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John Tsunis

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Gold Coast's East Setauket location as well as the bank's other branches will soon be part of Investors Bank. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Investors Bancorp, Inc., based in Short Hills, New Jersey, announced its acquisition of Islandia-based Gold Coast Bancorp, Inc. last week.

According to a press release from Investors Bancorp, consideration will be paid to Gold Coast stockholders in a combination of stock and cash valued at $63.6 million. The deal is based on Investors’ July 23 closing price of $11.20. Gold Coast had assets of $563 million, loans of $463 million and deposits of $486 million as of March 31.

“We are pleased to partner with Gold Coast, a commercial bank with deep ties to the Long Island community and a strong track record of growth,” said Investors’ Chairman and CEO, Kevin Cummings in the press release. “This transaction strengthens Investors’ current suburban Long Island franchise and deepens our presence in this large, affluent market.”

Gold Coast founder John Tsunis said in a phone interview that the Long Island bank chain needed larger facilities to support its business. He said it could only facilitate up to $10 million in business as it had a cap.

“To better service our customers, we needed to get more capital to support what our customers are doing,” Tsunis said. “To do that we either had to raise capital in the markets or merge with another bank.”

Tsunis, the current CEO and chairman of Gold Coast, said Investors Bank is the largest commercial bank in New Jersey with approximately a $23 billion balance sheet in contrast to Gold Coast’s $700 million balance sheet.

Investors Bank will be able to offer more services than the smaller community branches of Gold Coast, he said. The new offers will include points and larger facilities.

“With seven branches we’re limited in our reach and our scope around our branches,” Tsunis said.

Gold Coast Bank will now be called Investors Bank and all branches will remain open. In addition to its Islandia headquarters, Gold Coast has locations in Huntington, East Setauket, Farmingdale, Mineola, Southampton and Brooklyn. Investors Bancorp’s CEO and chairman of the board have visited the Island to meet with employees. Most employees are expected to continue working at their branches.

Tsunis will stay on as chairman of the regional advisory board. He said he would continue to facilitate the growth of the relationships Gold Coast has established in its communities. All of the Gold Coast board members have been offered a board position on the Investors board on Long Island as well.

Tsunis said he feels the move will be a good one for Gold Coast customers.

“We endeavored to be a community bank in the areas we serve, and they subscribe to the same philosophy,” Tsunis said.

Investors Bank has 147 branches in New York and New Jersey, with seven located on Long Island. Locations can be found in East Northport, Commack, Wantagh, Mineola, Manhasset, Merrick and Franklin Square.

Just in time for the first day of summer, the Village of Poquott debuted its new community dock at California Park June 21.

Before cutting the ribbon, Mayor Dee Parrish thanked the dozens of residents who attended the event for their support of the dock on behalf of herself and the village board of trustees.

John Tsunis, president of Gold Coast Bank, was also on hand to help cut the ribbon. Tsunis is a resident of the village, and the dock was financed through the bank.

It was the first time he saw the dock, he said, and he described it as beautiful and well-designed.

“It adds to the quality of life for the residents of Poquott,” he said after the ribbon cutting. “I think it’s a beautiful addition. We live on the water so it’s very appropriate to have a dock and a pier for people to use, and I’m very proud of it.”

The community dock, located at the end of Washington Street, had been a topic of debate in the village for nearly a decade as many were against it, fearing an increase in taxes and wanting the final decision to be made with a public referendum. A few years ago, the village board of trustees began the process of building the dock by sending out questionnaires to residents to get their feedback.

The night of the ribbon cutting the residents on hand celebrated with champagne, ice cream and taking walks on the new dock, which will also have a floating dock to help boaters load and unload their crafts.

“It’s a perfect addition to a beach community,” Parrish said after the ceremony. “I am touched by all the residents that came together to make this project a reality. The community dock will be used and enjoyed for many, many years — that makes me feel that all the hours of work have paid off.”

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn, center, receives the Brookhaven Community Leadership Award from Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright and Holiday Inn Express owner John Tsunis. Photo by Rita J. Egan

A familiar face in the Three Village and Port Jefferson areas was honored for her career achievements the day before International Women’s Day.

On March 7, Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) received the Brookhaven Community Leadership Award at a ceremony held at the Holiday Inn Express Stony Brook. At the event, which was sponsored by the hotel and Gold Coast Bank, Hahn was surrounded by family members, friends and community members, including Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station), Setauket Fire District Fire Commissioner Jay Gardiner, and Jane Taylor and Carmine Inserra, Three Village Chamber of Commerce 2nd vice president and executive director, respectively.

John Tsunis, owner of the Holiday Inn Express Stony Brook and CEO and chairman of Gold Coast Bank, said as a resident of Hahn’s legislative district he is a proud supporter of her and her work. The CEO admired her passing of policies that helped ensure emergency workers were trained in the use of Narcan to revive patients who overdose and a bill that increased background checks of daycare workers. He also called her a tireless advocate for domestic abuse survivors and a “champion of our environment,” citing her work to help to protect ground and drinking water along with her promotion of recreational activities at local parks.

“As we all know, Kara cares deeply for our community, because of her thoughtful leadership Kara was elected to serve as legislature majority leader in 2016 and again in 2017,” he said.

Cartright said when she first ran for town office in 2013 she felt “blessed” to know Hahn. The councilwoman described her county counterpart as a worker bee who looks at her job from different perspectives.

“What’s so special about Kara Hahn is that she not only looks at things from a legislator perspective, but she looks at it from a community member perspective — a perspective that she’s one of us,” Cartright said. “She’s gone through the process. She understands the struggles and tribulations that many of us have to face within our communities.”

Hahn said she was humbled and honored to represent the community. She described the legislative district as an area where people work together to help make it an even better place to live. She cited a recent example where a member of Cartright’s office reached out to her to ask how they could help members of a Port Jefferson Veterans of Foreign Wars post attend the Rocky Point St. Patrick’s Day Parade so they wouldn’t have to park too far away. Hahn reached out to the Holiday Inn Express, and Tsunis offered the hotel’s shuttle bus for the veterans’ use.

“That’s the kind of community we have,” Hahn said. “Everybody wants to chip in. Everybody wants to help. Everybody knows it’s a great place to live and knows that it can be even better. We have a vision for that, and we keep every day trying to find a way to make things better whether it’s for our environment or our schools.”

The Brookhaven Community Leadership award has been presented annually since 2014. Past winners include Charlie Lefkowitz, Three Village Chamber of Commerce vice president; Leah Dunaief, TBR News Media publisher; and Gloria Rocchio, president of The Ward Melville Heritage Organization.

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Setauket was filled with merriment and lights Dec. 9 as hundreds lined Route 25A to catch a glimpse of the Three Village Electric Holiday Parade.

More than 30 participants including schools, Scout troops, musket men, dancers, the Stony Brook University Marching Band and Wolfie, SBU’s mascot, marched along the route or rode in floats decorated with holiday lights. This year John Tsunis, owner of the Holiday Inn Express in Stony Brook, a partner at Tsunis Gasparis, LLP and chairman and CEO of Gold Coast Bank, served as grand marshal.

Residents wearing Santa hats and lighted headgear and necklaces added to the festive mood. At the end of the route, attendees gathered at East Setauket Pond Park near Shore Road for a tree lighting where Santa was on hand to greet children, and Fratelli’s Bagel Express served hot chocolate to help everyone warm up after a chilly night.

Charlie Ziegler, director of operations of the Holiday Inn Express-Stony Brook, Denean Marie Lane, manager of the Holiday Inn Express, and presenters Laura Dooling, Shantae Rodriguez, and Anthony Zenkus from the Blue Campaign. Photo from the Holiday Inn Express Stony Brook

A Stony Brook hotel is doing its part to help stop sex trafficking on Long Island.

“They’re the ones walking the halls all day long so if they see something out of place, they can let us know.”

— Charlie Ziegler

The Holiday Inn Express Stony Brook says it is the first hotel on Long Island to offer an employee seminar on how to spot victims of human trafficking. John Tsunis, the hotel’s owner, invited representatives from Long Island Against Trafficking, a nonprofit dedicated to creating awareness about trafficking, and Victims Information Bureau of Suffolk, which assists survivors of violence, to conduct the hour-long seminar earlier this month for all of their housekeeping and management staff.

Charlie Ziegler, director of operations at Holiday Inn Express, said while the hotel has never encountered a problem, Tsunis and its management felt the information would be invaluable to employees.

“They’re the ones walking the halls all day long so if they see something out of place, they can let us know,” Ziegler said, adding calling the authorities would be the next step.

Sue Lingenfelter, a board member of Long Island Against Trafficking, presented the idea to Tsunis at a networking event back in September, and he quickly said “yes” to the nonprofit coming in to make a presentation.

The goal of the seminar is to train staff members on how to identify victims of human sex trafficking, according to Lingenfelter, where a person is forced against their will to engage in sexual activity, and what to do if they suspect it — a crime she said that occurs often in hotels.

Both Lingenfelter and her fellow board member Shantae Rodriguez said there are a number of red flags to look out for that include: a person allowing someone else to do the talking for them; a hotel guest refusing housekeeping services but ordering more towels and linens than average; a distressed young woman with an older man; or a group of women with one man.

“You can be in the hallway, notice there was a man inside and he came out and saw another man go in, come out.”

— Sue Lingenfelter

LIAT members said sometimes a hotel guest may not want to give a full name, register a vehicle, or will ask for a room toward the back of the hotel which makes it easier for multiple people to come and go. Lingenfelter added seeing a lot of people coming and going from one hotel room is a red flag.

“You can be in the hallway, notice there was a man inside and he came out and saw another man go in, come out,” she said. “These are the signs [employees] can potentially notice. Every employee in the hotel would have a different view of things that could show that this person is being trafficked.”

Rodriguez said if someone gets a chance to talk to a suspected victim, they may find out the person doesn’t know what day it is or what town they are in due to being moved from one location to another constantly by the trafficker.

Both board members and Ziegler felt the seminar was well received and Rodriquez said many employees asked questions.

“The fact that they’re asking questions shows that they’re engaging, and it did turn some wheels, or maybe there is something they’re looking out for,” she said.

Lingenfelter and Rodriguez said they are hoping to bring the seminar to more hotels on Long Island.

“The more education, the more seminars, the more training a hotel is willing to receive, the more that they’re able to say they’re taking a stand against this injustice and being a part of the healing of ending trafficking in this particular area,” Rodriguez said.

Ziegler said if new employees are added to the Holiday Inn Express staff or it is felt a refresher is needed, they would definitely schedule another seminar, and he said he recommends it for all hotels.

“Even if you feel you don’t have this issue going on at all, for every hotel I would absolutely do a seminar,” he said. “It only takes an hour out of everyone’s time. If it can save one victim anywhere it’s worth it.”

On Aug. 23, the Holiday Inn Express Stony Brook hosted a 4-on-4 volleyball tournament with local fire departments, including Setauket, Centereach and Selden, competing to win and raise money for the Lt. Joseph P. DiBernardo Memorial Foundation. The money raised will help to buy “bailout systems,” which are personal escape kits, for fire departments in need all over the country.

The winners of the $1,000 prize money were members of New York City Fire Department’s Watkins Station Engine 231/Ladder 120 — Darren Fenton, Patrick Tulley, Connor Norman and Anthony Edrehi. The tournament winners and John-Paul Sabbagh, from the Terryville Fire Department who won the event’s 50/50 raffle, donated their winnings back to the foundation.

The event cost $20 to enter, and the tournament was judged by John Tsunis, owner of the hotel; Joe DiBernardo Sr.; and Leah Dunaief, publisher of Times Beacon Record News Media. Dan Keller from Stony Brook University’s athletics department served as referee.

Tsunis said the hotel hopes to make the tournament an annual event, adding, “It was a lot of fun to have all the firefighters there and all the community members we recruited to play.”

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An Aug. 23 volleyball tournament will help raise funds to buy bailout systems for firefighters through the Lt. Joseph P. DiBernardo Memorial Foundation. DiBernardo, right, is pictured with his father Joseph DiBernardo Sr., left. File photo

Local firefighters are training to serve up some fun and to help members of firehouses around the country.

On Aug. 23, a 4-on-4 volleyball tournament will be held at the Holiday Inn Express Stony Brook with fire departments competing to win and raise money for the Lt. Joseph P. DiBernardo Memorial Foundation. The money raised will help to buy “bailout systems” for fire departments who lack the vital equipment. The personal escape kits are used when rescue workers find themselves in fires that are difficult to escape, like when they are a few floors up, a building collapses or there is a backdraft.

Joseph DiBernardo after recovering from shattering both his feet and breaking bones below his waist. File photo

Tanya Lee, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing, said she came up with the idea for the fundraiser when DiBernardo’s father, Joseph DiBernardo Sr., stopped by the hotel to book a workshop. Lee, who is a volunteer with the Centereach Fire Department along with her son, said she was looking for a way the hotel could give back to the community and saw DiBernardo’s visit as a sign. She said she discovered while talking to him that many fire departments in the country don’t have the funds to pay for bailout systems and the training required to use them, which together can cost up to $1,000 per firefighter depending on the manufacturer.

“It was kind of like that ‘Aha’ moment,” Lee said. “Like he walked right in when I was looking to do something for the community.”

DiBernardo Jr., who was a volunteer with the Setauket Fire Department, was one of three New York City Fire Department firefighters injured during a tenement fire in the Bronx in 2005. Three firefighters also died in the blaze, and the tragedy was called “Black Sunday.” During the fire, DiBernardo Jr. helped his fellow firefighter Jeff Cool escape the building using a rope and then secured it to a child safety guard to lower himself from a window. The rope broke, and DiBernardo Jr. fell four stories, breaking practically every bone from his waist down and shattering both feet. During his recovery in the hospital, he suffered respiratory arrest and
developed pneumonia. While DiBernardo retired as a firefighter due to his injuries, he traveled the country and assisted in safety trainings for firefighters despite the physical pain he continued to suffer, according to his father. In 2011, the firefighter died from the injuries he sustained in the 2005 Bronx fire. In 2013, the DiBernardo family, members of the Setauket Fire Department and Cool established the foundation.

“We decided to [start] the foundation, so no other firefighter would have to die due to lack of personal safety ropes,” DiBernardo Sr. said.

Lee said the 4-on-4 tournament will consist of eight teams that will compete in a 15-point game until one team is left standing. For teams that are eliminated earlier in the tournament and for spectators, there will be a Cornhole toss, raffles, food and beverages. Attendees who stay overnight at the hotel will also receive a discount on their room.

“I just want them to feel good about helping their brothers, whether they’re a fire department in Schenectady or they’re a fire department here, they’re all brothers,” Lee said.

“I just want them to feel good about helping their brothers, whether they’re a fire department in Schenectady or they’re a fire department here, they’re all brothers.”

— Tanya Lee

So far there are five teams consisting of firefighters set to participate — FDNY, Hicksville, Jericho, Selden and Centereach. Kevin Yoos, fire commissioner with the Setauket Fire District and vice president of the foundation, said volunteers in Setauket are currently organizing a team. Lee said there will also be a team consisting of Gold Coast Bank employees.

The tournament was one that John Tsunis, the owner of Holiday Inn Express Stony Brook, said he was on board from the moment he heard about it. The hotel donated $1,000 to the tournament, and it will be awarded to the winning team, according to the hotel owner. Tsunis, who is also CEO and chairman of Gold Coast Bank, said he believes in giving back to the community the hotel serves.

“We’re not big hotels in Las Vegas or international banks in New York City,” Tsunis said. “We’re neighbors and friends, and we work together, and we live together.”

DiBernardo Sr., who is a retired FDNY firefighter, said his son wanted to fight fires since he was a kid. He would play with fire trucks as a child, and when he was a bit older, would visit his father at work at his station house in Brooklyn.

When he was 18, DiBernardo Jr. became a fire alarm dispatcher on Long Island, and the next year he became a volunteer with the Setauket Fire Department, according to his father. During his tenure with the department, he became a lieutenant and captain. In 1993, DiBernardo Jr. became an FDNY fire alarm dispatcher, and in 1995, his dream of becoming a firefighter in the city was achieved.

“That’s what he always wanted,” the father said. “It’s nice to see your son achieve his dreams.”

The father said he was touched when he heard about the volleyball tournament and the $1,000 donation.

“Someone would care in the community to do something for us like that … it’s fantastic,” he said.

The Holiday Inn Express Stony Brook is located at 3131 Nesconset Highway, Stony Brook. Entry donation is $20 for players and spectators and includes food and beverages. For more details about the event, contact Tanya Lee at 631-471-8000. Or visit www.facebook.com/HIExpressSB/ for a link to sign up. For more information on the Lt. Joseph P. DiBernardo Memorial Foundation, visit www.joeydfoundation.org.

Former New York Mets player Ed Kranepool, at podium, discusses the importance of organ donation at a June 12 rally in Setauket organized by John Tsunis, right. Photo by Anthony Petriello

By Amanda Perelli

For one sports legend, life has thrown him a curveball, but he’s not sitting it out on the bench.

Former baseball player Ed Kranepool, a member of the 1969 Miracle Mets, is rallying for New York state residents to bring miracles to the 10,000 state residents beside him on the organ transplant waiting list. Kranepool is in need of a kidney transplant due to diabetes-related kidney issues. He’s lived with the disease for the last 40 years.

To help him with his mission, John Tsunis, CEO and chairman of Gold Coast Bank and the owner of the Holiday Inn Express Stony Brook, organized a rally June 12 at the Gold Coast Bank in Setauket. Community
business leaders of the Three Village Chamber of Commerce, representatives from the Suffolk County Legislature and The Ward Melville Heritage Organization came together for the rally, where those in attendance vowed to sign donor registration forms.

“It’s time for us to act and enroll as organ donors. One organ donor can save up to eight lives.”

— John Tsunis

“It’s time for us to act and enroll as organ donors,” Tsunis said. “One organ donor can save up to eight lives. One organ donor can change the course of history for a child in need or a New York Mets legend, like Ed Kranepool. So today many of us are filling out a form, a simple form, committing to do one thing. That’s to donate life.”

Tsunis said the donor registration forms can be found at all of the Gold Coast Bank branches.

“If I understand the statistic correctly, we are 50 out of 50 states to donate organs, and I don’t want to live in a state that is selfish like that,” Tsunis said. “If we have the opportunity to fill out this form and donate an organ when the time is appropriate — we could help somebody else in our lives and in our community.”

Based off the percentage of population registered, New York state is ranked 51 out of 52 registries in the country for participation, according to Aisha Tator, New York Alliance for Donation executive director.

“The awareness, that’s the whole key,” said Kranepool, who attended the rally. “People need to be aware of the programs that are available.”

The 73-year-old’s procedure will take place at Stony Brook Hospital if a match is found.

“Not everybody has to go to Manhattan,” said Kranepool — who lives in Woodbury — about the hospitals Long Island has to offer. “The biggest and the finest and whatever, you know they are certainly out on Long Island, so it’s right in your own neighborhood.”

Forms can also be downloaded at www.donatelife.ny.gov/register.

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Charlotte Plagainos, center, receives a check for $100 from Gold Coast Bank Chairman and CEO John Tsunis, second from right, after finding the oldest penny among Three Village students. Charlotte’s mother Rebecca, fourth from left, administrators from the bank and the school district were on hand for the presentation. Photo from Rebecca Photo from Rebecca Plagainos

A Three Village kindergartner recently turned a penny into $100.

The East Setauket branch of Gold Coast Bank announced Charlotte Plagainos was the first prize winner of its Oldest Penny Search after she found an 1802 penny. Bank representatives awarded her $100 for her discovery during a March 23 ceremony at Arrowhead Elementary School.

The 1802 penny that Charlotte Plagainos found while going through her great-grandfather’s coin jar. Photo from Rebecca Plagainos

The kindergartner said she found the winning penny while going through her great-grandfather’s jar of change on a rainy day with her mother, Rebecca Plagainos. Charlotte, who just turned 6 years old, said when she found the penny she had a feeling it was old enough to win the contest.

“I was really excited,” she said, adding that she noticed the head of the coin featured a Native American and not President Abraham Lincoln.

Her mother said when Charlotte received the news that she won from Gold Coast Bank, the family was screaming, and the kindergartner did her happy dance.

“I started to jump up and down, up and down,” Charlotte said.

John Tsunis, Gold Coast Bank chairman and CEO, said he was surprised a student found such an old penny.

“I thought we would get something maybe somewhere in the early 1900s, but not in the 1800s,” Tsunis said. “That’s awesome.”

Rebecca Plagainos said the win turned into a counting lesson for Charlotte, who can count up to 1,000.

“We took it out all in [dollar bills], so it was super exciting because it was a huge stack of bills,” Plagainos said. “We could lay it all out and count them.”

After winning the contest, Charlotte’s parents treated her and her sister, Daphne, to a celebratory dinner at Slurp Ramen and then to Roger’s Frigate in Port Jefferson for ice cream. Charlotte said at the Frigate she bought herself and her sister stuffed animals — a parrot for her and a bunny for Daphne.

“I thought we would get something maybe somewhere in the early 1900s, but not in the 1800s. That’s awesome.”

— John Tsunis

Tsunis said the contest kicked off during an assembly at Arrowhead Elementary School Feb. 12 during the school’s spirit week, where bank representatives challenged students to find the oldest penny in the Three Village area. They chose the penny due to the event falling on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. The prizes offered were $100 for first prize, $50 for second, and the winner’s school’s PTA would receive $500.

“We were looking for a way that we could communicate with the young kids in the Three Village community,” Tsunis said.

The chairman said each student received a piggybank and shiny new penny. He and other bank representatives met with the student council to introduce the contest and discussed the importance of establishing a pattern of savings. Tsunis said savers would be surprised with their results with compound interest.

“No matter how small you save, save that amount on a regular basis,” Tsunis said. “Get something that’s comfortable, whether it’s 10 cents, 50 cents, a dollar.”

It’s advice Charlotte is taking to heart. She is saving the remaining prize money for something special in the future, according to her mother.

At the March 23 ceremony, James-Henry Parkinson, a fourth-grader who found a penny dated 1847, was named runner-up and received $50. As arranged, Arrowhead’s PTA was the recipient of the $500 prize.

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

By Rita J. Egan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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