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Abby Wambach greets fans at the Book Revue on Sept. 12. Photo by Rebecca Anzel

By Rebecca Anzel

Abby Wambach signs copies of her books at the Book Revue on Monday night. Photo by Rebecca Anzel
Abby Wambach signs copies of her books at the Book Revue on Monday night. Photo by Rebecca Anzel

Paying it forward:

Soccer star Abby Wambach, who played forward on the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, visited the Book Revue in Huntington on Monday night to meet fans and sign copies of her new books, “Forward: A Memoir” and “Forward: My Story Young Readers’ Edition.”

The 36-year-old is a two-time Olympic gold medalist who, with 184 career goals, holds the world record for international goals for both male and female athletes. She retired from the sport on Oct. 27, 2015, the day President Barack Obama honored her team for winning the FIFA World Cup that year. About 500 people lined up to meet the player Obama called “an inspiration” with a “not-so-quiet dominance.”

Many in attendance were young female soccer players who came wearing their team jerseys and asked Wambach for a high five.

The Sisters of Delta Nu in Theatre Three's production of 'Legally Blonde: The Musical' at Theatre Three. Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

By Rebecca Anzel

Brittany Lacey stars in ‘Legally Blonde: The Musical’ at Theatre Three from Sept. 17 to Oct. 29. Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.
Brittany Lacey stars in ‘Legally Blonde: The Musical’ at Theatre Three from Sept. 17 to Oct. 29. Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

Theatre Three in Port Jefferson is gearing up for its next Mainstage production, “Legally Blonde: The Musical,” which will open on Saturday, Sept. 17. The role of Elle Woods will be played by 28-year-old Brittany Lacey, best known to Theatre Three regulars as Mimi in “Rent” and as Belle in “A Christmas Carol” when she was a company member there from 2010 to 2012. I had the opportunity to sit down with Brittany before rehearsals last Friday night to ask her about her latest role.

Why did you decide to audition for the role of Elle Woods?

This is a dream role of mine and having the chance to perform it here at Theatre Three makes it even more special. It’s like I’m coming home and now I’m doing something I’ve always wanted to do. I’m a huge fan of Reese Witherspoon. I love her! I think she’s very funny and talented. Of course, I don’t know her personally, but she seems like such a good person — like Hollywood hasn’t gotten to her.

What is your favorite scene in the show?

I just discovered it the other day. My favorite scene is “What You Want.” The song has three parts to it and all are great! Our choreographer, Whitney Stone, came up with this amazing dance and it’s just a lot of fun. It’s like one big party on stage. A lot of the cast is involved in the number. I like when you’re on stage with everyone else because you’re able to share everyone else’s energy and I think it makes it a more memorable experience.

What is your favorite song in the show?

“Take It Like A Man.” That has become my favorite one. I don’t know what it is about it — I love singing it. I play it opposite Brett Chizever (in the role of Emmett Forrest). It’s a real joy. Brett is great. How many weeks does the cast rehearse before production? Four or five weeks … I’m not exactly sure. Because most people work during the day, we rehearse from 7:15 at night to 10:30 and then on weekends, we’ll have five-hour rehearsals. It’s a lot of repetition and practice. And, after I go home, it’s all I listen to. I drive my boyfriend crazy making him run lines with me!

What is it like working with the director, Jeffrey Sanzel?

I love working with Jeff. He’s a strict director, but in a good way. Jeff cares about everyone on that stage and what they’re doing. He really works with you to make sure you’re comfortable. It’s all about putting out a great product and everyone feeling proud of their performance. What is it like working with your castmates? I only knew a handful of them going in, and everyone is so nice. This cast is very supportive. I haven’t had that in a while so it’s really, really nice.

Who is playing the role of the UPS guy? Is he cute?

He’s so much younger than me — am I allowed to answer that? But no, the ladies will be quite happy with who they’re watching up there. Kyle Breitenbach is doing a great job with the role. He’s very funny.

Brittany Lacey with the only four-legged member of the show, Taxi. Photo courtesy of Theatre Three
Brittany Lacey with the only four-legged member of the show, Taxi. Photo courtesy of Theatre Three

I noticed the show will have a real dog in the role of Bruiser Woods. What is she like?

Her name is Taxi, like a taxi cab. She’s a chihuahua. Caitlin Nofi (who plays Vivienne in the show) has a friend who was kind enough to lend us Taxi, and she’s a star! She came in with a pink and purple bow around her neck and owned that stage. And she’s so good! She’s calm.

Have you ever performed on stage with an animal before?

I don’t think so! I’ve played a lot of animals, but no I don’t think I’ve ever had one on stage. It definitely makes me nervous because you just want the animal to feel okay up there. You don’t want to scare it. It’s fun though! It’s different, because at the end of the day, you’ll see what she wants to do. If she wants to prance around the stage, she’s going to prance and we’re going to let her.

What is it like being a part of a production at Theatre Three?

It’s a great experience. I feel like this theater tries to make it feel like a home for their actors and that you’re a part of their family. You don’t always get that in other places. Everyone works really hard because they just put their whole heart into it, and that is another reason I love to come back here. Jeff [Sanzel] is the leading force of that. The heart he has for theater, for this theater in general, is ginormous. It’s great because then that falls onto the rest of us and it makes you want to put even more effort into the show.

Why should people come see the show?

Because we really want you to! No, no, I think we’re putting a lot of hard work into it. We’re just getting into tech week, but I believe we’re putting out a really good production and I hope it’s fun for them. We promise to entertain you! We all love what we’re doing, so I think that always translates to the audience. If we’re having fun, hopefully that means they’re having fun watching it.

Do you have a favorite spot in Port Jefferson that you like to go to?

As soon as rehearsal’s over, I go down to Ralph’s. I love my ices and ice cream! It’s like my after rehearsal treat. What are your plans after this? I don’t have any definitive plans yet, but I’m sure it will involve auditioning. A lot of this job, of being an actor, is putting yourself out there and hoping that casting directors like what you have to offer.

Anything else you would like to add?

I’m having fun, I’m loving this experience and I can’t wait to open this show!

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present “Legally Blonde: The Musical” from Sept. 17 to Oct. 29. Tickets range from $20 to $35. For more information, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

Three Mount Sinai children began making music on the piano at a young age. Now their youth ensemble is making memories with residents across the North Shore.

Playing at veteran homes and senior centers, the North Shore Youth Music Ensemble, created by brother and sister Claire and Joshua Cai, focuses on giving back to the community through the arts.

“I know many people who do volunteer work, and I thought music would be a different thing to do,” Claire Cai said. “I feel happy when I play. It’s really nice to know that they appreciate our music and that they give us their time to play for them.”

The 17-year-old learned the violin and the piano at the same time from her mother Dana, who teaches the violin and viola to young students at her home. Claire Cai said she switched her focus to solely the violin almost 10 years ago because she thought there would be more opportunities.

The North Shore Youth Music Ensemble’s, from left, Daniel Ma, Joshua Cai, Claire Cai and Claire Xu performed at the Rose Caracappa Senior Center in Mount Sinai. Photo by Rebecca Anzel
The North Shore Youth Music Ensemble’s, from left, Daniel Ma, Joshua Cai, Claire Cai and Claire Xu performed at the Rose Caracappa Senior Center in Mount Sinai. Photo by Rebecca Anzel

One came knocking when she was accepted into the Juilliard Pre-College Division, which is for elementary through high school students who exhibit the talent, potential, and accomplishments to pursue a career in music. It’s a competitive program, yet the young talent only had to audition once. This month marks her fifth year in the program. She will graduate next year.

“It’s really inspirational,” she said. “I get to meet a lot of people there and I learn a lot from the teachers. It’s a good thing to surround yourself with other people who come from all around the world with different talents.”

Joshua Cai, 14, first learned the piano and violin, but after being rejected by the Juilliard program, switched to playing the viola. He was accepted into the school the following year.

“My sister was always the one that was better than me so it was satisfying to do the same thing as her,” he said.

Their father, Yong Cai, used to play the violin years ago and is currently a physicist at Brookhaven National Laboratory. While his oldest daughter Mattea no longer plays, she is attending The University of Texas at Austin, majoring in architecture, and she and her younger sister both draw. The father said he believes music was important for his children to learn.

“We just thought that they should learn to play music — it’s always a good thing for young kids to not only enhance them talent-wise, but it can help develop their personality and it’s a form of training your brain in some sense,” he said.

Claire Cai performs in 2014. Photo from Yong Cai
Claire Cai performs in 2014. Photo from Yong Cai

When he heard his children were creating an ensemble he was thrilled.

“It’s a way for them to appreciate how music can help others,” he said.

The two teamed up to create the core trio with friend Daniel Ma, who plays the cello.

“It’s fun playing with my friends,” the 14-year-old said. “It feels like any other performance, but you know you’re performing for seniors, and that makes you feel good about yourself.”

The trio sometimes performs with Claire Xu on violin and Xavier Tutiven on viola. Most recently, at the Rose Caracappa Senior Center in Mount Sinai, Xu played classical songs with the trio. Duet Katherine Ma and Rachel Zhang also performed for the crowd.

“It’s really nice because we’re able to spread our enjoyment of music to other people,” Joshua Cai said. “It shows up on their faces.”

Claire Cai’s favorite piece to play is Dvorak’s String Quartet No. 12 in F Major, Opus 96, “American,” because of its spirited vibe, while Daniel Ma enjoys Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik for its classical elements, she said. At the most recent event, the ensemble also performed a more contemporary piece to close out the performance — “You Raise Me Up,” which was made popular by Josh Groban.

From left, Yong Cai, Joshua Cai and Xavier Tutiven perform over the holiday at the Rose Caracappa Senior Center in Mount Sinai. Photo from Yong Cai
From left, Yong Cai, Joshua Cai and Xavier Tutiven perform over the holiday at the Rose Caracappa Senior Center in Mount Sinai. Photo from Yong Cai

Michele Posillico, the manager for the senior center, said she loves when the ensemble comes to perform.

Their playing was “magnificent, over the top,” she said. “The parents’ hearts must be so full of joy to see their children play like that. It’s just remarkable. The seniors enjoy it. What this group of players from the younger generation is doing, their accomplishments, it fills their heart with happiness and love and pride. I just loved it — it brings tears to my eyes how they play.”

Yong Cai agreed, and added that he gets overly excited watching his children play.

“I take videos all the time,” he said with a laugh. “I go to all of their concerts when I can make it. They come to my house to practice and they really enjoy playing music. I have a huge collection of their performances. Some of which I post on YouTube.”

Although their parents instilled an appreciation for music in them, the musicians couldn’t imagine a life without it.

“It’s always been a part of my life and I don’t know what I’d do if I ever gave it up,” Joshua Cai said. “It’s the foundation of my everyday life. I’ve never experienced my life without music.”

To book the North Shore Youth Music Ensemble, email Yong Cai at yong.q.cai@gmail.com, or call 631-403-4055.

A woman Nicole sits on the grass in Port Jefferson remembering those who were lost to and those who survived heroin addiction during the third annual Lights of Hope event on Aug. 31. Photo by Nora Milligan

Rebecca Anzel

When Daniel Scofield died in 2011 from a heroin overdose, his mother Dori decided to do something.

“I wasn’t going to keep [his death] under the carpet,” she said. “I just said, ‘I’ve got to bring this out into the world. My son was my life and I’m not going to bury his addiction with him. I have to help others. I have to bring awareness.’”

In April 2014, the founder of Save-A-Pet Animal Rescue and Adoption Center started Dan’s Foundation for Recovery, a not-for-profit organization that provides assistance to those suffering from alcohol or substance abuse. The group uses its donations to help an addict get help — it assists addicts in covering insurance copayments, treatment and travel costs to recovery centers in other states.

Scofield co-hosted Lights of Hope on Aug. 31 at Memorial Park in Port Jefferson. The event, which is in its third year, brought together families and friends to remember those who died from a drug overdose and to support those who are recovering from drug addiction.

Lit luminaires light up the night during the third annual Lights of Hope event in Port Jefferson on Aug. 31. Photo by Nora Milligan
Lit luminaires light up the night during the third annual Lights of Hope event in Port Jefferson on Aug. 31. Photo by Nora Milligan

The event’s other co-host was Public Relations Director Debbie Gross Longo of the New York Chapter of Magnolia New Beginnings, an advocacy, education, support and addiction resource group.

“Each year, unfortunately the crowd gets bigger,” Longo said. “We lose about 129 kids a day throughout the United States. This is something that is an epidemic. It has gotten out of control and there’s no reason for it.”

Longo’s son was a soccer player at Ward Melville High School. He was so talented, she said, he was being scouted by colleges. That was before he tore his quadricep.

The doctors at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson prescribed him oxycodone, and he became addicted. The price per pill of oxycodone is expensive — about $45 each, Longo said. So he switched to heroin, a much less expensive but more potent drug. Before long, his personality began to change.

“The changes happened pretty quickly until I couldn’t ignore it any longer, and that’s when he went to rehab,” she said. “It didn’t work the first time, it didn’t work the second time and it didn’t work the third time.”

Longo said her son is now living in a sober community in Florida helping other addicts get into recovery.

According to a 2015 New York State Opioid Poisoning, Overdose and Prevention report, there were 337 heroin-related deaths in Suffolk County between 2009 and 2013 — more than any other county in the state during that period.

“We come together to celebrate the lives they lived, we’re celebrating the recovery and we’re celebrating the people who are still struggling. We will never give up hope. Where there is life, there is hope.”

—Tracey Budd

In a brief speech at the Lights for Hope event, Scofield stressed the importance of helping those addicted to the drug get into recovery. Earlier that day, she said, she helped a young girl who lost her mother get into the Long Island Center for Recovery in Hampton Bays as well as three other young people get into a rehabilitation facility in Arizona.

In starting Dan’s Foundation, Scofield “wanted mostly to help kids that sought treatment now — not 10 days from now,” she said. “In 20 minutes, they’re gone. You have a small window of opportunity to help them and you’ve got to do it when you can do it.”

Scofield’s son David, 28, went through heroin recovery. His mom said her sons were best friends and they did everything together, including using heroin.

“I struggled with this disease for a long time,” he said to those who attended the Lights for Hope event. “I found a way to live sober. I found a different way to live my life.”

Event attendees decorated white paper bags with the name of a loved one who died from heroin or who recovered from it, and a message. Toward the end of the evening, a candle was placed inside each bag, and they were arranged in a large circle around the cannon in the park.

“We come together to celebrate the lives they lived, we’re celebrating the recovery and we’re celebrating the people who are still struggling,” Tracey Budd, a Rocky Point resident and founder of North Shore Drug Awareness Advocates, said. “We will never give up hope. Where there is life, there is hope.”

Budd’s son Kevin died in September 2012 from a heroin overdose. Her daughter Breanna has been drug-free since May 2014.

She said the stigma of addiction has changed dramatically since 2008 at the height of her son’s struggle with heroin. There is now a community of families that support each other through a child’s struggle with addiction or an addict’s death.

Tracey Budd, a Rocky Point resident and founder of North Shore Drug Awareness Advocates, displays her luminaire in memory of her son Kevin during the third annual Lights of Hope event in Port Jefferson on Aug. 31. Photo by Nora Milligan
Tracey Budd, a Rocky Point resident and founder of North Shore Drug Awareness Advocates, displays her luminaire in memory of her son Kevin during the third annual Lights of Hope event in Port Jefferson on Aug. 31. Photo by Nora Milligan

“It’s sad to say, but when you feel the hug of another mother who’s lost a child, even if you’ve never met, no words need to be spoken,” Budd said. “It’s a connection that we wish we didn’t have, but we do, and it’s actually pretty amazing.”

Middle Island resident Hugh Rhodus said the worst part of the heroin problem on Long Island is going to a funeral for a young person. He recently attended the funeral of a friend’s 24-year-old nephew.

“Going to a kid’s funeral is the hardest thing, but unfortunately we do it all the time,” he said. “It’s so hard to do. Kids that age laying in a casket is awful.”

Rhodus and his wife helped their daughter Amanda through her 13-year struggle with heroin. He said when they first tried to get her help, they took her to Mather Hospital, where they waited for a couple of hours after speaking with a nurse in a “room in the back.” Eventually, they were told to go to a hospital in Nassau County because Mather Hospital was unable to help Amanda.

“It’s your daughter, she’s sick, she’s a drug addict and that’s how we found out how powerful the stigma was,” Rhodus said. “We fought for years to get her in and out of treatment — it was tough. It was really tough.”

Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) praised families and recovering addicts for not giving up.

“We can’t give up,” she said. “Everybody has to be engaged and participate because it is our lives and our children’s lives and our loved ones lives that’s on the line.”

Algae built up on a lake where birds and other marina life inhabit. File photo

By Rebecca Anzel

Long Island’s economic prosperity and quality of life are at risk from an unlikely source, but both the Suffolk County and Town of Brookhaven governments are taking steps to combat the issue.

Bodies of water in the county face nitrogen pollution, which leads to harmful algae blooms and a decrease in shellfish population, among other environmental defects. Critically, nitrogen seeps into the Island’s groundwater, which is the region’s only source of drinking water.

Fishing, tourism and boating are billion-dollar industries in Suffolk County — approximately 60 percent of the Island’s economy is reliant on clean water. County property values are also tied to water clarity, according to a Stony Brook University report.

Nitrogen enters ground and surface water from various sources of runoff, such as landscaping, agriculture and pet waste. But the largest contributor of nitrogen pollution is failing septic systems, which County Executive Steve Bellone (D) designated as “public water enemy No. 1.”

Elected officials and environmental advocates gathered at the home of Jim and Donna Minei, recipients of a Innovative and Alternative Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems through the Suffolk County Septic Demonstration Pilot Program. Photo from Steve Bellone's office
Elected officials and environmental advocates gathered at the home of Jim and Donna Minei, recipients of a Innovative and Alternative Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems through the Suffolk County Septic Demonstration Pilot Program. Photo from Steve Bellone’s office

Which is why Bellone signed into law last month a resolution that amended Suffolk County’s sanitary code to help protect the county’s aquifer and surface water by improving wastewater treatment technologies to combat nitrogen pollution as part of the county’s Reclaim Our Water initiative.

“It doesn’t help our tourism industry, our quality of life or our ecosystems,” county Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) said of issues with the Island’s water. “Tackling the nitrogen problem, while not a sexy issue, is a very important one.” Hahn is chairwoman of the county’s Environment, Planning & Agriculture Committee.

Town and county officials are tackling the problem by utilizing what Hahn called a “multipronged approach.” Brookhaven is working to track any issues with outfalls, where drains and sewers empty into local waters, and Suffolk County is employing alternative septic systems.

Municipalities like Brookhaven are required by New York State to inspect each point where waste systems empty into a body of water and create a map of their location. It is part of a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit because, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, storm sewers collect pollutants like bacteria, motor oil, fertilizer, heavy metals and litter, and deposit them directly into bodies of water.

In addition to conducting the inspections of outfalls necessary to comply with the MS4 permit, the Town of Brookhaven conducts a DNA analysis of any outfall that has indications of impacting water quality. Since 2007, Brookhaven has spent more than $880,000 on this state requirement, Veronica King, the town’s stormwater manager, said.

“You want to put your resources where it makes the most sense,” she said. “Instead of dumping millions of dollars into structural retrofits that don’t address the true problem, the DNA analysis helps us to prioritize and make educated and cost-effective decisions.”

Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) said Brookhaven contracts with Cornell Cooperative Extension because it maintains a DNA “library” of Long Island wildlife, which it uses to identify the source of any pathogens in collected stormwater. For instance, if the DNA tests conclude they came from pets, Brookhaven might conduct an educational campaign to remind residents to clean up after their furry friends. If the pathogens come from a human source, there might be an issue with a septic system.

“This type of analysis could prove of great importance because any patterns identified as a result of this study can help determine what next steps can be taken to improve water quality where necessary,” Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said.

Brookhaven has applied for a state grant to help pay for these DNA tests and outfall inspections for the first time this year, because, King said, this is the first time New York State has offered a grant to cover the work.

The DNA tests are important, Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said, because they help to identify ways to decrease the amount of nitrogen seeping into groundwater.

“The amount of nitrogen in the Magothy aquifer layer has increased over 200 percent in 13 years,” he said of one of the sub-layers that is most commonly tapped into in Suffolk, although not the deepest in the aquifer. “Cleaning up our waterways is not going to be done overnight — this is going to take a long time — but the waterways did not become polluted overnight.”

Suffolk County launched its Septic Demonstration Program to install cesspool alternative systems in 2014, called Innovative and Alternative Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems (known as I/A OWTS), on the property of participants. Manufacturers of the technology donated the systems and installed them at no cost to the homeowner.

The county’s goal in testing these alternative systems is to lower the levels of nitrogen seeping into groundwater. According to a June 2016 Stony Brook University report, “the approximately 360,000 septic tank/leaching systems and cesspools that serve 74 percent of homes across Suffolk County have caused the concentrations of nitrogen in groundwater to rise by 50 percent since 1985.”

More than 10,000 of the nitrogen-reducing systems are installed in New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts and Rhode Island — all areas with similar environmental concerns to Suffolk County — according to the county executive’s office. County employees met with officials from these states to help shape its program.

“Tackling the nitrogen problem, while not a sexy issue, is a very important one.”

—Kara Hahn

The I/A OWTS installations worked out so well during a demonstration program that on July 26, the county passed a resolution to allow the Department of Health Services to regulate their use.

Typical cesspools are estimated to cost between $5,000 and $7,000 to install. The low nitrogen systems cost between $12,000 and $20,000, Hahn said. She added that as more areas facing similar environmental concerns require lower nitrogen standards and, as the technology improves, the cost of cesspool alternatives will go down.

Until then, Hahn said county officials have been discussing the possibility of subsidizing the cost of installing the I/A OWTS. It might begin requiring new homes to install low-nitrogen systems instead of traditional cesspools. Or, upon an old system’s failure, it might require an I/A OWTS be installed.

“We hope to eventually be able to help in some way,” she said.

County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said she hopes local businesses begin producing the alternative systems that the county determines best work for the area since it would “keep the economic dollar here” and provide jobs.

In January, Brookhaven will be the first town, Romaine said, that will begin mandating new constructions within 500 feet of any waterway to install an alternative wastewater treatment system.

“I think alternative systems work,” he said. “In many ways, even though we’re a local government, we are on the cutting edge of clean water technologies.”

Both the initiatives by Brookhaven and Suffolk County “go hand and glove,” George Hoffman, of the Setauket Harbor Task Force, said. Many of Suffolk’s harbors and bays are struggling due to stormwater and nitrogen pollution, including Great South Bay, Lake Ronkonkoma, Northport Harbor, Forge River, Port Jefferson Harbor, Mount Sinai Harbor and Peconic River/Peconic Bay.

“Living on an island on top of our water supply and with thousands of homes along the shores of our harbors and bays, it never made sense to allow cesspools to proliferate,” he said.

The success of the initiatives, though, depends on residents.

“The public needs to be always recognizing that whatever we do on land here on Long Island and in Suffolk County affects not only the drinking water beneath us but the quality of our bays and waterways, streams and rivers all around us,” Hahn said. “It’s critically important that folks have that understanding. Everything we do on land affects our water here on the Island.”

Incident raises questions about high occupancy and code enforcement

A deck collapses at a home on Old Field Road, injuring at least two. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

By Rebecca Anzel

A party at an East Setauket home Aug. 26, attended by about 400 people was interrupted around 11 p.m. when an elevated deck holding 50 to 100 attendees collapsed. Two people were injured and taken to Stony Brook University Hospital, Brookhaven Town officials said.

The 10-foot high, 43-year-old deck did not violate any town codes, according to a town building inspector, but it was unclear if the structure had been inspected since it was built.

The home was illegally converted into living quarters for eight people. An investigation found it did not have carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, and had illegal key locks on interior doors and a broken basement window.

These types of changes, officials said, make it difficult for emergency personnel.

“The deck collapse that occurred this past weekend is a prime example of the serious safety hazards that exist when our governmental codes and laws are violated,” Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said. “The numerous violations at this location jeopardize the health, the safety and the wellness of the home occupants as well as the visitors to the home on that evening.”

The homeowner, identified by officials as Zeyit Aydinli, will appear in Sixth District court Oct. 27 in Patchogue. He paid fines of an undisclosed amount in May for code violations on the same property.

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said the town plans to pursue legal action against Zeyit.

“We are not settling this case.his case is going to go the distance unless the homeowner wishes to enter a guilty plea.”

—Ed Romaine

“We are not settling this case,” Romaine said. “This case is going to go the distance unless the homeowner wishes to enter a guilty plea.”

He added that no one has been arrested for underage drinking, though three people have been ticketed for violating the county’s social host law, which holds homeowners responsible for underage drinking on their property. Those names were not released, but have been shared with Stony Brook University.

Timothy Ecklund, dean of students at the university, said many of those who attended the party were most likely university students, but there is no way to determine an exact number.

The university is working with town officials to learn as much as possible about the incident, and “appropriate action” will be taken in accordance with university student policy.

Nearby neighbor Lauren Krupp called the police the night of the party to complain about the noise. She said police told her there was already a patrol car in the area. Soon after, Krupp said she heard a loud noise and speculated later it was the sound of the deck collapsing.

Krupp spoke about her interactions with the first group of students to inhabit the house, last year at this time.

“They were very polite young men who introduced themselves,” she said. “We visited the house once and there was a big banner with Greek letters. It appeared that they were a fraternity.”

Krupp said she hopes the incident can be a learning experience.

“I hope this leads to some reform,” Krupp said. “It’s just not appropriate for the neighborhood. It’s lucky there was not a more serious outcome.”

Donna Newman contributed reporting.

By Rebecca Anzel

Melonie smiled as she watched her son Justin-Joseph, or J.J. for short, land several backflips on the trampolines at West Hills Day Camp in Huntington on Saturday. The activities at Suffolk Aspergers/Autism Support and Information’s first annual Family Fun Day — zip lines, face painting, sand art and a water slide, in addition to the trampoline park — were the perfect outlet for J.J.’s vast supply of energy.

J.J. is on the autism spectrum — Melonie is, too. “People look at us differently,” she said. “For me, it’s important for J.J. not to have that painful experience.”

SASI, a not-for-profit support group that provides special needs families with helpful resources, provides that sense of community Melonie wants for J.J. Founded in the living room of co-founder Stephanie Mendelson on Dec. 4 of last year, SASI has grown from 12 parents to over 700 families throughout Suffolk County and across the rest of Long Island in eight months.

Co-founder Priscilla Arena said Family Fun Day was meant to be an event for children on the autism spectrum to have carefree fun, and a way for families to bond.

“[I’m excited] for our kids to make friends — to see them smile. Here, they’re part of one community.”

—Priscilla Arena

“[I’m excited] for our kids to make friends — to see them smile,” she said, tearing up. “Here, they’re part of one community. They are the popular kids in SASI.”

Mendelson and Arena, both from Mount Sinai, have children on the autism spectrum. They found there was a lack of resources on Long Island for families and formed SASI as a support group to fill that void.

“Parents found themselves lost, confused, hopeless, alienated, isolated and alone,” Arena said. “SASI created an environment where they could come together and share their stories and experiences.”

To its members, SASI provides information about available resources, advocacy, financial and emotional support. On the last Friday of every month, the group hosts speakers at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson — so far, families have heard from a representative from Parent to Parent, a state planning attorney, a Medicaid broker and a parent advocate for education.

The group’s first speaker, special education advocate Danielle Brooks, was at Family Fun Day giving free advice to families. She said SASI is a special organization because it built a caring network for families in a short period of time. The event, she said, was a great opportunity for children to have fun in a safe environment.

SASI also hosts a birthday party club for its member’s children, who range in ages from kids just shy of 3 years old to adults in their late 20s. Arena said children on the autism spectrum have difficulty making friends, so sometimes there are not many others to invite to a child’s birthday party. The group is also working on a lending library, which will help members borrow books donated to the organization; a job skills program; life coach program and blue pages resource handbook, which would help parents find services they need across the island.

Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said she is “thrilled and excited” that Arena and Mendelson founded SASI. Instead of complaining about a lack of resources, she said, the SASI co-founders work hard to address issues.

“I think SASI will be able to address problems and advocate with a stronger, louder voice.”

—Sarah Anker

“I’m really supportive and beyond happy that Priscilla has taken this concern and made it into a centerpiece to gather around — creating this organization so people have a place to go for information and resources,” Anker said. “I think SASI will be able to address problems and advocate with a stronger, louder voice.”

The group has also gained the attention of U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), who is sponsoring a bill to ensure Americans with disabilities have access to necessary health-care equipment.

“In Congress, one of my top priorities is ensuring that all Americans with disabilities have the resources they need to live independently and happily,” Zeldin wrote in a statement. “I thank the Suffolk Aspergers/Autism Support and Information group for their work in our community to help children and adults with disabilities.”

Family Fun Day was held at West Hills Day Camp in Huntington, a facility famous for its autism-friendly Gersh Academy. The facility donated the space for the event, which Anker said had about 800 attendees.

In addition to the attractions, the event also had refreshments from Crazy Crepes, Mr. Softee and Kona Ice. Families could purchase t-shirts or raffle tickets to win one of many donated baskets.

The event was just the first of many more to come, Arena said. “We’re new, but we’re just getting started.”

For Melonie, Family Fun Day was the perfect way to spend time with her son.

“It’s everything to see smiles on all the kids faces,” Melonie said. “They don’t get this a lot.”

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The Port Jefferson Fire Department Museum will be open to the public during Heritage Weekend. Photo by Jill Russell

By Rebecca Anzel

Port Jefferson Village’s second annual Heritage Weekend is this weekend. The event features more than 15 cultural and historical locations for residents and visitors to explore on Saturday, Aug. 20 and Sunday, Aug. 21. Each stop is set to include presentations with interesting information, historical photos of the village that used to be known as Drowned Meadow, and fun, interactive activities.

A Heritage Weekend kickoff event will be held on Friday, Aug. 19 from 6 to 8 p.m. aboard the Lettie G. Howard historic fishing schooner. Tickets are $45 per person or $80 per couple. Money raised will support the cultural events featured during Heritage Weekend, as will funds donated by the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation.

This week, check out attractions that will take place at the Port Jefferson Fire Department Museum, Port Jefferson Masonic Temple and Christ Church Episcopal. Check out parts one, two and three of our Heritage Weekend preview series.

Port Jefferson Fire Department Museum

Fire department equipment on display at the Port Jefferson Fire Department Museum, which will be open to the public Heritage Weekend. Photo by Jill Russell
Fire department equipment on display at the Port Jefferson Fire Department Museum, which will be open to the public Heritage Weekend. Photo by Jill Russell

On the second floor of Port Jefferson’s fire department on Maple Place is a museum housing 130 years of history. The collection of equipment, helmets, uniforms and pictures dates back to the late 1800s and early 1900s and tells the story of how fighting fires in the village’s four square miles has evolved. The exhibit will be open to the public during Heritage Weekend.

“It’s a small museum — just one room — but it’s got a lot of history in it,” Third Assistant Chief Jim Sarubbi said. “It represents what this department is all about — tradition and dedication.”

Some of the department’s nearly 100 members will be on hand over the weekend to escort event attendees to the museum and around the firehouse to check out the historical artifacts. The museum will be open from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Port Jefferson Masonic Lodge

The freemasons’ purchased their current building, which was constructed in 1854, from the Presbyterian Society in 1912. Photo courtesy of Suffolk Lodge Number 60
The freemasons’ purchased their current building, which was constructed in 1854, from the Presbyterian Society in 1912. Photo courtesy of Suffolk Lodge Number 60

On Main Street, a two minute walk away from the fire department, is the Masonic temple. Also known as Suffolk Lodge No. 60, it was organized in 1796 and chartered in 1797.

The group is hosting an open house and Q-and-A session from 6 to 8 p.m. on Saturday. Visitors will be able to learn more about Freemasons and the fraternal organization’s history, and view historic photos and other artifacts while there, former Master of the lodge Gary D. Gudzik said.

Christ Church Episcopal

Christ Church Episcopal’s first service was June 3, 1888; a fire uniform at the museum. Photo from Christ Church Episcopal's
Christ Church Episcopal’s first service was June 3, 1888; a fire uniform at the museum. Photo from Christ Church Episcopal’s

Locals know Christ Church Episcopal as the little white church up on the hill. Built in the 1880s on land purchased from P.T. Barnum of Barnum & Bailey Circus, the members of the yellow pine church on Barnum Avenue will be hosting a yard sale during Heritage Weekend.

Irene Choate, the event’s organizer and head of the church’s women’s group, said housewares and small appliances will be on sale in Christ Church Episcopal’s air conditioned recreation room, where refreshments will be served. Senior Warden Gene Seiler will be answering questions about the church’s history and giving tours to interested visitors.

“We look forward to seeing potential new parishioners,” Joyce Bock, the church’s communications officer, said. “We’re a tiny church, but we have a big heart. All are welcomed and we mean it.”

The yard sale will be on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The church’s services are at 9 a.m. on Sunday.

By Rebecca Anzel

In an unassuming shopping center on the corner of North Country and Sound Roads in Wading River, across from the duck pond, is one of the area’s best coffee shops. It has only been opened for six weeks, but there is already a stream of locals who stop in to Hudson Market every morning for the proper cup of coffee the sign out front promises.

The space is small and smells deliciously of fresh coffee — a far cry from the accounting office the space once was. Owner Anthony Coates, who was involved in politics in Suffolk County for about 40 years, transformed the yellow-tinged off-white walls and moldy shag carpeting into a quaint, sunny spot to get a cup of coffee and read the day’s newspaper or a book, which he says many come in to do.

Hudson Market is just one of North Brookhaven’s new eateries that has quickly become a community favorite — the Flying Pig Café on 25A in Miller Place and Go Burger on the same route in Mount Sinai are other spots that opened within the past few months and have been embraced by locals. Two other new food businesses to the area are Lemongrass Asian Fusion in Mount Sinai and Burrito Palace and Grill in Miller Place.

The summer season is often the busiest season for restaurants. Aside from supplying other dining options, Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) pointed out that with new eateries come new jobs. According to the National Restaurant Association, restaurants in New York are expected to add the highest number of summer jobs of any other state — over 44,400 of them.

“We appreciate the diverse food options that’s opened up in our community,” Bonner said. “It’s a good thing.”

That idea — of opening a restaurant that served something not offered by another place — is what led Marianne Ferrandino to open the Flying Pig Café with her husband Jack Schwartz six months ago. The pair owns another restaurant in Center Moriches, called the Country Cottage, but they live in Miller Place.

A burger from Go Burger in Mount Sinai. Photo from Go Burger
A burger from Go Burger in Mount Sinai. Photo from Go Burger

“I felt that there was something missing from the area,” Ferrandino said. “There was a need for somewhere nice to go for breakfast where you could have a nicer experience than just going to a diner.”

Modeling the new restaurant’s concept after Sarabeth’s in New York City, the Flying Pig Café serves upscale American comfort food with new specials each week, but offers it in a much different setting, with ceramic pigs and canvas paintings modeling the large spotted pig statue outside. For breakfast, customers can get traditional eggs, omelets and pancakes, but they can also get the Café’s more playful breakfast burger, granola crusted French toast and crab Benedict. Ferrandino recommended the famous cinnamon bun pancakes.

Mario Gambino and Marie Desch said their first experience at the Flying Pig Café was a great one. They described the menu as “extensive,” and after looking it over, settled on omelets. “We would definitely come back,” Desch said, looking over at Gambino as he nodded in agreement. “It is very clean inside and the decor is nice.”

The lunch offerings at the Flying Pig Café are just as creative as the breakfast ones — the cranberry almond chicken salad is a best seller, and the half-pound burger options are popular as well. Ferrandino said the burgers are made with a custom blend of ground beef and served on a big brioche bun. She added that the Flying Pig Café also uses artisanal breads baked especially for them.

Breakfast and lunch are the two most popular meals — breakfast on the weekends and lunch during the week. Both are served seven days per week, with dinner offered Thursday through Saturday. Ferrandino recommended the homemade herbed meatloaf and gravy, braised short ribs and half herb roasted free range chicken.

“Our portions are enormous,” she said. “We want people to feel they’re getting a really good value for their money.”

Prices at the Flying Pig Café range from $4 to $12 for starters and salads at $7 to $18 for entrees. Dinner is a bit more expensive.

Serving good food to customers is also something the owners of Go Burger value. Christine Donofrio, who owns the joint with her husband Philip, said their motto is “fresh, quality and family friendly.” She said the burgers are delivered fresh every day from a top New York meat distributor; the potatoes are the top-grade ones available each season and are fresh cut each day; and the ice cream, the only thing ever frozen, is from a company that specializes in the treat.

“We only use the freshest, best ingredients,” Donofrio said. “We strive to get and provide the very best so families can come out for good food and not spend a million bucks.”

Go Burger started as just a food truck on Middle Country Road in Ridge near a pizzeria the couple owns. The Donofrios were looking to open another truck but realized they would be limited in the amount of food they could serve because any new truck would not be parked as close to one of their other businesses. When an opportunity arose to buy the L.I. Burger brick-and-mortar location in Mount Sinai, they took it.

Customers from their truck come to this location for dinner — Donofrio said they love that they can sit inside and eat. This location allowed for an expanded menu from the one on the food truck. Starters, such as onion rings, sweet potato fries and a cup of chili, were added to the restaurant’s menu, as were salads and desserts.

“There was a need for somewhere nice to go for breakfast where you could have a nicer experience than just going to a diner.”

— Marianne Ferrandino

The real deal ice cream sandwich, made with in-restaurant baked chocolate chip cookies and ice cream, is the most popular of the newly added desserts. A customer favorite that was carried over to this location is Go Burger’s milkshakes, which come in the traditional flavors of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry as well as the weekly specials Donofrio concocts.

“Everything here is customizable — it’s all up to you,” she said. “Build it the way you want it.”

Nothing on Go Burger’s menu is over $9, unless a customer adds a lot of extra toppings to a burger. The restaurant is opened daily, but if you’re in the Ridge area, you can still find the food truck if you’re looking for a quick fix.

For Anthony Coates, opening Hudson Market was a “labor of love.” He was running for Riverhead Town Supervisor in 2015 and jokingly said that if he was not successful, he would open a shop in the strip across from the duck pond.

Hudson Market specializes in coffee — it is the only thing made in-house. Coates said he searched high and low for the best quality coffee beans he could find, and he cycles between the blends he found, such as variety coffee roasters from Brooklyn. He also searched for the best types of coffee prep machines to brew the “hearty” cup of coffee he was after.

Coates organized this business, where prices range anywhere from $2 for a regular cup of coffee to $4 for specialty coffee drinks and is open daily from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., with few moving parts so it was easier to run.

“Everything here is miniaturized,” he said, smiling.

After looking around at other businesses in the area, he decided Hudson Market would exclusively focus on making excellent coffee beverages as opposed to also preparing bagels or breakfast sandwiches, which customers come in asking for sometimes. “I didn’t want to set up a ‘me too’ business,” he said.

Customers can purchase baked goods, such as muffins, scones, biscotti and cookies, made by D’Latte in Greenport. Hudson Market also carries bottled drinks, New-York-style hot pretzels, cinnamon buns (but only on the weekends) and pies during the holidays. Neighborhood children ride up on bicycles in the afternoons and scrape money out of their pockets for candy he stocks specifically with them in mind.

His inspiration was the many businesses that were community touchstones in the Three Village area where he grew up.

“I wanted to make a little slice of that here by the duck pond,” he said. “Improving the community really starts at the most basic level, and it does my heart good to have a business here.”

Benefit concert rakes in $55,000 for Suffolk County Crimestoppers

By Rebecca Anzel

The first thing Suffolk County Police Chief Stuart Cameron does when he gets to work each morning is check the communications section log, which tracks all significant events from the night before. More often than he would like, he reads that at least one young adult died from drug-related causes. And almost every time he is in a police car, he hears a call about an overdose on the radio.

“It is unprecedented — the opioid crisis affects everybody,” Cameron said over the sound of “Walking in Memphis” playing in the background. “We absolutely have to do something about it.”

The Emporium in Patchogue was filled with almost 600 people Thursday night, all there to listen to Billy Joel and Led Zeppelin cover bands, who were there to raise money for SCPD’s Crime Stopper’s four-month-old narcotics tip phone line, 631-852-NARC, which has already received nearly 900 tips — so much that the SCPD added detectives to investigate leads.

Teri Kroll lost her son Timothy to a heroin overdose in 2006. Photo by Rebecca Anzel
Teri Kroll lost her son Timothy to a heroin overdose in 2006. Photo from Teri Kroll

The original Suffolk County Crime Stoppers tip line generated a lot of helpful leads, Cameron said, but residents did not realize they could use the number to call in narcotics-related ones. Now, narcotic search warrants are up 100 percent this year, he said, and the amount of reward money given to those who called in tips leading to an arrest was higher than it had been in the past 20 years.

The benefit concert raised $55,000 in one night, all of which funds rewards. Donations are the sole way rewards are funded.

Michael DelGuidice, a Miller Place resident and front-man of Billy Joel tribute band Big Shot, said that the night’s concert was the right way to start fighting the county’s heroin epidemic, but stressed that it needs to be just the beginning of more action.

“As parents and fellow Long Islanders, we need to do something,” he said. “It’s going to be a fight, and it’s going to take a lot of collaboration, but we need to think of future fundraising efforts too.”

Teri Kroll’s son Timothy died at age 23 from a heroin overdose on Aug. 29, 2009. He became addicted to oxycodone after a doctor prescribed it to help alleviate the pain from his migraines. When his parents found out, they took the drugs from him and began the process of helping him recover, but they did not know he had turned to heroin.

The doctor, Seji Francis, was sentenced to six months in prison and deported after Timothy reported him to police. But during the process of helping her son and the detectives, his mother said there were no resources for her to turn to for help; no other mothers to call. There was a stigma around heroin addiction that there does not seem to be now.

“This event allows us to let our guard down, relax and know we’re doing a good thing at the same time.”–Teri Kroll

“The whole thing was hard on my family, but my son suffered the worst. Speaking out about this is my mom job for Timothy,” said Kroll, who is now the PUSH Coordinator for the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. “This event allows us to let our guard down, relax and know we’re doing a good thing at the same time.”

She added that if Timothy was at the event, he would be smiling and dancing with whoever was around him.

“The room was packed – and Michael DelGuidice gets it, and is willing to speak out on behalf of the disease of addiction and put his time an energy in the fight against what drives this epidemic – the drug dealers,” Kroll said. “The Suffolk County Police Department and Suffolk County Crime Stoppers have made it easy to report the dealers – proving zero tolerance in Suffolk County. We are attacking this epidemic from all sides, just what Timothy would have liked to see.”

Louis Iacona, president of Long Island Helps Recovery Initiation, said this event was a fun way to raise money and awareness about Suffolk County’s heroin problem. He struggled with the drug and found there were not a lot of resources available to help him recover.

“We need to smash this heroin epidemic to smithereens,” Iacona said.

Smithtown resident Nick Santoria, guitarist for Led Zeppelin cover band Zofolk, said the band was grateful to be invited to play at such an important event.

“We love to partake in such a great cause,” he said. “Crime Stoppers is doing such a great job and we wanted to help in any way we could.”

Residents can report tips or information regarding past crimes and drug dealing anonymously by calling 1-800-220-TIPS. Rewards of up to $5,000 will be issued.