Village Times Herald

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Steven Matz talks with Stony Brook Children’s patient Rachel Dennis. Photo from Greg Filiano

Three Village baseball star Steven Matz of the New York Mets brought holiday cheer and big smiles to the faces of dozens of Long Island’s youngest Mets fans: pediatric patients at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital.

Steven Matz poses with Stony Brook Children’s patients Nicholas Reinoso, left, and Anmol Jaswal, both displaying their Mets-themed colored drawings, which Matz autographed. Photo from Greg Filiano
Steven Matz poses with Stony Brook Children’s patients Nicholas Reinoso, left, and Anmol Jaswal, both displaying their Mets-themed colored drawings, which Matz autographed. Photo from Greg Filiano

The Mets pitcher spent time talking to the children and encouraged them to keep getting better and to finish all their treatments. Patients like Nicholas Reinoso, 9, of Bellport, shared artwork with Matz – colored drawings of Mr. Met and other Mets-themed images.

“It’s great to see these kids at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital and take time to learn about them,” said Matz. “That’s what it is all about this time of year.”

He signed their drawings and chatted with patients in the pediatric floor playroom and in some of their hospital rooms in the acute care and intensive care units.

“It was cool to meet him,” said Anmol Jaswal, 21, of Blue Point, a college student who attends Long Island University.

Zachary Cottrell gets a bedside visit from Steven Matz at Stony Brook University Hospital. Photo from Greg Filiano
Zachary Cottrell gets a bedside visit from Steven Matz at Stony Brook University Hospital. Photo from Greg Filiano

Decked out in her tennis sweat suit, Anmol mentioned to Matz that it was her birthday the day before and talked about her tennis game and hopes to play for Long Island University. He wished her a happy birthday and said he would root for her.

Matz also visited the hematology and oncology clinic at the Stony Brook University Cancer Center, signing autographs and visiting with children undergoing chemotherapy.

Josephine Lunde poses with Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine during a back-to-school drive. File photo

Josephine Lunde never gives up.

More than a decade ago, Lunde started volunteering with the Town of Brookhaven’s annual Toy Drive. Her need to help Brookhaven residents landed her a full-time position at Brookhaven’s Youth Bureau two years ago, and because of her ongoing efforts to helping others, she has been named one of the 2015 Times Beacon Record Newspapers’ People of the Year.

“She was full time anyway,” said Maria Polack, a secretary to the tax assessor. “She does the work of, like, five men — for real.”

Polack met Lunde 15 years ago when Lunde started volunteering at the Town of Brookhaven. When it comes to helping others, Lunde’s work ethic is second to none. On many occasions, Lunde stayed up all hours of the night into the early morning to work on her many fundraising events. Lunde doesn’t only help organize Brookhaven’s Toy Drive, which helps about 7,000 children around the holidays, she also organizes a variety of events, including food drives, school supply drives, clothing drives, volunteer programs for senior citizens and the prom dress program, to name a few.

Lunde has led the prom program for around three years, according to Diana Weir, commissioner of Brookhaven’s Housing and Human Services department. The event allows girls from families in need to select prom attire, from dresses to purses, shoes and more. Schools allow their students to attend the event by appointment. Lunde started staying after hours to accommodate students and their families who couldn’t get a dress during the program’s daytime hours. Weir said Lunde’s dedication and desire to spend as much time as possible makes the Medford resident more special.

“She will never complain,” Weir said. “She never says boo.”

Josephine Lunde poses with Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine. Photo from Brookhaven Town
Josephine Lunde poses with Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine. Photo from Brookhaven Town

While every child who registers for the prom dress program gets special attention, Polack remembers Lunde going above and beyond for one high school student who thought she was too overweight to attend her prom. Lunde didn’t only get her a dress, she organized for the student to get her nails and hair done.

“The determination in Josie is bigger than both of us when she makes up her mind that she’s going to help somebody,” Polack said.

Brookhaven Town Superintendent of Highways Dan Losquadro (R) said Lunde is one who focuses her attention on those in need in the community, especially those who don’t always want to ask for help.

“A lot of those folks that she works with are people who are very proud, and who might not otherwise seek assistance. These things have gotten really expensive,” Losquadro said about Lunde and buying gifts around the holidays.

Lunde’s son Mike said his mother has always been one to help others but, almost to a fault.

“She doesn’t think of herself,” the son said.

When Mike was a child, his mother was a den mother for his Boy Scout troop, and took on other responsibilities when her kids were getting older.

Regardless of her accomplishments, Lunde likes to stay in the background. But whether she’s in the forefront at an event or working behind the scenes, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said the Town is happy to have her.

“Someone like her really adds to what it means to be a part of a town,” Romaine said. “She’s the heart of Brookhaven because she takes the heart of all the problems and tries to make them better. … We should have more people like her in this world. If we did, it’d be a much better place.”

File photo from Stony Brook University

They have a sense of urgency that motivates those around them to push for better results. In fighting against diseases that kill millions of people every year, they are doing what they’ve done from the time they left their home country of Lebanon until they arrived at Stony Brook three years ago: They are supporting their colleagues, recruiting top talent from around the world and encouraging their staff to train and encourage the next generation of researchers.

Yusuf Hannun, the director of the Cancer Center at Stony Brook, and Lina Obeid, the dean for research, continue to build a deep and talented team, adding researchers focused on curing diseases while also developing the next generation of Stony Brook scientists. The Port Times Record recognizes Hannun and Obeid as People of the Year for their day-to-day leadership, their discoveries in their labs, and their focus on the future of science at Stony Brook.

“In terms of what they are building at Stony Brook, their vision is to grow that Cancer Center into a NCI-designated Cancer Center,” said Gerard Blobe, a professor and research director at the Division of Medical Oncology at Duke University Medical Center who earned his Ph.D. in Hannun’s lab more than 20 years ago. They want to make it a “force in clinical care and research and training. They have a mission up there and I have no doubt that they’ll accomplish it.”

Yusuf Hannun is constantly working to improve his team of dedicated researchers with the hopes of curing complicated diseases. File photo
Yusuf Hannun is constantly working to improve his team of dedicated researchers with the hopes of curing complicated diseases. File photo

Blobe said the National Cancer Institute designation is just the “icing on the cake” that enables the center to seek funding for some projects. What’s more important, he said, is “what they will accomplish by getting that prize,” in building and developing Stony Brook’s research abilities.

Scientists in the same field as Hannun were quick to praise his achievements and innovation.

Discoveries by Hannun about sphingolipids, which are molecules that are involved in a range of roles, including cell division, differentiation and cell death, provided key insights.

Hannun “pushed the field into the modern age,” said Tony Futerman, the Joseph Meyerhoff professorial chair of biochemistry at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. “He’s been innovative for 30 years in the field.”

In her lab, Obeid, who is the dean for research and a professor at the Stony Brook School of Medicine, is exploring the role of enzymes that control molecules involved in cell growth and others that play a role in cell death or differentiation.

Futerman said Hannun and Obeid have been instrumental in the careers of many other scientists, developing talented and dedicated researchers who have also made significant contributions.

“They are excellent mentors of younger people,” he said. “There’s a whole school of former post docs who went on to get independent positions. This speaks to their mentorship. … They push young people into leadership positions.”

Those who have worked for Obeid and Hannun in the past suggested that they offered the kind of guidance, discipline and approach that was applicable in and outside the lab.

“Part of [Hannun’s] success is he’s very good at planning,” said Supriya Jayadev, who was a graduate student in Hannun’s lab at Duke and is now the executive director of Clallam Mosaic in Port Angeles, Washington. “He plans out an experiment such that it works the first time.”

Corinne Linardic, Hannun’s first graduate student, said, “I remember him saying, ‘It’s important not to look where the light is, but to try to look into the dark and turn the light on. … I thought that was very brave.”

Linardic, who is now an associate professor of pediatrics at Duke University School of Medicine, also said she felt fortunate to work with Obeid.

“It was extraordinary to have a female mentor as well,” Linardic said.

While they have come a long way from the beginning of their careers and their family, Hannun and Obeid have kept a consistent focus on the potential clinical benefits of their research.

“They get the translational aspects,” Futerman said. “When [Hannun] moved to Stony Brook to head the Cancer Center, that was one of the aims for his move, to be in a position where he can apply basic science to translational research.”

Futerman said Hannun and Obeid deserve recognition in the Long Island and scientific communities.

“They are considered leaders,” Futerman said. “They contribute a lot to the academic community.”

Carolyn Emerson, left, leads a discussion at Emma S. Clark Memorial Library. Photo by Dianne Trautmann

She is the librarian’s librarian and one of Emma S. Clark Memorial Library’s longest-serving employees.

Throughout her 30 years at the East Setauket library, reference librarian Carolyn Emerson, 61, can find almost anything, her colleagues said. But it’s her involvement with the library and caring attitude that’s made her an intricate part of the library and the community, and that is why Times Beacon Record Newspapers selected her as a Person of the Year in 2015.

Every other Wednesday, this soft-spoken librarian has organized the library’s senior bus program, which transports residents who would otherwise be unable to make it to the library. Although she didn’t start the program, Emerson took it over to help these seniors.

She also used her position at the library and her knowledge of Three Village history to organize and create programs like last year’s Culper Spy Day, which paid homage to the community’s ties to spy rings during the Revolutionary War.

On June 20, 2014, the library held its first Culper Spy Day program, in which residents could learn about the Revolutionary War, the Culper Spy Ring and its ties to Long Island. Three Village Historian Beverly Tyler, of the Three Village Historical Society, helped organize the event and said Emerson established a user-friendly site to spread the word about the spy ring throughout the community.

“She’s a very community-oriented [person] and easy to work with,” Tyler said. “She really makes the library a good common resource for more than just books and videos, but also history.”

Her efforts to inform the community stemmed from a desire to share her vast array of knowledge with others and help those in need, those close to her said. And her hard work is not only for the bigger programs, but also for little tasks that accompany her title as a reference librarian in Emma S. Clark’s adult section.

“Whenever anybody comes up to the reference desk, she just gives it 110 percent,” said co-worker Jennifer Mullen, the public relations manager and community outreach librarian. “She doesn’t stop looking until she finds it either, and everybody appreciates that. She digs deep.”

Mullen met Emerson a little more than 10 years ago. They worked side-by-side as reference librarians. Now, Mullen works alongside Teen Services Librarian Nanette Feder, who also commended Emerson for her insight on art, local history and literature, and dedication to her work and the community members she serves.

Emerson’s husband, Mark Rothenberg, said his wife comes from a line of people who share her tenacity and need to give back to their community. Emerson’s mother was recognized for her work following Hurricane Andrew, building homes for storm victims. Her father, a psychiatrist who ran a family clinic, counseled families in the Miami area. While her parents did their part to actively help those around them, they encouraged a young Carolyn Emerson and her siblings to be compassionate and stand up for themselves and their beliefs, Rothenberg said.

Emerson was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010. Despite the diagnosis, chemotherapy and surgery, Emerson remained resilient. She was cleared of cancer the following year and continued her work inside and outside the library.

“Many times, I’m in awe of her,” said Rothenberg, who works as the head of the Patchogue-Medford Library’s Celia M. Hastings Local History Room. “She’s been through a lot, including cancer.”

In addition to being a reference librarian, Emerson has also worked as a published poet. She has written poems in both English and French for publication. The librarian has also overseen poetry and book discussions at the library, which are a hit among residents, her coworkers said.

Mullen said Emerson acquired a large following for her evening book discussions and monthly poetry meetings. Her ability to listen appears to be one of Emerson’s many positive qualities that help further assist those who request her help.

While Feder didn’t pinpoint a specific moment illustrating Emerson’s character, she said, “It’s just how she works everyday at the library. She could be on a reference desk [or] helping a member of the library.”

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Frank Turano leads an interactive discussion delving into the history of Three Village. Photo from Beverly Tyler

By Susan Risoli

Setauket resident Frank Turano delves deeply into local history. He uncovers compelling stories of everyday people and brings those tales to life for the rest of us to share.

For that reason, and for his ongoing service to the Three Village Historical Society as board member and past president, Turano is one of Times Beacon Record Newspapers’ People of the Year.

Beverly Tyler, the society’s historian, has known Turano since the early 1970s and described Turano’s leadership in unearthing details about Chicken Hill, the area of Route 25A around the current-day Setauket Methodist Church. It was once a thriving community of immigrants who helped each other make a new life in America. An exhibit about Chicken Hill is on display at the society’s headquarters in Setauket. Tyler said Turano, who is manager of the Chicken Hill project and curator of the exhibit, led the search for the community’s almost-forgotten past and wrote a successful funding proposal to create the exhibit.

“He’s there almost every single weekend, to give tours of the exhibit,” Tyler said.

He and Turano traveled in September to the annual meeting of the American Association for State and Local History, where the Chicken Hill exhibit received the association’s highest distinction, the Award of Merit.

Karen Martin, archivist for the Historical Society, said Turano leads the organization’s Rhodes Committee. At the group’s weekly meetings in the Emma Clark Public Library, Martin said, Turano facilitates the group’s far-ranging and free-wheeling conversations about the history of our area, and then mines the discussions for ideas to dig into.

“The big names, like the Ward Melvilles, make the headlines,” Martin said. “But Frank also wants to know about everyone who lived in a community, the everyday person, the guy who owned the general store.” If a historical topic comes up in a Rhodes committee meeting, Turano “wants to know all the details. He’ll say, ‘Who’s going to know about this? Let’s give them a call.’”

Turano also volunteers for the Society’s annual Candlelight House Tour every December, Martin said. He explains the history of houses on the tour, and in general “he loves to give presentations.”

Local resident Hub Edwards, who has worked with Turano on many history projects, said, “If people want to know history, they should listen to him. He goes to great lengths to get the true story of a project, with no shortcuts.”

Edwards said Turano is always featured in the Historical Society’s annual “Spirits” tour of local graveyards, dressed as one of the historical figures highlighted by the tour. Turano also frequently writes scripts for the tour’s performances.

Turano’s daughter Alyssa said her father is now combing through the archives of the Long Island Museum. He’s working on an exploration of the Long Island whaleship-building industry, she said, “focusing on Mr. Cooper, one specific whaleship builder who lived in the 1800s.” Turano is finding out about Cooper’s life by reading his diaries and looking over ship construction work logs. Alyssa said her father has been excitedly sharing stories with her and his friends, about the buried gems of history he is finding.

“Not everyone appreciates history in the way that he does,” she said. “It’s very inspiring. When you are so passionate about history, you can make it come alive again.”

Her father is committed to finding out as much as he can about local history, she said, because he believes strongly that “not all of these people have had their stories told.” And he has told her that “it’s better to know the back story, so you can know how your community has changed throughout time.”

State Sen. Ken LaValle works with North Shore elected officials and residents to ensure the community, and greater Long Island region, have quality health care. File photo by Barbara Donlon

Quality health care and, to hear state Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) describe it, home cooking are good for the body, mind, soul and community. That’s the argument the Republican senator has been making for years on behalf of the Stony Brook University medical center and its hospital.

After the university lost out earlier this year on a partnership with Peconic Bay Medical Center, which agreed to team up with North Shore-LIJ Health System, the longtime local senator has continued his unflagging support of Stony Brook, particularly with John T. Mather Memorial Hospital.

“If we think of a wheel, the hub of a wheel, and the local community hospitals are its spokes,” LaValle said, referring to Stony Brook as that hub in the center. “This is my vision and one that I think is good for the people I represent” to allow them to have the “best quality health care” close to home.

For his consistent and long-term efforts to lend the support of his office to an important area institution, and for the passion and dedication he has shown to the residents of the region for close to four decades, LaValle is a Times Beacon Record Newspapers Person of the Year.

Sen. Ken LaValle speaks with a biker as she rests at the Port Jefferson Elks Lodge in Port Jefferson Station in the middle of a 330-mile bicycle trip to support wounded warriors. File photo
Sen. Ken LaValle speaks with a biker as she rests at the Port Jefferson Elks Lodge in Port Jefferson Station in the middle of a 330-mile bicycle trip to support wounded warriors. File photo

Stony Brook officials appreciated LaValle’s work on their behalf and suggested that he played a seminal role in keeping their ongoing relationship with Southampton Hospital on track.

“It took perseverance to continue to push the Southampton relationship with Stony Brook through,” said Reuven Pasternak, the CEO of Stony Brook University Hospital. “He was absolutely critical in keeping those discussions going and seeing them to fruition.”

Pasternak said LaValle also facilitated a connection with Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport.

The senator has been “a big supporter” of that relationship, Pasternak said. “He’s always made himself available to speak to people in Albany.”

LaValle was instrumental in the building of the new Medicine and Research Translation building, a 240,000-square foot facility that is expected to be completed in 2016. Kenneth Kaushansky, the dean of the School of Medicine and the senior vice president of health sciences, said LaValle helped secure critical state financing.

LaValle identified $45 million that was earmarked for a law school at Stony Brook that was never built that he “was able get reallocated,” Kaushansky said. “The state support for MART was hugely dependent on the senator.”

Kaushansky said he and LaValle have regular discussions about any potential issues that arise.

If things aren’t proceeding the way the university would like, LaValle “always volunteers to help put them back on track.”

State Assemblyman Steve Englebright said LaValle deserves recognition for his work on behalf of Stony Brook and all the area hospitals.

“He is firmly supportive of Stony Brook’s role and mission, as well as for all the hospitals in our community,” Englebright (D-Setauket) said.

LaValle suggested his role as chairman of the Senate Committee on Higher Education gives him an opportunity to advocate on behalf of the SBU medical school. His chairmanship provides “a vehicle to be able to work with other people in the state university system and within state agencies,” he said.

The approximately 129 students in each medical school class contribute to area health care while they pursue their education, LaValle said.

“That is one of the very first helping points for the university,” LaValle said. “It’s being able to fulfill the education of their medical students. There are also people doing their clinical work and residencies.”

Sen. Ken LaValle speaks at a public forum on the Common Core. File photo
Sen. Ken LaValle speaks at a public forum on the Common Core. File photo

LaValle is contributing to Stony Brook’s effort to secure a longer-term connection with Mather. He cited numerous such two-way benefits for a potential longer-term alliance.

Stony Brook can provide services that “will save Mather a lot of money,” LaValle said.

For patients of the two hospitals, the quality and convenience are also a winning combination.

“If someone needs cardiac care, it is a hop, skip and a jump to get that care,” LaValle said. “They don’t have to be helicoptered some place or drive a long time distance.”

Kaushansky appreciated the support from the senator.

“He’s doing everything he can,” Kaushansky said. LaValle has “been a strong proponent of getting us and Mather to work together for the benefit” of the patient population in the area.

Kaushansky cited several other benefits to Mather of an ongoing and deeper connection with Stony Brook, including support for Mather’s stroke center with back-up cerebral artery intervention, and support for their radiology department.

While a deeper connection with Mather would be mutually beneficial for the hospitals, LaValle suggested, it would also create an important level of convenience for patients.

“I have started with the premise that patient care closest to home is the best care for the patient,” LaValle said. “The families can interact and it’s convenient. We are focused in a way to ensure that the quality of health care is at its maximum.”

From the leaders through the rank and file, Stony Brook health care professionals appreciate LaValle’s support.

“If anybody were to ask a person working in the dialysis unit, ‘Of all the politicians in the state of New York, who do you think is the strongest advocate for Stony Brook Medical School and Stony Brook University Hospital?’ most of them would say Ken LaValle,” said Kaushansky.

Pasternak, who considers LaValle a friend, called him sincere in his beliefs.

“It’s not the politics that drives him,” Pasternak said. “It’s his passion for the region and the people in the region.”

A view of Setauket Harbor. The Setauket Harbor Task Force works to preserve this local gem. File photo

By Phil Corso

They’ve covered a lot of ground — and water — in their first year, but members of the Setauket Harbor Task Force are only getting started.

The all-volunteer Setauket Harbor Task Force, led by residents and cofounders Laurie Vetere and George Hoffman, held its first general meeting on Oct. 29, 2014, and meetings have grown to host nearly 100 residents. Since the first meeting, members of the group have become a known force for North Shore environmentalism, and their efforts have washed upon the shores of civic leaders, elected officials and beyond. The group has spent the past year studying the harbor, influencing the public debate surrounding it and garnering public support for its preservation and sustainability.

For their contributions to the North Shore’s environmental discussion, members of the Setauket Harbor Task Force have been named 2015 Times Beacon Record Newspapers People of the Year.

On the ground level, civic members in the Setauket and Stony Brook communities have become big fans of the Setauket Harbor Task Force and have continuously teamed up with the group to help promote its mission of preserving the communities’ waterways. Shawn Nuzzo, president of the Civic Association of the Setaukets and Stony Brook, said he stood behind the Task Force’s work with hopes that it could help bring back a strong and vibrant Long Island economy based on the sustainable harvesting of coastal shorelines.

“We have a sordid and shameful history of polluting our Long Island waterways,” Nuzzo said. “For years, scientists and environmentalists have been warning of the harmful effects of nitrogen and other contaminants in our water. But it is only relatively recently that the politicians have begun discussing remediating the situation, thanks in part to advocacy groups like the Setauket Harbor Task Force.”

The Task Force has been hosting regular walking tours of the harbor and its surrounding environmental beauties with hopes of reminding the community just how important it is to maintain.

Some of the group’s key concerns have included making sure the town pays attention to the road runoff retention basin that forms near the inlet at Setauket Harbor and maintaining park property just to the west of the area’s footbridge.

The Task Force also launched its first Setauket Harbor Day back in September — a free event held at the Shore Road dock, established to inspire the community to join the Force in its efforts to clean and preserve the harbor.

Since the group’s inception, members have been working hand-in-hand with elected officials from various levels of government, and so far their messages have been heard loud and clear.

State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) has been a consistent voice in the North Shore’s environmental discussion, having held previous positions as a geologist and biologist before becoming a public servant. And with his expertise, Englebright referred to the Setauket Harbor Task Force as an epicenter of community pride that has made a tremendous impact on the North Shore.

“We have a sense of purpose now to work between our civic community and the town and the state — it’s just wonderful,” he said. “I guess everybody would hope that government would do all of this on its own, but the additional attention and focus being brought by citizens who have taken this initiative on is just terrific. So my sense is that by establishing the Setauket Harbor Task Force, and providing a forum where issues that relate to the overall health of the ecosystem in our harbor can be discussed, we have a matter of focus.”

The group has received support from Brookhaven officials as well. Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said the Task Force represents the best of Brookhaven.

“These are citizens coming together and recognizing a common problem and looking to make a positive difference,” Romaine said. “We are prepared to spend money to enact some of the things they are trying to achieve. This is a commitment and what helps us is that we have partners on the local level — people who step up to the plate.”

Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) echoed those sentiments after spending the year working closely with the Task Force.

“The formation of the Setauket Harbor Task Force is a significant step in addressing some of the environmental concerns in the area,” she said. “It is a vehicle for the community to work together to assist in preserving our harbor and improving our water quality. I thank the members of the Task Force for all of their hard work to bring awareness of the needs of the Harbor to the community. I had the privilege of attending the first Setauket Harbor Day this past summer, which I believe was a success, as it was both entertaining and educational.”

Looking ahead, Englebright said he’d hope to see the group follow through in working with the Town of Brookhaven to see what kinds of progress can be achieved in addressing road runoff issues and restoring the ecological balance of some of the most disrupted areas along the harbor.

“The fact that the town is planning to dredge the basin is, in part, a response to the initiative of local citizens,” Englebright said. “That partnership is really all too rare, and it’s ideally what government should be doing. I hope the town continues to realize that this is a wonderful and promising partnership.”

Vincent DeMarco, center, poses for a photo with some members of the Youth Re-entry Task Force during a regular bi-monthly meeting. Photo from Kristin MacKay

By Clayton Collier

Suffolk County Sheriff Vincent DeMarco has worked diligently over the last nine years, going above and beyond what’s asked of his position.

His creation and development of the Youth Re-Entry Task Force, a program created to rehabilitate youth inmates, among his other initiatives, has earned him the distinction of a 2015 Times Beacon Record Newspapers Person of the Year.

“The sheriff has truly changed the culture of corrections in Suffolk County, and has put particular emphasis on rehabilitation of incarcerated youth,” said Kristin MacKay, director of public relations for the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office. “He has been at the forefront of the fight to eliminate state mandates for new county jail construction, which saved the county’s taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.”    

Though you wouldn’t know it from speaking with him, DeMarco did not initially intend to go into law enforcement. A Ronkonkoma native, DeMarco went to St. John’s University, graduating with a degree in economics in 1991.

“I always had an interest in law enforcement,” DeMarco said. “But I didn’t think it was going to be my career.”

After two years working in the financial industry in New York City, DeMarco transitioned into law enforcement, becoming a deputy sheriff for Suffolk County in 1994. He took to the job quickly.

Sheriff Vincent DeMarco is reducing the rate of recidivism in county jails. Photo from Kristin MacKay
Sheriff Vincent DeMarco is reducing the rate of recidivism in county jails. Photo from Kristin MacKay

“I think I have the best job in the world, I really do,” he said. “I love coming to work every day. I love what I do.”

DeMarco became Suffolk County sheriff in 2006, the first uniformed member of the office to be elected sheriff, and one of the youngest sheriffs ever elected in Suffolk County. From the beginning of his tenure, DeMarco said he has made working with youth inmates a priority. In 2011, DeMarco began assembling the partners needed for an undertaking like the Youth Re-Entry Task Force.

“We needed partners on the outside in order to make this a success,” DeMarco said. “We needed housing. … We also had to find not-for-profits that were willing to come into the correctional facilities and do some counseling: drug counseling, anger management, life skill counseling, vocational counseling, all types of stuff to fill our program, so when they leave the facilities they actually have the tools to succeed instead of just warehousing them in a correctional facility where you’re not giving them any tools and they’re going to fail.”

Among the most essential resources DeMarco and his administration found was housing for youths at Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson and Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch in Riverhead.

Thaddaeus Hill, executive director of Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch — created and named in memory of his older brother — said the program has seen great success, highlighted by the 50 percent drop in recidivism among youths who go through.

“Sheriff DeMarco has pioneered programs that few in this country have had the courage to take on,” Hill said. “He looks at the big picture beyond the walls of his jail and that has allowed him to make a significant impact on the lives of many young people on Long Island.”

Another key component was Eastern Suffolk BOCES to incorporate education into the program. Barbara Egloff, divisional administrator for Eastern Suffolk BOCES and Oversight of the Jail Education Program and Career, Technical and Adult Education, said DeMarco has effectively used the strengths of all of his partnerships to make the program a success.

“It is inspiring to work with Sheriff DeMarco,” Egloff said. “He has instilled the importance of effective collaboration to all who have the opportunity to work with him.”

Suffolk County Court Judge Fernando Camacho, who heads the County’s Felony Youth Part, a program created in conjunction with Sheriff DeMarco, said it is rare to come across a sheriff so dedicated to creating better lives for his inmates after they have served their time.

“I’ve worked in criminal justice my entire professional career, over 30 years, and I’ve worked with a lot of individuals running correctional facilities, and I can honestly say I’ve run across somebody who’s actually bringing in social workers and service providers into his jail to help young people to identify what the issues are, and to try to come up with solutions,” Camacho said.

Camacho said it is important to work with youth inmates to improve their situations upon leaving the jail.

“Rather than putting them upstate for three years and forgetting about them, we’re actually thinking about it in a different way,” Camacho said. “Let’s see if we can figure out why this kid got in trouble, and let’s see if we can put a plan in place that’s going to give this kid an opportunity to break out of the cycle and get back on track.”

As DeMarco explains, the program’s numbers speak for themselves.

“Nationally, the average inmate has an 83 percent chance of returning,” DeMarco said. “The kids that come through our program have a 23 percent chance of coming back; that’s a big difference.”

Overall, the program contributes to lowering the number of inmates in county jails, allowing DeMarco to prevent the costly undertaking of additional facilities.

“It doesn’t cost us any more to provide these services to the youth in this facility, but the return we get is that they don’t come back to the facility and we lower the jail population.”

In the future, DeMarco hopes to expand for additional age groups. The more people he can help, he said, the better.

“If someone winds up touching the criminal justice system and they wind up in this facility, and we can find out the underlying reason why this crime was committed,” he said, “we can change that and change their behavior when they get out, we’ve increased public safety, and that’s the goal.”

The Reboli Center is a multipurpose arts and history hub for the Stony Brook and greater Three Village community. It launched the Reboli Atelier art school last Friday. Photo from Nathan Jackson

The Reboli Center’s mission to collect, preserve and exhibit artwork, along with documents and artifacts of significance to late Setauket artist Joseph Reboli, took a major step this week when it launched its inaugural art school.

The Reboli Atelier opened with its first class on Dec. 18, in which residents of the Three Village community and beyond were invited to celebrate the beginning of what could become a new art community across the North Shore. Residents were invited to the Reboli Atelier at 2 Flowerfield in St. James. Eastbound Freight Bluegrass provided live music and those in attendance enjoyed artisanal cheese and craft beers supplied by Brew Cheese of Stony Brook.

Organizers for the art classes said a solid base of students was already on board before the classes kicked off.

The Reboli Atelier has been established to train artists to draw and paint in the vein of classical art. The classes examine the history and identity of Long Island art as being inextricably linked with the history of representational painting. The classes are crafted to pay tribute to artistic roots that reach back to William Sidney Mount and William Merritt Chase in the 1800s, Joseph Reboli in the 20th century and other notable Long Island artists in the current century.

‘Sun Silver’ by Drew Klotz is one of four kinetic sculptures on the grounds of the Long Island Museum. Photo by Heidi Sutton

The Long Island Museum, 1200 Route 25A, Stony Brook, will be open for extended hours during the holiday vacation. It will be open Dec. 26 and 27 (regular hours), Dec. 29 to 31 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Jan. 2 and 3 (regular hours). The museum will be closed on Dec. 24 and 25 and Jan. 1. Only the Visitors Center will be open from Jan. 4 to 31 and admission is free. The museum will then close from Feb. 1 through Feb. 25 for the installation of new exhibits and reopen on Feb. 26.

Visitors may view this year’s installment of Sculpture@LIM through the new year featuring four works by Connecticut sculptor Drew Klotz. Growing up in an artist setting, Drew naturally gravitated toward kinetic sculpture.

A graduate from Cooper Union in NYC his career has led him to create various different approaches to kinetics, from TV props to flying machines to his indoor inventions to outdoor wind-activated sculptures. As Klotz puts it, “My continuing exploration of kinetics, form and color are the backbone of my work. Many things influence me, flight, nature and natural phenomena. Using the wind as a power source to put my creations in motion to pull the viewer in and experience the fun.”

The following exhibits will open in February:

Mort Künstler:  The Art of Adventure
February 26 through May 30, 2016
Known for his meticulously researched paintings of the American Civil War and other significant historical subjects, Mort Künstler of Oyster Bay is also a prolific illustrator whose romance, adventure and sporting illustrations have engaged and entertained readers and admirers for six decades. Mort Künstler: The Art of Adventure features nearly 100 original artworks and ephemera spanning the breadth of his prolific career, created for such popular 20th-century publications as True, Argosy, Men’s Story, Sports Afield, Outdoor Life, American Weekly and The Saturday Evening Post, as well as movie posters, book jackets and advertisements reflecting American popular culture and the diverse artistic genres that comprise his exceptional creative journey.

The Brush Is My Pen: Art That Tells Stories
February 26 through July 30, 2016
The Brush Is My Pen explores American art in the narrative tradition, from the 1820s through today. From the classically influenced historical and genre paintings of 19th-century artists to powerful contemporary narrative work, artists have long created richly evocative stories. In this exhibition’s 18 paintings, prints and photographs, chosen primarily from the Long Island Museum’s permanent collection, artists have explored every aspect of the human condition, just as writers of literary and stage productions. The exhibition explores narrative art through four separate themes — work, satire, drama and hope — and includes a range of work from artists of every era.
William Sidney Mount’s “Loss and Gain,” 1847, a satirical work in support of the American temperance movement, is a typically striking example of the artist’s multilayered storytelling. Edward Lamson Henry’s “Home Again,” 1908, a nostalgically tinged work expressing longing for an America that was rapidly fading, tells the tale of a family reunion.
And Margery Caggiano’s “Michael as Don Manuel Osorio de Zuñiga,” 1978, is both an expression of love for the artist’s Spiderman-T-shirt-wearing grandson and a sly reference to the famous Francisco de Goya painting of a similar title. Whether exploring an aspect of history or simply appealing to the viewer’s sense of humor, all of these works prove the old adage that a “picture is worth a thousand words.”

Colors of Long Island
February 26 through May 1, 2016
This annual student art exhibition affords an opportunity for students in grades K through 12 to show their artwork in a museum setting.  Hundreds of proud parents and teachers flock to the museum every year to admire the work of these talented Long Island students, many of whom go on to study art in college. Colors of Long Island is sponsored by Astoria Bank.

For more information, call 631-751-0066 or visit