Village Times Herald

Centereach foilist Rebecca Koenig Vinicombe clashes with Ward Melville's Lara Obedin. Obedin won her bout 5-2 in the Patriots' 22-5 win over the Cougars on Dec 19. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

When you think of fencing, you think of Ward Melville High School.

The fencing dynasty has been the team to beat on Long Island for years, and Saturday was no different. The Patriots traveled to Centereach for a meet where, as expected, the team dominated the card despite dropping the first two bouts to defeat the Cougars 22-5.

First on the strip for Centereach was sophomore sabreist Gail Aphra Laurino, who prevailed over her challenger with a 5-4 victory. Classmate Naomi Newen followed with a 5-4 win of her own in sabre, to put her team out front 2-0.

“They’re a little intimidating, but it’s also a good experience,” Laurino said. “It makes you play harder, build up your endurance and get stronger.”

The Patriots hit their stride, and claimed the next three matches.

Centereach épéeist Abigail Cornelia fences against Ward Melville's Arianna Ferretti in the Patriots' 22-5 win over the Cougars on Dec. 19. Photo by Bill Landon
Centereach épéeist Abigail Cornelia fences against Ward Melville’s Arianna Ferretti in the Patriots’ 22-5 win over the Cougars on Dec. 19. Photo by Bill Landon

First, sophomore Emily Huang notched Ward Melville’s first victory in sabre, 5-1. Sole senior Gabrielle Petrie opened foil with a win, blanking her opponent 5-0. Fellow foilist Ivanna Zavala-Arbelaez, a freshman, scored the Patriots’ third bout, a defeating her challenger 5-1, to help her team lead the meet 3-2.

Centereach freshman foilist Rebecca Koenig Vinicombe answered back with a win as a second-year varsity fencer, shutting out her opponent 5-0 to tie the meet.

But from there, Ward Melville’s fencers showed why they are still the team to beat this season, despite dropping their second meet since 2000 earlier this season. The Patriots took 19 of the next 21 bouts to claim the meet.

“We fenced this team last week, so we had a pretty good feel as to where they’re at,” Ward Melville head coach Peter Freiss said. “We were sharp today. It was a great sharing of the load from top to bottom from eighth-graders to our senior.”

Undefeated in epée was Ward Melville junior Arianna Ferretti, who won her matches 5-2, 5-4 and 5-1.

“Arianna is our anchor in epée — she was very strong today,” Freiss said. “Lara Obedin came into the second round and won her two bouts, and she too fenced very, very well.”

Obedin, a junior foilist, took her matches 5-2 and 5-1.

“The last time we fenced them I only had one bout, but they’re all different,” Ferretti said. “I watched my two other teammates [in epée] and I was able to learn by watching them. I thought I fenced pretty well today, but I’ll work on staying focused and cheering on the team for our next meet.”

Petrie defeated all three of her opponents in foil without allowing a single touch.

Centereach foilist Rebecca Koenig Vinicombe tries to fight off Ward Melville's Gabrielle Petrie in her 5-0 loss on Dec. 19. The Patriots won the meet 22-5. Photo by Bill Landon
Centereach foilist Rebecca Koenig Vinicombe tries to fight off Ward Melville’s Gabrielle Petrie in her 5-0 loss on Dec. 19. The Patriots won the meet 22-5. Photo by Bill Landon

“We’ve fenced them before, but each time you go out on the strip you have to be aware [because] they can change, they might do something different, or do something unexpected,” Petrie said. “I was pleased with my performance, but there are always things you want to analyze. I always look at my technique to be sure I’m executing. Regardless of whether I’m winning or losing I just concentrate on being the best fencer I can be.”

Freshman Lauren Cappello was also perfect on the day, winning both of her sabre bouts, 5-3 and 5-0, as did classmate Olivia Calise, who claimed wins in both of her sabre bouts, 5-2 and 5-4.

Centereach sophomore épéist Abigail Cornelia said Ward Melville is a powerful team that presents a huge learning experience for the Cougars.

“This year we have a lot of new fencers, so it’s really good to expose them to this level of play,” she said. “I think we did well under the circumstances.“

Other undefeated Patriots on the strip were sophomore épéeist Julia Duffy who edged out both of her challengers, and freshman épéeist Catherine Cao, who won her single appearance on the strip.

Centereach head coach Mike Olsen said Ward Melville works hard, and knew that it was going to be a tough match.

“We look to keep up with them and try take away one thing from each bout that we fence,” he said. “We may not win, but I told the girls to it’s a learning experience every time you go up against them.”

Ward Melville will host Walt Whitman on Monday, Jan. 4, while Centereach hosts Commack on Monday, Dec. 21, at 4 p.m.

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A rabbit is held during a previous year’s blessing of the animals service at the Setauket Presbyterian Church, where the third annual event is slated for Christmas Eve. Photo from Mary Speers

The Setauket Presbyterian Church will hold its third annual family-friendly Christmas Eve manger service, with carols and blessing of animals, at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 24.

On the first Christmas Eve, it was the animals that made room in their stable for Mary and Joseph, the church said, in explanation of the manger service. According to the old carol, it was the donkey that carried a very pregnant Mary all the way to Bethlehem. It was the cow who gave the baby her manger, full of hay, for his bed; the sheep who gave wool to keep him warm; the doves who sang him to sleep. The world wasn’t that different then from the way it is now. On the afternoon of Christmas Eve, as the day gives way to night, this will be a time to gather and give thanks for the hospitality of the friendly beasts, the first to welcome the unknown baby to the world, and for the friendly beasts who warm our homes and our hearts today. In our uncertain world, they teach us everything we need to know about steadfast hope, unflagging patience and unconditional love.

Children from the Setauket Presbyterian Children’s Choir will sing “The Friendly Beasts,” in costume. Children of all ages, as well as animals of (almost) all sizes, are invited to come with their adult humans to the Setauket Presbyterian Church, 5 Caroline Ave. on the Village Green in Setauket, Thursday, Dec. 24, at 4:30 p.m.

Many of us may think that black-and-white photographs are not interesting. Mimi Hodges, an enthusiastic photographer and Sound Beach resident, doesn’t agree. She likes to take black-and-white photographs of local places. As she puts it, “color can sometimes be a distraction.”

Benzing the rules
On Dec. 10, police arrested a man from Miller Place for unlicensed operation of a car. The 32-year-old man was driving a 2007 Mercedes down Route 25A in Miller Place when police pulled him over and found the man’s license had been suspended 10 times before.

Not what the doctor ordered
Police arrested a 26-year-old man from Shoreham for criminal possession of a controlled substance on Dec. 10, after pulling him over on Echo Avenue in Sound Beach for an unknown reason and discovering prescription medication in his car that had not been prescribed to him.

A holiday steal
A 30-year-old woman from Selden was arrested for petit larceny on Dec. 12, after she allegedly stole toys and clothing from the Kmart on North Ocean Avenue in Farmingville two days before.

Impaired judgment
Police arrested a 51-year-old man from Selden for driving while ability impaired on Dec. 11. He had been driving a 2000 Toyota down Route 25 in Selden when he failed to maintain his lane and police pulled him over. He has had previous DWAI convictions in the past 10 years.

To the left, to the left
A man from Stony Brook was arrested on Dec. 11 for driving while ability impaired in a 2003 Subaru on North Country Road in Setauket-East Setauket after he made a left turn from a no-turn lane. Officials saw the 30-year-old make the turn and arrested him at the scene.

Window pains
On Dec. 12, police arrested a 23-year-old man from Stony Brook for criminal mischief. Police said the man cut a window screen of a residence on Christian Avenue an hour before his arrest.

Smoking green on Greenhaven
Police arrested an 18-year-old from Centereach on Dec. 9 for criminal possession of a controlled substance after catching him smoking marijuana in a 2000 Lincoln Town Car on Greenhaven Drive in Port Jefferson Station.

Coke to cuffs
A 22-year-old man from Middle Island was arrested for criminal possession of a controlled substance on Dec. 10 on Mount Sinai Avenue in Mount Sinai. Police officers had allegedly found cocaine in his car.

East Broadway brawl
Police arrested a 55-year-old woman from Centereach for harassment around midnight on Dec. 12, minutes after she shoved someone and made harassing comments at Danfords Hotel & Marina on East Broadway in Port Jefferson.

Parking lot larceny
An unidentified person entered a parking lot on East Main Street in Port Jefferson and stole a purse, iPod and phone charger from a parked car. Police didn’t specify the car’s make and model or if it had been unlocked at the time of the Dec. 12 incident, but there was no sign of a break-in.

Grinch steals Christmas again
On Dec. 12, an unknown person stole holiday decorations and extension cords from the front yard of a residence on North Country Road in Mount Sinai.

You’ve got mail
Someone stole a mailbox from a residence on Glenwood Avenue in Miller Place on Dec. 13, around 4:13 a.m. On that same day, between 2 and 11 p.m., someone stole a mailbox from a residence on Devon Road in Sound Beach.

A lesson in stupidity
Someone stole a 2015 Honda from a 7-Eleven parking lot on Middle Country Road in Selden. Police said the car was on when it was stolen. The incident happened on Dec. 12 between 6:55 and 7:03 a.m.

Go home, caller
According to police, a Home Depot employee received a harassing phone call while at work on Dec 12, at the location on Pond Path in Setauket-East Setauket.

Needed money for books
Between Dec. 9 and 10 someone used another person’s bank card to withdraw money from a Teacher’s Federal Credit Union account. The incident was reported on Circle Road at Stony Brook University around midnight.

Chores and cartoons
Police said someone stole a washing machine and a television from a residence on Eos Road in Rocky Point on Dec. 11 around 10 a.m.

Scholarly slash
On Dec. 12, someone slashed the two rear tires of a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee while the car was parked on Harvard Road in East Shoreham.

Knife strife
A 33-year-old from East Meadow was arrested at the corner of Main Street and New Street in Huntington at 3:30 a.m. on Dec. 12 after police said he was recklessly waving a black folding knife in the air on a public sidewalk and alarming pedestrians. He was charged with disorderly conduct for violent behavior.

Necklaces nabbed
Police said a 25-year-old man from East Northport stole jewelry from someone on Cornflower Lane in East Northport at 8 p.m. on Nov. 23. He was arrested on Dec. 10 at the 2nd Precinct and charged with third degree grand larceny.

Wallet woes
On Dec. 12, a 28-year-old man from Huntington was arrested at the 2nd Precinct after police said he stole a wallet from someone’s purse on Nov. 2 at 11:47 p.m. on New York Avenue in Huntington. He was arrested just before 5:30 p.m. and charged with petit larceny.

Rocking out
Police arrested a 34-year-old man from Huntington on Dec. 9 for a previous incident on Oct. 19 at 5:50 p.m. where he threw a rock through a storefront glass door on Gerard Street in Huntington. He was charged with second degree criminal mischief.

FedEx theft
On Dec. 11, at 6:50 a.m., an unknown person stole a FedEx package left at the front door of a home on Mechanic Street in Huntington.

Feeling blue on Blue Goose Lane
A 36-year-old man from Northport was arrested on Dec. 8 after police said he had marijuana on him at the corner of Little Plains Road and Blue Goose Lane in Huntington Station at 4:20 a.m. He was charged with fifth degree criminal possession of marijuana.

Crack is whack
On Dec. 11, a 47-year-old man from Coram was arrested on Maplewood Road in Huntington Station after police said he was driving without a license and was in possession of crack cocaine at 10:34 a.m. He was charged with seventh degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.

Gone in a flash
An unknown person stole camera equipment from a 1995 Honda Civic parked on Mechanic Street in Huntington on Dec. 9 at 1 p.m.

May-day on May Street
Police said an unknown person stole a wallet and cell phone charger from a 2011 Hyundai parked on May Street in Huntington Station on Dec. 11 at 11 p.m.

High road
A 27-year-old man from Brentwood was arrested on Dec. 10 after police said he had heroin in his possession at 1 p.m. on Walt Whitman Road. He was charged with third degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Resident of fence-ded
On Dec. 11 at 6 p.m. an unknown person stole parts of a fence from the back of a pickup truck parked in a driveway on Old Northport Road in Commack.

Flee attempt
A 59-year-old woman from Kings Park was arrested on Dec. 13 after police said she hit a 2013 Mitsubishi while driving a 2013 Toyota on Lou Avenue in Kings Park at 1:23 a.m. and then tried to flee the scene. She was charged with operating a motor vehicle and leaving the scene of a crime with property damage.

On Dec. 13 a 42-year-old woman from North Babylon was arrested at the 4th Precinct after police said she tried to return deck screws for store credit from Wood Brothers Air Compressor on Express Drive in Brentwood that she had taken from the sales floor just before 3 p.m. on Oct. 27. She was charged with petit larceny.

Santa Claus isn’t coming to town
On Dec. 10 at 1:30 p.m. an unknown person stole a five-foot singing and dancing Santa Claus on display on a resident’s front porch on Orchard Street in Hauppauge and fled in a red Jeep.

Ring ring
Police said a 37-year-old man from Moriches made threatening phone calls to another person at 7:05 p.m. on Dec. 9. He was arrested on North Country Road in Smithtown and charged with first-degree criminal contempt by telephone.

Blown away
A 79-year-old man from Fort Salonga was arrested on Dec. 11 after police said he used a leaf blower to blow leaves and ash residue onto someone’s parked car on Woodmere Drive in Fort Salonga repeatedly at about 2:20 p.m. He was charged with second-degree criminal contempt and second-degree harassment.

Bowling lane blues
An unknown person damaged a 2005 Honda parked in AMF Commack Vet Lanes parking lot on Jericho Turnpike in Commack on Dec. 10 at 1:45 p.m. Police said the car’s rear driver-side window was damaged and a leather shoulder bag, cash, laptop, wallet and credit cards were stolen out of it.

Xanax bust
On Dec. 10 a 21-year-old man from Hauppauge was arrested at about 11:30 a.m. on Townline Road in Hauppauge after police said he had Xanax in his possession without a prescription. He was charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Motor Parkway market
Police said a 21-year-old man from Brentwood sold heroin and crack cocaine on Motor Parkway in Brentwood on Nov. 17 and 18 and Dec. 1 and 4. He was arrested on Dec. 10 after police said he tried to flee the scene just before 9 a.m. and charged with four counts of third-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance, one charge of fifth-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and resisting arrest.

File photo by Erika Karp

The Suffolk County Legislature is looking to put the brakes on its “pay now, or else” approach when it comes to fines levied to ticketed drivers.

Lawmakers have tasked the county’s Traffic and Parking Violations Agency with developing a payment program for the fines it levies to motorists within 90 days. If approved by the Legislature, the plan could allow nonmoving violators to pay their fines in installments, rather than the current system which requires one lump sum, due immediately.

It all started when Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) said she was approached by one of her constituents who claimed to be threatened with a driver’s license suspension if he did not pay his nonmoving ticket fine in one full installment.

“The revocation of a driver’s license should be reserved for violators who endanger public safety, not for someone unable to pay a fine on the day it is imposed,” she said.

The county currently has close to $2.3 million in outstanding tickets, lawmakers said. Hahn said that unpaid fines, fees and surcharges associated with parking tickets are often not collected or prove costly to collect and can result in lost revenue for the county government and taxpayers. A payment plan option, Hahn added, is a win-win, because it helps struggling Suffolk County citizens meet their obligations to both their families and to the county.

“A deterrent should never become a detriment, nor should the sting of a ticket ever become the hunger pains of a child,” Hahn said. “While these fines are supposed to serve as a financial deterrent to behavior that puts the public at risk, when unaffordable penalties are imposed and become due immediately, our residents are forced to make decisions that are counter to our values and to the public interest.”

County Legislator Kate Browning (WF-Shirley), who serves as chair of the Legislature’s Public Safety Committee, said punitive measures are intended to be teaching moments, rather than a road to economic ruin. She applauded the steps the county was taking in allowing ticketed motorists more time to pay fines.

“I congratulate Legislator Hahn for bringing this issue forward,” Browning said. “As a co-sponsor of the bill, I agree that no one should have to make a choice between putting food on the table for their family or paying a fine. Failure to pay causes a person to have a suspended license and potentially lose their employment. A payment plan for middle and low income residents will benefit the resident and the agency.“

Violators cited in New York City have the option of paying fines through an installment plan which requires that a portion of the fee be paid at the time of conviction, followed by monthly payments, with a 9 percent interest charge until the debt is paid in full. Suffolk’s eventual plan may take a similar form as the SCTPVA develops its own program, Hahn said.

The directive to the SCTPVA now goes to County Executive Steve Bellone for final approval. Then, once the SCTPVA develops its plan, the Legislature will have an opportunity to evaluate the proposal and decide whether to implement it.

“Punishment without mercy does not serve this county or its residents,” Hahn said. “I encourage the county executive to sign this bill as it advances the central tenant of fairness in justice.”

Long Island Bulldog Rescue founder Laurette Richin sits with Josie, the group’s mascot. Photo by Giselle Barkley

By Rita J. Egan

This past Monday, Beth Stern & Friends hosted the Bash for the Bulldogs at the Rosenthal Pavilion at New York University’s Kimmel Center. The event filled with food, music and raffles benefited the Long Island Bulldog Rescue located in Stony Brook.

The LIBR is the result of the love that Executive Director Laurette Richin has for the English bulldogs known for their stocky builds and wrinkled faces. Richin always wanted to learn more about the breed and, after divorcing her husband in the 90s, she decided to work with the dogs. She joined the Long Island Bulldog Club, but she said she soon realized she didn’t have what it takes to breed them. She explained that sometimes puppies could be lost during birth due to being delivered through C-sections.

Laurette Richin is all smiles with Josie, an American Bulldog. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Laurette Richin is all smiles with Josie, an American Bulldog. Photo by Giselle Barkley

When a member of the club asked her to stop by the Little Shelter Animal Rescue to check on a bulldog, it was the beginning of a new venture for Richin. She was told the dog that was brought in was very old, but as she looked at his teeth, she realized it was a puppy that was atrophied due to being in a crate all the time.

Richin said after she called the club representative to confirm that the dog was indeed a bulldog, she pulled out of the Little Shelter parking lot and couldn’t stop thinking of the puppy. She pulled back in and went right back into the shelter and took the dog home and nursed him back to health.

“I got hooked. It’s interesting, because you get to see something that is broken and needs you, and you fix them up, and they respond so beautifully. Then you find them a decent home,” Richin said.

That first rescue occurred 16 years ago in 1999, and while the group originally helped about 13 bulldogs in the local area during the first year, during the last decade and a half Richin along with LIBR volunteers have saved thousands of bulldogs and now serve nine states in the Northeast. Most of the dogs tend to be from Long Island and the five boroughs and almost 400 were saved in the last year alone. 

The increase need of rescues is due to the growth of the bulldogs’ popularity over the years. The executive director said when she started in 1999, they ranked 46 nationwide in American Kennel Club registrations and now rank number 5 nationwide and 4 in large cities.

Richin said the dogs, which can cost upward to $3,000, are mild mannered and love attention. She said many apartment dwellers buy the dogs because they don’t need to run around regularly. However, because they require a good amount of attention, bulldogs aren’t ideal for those who are away from home for long hours. Richin added that the dogs also need special food to help avoid skin issues that can develop due to the way they have been bred.

The bulldogs that are rescued stay in foster homes before being adopted. Richin, who has two bulldogs of her own and one foster at any given time, which now is Josie the group’s mascot, said currently they have 32 dogs in foster homes waiting to be adopted. The executive director said the homes are a better setting than shelters to prepare dogs for their future families.

“It’s a much better way to get the dog into an environment where you actually know what their issues are, and you get to know them. If you have a dog in a shelter situation, you’re never going to know that the doorbell makes them crazy or that they like to eat couches. That’s stuff we find out in foster homes,” the executive director said.

One-year-old Mia is waiting to be adopted. This little girl was rescued from a home in Queens where she was neglected and rarely went outside, even going to the bathroom solely on bathroom pads. Mia had an ingrown tail, which caused a horrible infection. While doctors have surgically corrected the tail, she remains in the hospital due to a torn cruciate ligament.

Wrinkles recently had a bit of a scare when he ate corn on the cob. His snack caused an obstruction, which his family could not afford to pay for; however, LIBR was contacted, and Wrinkles was brought to a local vet to remove the blockage. He is now in a foster home waiting for his forever home, preferably one with no young children since he has the potential to swallow small toys. 

When it comes to placing the dogs, Richin said there isn’t a problem finding potential owners. For almost 400 dogs in the Northeast in a year, she can receive approximately 12,000 applications. She pointed out that not every home is suitable for the dogs, however. Before placing a dog, things to consider are if the particular bulldog is well suited for a home that may have children, especially young ones, or other dogs or cats, as each dog is different. 

Richin said the group’s website and Facebook page have been valuable tools when it comes to finding new families, foster homes and volunteers, and the Facebook page especially has been helpful in sharing the dogs’ stories with the public.

A post that stands out for Richin is one where members driving in Lancaster, Pa., saw a bulldog tied to a pole along the highway with a big pink cardboard sign that said: “Free to a good home. Blind in one eye, can’t have puppies.” In an hour and a half, the executive director said a volunteer was there to rescue the dog. “Social media is extremely useful with this kind of organization,” she said.

The group has also used its Facebook page to educate bulldog lovers about the risks of buying a dog from a pet store or puppy mill. Recently, when a store-bought puppy developed pneumonia from a bug she caught at the establishment, LIBR shared the story on social media. The post encouraged others who had problems with pet stores, including the one the puppy came from, to share their experiences. The pet store paid for the veterinarian bill, which included the dog spending 18 days in oxygen. Unfortunately, the puppy died, leaving her owners heartbroken.

After another post, reporting how much veterinarian care would cost for one bulldog, a member commented he would match all donations. Richin was overwhelmed by the $4,000 check the man sent saying he was happy to do it because LIBR had helped him a few months earlier.

The organization also conducts programs at schools, fairs and shelter adoption events to help potential owners make informed decisions when it comes to buying or adopting a bulldog. The executive director said volunteers are also available to help bulldog owners with information regarding veterinarians, the proper food and care. For every bulldog they rescue there are three owners who need help caring for their pets, according to Richin. She said when volunteers help owners it’s primarily for the dog’s well-being, and they are nonjudgmental of the people.

Richin said she and volunteers understand that owners may encounter challenges and said they shouldn’t be hesitant to ask for help. “People feel lost. They have this initial loving feeling for the puppy, and then they’re like, well, what do I do now.”

LIBR is always looking for foster homes as well as volunteers not only to help with rescues but also with office work and publicity. For more information on how you can adopt or assist with rescues, fostering or even sponsoring a bulldog, visit or visit its Facebook page at

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Mary Jane van Zeijts photo by Irene Ruddock

By Irene Ruddock

Award-winning artist Mary Jane van Zeijts recently opened her own studio/gallery, Studio 268, at 268 Main Street in Setauket to display her work and teach art. I recently sat down with Mary Jane to share her thoughts on her art and her new adventures.

Irene: I know you recently moved back to Stony Brook from New Jersey. What made you move back?
Mary Jane: I missed the people, the art community, the silvery Long Island light that’s so special, but mostly I missed my friends! My children spent their first 11 years here so it is home to them, too. It confirms my belief that the Three Village area is a great place to bring up children. My son is in the Stony Brook School, which he loves. So many good things have happened to me since I’ve been back that I feel my life is going in a new and exciting direction. I never tire of things to paint here such as Avalon Park, [Frank] Melville [Memorial] Park and West Meadow Beach. The landscape is so varied that I am forever inspired to create.

I: You just renovated a house in Stony Brook that was on the Three Village Historical Society’s house tour. The decor of a house tells a lot about the owner. Tell us about it.
MJ: It’s really just things I’ve collected that are meaningful to me: a table from my parent’s blacksmith shop in Holland, Dutch wooden shoes, an antique clock, and paintings and sculptures from fellow artists. I like an uncluttered, clean design that lets me breathe, yet I yearn to be surrounded by things that touch my heart and are a part of my heritage.

I: When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
MJ: Growing up, I was always involved with drawing and painting. I started teaching at age 16 at the Gifted Child Society where I realized that I loved working with young people. I received my bachelor’s degree in fine art from the Maryland Institute College of Art and earned my masters in art education from NYU.

I: Can you describe what you are trying to say when you paint?
MJ: It’s more about feelings than what I actually see and the desire to have those feelings come through the painting. Pastels allow me to do that because they are so immediate. You feel it and you can just put it down before it is lost. You don’t have to mix the paint, or wait for anything to dry. Creating is all about problem solving. It’s a great way to be aware of what’s around you, to interact with and observe nature, to create something that acknowledges the beauty everywhere. When someone buys my work, my wish is to make them happy and to have that painting “speak” to them.

I: Art is different to every artist. What is art to you?
MJ: Art allows you to be quiet with yourself, it centers you, and gives you an awareness of yourself. I believe art is one of the highest form of communication — a universal language that evokes emotions. One experiences art on a deeper level.

I: You have spoken about your family. What are they like?
MJ: My parents are Dutch. They are straight-forward, practical, no nonsense people who love family and traditions. They, like most Dutch people, love the water, the great outdoors and adventure. They have a very strong work ethic.
My great-grandparents were active in the Dutch underground in World War ll. They hid and moved Jewish families through Holland. I treasure a tea box given to me by a man who was saved by my family. I look back and hope this generation will be as strong, principled and loyal as they were. I hope this strength and bravery will go forward and will not be lost.

I: What is the best advice you have ever received?
MJ: My dad always gave the best advice. He said that “If someone says that you are not capable of doing something, you need to ignore them and try to do it anyway.” He said, “Just do the right thing and every else will fall in place.”

I: Tell me about your three children. What are they like?
MJ: Everyone says that they were brought up well, but their goodness and specialness doesn’t come from anything I did. They are better than I am. I have learned from them to try to handle life with grace and faith.

I: What would be your advice to them?
MJ: I would tell them to trust in themselves and let their faith guide them.

I: You have just opened your studio and gallery. What is your vision for that?
MJ: I am thrilled to fulfill my lifelong dream of having my own studio to share my art with the community. I want it to be a comfortable space where children and adults learn, guest artists show their work, and people feel free to just stop by and say hello. My vision is to make the studio a joyful place of creativity and excitement where all are welcome!

Studio 268 will hold a grand opening on Sunday, Dec. 20, from 1 to 5 p.m. Join Mary Jane before or after your holiday shopping to view the art, mingle with fellow artists and enjoy some light refreshments. The gallery is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For information about classes or private appointments, contact Mary Jane at or call/text her at 631-220-4529. You may view her art at

Residents say Maybeck Drive in the Village of Poquott is in need of road repairs after various issues related to flooding destroyed the street. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Residents living on Maybeck Drive in Poquott are no strangers to floods.

The private road, which lacks a water drainage system, is prone to flooding during rainy weather as water travels from higher roads in the area down to Maybeck Drive. Over time the excess water eroded parts of the road and allowed potholes to form. While the previous owners maintained the road for the last several years, last year they failed to do so making the roadway impassable.

But on Nov. 17 the Village of Poquott voted to acquire the south end of Maybeck Drive in hopes of fixing the area.

Residents say Maybeck Drive in the Village of Poquott is in need of road repairs after various issues related to flooding destroyed the street. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Residents say Maybeck Drive in the Village of Poquott is in need of road repairs after various issues related to flooding destroyed the street. Photo by Giselle Barkley

While some residents supported the village’s decision to take over the road some residents questioned the village’s plan. Typically roads must be maintained before it’s transferred to the village. However, Village Attorney assured residents this isn’t the first time the village took over a roadway that wasn’t maintained. Despite this, the status of the area left some residents saying maintaining the road will affect residents in the area.

“It’s in pretty bad shape,” Barbara Donovan said about the road. “For the village to take it over at this point, it’s going to cost a lot of money.”

Donovan is the former mayor of Poquott. She first dealt with negotiations regarding Maybeck Drive in 2006 when the village sought ownership of the street. According to Donovan the board of trustees at the time held several meetings with the previous owners. Despite continuous negotiations about transferring the parcel to the village, the owners didn’t agree to transfer ownership until this year.

Mayor Dee Parish was unavailable to comment on the issue prior to publication.Although Trustee Jeff Koppelson is unsure why the owners stopped maintaining the parcel, he said the village is in a financial position to fix the road during a phone interview. He added that it would cost the village less money than if the owners fixed the area themselves. Planning Board Chairman Roger Flood said he didn’t oppose the transfer of ownership to the village but said he suggested that the previous owners should contribute to funding the road repairs. Koppelson said the owners intend to do so.

Currently the village needs to repave the roadway and address drainage concerns to prevent future flooding. Koppelson said he addressed the concerns of residents who opposed the village’s decision to take ownership of the south end of Maybeck Drive. He compared the situation to paying school related taxes. Residents argued that even after their kids graduate from school, taxpayers must continue paying those taxes. It is a similar case when it comes to maintaining roadways in the village.

“The reason is, is because it goes toward the community. It’s part of living in a community, especially a small village,” Koppelson said relating paying school taxes to using taxpayer dollars to fund road repairs.

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Laura McNamara, math chair at P.J. Gelinas Junior High School, discusses how classes will change once they are officially aligned with the Common Core Learning Standards. Photo by Andrea Moore Paldy

As Three Village continues to align its curriculum with the Common Core, its secondary math chairs recently shared how the district’s courses will help students meet the new challenges.

Donald Ambrose, math chair at Ward Melville High School, pointed out that the objective of Common Core math is not simply to get the answer. “It’s examining the nuances” and having a deeper understanding of the numbers and their relationships, he said at last week’s board meeting.

“It’s definitely a lot more that’s going to be expected of our students,” he said.

Across the board, there is a greater focus on fewer topics, along with greater understanding and fluency, said Laura McNamara, math chair at P.J. Gelinas Junior High. McNamara laid out the curriculum in detail from seventh grade to Algebra II.

While students will learn to link math principles across grades, it will not be at the expense of broader understanding. In the shift toward greater alignment to the Common Core, students are being asked to “make sense of problems and persevere in solving them,” Ambrose said.

During the presentation, Ambrose explained that additional expectations for Common Core math include the application of abstract and quantitative reasoning, building logical mathematical arguments and critiquing the logic of others. Ambrose added that students should be able to understand mathematical operations well enough to apply them to real-life situations and use appropriate tools to solve problems. The more rigorous approach calls for precision, an understanding of structure and higher-level reasoning, he said.

To achieve these goals, the district’s two junior high schools offer a variety of classes for students at varying levels. They range from lab classes for seventh and eighth graders who need additional support, to standard math, honors and honors theory classes, along with Regents Algebra I and Geometry.

R.C. Murphy math chair, Rocco Vetro spoke about the importance of vertical integration — that is, fluidity from elementary school to junior high. To achieve this goal the seventh grades are now piloting Go Math!, the curriculum recently adopted in the elementary schools. Vetro also discussed the district’s efforts to provide professional development to help teachers implement the more rigorous standards.

At Ward Melville, in addition to the three Regents courses — Algebra I and II and Geometry — the high school offers several Advanced Placement (AP) courses, including Calculus, statistics and computer science. Multivariable calculus, which qualifies for college credit from Stony Brook University, also is being offered. For students who complete multivariable calculus before their senior year, the math department plans to develop a course on differential equations for 2017, Ambrose said.

The district’s high school students have traditionally outperformed their counterparts in the state on all three math Regents exams, both in passing rates and, most particularly, in mastery rates. As the Regents and AP exams become aligned to the new standards, Three Village educators have set a goal of increasing the already high levels of student mastery. 

Moving forward, long term goals include adding more upper level courses, as well as continued vertical articulation between elementary, junior high and high school levels and further integration of classroom technology.

The town’s Chief Fire Marshal Chris Mehrman shows how Christmas tree fires can have devastating results. Photo from Brookhaven Town

Brookhaven Town officials demonstrated the dangers of Christmas tree fires last week, igniting an unwatered tree in a model living room.

The Dec. 9 event was aimed toward raising awareness about proper care for live trees. Before the dry tree went up in flames, officials from the town’s Division of Fire Prevention failed to set a properly watered Christmas tree on fire.

The dry, fiery tree caused damage to the model living room, referred to as a “burn pod.”

“This was a frightening, first-hand look at what could happen if Christmas trees are not sufficiently watered,” Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said in a statement. “I urge everyone to make sure when purchasing a fresh Christmas tree to keep it properly watered to prevent a fire like we witnessed today.”

Christmas tree lights and Hanukkah candelabra called menorahs can also create fire safety issues. Councilman Dan Panico (R-Manorville) warned residents to “inspect your lights for frayed wires or broken bulbs.”

Christmas trees caused 210 house fires across the country annually between 2009 and 2013, although almost a quarter of those fires were intentional, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Another more than 750 unintentional fires per year were caused by other holiday decorations. The fires result in injury, death and property damage.

“It took only seconds for this fire to develop and consume the burn pod and cause severe damage,” Councilman Neil Foley (R-Blue Point) said in a statement.

The National Fire Protection Association has advised people to place trees at least 3 feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, vents or lights, and to make sure it does not block any exits. It is recommended that 1 to 2 inches is cut from the trunk’s base before the tree is set into its stand, the association said, and trees should be watered daily.

For more information, visit the National Fire Protection Association at