Tags Posts tagged with "Ken LaValle"

Ken LaValle

Rocky Point dedicated the square at the corner of Broadway and Route 25A, formerly the blighted Oxygen Bar property, to a Veterans Memorial Square. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Once an eyesore to the community, Rocky Point’s corner of Broadway and Route 25A is now a place that honors those who fight for our freedom.

On Oct. 17, Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) along with other members of local government, dedicated the former Oxygen Bar property as a new veterans memorial square, with a flag-raising ceremony.

Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner helps members of Rocky Point VFW Post 6249 in the flag raising ceremony Oct. 17. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner helps members of Rocky Point VFW Post 6249 in the flag raising ceremony Oct. 17. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“The members of the community have been so supportive of this project and have a vision for a greater, better downtown,” Bonner said at the event. “We all appreciate the sacrifices every veteran has made and honor them today as we dedicate this veterans memorial square by raising the flags of our armed forces. This beautiful green space will also serve as the gateway to a revitalized downtown Rocky Point for years to come.”

Bonner visited the formerly blighted property back in March, and said it excites her now to see how it’s transformed in seven short months.

“A source of problems is gone, and a source of pride has taken its place,” she said.

The square wouldn’t have been made possible if it wasn’t for the help of VFW Post 6249 Commander Joe Cognitore.

“This piece of property will be here much, much longer than I will, and that’s where the return on this investment is going to come,” Cognitore said of the square. “We should do this to all counties and municipalities throughout our area. We must make sure that our younger generations know about our military, what they go through and what they do for our country.”

Bonner helped to formally present the colors to the playing of the National Anthem. All of the flags raised were donated by Rocky Point resident Roland Jackson.

“Roland Jackson is one of those people who never says ‘if you need anything, let me know,’” Bonner said. “He just does it. He called me up and said he was getting the flags and he’d like to donate them.”

Joe Cognitore, commander of Rocky Point VFW Post 6249, speaks during the dedication ceremony Oct. 17. Photo by Desirée Keegan
Joe Cognitore, commander of Rocky Point VFW Post 6249, speaks during the dedication ceremony Oct. 17. Photo by Desirée Keegan

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) was also at the ceremony, and told a story of how he visited troops in Iraq last Christmas, meeting a Command Sgt. Major on his 11th deployment, and a young teenager on his first.

“Eleven deployments later he was still serving and loving ever minute of it,” Zeldin said of the Major. “When that Command Sgt. Major signed up for the military there was no Sept. 11 on his radar. But when that teenager signed up, that’s all that he had ever known. He knew exactly what he was signing up for. But he loved the flag, he loved our country and he cherished our freedoms and liberties, and he’s willing to lay down his life in defense of it.”

Zeldin said the new parcel in Rocky Point proudly displays its support for its veterans like the ones he’s met.

“For that teenager who signs up, it’s not just about the flag, it’s not just about his freedoms and liberties, but it’s out of deep admiration and respect for those who have come before him or her,” he said. “We get to live in the greatest nation of the world, and for those veterans, we salute you and we thank you for your service.”

State Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) said the memorial square is not just a wonderful thing for the Rocky Point community, but for all members of the nation.

“Our freedoms that this nation was based on are always under assault, and always will be, and that’s why we’re the greatest nation in the world,” he said. “Today, we are saying to the world we are alive, we are America and we are proud to be Americans.”

Jeannean Mercuri, vice president of the Nassau-Suffolk Horsemen’s Association, mounts Cricket the horse on the new trail hub in the Rocky Point Pine Barrens. Photo from DEC

By Desirée Keegan

A day when Montauk and New York City are connected across Long Island by trails might not be too far off.

On Sept. 22, the Department of Environmental Conservation celebrated the completion of a piece of the Rocky Point Pine Barrens State Forest Multi-Use Trail Hub Project. The project is an effort to connect trail systems across Rocky Point, Ridge, Yaphank and Shirley. The entire trail system when completed will pass through the DEC’s Pine Barrens, Suffolk County and Town of Brookhaven parkland, and end in the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge.

The new trail hub can be found on the north side of Middle Country Road in Ridge, between Wading River Road and Woodlot Road.

“The completion of this trail hub is an instrumental step in the effort to connect Long Island’s trail systems,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “The multiple features of this hub will allow local residents and visitors, young and old, and of any ability, to take advantage of Long Island’s stunning natural diversity.”

The new hub, located on the south end of the Rocky Point Pine Barrens State Forest, is expected to be one of the central public access spots for the new trail system. It features a car and horse trailer parking lot, a newly built half-mile Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible hiking trail, an accessible horse mounting platform, and a half-mile connector to an existing horse and hiking trail.

Carrie Meek Gallagher, New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation's Regional Director, speaking during the grand opening of the new trail hub in the Rocky Point Pine Barrens. Photo from DEC
Carrie Meek Gallagher, New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation’s Regional Director, speaking during the grand opening of the new trail hub in the Rocky Point Pine Barrens. Photo from DEC

“I am fortunate to represent one of the most beautiful regions of New York State,” Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) said. “As the sponsor of the legislation that created the Pine Barrens Preserve, I am pleased that we are creating an opportunity for more individuals to access the trails. The ADA accessibility will enable those with mobility issues to enjoy more of Long Island’s natural beauty firsthand.”

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) also commended the DEC for its work with the ADA.

“It’s very important that all residents get the opportunity to share in the natural beauty that surrounds us and we must do whatever we can to preserve it for generations to come,” he said.

The project began in October 2014, with funding from NY Works, and was completed in June for a total cost of $460,000. The trail hub is located on the property of the former Lustgarden Nursery in Ridge. In April, the DEC worked with Students Taking Action for Tomorrow’s Environment in an Arbor Day reforestation effort. The student volunteers planted 250 seedlings of native New York tree species.

“The new trail hub is about connecting people with nature and making it easier to get out and explore Long Island’s treasure of trails and the beautiful wildlands they traverse,” Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) said.

The DEC acquired the 274-acre site in 1996 from Baier Lustgarten. It was the site of Baier Lustgarten Farms and Nursery, which used the acreage to plant nursery stock, including native and non-native trees, shrubs and ornamentals. Several neglected structures were razed from the property, including a house, a barn, greenhouses and cottages for farm hands.

“The new multi-use trail hub is a wonderful community centerpiece that gives residents greater access to enjoy the beautiful Rocky Point Pine Barrens,” Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said. “The new hub connects several communities and allows for hiking, horseback riding and bike riding. The DEC has done a wonderful job in creating this very important greenway park that will truly make a difference as we experience our spectacular outdoor environment.”

The science, technology, engineering and math program, in which students work with Stony Brook University professors to further their education, will return to the district. File photo

Students in the Mount Sinai and Port Jefferson school districts will keep taking their talents to the next level.

Thanks to state Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) securing more funding, the joint science, technology, engineering and math program will be staying around for another year.

LaValle got $25,000 for each district to continue its partnership with professors at Stony Brook University to further the students’ learning and better prepare them for the future.

“I think the world today and the jobs today are in the STEM areas,” he said. “So we want to make sure that they have a good running start so that they can, when they apply to college, have an easy transition.”

Port Jefferson superintendent, Ken Bossert, said he’s happy the senator has been a strong supporter of the program, and said that so far the partnership with the schools has gone seamlessly.

“I think it’s a tremendous opportunity for our students,” he said. “The program has been extremely well received and well attended. There’s been a good deal of collaboration and a good deal of learning is taking place. It’s given by Stony Brook professors and they use equipment in the labs and are exposed to higher levels of learning that we can’t replicate on the high school level.”

The Mount Sinai superintendent, Gordon Brosdal, said after meeting with the senator to discuss the future of the program, he found out that his district and Bossert’s would be able to receive the same amount of funding they’ve received the last three years, to be able to maintain it.

“I would like to praise Sen. LaValle for being on the ground floor of this program, encouraging and supporting those partnerships like the Mount Sinai-Port Jeff STEM project,” he said. “We’ll keep up the partnership. It’s very positive and he is very supportive.”

LaValle said he likes the enthusiasm for the program in both school districts.

“There’s interest — that’s why we’re going to continue it,” he said. “It’s popular with the administrators and, most importantly, with the students and their parents.”

Bossert appreciates the senator’s support.

“Without the grant money that Sen. LaValle has made available for us, we would’ve had a difficult time initiating any program like this,” he said. “I think it’s something that has gone very, very well and has the opportunity for even further growth, so I’m hoping that the positive trajectory continues.”

State Sen. Ken LaValle works with North Shore elected officials and residents to ensure the community, and greater Long Island region, have quality health care. File photo by Barbara Donlon

Quality health care and, to hear state Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) describe it, home cooking are good for the body, mind, soul and community. That’s the argument the Republican senator has been making for years on behalf of the Stony Brook University medical center and its hospital.

After the university lost out earlier this year on a partnership with Peconic Bay Medical Center, which agreed to team up with North Shore-LIJ Health System, the longtime local senator has continued his unflagging support of Stony Brook, particularly with John T. Mather Memorial Hospital.

“If we think of a wheel, the hub of a wheel, and the local community hospitals are its spokes,” LaValle said, referring to Stony Brook as that hub in the center. “This is my vision and one that I think is good for the people I represent” to allow them to have the “best quality health care” close to home.

For his consistent and long-term efforts to lend the support of his office to an important area institution, and for the passion and dedication he has shown to the residents of the region for close to four decades, LaValle is a Times Beacon Record Newspapers Person of the Year.

Sen. Ken LaValle speaks with a biker as she rests at the Port Jefferson Elks Lodge in Port Jefferson Station in the middle of a 330-mile bicycle trip to support wounded warriors. File photo
Sen. Ken LaValle speaks with a biker as she rests at the Port Jefferson Elks Lodge in Port Jefferson Station in the middle of a 330-mile bicycle trip to support wounded warriors. File photo

Stony Brook officials appreciated LaValle’s work on their behalf and suggested that he played a seminal role in keeping their ongoing relationship with Southampton Hospital on track.

“It took perseverance to continue to push the Southampton relationship with Stony Brook through,” said Reuven Pasternak, the CEO of Stony Brook University Hospital. “He was absolutely critical in keeping those discussions going and seeing them to fruition.”

Pasternak said LaValle also facilitated a connection with Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport.

The senator has been “a big supporter” of that relationship, Pasternak said. “He’s always made himself available to speak to people in Albany.”

LaValle was instrumental in the building of the new Medicine and Research Translation building, a 240,000-square foot facility that is expected to be completed in 2016. Kenneth Kaushansky, the dean of the School of Medicine and the senior vice president of health sciences, said LaValle helped secure critical state financing.

LaValle identified $45 million that was earmarked for a law school at Stony Brook that was never built that he “was able get reallocated,” Kaushansky said. “The state support for MART was hugely dependent on the senator.”

Kaushansky said he and LaValle have regular discussions about any potential issues that arise.

If things aren’t proceeding the way the university would like, LaValle “always volunteers to help put them back on track.”

State Assemblyman Steve Englebright said LaValle deserves recognition for his work on behalf of Stony Brook and all the area hospitals.

“He is firmly supportive of Stony Brook’s role and mission, as well as for all the hospitals in our community,” Englebright (D-Setauket) said.

LaValle suggested his role as chairman of the Senate Committee on Higher Education gives him an opportunity to advocate on behalf of the SBU medical school. His chairmanship provides “a vehicle to be able to work with other people in the state university system and within state agencies,” he said.

The approximately 129 students in each medical school class contribute to area health care while they pursue their education, LaValle said.

“That is one of the very first helping points for the university,” LaValle said. “It’s being able to fulfill the education of their medical students. There are also people doing their clinical work and residencies.”

Sen. Ken LaValle speaks at a public forum on the Common Core. File photo
Sen. Ken LaValle speaks at a public forum on the Common Core. File photo

LaValle is contributing to Stony Brook’s effort to secure a longer-term connection with Mather. He cited numerous such two-way benefits for a potential longer-term alliance.

Stony Brook can provide services that “will save Mather a lot of money,” LaValle said.

For patients of the two hospitals, the quality and convenience are also a winning combination.

“If someone needs cardiac care, it is a hop, skip and a jump to get that care,” LaValle said. “They don’t have to be helicoptered some place or drive a long time distance.”

Kaushansky appreciated the support from the senator.

“He’s doing everything he can,” Kaushansky said. LaValle has “been a strong proponent of getting us and Mather to work together for the benefit” of the patient population in the area.

Kaushansky cited several other benefits to Mather of an ongoing and deeper connection with Stony Brook, including support for Mather’s stroke center with back-up cerebral artery intervention, and support for their radiology department.

While a deeper connection with Mather would be mutually beneficial for the hospitals, LaValle suggested, it would also create an important level of convenience for patients.

“I have started with the premise that patient care closest to home is the best care for the patient,” LaValle said. “The families can interact and it’s convenient. We are focused in a way to ensure that the quality of health care is at its maximum.”

From the leaders through the rank and file, Stony Brook health care professionals appreciate LaValle’s support.

“If anybody were to ask a person working in the dialysis unit, ‘Of all the politicians in the state of New York, who do you think is the strongest advocate for Stony Brook Medical School and Stony Brook University Hospital?’ most of them would say Ken LaValle,” said Kaushansky.

Pasternak, who considers LaValle a friend, called him sincere in his beliefs.

“It’s not the politics that drives him,” Pasternak said. “It’s his passion for the region and the people in the region.”

by -
0 776
Photo from Stony Brook Medicine

Stony Brook Medicine announced on Friday that the Eastern Long Island Hospital board of directors has voted unanimously to approve an affiliation with Stony Brook University Hospital, subject to the successful completion of the definitive agreement and all regulatory and other approvals.

The decision was ruled an important first step toward advancing Stony Brook’s collaboration to ensure North Fork residents have greater access to high-quality care, according to Kenneth Kaushansky, senior vice president for Health Sciences and dean of the Stony Brook University School of Medicine.

“We are grateful to SUNY’s visionary leadership in its support of our continued work to establish agreements with community hospitals in Suffolk County for the care of Long Island residents,” said Reuven Pasternak, chief executive officer for Stony Brook University Hospital and vice president for health systems at Stony Brook Medicine.

Thomas E. Murray Jr., chairman of the Eastern Long Island Hospital board of trustees said his group had been deliberating over the past several months on finding a strategic partner. He said Stony Brook best fulfilled the board’s mission to best address what he called the evolving health needs of his eastern community.

State Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) said he could not be more pleased with the news, given his experience working to move the hospital forward.

“Throughout my tenure, I have worked hard to make certain that quality, affordable medical services are accessible to residents throughout my district,” he said. “This unanimous decision ensures that people on the North Fork and Shelter Island will continue to receive expert medical care close to home.”

Stony Brook and Eastern Long Island will immediately initiate a collaborative planning effort to develop a long-term strategic plan to ensure current and future health care needs are addressed.

“While the delivery of health care and especially hospital care is rapidly changing, becoming a part of Stony Brook University Hospital will allow Eastern Long Island Hospital to make this complex transition while continuing to carry out our long-time promise to the community. The hospital has been here for 110 years and this affiliation will ensure that the health care needs of the community are met for years to come,” said Paul J. Connor, III, president and CEO of Eastern Long Island Hospital.

Rally against New York State education changes

A protestor stands on North Country Road in Mount Sinai on Tuesday afternoon. Photo by Barbara Donlon

Educators, parents and students gathered outside state Sen. Ken LaValle’s Mount Sinai office Tuesday with one clear message: They won’t forget he voted “yes” on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget when it’s their turn to vote in November 2016.

Nearly 100 people rallied in front of the North Country Road office of LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), holding signs letting the senator and the community know they were upset he voted in favor of a portion of the 2015-16 state budget that amended the teacher evaluation system, lengthened the time before teachers can gain tenure and created new designations for failing schools.

Beth Dimino, president of the Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association and a John F. Kennedy Middle School teacher, said her association and other groups coordinated the protest to show the senator they don’t take his vote lightly.

“The purpose of this rally is to remind Mr. LaValle that his vote in favor of Mr. Cuomo’s budget and anti-public education agenda will be remembered by the parents and taxpayers in the November elections,” Dimino said.

A child hoists a sign during a public education protest. Photo by Barbara Donlon
A child hoists a sign during a public education protest. Photo by Barbara Donlon

LaValle, who was in Albany at the time of the protest, was just re-elected to his 20th term in the Senate and will be up for election again next year.

He said in a statement Wednesday, “We improved on what the governor put in his budget proposal and I fully expect we will continue to fix the education piece, with the final result addressing parents and educators concerns.”

April Quiggle, a Port Jefferson parent, said she came out to show how disappointed she is in the senator she always supported.

“I feel betrayed by him,” Quiggle said.

Not one person at the education rally was without a sign. Young children also held signs.

Miller Place resident Erik Zalewski, who teaches in the Middle Country school district, said LaValle and other politicians who voted in favor of the governor’s reform sold out educators and kids.

“It seems money is more important than the children,” Zalewski said.

Lucille McKee, president of the Shoreham-Wading River Teachers Association, joined in to let everyone know she is tired of non-educators making decisions about education.

Halfway through the rally supporters broke out in a cheer: “Ken LaValle you let us down, Ken LaValle you let the students down, Ken LaValle we will not forget!”

Many parents at the picket said they tried numerous times to reach out to the senator by phone and email and never heard back.

Hundreds of cars drove by as everyone protested on the corner of the road. Drivers honked, gave thumbs-up signs and cheered, letting the protesters know they supported them.