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Huntington

Late sculptor planted the love of art in the hearts of many

LT Cherokee works with art student Michael D. Kitakis, 12, at the Spirit of Huntington Art Center. Photo from Spirit of Huntington Art Center

By Rita J. Egan

When prolific sculptor and avid motorcycle rider LT Cherokee passed away last year at the age of 58 due to complications from an accident, he left behind his love of art and life. To honor this legacy, the Spirit of Huntington Art Center presents an exhibit titled Seeds starting May 15.

The center, dedicated to working with veterans and special needs children in an artistic environment, is the ideal venue to display the work of the sculptor who for the last few years of his life taught sculpting to the children at the facility. The teaching venture began when, through his uncle who owns L&L Camera in Huntington, Cherokee met Spirit of Huntington founder Erich Preis, according to the center’s director Michael Kitakis.

LT Cherokee’s last work, ‘Faces of Eve,’ in bronze, plaster and plaster recast. Photo from Spirit of Huntington Art Center
LT Cherokee’s last work, ‘Faces of Eve,’ in bronze, plaster and plaster recast. Photo from Spirit of Huntington Art Center

“LT was amazing. He was just so calm and connected. I guess that was why he worked so well with children with special needs. He had this calm presence, and he just let you really be free and creative. He wasn’t into the sky had to be blue and the grass green. He was let it be what you think it is, and feel and express it, and the children kind of thrived on that. They really got it,” Kitakis said.

The director said the exhibit will include 38 pieces of Cherokee’s that have been on display in galleries and private collections all over the United States and Canada. The sculptor, who first starting working with wood that he collected during his motorcycle rides, later worked with bronze castings. Kitakis is looking forward to the public viewing and interpreting the work, which the director said he himself doesn’t like to label as any one genre.

“When you see it, you just see all the energy and the abstract coming together. I mean that’s really what I think; it was more about that duality. I don’t think it was just abstract or just impressionistic. It’s kind of just both blending in together, and that gave that whole perception of what he was seeing as his human nature and as his life, and what he was seeing when he was exploring the road and life,” the director said.

Kitakis said Cherokee wasn’t the type to be locked in his studio all the time. For inspiration, he would get out in the world to explore, especially on his motorcycle. The director admired the artist not only for his artistic ability but also as a teacher who easily identified with the children with special needs at the center. “That takes a gift. You kind of have it or you don’t, and he really did have it. That was really what was so beautiful about his work, that here he is this sculptor who is getting $30,000 to $40,000 a sculpture and then coming in and hanging out with the kids,” Kitakis said.

After his passing last year, Cherokee’s mother, Tina Ambrosio, said all of those who offered their condolences, and knowing her son’s teachings positively affected his students comforted her. She said the artist, who was single and had no children of his own, “was married to his motorcycle and his art.”

His mother said that Cherokee, whose birth name was Leonard Totoro, picked his art moniker because even though he wasn’t Native American he always had an interest in Native American history. As a youngster, the future artist also would dream of becoming a forest ranger or doing missionary work. “Luxury to my son meant nothing. He was down to earth,” Ambrosio said.

‘Eve and Adam,’ in bronze by LT Cherokee. Photo from Spirit of Huntington Art Center
‘Eve and Adam,’ in bronze by LT Cherokee. Photo from Spirit of Huntington Art Center

Eventually Cherokee’s main career influence was one of his uncles, a pharmacist who painted and sculpted on the side, according to his mother. Later as a young man, the artist would lend his artistic talents while laying and refinishing floors with his father, who was a carpenter and floor finisher. Ambrosio said whenever a customer would ask for a design to be added to the floor, her son could easily create it.

As Cherokee became more involved with sculpting, his work, with names such as “Reach,” “Contemplation,” “The Gate” and “Eye of the Storm,” began to sell. In addition to his work being displayed in galleries and private collections, larger pieces were featured at places such as John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson as well as the transportation area of the Consulate General of the United States in Montreal, Canada.

Kitakis said some of Cherokee’s students are currently working on a collaborative piece that will replicate the artist’s Consulate General sculpture and will debut at the May 15 opening of the exhibit. The original piece features various heads along a train track, and in the students’ version, each child has his or her own person to sculpt. Other works by Cherokee’s students and apprentices will also be on display at the exhibit.

Kitakis said the title of the show, Seeds, seemed appropriate because of the way Cherokee lived his life. The director said the artist always wanted to give back to people and share his art and saw it as spreading seeds.

“He always believed in spreading ‘seeds’, planting them, getting them going. He did a lot of that,” Kitakis said.

The director hopes that visitors to the exhibit will get a feel of how much Cherokee loved creating and sharing his sculptures. “I’m hoping when people walk away they feel that inspiration as well — to get a little more understanding or love of art and then it kind of spreads on,” Kitakis said.

Besides enjoying Cherokee’s work, exhibit-goers will have the opportunity to purchase many of the pieces on display where a percentage of the proceeds will be donated to the center. The Spirit of Huntington Art Center is located at 2 Melville Road North in Huntington Station. The Seeds exhibit will open on May 15 with a reception at 6 p.m. and will run through July 15. For more information, call 631-470-9620 or visit www.spiritofhuntingtonartcenter.com.

Superintendent Jim Polansky and newly appointed high school principal Brenden Cusack at a school board meeting on Monday night at the Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School. Photo by Jim Hoops

Huntington High School has a new leader at its helm.

The school board promoted Assistant Principal Brenden Cusack on Monday evening to replace longtime Principal Carmela Leonardi, who is retiring this year. Cusack’s appointment is effective July 1.

Cusack, a Babylon resident entering his 20th year in education, has been employed at the district for three years. He was seated in the audience at the school board meeting on Monday night at the Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School, and upon his appointment, members of the audience, including his family, cheered and clapped — some offering a standing ovation.

In an interview after the meeting, Cusack said he was eager to continue working on improving academics in the Huntington school district. He also wants to offer more opportunities for students to step up and would like to “try to develop and increased sense of caring” within the community, he said.

“Huntington High School is an amazing school,” Cusack said. “And I think you can see from a distance, [from] the outpouring of help to others, and things like that, and that’s something I want to build on.”

In a statement on the school’s website, Superintendent Jim Polansky lauded Cusack’s appointment.

“Over the past several years, Mr. Cusack has become an integral part of a successful high school team,” he said. “He has earned the respect of his students, staff and colleagues. He brings a wealth of administrative and teaching experience to the position. The achievement and well-being of his students have always been his foremost priorities.”

Cusack is a 1995 graduate of SUNY New Paltz with a bachelor’s in education, according to the statement.

Cusack earned a master’s at CUNY-Queens College in 2002 in adolescent education/English 7-12.

He obtained a professional diploma in school administration and supervision at CUNY-Queens College in 2005. He recently participated in school leadership training at Harvard College.

Couple and young twins uninjured

Firefighters spray water to put out a blaze that engulfed a Cordell Place home in East Northport early Sunday morning. Photo by Steve Silverman
Firefighters work hard to put out a blaze that engulfed a Cordell Place home in East Northport early Sunday morning. Photo by Steve Silverman
Firefighters work hard to put out a blaze that engulfed a Cordell Place home in East Northport early Sunday morning. Photo by Steve Silverman

An East Northport couple and their four-month old boy-and-girl twins escaped unharmed after their home went up in flames on Sunday morning.

The East Northport Fire Department responded to the Cordell Place blaze on Mother’s Day at about 10 a.m. and found the attached garage of a single-family home engulfed in flames, according to a press release from Steve Silverman, public information officer for the Town of Huntington Fire Chiefs Council.

Three propane tanks outside the garage ignited and fueled the fire that spread to the kitchen and living room.

Firefighters check the roof of a Cordell Place home in East Northport early Sunday morning after a fire destroyed the garage and living room. Photo by Steve Silverman
Firefighters check the roof of a Cordell Place home in East Northport early Sunday morning after a fire destroyed the garage and living room. Photo by Steve Silverman

More than 50 firefighters from East Northport, Commack and Kings Park fire departments and seven trucks worked to get the fire under control within 20 minutes, led by East Northport Chief Wayne Kaifler Jr. and First Assistant Chief Dan Heffernan. The East Northport Rescue Squad had three ambulances and paramedic unit on the scene for EMS support.

The garage, living room and kitchen were destroyed. and the rest of the home sustained smoke damage.

The Suffolk County Police Arson Squad and Huntington Town fire marshal are investigating the fire, according to the press release.

Bipinkumar Patel mugshot from SCPD

A man allegedly offered four children money to show him their underwear and privates when they walked into a convenience store on Friday night.

Suffolk County police said the store clerk at Huntington’s Jericho Convenience on Route 25, 35-year-old Bipinkumar Patel, confronted the four kids when they walked into the store around 7:20 p.m. Patel allegedly asked the two girls and two boys, all between 11 and 14 years old, if they were wearing underwear and when they answered, he allegedly offered money if they would show him the underwear and their genitals.

Police said patrol officers Robert Mahady and Michael Yonelunas from the 2nd Precinct responded to the scene and arrested Patel, a Huntington resident. He was charged with four counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

Attorney information for Patel was not immediately available and he could not be reached for comment.

Police said the suspect was released and is scheduled to appear in court on July 7.

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The New York State Capitol building in Albany. File photo

By Jim Polansky

As the dust attempts to settle following two weeks of state assessment administration, preceded by months of politically charged debate and activism, I’ll, once again, express my plea that the state powers-that-be reflect on the situation and its root causes and attempt to redirect their decision-making toward what is in the best interests of the children of New York.

I can attest to the fact that the administrators, teachers and staff members in Huntington clearly understand their responsibilities. They continue to develop and refine their crafts but have never lost sight of the individual differences demonstrated by the students in their classrooms or buildings. They comprehend the concept of college and career readiness and recognize their roles within a systemic approach to a child’s education. They have instructionally prepared their students in alignment with the new standards, while continually striving to instill in students a love of learning. They have done everything possible to put aside their anxieties in the face of statewide educational unrest, rapidly moving evaluation targets and mandates that seemingly appear out of nowhere. I imagine all of this is characteristic of the majority of schools and districts throughout the state.

I’d like to think that some learning has been accomplished or perspective gained from recent events. For example, broad-scale changes are likely to meet with failure if necessary preparations are not made or if measures are not put into place to facilitate those changes. (The cliché applies — one cannot build a plane while it is being flown.)  No amount of federal monies is worth the potential outcomes of a rushed and, therefore, flawed change process.

I’ll add that the importance of accountability and evaluation should not be minimized. But an unproven system based on unproven measures will surely contribute to inaccurate outcomes — both false positive and false negative.

Education Law §3012-d has been passed. It requires the state’s Board of Regents to redesign the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) process by June 30 and subsequently requires districts to submit a new plan by Sept. 1. The bulk of plan development would be slated for a time when key stakeholders may not be available.

There are numerous education-related issues facing New York at this juncture. These issues must be approached with common sense and, again, with an eye toward what is best for our students. Why not begin such an approach with accepting the recent recommendation and allowing districts until at least September 2016 to build valid and sensible APPR plans?  Give districts the time, resources and capacity to do this right. Provide them with the guidance and support they need.  Leave threats of withholding aid out of the equation.

Education in New York is broken as a result of misguided and rushed initiatives that have left districts to their own devices to address state policy issues and misinformation spread throughout their communities. It is imperative that those in Albany reflect on what has happened and take the critical steps needed to restore transparency, close the wounds and repair what was and could return to being one of the finest educational systems in the country.

Jim Polansky is the superintendent of the Huntington school district and former high school principal.

Dangerous duo
Two men from Commack — one a 22-year-old, the other 23 years old— were arrested at the precinct in Smithtown and charged assault with intent to cause serious physical injury. Police said the two men, while working in concert with one another, punched and struck a male victim in the head with an object, causing physical injury, on July 5, 2014. One man was arrested on April 26, the other man was arrested on May 3.

An expensive habit
Police arrested a 24-year-old woman in Smithtown on April 28 and charged her with two counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, in one instance, with intent to sell. Police also said she had a bench warrant out for her arrest. On April 23 by 3:23 p.m., police said she sold a quantity of heroin to someone in exchange for cash. She was arrested on April 28 at 6:10 a.m. on Blydenburg Avenue in Smithtown.

Ford-ified with tape
An 18-year-old woman from Holbrook was arrested in Smithtown at the precinct on April 27 and charged with third-degree criminal mischief, with damages greater than $250. Police said the woman damaged a 2005 Ford, scratching the car with her key and affixing duct tape to the vehicle’s paint.

Boozy temper tantrum
A 32-year-old man from Stony Brook was arrested in Smithtown at 5:25 a.m. on April 26 and charged with resisting arrested and disorderly conduct: obstructing traffic. Police said the man, who was highly intoxicated, and arrested at the corner of Edgewood Avenue and Glenrich Drive in St. James, was standing in the middle of the street, obstructing traffic and being violent and belligerent as cars tried to pass.  He also refused to comply with an officer’s demand to place hands behind his back. When he was transported to the 4th Precinct, he refused to get out of the police vehicle, but eventually did.

The smoking gun
A Smithtown man filed a report on May 3 against his male neighbor on Route 111, claiming the neighbor was yelling at him. Police said the dispute erupted over an ongoing issue: the neighbor smoking on his patio. The complainant told police smoke drifts into his property.

Tire troubles
Two cars were damaged in separate incidents on Pine Acre Drive in Smithtown sometime between 11 p.m. on April 27 and 5 a.m. on April 28. Police said an unknown person punctured the front driver-side tires of a 2008 Toyota Highlander and a 2013 Dodge Ram using an unknown object.

Plate stolen
Someone took a license plate affixed to a 2008 Kawasaki motorcycle parked at LA Fitness on East Main Street in Smithtown sometime on April 27.

Storefront damaged
Someone gouged the front door and frame of Andre’s Precision Auto on Smithtown Boulevard, causing damage near the locks, sometime between 8 p.m. on April 30 and 9 a.m. on May 1.

Gimme my money
A man at Americas Best Value Inn on Nesconset Highway in Nesconset told police on April 26 that another person he knows at the inn pushed him because he asked him for $25 he wanted back. No one pressed charges, police said.

Bad reality checks
A 19-year-old man from Huntington was arrested in Huntington on May 2 and charged with two counts of petit larceny. Police said that, in separate incidents, he took the checking account numbers of two individuals and cashed checks. The incidents occurred on April 3 and April 13.

Crash ‘n go
Police said a 46-year-old Hauppauge male was arrested on April 28 in Huntington at the 2nd Precinct and charged with leaving the scene of a car accident. Police said the man was driving a 2008 Toyota on Broadhollow Road in Melville on April 10 at 2 p.m. and he collided with a 2000 Jeep, causing damage to the rear end of the vehicle. He failed to stop and speak with the driver.

Burglarized bling
A 40-year-old man from Huntington Station was arrested in Huntington on April 27 at the 2nd Precinct and charged with fourth-degree grand larceny of property valued at more than $1,000. Police said that sometime between 1 a.m. and 11 p.m. on April 26, the man removed an iPad, gold and a watch.

Popo push
A 22-year-old woman from Central Islip was arrested in Greenlawn on April 30 at about 9:20 a.m. and charged with second-degree obstructing governmental administration. Police said she pushed a police officer trying to take down a police report.

Best friends forever
A man claimed his friend punched him in the face and kicked him on May 2 on East 13th Street and Varney Avenue in Huntington. The victim was taken to the hospital.

Prints, kettle missing
A Huntington man told police that he discovered several items missing when he went to his dad’s house on Marine Street to help him pack his belongings. The items included a Currier and Ives lithographic print and a solid copper kettle. The incidents occurred sometime between April 21 at noon and April 25 at 3 p.m.

Cat fight
Two female friends punched, kicked and pulled each other’s hair at a house on Park Avenue in Huntington. The incident was reported on May 3 and no one is pressing charges.

Food fight
On April 29, an employee at Wendy’s in Port Jefferson Station reported that a co-worker scratched their arm, causing minor redness. No charges have been filed.

Bulking up
An unknown person stole three protein bars from a gas station on Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station on April 29 shortly after 4:30 p.m.

Clipped
A man was making a deposit at Bank of America in Port Jefferson Station on May 1 when he left his money clip on the counter. When he returned shortly after, the money clip and the cash it contained were missing.

Fore!
The windshield of a 2013 Honda was damaged on May 3 while parked at a residence on Village Green Drive in Port Jefferson Station. An errant golf ball from the neighboring golf course may have been to blame.

Mystery fire
An unknown person set a grassy median, property of Suffolk County, ablaze on County Road 83 in Mount Sinai on May 4. If caught, the person could face a fifth-degree arson charge for the 2:30 p.m. incident.

Bandits
Two unknown males entered a residence on Canal Road in Miller Place shortly after midnight on April 30 and stole property including cash, a rifle and a wallet.

Through the window
An unknown person entered a Patchogue Drive home in Rocky Point through an unlocked window on April 30 at some point between 9:10 a.m. and 9:10 p.m. The suspect rifled through drawers, closets and medicine cabinets and stole jewelry, a Sirius radio docking station and a laptop.

Tale of the robber
A woman discovered property from her 2015 Nissan Murano was missing while on her way home from North Shore Public Library in Shoreham on April 28. Police said a tablet and its case, a wallet — including a driver’s license and debit and credit cards — were stolen from the unlocked car while it was parked at the library.

Flagged
An unknown person destroyed a flagpole at a residence on Briarcliff Road in Shoreham in the early morning of May 2. The person broke the pole in half and then stole the flag.

Secret garden
An unknown person entered and stole items from a garden nursery on Middle Country Road in Centereach between May 1 and May 2. According to police, the person entered through an unlocked door and stole two iPhones, one iPad and assorted coins.

Passed out
A 23-year-old Centereach man was arrested on May 2 after police observed his vehicle stopped at the center of Huron Street and Dillon Avenue in Port Jefferson Station. Police said the man, who was impaired by drugs, was passed out in his 2002 Hyundai and the keys were still in the car’s ignition.

Teen angst
Four West Babylon teens were arrested in Selden on first-degree robbery, displaying a firearm, on April 28. According to police, the four teens — three aged 17 and one aged 15 — entered a Middle Country Road gas station shortly after 10 p.m. and threatened an employee with what appeared to be a weapon and demanded money.

Household items stolen
Someone stole household items and cleaners after walking through the garden department at the Walmart on Nesconset Highway in Setauket-East Setauket on April 26.

Phone jacked
Someone playing basketball at Sayville Coastal Sports on West Road in Setauket-East Setauket told police that he returned to his gym bag to find his iPhone stolen. He reported the incident on April 26.

Window screen damaged
A female complainant told police that she opened a window in her home on Old Town Road in Setauket-East Setauket and found the screen cut. The window was not damaged. The report came in on April 25.

Projections could mean scaled back tax rate next year

Huntington school board members attend a town board meeting last year. File photo by Rohma Abbas

Huntington school district taxpayers could see a little extra cash in their wallets next year, if tentative numbers projecting a greater tax base pan out, the district said this week.

School officials announced on Tuesday that the total value of all its assessed properties is expected to rise in 2015-16 by just under one percent — from about $44.8 million this year to $45.3 million in 2015-16. The district cited figures from an April 30 letter it received from Huntington Town Assessor Roger Ramme.

That projection is also significantly higher than an estimate officials used to craft next year’s proposed $120.3 million budget, which district residents will weigh in on in a vote on May 19. If that budget is approved and the hike in assessed valuation becomes a reality, then taxpayers could see an estimated tax increase of just .83 percent, instead of the 2.27 percent officials estimated.

“The tentative spike in assessed valuation translates into good news for taxpayers,” Superintendent Jim Polansky said in a statement on the district’s website. “It can be attributed to a number of factors, not the least of which is an increase in fully taxed properties within district boundaries. While we expect some downward adjustment between now and the fall board meeting during which the tax rate is set, we anticipate that it will be considerably lower than initially projected.”

The assessed valuation won’t be concluded until the fall, and it’s likely the assessed valuation will slip from now until then, when the tax rate is set, the district noted. But if the assessed valuation is finalized at an amount that’s greater than what was used to develop the 2015-16 budget, the school board, “would be in a position to reduce the earlier projected tax rate increase, appropriate less money from the district’s fund balance or some combination of the two,” according to the statement.

This wouldn’t be the first year Huntington school district enjoyed a greater-than-budgeted assessed valuation.

“Trustees have a long history of returning to residents, through a lower tax rate, any increased revenues the district derives from a late-breaking rise in assessed valuation,” according to the district. “That tradition is
expected to continue in the fall, should the tentative increase hold in
large part.”

Town officials could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Councilman Mark Cuthbertson sponsored the resolution to schedule a public hearing. File photo

A new iteration of a proposal to build a senior assisted living facility near a wooded Huntington neighborhood will be the subject of a town board public hearing next month.

The board scheduled the hearing on Tuesday to consider changing the zone on the six-acre property to allow the Massachusetts-based Benchmark Senior Living to proceed with the project, which would be located on the corner of East Main Street and Washington Drive. Benchmark is looking to rezone the property from C-3 Special Business and R-10 Residential to R-HS Residential Health Services District to make way for the facility.

The project has gone through several versions. The proposed number of units has been brought down from 87 to 69 units. Also, the building will be two stories instead of three, and the proposed on-site sewage treatment plant has been moved to the northwest corner of the lot, adjacent to commercial property.

A 40-foot wide natural buffer along Old Northport Road will be built, and the gross floor area would be slightly reduced from 70,567 square feet to 66,995.

Some residents who live near the property have opposed the plan, citing size, traffic and noise concerns. A group of residents, who call themselves United Homeowners of Huntington, has formed to oppose the plan.

Jane Carter, a resident who belongs to the group, asked the town board at the meeting on Tuesday to keep the zoning on the property in tact. She said the project “hasn’t changed enough.”

William Bonesso, a Uniondale attorney representing Benchmark for the project, also attended the Tuesday meeting. In an interview last year, he spoke of a need for the project.

“Fortunately or unfortunately, we’re living on an island that’s aging,” he said.

Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) sponsored the resolution to schedule a public hearing. He said in an interview with reporters after the meeting that the public hearing was a chance to evaluate whether the public’s concerns about the project are addressed

“It’s been kicking around,” he said. “They came up with what they believed was a different plan so let’s put it before public hearing, decide whether it should go forward.”

Joe Saginaw pole vaults. File photo by Darin Reed

A convincing victory at Rocky Point Tuesday, 102-34, kept the Huntington boys’ track and field team undefeated at 5-0, in first place in League V.

Scott Gulizio races in a previous contest. File photo by Darin Reed
Scott Gulizio races in a previous contest. File photo by Darin Reed

But first, the boys claimed a 93-48 win over visiting Hauppauge last Tuesday, April 28, where Huntington’s athletes turned in strong performances across the board, winning most of the contested events.

The Blue Devils throwers had the greatest day of all, sweeping both the shot put and discus. It started with junior Vernon Alexander, who, on his first attempt, tossed the shot put nearly 48 feet, but kept his eyes on the moving object too long and ended up fouling when he stepped over the toe board. He rebounded in his second attempt and threw 45’8 for third place, a personal best for the teenager.

Senior Matteo McNeil finished first in shot put after tossing the weighted ball 47 feet. Senior Jimmie Nelson took second place with a throw of 45’11. Junior Amaru Jones hit a personal best of 44’10 on his first attempt to finish fourth.

In the unseeded section of the shot put, senior Aubrey Brewster threw a personal best of 40’8 and junior Tasean Betts threw 43’9.

In the discus circle, the competition was even more exciting. Nelson and rookie Kenny Charles battled it out for top honors. Both athletes notched personal bests, with Nelson’s measuring 139’10 and Charles throwing 131’2. McNeil finished third with a throw of 118’2.

Infinite Tucker leaps over the hurdles. Photo by Jeannie Kopstein
Infinite Tucker leaps over the hurdles. Photo by Jeannie Kopstein

On the track, senior Scott Gulizio won the 3,200-meter and was second in the 1,600. Junior Kyle O’Brien finished second in the 3,200. Sophomore Shane McGuire continued to display his potential. He closed ground late in the 800 to take second place.

Sophomore Kyree Johnson and junior Infinite Tucker dazzled the crowd.

“Both athletes performed at the top of their game,” Huntington head coach Ron Wilson said.

Tucker won four events, including the long jump, with a leap of 22’6.5, the 110 high hurdles in 14.6 seconds, 400 intermediate hurdles in 55.2 seconds and the high jump with personal best leap of 6’6.

Exzayvian Crowell lands on the other side. Photo by Jeannie Kopstein
Exzayvian Crowell lands on the other side. Photo by Jeannie Kopstein

Johnson won the 100 dash in a personal best time of 10.6 seconds, took first place in the 200 dash in 22.2 seconds, finished second behind Tucker in the long jump with a leap of 21’1 and anchored the 4×400 relay team to a first place victory. That relay also included McGuire as the lead leg, Tom Kopstein as the second leg and Gulizio as the third leg.

Sophomore Alaa-el-dien Elfaham captured the triple jump. The teenager soared 38’10.5 on his first jump to lock-up the victory.

Senior Sondy Jean-Baptiste also had a good day, finishing second in the high jump at 6’2, the triple jump at 38’4 and third in the long jump, with a personal best leap of 20’1.

Senior Joe Saginaw won the pole vault with a height of 11 feet. Elfaham and junior Connor Grosso took second and third, respectively, with efforts that measured 9’6. Placings were decided by the fewest misses.

Huntington has a dual meet remaining against defending League V champion Eastport-South Manor. The Blue Devils will compete in the Chrissy Games at Bellport on Saturday May 9 and in the Suffolk Freshman and Sophomore Championships at Longwood on Tuesday, May 19. The division championships are set for Wednesday, May 27 and Friday, May 29.

Huntington residents could find it easier to afford solar panels on their homes, thanks to new initiative backed by town and City University of New York officials. File photo by Victoria Espinoza

Huntington Town residents looking to go solar can let the sunshine in at a discount, thanks to a new group-purchasing program spearheaded by town and City University of New York officials.

On Monday afternoon, town hall officials unveiled Solarize Huntington, a program that attempts to incentivize residents to go solar by offering discounts of up to 25 percent on installation costs through installer Direct Energy Solar. The level of discount would increase as the number of participants in the Solarize Huntington program grows, according to the town and Sustainable CUNY of the City University of New York. Solarize Huntington will also include educational workshops about solar energy and guidance on the process of going solar.

The program, which officially launched today, May 4,  runs through Sept. 10.

Homeowners who participate could purchase, finance or lease solar systems from Direct Energy Solar, the installer selected by CUNY through a competitive bidding process, town spokesman A.J. Carter said. Direct Energy Solar is also offering an additional $500 discount to the first 20 homeowners who sign contracts.

The average solar installation, with state and federal incentives included, could cost a Huntington homeowner around $16,000 for a 7-kilowatt system, according to Justin Strachan, a New York State solar ombudsman with Sustainable CUNY. Solarize Huntington could reduce that cost to somewhere around $12,000, he said.

Solar is already popular in Huntington Town, CUNY and town officials noted on Monday. Officials from Sustainable CUNY, Supervisor Frank Petrone (D), Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) and Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) attended a press conference launching the program on Monday at which Petrone said that last year, the town received 500 applications for solar installation permits.

“So that tells you the popularity and it tells you people are yearning for a program, for a supervised program, and something that’s going to be meaningful and cost-effective,” Petrone said.

Laurie Reilly, who directs communications for Sustainable CUNY, said the Solarize Huntington program is just one program among other solar initiatives funded by a more than $1 million U.S. Department of Energy grant. She also said Huntington was selected for the program because, at the time of the grant application, the town committed to work with Sustainable CUNY to make solar more accessible to residents.

“Huntington was the first one to step up and the first one to say, ‘We would like to do this.’”

This isn’t the only thing Huntington Town has done in recent years to encourage and increase the use of solar power to cut down on the consumption of fossil fuels. The town recently approved a fast-track process for approval of solar installation permits and used a federal grant several years ago to install solar panels at town hall, the town said in a statement.

The program launch is thanks to the partnership of Sustainable CUNY, the New York Solar Smart Program, the town and the town’s Advisory Committee on Energy Efficiency, Renewables, and Sustainability, according to a town statement.

Residents interested in signing up for the program can do it online at solarizhuntington.com, or at one of the Solarize 101 informational workshops the town is sponsoring to help residents learn of the program’s benefits.

The first workshop will be held on Monday, May 11 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at town hall.

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