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Huntington

By Anthony Petriello

The streets of downtown Huntington were buzzing the morning of June 28 as readers and fans alike waited patiently for a chance to meet former President Bill Clinton (D) and author James Patterson.

Security was tight at Book Revue, an independently-owned bookstore on New York Avenue, and excitement was in the air. A long line stretched around the corner Main Street before taking a turn onto Wall Street as patrons began lining up as early as 9 a.m. for the 11 a.m. event.

“I’m a big supporter of his,” said Chris Jones, who said he was elated to meet Clinton. “It’s not every day you get the opportunity to meet a U.S. President.”

Clinton and Patterson were signing copies of their latest joint novel, “The President is Missing,” which was released June 4. The thriller takes place in contemporary America, wherein the president goes missing only to become a suspect in a looming attack.

“It’s not every day you get the opportunity to meet a U.S. President.”
– Chris Jones

“As the novel opens, a threat looms. Enemies are planning an attack of unprecedented scale on America,” reads Patterson’s description of the plot posted on his website. “Uncertainty and fear grip Washington. There are whispers of cyberterror and espionage and a traitor in the cabinet. The President himself becomes a suspect, and then goes missing.”

The book signing attracted a wide variety of people. Among the younger audience in attendance was Ryan McInnes, who was standing in line with his father.

“He’s inspirational to young people in this country,” McInnes said.

The president and Patterson were not available for comment at the event, but those who purchased tickets and waited patiently had the opportunity to meet the co-authors and have their copy of the novel signed.
This was Clinton’s second time appearing at Book Revue, which was founded in 1977 and is now one of the largest independent bookstores in the United States. The store has hosted many notable figures in the past including Hoda Kotb, Anderson Cooper and Bill Nye, among others.

Book Revue Owner Richard Klein was appreciative of Clinton’s cooperation.

“He is very personable, and we were happy to have him,” Klein said. “The event went very smoothly and we were happy to serve our customers and see everyone having a good time.”

Book Revue has several copies of “The President is Missing” that were signed by Patterson and made available for purchase after the event. The store is located at 313 New York Avenue in Huntington.

File photo

Suffolk County police 2nd Squad detectives are investigating a motor vehicle crash that killed a pedestrian in Huntington last night.

Miguel Jiminez-Villa was walking across New York Avenue, near the Burger King, at approximately 11:40 p.m. when he was struck by a 2009 Nissan sedan traveling southbound on the roadway.

Jiminez-Villa, approximately 55 years old, of Huntington, was transported by Huntington Community First Aid Squad to Huntington Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The driver of the Nissan, 26-year-old Andrew Skei, of Lynbrook, was not injured.

The vehicle was impounded for a safety check. The investigation is continuing. Detectives are asking anyone with information regarding the crash to call the 2nd Squad at 631-854-8252 or anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.

Huntington’s Class of 2018 was sent off in a ceremony full of laughter, smiles and full of hope for the future.

Huntington High School held its 157th annual commencement exercises June 22 on the Blue Devil’s athletic fields as a crowd of nearly 2,000 cheered on the 340 graduates as they accepted their diplomas.

“While we have to give credit to the community that nurtured us, we also have to recognize that in some ways it shielded us from the outside world,”  Valedictorian Aidan Forbes said, who is headed to Cornell University. “It was our shell and if we are to continue to grow, we must shed it. And that process will be painful. We will leave our old friends behind, although hopefully not permanently, and be forced to find new ones. Whether you are going to college or not, we will all be faced with new, more rigorous challenges.”

The seniors were told that they will always have a home in the Huntington community and be welcome at the high school.

By Sara-Megan Walsh

Dozens of Huntington residents gathered in the shadow of Constitution Oak last Friday, to declare the intent to fight for the human rights of immigrant children across Long Island and the nation.

More than 100 residents gathered June 15 to protest President Donald Trump’s immigration policies at the Huntington Village Green Park, near the intersection of Park Avenue and Main Street. Many carried signs reading “Families Belong Together” alongside the Spanish translation, “Familias Unidas, No Divididas,” while others imitated children crying out for their parents calling out to passing pedestrians and drivers.

“We are all disturbed and outraged with this administration’s new policy of separating children from their parents,  parents whose only crime is to bring their family to safety,” said Dr. Eve Krief, a Huntington pediatrician who founded the nonprofit group Long Island Inclusive Communities Against Hate. “We demand an immediate end to this horrendous, cruel and unjustified policy.”

“We demand an immediate end to this horrendous, cruel and unjustified policy.”
– Eve Krief

In mid-April, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero tolerance” policy for immigrants who cross the border illegally, which means they can be arrested and prosecuted. There have been 1,995 children taken from 1,940 adults at the border from April 19 to May 31, according to reporting by the Associated Press.

Victoria Hernandez, an outreach coordinator for SEPA Mujer Long Island, a nonprofit organization that represents immigrant women, called for her neighbors and community members to take action against Trump’s policies. She suggested calling and writing to elected officials, as well as signing SEPA Mujer’s online petition at www.sepamujer.org.

“We have to take action to prevent Jeff Sessions from allowing this violence against women and children from occurring,” Hernandez said. “For the children, please, for the children take action.”

An immigrant couple with their young son from the Huntington area stood in the crowd, arms wrapped around each other as Hernandez spoke. The family was in court days earlier pleading their case for asylum, according to Huntington Rapid Response Network volunteer Renee Bradley, and will know within the next four months if they’ve been accepted or face deportation.

“They fear they could be injured or face certain death if forced to return to their home country,” she said, declining to release more specific details.

“I wasn’t asking for the opportunity or wonders of America, I was just asking for the Lord to give me one more chance to hug my mother again.”
– Dr. Harold Fernandez

Bradley works with other members of the Huntington Rapid Response Network to provide immigrant families with legal services and support as they face legal process and get settled. It is one of eight such groups across Long Island associated with Jobs with Justice, a Washington D.C. nonprofit that fights for equal worker’s rights, that provides immigrants with referrals to trusted immigration lawyers and free services, translation services, accompaniment to court dates and other social support. Bradley said she currently is aiding several asylum seekers with their cases.

“A lot of people are being caught up in a very wide net that’s all about MS-13, and MS-13 is being used to demonize the entire immigrant population,” she said.

Dr. Steve Goldstein, president of Chapter 2 of New York State’s American Academy of Pediatrics, said that the separation of children from their parents and detention can have life-long health impacts from the toxic stress it causes. Goldstein said it can lead to chronic anxiety, predisposition to high blood pressure, and cause detrimental changes in brain function and structure citing research done by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.

One doctor shared his personal story of making his way to the United States as an illegal immigrant from Columbia with the protestors. Dr. Harold Fernandez said at age 12 he traveled to the Bahamas, where he and 10 others boarded a small boat at midnight to make his way into the U.S. and reunite with parents, who were already working here.

“Rob children from their parents, put them in cages and treat them like animals — they will be wounded and broken forever.”
– Rev. Marie Tatro

“The trip was only seven hours, but I can tell you it [was] the longest seven hours of my life,” he said. “I wasn’t asking for the opportunity or wonders of America, I was just asking for the Lord to give me one more chance to hug my mother again.”

Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) said he was appalled by what is happening across the nation and wants to propose an Immigrant Protection Act in Suffolk County. He referred to legislation approved by Westchester County lawmakers in March that limited the information the county shares with federal immigration authorities and bars employees from asking about a person’s citizenship in most circumstances. Spencer said he believed other Suffolk lawmakers would support such a bill.

“You want the perfect recruiting tool for groups like MS-13, here it is,” said Rev. Marie Tatro, with the Community Justice Ministry at the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island. “Rob children from their parents, put them in cages and treat them like animals — they will be wounded and broken forever.”

Tatro said several Long Island churches and religious organizations are springing into action to help immigrants affected by offering them sanctuary, providing them with safe haven from Immigration and Custom Enforcement officers.

“There are angels of mercy working tirelessly all across Long Island to provide help,” she said. “We are all in this together, we will, and we must learn from history.”

Northport’s Elijah and Isaiah Claiborne. Photo from Twitter

Northport senior distance runner Elijah Claiborne isn’t showing signs of slowing down. His 4 minute, 11.47 second finish in the 1,600-meter run earned him first place at the Suffolk County track and field individual championship/state qualifier June 2 and 3 at Comsewogue High School.

Huntington hurdler Jonathan Smith. Photo by Mike Connell

He will compete with other winners in the state championship at Cicero-North Syracuse High School June 8 and 9.

Claiborne had come in second in a photo finish in the indoor state track and field finals this past March with Schenectady’s Maazin Ahmed. The Northport runner’s indoor time had been seconds slower than his outdoor (4:15.548).

The half of Northport’s twin brother power duo also placed first in the 800, clocking in at 1:54.06. Isaiah Claiborne came in second in the 400 dash in 49.71.

Other Tigers took home top spots during the weekend-long meet. Senior Dan O’Connor finished third in 3,200 run in 9:40.92. Junior Sean Ryan placed fourth in the 1,600, crossing the finish line in 4:18.47, and classmate Sydney Rohme placed first in girls pentathlon with a school record-breaking 3,263 points.

Huntington thrower Clay Jamison. Photo by Mike Connell

Huntington also had multiple track and field athletes excel with career days.

Huntington senior Clay Jamison came in second in the shot put with a 51-0.25 toss. The throw ties him for the top spot in the county (across all divisions) with Commack’s Steven Vasile.

Huntington junior Jonathan Smith placed second in the 400 hurdles in 55.17. He caught up to the pack in the final turn and passed Bellport’s Kyler Pizzo and Comsewogue’s Travis Colon down the stretch to claim his first individual county crown.

Smith also placed fourth in the long jump with a 21-2 leap.

Huntington’s 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams finished third, and junior Keily Rivas came in third in the 1,500 race-walk in 6:52.33.

File photo

Suffolk County police arrested a woman for driving with a suspended and revoked driver’s license after stopping her for traffic violations in Huntington June 6.

Dawn Taddeo. Photo from SCPD

Dawn Taddeo was operating a 1996 Buick Regal on Pulaski Road without a registration sticker displayed on her windshield. A 2nd Precinct patrol officer initiated a traffic stop. A check on Taddeo’s driver’s license showed it had been suspended 89 times. It was also determined that Taddeo’s vehicle was unregistered and was being operated with improper or “switched” license plates.

Taddeo, 49, of Huntington Station, was arrested and charged with first-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. Taddeo was also issued several summonses for vehicle and traffic law violations.  The vehicle was impounded.

Taddeo is being held overnight at the4th Precinct and is scheduled to be arraigned June 7 at First District Court in Central Islip. Additional details on her arraignment was not available

Annual enrollment numbers of 2012-13 school year compared to 2016-17. Graphic by TBR News Media

By Kyle Barr

A shadow hangs above the heads of Long Island’s school districts: The specter of declining enrollment.

“From last year, not a whole lot has changed, enrollment is still declining,” Barbara Graziano, the manager of the Office of School Planning and Research for Western Suffolk BOCES said. “What a lot of districts are seeing is there is a significant displacement between their graduating classes being larger than the following year’s kindergarten classes.”

School enrollment across Suffolk County has been in decline for nearly a decade. In last year’s annual report on enrollment, Western Suffolk BOCES, a regional educational service agency, said there was a 9.1 percent overall decline in enrollment in townships from Huntington to Smithtown from 2010 to 2016.

Students at Bicycle Path Pre-K/Kindergarten Center hop off the school bus. Photo from Middle Country school district

Between the 2006-07 and 2016-17 school years, Long Island saw a 6.2 percent decline in enrollment, according to Robert Lowry, the deputy director for advocacy, research and communications at the New York State Council of School Superintendents.

Statewide enrollment declined 4.2 percent in the same period. Nearly every school district on Suffolk County’s North Shore has seen at least some decline, and the trend can have tangible effects on a district’s long- and short-term planning.

“Declining enrollment may push a district toward reconsidering staffing and whether it’s necessary to close a school,” Lowry said.

Smithtown Central School District in the 2012-13 school year had 10,317 students enrolled in the district, and four years later the number dropped more than a thousand to 9,241 in 2016-17. The declining enrollment was cited in 2012, with guidance from the district’s Citizens’ Advisory Committee on Instruction and Housing, as the rationale behind the closing of Nesconset Elementary School, and again in 2017 when the district closed Brook Branch Elementary School.

“Over the last few years, the board of education and administration have been proactive regarding the district’s declining enrollment,” Smithtown Superintendent James Grossane said in an email. “The district
will continue to monitor its enrollment trends to plan for the future.”

“Over the last few years, the board of education and administration have been proactive regarding the district’s declining enrollment.”

— James Grossane

Experts cite factors like declining birthrate, aging population and changes in local immigration patterns as potentially having an impact on local enrollment. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a report in May indicating the national birthrate in 2017 hit a 30-year low with 60.2 births per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44. The national birthrate has been in general decline since the 1960s, but this most recent report is low even compared to 10 years ago when the birthrate was closer to 70 births per 1,000 women. Suffolk County’s population is also skewing older. Census data from the American Community Survey showed from 2010 to 2016 there was an estimated 28,288 less school-aged children between the ages of 5 and 19 living in the county. School closings are probably the most severe action districts tend to take to mitigate the effect of declining enrollment, but it is not the only option.

The Three Village Central School District has seen enrollment drop by about 900 students during the last decade. In its recently passed budget the district said it was making several staffing changes, including consolidating the roles of certain staff members. The district cited declining enrollment along with staff retirements and attrition for the changes, but also promised to add a new high school guidance counselor and an additional district psychologist to give attention to individual student’s mental health.

“While our district, like so many others in our area, have recently been experiencing a decline in enrollment, particularly at the elementary level, we have taken this opportunity to create efficiencies using current staff in order to lower class size and support a number of new initiatives, programmatic enhancements and student support services,” Cheryl Pedisich, the superintendent for Three Village schools said in an email.

“Declining enrollment affects school districts in several ways — perhaps most importantly through the impact on state aid.”

— Al Marlin

Kings Park Superintendent Timothy Eagen said lower enrollment allows for smaller class sizes and for more attention to the mental health of individual students.

“Our students today need a little bit more mental health support than students yesterday,” Eagen said. “Obviously we don’t need as many elementary sections, but we haven’t necessarily decreased our total staffing amount because we’ve been increasing our mental health supports.”

Even with those potential benefits, many districts are still trying to work out the long-term implications of lower enrollment. Al Marlin, a spokesperson for the New York State School Boards Association said enrollment has a large effect on how much state aid a school can procure.

“Declining enrollment affects school districts in several ways — perhaps most importantly through the impact on state aid because New York’s school-aid distribution formula is based, in part, on enrollment numbers,” Marlin said in an email. “Declining enrollment also can make it more difficult for districts to sustain academic courses, including Advanced Placement courses and programs such as sports teams.”

Shoreham-Wading River school district conducted an enrollment study in 2015 that was updated for the 2017-18 school year. The study predicted the district will recede to 1,650 enrolled students by 2025, compared to 2,170 as of May. Along with a declining birthrate and an aging population, the district pointed to low housing turnover from 2008 to 2016 for part of the declining enrollment.

As part of an ongoing Shoreham-Wading River bond referendum voted on in 2015, school classrooms, like those at Principal Christine Carlson’s Miller Avenue School, were expanded to include bathrooms. File photo by Kyle Barr

“It is difficult to predict the exact number, but it is fair to say that the enrollment decline in the district will be continuing in the near future,” SWR superintendent Gerard Poole said in an email.

Superintendents from SWR and Rocky Point school district both said they do not have any plans to close schools, but there is a possibility lower enrollment could affect the districts’ ability to apply for grants.

A few districts are breaking the trend. Huntington Union Free School District has actually seen an increase in school enrollment from 2012 to 2017, but Superintendent James Polansky said in the most recent years that increase has started to level off. Polansky did not want to speculate as to why enrollment in Huntington was not decreasing like other districts, but Graziano said it might be because the district is more diverse and attracts more immigration than nearby districts.

“Every district is different, they have to look at their own schools and communities to see how they deal with enrollment,” Polansky said.

Every year Western Suffolk BOCES releases a report that looks at schools’ current enrollment and compares it to previous years. Graziano, who is working on this year’s report, most likely to be released sometime this month, said the agency expects a continuing decline in school enrollment at least for the next several years. Though eventually, she said, the declining enrollment should level off as entering kindergarten class sizes stabilize. However, there is no telling when that might be. 

“Birthrates do not seem to be increasing, it doesn’t look like, as of right now, that’s going to turn around any time soon,” Graziano said. “But of course, we don’t have a crystal ball.”

Reviewed by Victoria Espinoza

Author Patricia Novak with a copy of her book.

With Patricia J. Novak’s new book, you don’t need a time machine to see what the Town of Huntington was like 100 years ago.

Broken into seven chapters, “Huntington,” part of the Arcadia Publishing’s Postcard History Series, looks through the lens at old postcards to get glimpses of what life in Huntington was like back in the day.

“I have been collecting postcards of the towns/hamlets in Huntington township since the 1980s,” said Novak in a recent interview, adding “Before the internet (and eBay), I acquired them by visiting postcard shows and by mail. Dealers would send me their cards for review and I would pick what I wanted. I would return the ones I didn’t want and include a check for the keepers. When Arcadia Publishing introduced their new Postcard History Series, I knew I had a book!”

Novak, who grew up in Huntington, organized her book by different parts of the community. The various chapters, which feature over 220 black-and-white images, span religious structures, schools, businesses and scenes of residents from years past enjoying their lives in the North Shore town. 

The first chapter starts off with a very familiar site, Huntington Town Hall. Initially used as a high school for Huntington students starting in 1910, it eventually changed hands to become the center of government. 

Other school buildings in Huntington and Northport are featured in this chapter as well, along with old mailers detailing and encouraging residents to support school expansion projects due to a population increase in the area after World War II. It’s quite interesting to read a message from Huntington’s school board in 1954 and see the similarities in budget pitches with school boards currently in power.

Aside from school buildings, the first chapter also shows churches in the area, some that look almost identical now as they first did in the early 20th century and some that are no longer standing.

The cover of Novak’s book

Another chapter gives readers a glimpse into the lives of the residents that came before them. Familiar structures like William K. Vanderbilt II’s mansion, Eagles Nest, in Centerport and the Huntington Country Club can be seen in their early starts, but you can also learn about impressive establishments like the Camp Christian Endeavour, located close to where the Huntington train station now stands. This organization worked to provide an opportunity for disadvantaged city boys and girls to enjoy outdoor recreation, three meals, clean surroundings and fresh air for 10 days every summer. Photos show children swinging and enjoying the Huntington scenery. 

Perhaps the most fun aspect of a book like this is comparing the old photos to what everything looks like now, including the chapter that shows the business establishments of the past featured in several postcards. 

Novak said her favorite postcards are ones that tell the greatest stories.“The real-photo postcards are exciting, but any postcard that has writing on it which gives us some insight on events and daily life from that time period are particularly interesting to me.” 

And although she was not phased with the wealth of information she had to work from, Novak said she was surprised with some of the personal stories she got to learn.

“I did extensive research on many of the individuals that I ‘met’ along the way,” she said. “The contributions they made to the social and economic progress of Huntington during the early 1900s should not be overlooked. I even went to visit their graves.”

As for why she thinks people should be interested in learning more about Huntington’s past, Novak said this town has no shortage of fascinating stories.

“Huntington has a rich history dating back to the 1600s,” she said. “It is a perfect, and well-documented microcosm of how communities grew from European settlements to our modern footprints today.”

A lifelong resident of the Town of Huntington, author Patricia J. Novak is a librarian and archivist at the South Huntington Public Library and a member of the Huntington Historical Society. “Huntington” is available online at www.arcadiapublishing.com, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

John "Johnny Boy" Ambrosio admits to being a member of the Gambino family

Inside the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Photo from Facebook

A Huntington man pled guilty Thursday to participating in a racketeering conspiracy, by admitting his role as an acting captain for the infamous Gambino organized-crime family.

John Ambrosio, 75, was the last of seven associates of La Cosa Nostra, as the crime family is also called, to plead guilty May 31 in United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York to acts including loansharking and running an illegal gambling business, according to prosecutors.

Ambrosio, known as “Johnny Boy,” and his six co-conspirators — including Anthony Rodolico, 46, of Huntington — were arrested by federal law enforcement officials Dec. 12, 2017. Earlier that day, federal officers who executed search warrants at various locations, including a Nassau County storage facility, found and recovered gambling and loansharking records, electronic gaming machines, narcotics and related paraphernalia and numerous firearms, including an AR-15, a .38 caliber revolver and a sawed-off shotgun, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. Law enforcement officials also found letters addressed to Ambrosio from the Bonanno family boss Michael “The Nose” Mancuso and former Gambino family boss John Gotti.

Prosecutors said they believe Ambrosio and his associates engaged in a racketeering conspiracy from January 2014 to December 2017. In entering his guilty plea, Ambrosio admitted to participating in the Gambino family’s activities by extorting a loan from one victim and supervising a gambling business that involved poker games, electronic gaming machines and sports betting, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. Under the terms of his plea deal, he will forfeit $100,000, including $66,116 in cash that was seized from his Huntington home at the time of his arrest.

When Ambrosio and Rodolico are sentenced, they each face a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail. The federal case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Artie McConnell.

Traffic patterns will be altered as of June 11, with part of Level 2 coming under construction

Huntington's south parking garage at the Long Island Rail Road station. File photo by Rohma Abbas

Starting June 11, Huntington Station commuters may want to leave themselves a little additional time to park their cars at the railroad station.

The Town of Huntington announced that it has hired a new contractor to finish up waterproofing the concrete parking deck on Level 2 of the south parking garage at the Huntington Long Island Rail Road station.

“This is one of the many improvements the town has been coordinating with the LIRR at the Huntington train station,” Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) said. “This project will make the south parking garage safer for Huntington commuters.”

This project will make the south parking garage safer for Huntington commuters.”
– Chad Lupinacci

The work will include replacement of some of the structure’s construction joints, waterproofing of the concrete deck, and then painting on new pavement markings once the waterproofing is complete. It is anticipated the work will take approximately four to six weeks to complete.

The south parking garage will remain open for public use while under construction, according to Lauren Lembo, Huntington public information officer, as the necessary work will affect only a portion of the second floor and all three stairwells. Those areas the town anticipates will be closed or impacted include: the western half of parking Level 2, including the eight handicapped accessible parking stalls; a portion of the entry ramp to Level 2; the ramp from Level 2 up to Level 3; and all three stairwells from the ground floor to Level 5.

“Traffic patterns within the garage will be modified to bypass the construction zones,” Lembo said in a statement.

Those commuters affected should be able to find additional parking across the street from the south parking garage, according to Lembo, and in the town-owned parking lots north of the railroad tracks on the west side of Route 110.

Traffic patterns within the garage will be modified to bypass the construction zones.”
– Lauren Lembo

Waterproofing the parking garage’s second level is the last step in long-awaited renovations in a project that has been left unfinished for more than two years. In 2015, the town hired Tonawanda-based general contractor Patterson-Stevens to oversee several improvements to parking garage including waterproofing of the entire structure. Work on the second level of the train station parking was slated to begin the first week in May 2016.

After less than two weeks, the Patterson-Stevens contract was suspended May 9 by the town, who said the company was allegedly violating New York State’s apprenticeship training program. Upon further investigation, town officials terminated the contract Aug. 8, 2016, according to Lembo, claiming that
issues had not been resolved with the general contractor within 90 days.

Lembo said Huntington town officials decided to take over these remaining renovations in-house, having town employees act in place of a general contractor. The list of projects that was undertaken by town employees included painting parking stall lines and traffic signals on the second floor and roof (Level 5), installing handrails and guards for the stairs between floors, and the conversion of some ground-level parking spots to handicapped accessible slots.

The waterproofing of the second floor is the last step that has yet to be completed at this time. The renovations are expected to be finished in July.

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