Village Times Herald

Kara Hahn, center, officially opens Forsythe Meadow Count Park/Nora Bredes Preserve’s new walking trail during ribbon cutting ceremony Monday. Photo by Giselle Barkley

The sun appeared just in time for Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn’s (D-Setauket) ribbon cutting ceremony that marked the official opening of Forsythe Meadow County Park/Nora Bredes Preserve’s walking trail.

The ceremony took place Monday afternoon at 52 Hollow Rd. in Stony Brook. More than 50 people were in attendance including Hahn; former legislator Vivian Viloria-Fisher; Cynthia Barnes, president of the Board of Trustees Three Village; and Louise Harrison. Barnes and Harrison were both co-chairs of the Coalition for the Future of Stony Brook Village.

Once Hahn cut the ribbon, those who attended the ceremony were invited to hike the trail.

Coalition members wore pink ribbons, which the group selected upon their  outrage that developers wanted to turn the property into a 40-house subdivision.

For these members, the trail is a symbol of success in an effort to preserve this approximate 36-acre property. But according to Jeffrey Weissman, scoutmaster of Troop 377 for the Three Village Boy Scouts, the trail will not be the last improvement made to the property. Weissman wants to have more benches in the area among other improvements.

Hahn, as well as Viloria-Fisher, Barnes, Harrison and Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) thanked the individuals who helped create the trail. They also thanked those who attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for their support and effort to save “Stony Brook’s last forest.”

“It is this group standing here today that saved this forest,” Harrison said. “Someday we’ll have access from the village center.”

Stony Brook University international students at a potluck supper hosted by the Colatosti family of Setauket. Photo from Susan Colatosti

Soon, hundreds of international students will be arriving at Stony Brook University to begin their academic careers in search of advanced degrees. For most, it will be their first time in the United States. They have no family or friends here, and are in a completely foreign and unfamiliar environment.

The Host Family Program, a community-based organization now in its fourth decade, provides a newly arrived international student with the friendship of a local American family.

It is run by volunteers, with the cooperation of the university, and has been directed by Rhona Goldman since 1974. It is not a home-stay program; students live on or near campus. Host families invite students to share a meal, some sightseeing, or a favorite activity.

Both students and host families can have the enriching experience of a cultural exchange and gain perspective about the world. A host family may be a retired couple, a family group, or a single individual. The only prerequisite is the desire to make an international student feel comfortable in a new setting.

Students are arriving on campus in late August for the start of the fall semester and are looking forward to meeting an American family. The university will host a reception for the students and the host families to meet each other before the semester begins.

There is always a shortage of local volunteers to host all the students who sign up for the program.
If you would like to find out more about the program, email Rhona Goldman at: sbuhostfamilies@gmail.com.

Eight affordable rental housing parcels in the works

Veterans roll up a flag at a press conference on the Housing our Homeless Heroes initiative. The county Legislature will vote on a measure to transfer properties to create affordabe housing for homeless veterans at its Sept. 9 meeting. File photo by Rohma Abbas

Suffolk County has gained some footing in the war against veteran homelessness.

Last week, officials announced a proposal to transfer eight tax-defaulted properties over to nonprofit groups that will be charged with developing them into rental housing for homeless veterans or those who are at risk of becoming homeless. The units will be overseen and managed by the non-profit organizations.

The move is part of the Housing our Homeless Heroes legislative initiative, a package of four bills sponsored by Legislator Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills). Officials say there are about 750 Long Island veterans who are either homeless or who are expected to be homeless by the end of 2015.

In a phone interview on Monday, Stern said the county Legislature would vote on the transfer of the properties at its Sept. 9 meeting. He said he expects the resolution, which he is co-sponsoring with County Executive Steve Bellone (D), to gain unanimous support.

Stern, who is the chairman of the county’s Veterans and Seniors Committee, said in addition to housing resources, the veterans will receive additional services through these nonprofits, such as job training and placement; primary and mental health care; disability management and health care coordination; family counseling; financial training and substance abuse services.

“The Housing our Homeless Heroes initiative is the housing part of providing assistance to our veterans and families,” Stern said. “But it can never be just about four walls and a roof.”

Once transferred, the nonprofits would foot the construction bill through roughly $10 million in state and federal grant funding available for such projects, Stern said. Funding for the construction will be provided in part from the New York State Homeless Housing Assistance Program and United States Department of Housing and Urban Development HOME Investment Partnerships Program.

Two parcels in Central Islip will be transferred to the Concern for Independent Living for the construction of three single-family homes. Bay Shore-based United Veterans Beacon House has proposed to rehabilitate an existing home on a Copiague parcel, and build a single-family unit on a Yaphank parcel.

In addition, the Association for Mental Health and Wellness is proposing to build a new four-bedroom house for three senior disabled veterans and a live-in house manager on two parcels in Mastic; rehabilitate a house in Riverhead for one veteran family; and build a new set of four, single room occupancies for veterans on a parcel in Medford.

The Legislature approved the Housing our Homeless Heroes initiative last year, and Bellone signed the legislation into law just days before Christmas. The four laws tackle the issue of veteran homelessness from different angles — one establishes a partnership between agencies and community advocates that serve veterans and their families and helps them set up an informational web portal on the county’s website to direct them to services available across all levels of government and within the nonprofit sector. Another maximizes access to available housing for veterans. The third amended the county’s human rights law by adding veterans as a group of individuals protected against discrimination in housing and employment opportunities. The last bill will require a veteran services officer to work at the county’s Department of Social Services on a regular basis. The officers must be veterans as well, in order to establish a peer-to-peer relationship between those they are helping.

“As an agency committed to ensuring empowering people to overcome the impact of health and mental health disabilities, it is our intent to devote these houses to assist male and female veterans who have been affected by service-connected and post-service transition mental health challenges,” Michael Stoltz, chief executive officer of the Association for Mental Health and Wellness said in a statement. “I thank Suffolk County for partnering with our organization to further assist us in supporting our veterans.”

Stock photo

Mosquito samples from Port Jefferson Station, Rocky Point and East Northport have tested positive for West Nile virus, Suffolk County Health Services Commissioner James Tomarken announced on Friday.

In total, six mosquito samples tested positive for the virus, bringing this year’s total to 13. While the insects were infected, no humans, horses or birds have tested positive for the virus in Suffolk County this year.

Two samples collected from Port Jefferson Station on July 14; one sample collected from Rocky Point on July 16; and one sample collected from East Northport on July 17 tested positive, according to a press release from the health services department. Two other samples were gathered from Copiague and Dix Hills.

West Nile virus was first detected in birds and mosquito samples in Suffolk County in 1999, and is transmitted to humans by mosquito bites. According to the Center for Disease Control, 70 to 80 percent of those infected with the virus do not develop any of the symptoms, which can include fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea and rash. Severe cases — less than 1 percent of infections — could lead to a neurological illness.

Tomarken said while there is no cause for alarm, his department is asking residents to help in their efforts to reduce the exposure to the virus.

First, residents should try to eliminate stagnant water where mosquitoes breed. Popular breeding grounds include tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots, discarded tires, wading pools, wheelbarrows and birdbaths. In addition, residents can make sure their roof gutters are draining properly, clean debris from the edges of ponds and drain water from pool covers.

To avoid mosquito bites, residents should minimize outdoor activities between dusk and dawn, cover up when mosquitoes are most active, use repellent and make sure windows and doors have screens in good repair.

To report dead birds, which may indicate the presence of the virus, residents should call the county’s West Nile virus hotline at 631-787-2200 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Residents are encouraged to take a photograph of any bird in question.

To report mosquito problems or stagnant pools of water, call the vector control division at 631-852-4270.

For medical related questions, call 631-854-0333.

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A typical Highlander: The breed is well adapted to the extreme Scottish weather. Photo from Beverly Tyler

By Beverly C. Tyler

Scotland is a wonderful, wild and surprising place to visit.

My wife, Barbara, and I spent three days exploring The Trossachs National Park. We stayed in the village of Balloch at a bed-and-breakfast on a farm. George was a dairy farmer who had to sell his herd due to rising costs and lower milk prices. Sheila, his wife ran the B&B, Dumbain Farm, in a beautiful converted building that was the dairy barn.

The first day we drove to Luss, a 19th-century village that used to house slate quarry workers. Recognized as one of Scotland’s loveliest villages it is filled with many original stone cottages strewn with flowers and vines of every color and texture. We took walks around the village and through the farmland and former quarries around it. The paths are beautifully laid out and a delight to walk. We discovered a number of spoil heaps from the slate quarries; these remnants of the slate mining were clearly visible. In the afternoon we took a cruise on Loch Lomond. It was cold and cloudy but the scenery was spectacular.

The only downside was the almost complete lack of commentary. All the information you need to explore the villages, walks, hikes and lochs is on the website www.visitscotland.com.

The next day, Father’s Day (June 21), we drove through the incredibly beautiful Queen Elizabeth Forest Park to Loch Katrine. What superb vistas. We had a wonderful conversation on the loch cruise with a Scottish couple who were biking back from the other end of the lake. We saw a very pretty cottage built for Queen Victoria along the loch bank; she was visiting for the opening of the water supply from Katrine to Glasgow.

Unfortunately her 21-gun salute by the firing of cannons blew out all the cottage windows so she could not stay there.

We had lunch at the restaurant at the pier and dads were free for Father’s Day. We drove to Callander as the sun came out and walked a mile-and-a-half round-trip to Bracklinn Falls.

The water flows over and around gigantic slate stones that form walls around the falls. Along the walk we saw many sheep as well as long-haired Highland cattle, which are well adapted to the harsh climate. We had dinner in the oldest registered licensed pub in Scotland, The Clachan Inn (1734), in the village of Drymen.

The next day we left Dumbain Farm and drove to Glasgow, the largest city in Scotland. We enjoyed the Riverside Museum and the 245-foot barque Glenlee (1896), permanently moored alongside the museum.

The barque has a well done and interesting tour, with information on the 15-man crew and how they fared as seamen over the years on various ships. The Glenlee and thousands of other ships were built here along the River Clyde including the Queen Elizabeth 2, also known as the QE2. The decline of shipbuilding has left Glasgow with only tourism as a riverside industry, but it is now a vibrant city.

We had just time enough in the day to stop at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and viewed exhibits on Glasgow’s history, among others. The museum is housed in a most elegant Spanish Baroque building.

Beverly Tyler is the Three Village Historical Society historian.

In threes
A group of young men were arrested in the early morning of July 16 and charged with second-degree robbery. According to police, a homeless 24-year-old, a 19-year-old from Stony Brook and an 18-year-old from Port Jefferson Station forcibly stole money from a person on Route 25A in Port Jefferson Station.

Quick cash
An unknown man pushed a woman to the ground and stole property from her by a bar in Port Jefferson Station on July 15 at around 4:15 a.m.

Failed getaway
Police arrested a 35-year-old Port Jefferson Station man in Port Jefferson on July 13 and charged him with second-degree criminal possession of a loaded firearm, third-degree possession of a narcotic with intent to sell, first-degree leaving the scene of a crash and second-degree obstructing government administration. According to police, at around 4:58 p.m. the man was instructed to shut down his vehicle when stopped at Old Town Road but instead drove north on Jayne Boulevard at a high speed. When he attempted to make a right onto Maple Avenue, he failed to stay to the right and collided with a 2013 Nissan, whose driver required medical attention. The man then fled on foot until apprehended by police. Police said the man possessed a loaded semiautomatic weapon and heroin.

Changing gears
An unknown person stole a bike right off the rack from the The Port Jeff Bike Dr. on Main Street in Port Jefferson on July 19, at around 2:10 p.m.

Can’t even
A woman assaulted another woman in the female bathroom at Portside Bar and Grill in Port Jefferson on July 18, at around 2:30 a.m. According to police, the suspect thought the victim said something negative about her, so she punched her. The victim was transported to John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson to receive medical treatment. No arrests have been made.

Old-fashioned fisticuffs
A 25-year-old Rocky Point man was arrested in Port Jefferson and charged with disorderly conduct on July 18 after he engaged in a fistfight with security personnel at Billie’s 1890 Saloon on Main Street.

Friendly fire
Two co-workers at Heritage Diner in Mount Sinai were involved in a tiff on July 18. Police said one worker swung a utensil at the other, causing a laceration to the person’s face. No arrests have been made.

ATM on-the-go
An unknown person broke the front door of a CVS Pharmacy on Route 25A in Miller Place on July 16, at around 2:17 a.m., and fled with the cash register.

Lawn games
An unknown person drove across a lawn on Harrison Avenue in Miller Place on July 15 at some point between 10:45 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.

Homerun
A Hawkins Road home in Centereach reported a broken window above a front door on July 16 at 11 p.m. The damage was thought to be caused by a softball.

I’mrich
A 2013 Honda parked at a Ulrich Road home in Centereach was robbed of a wallet and credit cards at some point between July 14 and July 15.

Caught
A woman was given a field appearance ticket after attempting to take property from a Bob’s Store in Selden on July 19 at around 2 p.m. Police said the culprit tried to conceal a bathing suit and blender bottle in her bag.

Coffee buzz interrupted
Police said two men from the Bronx were arrested in South Setauket on July 15 and charged with third-degree burglary and possession of burglar tools. According to police, the men entered a Dunkin’ Donuts on Nesconset Highway at about 1 a.m. on July 15 and attempted to break into a safe. Police said they possessed a sledgehammer, a wedge tool and a pry bar.

Does this gift card buy drugs?
Two men were arrested on Pond Path in Setauket-East Setauket on July 15 and charged with loitering and unlawful use of a controlled substance. Police said the men, one 23 and the other 34 years old, were observed in a 2014 Honda at about 1:20 p.m. Police said the 23-year-old was observed exchanging a Home Depot gift card for heroin. The other man was seated in the passenger seat and possessed heroin.

Repeat burglar busted
An 18-year-old man from East Setauket was arrested on July 15 at 6:37 p.m. at his home and charged with two counts of second-degree burglary of a dwelling and one count of petit larceny. Police said that sometime between Feb. 1 and 28 the man stole master keys to an apartment complex on Jefferson Ferry Drive in South Setauket. Sometime between March 22 and March 31, he entered a residence using the stolen keys and stole property. He entered another Jefferson Ferry Drive residence on March 29 and stole jewelry.

Movie, popcorn, mischief
Someone broke the passenger-side front window of a 2015 Mercedes parked at AMC Loews Stony Brook 17 theater on Nesconset Highway in Stony Brook and stole Beats by Dre headphones, cash and cologne between 9:40 and 11:54 p.m. That same day, someone broke the window of a 2006 Ford F350 between 8 and 11:35 p.m. and stole tools from the same location.

Shattered window
Someone broke the rear passenger-side window of a 1994 Plymouth Voyager parked outside a home on Hollow Road in Stony Brook sometime between 8 p.m. on July 16 and 10 a.m. on July 17.

Jewelry box lifted
Someone snatched a jewelry box containing jewelry that was inside an unlocked 2006 Mercedes parked on Spring Meadow Road in Setauket-East Setauket sometime between 3:25 and 4:25 a.m. on July 19. There have been no arrests.

Car handle hulked
Someone ripped off the driver-side handle on a 2015 Ford Mustang parked on Adams Way at the Sayville Commons parking lot in Sayville. The incident happened on July 19 sometime between 12:05 and 12:50 p.m.

Phone jacked
Someone took an iPhone 4 and cash from an unlocked 2014 Honda CRV sometime between 6 p.m. on July 14 and 7 a.m. on July 15.

Bicyclist killed in Lake Ronkonkoma crash
Suffolk County police are investigating a motor vehicle crash that killed a Bohemia bicyclist in Lake Ronkonkoma on Tuesday evening.
Laura Heerbrandt, 23, of Ronkonkoma, was driving a 2014 Nissan eastbound on Portion Road when her car struck Luis Benitez, 51. According to police, Benitez swerved into her lane of traffic as he was traveling westbound on Portion Road.
Benitez was pronounced dead at the scene by a physician assistant from the Office of the Suffolk County Medical Examiner. Heerbrandt was not injured.
The vehicle was impounded for a safety check and the investigation is continuing. Detectives are asking anyone with information about this crash to contact the Fourth Squad at 631-854-8452.

Armed robber hits Hauppauge 7-Eleven
A masked man robbed a 7-Eleven in Hauppauge early Monday morning, injuring the clerk on duty.
According to the Suffolk County Police Department, the masked suspect, who was also wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, black pants and sunglasses, entered the convenience store on Townline Road shortly before 2 a.m., displayed what appeared to be a gun and demanded cash from the clerk. After the clerk complied, giving him cash from the drawer, the assailant fled on foot, heading west on Townline.
The clerk suffered a minor injury during the holdup, police said. He was treated at Stony Brook University Hospital and released.
Police described the robber as being about 6 feet tall and having a thin build.
Detectives from the SCPD’s 4th Squad are investigating the robbery. Anyone with information is asked to call them at 631-854-8452 or to call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 800-220-TIPS.

Police search for man who stole $400 in clothes from Commack store
Suffolk County police and 4th Precinct Crime Section officers are seeking the public’s help in identifying and locating a man who stole merchandise from a Commack store last month.
The man stole assorted men’s clothing from Kohl’s at 45 Crooked Hill Road on June 2 at about 6:15 p.m. The clothing has a value of about $400.
Suffolk County Crime Stoppers offers a cash reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest.
Anyone with information about this crime is asked to call anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.

Forsythe Meadow County Park’s new walking trail will officially open on Monday, July 27, at 3:30 p.m. Photo by Alyssa Turano

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) will finally cut the ribbon and officially open a new walking trail created in the Forsythe Meadow County Park and Nora Bredes Preserve on Monday, July 27.

Park visitors can walk and hike the trail, which spans around 1.2 miles according to Hahn. However, fires, camping and hunting are not permitted at the park, which will be open from dawn until dusk.

The county and Three Village Boy Scouts led by Jeffrey Weissman, scoutmaster of Troop 377, have made several improvements to the property in addition to the walking trail. The county parks department created a parking lot located in close proximity to the trail.

Weissman and his team, however, established the gated entranceway for the trail. They also set up fence posts and directional signs where the trail diverges to help visitors follow the trail.

People walking or hiking the trail can use hiking sticks, which are placed in holders at the entrance and exit of the trail. Visitors can also see signs throughout the trail that provide information on ticks, poison ivy and the bamboo forest, which the trail goes through, Weissman said.

“It’s nice to know this area of land preserved by Suffolk County [is] to remain a meadow and forest area and not be bulldozed and built up,” Weissman said.

In 1999, the Coalition for the Future of Stony Brook Village was created to push for the preservation of Forsythe Meadow after developmental pressures jeopardized the woodland area with a 40-lot home subdivision. The adjoining Smoke Run Farm was threatened, too.

According to Louise Harrison, who was the co-chair of the coalition, the homes would have disrupted the ambiance of the area as the woodland wraps around the farm.

In order to prevent the farm’s disappearance after the owner Joan Johnson died, the county and Brookhaven Town bought the development rights, which prevented future building on the property.

Not only did the county and town want to preserve the farm but community members realized the park was the last forest in Stony Brook. The coalition, which was around 2,000 members strong at the time, according to Harrison, banded together and fought to save the property. The county purchased the 36-acre Forsythe Meadow in 1999 to help preserve the area.

While members of the coalition celebrated the preservation of the property, Harrison said, they were not able to officially use the property until recently with the creation of the walking trail.

“It’s a real success story,” Harrison said in a phone interview. “It’s a wonderful joy to know that we can enjoy the fruits of our labor.”

The late county Legislator Nora Bredes also advocated for the area between 1992 and 1998 followed by her legislative successor, Vivian Viloria-Fisher. In April 2012, the park’s preserve was renamed to honor Bredes’ memory.

While the new trail is one of the most recent improvements, Weissman said there is more to come.

He wants to establish rest areas along the trail as well as kiosks, among other projects. Because Eagle Scouts take the lead on executing these plans according to their availability, it may take until next spring to make these plans a reality.

In regards to the walking trail residents can attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony, which will take place Monday at 52 Hollow Road in Stony Brook at 3:30 p.m. Hahn said the trail and the park alike are for local residents to use and enjoy.

“It has a healthy recreation aspect when you walk and hike the trail,” Hahn said. “It’s also good for your emotional well-being to get out and enjoy nature and put away electronics and just experience what we have here. It’s a beautiful addition to our parks in the area.”

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Young runners race around the track. Photo by Alex Petroski

The Ward Melville girls’ track and field team has found a way to raise money for its season while also providing families with young children from the district with a fun night to get out and exercise.

This is the third summer that the girls, lead by varsity coach Tom Youngs and junior varsity coach J.P. Deon, have organized races on six nights to host about 150 kids, though as many as 175 showed up on one night, from the community at the high school track.

“It [has] been really successful,” Youngs said of the three-year run of race nights, which took a hiatus last summer to allow for a new track to be put in at the high school. “We’ve gotten a lot of good feedback from the community.”

Nicole Murphy, a senior on the track team, also enjoys seeing the support the team gets during race nights.

“It’s nice to see everyone get together to participate in something,” Murphy said.

A little girl crosses the finish line in a 55-meter run. Photo by Alex Petroski
A little girl crosses the finish line in a 55-meter run. Photo by Alex Petroski

“It’s a great thing for the kids,” Tracy Seedorf, a community member and a parent of one of the runners, said. “My kid doesn’t play soccer. She’s not a ‘contact sport’ girl, so this is great. This makes it easier, especially when there’s a lot of kids here. It’s more fun for them.”

The race nights feature six events of various distances, with heats in each event for age group ranges.

“It’s a good opportunity for community members and their children, keeping them active and healthy throughout the summer months when they have that time to sit on the couch or just lay on the beach,” Youngs said. “It gives them something to look forward to every Thursday night.”

At the end of each race, members of the varsity track team wait at the finish line to write down the kid’s times on stickers that are stuck to runners shirts. The kids and their parents are encouraged to track their times in the various events to see their progress over the course of the summer.

“It’s nice to tie in the community,” Deon said. He added that a great deal of parents, and even grandparents’ involvement, is as a huge part of why the event has been successful. Ages of the runners span from 2 years old up to 12 or 13.

“I think they should start at an early age,” a parent, Marty Johnson, said of the importance of getting kids active, and also allowing them to socialize with their peers. Johnson said it was easy getting his kids enthusiastic about events like these. “My kids love being outside.”

Registration costs $5 a night per child, and three more race night events remain this year, including tonight. The registration period ends at 5:30 p.m. each Thursday, and races begin at 6 p.m. All of the funds raised go to the girls’ track team to be used for meets, invitationals, overnight trips and transportation.

The Greenway Trail runs between Port Jefferson Station and East Setauket. File photo by Rachel Shapiro

With the summer in full bloom, the Friends of the Greenway will mow, prune, clip and beautify the Greenway Trail — and the group would like community help.

Volunteers for the event, this Saturday, July 25, from 8 to 10 a.m., should bring gloves, trash bags, clippers, mowers, brooms or shovels along with any gardening tools. They can choose an area on the hiking and biking trail to clean or report to a trailhead for an assigned task.

The Greenway Trail, which opened in 2009, runs from Limroy Lane in East Setauket to the New York State Department of Transportation parking lot in Port Jefferson Station, close to Route 112.

A monthly effort to clean the trail will help maintain the community connection. Volunteers who cannot make the Greenway’s monthly beautification schedule can contact Charlie McAteer from Friends of the Greenway at cfmcateer@gmail.com to find out other ways to help.

Lee Zeldin, center, announces his support of two House bills to help addicts and prevent others from using drugs. File photo by Victoria Espinoza

Rep. Lee Zeldin took to Kings Park on Sunday to join the fight against drug abuse, an issue that is plaguing communities on Long Island and across the nation.

Zeldin (R-Shirley) announced his backing of two bills in Congress — the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015, H.R. 953, and the Stop Overdose Stat Act, H.R. 2850 — which seek to help those struggling with drug abuse and prevent future abuse. Zeldin is co-sponsoring both bills.

“It’s clear we must come together as a community and a nation to combat this growing issue,” Zeldin said.

According to the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, the percentage of state high school students who reported use of heroin more than doubled between 2005 and 2011, from 1.8 percent to 4 percent.

“We can’t treat them and street them, which is what is currently happening in our emergency rooms,” said Linda Ventura, treasurer of Families in Support of Treatment, known as F.I.S.T., a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and educating families which are struggling with a loved one’s addiction. “There should be no more shame with someone struggling with this disease, no, stigma — that has to go.”

Ventura, who is also involved with the Suffolk County Prevention Resource Center, is more than just a member of activist groups. She lost her son, Thomas, in March 2012 to drugs.

Bill 953 would help people grappling with drug abuse obtain the services needed to put them on the road to recovery. It would provide up to $80 million in the form of grant funding to help treat and prevent addiction through community-based education and prevention programs, and treatment and recovery programs.

The grants would further help expand prescription drug monitoring programs and provide police forces and emergency medical responders with higher supplies of Narcan, a prescription drug that reverses opioid overdoses.

The legislation has 20 co-sponsors — both Democrats and Republicans — and was introduced by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI).

“It’s a good bill on its merits alone, and it doesn’t matter what names or letters are attached to it,” Zeldin said.

Bill 2850 would provide an additional $25 million over a five-year period for Narcan production and distribution and provide more medical professionals and families with the lifesaving drug.

The act, introduced by Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), would also establish a preventative research task force that would look into ways to prevent future overdose deaths, while taking a preventative approach against drug abuse.

Zeldin was joined by members of the community including Suffolk County Legislators Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) and Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset); Kim Revere, president of Kings Park in the kNOw, a task force promoting a drug-free community; and Dr. Andrew Kolodny, chief medical officer of Phoenix House, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. The congressman wanted to show the only way to win the battle was to remain united.

Like Ventura, the fight was personal for some of those in attendance at Sunday’s press conference.

“I lost my son, Timothy, in August of 2009 after a 14-month struggle with prescription drugs, which eventually led to heroin,” said Teri Kroll, secretary for F.I.S.T.’s board of directors and a member of the resource center. “He passed away after eight and a half months of sobriety.”

Saji Francis, the doctor who prescribed Timothy the drug he eventually became addicted to, was arrested shortly after Timothy passed away. In 2010, Francis was convicted of illegally selling prescription pills and sentenced to six months in jail.

Kolodny, who also serves as the director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, explained how many people start abusing drugs after taking prescription medications.

“To control this epidemic we need to prevent new people from getting this disease, and treat those who are suffering,” he said. “We also need to get doctors and dentists to prescribe more cautiously. If not, these overdose levels with continue to rise.”

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