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More than 1,000 hours of community service put into gardens, mansion tours, live music and more

Members of the Centerport Garden Club volunteer their time to maintain the Vanderbilt's rose garden. Photo from Vanderbilt Museum.

One of Suffolk County’s museums leads by example in knowing the value of the proverb many hands make light work.

The Vanderbilt Museum, Mansion & Planetarium has been able to delight visitors with its scenic gardens and extensive programs thanks to the time put in by its roughly 135 year-round volunteers who have donated more than 1,000 hours in 2017.

“Volunteers are better than staff as they do work but don’t get paid,” Executive Director Lance Reinheimer said. “Their time is very valuable and it saves the museum a big expense each year.”

A visitor’s experience is shaped by the work of the museum’s volunteers from the minute they enter the estate. Volunteer gardeners designed and planted a garden near the property’s entrance at the request of the executive director. Master gardener Gloria Hall has taken over organizing a group formed by her late husband, Bill, that works on the property each Monday, during the growing season from May to October, helping in every aspect from planting and weeding to designing new features.

“Gloria has done a great job in carrying on the tradition of caring for our gardens,” Reinheimer said.

The gardening clubs involved have also helped design and create gardens that encircle the estate’s celebration tent on the Great Lawn, which overlooks the Long Island Sound. The director said it has added
visually to many of the weddings and special occasions happening on the grounds, anchoring the tent to make it feel like a permanent structure and blend into the property
.

Agnes Ward has spearheaded the Centerport Garden Club in donating its members time to  delicately handling  the Vanderbilt Estate rose garden outside of the planetarium.

“The gardeners really augment my ground staff,” the executive director said. “We’ve made great strides in beautifying the property in the last two years.”

Museum guests who take a tour of the historic Gold Coast mansion may be led around by a volunteer, as hundreds have by guide Ellen Mason who has volunteered at the Vanderbilt since May 2006. The retired school teacher said her passion for history keeps her coming back on Saturdays to share the experience with others.

“I’ve been asked over and over again to get on the payroll,” Mason said. “I refuse. I wanted to volunteer, I want to volunteer at something I love doing and it makes my spirit soar. I love the people who work there, it’s like a whole other family.”

It’s so welcoming that there’s even a former Vanderbilt employee who continues to come back and volunteer. The museum has several longtime volunteers who regularly give freely of their time including Rick Ellison, Mary McKell, Dale Spencer and Marianne Weeks, a
ccording to museum staff.

“There are so many people involved in that Suffolk institution — garden clubs, the living history program, all different types of work,” said Herb Mones, husband of museum trustee Gretchen Oldrin-Mones. “It’s really under the radar. I don’t think the larger community is fully aware of how much the volunteers impact the daily running of that institution that services tens of thousands of school kids each year.”

Once inside the mansion, visitors may be treated to live music played on the antique aeolian pipe organ played by volunteers Bill Caputi and Sheldon Cooper.

My feeling is that Long Island is a mecca for volunteerism,” Reinheimer said, in recognition how generous the museum’s volunteers have been. “Long Islanders give willingly to causes that are worthy.”

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File photo

Suffolk County Police 2nd Squad detectives are investigating a two-vehicle crash that killed a Centerport man Nov. 6.

Tyler Gomes was driving a 2007 Subaru eastbound on Cuba Hill Road in Greenlawn when he lost control of his vehicle, crossed into the westbound lane and struck a 2016 Toyota 4Runner, driven by Allison Raich, at approximately 9:35 a.m.

Gomez, 26, who was alone in his vehicle, was transported to Huntington Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Raich, 33, of East Northport, and her 9-month-old son were transported to Huntington Hospital where Raich was treated for broken bones and the child was evaluated and released.

Both vehicles were impounded for a safety check and the investigation is ongoing. Detectives are asking anyone with information on this crash to call the 2nd Squad at 631-854-8252.

Huntington Town Hall. File photo by Rohma Abbas

Two hopefuls will face off in the Sept. 15 primary to win the Democratic party line in the wide-open race for the Huntington Town supervisor seat. For many, it is the first Democratic primary for town supervisor they can vote in.

Incumbent Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone (D), 72, announced in April he would not be seeking re-election.. He has served for nearly a quarter of a century, as he was first elected to the position in 1993.

Town Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) will compete for votes against community leader Darryl St. George (D), of Centerport, to determine who will attempt to fill Petrone’s shoes.

Tracey Edwards

Edwards has made the decision to step forward and run for supervisor, rather than seek re-election to a second term as a town council member. If she does not win the Democratic primary, she may no longer serve Huntington as an elected official.

“I chose to run for town supervisor versus running for re-election,” Edwards said. “This is not about me. This is about what I believe is best for Huntington.”

Tracey Edward

Edwards was elected to the town board in 2014, after serving 10 years on the board of education in the Elwood school district. She previously served on the board of directors of the Long Island Association and worked for 37 years at Verizon, starting as an operator and climbing the ladder to regional president of network operations.

Over the last three years, Edwards spearheaded the creation of Huntington Opportunity Resource Center, a program that offers assistance with job hunting and career training for unemployed and underemployed residents. She has also been an advocate for Huntington Station revitalization, a plan which includes construction of veteran’s housing, art space, stores, sidewalks, and a parking garage while also working to stamp out crime.

“The biggest issue is public safety and safe neighborhoods,” Edwards said. “That is always No. 1.”

If elected supervisor, Edwards said her primary goal is to improve public safety, making more affordable housing for millenials and seniors, working with families to address ever growing opioid and heroin dependency, and expanding the town’s environmental initiatives.

“I think what [voters] have to do is really decide who has the business experience, the civic experience and governmental experience to make the changes necessary to take the town forward,” Edwards said. “We have work to do.”

Edwards will be attending Huntington Awareness Day, Sept. 9 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Stimson Middle School, located at 401 Oakwood Road in Huntington Station

Darryl  St. George

St. George was one of the first to announce he would seek election as town supervisor in February, prior to Petrone’s announcement he would not seek re-election. He said he previously contemplated running for town board in 2015.

“The political landscape from February till now has shifted dramatically, what has not shifted is my resolve,” St. George said.

St. George works as a Northport High School teacher, where he is the co-advisor of Northport High School branch of Students Against Destructive Decisions and the advisor of Project Vets, a club that works to improve the lives of veterans once they return home. He previously taught at St. Anthony’s High School in Huntington.

Darryl St. George

St. George is a U.S. Navy veteran who served a nine-month tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2011. Upon returning home, he served as the president of Greenlawn Civic Association for three years. In that role, St. George said he addressed public safety issues and opioid and heroin addiction.

“I was proud to be in that position,” St. George said. “I felt we were able to grow the civic association and get a lot of young people involved.”

If elected supervisor, St. George said he would focus on improving public safety by addressing in addition to opioid addiction, gang issues, protection of the environment and democratic reform to make town government more accessible for people to become involved.

“The real difference between the supervisor and the town board is a supervisor must be a leader,” he said. “A leader should have a vision and be able to communicate that vision clearly, build consensus on the town board and in the community so the vision can be translated into action. I have a track record of doing that as a teacher, as a veteran who served in the U.S. Navy,  as a civic leader and as an activist.”

St. George will be holding a fundraising event Sept. 9 at 6:45 p.m. at the Conklin Brush Barn, located at 2 High Street in Huntington.

Polls will be open for primaries Sept. 12 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Huntington Town residents are eligible to vote in the supervisor race if you are a registered Democrat,  at least 18 years old, have lived at your current address at least 30 days before the election, and have not been in prison or on parole for a felony conviction.

To double check if you are registered to vote, visit the state’s website at voterlookup.elections.state.ny.us/votersearch.aspx.

Scott Lipton. Mugshot from SCPD

Suffolk County police arrested a Centerport man for driving while intoxicated with one stepson in the vehicle, after he was involved in a motor vehicle crash in Centerport Sept. 4 in which he hit another stepson with his car.

Scott Lipton was driving his 2017 Jaguar southbound on Laurel Hill Road when his vehicle struck his 13-year-old stepson, who was walking his dog, and then a pole at approximately 5:50 p.m.

The 13-year-old was transported by Suffolk County police helicopter to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment of a broken leg. Lipton’s 9-year-old stepson, who was a passenger in the car, was transported by Centerport Fire Department to Huntington Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. Lipton, 42 of Laurel Hill Road, was not injured. The dog was not injured.

Second Squad detectives charged Lipton with aggravated driving while intoxicated with a child passenger 15 years or younger (Leandra’s Law) and endangering the welfare of a child. He will be held overnight at the 2nd Precinct and is scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip Sept. 5.

USCG vessels. File Photo

A sailing lesson ended in tragedy Tuesday afternoon, July 18, as a 12-year-old boy died after injuries from a boat propeller in Centerport.

According to the Suffolk County Police Department, three children, all wearing life vests, were taking part in a sailing lesson when their boat was capsized as a controlled part of the lesson, at the Centerport Yacht Club, located on Beach Plum Drive at approximately 2:55 p.m.

A 12-year-old boy was receiving sailing instructions when he fell into the water.  An 18-year old instructor who was operating a small Zodiac inflatable boat was able to pull the child from the water and onto the Zodiac. The child was seated on the side of the Zodiac when the instructor started to move forward. The boy again fell into the water and became entangled in the propeller of the Zodiac. The instructor immediately entered the water to render aid. He and another instructor were able to pull the child onto another boat and began CPR. On shore other EMT’s assisted until a paramedic from the Centerport Fire Department responded. The child was transported to Huntington Hospital where he died from his injuries. An instructor was also admitted to Huntington Hospital for shock. The other children did not receive medical aid.

Second Precinct detectives are investigating the incident.

 

Lydia Murphy smiles with one of her prayer boards. Photo from Cathy McGoldrick

One young Huntington resident decided to take an individual religion project and turn it into a community-wide effort.

Lydia Murphy was assigned a confirmation class project at Centerport United Methodist Church, where she takes religion classes. Students were encouraged to take part in community service activities, but in Lydia’s case, she created her own initiative: A prayer board that any member of the community can contribute to.

“I came up with this idea because there’s a lot of negativity going on right now, all over the country and the world,” Lydia said in a phone interview. “I thought it would be a nice way to bring some peace.”

The eighth-grade student described the project as boards that anyone can come with a sharpie and write a positive prayer for whoever and whatever they want.

Lydia, her family and other members of the parish ended up creating two prayer boards, one located at the front of the Methodist church on Little Neck Road, and one on the path that leads to Our Lady Queen of Martyrs on Prospect Road. Lydia said Riverhead Building company donated the wood supplies needed to construct the boards.

“It was so wonderful to hear this idea coming from a 13-year-old,” Pastor Roy Grubbs said in a phone interview. “It’s tremendous, putting together ideas with other clergies and different denominations and faiths to pray communally. Given the state of what we hear of tensions or a lack of experience sharing within even our community, this can show commonality and how we hold the same things important: peace, love and understanding.”

Lydia said since the boards have gone into place, she has seen many different things written on them.

“People have been praying for Syria, for their grandparents, for safe travels with their family,” she said. “A lot of people have prayed for peace in the community. It makes me really happy, and I’m a little relieved people are using it.”

Lydia said she was surprised how quickly residents started using the prayer boards.

“The first day, within a half hour of putting it up, someone brought a piece of paper and pinned up their prayer,” she said. “It’s nice to see that people are using it and praying for all different groups of people.”

Lydia’s mother, Lynn Murphy, said she was happy with her daughter for her persistence with the idea.

“It’s fabulous, the fact that people are using it,” she said. “I’m as proud as a mother could be, it’s just such a positive thing. I’m proud of her and how the church embraced the idea.”

Grubbs said he’s excited for the potential of the idea as it continues to grow.

“People have definitely been noticing it, they’re already filling it up,” he said. “This opportunity to share what’s inside your heart will strengthen the community.”

At the dedication ceremony earlier this month Lydia said she was excited for the potential her project has.

“If this makes one person happy or brings them peace, then it works,” she said. “I pray that this board brings happiness and positivity to everyone in the community.”

Scenes of the fire that spread through several townhouse units in Centerport. Photo from Centerport Fire Department

The Centerport Fire Department responded to a fire in the Bull Calf Landing Townhouse Complex on Bull Calf Lane early Tuesday morning, Jan. 24.

Scenes of the fire that spread through several townhouse units in Centerport. Photo from Centerport Fire Department

At about 1:10 a.m. more than 100 firefighters from Centerport assisted by Northport, Greenlawn, Halesite, Huntington, Huntington Manor, Cold Spring Harbor, East Northport, Eaton’s Neck and Kings Park FD’s battled the blaze with EMS support from Commack and Huntington ambulance.

Strong winds from the nor’easter storm that swept through the area hampered firefighters’ efforts, as they worked several hours to knock down the flames that spread through several townhouse units.

About 20 residents were safely evacuated from the building that later collapsed, and there were no injuries reported. Centerport firefighters provided shelter for some of the displaced residents at the Centerport firehouse.

The fire is under investigation by the Suffolk Police Arson Squad and Town of Huntington Fire Marshal. The firefighting operation was under the command of Centerport Fire Chief Tom Boyd and Assistant Chiefs Rich Miltner and Andy Heglund. Boyd commended the firefighters for their efforts working in adverse conditions, and thanked the mutual aid departments for their assistance.

One of the three cars involved in the Centerport crash. Photo from Centerport Fire Department.
One of the three cars involved in the Centerport crash. Photo from Centerport Fire Department.

Members of the Centerport Fire Department responded to a three-vehicle crash on East Main Street and North Drive Jan. 25 at about 12:40 p.m.

Centerport firefighters and EMS volunteers were on the scene with a heavy rescue truck, engine, two ambulances and fire police, under the direction of First Assistant Chief Rich Miltner.  An additional ambulance was requested from the Greenlawn Fire Department.
Three injured patients were transported to Huntington Hospital by the Centerport and Greenlawn rescue squads.

 

The Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium

Through Feb. 28, the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum’s Charles and Helen Reichert Planetarium, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport, will present a new laser show, Laser Zeppelin, on Friday and Saturday nights at 10 p.m. Enjoy the memorable music of Led Zepplin combined with unique laser-generated imagery for an immersive visual experience, all in the comfort of custom theater seating.

The playlist will include “The Song Remains the Same,” “Over the Hills and Far Away,” “Good Times, Bad Times,” “Immigrant Song,” “No Quarter,” “Black Dog,” “Kashmir,” “Stairway to Heaven” and many more. Planetarium show tickets are $9 for adults, $8 for students with ID and seniors 62 and older and $7 for children under 12. Suitable for all ages, the show runs 52 minutes. For more information call 631-854-5579 or visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

Huntington Town and Northport Village hosted holiday parades this past weekend to get into the Christmas spirit. Live reindeers, Santa and Mrs. Claus, and fire trucks dressed up in lights paraded through Northport, while over at Huntington, fire departments from all over the North Shore competed in a float contest.

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