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Brookhaven

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine and Councilman Dan Panico, on left, with the new food scrap composters. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

As far as the Town of Brookhaven is concerned, going green is not just a casual practice — it’s a moral obligation to ensure Long Island’s future.

In the last few months, Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and members of the town board have launched a series of environmentally friendly initiatives and continued ongoing efforts that encourage local residents to
reduce their carbon footprints and preserve the serenity of their surroundings.

“Whenever there are ways to benefit the environment, I’m 100 percent involved [and] I’m blessed by an extremely supportive town board,” Romaine said, highlighting an especially strong partnership with Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point). “I don’t want to say Jane is my environmental soulmate, but she and I are on the exact same page. She is one of my cheerleaders in every manner, shape or form.”

Other environmental actions taken by Brookhaven:

– A 127-acre solar farm called Shoreham Solar Commons will be constructed on the recently closed Tallgrass Golf Course.

– The extension of the Pine Barrens to include 800 acres of national property around the former Shoreham nuclear plant will go forward upon Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) signed authorization.

A multiyear project to convert all 40,000 of Brookhaven’s streetlights to LED bulbs has begun with 5,000 already converted.

– Through a partnership with U.S Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the town has secured funding to fix stormwater infrastructures along the North Shore, from Miller Place to Shoreham.

– A center at Ceder Beach in Mount Sinai  has been established to grow millions of oysters and sea clams that filter and clean the water.

In May, Bonner held her fifth bi-annual Go Green event at the Rose Caracappa Senior Center in Mount Sinai. It’s the town’s biggest recycling event where residents can dispose of unwanted medication and prescriptions and recycle old TVs and computers, as well as paper. The e-waste drive gathered 15,000 pounds of electronic waste and shredded 13,580 pounds of paper products and 26 boxes of unwanted pharmaceutical drugs, according to the town.

The councilwoman also hosted a Homeowner’s Guide to Energy Efficiency forum at the center later in the month, educating residents on how to get a free energy audit, affordable home energy improvements and save $1,000 a year on home energy bills. Through this effort, less fossil fuels are used to heat and light homes.

“We take it very seriously,” Bonner said of the town’s green initiatives. “We have a moral obligation to be good stewards of the Earth and this transcends party lines. Regardless of party affiliation, we all know we can do a better job of taking care of the planet.”

Aside from providing free compost and mulch to residents at Brookhaven Town Hall, officials also recently utilized a $5,000 grant to rip up the back lawn of the property to plant and restore native Long Island grasses, from which seeds can be collected and used.

In June, the town officially authorized the nonprofit Art & Nature Group Inc. to transform Brookhaven’s historic Washington Lodge property into a community nature center that offers environmental education programs.

Romaine and Councilman Dan Panico (R-Manorville) organized Brookhaven’s Food Scrap Composting pilot program at town hall last month, with hopes to expand it as a townwide initiative.

Through the program, town employees can deposit food waste, such as banana peels and coffee grinds, into organic material collection containers placed throughout the buildings, which are then collected and composted to be used for garden beds around town buildings.

“We must provide alternative waste management solutions like these if we are going to provide a cleaner, greener earth for future generations,” Panico said in a statement.

Blueprints would mirror design for similar housing in Rocky Point

Mark Baisch discusses his proposal for senior homes in Miller Place at the July 10 Sound Beach Civic Association meeting. Photo by Ginny Drews

Low-cost, community-based apartments for seniors may be heading to Miller Place.

During a July 10 Sound Beach Civic Association meeting, Mark Baisch, owner of the Rocky Point-based development company Landmark Properties Ltd., proposed 44 600-square-feet, one bedroom apartment units be built as a cul-de-sac on the northwest corner of Sylvan Avenue and Echo Avenue.

The plan is for the senior-exclusive apartment complex, temporarily named Echo Run, to be developed on half of the heavily wooded 3.7-acre site, while the other half would remain in its natural state.

According to Baisch’s proposal, all four units in each of the 11 buildings would have a high Energy Star rating with geothermal heating and cooling systems. Rent is expected to be between $1,000 and $1,400 per month.

It’s kind of lifting a weight off their shoulders because now, this whole homeownership responsibility at 75 years old goes away.”

— Mark Baisch

He said the project aims to provide older residents a new, much-needed living option.

“There’s a huge demand for reasonably priced apartments for seniors who have lived here for a significant portion of their life because for them, there is no place to go,” Baisch said of his plan, which targets senior citizens burdened with paying high taxes to live in homes or basement apartments they might not need anymore. “It’s kind of lifting a weight off their shoulders because now, this whole homeownership responsibility at 75 years old goes away and you end up living the rest of your life without that worry.”

He said senior citizens would not have to worry about upkeep and maintenance around their yard and home while in the complex.

“Here’s what would be a bunch of accessory apartments all in an area where everybody’s in the same boat — they can all support one another and that’s the way it really should be,” Baisch said. “The psychological benefit alone probably exceeds the housing benefit.”

Sound Beach Civic Association President Bea Ruberto, 70, said she’s ready to sign up.

“I can envision myself living there,” Ruberto said. “As baby boomers, we’re getting to the age where we want to live somewhere like that and we have very few rental apartments in the area. More senior rental is definitely needed.”

Ruberto said the proposal was well-received by other civic board members, especially Baisch’s idea to give each building in the complex a different color and design so it better fits the look of the community.

“I can envision myself living there. … More senior rental is definitely needed.”

— Bea Ruberto

The Miller Place proposal mirrors Baisch’s On the Commons apartment complex in development in Rocky Point on the site of the old Thurber Lumber Co. Inc. He said Miller Place and Sound Beach residents requested to be placed on the Rocky Point housing list, prompting him to add a second location.

Like On the Commons, Echo Run plans to reserve a significant percentage of its homes for United States military veterans. The minimum percentage for veterans in Miller Place would be 10 percent, Baisch said, but that number may be adjusted pending an upcoming meeting with Joe Cognitore, commander of Rocky Point Veteran of Foreign Wars Post 6249.

Mary McDonald, 66, who has lived in Miller Place for 32 years, is pleased the proposal is pushing for residential development as opposed to commercial.

“Affordable housing for seniors is something that’s going to be needed all through Suffolk County, because taxes are so high seniors have to leave,” she said. “I’m getting to that point myself.”

Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) said she has already received positive feedback from seniors.

“Several residents have reached out to me and are very excited for it,” Bonner said.

Baisch has discussed the estimated two-year plan with the president of the Miller Place Civic Association and members of Brookhaven Town, and will be meeting with the Mount Sinai Civic Association in the near future.

“I know this will be a homerun in Miller Place,” he said, “just like it’s a homerun in Rocky Point.”

Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner and Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro inspect roadwork on Magnolia Drive in Rocky Point. Photo from Brookhaven Town

The phrase “rocky road” will be reserved exclusively for ice cream in Rocky Point following the completion of a large paving project.

Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) and Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) were on sight at Magnolia Drive to announce the completion of a 17-road paving project in the residential neighborhood.

“The residents can now drive more easily and safely through this neighborhood since the repaving has been completed,” Bonner said. “I thank Superintendent Losquadro and the men and women of the highway department for the important work they do in my district and throughout the Town of Brookhaven.”

While this project did not involve any concrete work, 60 drains were repaired or replaced before milling and paving began. The total cost for this paving project was $537,000.

Roads paved during this project included: Acacia Road, Beech Road, Cedar Road, Club House Drive, Dogwood Road, Elm Road, Forest Road, Garden Road, Grove Road, Hickory Road, Lincoln Drive, Magnolia Drive, Queen Road, Robin Road, Sycamore Road, Tulip Road and Vine Road.

“Many of the side streets off of Magnolia and Hickory Drive were in severe need of repair,” Losquadro said. “I am happy to complete this project and provide residents and motorists who travel these roadways on a daily basis with some much-needed relief.”

The town also completed a 16-road paving project in the area soon after. The two were big projects that were completed during 2017’s pavng season.

Like the first, this project also did not involve any concrete work, and 45 drains were repaired or replaced before milling and paving  took place. The total cost for this paving project was $390,000. 

Losquadro said milling and paving proved to be challending with some of the narrow, hilly roadwars in the area, but the department managed to get it done.

“Residents and motorists who travel these roads on a daily basis can now enjoy a safer, smoother ride,” he said.

Roads resurfaced include: Aloma Road, Azur Road, Corona Road, Floral Road, Mars Road, Misty Road, Nimbus Road, Pearl Road, Phoenix Road, Pigeon Road, Shell Road, Sky Road, Somerset Road, Sunburst Drive, Surf Road and Woodlawn Road.

“Rocky Point residents can drive again with confidence,” Bonner said, “knowing that these roads are much safer now that they are repaved and drainage is improved.”

Suffolk County Legislator Tom Muratore and Brookhaven Town Councilman Kevin LaValle on site in Centereach for the demolition of an adandoned home on Woodland Boulevard. Photo from Brookhaven Town

Brookhaven Town Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden) and Suffolk County Legislator Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma) were on hand for the demolition of an abandoned house at 40 Woodland Boulevard in Centereach last month.

The house, which was vacant for nearly five years, had been vandalized and was a source of numerous resident complaints and Town building code violations. It was demolished by the town in accordance with Chapter 73 of the Town Code, which provides a “fast track” to rid neighborhoods of unsafe structures. The cost of demolition and debris removal is the responsibility of the property owner, and the town places a lien on the property that is then placed on the tax bill. The county reimburses the town and then Suffolk collects the money from the property owner.

“This is a street with well-kept homes and it’s a shame that the owner of this property just let it deteriorate to the point where we had to take action to demolish it” LaValle said. “Thanks to our law and waste management departments, we’ve made this neighborhood a better place to live and I will continue to do everything I can to remove zombie houses throughout the community.”

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As we are filming “One Life to Give,” the Battle of Long Island, which took place at the beginning of our Revolutionary War in 1776, and the dramatic story of Nathan Hale, ISIS has come knocking on Brookhaven’s door in 2017. What? You may say, ISIS from the faraway lands of Syria and Afghanistan, those violently troubled, war-torn places in the Middle East reaching out to our serene little township?

So it seems. This past Sunday, an extra page was found to be on the official town site. This page, from a group called Team System Dz, conveyed some unpleasant pro-ISIS thoughts through Facebook and, according to Brookhaven, not directly from the town website.

Why are we on the group’s radar? Who knows? But they have been sending messages like the one we received here throughout the country to 76 municipalities all told, according to town Councilman Dan Panico. Along with these assaults, similar messages were found on several Ohio government websites, including that of Gov. John Kasich. This particular group has hacked into many government websites around the world in recent years, according to a story in Newsday.

As we know, these terrorist groups are looking to spread fear, and the internet enables them to reach across the globe even as their physically occupied territory shrinks from allied military efforts to defeat them.

Homeland Security officials are actively investigating the event, but for us the timing is particularly meaningful. Here we are, filming the story of the birth of our nation, some 240 years ago, and realizing most meaningfully the values and freedoms under which we live. Those we hail as Patriots gave their lives and fortunes, in some cases, so that these inalienable rights of our society might come down through the centuries to us. We don’t live in fear of being gassed or dismembered by our government. We have the right to criticize our leaders without disappearing. We live under the rule of a Constitution that was forged in democracy, and none of these facts are lost on us as we film the events and the people who made it happen more than two centuries ago. Approaching July Fourth, we are profoundly grateful for our nation, warts and all.

As we covered the story of the town’s hacked website, we needed to decide how to run the article in our papers. We briefly considered putting the ISIS event on the front page, then immediately chose instead to lead with one of the values that make us who we are: our educational system. As you can see, we have given prominence to graduations. We are the hometown papers and we prize our students and their accomplishments. We wouldn’t dream of destroying schools and slaughtering teachers. Our educational system makes democracy possible, and that is what totalitarian regimes fear. Our residents know how to read and write and, we sincerely hope, tell propaganda from real news.

From the battlefield of Long Island and the campsite of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Tallmadge and Nathan Hale to the backyard barbecues and rockets’ red glare of our fireworks, have a Happy Independence Day!

Carrie Chapman Catt, center, in white, leads a group of suffragists in a New York City parade staged in the fall of 1917 to gain support for woman suffrage. Photo from League of Women Voters website

In an increasingly polarized and heated political climate, a historic, nonpartisan, multi-issue grassroots organization is doing its best to remain focused on important matters. Representatives from the League of Women Voters of Brookhaven, a local “league” or chapter of a nationwide organization, discussed their mission amid today’s politics during a May interview.

Belle Sherwin, center, wearing plaid coat and hat with feather, and other women members walk down from jury panel to hear civil and commercial cases in Cleveland, Ohio, court in February 1923. Photo from LWV website

The League of Women Voters of the United States was formed after the 19th Amendment was passed, with the purpose of informing women about the issues by studying both sides of each question and coming to an agreement on what they would support. The Shoreham-Wading River League was started in 1934 and others in South Brookhaven and North Brookhaven were formed in 1949. Shoreham-Wading River and North Brookhaven merged in 1960, then the North and South Brookhaven Leagues merged in 1979, to form the present-day League of Women Voters of Brookhaven. The various leagues do not endorse any candidates running for office but instead select several important issues to local voters and carefully establish league positions on them. They also monitor government activities on all levels in the hopes of presenting facts to the public.

“We don’t ask what party you’re with, we don’t ask your nationality, we’re very careful to be in support of issues and we don’t discuss candidates or parties or anything like that,” Joan Nickeson, a three-year member of the Brookhaven League said.

Issues on the league’s agenda for the current year include a desire to reform campaign finance, defending the environment, reforming immigration policy to establish a path to citizenship, ensuring access to affordable health care for all Americans and many more. The agenda for the National League is established from the ground up, with local leagues brainstorming important issues and positions on those issues.

The Brookhaven League, which currently has 67 members — including two men — has public board meetings once a month, 10 months per year. There are also two yearly public meetings, one in the spring and one in the fall, to discuss issues and establish positions. The league also produces and distributes pamphlets with lists of elected officials in all levels of government, helps people register to vote and overall strives to inform voters above all else.

Nancy Marr the current president of the Brookhaven league and a member of the various Suffolk County versions since 1954 said the goal is to examine both sides of issues before taking a stance. However, Marr said she could see the league getting slightly bolder in their positions should they ever see fit.

“When you look at some of those suffragette pictures, they’re really out there in costume,” Marr said of the enthusiasm of those around when the league was first created. “I would think the league would do that if we really wanted to support say climate change.”

A League of Women Voters march in the 1920s. Photo from League of Women Voters website

League member Jean Baker said the current political discourse has made it difficult at times to remain neutral and adhere to the league’s principles.

“It’s tricky because sometimes you have to hold your tongue and keep your cool when people are saying things you think are crazy and not thoughtful,” Baker said.

Nickeson reiterated that there are other grassroots activist organizations out there for people interested in creating controversy or boldly attacking or endorsing specific candidates. The league plans to remain a steady, guiding example of issue-first political conversation.

“I think we’re so concerned about our integrity,” Nickeson said.

To learn more about the League of Women Voters of Brookhaven or to become a member visit www.lwv.org/local-league/lwv-brookhaven/.

Sen. Kenneth LaValle, wearing hat, sits with Brookhaven National Laboratory beamline scientist Dieter Schneider. Looking on from left, BNL Director Doon Gibbs; vice president for development at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Charles Prizzi; NSLS-II director John Hill; and Stony Brook University associate vice president for Brookhaven affairs, Richard Reeder. Photo from Brookhaven National Laboratory

Thanks to the persistent support of state Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), Brookhaven National Laboratory secured $15 million from New York State to add a state-of-the-art microscope that could contribute to advances in basic science and medicine.

The national laboratory will purchase a new cryo-electron microscope and will use the funds to create a building attached to its National Synchrotron Light Source II.

“Cryo-electron microscopy is an advanced imaging technology that will significantly accelerate scientists’ understanding of molecular structures and processes generally, including many impacts in understanding disease and in aiding drug discovery,” Doon Gibbs, the laboratory director of BNL, said in an email.

BNL will use the funds to purchase the first of what they hope will be four such new microscopes. The lab is finalizing a bid, which is due by June 30 for funds from the National Institutes of Health for three additional microscopes.

“There is an exponentially increasing demand for the type of bio-structural information that such machines provide, and so we are competing to become an East Coast based national facility to serve this rapidly growing community,” James Misewich, the associate director for energy and photon sciences at BNL said in an email.

Having a suite of microscopes would enable BNL to have a spectrum of capabilities to serve the needs of its scientists and of researchers from around the world who flock to the Upton-based lab to conduct their research.

The new facility will create jobs associated with running the cryo-EM, Misewich said. If BNL wins the NIH proposal to become a national cryo-EM facility, it would also employ additional scientists, engineers, technicians and administrators to run the user program.

Misewich said he hopes scientists at nearby Stony Brook University and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory will benefit from the opportunity to use a combination of its X-ray and electron microscope probes.

Senior members of the BNL team credit LaValle for helping to secure the funds.

“The $15 million in New York State funding is the culmination of a two-year effort led by the senator to bring a cryo-EM to Brookhaven and jump-start this important effort,” Gibbs said.

LaValle suggested that the funds were well worth the investment.

“It is critically important for government to embrace and support the work of the organizations that make life-altering discoveries and better our lives, health and environment,” LaValle said in an email. “This investment will further establish world-leading prominence in the field of medical research, and position the region for additional major investments by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Energy.”

Misewich envisions configuring one of the microscopes to allow for electron tomography, which will generate three-dimensional images of cells.

“The approach will be complementary to the X-ray imaging work we can undertake with the NSLS-II beamlines,” Misewich said.

Gibbs explained that the cryo-EM is complementary to X-ray crystallography, which is the traditional method for determining structures, which scientists already do at BNL.

“Few prescription drugs have been approved by the [Food and Drug Administration] for use in the U.S. in the last 20 years without a crystallographic study of their structure by X-rays,” Gibbs continued.

Misewich expects the new microscope could lead to new methods of detection, diagnosis and treatment for diseases like cancer or for medical challenges like antibiotic resistance.

Combining the technological tools of the new cryo-EM with the insights from the NSLS II and the nine-year-old Center for Functional Nanomaterials will enable researchers to “provide much more rapid bio-structure determination in response to needs like the ability to rapidly characterize a virus,” Misewich said.

LaValle sited this effort as a part of his ongoing commitment to build Long Island’s new high-tech economy.

The combination of BNL, SBU and CSHL “will provide a significant boost to the competitiveness of the biosciences and biotechnology communities across Long Island,” LaValle said.

Colleagues pay tribute to Peter Paul

Paul, second from right, in 2002 with colleagues David Fossan, Linwood Lee, Robert McGrath and Gene Sprouse; and Paul in a family photo. Photo from Gene Sprouse

For nearly 50 years, Setauket’s Peter Paul was a prominent member of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Stony Brook University. With his death March 11 at the age of 84, the physicist left behind a legacy that will be remembered for years to come, especially by his former colleagues.

A native of Dresden, Germany, Paul received a Ph.D. from the University of Freiburg, and immigrated to the United States when he accepted a postdoctoral position at Stanford University. 

Linwood Lee, emeritus professor, recalled when he recruited Paul in the late 1960s. A former co-worker of Lee’s worked with Paul at Stanford University and told him how impressive the physicist was. Lee knew he had to hire him during a time when he called coming to Stony Brook University “an adventure” because the school was in its infancy.

Peter Paul. Photo from Stony Brook University

Lee said Paul was marvelous, and he’s grateful he recruited the professor.

“We established a laboratory here, and from the moment he got here, he was the driving force to make us all do better,” Lee said.

Paul was a professor at the university from 1967 to 2015 and later a distinguished service professor in the department and served as chairman twice during his tenure. One of Paul’s greatest achievements was building a first-class nuclear physics group along with his colleagues at Stony Brook.

In 1973, when the physicist spearheaded a small group to develop, design and construct Stony Brook’s superconducting linear for heavy ions, an improvement of the university’s existing Van de Graaff accelerator, it became the first such machine at a university lab.

Gene Sprouse, now a distinguished John S. Toll professor at SBU, was a graduate student at Stanford University when he met Paul. He later came to Stony Brook and worked on the accelerator project with him.

“That machine was really unique. It was a very powerful accelerator at a university,” Sprouse said.

Paul Grannis, another of Paul’s colleagues at SBU, said Paul was very proud of the accelerator project.

“It enabled research that had previously not been possible to be done, and it was quite a unique facility in the country,” Grannis said. “I know Peter was very proud of that and considered it one of his major achievements.”

Paul became a member of the Nuclear Science Advisory Committee in 1980, and as chair, led the development of the 1998 Nuclear Science Long Range Plan, which in turn led to the construction of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Paul was appointed deputy director for science and technology in 1998 at BNL, and when John Marburger was appointed as President George W. Bush’s scientific advisor in 2001, Paul stepped in as interim director at the laboratory until 2003. Under Paul’s direction, BNL made many advances, including starting the construction of Brookhaven’s Center for Functional Nanomaterials, and conceptualizing the electron-ion collider as a successor to RHIC.

Peter Paul with Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley, M.D. Photo from Stony Brook University

Paul returned to SBU after serving as interim director at BNL, and his ongoing success was never a surprise to those who knew him.

“Peter was very energetic and driven,” Sprouse said. “He was always pushing for excellence.”

Sprouse described Paul as a visionary who helped to create the Stony Brook University people know today, especially the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

“Throughout his career he helped to build the nuclear physics groups at Stony Brook, he helped to build the department, and then he helped to build things at Brookhaven,” Sprouse said. “He always kept an eye out for putting in place instruments and institutes that could strengthen Stony Brook in particular and Brookhaven, too.”

Grannis echoed Sprouse’s praise of Paul.

“He was very motivated to do the best that he could in all of his scientific endeavors and to insist that all those who worked with him do so,” Grannis said.

Chang Kee Jung, a SUNY distinguished professor, said when Paul returned to Stony Brook after his time at BNL, he looked for a research program to be involved in. He said he was surprised when Paul knocked on his office door one day and told him he was interested in the projects he was working on at the time.

Jung said he was hesitant at first due to Paul’s extensive experience. However, Paul assured him he would never do anything to interfere. Jung said Paul was always curious to learn more in his field, and didn’t have an ego despite all of his successes. The professor said Paul was the perfect person to have on his team, and he became an advisor to Jung. The two worked together until Paul became the university’s associate vice president for Brookhaven affairs — a position he held until his retirement in 2015.

He also remembers Paul fondly on a personal level and said he was grateful for the opportunity to visit the professor at home a couple of weeks before his death.

“Among all the people I met at Stony Brook, he was the strongest supporter of me, personally,” Jung said. “For whatever reason he liked me and the projects I was doing.”

Lee added that like many professors, Paul was always proud of his students. Many left SBU for prestigious careers, including Michael Thoennessen, chair, APS division of nuclear physics at Michigan University. Thoennessen wrote in an email Paul was his Ph.D. adviser when he attended SBU in the late 1980s.

Peter Paul. Photo from Bryant Funeral Home

“In Germany the Ph.D. adviser is called the ‘Doktor Vater’ (Ph.D. Father) and that is exactly what Peter was to his students,” Thoennessen wrote. “In addition to being a brilliant scientist and a great administrator, Peter was an amazing mentor. I would not be where I am right now without Peter’s advice and guidance.”

Grannis added that despite a demanding career, Paul led a well-rounded life.

“He had a very broad range of interests not only in science but in music, in travel, in reading,” Grannis said. “He was very well-informed on many things.”

Paul was an ardent opera-goer and hiker, and Jung remembers the professor being in his 70s and still traveling upstate to go skiing. His career provided him the opportunity to travel extensively, too. Among his trips were vacations to his homeland of Germany.

In his lifetime, Paul received numerous awards including the American Physical Society Fellow, Institute of Physics Fellow, Sloane Research Fellow, Alexander von Humboldt Senior Scientist Award and the Order of Merit First Class from the German government. Paul is also an inductee in the Long Island Technology Hall of Fame. However, his greatest honor may be the legacy he leaves behind at Stony Brook University.

“Peter was one of the people that made us a better university,” Lee said. “He was active in associating us with Brookhaven, and he was always a booster of the university, and we always boosted Peter. It was hard to keep him because he was recognized as a top scientist. He turned down some very good offers to stay here.”

Sprouse said Paul inspired many to come to SBU and helped them, with his encouragement and leadership, to develop their careers.

“I just think that he was somebody that was really dedicated to the university and wanted to build it,” he said. “For those of us who were at Stony Brook, 40, 50 years ago, Stony Brook was kind of a dream, and Peter really made it a reality.”

Donate Life supporters during a rally. File photo

By Kevin Redding

As of Feb. 14, National Organ Donor Day, a new state law rolled out by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) permits 16- and 17-year-olds to enroll in the New York State Donate Life Registry when they apply for a driver’s license, learner’s permit or nondriver ID, potentially growing enrollments in New York by thousands.

Sponsored by State Sens. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) and Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City), the legislation’s altered minimum age to sign up as an organ donor, which had previously been 18, serves as a big step for New York, which currently ranks 50th out of all 50 states when it comes to the percentage of residents enrolled to be organ donors.

Kidney recipient Tom D’Antonio and Brookhaven
Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner. Photo from Councilwoman Bonner

At just 28 percent, New York State is “way at the bottom of the pack” when it comes to enrollment, according to Flanagan, a strong advocate for organ donations because of his late friend, Assemblyman James Conte (R-Huntington Station), who was the recipient of two kidney transplants before losing a battle with cancer in 2012.

“[New York] has been a leader in many ways on a wide variety of issues and we should be the premiere state in terms of organ donation,” Flanagan said. “I just want to promote organ donation, and promote awareness. There are thousands and thousands of people who are waiting for transplants here in the state, kidney being the primary one. We don’t have enough people signing up, and it’s taken too long to [get here] but I think we’re moving in the right direction.”

The senator said Conte is the reason he’s a donor, and after his death, he realized he could use his own political platform to advocate for this cause and encourage others to get involved.

Like Flanagan, Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) is passionate about organ donation and takes every opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of becoming a donor when speaking publicly, regardless of the event.

“I could be at a civic event talking about town improvement projects or town issues, and I always use it as a soapbox to talk about organ donation,” Bonner said. “Roughly 125,000 people in the United States are waiting for a kidney and there are 350 million people in the United States, seemingly with healthy kidneys. If everybody who could donate, donated one, we wouldn’t have people waiting for a kidney anymore and lives can be saved.”

Bonner said that under the new law, 16- and 17-year-olds can make donations upon their death, and it includes safeguards where their parents or legal guardians have the option to rescind the decision if the minor dies before 18.

“It not only ups the amount of eligible organ donors there are to sign up and save lives, but also starts a conversation at an earlier age about its importance.”

— Megan Fackler

“Teenagers are very passionate about so many issues and I think this legislation was made because they’re employing every toy in the toolbox, knowing the state is dead last,” she said.

The councilwoman knows a thing or two about saving lives this way.

It was last April when Bonner donated her kidney to her childhood friend Tom D’Antonio, who had been diagnosed with diabetes at a young age, had suffered multiple health issues over the years and desperately needed a transplant.

“I said ‘I’ll do it, we’re the same blood type,’ and I donated blood to him when he got his first kidney transplant,” Bonner recalled.

D’Antonio was more than grateful for the donation his longtime friend made.

“I bounced back like a rockstar and I feel great, I have more energy and determination,” D’Antonio said, reflecting on the experience. “It’s my belief that there is something within a human being that takes that step and makes that heroic move to save a life; it moves me beyond a place I can easily describe. Not only did [Jane] save my life but she enriched the lives of those close to me, [like my wife].”

But D’Antonio is not a big fan of the new law, calling it “hugely irresponsible” and a “grossly inadequate response” to appease a need for more donors. 

“Sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds have enough trouble making a decision about what classes to take as seniors, their minds are still developing, and I’m appalled that this is the state’s answer,” he said. “What the state should do instead is put some money and effort into organ donor awareness and make it part of the teaching curriculum in high school.”

Karen Hill, the recipient of Tom Cutinella’s heart, and his mother Kelli Cutinella. Photo from Kelli Cutinella

Alternatively, Kelli Cutinella, whose son Tom died October 2014 following a head-on collision during a high school football game, spoke in Albany to help get the law passed, and said she’s glad to see it in effect.

Tom, who wanted to register when he was 16 at the DMV but was ultimately not allowed at the time, donated all vital organs, such as his heart, kidneys, liver, pancreas, bones and skin.

“He was a giver in life and would do anything for anybody, and it didn’t surprise me that he wanted to register at 16, it was just in his nature,” Cutinella said.

The mother, who has an ongoing relationship with Tom’s heart recipient and pancreas and kidney recipient, was recently notified by a New York Burn Center that a 30-year-old man from Brooklyn had received Tom’s skin after suffering severe burns in a house fire.

“Tom lives on now,” Cutinella said. “He’s not here in the physical sense, but he is with the recipients as they go on to live wonderful, fulfilling lives.”

According to Megan Fackler of LiveOnNY, a federally designated organ procurement organization, the new law is exciting.

“It not only ups the amount of eligible organ donors there are to sign up and save lives, but also starts a conversation at an earlier age about its importance,” Fackler said. “Donor family and recipient meetings have been the most touching. There are lots of things 16- and 17-year-olds can’t do, like rent a car, get a tattoo, vote, join the army, but they can save lives.”

Residents can visit the New York State Health Department’s website at www.health.ny.gov/donatelife to get more information about organ donation in New York State, including how to register as a donor.

Winter is here on the North Shore, and Brookhaven Town is upgrading their system to handle snow removal. FIle photo by Alex Petroski

The Town of Brookhaven is embracing the modern age to help prepare for severe weather.

With snowstorm season fast approaching, Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) is making it a whole lot easier to clear roadways with the roll out of a new app designed to help foremen streamline the process of contacting hired drivers and achieve efficiency through technology.

The “call-out app,” created by Losquadro and staff in the Division of Information Technology, will do away with the old system in which foremen had to go to their offices and make calls to each individual driver to confirm who was working, what town to respond to and what time their services would be needed. With 1,194 active snow removal vendors throughout the district, that process could take up to four hours — precious time that could be better spent plowing the streets.

A test done on Brookhaven Town Incident Management shows which vendors have and have not responded to call-outs. Image from Brookhaven Town

With the new app, drivers provide their cell phone numbers and email addresses, and from the comfort of their iPads or iPhones, foremen can simply send a text or email about the specifics of the job — what yard to report to, what equipment or vehicle to use, what time to start — and get instant yes or no responses as to who’s available to work.  Foremen are able to see, in real time, who is coming in, who isn’t, and can dictate how many total vendors will be in specific areas.

Address hyperlinks are also included, so with the click of a button, the driver is brought directly to a map with directions to the given job site.

By automating the process and having such an immediate call-out, snow removal vendors can get to roads faster by several hours, saving the Town and its residents time and money.

“There’s no reason government needs to be archaic and not operate with the same technology that we’re using everyday of our lives outside of government,” Losquadro said. “I’ve been striving to bring us into the modern age, and this is just another step toward that. This is technology that everyone is very comfortable and well-acquainted with. The app is going to make us more efficient; we can actually spend our time doing the work that needs to be done.”

Losquadro introduced and trained supervisors and field workers on a custom-built, electronic work order system last year, developed a system to track work orders during severe weather the year before that, and is currently in the process of making an electronic time sheet program that will keep track of work hours operational before the end of this snow season.

A test email of what a call-out would look like. Image from Brookhaven Town

He said he and the IT staff have been able to build these programs in-house, rather than go out to consultants and spend thousands of taxpayer dollars. From concept to reality, the call-out app took roughly four months to get off the ground and functions on an Apple-operating system, making it as user-friendly as possible. The app can run on desktop computers, tablets and iPhones.

Matt Sabatello, an IT staff member, said a test of the app was conducted in early December and feedback from foremen has been incredible.

“The app allows for better decision-making for foremen,” he said. “It gives them a good idea of which vendors are responding to work in what areas and, if need be, allows them to react immediately to reassign a vendor to an area that nobody may have been calling in about.”

With Brookhaven being such a large township, Losquadro said “there’s no reason we shouldn’t be leading the way.”

“I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of ideas about what I’ve wanted to do, and being able to [see them through] has been very satisfying. The app is a fully live and operational system and, God willing, I won’t have to use it that much this year.”

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