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Smithtown East's Alexandra Nicholson battles between Huntington defenders. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

There were threes all over the place Monday night, and just like the three “c’s” in Katie Seccafico’s last name, it seemed the senior was calling for them.

Huntington’s Katie Seccafico shoots. Photo by Bill Landon

Seccafico banked three triples on her way to a game-high 13 points in Huntington’s 45-37 League III win over Smithtown East Jan. 8. She had eight assists and four steals to go along with it.

“We spent a lot of time preparing for the face guard,” Seccafico said. “We had good communication on defense and that really helped us dropping back, letting everyone know where we are on the court.”

The guard scored her first 3-pointer to cap off a 17-0 Blue Devils run to open the first quarter, and added another by the halftime break. Senior Alexandra Heuwetter nailed two of her own to help Huntington to a 26-14 lead.

“At first, it’s not what we expected we thought,” Heuwetter said. “We thought they would face guard us, but they didn’t, and that gave us a lot of open shots.”

Smithtown East senior point guard Ceili Williams (13 points) also made her presence known, drawing fouls while driving to the basket and going 6-for-7 from the free-throw line.

Even with her team making shot after shot to extend the advantage, as Huntington outscored Smithtown East 13-9 in the third, sophomore forward Riva Bergman said she was impressed with her team’s defensive effort.

Huntington’s Alexandra Heuwetter scores on a layup. Photo by Bill Landon

“I think we’re ready for any challenge,” she said. “We slowed the tempo, we ran our plays and we were able to knock down shots.”

Huntington senior Nicole Leslie, who had not seen action early in the season due to injury, was at full strength in the second half and battled in the paint to lead her team with six points in the third. She finished the game with 12 rebounds.

The Bulls had their work cut out for them in the final eight minutes of play, trailing by 16, but refused to go quietly. Freshman Paige Doherty drained a three to make it a 12- point game, and Williams added her own to draw within nine points in regulation, but it was as close as Smithtown East would come.

“They’re big, they’re athletic, they’re strong, but I just told them I’m very proud of how the battled back — they didn’t hang their heads and give up at 17-0,” Smithtown East head coach Tom Vulin said. “We drew within nine points late, and if you get that next basket it’s a six or seven-point game and then you can do something.”

The seniors led the way for the Blue Devils, which move to 2-2 on the season to be even with Smithtown East, with Leslie and Heuwetter following close behind Seccafico with 11 points apiece. Huntington head coach Michael Kaplan has enjoyed seeing his team at full strength.

“Earlier in the year we had some injuries and sicknesses, so it was hard for us to practice at full strength, but we’re finally healthy,” he said. “We’re a young team considering we only have three seniors, and it helped that we shot well early on, but our three seniors really stepped up today — that really helped us.”

Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci outlines his vision of a new direction for Huntington at his inauguration Jan. 2. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) has been officially sworn in as Huntington’s 80th supervisor, as of his first full day in office Jan. 2.

His oath of office was administered
moments after the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Day by Town Clerk Jo-Ann Raia at his cousin’s Commack restaurant in front of his family and close friends on his grandfather’s Bible from Calabria, Italy.

Hundreds of Huntington residents and elected officials later watched Lupinacci retake the oath at the official Inauguration Ceremony Jan. 2 held at his high school alma mater, Walt Whitman High School in Huntington Station. Lupinacci took the oath of office, and oaths were administered to re-elected Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D), newcomer Councilman Ed Smyth (R) and Highway Superintendent Kevin Orelli (D).

This night has been a long time coming, a night when we return town government to the control of those with a clear vision of what defines our suburban lifestyles,” he said. “This is the night in which we begin putting into action our mandate to preserve the keys to what has made Huntington such a desirable community over the years to live, work and raise a family.”

Raia presented the new supervisor with the town’s chain of office, a 1-pound, 11-ounce ceremonial piece made of wampum and several medallions.

Chad Lupinacci takes the oath of office as Huntington’s newly elected town supervisor Jan. 2 Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

In his inaugural address, Lupinacci outlined staff and policy changes he intends to make over the upcoming months, particularly plans to hire a new economic policy adviser to oversee business matters in the town.

“We want to make sure that we are always open for business and work hard to create all the jobs we can, while maintaining the jobs that are here,” Lupinacci said.

The Jan. 3 town board meeting will see the appointment of a new town attorney and set dates for 2018 town board meetings — increasing the number to two every month, one in the afternoon and one in the evening. In coming weeks, Lupinacci said he plans to further consider scheduling the meetings at different locations across the town, instead of Town Hall only.

The new supervisor’s top priorities include increasing the town’s use of social media and passing term limits for the town’s elected officials. Councilman Gene Cook (R) pulled his proposal to create a three-term limit on all town officials, including the town clerk and receiver of taxes, at the Dec. 13 town board meeting before it could be voted on.

The town recently received $1.7 million in state funds to construct a parking garage in Huntington village, which Lupinacci said he plans to push forward with in coming months.

These new town positions and policies are part of Lupinacci’s campaign promise of “a new direction” for Huntington, which he elaborated on Tuesday night.

“It does not mean tearing everything down and starting over. It does not mean undoing everything that the town government has done over the past 24 years,” he said, calling for a round of applause for former Supervisor Frank Petrone (D). “But a new direction does mean identifying those policies, programs and procedures that should remain and building on them, while identifying those that do need to be changed and changing them as quickly as possible.”

Former Huntington Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) left a white elephant on Lupinacci’s desk as a token of good luck. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

One thing that will remain unchanged, Lupinacci announced Patricia DelCol has agreed to stay on as his deputy supervisor — an announcement met by a round of applause.

Cuthbertson, who served as a councilman for 20 years under Petrone, welcomed Lupinacci into the town after taking his oath of office.

“We take a new beginning today with Supervisor Lupinacci and the new administration,” Cuthbertson said. “I heard a lot about new beginnings in the campaign, and I can tell you that if new beginnings mean we continue to look at how we can continue to improve how we deliver town services and manage town government, I’m all for new beginnings. There’s always room for improvement at all levels of government.”

Particularly, Cuthbertson said he expects the new town board will have to tackle the issues of how to help local businesses stand up to competition against internet retailers and affordable housing for both millenials and seniors.

“When we make the tough decisions, we really do move our town forward and it has a lasting and positive impact.” Cuthbertson said. “It’s something I hope we will do in the coming four years.”

A small white elephant figurine was left sitting on Lupinacci’s desk by Petrone, as his way of wishing the new supervisor and his administration good luck.

The Sorrentino family handed out thousands of free Thanksgiving turkeys to local families. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

By Sara-Megan Walsh

When a Huntington business owner gave away 30 turkeys out of the back of a pickup truck on Thanksgiving eve nearly a decade ago, he was shocked to find out there were so many families in need. Rather than shy away from the issue, he started raising funds to turn it into an annual family event where thousands have received their holiday meal.

Lifelong Huntington resident Andre Sorrentino, owner of PAS Professional Automotive Services on New York Avenue, is known for having a larger than life personality to go along with his big heart.

“He’s a very good, very kindhearted person; really a pillar of the Huntington community,” said Huntington Supervisor-elect Chad Lupinacci (R), whose state assemblyman offices are located across the street from Sorrentino’s business. “A lot of people look up to him and people like to work alongside him. He always has the community’s heart with him.”

Lupinacci said he was there that first Thanksgiving, with Sorrentino and his daughter when they handed out turkeys on the streets of Huntington and Huntington Station. He has been amazed to see the annual Sorrentino Trucking Turkey Give Away expand to giving away approximately 2,000 turkeys in 2017 — 1,000 of which were purchased by Sorrentino himself.

The turkeys weren’t enough though. Sorrentino coordinated with Suffolk County’s 2nd Precinct to have police officers help hand out what turned into turkey, all the trimmings and household goods like soap and laundry detergent.

“He’s all about giving back to the community that’s given him so much,” the state assemblyman said.

Andre Sorrentino with his family in 5eptember 2015. Photo by Stephen Jimenez

This August, Sorrentino worked with his friend, George Schwertl, of Lloyd Harbor, and Dom Spada, the second assistant chief of Halesite Fire Department, to coordinate a massive donation drive for Hurricane Harvey victims in Texas. A mass email was sent out by Halesite Fire Chief Greg Colonna that asked residents for donations of nonperishable food, toiletries hygiene products, water, blankets and dog food to be dropped off at participating busineses which included Sorrentino’s auto body shop on New York Avenue.

Schwertl and Sorrentino  paid for five Sprinter vans out of their own pockets and planned  to  drive down to Texas, and distribute the donations by hand themselves. By the time they left, it had grown to include tractor-trailers.

“We want to be positive that when we get there they will take the donations and it will go into the right hands,” Sorrentino said in August, prior to the trip.

He took time away from running his business and his wife, Kim, with their two young daughters to make the drive to Houston. Kim Sorrentino said she’s not surprised by her husband’s trip or charitable actions.

“My husband and his family have been here for so long, and we’re lucky enough we’re in a position where we can help people at this point in our lives,” she said. “We really love Huntington, and we’re trying to make it as good as we can.”

It seems many people from Sorrentino’s employees to firefighters and elected officials have said they know they can turn to him for help when times get tough.

“He’s got a good heart and wants to do things to help people,” said James, an employee of Sorrentino’s who requested his last name not be used. “I’ve seen him help people that pretty much no one else would. He’ll pick a person up. It’s the way he is.

“I think Andre Sorrentino is what is best about this community.”

— William “Doc” Spencer

Northport resident Phyllis Berlin-Sasso called Andre Sorrentino “the kindest human being in Huntington” for the help he gave her.

“I was divorced with three children at the time, and I would get my car repaired by him,” she said. “They helped me out with payment plans to pay for it.”

Several others related similar tales as fire department members from Huntington Manor and Lloyd Harbor said they know they can turn to Andre Sorrentino and his family if they have a resident with an issue — and even if he can’t help — Sorrentino has been known to put them in contact with someone who can.

“I think Andre Sorrentino is what is best about this community,” said Suffolk Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport).

Many suggested that perhaps, Sorrentino’s charitable nature came from his upbringing by his father, Andre Sorrentino Sr., the owner of Andre’s Shoe Repair in Huntington. But his father said he couldn’t take the credit.

“He is doing things right for the community, it’s simple what he does,” he said. “I’m very proud of him.”

Huntington resident Kevin Gersh recognized as innovator of programs for children with special needs

Huntington resident Kevin Gersh, founder of Gersh Academy, is known for his innovative programs designed for children with special needs. Photo from Gersh Academy.

It takes a special person to take care of a child with special needs. Huntington resident Kevin Gersh has proven all it takes is a few innovative ideas and a big heart.

Gersh, founder of Gersh Academy in Huntington, created a series of schools and programs geared toward helping children with autism and special needs. But it’s been his drive to do more philanthropic actions that give back to the community that has made others take notice.

“Kevin Gersh is an innovator in the special needs community,” said Stephanie Gotard, program director of Leadership Huntington, which fosters development of community leaders. “He has dedicated his life to making a difference in the lives of children.”

Gersh founded West Hills Montessori School of Huntington in 1991, where working with one child with special needs made him realize that the method of teaching needed to change. As a result, he started Gersh Academy in 1999 as an education program for children ages 5 to 21 on the autism spectrum.

Over the years, Gersh has expanded his organization to create 11 programs spanning from Long Island to Puerto Rico, for typical children in addition to those with special needs.

I love helping kids. When someone asks me can you help a child, I say ‘yes.’ I don’t hesitate. It’s what gets me going.”

— Kevin Gersh

“It’s what I do for a living, that’s who I am,” he said. “I love helping kids. When someone asks me can you help a child, I say ‘yes.’ I don’t hesitate. It’s what gets me going.”

Others in the Huntington community said they now look to Gersh for advice in meeting the needs of children with autism. Cold Spring Harbor resident Bob Fonti said when he had a friend who was unsure where to get help for his child with special needs,  Gersh’s door was open, and he was more than willing to pick up the phone and make a call.

“He is always willing to advise, advocate and provide hope for special needs parents,” Gotard said.

In addition to his work for special needs children, Gersh has been noted by others for giving back to nonprofits and local communities. In 2015, Gersh Academy students raised funds for the Caroline Wambui Mungai Foundation, an organization whose mission is improving the lives of orphaned and abandoned children throughout Africa. The following year, the Gersh Organization donated money raised for Sunrise Day Camp, a specialized camp for children with cancer and their siblings.

More recently, Gersh donated hundreds of school uniforms to students in Wyandanch school district. He has also created an event, which distributed donated suits to help students heading into college and with job interviews. He recalled fondly watching one football player try on a jacket.

“You should have seen the smile on his face when he looked in the mirror dressed in a $3,000 full-length cashmere coat,” Gersh said. “He didn’t take it off the whole night. That to me, is everything.”

“[Kevin Gersh] is always willing to advise, advocate and provide hope for special needs parents.”

— Stephanie Gotard

This holiday season, Gersh has joined with a friend, Kevin Donnelly of Lido Beach, in an effort to ship 10,000 toys to Puerto Rico for children displaced by Hurricane Maria in time for Three Kings Day, Jan. 6.

“They are living in shelters, the least we can do is give them a Christmas,” Gersh said.

He has asked the 75 employees of Gersh Academy in Puerto Rico to help sort the toys for distribution. The U.S. Marines with Toys for Tots and the toy company, Hasbro, have pitched in and joined the effort.

But he’s already looking forward to his next event, having Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey hold a day in May 2018 specially for children with autism. Gersh said the theme park will close to the public for a day to allow those with special sensory needs to enjoy the park with quieter music and shorter lines alongside their families.

“I anticipate this to be a huge event,” he said. “I get excited about doing things for kids that no one has ever done before.”

Bob Bontempi, of Huntington, recognized as one of TBR News Media's 2017 People of Year

Huntington resident Bob Bontempi, center, at an event hosted by Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce. Photo from Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce.

By Kyle Barr

There are qualities that allow a person to excel no matter what they are doing or put their mind to. Huntington residents who know Bob Bontempi say it’s his simple ability to listen that makes him so capable.

“He has a way of making you comfortable and feel more important than anyone else in the room,” said Jim Powers, president of The Townwide Fund of Huntington. “He’s very easy to get to know, and he’s giving you compliments half the time even when he’s doing something right — not you.”

A longtime Huntington resident, Bontempi has bridged the gap between business professionals, charities and government in the Town of Huntington.

“Bontempi in Italian means ‘good times’, and we like to call him, ‘Bobby good times,’” said Brian Yudewitz, chairman of the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce. “If a colleague or a friend needs guidance with a problem they’re having or an opportunity they have with work, he’s the guy to talk to. He’s so good at identifying issues and working toward solutions in that area, as well as the local political area as well.”

Bob Bontempi, former chairman of the Huntington Tonwship Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the Long Island Fall Festival. Photo from Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce.

Bontempi served as chairman of the Huntington  Township Chamber of Commerce from 2009 to 2013. He remains the driving force behind the annual Long Island Fall  Festival, an event that he said showcases
everything that Huntington has to offer — and is proud of.

“The chamber of commerce is a great example of Bontempi’s work. You don’t get paid to be the chairman and the amount of work that you have to do to give back is huge,” state Assemblyman Andrew Raia (R-East Northport) said. “So that just typifies what kind of person he is that he’s willing to go that extra mile to make sure things go well. He has a heart of gold and he’s willing to share that heart with everybody.”

Bontempi is also a founding board member of the Long Island Business Council. This year, he started the Huntington Township Business Council Political Action Committee to raise funds and give campaign contributions to political candidates who members felt would benefit downtown businesses.

“He’s not afraid to get involved in any social issue or political issue,” said Robert Scheiner, vice chairman of the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce. “He is very, very up front with his opinion.”

But Bontempi is more than a businessman. As the Northeast regional business director at Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, he is also involved in numerous local charities. He previously served on the board of Pederson-Krag Center, a nonprofit mental health care provider, and served on the advisory board for Splashes of Hope, a charity that uses paintings to improve hospital aesthetics. Bontempi is a supporter of Moonjumpers, a Huntington-based charitable foundation that provides financial assistance for needy families, children, veterans and other charitable organizations.

“He’s a guy who is very committed to the town and to the betterment of the people,” Scheiner said. “Bob is the kind of guy you go to for anything, and there’s very few people that you can count on like that, only the number of fingers on your hands.”

Friends and colleagues alike marvel at how many organizations Bontempi has been involved in. They laud his compassion and attention to anything involving the Town of Huntington.

“I think [Bontempi is] a very dedicated civic-minded individual that really tries to help people and just make Huntington and our community a better place,” said Supervisor-elect Chad Lupinacci (R). “He has a ton of energy and it doesn’t matter if he’s traveling for business or if he’s right here in Huntington, he’s always very
accessible, he’s always willing to help out the community.

Huntington councilwoman Susan Berland, second from right, attended at her last board meeting as an elected town official Dec. 13. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

By Sara-Megan Walsh

Huntington Councilwoman Susan Berland’s (D) 11th-hour resignation caused the outgoing Democratic board to make a last-minute appointment to fill her seat as its final group action.

Joan Cergol, a registered Democrat and town employee, was appointed to replace Berland, who resigned from her position effective immediately at 10:43 p.m. at the Dec. 13 town board meeting.

A lifelong Huntington resident, Cergol has served as the town’s director of the Huntington Community Development Agency, executive director of the Economic Development Corp., and executive director of the Local Development Corp.

“The voters who placed me on this town board in five successive elections deserve to have someone whose qualifications, focus and accomplishments are coordinated with mine, who is dedicated to serving public interest over any political or individual pressures, and who will continue to represent them on this board,” Berland said in presenting Cergol.

Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) called for Cergol’s immediate appointment, despite the objections of Councilman Eugene Cook, the lone Republican on the board.

“I absolutely think this is the wrong thing to do,” Cook said. “The voters of the Town of Huntington went out and voted for a new direction coming in. You are taking that away from them. This should be going out to a new board.”

As Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) is retiring, the political majority of the board will flip come Jan. 1, 2018 from longtime Democratic control over to the hands of the Republicans. Supervisor-elect Chad Lupinacci (R) and Republican Ed Smyth will take over the seats held by Petrone and Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) respectively. Edwards will leave the board in January after running an unsuccessful campaign for town supervisor against Lupinacci.

“I believe Councilwoman Berland was elected as a Democrat,” Cuthbertson said in defense of Cergol’s appointment. “This board has every right to choose her replacement based on her resignation, whether registered Democrat or not, and we’re entitled to fill that vacancy. It’s the responsible thing to do.”

Cuthbertson was supported by his outgoing political party members Petrone and Edwards.

“Joan has worked with all members of the board and she’s noted for being someone who is nonpartisan when it comes to her activities in town hall and her actions as a professional,” Petrone said. “I echo, as outgoing supervisor, I would have been delighted to serve with Joan Cergol.”

Cergol will serve in Berland’s place through November 2018. Then Cergol will have to run for election to serve the remaining year of Berland’s term through December 2019, in accordance with state law.

Berland, who was elected in November to represent the 16th District in the Suffolk County Legislature, will begin her two-year term Jan. 1, 2018. She has served for 16 years on the Huntington town board.

“I have always strived to do the best job possible and made decisions not political, but in the best interests of the people,” she said in a farewell address. “Please know I am always just a phone call away and my heart will always be with the people of Huntington.”

Small business owners like Marion Bernholz, who owns The Gift Corner, above, are trying to find ways to compete with big box stores. Photo by Marion Bernholz

By Kyle Barr

For 40 minutes each morning when Marion Bernholz, the owner of The Gift Corner in Mount Sinai, opens her shop she lugs out all the product she keeps on the front porch all by herself. She does it every day, hoping the colors and interesting items will flag down cars traveling on North Country Road.

Thanksgiving day she was closed, but on Black Friday she put out her flags, signs, decorations, not expecting many customers at all, she said. Black Friday is perceived as a day for gaudy sales for the bigger stores with nationwide brands, or the Amazons of the world, though it has become just the appetizer for a weekend synonymous with shopping.

Ecolin Jewelers in Port Jefferson is co-owned by Linda Baker. Photo from Linda Baker

Instead, people flooded Bernholz’s store the weekend after Thanksgiving, and the customers kept streaming in even after Black Friday was days passed.

“We were busy on Friday, way busier than we had been since the bust, when the economy went down,” Bernholz said, beaming with excitement. “Wednesday was a spike. Friday was a major spike. It was so busy Saturday that people couldn’t find parking. There was a line out the door.”

At Elements of Home, a home and gift shop in St. James less than 12 miles from Gift Corner, the situation was different. Owner Debbie Trenkner saw Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday float by with only a small bump in sales, she said.

Though she advertised, Trenkner said that she only received a moderate boost in sales that weekend with only 27 people walking through her door on Black Friday, and only about 70 Saturday when she said she expected to see hundreds.

“After speaking to other retailers or feeling through the grapevine, all major events this year, Mother’s Day, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, we’ve done half the amount we’ve done in the past,” she said. “People do not shop local. Those that do are your 50-and-over crowd who do not like to order online. Younger people these days they are so attached to their phone, it’s their lifeline, in my opinion. It’s unfortunate because this is what communities are based on.”

“People do not shop local. Those that do are your 50-and-over crowd who do not like to order online. Younger people these days they are so attached to their phone.”

Debbie Trenkner

The similar local stores had polar opposite experiences during one of the busiest shopping weekends of the holiday season, though businesses overall this past Small Business Saturday, an event first sponsored by American Express in 2010, did very well though they fell short of 2016 numbers in total. According to the National Federation of Independent Business, 108 million consumers spent $12.9 billion Nov. 25.

Despite the slight dip from 2016, the data shows a much higher number of consumers are making the conscious decision to shop locally on the biggest spending date of the year for small businesses.

Stacey Finkelstein, an associate professor of marketing at Stony Brook University, said in a phone interview she has used psychological and behavioral economics to inform people about marketing problems, and she said a battle between instant gratification and the desire to support local stores is being waged for today’s consumers.

“Another tension for a lot of consumers who face this dilemma layered on top of this is this ethical quandary, which is ‘I want to support businesses that are consistent with my code of ethics and the values that I have as a consumer,’” Finkelstein said.

That value-based sales pitch is important, especially when it comes to the services offered. Many local businesses surveyed after this Black Friday weekend across the North Shore agreed the services they provide, whether it’s free gift wrapping or the ability to make a custom product, or even the ability to offer hands-on help to customers trying to figure out what gift is best, are the types of factors that neither online nor most large stores can match.

Fourth World Comics in Smithtown. Photo by Kyle Barr

“I think the most important thing to do besides creating an emotional experience and offering, obviously, great service is to really think about the values of those consumers in the local town and try and tap into those local values, such as if a town is really interested in sustainability, or ethically sourced food,” Finkelstein said.

One of the biggest questions that small business owners ask is whether young people are still willing to shop local. The consensus is they are the “plugged-in” generation, but that fact can be harnessed to work in favor of small business owners.

“Social issues are particularly important for a lot of millennials,” she said. “You tend to see a lot of that. I definitely don’t think millennials should be written off. I’m big into knitting, and if you ask what’s the stereotype for knitting, for example, is that grandmas knit, but actually there’s this active and large youthful contingent of knitters that are really driving and shaping that industry in a completely fascinating way. I think what it’s about is that millennials have these ethically laden values where they want to buy things that are local, that are environmentally sustainable.”

While many stores surveyed said this Black Friday weekend was “better than average” to “great,” there were several stores that did not see anywhere near the same boost in traffic. While the weather was nice, stores that didn’t meet expectations cited insufficient support from their local governments, or locations with little foot traffic, as their main deterrents.

Reactions from local store owners

Port Jefferson—Ecolin Jewelers

Co-owner Linda Baker:

We tend to run our sales to support our loyal customers, support our repeat customers. We had 20 percent off many items in the store, not all. That hasn’t been a big motivation to shop. In our industry
either they know us or they don’t.

The village was decorated nice and we had a good weekend. Black Friday for most retailers, for independent mom-and-pop retailers, has not been a big day for us. Our business is the last two weeks of the year. I think Black
Friday is when mom and dad go to look at televisions or cars — one big
purchase. It’s not a downtown thing. I don’t compare same day to same day from years before. I think there are too many variables, whether it’s the weather
or the news. Though I’d say this year was better than last year across the board.

Mount Sinai—The Gift Corner

Owner Marion Bernholz:

I don’t think Black Friday is as big of a thing anymore. We had people coming in at 10 a.m. and I asked them why they weren’t out shopping and they would say, “Oh, we don’t do that anymore.” I think people just don’t like to rush anymore, plus all the deals are available all week long, so there’s almost no point. Maybe, eventually, people will be able to have Thanksgiving dinner with their family, that’s the hope.

Though this was one of the best Black Fridays I’ve had since the bust in 2008, I went back and I looked at the papers for how it was in 2005. I couldn’t count it all — it was like the funds were flowing like water. It’s never
going to be 2005 again.

Half the people who came in my store on Saturday had no clue [about Small Business Saturday]. We’d be like, “OK, now we’ll explain it to you. Good that you’re here, and this is what it’s about.”

Rocky Point—Rocky Point Cycle

Owner Gary Wladyka:

We didn’t advertise but had in-store deals. We had discounts on shoes and sunglasses. There were more customers that Friday because more people had Friday off.

We’re always trying to get more customers, but we’re more of a
destination shop rather than a “Let’s go take a look” type thing.

This is the beginning of the end for small business. It’s going to continue to demise with people wanting to do
everything on the internet. The way new consumers are, it’s going to be hard to grow it. We try to provide service. You’re not going to get service online.

Setauket—All Seasons at Ari’s Treasures

Owner Jeff Aston:

We have an online presence. We did very well online over the course of the weekend. The store was busy. I’m a Christmas shop, so it’s kind of the height of our season now. We were offering 20 percent off storewide, we had some 25 percent-off items, some 50 percent-off items. We definitely went along with trying to capture that audience.

We do custom sign making and engraving, and it’s a little more of a custom product. I’m not sure how Black Friday helped us with that part of the business, but overall it was a good weekend. I’d say it was comparable to last year.

People want personalization, they want customization. You have to see the expression on people’s faces when they see our work. I’ve been in the Christmas business for 40 years, and I’ve never done anything more rewarding for my customers than what I’m doing now.

Young people today push a button and they get what they want. I’ve gotten away from the similar product you will see on Amazon. The beauty of the internet is that we can put our product out online. We’re on Etsy, and for the small business person who’s creating something themselves, Etsy is the way to go.

Smithtown—4th World Comics

Manager Terence Fischette:

“We didn’t do too much in sales. We did a lot of half-price items, took out a lot of stuff we wanted to get out of the back room. We don’t really compete with any of the big stores when it comes to Black Friday. We ended up doing a lot better than a normal Friday because people are out and in the shopping mood. The weekend was kind of normal, but it was one of the better Black Fridays that we’ve had in years.

You see some regular customers, you see some new people. Comics are definitely more popular now, people see the sign and they pull over. It’s a lot more gifts and toys. Whenever a new superhero movie comes out you’ll see kids coming in who want the new Captain America or the new Thor book. Black Friday is more of just toys, T-shirts and stuff like that.

We have our own holiday sale on Dec. 16 and that’s one of our biggest holiday sales of the year.”


4th World Comics (Comics, figurines and memorabilia)

Manager Terence Fischette:

“We didn’t do too much in sales. We did a lot of half-price items, took out a lot of stuff we wanted to get out of the back room. We don’t really compete with any of the big stores when it comes to Black Friday. We ended up doing a lot better than a normal Friday because people are out and in the shopping mood. The weekend was kind of normal, but it was one of the better Black Fridays that we’ve had in years.

You see some regular customers, you see some new people. Comics are definitely more popular now, people see the sign and they pull over. It’s a lot more gifts and toys. Whenever a new superhero movie comes out you’ll see kids coming in who want the new Captain America or the new Thor book. Black Friday is more of just toys, T-shirts and stuff like that.

We have our own holiday sale on Dec. 16 and that’s one of our biggest holiday sales of the year.”

Northport—Einstein’s Attic

Owner Lori Badanes:

“We did great, it was wonderful. We offered a lot of in store promotions. We had an Elf on a Shelf here, we read a story to the kids and the kids got a notebook and a pencil. They got to fill out a wish list, then all the kids got to make an ornament. We had giveaways, and make your own putty on Saturday.

We started planning this in the summer, back in August. We do it every year.

We did better this year than other years — 17 percent better. It was a nice jump. One thing is that we offered some light ups for an outdoor event. The kids got a lot of things to take home. I feel we’re a community-based business, and we support our community every chance we get.”

Huntington—Cow Over the Moon

Owner Brian Drucker:

“I feel like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, definitely did better than previous years. I didn’t do any specific specials that I can think of offhand.

It was a mixture of new people and regulars coming through. The big thing about a store like this being here for 23 years is that we have a steady number of regulars, but I saw a good crop of new customers come in.

One of the things I also do is sports memorabilia, and Aaron Judge [who plays for the New York Yankees] is one of the hottest, hottest things in the world. He had one of the greatest rookie seasons ever in baseball, so we sold a bunch of Aaron Judge autographed memorabilia, some pretty expensive stuff.

It’s hard to explain … why we did well. You never can tell you know, there was just a lot of people walking around. The town  was pretty booming.”

Kings Park’s boys basketball tournament won its fifth chamber of commerce tipoff tournament title with a win over Huntington. Photo from Chris Rube

By Jim Ferchland

Gene DeGraw was a fixture in the youth basketball scene in Kings Park, cultivating talented players and poised young men. Now in its fifth year, the Kingsmen hosted an annual tipoff tournament in memory of their former coach. Four schools — Kings Park, Huntington, Plainedge and Commack — played two games each over the two-day event Dec 1. and 2.

Gene DeGraw worked with current Huntington head coach Brian Carey who coached at Kings Park and grew up with DeGraw. Photo by Jim Ferchland

King Park head coach Chris Rube met DeGraw when he was 22 years old in his first year teaching in the district. He volunteered as an assistant coach on the varsity boys basketball team, where got to know the seasoned coach. Rube remembers him as much more than a well-versed instructor.

“He was always the epitome of class,” Rube said of DeGraw. “I admired how he was a devoted husband, father and grandfather. I’m a basketball coach after a teacher,and I’m a teacher after father and a husband. His grandson Michael McSloy was on the team. I remember talking to him and really understanding how special that moment was for him. Not only was he a great coach, but a better person.”

Huntington head coach Brian Carey is a Kings Park alumnus who said he practically grew up with the former head coach. Carey said he admired how much DeGraw loved his players.

“Pop was the perfect assistant — he knew the kids,”Carey said. “He knew me; we were both Kings Park guys. No one could have been more perfect for Kings Park basketball.”

The Kingsmen won the Long Island championship title in 2007 when DeGraw was the assistant coach. Carey coached Kings Park for 10 years, from 1997 to 2006, leaving just before the Kingsmen put up their magical season.

The tournament is in memory of former Kings Park coach Gene DeGraw who coached current Kings Park varsity leader Chris Rube. Photo by Jim Ferchland

“When I got here at Kings Park, the team wasn’t doing so good,” said Carey, who has been coaching for 20 years and was inducted into the Kings Park athletics department hall of fame in 2003. “A few years before I was at Kings Park, the team won four or five games, but the players have been through a system by Gene DeGraw. He was a gentleman and he was the best at getting the kids to come together.”

The now Huntington head coach gave DeGraw the unpaid assistant coach position at Kings Park, having known and graduated from high school with DeGraw’s cousin.

The former assistant coach’s life was cut short due to a heart condition. Aside from being a coach, DeGraw was also a detective in the Suffolk County Police Department.

Bill Denniston, a four-year Kings Park athletic director who was the Shoreham-Wading River athletic director back in 2013 said although he didn’t know DeGraw, he’s heard plenty of good stories.

“From what I’ve heard, he was a well-respected coach,” Denniston said. “It’s always nice to have this tournament to kick off the season in his honor.”

Since 2013, Kings Park has an annual chamber of commerce-sponsored tipoff tournament. This year, the Kingsmen, Commack, Huntington and Plainedge competed over the two-day event.

Huntington’s Mekhi Harvey passes the ball. Photo by Jim Ferchland

Game 1

Huntington beat Commack 62-58 Dec. 1. Blue Devils senior Mehki Harvey led with 17 points, while classmate Nat Amato added 16.

Commack’s top players were
senior Nick Guaglione and junior Aidan Keenan, who scored 24 and 21 points, respectively. They were the only players in double figures for the Cougars.

Game 2

Kings Park easily outscored Plainedge 69-35. Senior Jason Hartglass and freshman Jack Garside each tallied 11 points for the Kingsmen. Senior Andrew Bianco added seven and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Game 3

Commack took down Plainedge 60-41 in the consolation match.
Game 4

Kings Park’s Andrew Bianco looks to the rim. Photo by Jim Ferchland

Kings Park edged out Huntington 57-53, winning the tournament title for the third time in five years.

Andrew Bianco, who was named tournament MVP, recorded 23 points and 12 rebounds.

“He’s just tough as nails,” Kings Park head coach Chris Rube said of Bianco.

With eight seconds left, Kings Park was up by two, 55-53, when freshman Jack Garside buried both free-throw attempts to seal the victory.

Kings Park senior guard Zach Wolf scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half. He had three three-pointers in the third quarter.

“It was hard fought,” Rube said of the win over Huntington. “Huntington is pretty talented. Beating them was an achievement.”

Up next

Kings Park travels to Islip Dec. 7 for the first game of their regular season. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:45 p.m.

Suffolk County 2nd Precinct police officers hand out free food to needy families. Photos by Sara-Megan Walsh

Many said the true spirit of Thanksgiving arrived in Huntington Nov. 20, filling its streets with a sense of community.

Hundreds of residents patiently stood outside PAS Professional Automotive Services at 6 p.m. Monday, after the shop was closed for the night. The line looped around the store’s parking lot, around the corner and trailed down New York Avenue. Each and every resident there in need knew they would be going home with a free Thanksgiving turkey to celebrate the upcoming holiday.

Andre Sorrentino, owner of PAS, was hosting his eighth annual Sorrentino Trucking Turkey Giveaway along with his family. This year, nearly 2,000 turkeys with the full fixings and various households goods were given away to Huntington area families.

The Sorrentino family handed out thousands of free
Thanksgiving turkeys to local families. Photo by
Sara-Megan Walsh

“I saw there was a need in the community,” Sorrentino said as to his inspiration.

The lifelong Huntington resident said that his family’s tradition started one year when he purchased 30 frozen turkeys and handed them out of the back of a pickup truck.

“I couldn’t believe it, they were gone in like five seconds,” Sorrentino said. “I saw it and was like, ‘Wow, nobody else does this. This is a really good idea.’”

Huntington supervisor-elect and state Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci (R) said he was on hand that first year and is amazed by what the event has turned into today.

“This is really what it means to be in the spirit of Huntington and the spirit of Thanksgiving, caring for one another and coming together as a community,” Lupinacci said. “To all the volunteers and the countless people who have donated, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

The supervisor-elect said that the Sorrentino family drive is one of the single largest Thanksgiving turkey giveaways in the region. Sorrentino said he purchased approximately 1,000 of the turkeys himself. His family and friends then hosted a fundraising dinner approximately two months ago and solicited donations from the community to provide the other 800 to 1,000 turkeys handed out last night, as donations were still being accepted up to the last minute.

Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) said there’s a desperate need for this type of charity in the Huntington area.

“There’s a lot of people who are our next door neighbors who are food poor and every day rely on pantries,” Spencer said. “This event for some people may be the difference between having a family Thanksgiving meal or not.”

Suffolk County 2nd Precinct police officers hand out
free food to needy families. Photos by Sara-Megan

Those residents who received a turkey did so by redeeming one of the nearly 2,000 vouchers the Sorrentinos distributed to area churches, food pantries, soup kitchens and charitable organizations to hand out to those families in need of financial help or assistance for the holidays.

Suffolk County 2nd Precinct police officers helped hand out supplies to needy families along with help from Huntington, Halesite, Lloyd Harbor and other local fire departments. Jonny D’s Pizza in Huntington brought over free pizza for dinner to residents who were waiting in line, while Blondie’s Bake Shop in Centerport handed out free Rice Krispies Treats. A local 7-Eleven handed out free coffee to help keep everyone warm, and free hot dogs and cotton candy was made available.

In addition to the Sorrentino family giveaway, the not-for-profit organization Toys for Hope, whose mission is to assist needy children and their families, was there handing out donations to help make children’s holidays brighter.

“It gets more exciting each year with more and more of the community coming out to help,” Lupinacci said. “Whether it’s by donating money or organizing, helping hand out vouchers or spreading the word that if people need help during the holiday time that the community is there for them.”

Councilman Eugene Cook has a proposal that would set term limits for all Huntington elected officials. File photo by Rohma Abbas

By Sara-Megan Walsh

Town of Huntington council members will reopen the issue of setting term limits for elected officials by putting it before residents next month.

The town board voted unanimously to hold a public hearing Dec. 13 on term limits for all elected officials in the town.

Councilman Eugene Cook (R) presented a revised resolution that proposed that individuals elected to the offices of town supervisor, town council, town clerk, receiver of taxes and superintendent of highways be limited to three consecutive terms, for a total of 12 years, in the same office.

“Since I’ve been elected, I wanted to put term limits in and I didn’t have any support for it,” Cook said. “I spoke to the new [elected officials] coming in, and they asked me if three terms was alright.”

Cook previously made an effort to bring up term limits in August, which was defeated. This revised resolution differs from his August proposal, which suggested setting the limit at two consecutive terms, or a limit of 8 years in office.

The August proposal failed to move forward after Cook and Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) tried to amend it so that the nonlegislative positions of town clerk and receiver of taxes would not be term limited. Supervisor Frank Petrone (D), Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) and Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) voted against the amendment because they said they believe term limits should apply to all elected officials equally.

“I believe what’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” Cuthbertson said after the Nov. 10 board meeting.

Petrone, who is preparing to leave office after serving for nearly 24 years, and Cuthbertson (D), who was re-elected Nov. 7 to his sixth term having already served for 20 years, have both agreed to move forward with a public hearing Dec. 13.

The supervisor admitted while he was not initially in favor of implementing term limits, he’s had a change of heart.

“Term limits bring movement, people can move to other places,” Petrone said. “People in the town can move, like Susan [Berland] did, to the county when there are vacancies and there’s only a vacancy in the county because there’s a term limit.”

Berland, who first took political office as a Huntington board member in 2001, ran a successful campaign to be elected the next representative of Suffolk County’s 16th Legislative District Nov. 7, taking over for Legislator Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills). Stern could not run for re-election due to being term limited.

Similar to Cook’s revised resolution, Suffolk County legislators are limited to serving 12 years in office.

Cuthbertson said he agreed to have the public hearing and will listen to what residents have to say on the issue Dec. 13 before making a decision.

The Nov. 9 motion to move forward with implementing term limits comes only two days after state Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci (R) was elected to be the town’s next supervisor and his running mate, Republican Ed Smyth, won a seat on the town board. Both Lupinacci and Smyth’s campaign promises focused on government and ethics reform, including support for term limits for town officials. Lupinacci and Smyth take office in January 2018.

“While we appreciate the town board’s enthusiasm about term limits, we may better serve the public by passing a comprehensive ethics reform package beginning next term, which includes term limits for policy makers, among other initiatives which make government more transparent, accountable and efficient for the people of Huntington,” Lupinacci said in a statement.

The town board has the option of voting on Cook’s resolution at their Dec. 13 meeting, immediately placing term limits on those newly elected.

Cook said if his measure is not approved in December, he will continue to push for reform.

“If it doesn’t go through, I’ll put it up again in January,” Cook said. “It’s good for the people of Huntington, that’s for sure.”