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Huntington

 

The Centereach girls varsity soccer team edged out the Huntington Blue Devils for the win, 2-1, Sept. 20 while on the road.

This improved Centereach’s record to 4-1 in Division I competition. Watch the Cougars play as they host Riverhead at 6 pm. Friday and also host Brentwood Sept. 24 at 4 p.m.

The loss drops Huntington to a 1-3-1 record. The Blue Devils will travel to Central Islip Sept. 22 at noon before coming home to host Newsfield at 4 p.m. Sept. 24.

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When done drinking a bottled water or soda, we usually make a conscious effort to get it into a recycling bin. No further thought given, our good deed is done. We’ve recycled the plastic bottle rather than throwing it out to sit in a landfill.

The photos released that clearly show the Town of Brookhaven’s Green Stream Recycling facility was nearly buried in mountains of collected recyclables from the residents of Brookhaven, Smithtown and Huntington townships this August are shocking. It should serve as an alarming wake-up call.

This is a direct result of China implementing its National Sword policy to ban the import of recycled plastics. The visual impact of recyclables piling up like trash, and learning some items are now being sent to the landfill, have led us to the conclusion this is an issue that requires careful thought and attention.

We, and we’re sure many of our readers, have lived with the presumption our recycled plastic bottles, aluminum cans and used paper were sorted, cleaned and reformed into reusable materials locally. However, we were blissfully unaware that China imported nearly half of the world’s recyclables to turn into raw goods through its manufacturing economy.

Now, with changing international trade policy, shipping our recyclables — or honestly, still household garbage — halfway around the world is no longer an option. Suffolk County’s townships are struggling to figure out a new way to handle the piles of debris. Finding a new market for these recycled raw materials will pose an obvious challenge. Striking a balance of recycling items beneficial from a fiscal and economic viewpoint while weighing environmental impact is a challenge on the horizon as well.

One of Brookhaven’s recycling staff suggested Suffolk residents need to be more discerning. Get back to the basics of checking plastic bottles for a number inside a triangular arrow on the bottom and rinse all containers out first. It will help improve the value of the recycled material we are trying to sell in a drastically reduced global market.

It’s a good first step. But we need take it one step further.

The most direct way we, as individuals, can help provide a solution to the problem is to cut back on our dependency on one-time use items. It’s been said for years, but we truly need to start regularly grabbing a refillable water bottle rather than a disposable. Think about taking up the “hipster” trend of using Mason jars to store food. Go back to old-fashioned, but traditional Pyrex to store leftovers instead of limited-use thin plastic containers.

These small changes may seem hard at first, but we have proof it’s possible. Sure, every Suffolk resident balked at the idea of paying 5 cents for a plastic bag at retail stores when the policy was implemented in January. In less than a year, it’s seemed to have had a dramatic effect in changing behaviors. Many shoppers now simply carry their own reusable canvas and plastic bags.

Permanent change is necessary if we don’t want to be buried up to our necks in trash on Long Island. Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) has predicted a “garbage crisis” within the next seven to eight years as Brookhaven looks to close its landfill. Let’s be part of the solution, and not the problem. Let’s focus on using reusable products, not recyclable or disposable.

A new sign bears witness to the toll Sept. 11, 2001 continues to exact from South Huntington and the surrounding communities.

Town of Huntington officials unveiled a sign dedicating Iceland Drive as “NYPD Officer Mark J. Natale Way” in honor of a South Huntington resident who died of a 9/11-related illness. About 100 family members, friends and his former colleagues gathered for the Sept. 14 ceremony on what would have been his 56th birthday.

“Officer Natale dearly loved his family, friends, colleagues and community as the number of people gathered here to celebrate his life today shows the impact he made on all of us,” Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) said. “The sign we are unveiling today is a reminder of his legacy.”

“The sign we are unveiling today is a reminder of [Mark Natale’s] legacy.”

— Chad Lupinacci

Natale was a South Huntington native who graduated from Walt Whitman High School before joining the New York City Police Department in 1985. He was stationed with the 94th Precinct in Greenpoint when the planes hit the World Trade Center towers during the 9/11 attacks. Natale guided dust-covered people fleeing lower Manhattan over the bridges into Brooklyn and onto ferries to New Jersey. In the days following the attacks, he stood guard at the gates surrounding ground zero.

Natale died May 4 of brain cancer at his South Huntington home, which was brought about by his exposure to the scene.

“We have not as a nation or region spent enough time honoring and remembering those people in the aftermath of 9/11 who went into harm’s way and paid the same exact supreme sacrifice with their lives as those who perished that day,” Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) said. “Today, we proudly recognize Officer Mark Natale as a hero.”

This was the second ceremony Huntington town officials have hosted in as many months, dedicating a street in honor of first responders who have died of 9/11 related illnesses.

“The fact of the matter is that more uniformed and un-uniformed personnel who took part in the search, rescue and recovery operations that perish will surpass the number of people who were killed on Sept. 11, 2011,” Suffolk County Legislator Tom Donnelly (D-Deer Park) said. “We can never, ever repay people like Mark Natale for what they did that day, or in the weeks and months afterward.”

“When you pass by NYPD Officer Mark J. Natale Way, take a moment to look up at the sign and smile.”

— Mayra Natale

Donnelly said the health care issues faced by 9/11 responders is of “epidemic proportions” and estimated one individual per week is dying as a result of their service following the attacks.

“[Mark Natale’s] battle and bravery he demonstrated after 9/11 also serves as a beacon of hope for those who continue to fight 9/11-related illnesses,” Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) said. “By naming this street and showing his acts of bravery, he provides who to those who are still out there fighting.”

Natale’s wife, Mayra, thanked all those who attended the ceremony alongside the couple’s three children Dominick, Catherine and Lauren for honoring her husband’s memory along with one special request.

“We all lost a piece of our hearts when we lost Mark,” she said. “He will live on eternally in our good deeds and the love we share with one another. When you pass by NYPD Officer Mark J. Natale Way, take a moment to look up at the sign and smile.”

Police say the man allegedly issued the threat after he lost a video game to the 11-year-old

Suffolk County Police arrested a Huntington man earlier today for allegedly threatening to shoot a child following his loss to the boy during a video game.

Michael Aliperti. Photo from SCPD

The 4th Precinct Crime Section officers initiated an investigation after an 11-year-old Kings Park boy reported receiving threatening text messages and online voice messages via Xbox from a man he recently beat during a game of Fortnite. In the messages, which were sent at approximately 9 p.m. Sept.  17, the man allegedly threatened to shoot the child, possibly at his school, R.J.O. Intermediate School, according to police.

Police said they arrested Michael Aliperti, 45, at his home at approximately 1:40 a.m. and charged him with second-degree aggravated harassment and acting in a manner to injure a child.

Timothy Eagen, superintendent of Kings Park schools, said the district was notified by Suffolk County police of the incident prior to the start of classes Tuesday morning, but were told “no specific threat had been made towards the school.”

“I know we are all thankful that SCPD acted as swiftly as they did, and the adult was taken into custody promptly,” Eagen said in a Sept. 18 letter to school district residents. “This is certainly evidence of a commitment to school safety.”

The superintendent encouraged Kings Park parents to use this incident to speak with their children about the dangers of online gaming and how children should not be playing video games with people they don’t know.

Aliperti was scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 18 at 1st District Court in Central Islip. The outcome of his arraignment was not available as of 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Eagen’s full letter to Kings Park school district parents can be read online here. 

This post was updated to include quotes from Eagen’s letter Sept. 18.

Huntington residents stood silently in the cold rain Sept. 9 to honor the 43 people from the Town of Huntington who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

As each victim’s name was read aloud by a Huntington town official, a bell was rung by a Bill Ober, chairman of the town’s Veterans Advisory Board, and a single rose was laid at the base of the 9/11 memorial in Heckscher Park. The names were read by Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) and councilmembers Mark Cuthbertson (D), Gene Cook (R) and Joan Cergol (D).

“It’s hard to believe that there’s an entire generation of young people who do not [what?] what it was like to live and experience with memories of that day,” Lupinacci said. “It is the memory of your loved ones that we hold this ceremony each year and every year, so that we can remember your loss, which remains our loss, and educate those too young to have lived through that day.”

Seven of the 43 names read were first responders, including members of the Fire Department of the City of New York  and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

“As always on this sad day of remembrance, we ask the question what we can productively do in the face of such extreme hatred and evil,” said Rabbi Yaakov Raskin, of Chabad of Huntington Village, who gave the benediction for the ceremony. “Much in the answer lies in the education of our children.”

Huntington’s commuters are being enticed to stop and appreciate the beautiful aspects of their hometown each day as they pass under the Long Island Rail Road tracks.

Dozens of parents, teachers and students in South Huntington’s Birchwood Intermediate School community have spent hours this August transforming the railroad and pedestrian overpass on Route 110/New York Avenue into a bright, colorful community mural.

“This is the hub of the community, it bridges Huntington and South Huntington,” said Annie Michaelian, former assistant principal at Birchwood. “We felt it would be a nice place to set a gift of beautification.”

It’s an opportunity you get once in a lifetime to do it together as a community.”

— Annie Michaelian

Barbara Wright, a fifth-grade teacher at Birchwood, said she proposed the idea to the School-Based Management Committee in March as a way of giving back to the community. Wright had previously done a similar — but much smaller, she stressed — mural with her Girl Scout Brownie troop in Blue Point. Michaelian said after mulling the idea over, she was on board.

“It’s an opportunity you get once in a lifetime to do it together as a community,” she said.

School officials reached out to the Town of Huntington, gaining the support of Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) for the project as it gained momentum. Next, the SBM committee held a meeting with LIRR representatives in late June, as the organization owns the railroad and pedestrian overpasses, according to Michaelian, to get full approval for the mural before going full steam ahead.

Wright had Birchwood students, like 11-year-old Danny Ryan, draw and sketch out what the mural should represent.

We tried to think of the beautiful side of Huntington and come up with ideas, then put them together into the mural.”

— Danny Ryan

“We tried to think of the beautiful side of Huntington and come up with ideas, then put them together into the mural,” Danny said.

Area residents should be able to easily identify some of the iconic landmarks painted on the overpass including the Huntington Lighthouse and the southwest entrance to Heckscher Park, and a stylized version of the park’s fountains and bridges.

“Everything that you see, all of the elements were drawn by the kids,” Wright said. “I can tell you the kid who drew that flower, that boat, that lighthouse.”

Once the individual drawings were photoshopped together into the mural, it became a matter of finding volunteers to execute the vision, and so a signup form was put on the school’s website. Aboff’s Paints in Huntington donated all the paint, brushes, rollers and supplies needed, according to the assistant principal.

“There was an outpouring of people who wanted to help,” Michaelian said. “Community members have been driving by, beeping and saying they love it. It’s become this beautiful thing.”

That’s what we try to teach the kids all the time: You come to school to learn, but you are also part of a bigger thing, part of your community, of your state and your country.”

— Anthony Ciccarelli

Wright and her husband, Paul, began placing outlines of the children’s drawings up on the overpass tunnels the first weekend of August, with rotating shifts of volunteers picking up the paintbrushes each Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. Dozens of children and their parents have come down to paint and bring life to their drawings.

“They are taking complete ownership,” she said. “They are so committed.”

During Labor Day weekend, Birchwood Principal Anthony Ciccarelli could be found rolling out a blue sky on the western wall of the overpass to serve as a backdrop to an airplane.

You are so proud of the whole school community for coming together, first for thinking of the idea and thinking of the community and, second, thinking of how to better your community,” Ciccarelli said. “That’s what we try to teach the kids all the time: You come to school to learn, but you are also part of a bigger thing, part of your community, of your state and your country.”

The committee hopes to have the mural finished for a grand unveiling during the annual Unity in the Community parade — Huntington Awareness Day scheduled for Sept. 22. Even so, its student creators hope the mural is a gift that continues to give and grow with the community.

“Maybe, hopefully, people will continue to add new things to it in the future,” Danny said.

Setauket Elementary School students were ready for the first day of classes, Sept. 5. 2017. File photo by Rita J. Egan

It’s back to school time, and we want to help you commemorate the occasion. If your child attends one of the following school districts and you’d like to submit a photo of their first day of school attire, them boarding or arriving home on the school bus, or waiting at the bus stop, we may publish it in the Sept. 6 issues of Times Beacon Record Newspapers. Just include their name, district and a photo credit, and send them by 12 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5 with the subject line “Back to school,” and then be sure to check Thursday’s paper.

Email The Village Times Herald and The Times of Middle Country editor Rita J. Egan at rita@tbrnewsmedia.com if your child attends:

  • Three Village School District
  • Middle Country School District

Email The Times of Huntington & Northports and The Times of Smithtown editor Sara-Megan Walsh at sara@tbrnewsmedia.com if your child attends:

  • Huntington School District
  • Northport-East Northport School District
  • Harborfields School District
  • Elwood School District
  • Smithtown School District
  • Commack School District
  • Kings Park School District

Email The Port Times Record and The Village Beacon Record editor Alex Petroski at alex@tbrnewsmedia.com if your child attends:

  • Port Jefferson School District
  • Comsewogue School District
  • Miller Place School District
  • Mount Sinai School District
  • Shoreham-Wading River School District
  • Rocky Point School District

Happy back to school!

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We get it — if you read our newspapers or just about any other media that cover Long Island, you’ve heard enough over the past decade about the legal battles going on between several school districts and townships versus Long Island Power Authority.

If you feel like you’re on LIPA overload, we have some significant news — a major development occurred in the cases last week. A New York State Supreme Court judge determined that the 1997 Power Supply Agreement between National Grid, which owns the power plants, and LIPA, which transmits that electricity to customers, did not contain any language, or “promise,” that prevented the utility companies from seeking to have taxes they pay on the power stations reduced.

The good news is this decision may signal there’s a light at the end of the tunnel to this endlessly drawn-out court battle. We fear the positives may end there.

LIPA has said that its intention in filing these lawsuits is to be able to reduce energy bills for its customers, as it hopes to pay out less in property taxes. On its face, the company’s goal appears to a good thing for residents of Huntington and Brookhaven townships, who will likely see a reduction in their monthly electrical bills should LIPA be victorious, except for the residents in Northport and Port Jefferson, who will see a property tax increase. These odds seem an increasingly likely fact in recent weeks as courts have ruled twice  in LIPA’s favor.

However, these legal battles have been waged for nearly a decade, racking up what we can only imagine are substantial legal bills from lawyers hired to represent the municipalities and the school districts involved. Then adding in fees paid for a third-party mediator when sit-downs begin in September, we find ourselves asking, “At what cost?”

We hope to find out just how much taxpayers’ money has been spent on legal fees for the duration of the saga, so keep an eye out for that. And for what? The “Hail Mary” play that a court would determine the 1997 PSA had implied a legally binding promise that LIPA wouldn’t seek a reduction in its property taxes.

It was such a risky play for Brookhaven Town and Port Jefferson Village that those two municipalities have agreed to settle the cases out of court to avoid exposure to the risk of years of back pay should the issue actually end up in a trial loss for the two entities. Still, why did it take Brookhaven and Port Jeff until 2018 to finally reach a settlement while legal fees kept accruing?

All of this can also be looked at against the backdrop that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has set a goal for 50 percent of the state’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2030. Who’s going to pay for the solar and wind producing plants necessary, for example, to get on track in reaching that goal? We don’t think we’re going out on a limb in speculating that at least some of that cost will fall on LIPA’s customers.

While we’d like to think we’re inching closer to a day when we no longer have to report on legal issues pertaining to LIPA, a positive resolution for all stakeholders is going to take significantly more work. In reality, it should have been resolved long ago.

The Heckscher Museum of Art. Photo by Anthony Petriello

By Anthony Petriello

Over the next two years, the staff of a Huntington museum hope to restore its former glory in time to celebrate its 100-year anniversary.

The Town of Huntington’s town board voted unanimously to allow The Heckscher Museum of Art to begin raising approximately $500,000 to fund critical renovations at its July 17 meeting.

“The cost is high,” said Michael Schantz, the museum’s executive director and CEO, “but the museum raises money all the time to support exhibitions, programs, and community events, so I don’t anticipate any issue in raising the funds.”

The stairs leading up to The Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington. Photo by Anthony Petriello

From crumbling French limestone to sagging steps, the museum located inside Heckscher Park is in desperate need of repair to prevent further damage to the already crumbling historic exterior. The building is listed on both the National and New York State Register of Historic Places. It is also the longest-standing art museum building in continuous use in both Nassau and Suffolk counties, according to Schantz, and is a fine
example of Renaissance Revival architecture in need of preservation.

“The Heckscher Museum is the foundation from which all of Huntington’s cultural offerings have grown,” Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) said. “I’m proud to support the historical preservation efforts that will help the museum and the town continue to welcome and educate patrons of the arts for years to come.”

The museum has several structural issues, most detrimental of which is the roofing. Ken Moss, superintendent of buildings and grounds, said poorly designed drainage on the primarily
flat roof has caused pooling of water that has caused the roof to begin buckling. It poses a grave threat of allowing water to leak into the building, putting priceless art pieces at risk of damage.

The coping stones, or the tops of shorter walls along the front of the building, have extensive damage caused primarily by skateboarders, according to the museum.

The side wall of the Heckscher museum shows discoloration of the limestone bricks and cracking in the walls. Photo by Anthony Petriello

Since the public donation of the museum by philanthropists August and Nannie Heckscher in 1920, settling of exterior steps and patios has caused them to become misshapen and leaves them in need to removal and resetting. The limestone exterior walls have cracked in some areas, and repairs from the past have become discolored compared to the surrounding historic limestone, leaving the entire exterior surface in need of refinishing.

The museum’s staff also wants to remove extensive staining on the building’s limestone exterior walls, stairs and walkways. Due to the stone’s porous nature, it has absorbed airborne pollutants and provides a surface on which green mold can propagate.

Moss said due to the building’s location in Heckscher Park, adjacent to a pond, as well as its sheer age, several factors must be taken into consideration when cleaning its exterior surfaces.

“We need to use cleaners that are environmentally friendly and conservative to the building,” Moss said. “It’s extremely important that we protect the wildlife in the park.”

By repairing and cleaning The Heckscher Museum’s exterior, Schantz indicated how it would further add to the town’s recent beautification  of the surrounding parkland.

“The park has never looked so good,” he said. “and the people that come here have certainly
noticed the difference.”

Protesters carried a variety of signs against President Donald Trump’s immigration policies in Huntington Station June 30. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

While the Trump administration has rescinded its policy of separating immigrant children from their parents as they cross the U.S-Mexican border, local groups have continued to protest what they see is a huge miscarriage of justice.

“It was government sanctioned child abuse,” said Dr. Eve Krief, a Huntington pediatrician and founder of the Long Island Inclusive Communities Against Hate advocacy group. “Some kids might not ever see their parents again, and that’s horrendous — its criminal.”

Krief has worked along with fellow advocates Sharon Golden, co-founder of the political action network Together We Will Long Island, and Pilar Moya, co-founder of Latinos Unidos of Long Island, who have been hosting Families Belong Together rallies since the beginning of June to protest the family separations. The second rally was held June 30 as part of a nationwide day of protest. Nearly 50 organizations and close to 1,000 people attended, according to Krief.

From left, Sharon Golden of Together We Will Long Island and Dr. Eve Krief of Long Island Inclusive Communities Against Hate have organized the Huntington area Families Belong Together rallies, pictured above. Photo from Eve Krief

Before the 2016 presidential election, Krief said she was politically aware but had never been much of an activist. After Charlottesville Unite the Right rally that saw neo-Nazis marching in the street and events leading up to the death of a young political activist, she decided to establish her group to protest the Trump administration’s policies.

In May, Attorney General Jeff Sessions instituted the zero-tolerance policy that meant any adult that was arrested upon entering the United States would have their child given over to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department and be placed with a sponsor. The policy has led to more than 2,300 children being separated from their parents at the border.

A federal judge ruled that the separation was unlawful and gave two dates that the children must be reunited. All children under 5 were to be rejoined with their parents by July 10, and then all other children by July 26. Those dates came and went, and though the federal government claimed it had reunited all separated children, close to 700 were still not reunited with their parents due to some having criminal records and other red flags, or because some have already been deported while their children were still left in the U.S., according to CNN.

“Clearly, people thought that the problem was gone and resolved,” Krief said. “It’s clear that this administration had no plan when they separated them to reunify them.”

The groups will continue to protest. On July 29, the advocacy groups hosted another Families Belong Together rally at the intersection of Jericho Turnpike and Route 110 in Huntington Station. They are advocating for congressional oversight and transparency into the actions of the Trump administration during the period of family separation and for the children who must still be reunited with the parents, that the children receive trauma counseling, that the children and parents not be moved into detention centers and that those who came to the country seeking asylum be given the opportunity to go through the legal asylum process.

Nobody it seems is looking to heal these children. When a child is crying out for their momma, when babies are being taken away, they have no information to give them.

– Shannon Golden

Latinos Unidos Moya said that her nonprofit organization aids Latino immigrants and groups across Long Island and that the rallies that they host go beyond politics.

“I think it is more of a humanitarian crisis,” she said. “Our efforts are in finding common ground among all the parties, Republicans Democrats and Independents.”

Golden, who works as a therapist, said she has seen the traumatizing effects of children being separated from their parents in some of the adults with whom she has worked.

“These effects are life-lasting,” she said. “Nobody it seems is looking to heal these children. When a child is crying out for their momma, when babies are being taken away, they have no information to give them.”

There is no firm estimate about how long it will take the government to fully reunite the children with their parents, or what its policy will be if they are unable to find every parent who had been separated from their child. Meanwhile, Krief and her allies said they plan to continue holding rallies and
protesting. Their only hope is that awareness of the issue does not die.

“We will continue as long as we see there hasn’t been justice,” Krief said.

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