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More to come as next location is planned for Rocketship Park in Port Jefferson

Miller Place-Mount Sinai Historical Society Vice President Antoinette Donato unveils the new Little Free Library in front of the William Miller house in Miller Place. Photo by Kevin Redding

Outside the oldest house in Miller Place sits the newest public library on the North Shore.

What might initially appear to be a newly installed, red-and-white mailbox in front of the William Miller House at 75 North Country Road is actually a Little Free Library, where residents of all ages are encouraged to pick up or drop off a book while on the go.

The mini library, which is shaped like a tiny schoolhouse and currently holds between 15 and 20 books ranging from “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” to “Goodnight Moon,” stands as the most recent free book exchange program to sprout up on Long Island, with others installed at West Meadow Beach and Heritage Park in Mount Sinai last year.

Books inside the new Little Free Library in front of the WIlliam Miller House in Miller Place were donated by the Port Jefferson and Comsewogue libraries. Photo by Kevin Redding

The idea for the book-sharing movement, which has spanned more than 70 countries around the world since the first little library was built by Todd Bol of Wisconsin in tribute to his mother in 2009, is that with a quick turn of a wooden latch, it can increase book access for readers of all ages and backgrounds and to inspire a love of reading and community connection.

Members of the Miller Place-Mount Sinai Historical Society unveiled their new addition Aug. 9 to a large crowd of smiling faces, which included residents, elected officials and representatives from Port Jefferson Free Library and Comsewogue Public Library. The two libraries partnered with the historical society to buy and sponsor it.

“I woke up this morning and I had the Mister Roger’s song in my head, ‘Oh what a beautiful day in the neighborhood,’” said Antoinette Donato, vice president of the historical society, during the ceremony. “This little library is symbolic of how our community comes together … and a community is strengthened when all the different organizations work well together. So when you reach into that box to put something in or take something out, please remember that you’re also reaching into your community. I hope it’s a very active library.”

Tom Donlon, director of Port Jefferson Free Library, said when he and Debbie Engelhardt, director of Comsewogue Public Library, decided to partner up to bring the program to the Miller Place community, they immediately knew the perfect place for it.

Jack Soldano, who has been selling his comic book collection this summer to raise money to help fix the historic William Miller House, was the first to add to the new Little Free Library’s collection. Photo by Kevin Redding

“Right away we thought of the historical society,” Donlon said. “The society really meshes with our libraries’ goals of education, entertainment, enlightenment and lifelong learning and investigation. We love that it’s here, it’s a great spot and I think it’s certainly going to serve the community very well.”

Engelhardt called little free libraries a beautiful concept.

“Anybody can use it as much as they want and it’s always a mystery when you open that box — you never know what you’ll find,” Engelhardt said. “There are no late fees, no guilt, no stress. If you want to keep a book, you can … we are pleased to partner with the historical society to bring this gem. The books inside will move you and teach you. We say that libraries change lives and, well, little free libraries can too.”

She added that these mini libraries have also proven to energize the spot they’re put in. For the historical society, whose William Miller House is nearly 300 years old and needs between $18,000 and $28,000 to renovate a collapsing roof and a total $100,000 for a full-house repair, any amount of attention to their cause is welcomed.

“What this does for us is it puts us in the limelight again, so that people are aware of us, they come and visit us and are sensitive to our needs,” Donato said.

Fittingly, although the box was stocked with books already donated by the libraries, the first batch of reading material from the public came from 12-year-old Jack Soldano, who spent the summer raising more than $1,000 for the historical society with his very own comic book stand.

Soldano contributed issues of Captain America, Star Wars and Power Rangers comics to join such titles as “Leaving Time” by Jodi Picoult, “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn, “The Stranger” by Harlan Coben and the Grimm fairy tale “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

Over at Heritage Park, next to the Shack concession stand by the playground, the red-painted little free library currently contains more youth-oriented reads. Several books within “The Babysitters Club” series and Walt Disney’s “Fun-To-Learn Library” collection, as well as “Sable” by Karen Hesse, are available for the taking.

Manorville resident Megan Murray, who was at the park with her young daughter, said she’s been a fan of the initiative since a few popped up in her area.

“The concept is great because it’s for everybody, rich or poor,” Murray said. “It’s really sad that so many kids don’t have access to books and I think it’s wonderful.”

Currently there are plans for a little free library to be installed at Rocketship Park in Port Jefferson next month.

Filming the Battle of Long Island scene at Benner's Farm. Photo by Michael Pawluk

By Jenna Lennon

History came to life on Long Island this summer with the production of TBR News Media’s first feature-length film, “One Life to Give,” which paints a picture of the events leading up to the formation of America’s first band of spies, the Culper Spy Ring.

The Culper Spy Ring was organized by Benjamin Tallmadge under orders from General George Washington in the summer of 1778. Tallmadge recruited a group of men and women he could trust in Setauket and, for the remaining years of the war, collected information regarding British troop formations, movements and plans.

The spy ring became the most successful intelligence group on either side of the war during the course of the Revolution. Its existence was unknown to the public until the 1930s when Long Island historian Morton Pennypacker analyzed handwritten letters to Washington and discovered that Robert Townsend and Samuel Culper Jr. were, in fact, the same person.

A battle scene shot at Benner’s Farm. Photo by Michael Pawluk

Based on these true events, “One Life to Give” follows Tallmadge (Dave Morrissey Jr.) and Nathan Hale (Hans Paul Hendrickson) in the early stages of the war and plays off of the speculation that Hale’s famous last words, “My only regret is that I have but one life to give for my country,” were inspired by Joseph Addison’s “Cato, a Tragedy.”

“Tallmadge and Hale are both very motivated individuals. They graduated from Yale at the same time in 1773, and they are good friends. They’re schoolmates and they spent a whole bunch of time at Yale together, but they are very different,” said director, Benji Dunaief, an incoming junior at Emerson College in Boston. “In a lot of ways, they are kind of yin and yang. They’re opposites and opposites that attract and opposites that ultimately prove to be the pieces that transpired into the Culper Spy Ring,” he said.

Colonel John Chester (Jonathan Rabeno), a fellow Yale graduate along with Hale and Tallmadge, tasks Tallmadge with the duty of convincing Hale, who has enlisted in his local militia, to actively join the cause.

“I play Colonel John Chester. He’s from Connecticut. He went to Yale, and he’s friends with Benjamin Tallmadge and Nathan Hale,” Rabeno said. “He kind of acts as a recruiter for getting them involved more in the cause. … so this is really right in the beginning stages of it.”

Cast and crew gather around a camera to view playback. Photo by Michael Pawluk

Hale not only enlists, but eventually is Washington’s (David Gianopoulos) first volunteer to go behind enemy lines and gather British intelligence. Soon after, Hale is captured by Robert Rogers (George Overin), and General William Howe (Jeffrey Sanzel) sentences him to death for committing acts of espionage.

With the motivation of the loss of one of his dearest friends and his brother, William (Aaron Johnson), Tallmadge and Washington form the Culper Spy Ring. “This is a guy who experienced something very traumatic when his brother William died, and it changed the course of history. He took that energy, and he inspirationally manifested it into something so incredibly positive for all of us that we are all benefitting from today,” Morrissey said.

He continues, “As someone who’s brother has died who is also named Will, this was an inspiration for me to be able to hopefully manifest it into something that other people will benefit from in the future. That’s why this is so important for me. I loved working on this film, and I am never going to forget this ever. This one’s for you, Will.”

The producer of “One Life to Give,” TBR’s director of media productions Michael Tessler, grew up “with Setauket in my backyard” and has always had a fascination with Revolutionary War history. “I’m grateful that historians, authors, and film producers have finally brought the narrative of the Culper Spy Ring to life. This history remained elusive for so many years and has evolved from local lore into a spectacular chapter of our founding story,” said Tessler.

Above,the Continental Army shoots off a cannon at Benner’s Farm. Photo by Michael Pawluk

“As a lover of history, the question that kept me up at night and acted as the muse for this piece is simply what tragedies had to occur that would cause the heroes of the Culper Spy Ring to risk everything? Digging into textbooks, letters and the memoir of Benjamin Tallmadge, it became apparent to me that there was an important story to tell, one too often forgotten in the annals of history,” he said, adding “When all is said and done, this is the story of two best friends who saved the Revolution and changed the course of human events.”

While working to write and produce their first feature film beginning in March, Dunaief and Tessler were also tasked with finding a talented cast, a passionate crew and period-appropriate locations where they could tell this story.

“Everyone on the crew I’ve either worked with, somebody on the crew had worked with, or we had just heard really good things about,” Dunaief said.

“I think I wouldn’t do it any other way. We had 12 people on our crew to make a feature film in 16 days. That’s like bare bones. That’s like barer than bare bones. But the fact that everybody was doing two or three jobs at the same time, everyone was pulling their weight and more by a lot really speaks volumes about the kind of people that we had on the crew and had it been a different group of people, I really don’t think we would have been able to finish,” said Dunaief.

Benji Dunaief, left, directs a scene at the Caroline Church of Brookhaven with actor Dave Morrissey Jr. Photo by Jenna Lennon

“We had the most phenomenal cast, crew and community behind us. All of our locations are genuine historic properties beautifully preserved by local organizations — places these heroes actually lived, worked and played. That’s a benefit not afforded to those using sound stages in Hollywood,” Tessler said.

Filming took place over the course of 16 days at many local historic locations including the Caroline Church of Brookhaven, the Sherwood-Jayne House and the Thompson House in Setauket along with the William Miller House in Miller Place.

Scenes were also shot on location at Port Jefferson’s East Beach and Benner’s Farm in Setauket, where a trench with palisades, a fort and nearly 100 reenactors, acting as both Continental and British troops, staged the Battle at Bedford Pass.

“Though exhausting, this was the most rewarding experience of my professional career. Waking up after sleeping in Washington’s marquee tent and seeing a trench, palisades, cannon and an actual Continental Army was just an indescribable experience,” Tessler said.

“This happens to be a local story, but it’s a great story, and it’s a story worth telling,” Dunaief said. “You don’t come across a story like this every day that’s as powerful, as meaningful, as patriotic. There have been so many movies that have been made that have glorified the Revolution, that have taken insane liberties and basically just use it as a backdrop for their own narratives,” he said. “But this is a film that truly pays homage and respect to real people who lived and died for our country, and I think it’s an incredibly important story.”

“One Life to Give” is scheduled to premiere on Sept. 22, the 241st anniversary of Nathan Hale’s execution.

On Dec. 4, the Miller Place-Mount Sinai Historical Society’s Postman Pete collected letters from local children to give to Santa.

Children of all ages were welcomed to visit the historic William Miller House for cookies, refreshments and caroling led by local high school students, while mailing that all important letter to the North Pole. Postman Pete was on hand to stamp the letter and personally see that the letters get to Santa. Children will also receive a letter back from Santa.

Raffles and other proceeds from the event will benefit restoration of the 1720 home.

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Ann Becker and Edna Davis Giffen, Mount Sinai and Miller Place community members and historians, recently published a pictorial book showing past and present views of the area. Photo from Ann Becker

“I am one of those believers that if you don’t know your history, your life is not complete,” Miller Place-Mount Sinai Historical Society Archivist Edna Davis Giffen said. “I believe that you need to not just look forward, but you need to look backward to appreciate what was done before, so that you can carry on into the future.”

That’s why she and Mount Sinai Civic Association President Ann Becker decided to collaborate on a single book about the history of the neighboring hamlets that would serve as a continuation of both of the individual books they each previously published.

Becker published a book on the history of Mount Sinai in 2003, while Giffen completed one on Miller Place in 2010. Their latest effort is called “Miller Place and Mount Sinai Through Time” and was released in November.

“I’ve always had a love of history, especially local history,” Becker said. “There wasn’t a lot available for young students to learn about their local community, and the books were provided for the curriculum to look at the documented history of our community and help people understand the rich history here.”

Becker, who received a doctorate in American history from Stony Brook University, is a Long Island history professor at Empire State College who has lived in Mount Sinai since 1982, and has been a member of the civic on and off since 1984, becoming its president four years ago. She was involved in the creation of the Heritage Trust board that was instrumental in creating Mount Sinai Heritage Park.

Ann Becker and Edna Davis Giffen, Mount Sinai and Miller Place community members and historians, recently published a pictorial book, above, showing past and present views of the area. Photo from Ann Becker
Ann Becker and Edna Davis Giffen, Mount Sinai and Miller Place community members and historians, recently published a pictorial book, above, showing past and present views of the area. Photo from Ann Becker

“I love local history,” she said. “History has always been important to me. It’s nice for people to realize that there are dedicated volunteers working hard presently to maintain the quality of life here.”

Community members like Brad Arrington, the civic vice president and corresponding secretary, have noticed Becker’s passion.

“She’s very civic-oriented and I think that’s not a term that people really use or appreciate anymore, in the sense that she really wants to do the best she can for the Mount Sinai community,” he said. “All the work she does, including the book, shows how much she cares about the community and how much she wants to help preserve our heritage.”

He said being civic-minded shapes how she addresses local problems and informs her opinions about the future growth and development of the town.

“I think the book is wonderful,” he said. “I think particularly for folks that might not have lived in Mount Sinai for decades to see the character of Mount Sinai. It also helps show people what’s left from the past and can help galvanize community members to help preserve those pieces of history that remain in our community.”

Giffen, who is a 12th-generation Miller Place resident now living in Mount Sinai, has been a member of the historical society since 1980 and became president when the restoration of the William Miller House was first beginning in that decade.

“I enjoy being part of the history,” she said. “We’ve developed so much since the 1960s that people don’t realize how much country there was here.”

Sharing this information with residents was something that drove her to work on her books.

“It needed to be done,” she said. “Lots of people don’t know what this place was like before the major settlement. I thought it was quite interesting working on the books, because when you see [the area] every day, you don’t pay attention to how much has changed.”

Becker said with the new book, the idea is to have an old picture and a new one side-by-side, to compare what the area used to look like and what it is now.

“We had fun taking the pictures to compare to the old ones that we had in the archives,” Becker said. “It’s a new look at Mount Sinai and Miller Place through time. It gives you that historical context, but it’s bringing us up to modern time. We thought it was important for the community to understand that being involved can have some really good results.”

The two authors received information and pictures from various people to help construct the book and Ann Donato, who has been on the historical society board for 15 years, said the book holds substantial importance.

“This area is so rich in history, going back pre-Revolutionary War,” she said. “We really need to let people know our past so we can understand the present and also the travels that we have taken as a nation.”

She believes Giffen is important to the community as well.

“Edna is so knowledgeable,” she said. “If anyone ever calls me with a question about the area or about a house, Edna has it at the tip of her fingertips. Edna is a treasure to our society.”

Although the two are experts and important in preserving and spreading the history of the area, they do it simply because they believe it’s vital.

“People should know about where they live,” Giffen said. “Everything in the future is based on the past.”

By Beverly C. Tyler

Many Long Islanders had the opportunity this past Saturday, on a beautiful fall day, to enjoy the stories of four Revolutionary War era women set in four historic buildings in Stony Brook and Setauket that are owned by the Ward Melville Heritage Organization. Titled Courageous Women of the Revolutionary War, the theatrical event presented a charming glimpse into the lives of these women portrayed by costumed professional actors.

Those who attended one of the three scheduled two-hour tours met at the WMHO Educational & Cultural Center in Stony Brook, received a bag containing program and historical details, WHMO materials and a snack and were directed to board one of four trolleys.

Assigned Bus A for the 11 a.m. tour we were greeted by Nancy Dorney, an active member of the Daughter of the American Revolution who explained the program and answered questions. At each stop we were greeted by another guide who ushered us into the historic building.

Our first stop was the circa 1725 Hawkins-Mount house in Stony Brook. We sat in the parlor and were soon greeted by Ruth Mills Hawkins who told us how difficult it was to raise her children, assist her husband Jonas in running the general store from their home, help cover his activities as a spy for the Culper Spy Ring, and do all of this with British forces in control of Long Island, watching their every move.

Outside the Hawkins-Mount house, WHMO’s Gabrielle Lindau showed tourgoers photos of the paint samples tried out on the walls of the upstairs room where William Sidney Mount worked on many of his paintings.

Next was the circa 1665 Joseph Brewster house where we met his wife Rebecca Mills Brewster, a fiery Irish lass who helped her husband run their tavern and inn while being reviled and insulted by British authorities.

In the circa 1709 Thompson House, we met Phebe Satterly Thompson, wife of Dr. Samuel Thompson, who was quite ill and described her symptoms, her husband’s work as a doctor and how she was dealing with her disease at a time when many of her neighbors were also infected.

Our last stop was the circa 1751 Stony Brook Grist Mill where we enjoyed the byplay between Miles the miller and Katie, an indentured servant from Cork, Ireland, who was living rough after the home she lived in was taken over by British troops. Everyone on our trolley thoroughly enjoyed the pleasant, instructive and well-organized tour, and the weather was delightful.

All photos by Beverly C. Tyler

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Dorothy Trump

Dorothy D. Trump, passed away Sept. 3 at Jefferson’s Ferry Retirement Community in Centereach. She was 98. 

She was born in Brinkhaven, Ohio, Sept. 19, 1920, to Franklin J. and Mable Denman, and grew up in Orrville, Ohio. She attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, graduating in 1942 as summa cum laude with a degree in business administration.

She was the first female secretary to the president of the National Cash Register Company, located in Dayton, Ohio. She worked in the Department of Home Economics at the University of Maryland. From 1963 to 1988 she worked at SUNY as administrative assistant to the chairman of the Department of Electrical Sciences and in Engineering and Astronomy.

Dorothy was preceded in death by her husband, James, a World War II veteran who flew B-26s in the European theater. He worked as a human factors scientist in the lunar module program at Grumman. She is survived by her children James (Nancy) and Susan (John Fenimore); and grandchildren Matthew (Wylie Hunt) and David (Michele). She was also much loved by her nieces and nephews and their families.

A celebration of her life was held at the Setauket Presbyterian Church Sept. 15. Donations in memory of Dorothy may be made to the Helen Keller Services or the Setauket Presbyterian Church.

Arrangements were entrusted to the Bryant Funeral Home of East Setauket. People can visit www.bryantfh.com to sign the online guest book.

William Deegan

William J. Deegan, of Ridge, died Sept. 23.

He was a proud veteran of the United States Army and the beloved husband of Monda. 

Deegan was the loving father of Maryanne (James) Cadwell, George (Mary) Fox, Claude (Patricia) Fox, Brian (Linda) Fox and the late Charles Fox. In addition, he is survived by his 14 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren, his five great-great-grandchildren and his many other family members and friends.

A Funeral Mass was celebrated at St. Anthony of Padua R.C. Church in Rocky Point.

Interment followed at Washington Memorial Park in Mount Sinai with military honors.           

Arrangements were entrusted to the Branch Funeral Home of Miller Place.

An online guest book is available at www.branchfh.com.

Tessie Reveliotis

Tessie Reveliotis, of Port Jefferson, passed Sept. 23. She was 49.

She was the beloved wife of George and the cherished mother of Thomas, Michael and Nicholas.

In addition, she was the loving daughter of Mike (the late Loula) Kelarakos, the dear sister of Christine (Sam) Stavropoulos, Nicholas (Helen) Kelarakos and Michelle (Harry) Kelarakos.

She is also survived by her father-in-law Anastasios (the late Efthimia) Reveliotis, sister-in-law Maria (Matthew) Mecchi and many other family members and friends.

Religious service and cremation were privately held.

Arrangements were entrusted to the  Branch Funeral Home of Miller Place.

An online guest book is available at www.branchfh.com.

John Stamoulis

John Stamoulis, of Sound Beach, died Sept. 20. He was 84.  

He was the beloved husband of Christine Constantino; the cherished stepfather of Victoria (Richard) Rodriguez, Wendy (Octavio) Mendez, Christopher (Kristy) Constantino and Nicholas Constantino; and the loving grandfather of Richard, Keyana, Mason, Jordan, Faith and Tristen.

He is also survived by many other family members and friends.

Religious services was celebrated at the Greek Church of the Assumption in Port Jefferson. Interment followed at Cedar Hill Cemetery.

Arrangements entrusted to the of Branch Funeral Home of Miller Place.

An online guest book is available at www.branchfh.com.

David Bayles Minuse

David Bayles Minuse, 81, died Sept. 8.

He was born at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital, Port Jefferson, April 4, 1938, to Elinore Dickerson Minuse and Thomas Bayles Minuse.

David graduated from Cheshire Academy. After attending Nichols College, he became a partner in the family hardware-houseware business, D.T. Bayles & Son, in Stony Brook.

D.T. Bayles & Son evolved from a shipbuilding business established in 1843. The business expanded to include a lumber yard, supplied with timber from family-owned land in the upper Northwest. The business continued to expand and later included the retail sales of lumber, hardware and eventually housewares. Throughout the 1900s, and more particularly under Dave’s ownership, it became the early morning gathering spot for local people to share their news of the day prior to everyone going to their own place of business. Stony Brook is rooted in the history of the Bayles family and today the name continues in future generations.

It was not long after becoming a partner in the family business that Dave purchased a fuel oil company, which he named Three Village Fuel Oil, and it served the local communities of Stony Brook, Setauket and Old Field as well as the surrounding areas of St. James, Head of the Harbor, Poquott and Port Jefferson.

Dave believed in the good of his community and contributed greatly to it. He was a longtime member of the Rotary Club having served as president. He also served as the head of the Stony Brook Business Association and was a member of the board of directors of John T. Mather Memorial Hospital. He also enjoyed membership at St. George’s Golf and Country Club in East Setauket and the Old Field Club.

It was always Dave’s wish to live in Florida, and after his children completed their general education in New York, he relocated with his family to Vero Beach where he lived for over 30 years. Eager to engage in his new community he soon went to work part time for Sewall’s Hardware in Vero Beach, where he met more lifelong friends.

Dave married his Honey in 1963, and they shared 56 years with each other, raising children, working, and in retirement enjoying extensive travels where they made and enjoyed the company of lifelong friends.

David is survived by his wife Priscilla (known as Honey); his son Peter Bayles Minuse and his wife Jill of Melbourne, Florida; his son Paavo Bayles Minuse and his wife Suzann, of Vero Beach, Florida; and his daughter Robin Elo Minuse and her longtime partner Jonas Beauregard of Melbourne, Florida. Paavo and Sue blessed him with two grandchildren, Brianna Rose Minuse and Jonathan Bayles Minuse. He is also survived by his sister Cynthia Murphy of Stony Brook as well as numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.

Dave was very proud of his grandchildren and their participation in the Vero Beach High School music programs.

Dave is remembered for his beautiful spirit, generous nature and kind heart. He never met a stranger, he only made lifelong friends and was proud to serve the community he loved.

A Celebration of Life service was held Sept. 21 after the family had a private inurnment at Crestlawn Cemetery in Vero Beach.

In lieu of flowers the family requests donations in David Minuse’s name to The Fighting Indians Band Boosters as follows: Vero Beach High School FIBB, P.O. Box 5124, Vero Beach, FL 32961.

Ady Fenton

Ady Fenton formerly of New York City, New Suffolk and St. James died Sept. 17.

She was 90 years old and resided at an assisted living facility in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. Ady’s husband, Joe Fenton, predeceased her in January of 2015, after a marriage of 68 years.

Ady began her career as a teacher and speech therapist but gave up working outside the home in order to raise her three children, Ivy, Martin and Nina. Ady was born and raised in Brooklyn and spent the majority of her life in Manhattan, New Suffolk and St. James adding an apartment in Philadelphia in her later years.

She loved to cook, sew, travel and entertain. Most of all she loved her family. In addition to her children, she is survived by five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Her zest for life never faded. She passed on what would have been her 72nd wedding anniversary, clearly a sign they are together again.

A Celebration of Life will be held in late October. For more information please call 516-443-5084.

Vivianne S. Bicknese 

Vivianne S. Bicknese of East Northport died on Sept. 20 at 55 years of age. Beloved wife of Gary; loving daughter of Sheila Lieu and the late Ralph Lieu and his wife Chandra; dear sister of Virginia (Francis) Farnum, Elizabeth Lieu, and Sabrina (Kelvin) Lieu; fond aunt of Francis, Kimberly, Sean, and David; dear daughter-in-law of Richard and Jeanette Bicknese. Visitation was held Aug. 25 at the Nolan Funeral Home, Northport. Funeral Mass was celebrated Sept. 26 at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church, Centerport. Interment followed at St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Huntington. 

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Eleanor Kra

Eleanor Kra, 77, died at Mount Sinai West hospital in Manhattan of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS and Lou Gehrig’s disease, July 9. In the last weeks of her life, she was surrounded by her devoted husband, children, grandchildren, her sister and countless friends.

Eleanor was born in the Warsaw Ghetto Oct.1, 1941, and was smuggled out of the ghetto by her mother early the following year. Eleanor, her mother, Rochelle, and her best friend Mary Shidlovski survived the Holocaust in Warsaw while living on false papers, and Eleanor did not know she was Jewish until after the war had ended.

She moved with her family from Poland to Germany, eventually arriving in the United States in 1949. Eleanor graduated from William H. Taft High School in New York in 1958 and from Barnard College at Columbia University in New York June 5, 1962.

At Barnard she met the love of her life, Irwin Kra, and they were wed Dec. 23, 1961. Irwin and Eleanor were married for over 57 years and lived happily in New York and Boston before settling on Long Island in 1968, where they resided for the next 46 years. In 2014 they returned to New York City.

Eleanor received a master’s degree in American history from Stony Brook University in 1971 and later was employed at the same university. For many years, she worked in the health sciences, and she retired as the assistant dean at the School of Health Technology and Management in 2008.

Eleanor devoted much time and energy to volunteer activities, even more so after she retired. She served as chair of the Center for Human Justice and Social Understanding featuring the Holocaust Collection at Suffolk County Community College. She was also a fierce activist and champion of a variety of Jewish and social justice causes, recently commenting that if you weren’t angry you weren’t paying enough attention.

Eleanor’s first language was Polish, but before and after the war, her family spoke Yiddish. She had a lifelong love for the language and was active with the YIVO Institute for Jewish Learning in Manhattan. A Yiddish language interview of her about her life can be found online at the Yiddish Language Book Center’s Wexler Oral History Project.

Eleanor loved laughter, food, wine, music, friends and family. She was a warm and devoted mother, wife and friend and hosted numerous wayward guests and visitors every year on Thanksgiving, Pesach and any other holiday where someone needed a temporary home and a delicious meal. Eleanor was an accomplished cook and invitations to her table were always welcome, both for the food and for the conversation. She was always ready with a quick joke or a sharp retort, as circumstances warranted.

Eleanor adored the opera and held season subscriptions first to the New York City Opera and then to the Metropolitan Opera. She also loved travel and adventure, returning repeatedly to Israel, along with visits to dozens of other countries.

Eleanor enjoyed her final years surrounded by friends and family, enjoying all that New York had to offer. She is survived by her husband, Irwin; her sister, Rosely; her children Douglas, Bryna and Gabriel; their spouses Lisa, Brian and Julie; and her eight beloved grandchildren Stephanie, Danielle, Jacob, Elie, Calla, Jonas, Jasper and Nola.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her honor to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (www.hias.org), American Jewish World Service (www.ajws.org) or www.ALS.org.

Arlene Pearce

Arlene A. Pearce, of Port Jefferson, died July 5, 2019.  

She was the beloved wife of W. Donald Pearce; devoted mother of Donald G. Pearce (Janine), Debbie Grimaldi (Pat) and Cindy Parry (Bill); the cherished nana of Donald C., Michael, Patrick, Stephanie, Danielle, Matthew and Katelyn; the loving sister of Carol Wickel (Joe); and dear sister in law of Peggy Butscher.  

The family will received friends July 7 at the O.B. Davis Funeral Homes in Port Jefferson Station, while a Mass of Christian Burial took place July 7 at the Infant Jesus R.C. Church in Port Jefferson followed by a private cremation.

In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations in memory of Arlene be made to: Hope House Ministries – The Ministry for Hope Inc. 501 (c) (3) E.I.N. 11-2667800 d.b.a. Hope House Ministries 1 High St. / P.O. Box 358 Port Jefferson, NY 11777

Donald Kane

Donald John Kane, of Wilmington NC, formerly of Mount Sinai passed away July 8 at the New Hanover Regional Medical Center in North Carolina. He was 87.

The youngest of eight sons, Donald was born in Brooklyn Jan. 27, 1932, to Henry Vincent Kane and Anna Donahue Kane.

Don was a career Marine serving his country all over the world as a Comms Chief. He was a veteran of both the Korean War and the Vietnam War and was a Purple Heart recipient. He retired from the Marine Corps after 22 and a half years of faithful service in 1971. He held true to the Marine Corps motto Semper Fidelis (Always Faithful), attending the Drill Instructor reunion and Marine Corps Ball every year with his wife Robin. Upon retirement from the U.S. Marine Corps, Don pursued a career with the U.S. Post Office in Mount Sinai York, where he retired after a 20-year commitment in 1994.

Don’s zest for life was contagious, and he was always the life of the party. He was known as “Uncle Don” in Mount Sinai, and as “The Godfather” of his neighborhood. Don was happiest tending his garden and spending time with his family and friends. Don was renowned for his storytelling. Family said his big heart encompassed everyone he met, and he always made you feel loved, no matter what.

In addition to his wife Robin, he is survived by his four daughters, Donna (Jonathan) Seely of Murfreesboro, TN, Dorine (Joe) Gallo of Wildwood, MO, Gloria (Jonathan) Deitsch of Marysville, MI, and Kasey (Bryan) Scanlon of Hubert, NC; daughter in law Nina Kane of San Antonio, TX; twelve grandchildren, Aimee Seely Hull, Christopher Sauer Seely, Stephanie Kane, Joseph Gallo, Elisa Gallo, Jordyn Deitsch, Taylor Deitsch, Jack Donald Deitsch, Bradyn Deitsch, Kaydince Scanlon, Brody Scanlon, Karter Scanlon; and his great grandchild, Kate Hull.

Don was preceded in death by his son, Timothy J. Kane of San Antonio, TX.

Family and friends are invited to a viewing on July 28 from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m. at the O.B. Davis Funeral Home in Port Jefferson Station. A Celebration of Life and funeral service will be held July 29 at 10 a.m. at the same funeral home.

Don will be laid to rest at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Port Jefferson.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks people to support his fellow Marines with contributions to the Semper Fi Fund at:

The Semper Fi Fund

825 College Blvd. Suite 102, PMB 609

Oceanside, CA 92057

 

Joan Aird Kremens

Joan Aird Kremens, 81, died June 7.

Born Feb. 11, 1938, in Maspeth, Joan was the second of two daughters to Mary and Joseph Aird. She spent her childhood in Maspeth and summers in Oakdale, where she excelled as a champion swimmer and runner.

In 1956 Joan married her high school sweetheart Chester Kremens and moved to Bay Shore. They were married for 63 years and had three sons. In 1964 she and Chester started a construction supply company, which came to be known as Sure-Set Fasteners Inc. The company grew from their deep commitment to customer service and their willingness to go above and beyond for their clients. It remains a thriving family business to this day.

The family of five were avid boaters, boating on Long Island Sound, around Shelter Island and in the Bahamas, where they vacationed.

Joan had a keen mind and was an avid reader, delving into history, medical science, current events and anything else that caught her eye. She stayed engaged politically and was a committed Democrat.

In their retirement, Joan and Chet bought an RV. After spending a few years crisscrossing the country, the couple settled into winters in Miami and became solid members of an RV community there.

Joan was a doting grandmother to seven grandchildren April, Stephen, Chris, Paul, Riley, Charlie and Annabelle; and four great-grandchildren Olivia and Ayrdrie van Bemmelen, and Penelope and Parker Kremens. In addition to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, she is survived by her loving husband and her children Chester Jr. (Val), Russell (Karen) and Jim (Laura) as well as her sister Marion Aird and her nieces Jeanine Lobell and Adrienne Amundsen.

A memorial service will be held Aug. 31 from 1 to 5 p.m. in Port Jefferson. In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made to Emily’s List. Funeral arrangements were entrusted to St. James Funeral Home.

Elizabeth M. Fitzpatrick

Elizabeth M. “Betty” Fitzpatrick of Nesconset passed away June 14 at the age of 86. Born in Manhattan, she was the beloved wife of Philip, and devoted mother of Ann, Philip and Paul. Services were held at Moloney’s Lake Funeral Home and Cremation Center, Lake Ronkonkoma. A funeral Mass was held at Holy Cross R. C. Church in Nesconset with interment at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Coram.

Dorothy Marie Miller

Dorothy Marie Miller of Hauppauge passed away June 26 at age 78. Born in Islip, she was the beloved wife of the late Myron, devoted mother of Myron and the late Pamela. Services were held at Moloney’s Hauppauge Funeral Home, Hauppauge with a private cremation at Nassau Suffolk Crematory, Lake Ronkonkoma.

Ward Melville at the Stony Brook Village Center in the 1970s Photo from WMHO

By Heidi Sutton

I’m sitting on a bench on the Village Green at the Stony Brook Village Center. I’ve come to see the sun set over the harbor. It’s mid-June and there’s still a slight chill in the air. Behind me are the quaint New England style shops and restaurants; across the street Hercules sits in his Pavilion, tall and regal with a lion’s pelt wrapped around his shoulders while kayakers and paddle boarders row silently behind him.

Down to my right I spy the little stream that I used to play in as a child and beyond that the Three Village Inn, the spot for so many family gatherings. I hear a familiar sound and turn to catch the mechanical eagle on the post office flap its wings. It’s 8 p.m. and the chimney swifts above me make their last rounds in search of insects as the sky turns orange and purple and pink. The scene is peaceful and beautiful; a community treasure.

One man’s vision

According to Gloria Rocchio, president of The Ward Melville Heritage Organization, this exact spot was the focal point for Ward Melville’s vision to build the nation’s first planned business community. Originally Melville’s mother, Jennie, came up with the idea of rebuilding the village after the Great Depression and started purchasing properties in the area. When she died in the summer of 1939, “Mr. Melville took up the gauntlet” and envisioned opening the whole village to the harbor. 

After establishing The Ward Melville Organization (then known as the Stony Brook Community Fund) on Dec. 31, 1939 the philanthropist presented his grand plan, a crescent-shaped Village Center with connected shops grouped around a Federalist-style post office, to the community in January of 1940 at a special dinner at the Three Village Inn. The project was well received.

“He officially opened [the Stony Brook Village Center] on July 5, 1941 but the last tenant, the hardware store, opened on Dec. 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor Day,” said Rocchio during a recent interview, adding that the mechanical eagle was there from the first day. “The idea of attaching buildings together and having the road network where the deliveries went in the back – all of it was very unusual and unique,” she said.

Now known as the Harbor Crescent section, the shops featured big show windows with identical signage. Full-size trees were planted in the grassy area in front of them (probably to keep them from blocking the storefronts as they grew, theorizes Rocchio), with green metal garbage cans inscribed with a quote from Abraham Lincoln, “I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives,” placed next to them.

Melville then turned his attention to restoring historic properties in the area dating back to the Revolutionary War, including the Stony Brook Grist Mill and the Thompson House and Brewster House in Setauket. “Each time he did that he deeded it over to the Stony Brook Community Fund, now the WMHO, and here we are,” Rocchio explained.

In the 1960s, Melville saw that the community was changing, and to go along with the times, he built the second section of the Stony Brook Village Center, Market Square, which featured a Bohacks.

When he passed in 1977, his wife Dorothy became president of the board and headed up the third phase of the Village Center with the addition of the Inner Court. Rocchio worked for Dorothy Melville from 1979 until she died in 1989. “I worked very closely with her and she taught me a lot; I learned how [the Melvilles] thought and that was very important.” The final phase, the Educational & Cultural Center, located behind the Inner Court, was completed in 2002.

According to Rocchio, the Stony Brook Village Center was part of a larger vision. “[Ward Melville] loved history – American history. He bought all these properties as it relates to the history of this area,” she explained, adding that Melville’s goal was to have Stony Brook look similar to Colonial Williamsburg.

“[Melville] saw it as a master plan, the Williamsburg concept,” which included donating 400 acres of land for the development of Stony Brook University. “This [shopping area] was supposed to be the road that leads to [The College of] William and Mary,” Rocchio explained, and a lot of the homes on Main Street were purchased by Melville who removed all the Victorian architecture and brought them back to the Colonial style. Slate sidewalks were installed to complete the look.

“This was a place that you lived with history … So you just lived with the Grist Mill where it always was, you lived with the Thompson House where it always was – and to think that this one man had the vision to save all of this and to create this for the residents is such a treasure,” said Rocchio. “The legacy and the foresight that he had is just amazing to me, amazing.”

Continuing the legacy

Today, The Ward Melville Heritage Organization continues its mission to protect and preserve historic and environmentally sensitive properties deeded to it by Ward Melville including the Stony Brook Grist Mill, Thompson House, Brewster House, the 11-acre T. Bayles Minuse Mill Pond Park and two-acre Upper Pond, the Hercules Pavilion, and the Ernst Marine Conservation Center and 88-Acre Wetlands Preserve.

The organization also leases WMHO land and buildings to the Long Island Museum, The Jazz Loft and the Three Village Society Lending Aids for the Sick for $1 per year with the stipulation that they are responsible for maintenance and operations. This was Ward and Dorothy’s vision of creating a community where art, music and history are an integral part of daily life.

Every year the organization offers free summer concerts in front of the post office, a scarecrow contest in October, a holiday festival and Promenade of Trees in December, educational programs for children, Master Classes for adults, cultural exhibits, musical theater luncheon and Wetlands Discovery Cruises. In addition, the WMHO hosts the Long Island’s Got Talent competition and Walk for Beauty.

The Stony Brook Village Center, 111 Main St., Stony Brook is a  lifestyle shopping center with specialty shops and services, restaurants and year-round events including its annual outdoor summer concerts, Halloween Festival and holiday tree lighting.

 

 

The Brewster House, 18 Runs Road, East Setauket was built in 1665 and is considered the oldest house in the Town of Brookhaven. Home to six generations of Brewsters, it was operated as a tavern and general store during the American Revolution by Joseph Brewster. Open on Culper Spy Day every year and by appointment.

 

 

The Stony Brook Grist Mill, 100 Harbor Road, Stony Brook is Long Island’s most completely equipped working mill. Listed on the National and New York State Register of Historic Places, it is open to the public for guided tours with a miller on weekends April through mid-October from noon to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $2 for adults and $1 for children.

 

Hercules Pavilion on Main Street, Stony Brook, houses the figurehead and anchor from the U.S.S. Ohio, the first ship launched from the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 1820.  Sharing the Hercules Pavilion with the historic figurehead is the Polaris whaleboat, thought to be the only surviving artifact from the Charles Hall expedition to the Arctic in 1870.  

 

 

 

Discovery Wetlands Cruises depart from Stony Brook Marine Services across from the Three Village Inn through Oct. 20. The 27-passenger vessel cruises through the organization’s 88-acre wetlands preserve for a 1½-hour tour. A naturalist on board will highlight and describe the wildlife and flora that the passengers will see. Visit www.wmho.org for full schedule.

 

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s Educational & Cultural Center, 97P Main St., Stony Brook is a state-of-the-art venue that offers a wide variety of events throughout the year including cultural exhibits, musical theater performances and children and adult programs. Home of the Heritage Gift Shop.

 

 

The Jazz Loft, 275 Christian Ave., Stony Brook offers a treasure trove of memorabilia from some of the greatest jazz musicians of their day and even an orchestra stage that was constructed from the original Roseland Ballroom dance floor. The venue includes a full calendar of musical performances, as well as sensory-friendly programs. 631-751-1895, www.thejazzloft.org.

 

The Mechanical Eagle at the Stony Brook Post Office, 129 Main St., Stony Brook, was hand carved and has a wing span of 20 feet. It flaps its wings every hour on the hour from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. as it has done since 1941, welcoming visitors to the Stony Brook Village Center.

 

 

The Thompson House, 91 North Country Road, Setauket is one of the largest houses in the Town of Brookhaven. Built in 1709, this five-room saltbox farmhouse was home to five generations of Thompsons, including patriot, farmer and physician, Dr. Samuel Thompson.  WMHO education programs are held here by appointment and the house is open for tours on Culper Spy Day

 

Time to celebrate

In honor of its 80th anniversary, The Ward Melville Heritage Organization plans to celebrate with a series of exciting family events kicking off with its Summer Concerts on the Green from July 7 to Aug. 18. Titled Music Through Time, every concert will represent a different decade. “We’re going to be counting down backwards so we’re going to start off with today’s music and work our way right down to the 1940s,” said WMHO Director of Development Gabrielle Lindau.

From July 14 to Sept. 29 the WMHO will present an exhibit at the Educational & Cultural Center titled Journey Through Time. Working in collaboration with Newsday and the Kings Park Heritage Museum, the exhibit will show how society has changed since 1939 because of national, regional and local events and the advancements in technology. “Each panel will represent a different decade,” explained Rocchio. “Newsday is giving us national news, then we have Long Island news and then we have what’s happening here. It’s been a big project.”

The celebration continues from July 20 to Sept. 14 with Walking Through Time, one and a half hour walking tours that will feature costumed actors from St. George Productions portraying historic figures performing in the first person. 

“For this tour we are specifically featuring local women … and you’re going to get to meet people who really lived here and owned some of the properties,“ said Lindau, explaining that participants will meet “Mrs. Devereux Emmet” who owned the Stony Brook Grist Mill and built All Soul’s Church and then head over to the Hercules Pavilion with “Mrs. Jonas Smith” who will speak about the U.S.S. Ohio as well as the legend behind Hercules. The group will then walk over to the Three Village Inn to learn about Captain Jonas Smith, Long Island’s first millionaire. Next the group will meet “Miss Louise,” Dorothy Melville’s longtime driver who will move the group to The Jazz Loft to discuss the history of the building. The tour will conclude in front of the Stony Brook post office just in time to see the eagle flap its wings.

See below for additional details on these special anniversary events.

On Sept. 28 the organization will present The Courageous Women of the Revolutionary War. “[Participants] will have the opportunity to visit the Educational & Cultural Center, the Brewster House, the Thompson House, the Hawkins-Mount House and the Stony Brook Grist Mill,” explained Lindau. “In each of the houses there is going to be a living history performance and you’ll meet ‘residents’ who actually lived in those houses during the Revolutionary War,” she said. “There will be things revealed during this tour that most people have never heard before.” Transportation provided by WMHO to all sites. 

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization will also team up with The Jazz Loft to present the John Monteleone Art of the Guitar Festival from Sept. 11 to 14 and the Harbor Jazz Festival from Sept. 25 to 29 and collaborate with the Long Island Museum to present a program titled William Sidney Mount & the Sounds of the 19th Century on July 20 from 2 to 5 p.m.; Hawkins-Mount House tours on Sept. 15 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and a Carriage Show and Ride Demonstration on Oct. 27 from 1 to 4 p.m. For more information, call 631-751-2244 or visit www.wmho.org.

The community gathers for free outdoor concerts at the Stony Brook Village Center every summer.

MUSIC … ART … HISTORY, 1939–2019

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization is celebrating a milestone in its history with a variety of events for the entire family.  Mark your calendars for these not-to-be-missed happenings throughout the summer and fall that will literally take you on a historical and musical journey.

MUSIC THROUGH TIME

Music Through Time free summer concerts will take place each Sunday evening 7 to 9 p.m. in front of the Stony Brook Village Post Office from July 7 through Aug. 18. 

Take a musical journey through the decades:

July 7: Sound Chaser Band (2000s-today)

July 14:Tom Manuel & Guests (’90s/Motown)

July 21: Six Gun (’80s/’70s country rock)

July 28: Left Jab Band (’70s/’80s)

Aug. 4: Just Sixties (’60s)

Aug. 11: NY Exceptions (’50s)

Aug. 18: The Jazz Loft (’40s)

JOURNEY THROUGH TIME

Journey Through Time summer exhibit will open July 14 and run through Sept. 29 at WMHO’s state of the art Educational & Cultural Center daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. See how our lives have changed since 1939! Enjoy vintage items such as a WWII Army helmet; a fire engine red T-Bird; Marilyn Monroe, Popeye and Wizard of Oz dolls; a rotary phone as it compares to an iPhone; and so much more! General admission is $8 per person; seniors and children under 12 are $5 per person. Call 631-689-5888 for more info.

WALKING THROUGH TIME

Walking Through Time historic walking tours will begin at the Stony Brook Grist Mill at 1 and 3 p.m. and introduce visitors to a variety of historic figures performing in the first person. Enjoy fun facts and historical happenings from the 18th to the 21st centuries! “Mrs. Devereux Emmet,” c. 1940s, an Astor orphan, who was from Stony Brook, will tell you about why All Souls Church stands here in Stony Brook Village.  “Mrs. Jonas Smith,” c. 1850s, will tell you about how her husband became Long Island’s first millionaire through shipbuilding; and “Miss Louise,” c. 1980s, will talk about Dorothy Melville and her interests and activities during this period.

Tour dates are: 

July 20 (rain date July 21)

July 31 (rain date Aug. 1)

Aug. 10 (rain date Aug. 11)

Aug. 21 (rain date Aug. 22) 

Sept. 14 (rain date Sept. 15)  

Regular admission is $15 per person; a Premium Ticket is available for $20 per person, which includes the Journey Through Time exhibit and refreshments; children ages 5 and under are free. Reservations are required by calling 631-689-5888 or 631-751-2244. For more information, visit www.wmho.org.

Voting booths at Rocky Point High School. File photo by Kyle Barr
Check back later this week for Miller Place’s proposed school budget and interviews with school board trustee candidates.

School districts throughout the North Shore of Long Island are gearing up for budget votes on May 21. Here is a round up of some of the local districts latest budget overviews and a preview of candidates who are running for board of education trustee seats.  

Mount Sinai High School. File photo by Barbara Donlon

Mount Sinai School District budget overview 

The final proposed budget figure for the 2019-20 school year will be 61,009,770, which is a 1.34 percent and $806,295 increase from the current year’s amount. 

The district is poised to receive $18,007,000 in state aid in the upcoming school year, a slight decrease than it received last year. 

Though it will receive slightly more in foundation aid for the upcoming school year in $12,909,109 compared to this year’s figure of 12,845,044, the district will be receiving less money in building state aid. The 2019-20 amount will be $1,168,106, a $489,000 decrease in funds. That’s due to a 25-year-old bond loan on the high school finally being paid off, according to Superintendent Gordan Brodsal. 

“The bond on the high school is paid off,” he said. “No more principal, no more interest. That means no more building aid from the state.”

The tax levy cap for the district in 2019-20 will be 2.168 percent and the tax levy amount is $40,986,735, a $870,000 increase from the previous year. 

The tax rate for an average assessment of a household valued at $3,700 will be $9,839. As a result, and the district said there will be a $17 increase in tax rates for the average homeowner.

For capital projects, a separate vote in conjunction with budget, the board wants to set a capital reserve of $850,000. Including the $750,000 in funds put last year in capital reserve, the district will have $1.6 million for future capital projects.

Brosdal and the board are proposing to use $1.5 million for two projects: the cost of another partial repair of the high school’s roof and to replace the middle school’s HVAC system. The high school roof repair would cost $850,000 and the HVAC replacement would cost $650,000. The remaining $100,000 would be saved for future projects. 

Other highlights of the budget are plans to make the Consultant Teacher Direct Instructor program full day for children in grades 1 through 4. To expand the program, the district would be looking to hire two additional instructors. 

Also, the budget will cover replacement of outdated textbooks in the middle and high school. The total for the new textbooks will cost the district $75,550.

Mount Sinai board of education trustee vote

This year, Mount Sinai will have five candidates running for three open trustee seats. Board member Anne Marie Henninger’s seat will come up for vote again after she replaced trustee Michael Riggio, who vacated his position in August 2018. Board member Lynn Jordan will be vying for re-election. Challengers this year are Lisa Pfeffer, Chris Quartarone and Robert Pignatello. The two candidates with the highest votes will get a three-year term while the person to receive the third most votes will take up Riggio’s vacated seat, which will have a two-year tenure instead of the usual three years for the other seats. 

Rocky Point High School. File photo by Desirée Keegan

Rocky Point Union Free School District budget overview 

The latest proposed budget amount for the upcoming school year will be $86,743,446, a slight increase of 0.71 percent from last year’s amount. The district will also see a projected tax levy cap of 2.59 percent and a tax levy amount of $52,491,371, which is an increase by more than $1.3 million from the current year’s figure of $51,166,218. 

The district will be receiving $28,864,295 in state aid for 2019-20, an increase of close to $130,000. Rocky Point will get $19,044,293 in foundation aid, an increase of more than $140,000 compared to last year’s figure of $18,902,525. 

Another highlight of the budget overview is that debt services will decrease in the 2019-20 school year as a result of a completion of payments of two bonds that date back to 1995 and 2000. The bond payments will expire on June 30 and will save the district $451,751. 

Superintendent Micheal Ring said the bonds expiring were approved by voters for various construction projects, including the construction of the Rocky Point Middle School. As debt service decreases, so does building aid from New York State, which is provided to offset part of the cost of bond interest and principal payments over the life of debt. 

Employees Retirement System rates will decrease to 13.1 percent, which is expected to likely save the district more than $159,000. Teachers Retirement System rates are expected to decrease as well to 9 percent and would save the district close to $582,000. 

Ring said that as rates have gone down it has resulted in opportunities to better support the district’s core instructional programs and enhance maintenance of facilities.  

Rocky Point board of education trustee vote

This year there will be two open trustee seats. 

Board member Scott Reh, who was sworn in to the board Jan. 14 to fill the seat vacated by Joseph Coniglione earlier this school year, has said he has no plans on securing re-election in May and will let other candidates run for his seat. The candidate with the most votes will serve for the three-year term. The candidate with the second highest number of votes will serve the remainder of Coniglione’s term, which is one year. The candidates this year are Susan Sullivan, Michael Lisa and Jessica Ward. 

Shoreham-Wading River High School. File photo

Shoreham-Wading River Central School District budget overview

The finalized proposed budget figure for 2019-20 will be $75,952,416. It is a $1,176,344 increase from last year’s figure. 

The tax levy cap for the upcoming school year is 2.36 percent and the tax levy cap amount is $54,377,657, an increase of $1,257,442 from the current year’s amount. 

The district is expected to receive $12,676,465 in state aid for the 2019-20 school year, a decrease of over $98,000 from 2018-2019. Also, SWR will see an increase of over $48,000 in foundation state aid received with the total amount being $6,442,501. 

The fund balance for 2019-20 will decrease by close to $67,000 from 2018-19. 

The final budget will cover the implementation of an integrated video, door access and alarm management system as well as additional video cameras and perimeter fencing. Night gates will be installed at the Alfred G. Prodell Middle School, Miller Avenue Elementary School and Wading River Elementary School. Also, the budget will cover the purchase of a new high school auditorium bandshell and supplies/materials for the middle school greenhouse. 

Shoreham-Wading River board of education trustee vote

This year, SWR will have three trustee seats open.

The full terms of board members Michael Lewis and Kimberly Roff will expire June 30. Roff chose to not seek re-election. 

The third seat is for board member Erin Hunt, who resigned in March and whose term will expire June 30 as well.  

The candidates with the two highest number of votes will win the full three-year term seats.  These candidates’ term will be from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2022.

The candidate with the third highest number of votes will win Hunt’s vacated seat.  The winning candidate’s term will begin the evening of the election, May 21, and their term of office will end June 30, 2020. An election will take place in May 2020 to fill the seat for a three-year term.

The five challengers for this year are: Thomas Sheridan, Jennifer Kitchen, Meghan Tepfenhardt, Edward Granshaw and William McGrath.

 

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Students from different classes pass each other as they arrive, leave and pass by Setauket Post Office. In the foreground is Steve Hintze, one of 12 Founders Day guides and former Three Village Historical Society president. Photo from Beverly C. Tyler

By Beverly C. Tyler

This year, April 11 and 12, will mark the 14th year that Three Village fourth-grade students have come to the Setauket Elementary School auditorium to learn about the murals depicting the history of Setauket and Brookhaven, and the sixth year the Founders Day program has included the Original Settlement Walking Tour.

Last year during the Founders Day walking tour, one fourth-grade student had something to share.

“I don’t like history, but I like this,” he said.

Billadello, second from left; Katherine Kirkpatrick, middle, author of ‘Redcoats and Petticoats’; and historian Beverly Tyler with students Eve and Lily Rosengard on Culper Spy Day last September. The Rosengards helped to produce a video about historic murals at their school. Photo from Beverly C. Tyler

Last year on April 23 and 24, about 450 Three Village fourth-grade students came to the elementary school auditorium in celebration of Brookhaven Town Founders Day to learn about the area history through the murals of Vance Locke, a local artist who completed the murals in 1952. Then, for the next two hours, each class, led by guides from the Three Village Historical Society, explored the Original Settlement area that surrounds the Setauket Village Green. Students were introduced to painter William Sidney Mount and Culper spy Abraham Woodhull at the Setauket Presbyterian Churchyard and to residents Emma S. Clark, Thomas Hodgkins and Ward Melville at the Caroline Church Cemetery. At the Village Green, students learned about the Setalcott Native Americans, Brookhaven’s original English settlers, and the diversity of immigrants who lived and worked here, as well as the varied ancestry of the Three Village area soldiers whose deaths in war are memorialized here.

In Frank Melville Memorial Park, the fourth-grade boys and girls learned about gristmills, millers, blacksmiths, post offices, general stores and one of the Original Settlement’s 17th century homes. At the Setauket Neighborhood House — a home this writer grew up in — students heard about the structure of the building and how it progressed from a hotel, with stagecoach service from the Lakeland railroad station, to a tourist home with station wagon service from the Long Island Rail Road’s Stony Brook station, and finally to its use as a meeting place for the entire community.

At the circa 1740 Amos Smith House, students learned about the eight generations that lived in the home and how it grew to accommodate the four generations that included from five to nine children, parents and at least one grandparent in a three-bedroom house.

Each fourth-grade class also discussed the differences as shown in the images of the house in 1740, 1900 and today. Donna Smith, historical society director of education and Founders Day committee member was told by one of her tour group students, “My favorite part was seeing the house Mr. Tyler grew up in and how it is so different.”

The last stop, at Patriots Rock, a remnant of the last glacier and a Native American meeting place, provided an opportunity to learn about the Revolutionary War Battle of Setauket in 1777 and Caleb Brewster, who as an artillery officer directed the cannon fire, and who was also an important member of the Setauket-based Culper Spy Ring.

“Founders Day is more than learning about our local history,’ said Barbara Russell, Brookhaven Town historian and Founders Day committee member. “It is a historical experience for our Three Village fourth-grade students. … Learning that the Emma S. Clark Library is not just the place to find books or attend a program, but is an architecturally interesting structure that was built by a local resident [Hodgkins] as a gift to the community, and there really was a person named Emma S. Clark is enlightening to fourth-graders. Then they walk toward the Caroline Church and see the Hodgkins and Clark headstones — it all comes together in this fascinating look on a student’s face that they have just put it all together.”

“My favorite part was seeing the house Mr. Tyler grew up in and how it is so different.”

— Fourth-grade student

At the end of the tour each student receives a copy of “Discover Setauket, Brookhaven’s Original Settlement,” a walking tour guide companion prepared by the historical society, courtesy of Three Village Central School District. Students, who can now be considered knowledgeable guides to the area’s local history, are encouraged to take their family members on the walking tour.

The elementary school’s fourth-grade students were so inspired by the 2018 Founders Day tour that they decided to produce a video story of each of the Vance Locke murals in the school’s auditorium. The students were led by Andy Weik, school district lead teacher for instructional technology, and fourth-grade teacher Eric Gustafson. The students recorded the videos, and they were produced with a QR code added at the base of each mural. All but two were completed in time for Culper Spy Day, Sept. 15, a communitywide celebration of the spy ring with a wide range of community organizations and businesses taking part. For the first time, due to the student videos, the elementary school auditorium was opened on a Saturday to take part in the celebration. Four of the Vance Locke murals are scenes of activity in Setauket and Brookhaven during the Revolutionary War. Several of the students who worked on the video stories were present in colonial costumes in the auditorium to answer questions and talk to some of the 800 people who bought tickets for the event, as well as a few who wandered in to see what was happening.

At the historical society, we hope, for the foreseeable future, that every fourth-grade student will continue to experience the wonder of our local history and be excited to learn more of the stories of the people who lived here and what they contributed to our history.

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