joseph Rose
Deputy director, Dept. of Public Safety
$27,880 annual stipend

•Peter Sammis
Director, Dept. of Public Safety
$115,000 annual salary

•Andre Sorrentino
Director, Dept. of General Services
$120,000 annual salary

•Dominick Spada
Deputy director, Dept. of Maritime Services
$60,000 annual salary

•Greg Wagner
Director, Dept. of Parks and Recreation
$115,000 annual salary

•Nick Wieland
Deputy director, Dept. of Information Technology
$100,000 annual salary

The supervisor originally sought to hire or confirm those individuals he selected at the Jan. 23 town board meeting. He pulled the action from the meeting agenda, delaying two weeks after protests from Cuthbertson and Cergol saying they had not had adequate chance to vet the candidates.

“As I’ve considered my vote for today, several key questions have surfaced in my mind,” Cergol said. “Chief among them was who else was up for these jobs? How wide of a net did we cast to fill these jobs? Were there efforts to seek diversity in the hiring process?”

Lupinacci said the candidates’ résumés were  received through the New Direction Transition Team website launched Nov. 30. The applicant were narrowed down by him, members of his transition team including newly elected Councilman Ed Smyth (R), and town employees before being invited in for an interview.

“I think we have an all-star list of appointees that will be heading up each department,” Smyth said.

Cuthbertson pointed out that several of Lupinacci’s appointments are Republican party members who have previously run unsuccessfully for town offices.

Republican John Clark, who lost to Democrat Kevin Orelli for superintendent of highways last November, is the new director of Department of Environmental Waste Management as of Feb. 26. Clark will receive an annual salary of $120,000.

Huntington Bay mayor Dominick Spada, who lost to incumbent Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) in his bid to represent the 18th District, will become the town’s new deputy director of the Department of Maritime Services. Spada will receive $60,000 annually.

Richard McGrath, who ran on the Republican line for town board in Nov. 2003, has been appointed as a member of the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals by Lupinacci.

“One of the criteria is that if you ran for public office as a Republican, you have a chance to be a department head,” Cuthbertson said, sarcastically. “It should not be a disqualifier that you were involved in politics. I think people should be involved in politics, and I think there are good people on this list who are involved in politics, but it really lends itself to cynicism about the process.”

The councilman said previous administrations had run advertisements for open positions in The New York Times to ensure a large, diverse pool of applicants.

In addition to the 11 appointments to department heads and town boards, Lupinacci also designated two programs liaisons to existing town employees.

Lupinacci said that despite several conversation and invitations, he had not received any résumés for applicants looking to be considered from either of his Democrat board members. The supervisor said he is looking to fill several town positions in coming months and all are welcome to apply.

The New Direction TransitionTeam website can be found at www.chad2017.com

by -
0 1490

Local state of the art facility is a care model that meets the needs of a growing older population

The most pressing problem Baby Boomers face today, when they go to work, is the daily care of their minimally impaired parent. A recent study found that approximately 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the previous 12 months, and 85% of caregivers are relatives of the care recipient.*

When caring for a loved one there are several options available; most often people often think of these:  a) long term care facilities; b) home care; c) home with a family caregiver; or d) home alone.  Few are aware that adult day care centers are a non-residential facility that supports the health, nutritional, social support and daily living needs of adults in a professionally staffed group setting. Adult day care centers provide a coordinated program of professional and compassionate services for adults in a community-based group setting while serving as an emerging provider of transitional care; designed to provide social and some health services to adults who need supervised care in a safe place outside the home during the day. Participation in adult day centers may prevent re-hospitalizations and may delay admission to residential long term care facilities. For participants who would otherwise stay at home alone, the social stimulation and recreational activities may improve or maintain physical and cognitive function. For caregivers, adult day centers provide much needed respite care, enabling them to work or to have a break from their caregiving responsibilities.

IMG_0032-wAway From Home Adult Day Care is such a facility located in Port Jefferson Station.  Elisa Bellido, Director of Away From Home said in an interview this week: “People should see this as an exciting answer to their caregiving options. Our 4,000 square foot state of the art facility’s mission is to ensure dignity, respect and well-being to all participants.  We offer a comprehensive program which provides functionally impaired individuals with socialization; supervision; monitoring; personal care; and nutrition.”

Away From Home is designed to feel like a home, according to Ms. Bellido.  They offer special areas designated for naps, reading, television watching, physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy with plans for future expansion.  Ms. Bellido shared that “our participants walk out of here happy, saying this is my home away from home.”

Daily activities include arts and crafts, games, music, gardening, cognitive and speech enhanced activities, coupled with socialization.  We provide breakfast, a hot lunch, and an afternoon snack.  The facility only hires professionally trained and certified staff, as well certified nursing assistants to care for their participants.

IMG_1062-w“Because we are social animals, we like to be readily accepted.  Therefore, when you find yourself with peers who share the same challenges you do, we tend to be more open and engaged in all activities.  At Away From Home there is no judgement, instead there is support.” Ms. Bellido said.  “People do better within a peer group setting, they take pride and enjoy having fun, accomplishing tasks and communicating with peers.”

Away From Home was created to serve as respite and peace of mind for caregivers.  “My mother and father were seriously ill; I had to take care of them while holding a full time job (65 miles away from home) and two small children,” Ms. Bellido said.  “I know what it feels like to be overwhelmed and worried.  I vowed to one day help others in my shoes.  For me, helping keep seniors at home with their loved ones for as long as possible is personal.”

For those struggling with the decision to take care of a loved one, Ms. Bellido has a message:  “There are options.  You don’t have to place your family member in a long term facility.  (Adult day care) brings your loved one happiness in a safe and nurturing environment.”

For more information about Away From Home Adult Day Care visit www.afhadc.org or call (631) 743-9200

*Data from June 2015 report called “Caregiving in the U.S.”, conducted by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving