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Gloria Rocchio

Madison's Niche will be a part of the festivities on April 19.

Grand Openings Stroll

The Stony Brook Village Center, 111 Main Street, Stony Brook, in conjunction with The Three Village Chamber of Commerce, will present a Grand Openings Stroll on Thursday, April 19 (rescheduled) with a noon kickoff.

Five new businesses, beginning with Madison’s Niche (owner Karen McAvoy) at noon, Camera Concepts (owner Jeff Norwood) at 12:15 p.m., Cervo Design (owner Andrea Cervo) at 12:30 p.m., Village Florist (owner Amanda Haggquist) at 12:45 p.m. and ending with Sweet Mama’s Restaurant (owner Marios Patatinis) at 1 p.m., will celebrate their grand opening with a ribbon cutting. 

The community is invited to join Stony Brook Village Center President Gloria Rocchio; Chairman Richard Rugen; trustees and town officials including, Legislator Kara Hahn, Councilwoman Valerie Cartright; Supervisor Ed Romaine; and Andrew Polan, president, Three Village Chamber of Commerce in wishing all the businesses good luck in their new venture. 

The afternoon will conclude with free champagne and pub bites in Grandpa’s Shed Lounge located at the rear of Sweet Mama’s. For more information, call 631-751-2244 or visit www.stonybrookvillagecenter.com.

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Tom Manuel, left, owner of The Jazz Loft, and Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn, third from right, along with local musicians look forward to the Swing into Spring! jazz festival to take place in Stony Brook village March 27 to 31. Photo from Kara Hahn's office

Mother nature may disagree, but the calendar shows spring has arrived, and Stony Brook village is planning to help Long Islanders celebrate.

Swing into Spring!, a jazz festival scheduled for March 27-31, is where Long Islanders can enjoy the music at village restaurants. Tom Manuel, owner of The Jazz Loft, where some of the concerts will be held, said the lineup of talent ranges from solo artists to two 17-piece big bands. He said a variety of styles and genres of jazz will be presented, including traditional, bebop, folk and emerging fusion. The festival was made possible by a county grant secured by Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket).

“It’s just exciting to think about spring and getting out,” Hahn said.

The legislator obtained the grant in the fall when there was extra money for cultural arts in the county’s hotel and motel tax fund. She said the cultural arts category of the fund is to enable ways to spur economic development through the arts. The project was included in the adopted 2018 Suffolk County operating budget.

“I had wanted to help The Jazz Loft and Stony Brook village,” Hahn said. “I’ve been trying to think of ways from an economic development perspective of using grant money that could help the businesses in the community.”

“The idea was to showcase musicians from varied points of the Island from both Suffolk and Nassau County.”

— Tom Manuel

Manuel said he was excited about the news of the grant, and after a few phone calls and a meeting with Hahn, presented the legislator with the idea of the five-day festival featuring jazz musicians from all over the Island.

“The idea was to showcase musicians from varied points of the Island from both Suffolk and Nassau County, and also to offer an educational component which will be our Wednesday workshop on jazz improvisation,” the venue owner said, adding the workshop would be followed by a jam session for all musicians of all ages and abilities.

Manuel said the festival will include performances by guitarist Steve Salerno, trombone player Ray Anderson, accordion player Rich Dimino, the Eddie Balsamo Quartet and more. In addition to appearing at The Jazz Loft and The Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s Educational & Cultural Center, the musicians will play at Pentimento, Sweet Mama’s Family Restaurant, Lakeside Emotions Wine & Spirits and Three Village Inn.

Hahn hopes once jazz lovers visit Stony Brook for the festival, they’ll want to come back in the future to the shops and restaurants, and more Long Islanders will become familiar with The Jazz Loft and Manuel.

“I grew up in Stony Brook village so seeing what Tommy was able to do with The Jazz Loft — I know it’s been good for the village,” Hahn said.

Gloria Rocchio, president of WMHO, said she enjoys working with Manuel on projects and believes the festival will be good for the village.

“We do things with Tom all the time, and this is just another extension of how we collaborative so well together,” Rocchio said.

The WMHO president said on the night of March 28, barring no weather setbacks, there will be plenty of different things for visitors to do and see.

“People can actually stroll from one location to the other,” she said.

Manuel considers Stony Brook village a hidden gem, and said he believes collaborations like this festival bring out the best of what the area can offer.

“I hope that this event introduces people to our town that will not only enjoy it, but will come back again and again to experience all we have to offer,” Manuel said. “I am thrilled that Legislator Hahn has reached out to collaborate with The Jazz Loft, and that we can bring live jazz into so many of our restaurants and businesses.”

For more information on Swing into Spring!, visit www.thejazzloft.org or www.stonybrookvillage.com.

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BEST IN THE INDUSTRY From left, Lisa Santeramo, Long Island director of operations, office of Gov. Cuomo; Mark Legrady, director event technology, PSAV; Gloria Rocchio, president, Ward Melville Heritage Organization; Kristen Jarnagin, president and CEO, Discover Long Island; Alan Fairbairn, CHIA, CHA NYIT; and Robert Koenig, associate dean, Student Advancement Programs, NYIT. Photo from WMHO

Discover Long Island recently announced the winners of the region’s first-ever Tourism Awards in four categories: Partner of the Year, Industry Advancement, Tourism Trailblazer and Tourism Legacy. The honorees were recognized at the Inaugural Tourism Awards Gala at Fox Hollow in Woodbury on Nov. 14.

“We couldn’t be more excited to announce the first recipients of the Long Island Tourism Awards,” said Kristen Jarnagin, president and CEO, Discover Long Island. “These outstanding individuals are setting new benchmarks within the tourism community, which has become an essential economic driver for our region.”

And the 2017 Tourism Award honorees are: PSAV — Partner of the Year Award Global Center for Hospitality Management at New York Institute of Technology — Industry Advancement Award Governor Cuomo for the Long Island Welcome Center and Taste NY Market — Tourism Trailblazer Award Gloria Rocchio, President of the Ward Melville Heritage Organization — Tourism Legacy Award

Discover Long Island was established in 1978 as the official tourism promotion agency for tourism, meetings and conventions, trade shows, sporting events and related activities. For more information, visit www.discoverlongisland.com.

The streets of Stony Brook were filled with more than 300 runners and an estimated 460 walkers participating in the Walk for Beauty and Hercules on the Harbor 10K Run Oct. 22. Cancer survivors along with family members and friends collect donations to support their walk or run, which takes them through the scenic and historic Stony Brook. All proceeds go directly to a targeted research fund at Stony Brook Medicine for Breast Cancer Research and The WMHO Unique Boutique for wigs.

From left, Laura Huang-Ernst, WMHO trustee; Gloria Rocchio, WMHO president; son Leif Halvorsen; Dr. Richard Rugen, WMHO chairman; daughter Lilli Halvorsen; Councilwoman Valerie Cartright; Emilia Retzlaff; wife Britt Halvorsen; and daughter Liv Halvorsen. Photo from WMHO

Family and friends of Erik Halvorsen, along with Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) and Ward Melville Heritage Organization trustees, came together on the Stony Brook Village Green recently to celebrate his life. Erik was the former owner of Norse Tree and passed away tragically last November. Jeff Owen, of Owen Brothers Landscaping, donated a dogwood tree in his memory, and the Ward Melville Heritage Organization donated a boulder from the historic Mount House with an engraved bronze plaque.

The area selected for the placement of the tree and plaque (next to the Jennie Melville Gardens) was chosen not only for its beauty and peacefulness but because of Halvorsen’s help with revitalizing that area and the entire Village Green. Three Village residents made donations toward the project and their generosity exceeded the original cost. That balance was given to Erik’s widow, Britt Halvorsen. There are only three other plaques on the Village Green. One is dedicated to Jennie Melville and the other two to Ward and Dorothy Melville.

One of the 26 signs along the Route 25A corridor from Port Jefferson To Great Neck, which now designate Route 25A as the Washington Spy Trail. Photo by Rita J. Egan

By Rita J. Egan

George Washington and the Long Island Culper Spy Ring continue to make history on the North Shore.

A press conference was held May 18 on the lawn of the Brewster House in East Setauket after the installation of 26 signs along the Route 25A corridor from Port Jefferson To Great Neck, which now designate Route 25A as the Washington Spy Trail. One of the signs, unveiled at the end of the event, is located in front of the Brewster property.

A press conference was held May 18 on the lawn of the Brewster House in East Setauket after the installation of 26 signs along the Route 25A corridor from Port Jefferson To Great Neck, which now designate Route 25A as the Washington Spy Trail. Photo by Rita J. Egan

The installation of signage and the designation comes after almost two decades of work on the part of the North Shore Promotional Alliance. The state road was chosen because President George Washington once traveled it to thank the patriots for helping him win the Revolutionary War, and it was also a route that spy Austin Roe used to pick up and deliver secret messages to military officer and spy Benjamin Tallmadge in Connecticut.

Gloria Rocchio, President of The Ward Melville Heritage Organization and North Shore Promotional Alliance, said that during the days of the Culper Spy Ring in the 1700s the Brewster House was one of only a few homes, and at the time of the American Revolution, the area was occupied by 300 British troops.

“Our community was divided between Loyalist and Patriots who supported the revolution in secret,” she said. “This history is the very history of America. Our efforts over the past 17 years have been to shine a light on our American Revolution and to encourage people to visit those important sites on the North Shore where history was made — the George Washington Spy Trail, Route 25A.

In addition to thanking her fellow members of the NSPA and others for their work, Rochhio acknowledged State Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) and State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) for introducing a legislative resolution in both the New York State Senate and Assembly that recognizes the dedication of the trail as well as the service of the spy ring members. On the same day, U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) and U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) were presenting a similar resolution in congress.

Flanagan thanked those who gave up their free time to dedicate themselves to the project. The senator said he and the other local legislatures who were on hand for the event are proud of their towns.

Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright and Supervisor Ed Romaine present a proclamation to President of The Ward Melville Heritage Organization, Gloria Rocchio, making May 18 North Shore Promotion Alliance Day in Brookhaven. Photo by Rita J. Egan

“We brag about the places that we come from,” he said. “We like telling people about these types of things.”

Flanagan said he hopes that residents, as well as those who travel to the area will take advantage of the educational experiences the signs call out along the way.

When Englebright stepped up to the podium, he asked State Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-St. James) to join him and said he appreciated the partnership with his neighboring assemblyman as well as Flanagan when it came to the legislative resolution that recognizes the area’s historical significance.

“This is a special place,” Englebright said. “Patriots lived here. People put their lives on the line as the first espionage ring for service to our nation.”

Englebright echoed Rocchio’s sentiments of the importance of the signs that pay tribute to the area’s history.

“The memorialization of that through this signage that Gloria referred to, is a chance for us to celebrate that reality, that wonderful beginning of our nation, the role that we played in it,” the assemblyman said. “It’s also important to give a sense of place and sense of context for this and future generations.”

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) presented a proclamation to Rocchio, which made May 18 North Shore Promotion Alliance Day in Brookhaven. Romaine also reflected on the historical importance of the day.

Local politicians following the enveiling of the Washington Spy Trail sign along 25A. Photo by Rita J. Egan

“Today we remember our history,” he said. “Today we remember ordinary people, living ordinary lives, who were called upon to do extraordinary things.”

John Tsunis, Chairman and CEO of Gold Coast Bank and owner of Holiday Inn Express Stony Brook, introduced Harry Janson, Sr., who was wounded in Vietnam and received the Purple Heart, a medal that originated from Washington’s Badge of Military Merit. Janson, who is on the board of the Long Island State Veterans Home at Stony Brook University, said he believed the members of the Culper Spy Ring — Tallmadge, Roe, Robert Townsend, Abraham Woodhull, Caleb Brewster and Anna Smith Strong — were worthy of the award as well.

“The difference is the example of their bravery,” Janson said. “They performed their bravery in covert, and they took their secrets to their graves.”

Before unveiling the Washington Spy Trail sign in front of the Brewster House, Janson had the same wish as others who worked on the installation of the signage.

“We hope that many of you drive the trail and learn about these brave men and women, and what they did for our country,” Janson said.

Additional Washington Spy Trail signs include ones located on the westbound side of Route 25A at West Broadway in Port Jefferson, by the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook, before the Smithtown Bull in Smithtown and at Lawrence Hill Road in Huntington Station.

CHECK PRESENTATION: From left, Dr. Lina Obeid, Leg. Kara Hahn, Dr. Yusuf A. Hannun, Gloria Rocchio, Dr. Scott Powers, Carol Simco and Dr. Jun Lin. Photo from WMHO

On March 27, Stony Brook University’s Cancer Center received a donation of $40,000 from the Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO), which were funds raised from WMHO’s 23rd Annual Walk for Beauty and Hercules Run held on Oct. 23 of last year in historic Stony Brook Village.

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) and co-chair, Walk for Beauty; Gloria Rocchio, president, Ward Melville Heritage Organization and co-chair, Walk for Beauty; and Carol Simco, co-chair, Walk for Beauty, officially presented the check to Dr. Yusuf A. Hannun, director, Stony Brook Cancer Center, and vice dean, Cancer Medicine. Joining them were Dr. Jun Lin and Dr. Scott Powers, cancer researchers whose projects received funds raised from the 2015 Walk for Beauty, and Dr. Lina Obeid, dean for research, Stony Brook University School of Medicine.

Also present, but not shown, were Councilwoman Valerie M. Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station), WMHO Trustee Anna Kerekes and Walk for Beauty committee members. Since its inception in 1994, Walk for Beauty has raised over $1.365 million toward breast cancer research. Funds raised also help to supply items such as wigs and prostheses for SBU Cancer Center patients. The event is an all-volunteer initiative with no administrative costs.

Registration is now open for the 2017 Walk for Beauty, which will take place on Sunday, Oct. 22. Visit www.wmho.org/wfb for more information.

Visitors express their enthusiasm for Stony Brook. Photo by Donna Newman

Stony Brook was on display as a destination on a global scale this past weekend.

A group of travel product developers — those who design tours for the luxury market in mainland China — visited the Village Oct. 22 as part of a “familiarization (or fam) tour” of Long Island.

“We don’t have time to showcase the entire island, so we choose some places that are special,” Joan LaRosa, director of sales for the Long Island Convention and Visitors Bureau said of the visit. Evidently Stony Brook is one of those.

The tours encourage designers to add Long Island stops to their itineraries. She said five “fam” tours are going on right now, hosted by United Airlines, which provided the plane tickets.

A second entity participating in this travel sales pitch is the New York State Division of Tourism via its I Love NY campaign.

Anna Klapper, a manager for global trade development for Washington, D.C.-based Brand USA, is one of the guides accompanying the group on their journey.

“They flew into New York Oct. 19 and have been visiting places on Long Island,” she said. “Tomorrow morning we’ll ferry to Connecticut and make stops in New Haven, Mystic [Seaport] and Mohegan Sun.”

Visitors enjoy craft beer at Brew Cheese in Stony Brook Village. Photo by Donna Newman
Visitors enjoy craft beer at Brew Cheese in Stony Brook Village. Photo by Donna Newman

Klapper pointed out that she and colleague Philip Joseph have noticed that their guests are constantly online posting everything on social media — adding value to their sales efforts.

Brand USA is an organization that markets the United States as a destination to travel product developers worldwide. Its goal is to increase international tourist visits, thereby fueling the nation’s economy and enhancing its image abroad, as stated on the organization’s website.

The website further states it is “the nation’s first public-private partnership to spearhead a globally coordinated marketing effort to promote the United States as a premier travel destination and communicate U.S. entry policies. Its operations are supported by a combination of contributions from destinations, travel brands, and private-sector organizations, plus matching funds collected by the U.S. government from international visitors who visit the United States under the Visa Waiver Program.”

The visitors from China are also accompanied by Tina Yao, Brand USA’s Shanghai office director.

Gloria Rocchio, president of the Ward Melville Heritage Organization, made the arrangements for the visitors and was on hand to greet them.

“The LI Convention and Visitors Bureau picked Stony Brook for this visit,” she said. When asked if she knew why, she speculated, “perhaps because we have a 21st century, world-class university and a picturesque, historic village on the water?”

Rocchio invited Yu-wan Wang, associate dean of international admissions at Stony Brook University, to meet the group, talk about the university and answer any questions they had about it. She also served as an interpreter, and when she asked William Wang of Shanghai to tell what he liked best about Stony Brook, she translated:

“I love the fresh air and to be so close to the ocean.”

Following a sampling of lavender and espresso cheese and craft beers, the party of 16 made their way across the street to The Jazz Loft for a musical evening.

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