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Kevin Redding

Ring 10 raises money to help abandoned fighters, those down on their luck

Ring 10 boxers smile during a fundraiser. Photo from Facebook

By Kevin Redding

It was one of the few times Howard Davis Jr.’s wife saw him cry in public.

The Glen Cove native and Olympic gold medalist who made history in 1976 as the first amateur boxer to win the New York Golden Gloves tournament four years in a row had just about lost hope that he would ever get back his coveted awards, which were stolen from him and sold at a garage sale.

Matt Farrago with the late boxer and Olympic gold medalist Howard Davis Jr. Photo from Karla Guadamuz Davis

That all changed Sept. 13, 2015, when he was honored by Matt Farrago and his New York-based nonprofit, Ring 10, during a gala at Marina del Rey Caterers in the Bronx.

Davis, who was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer earlier that year at 59 and was on a personal mission to retrieve the mementos for his family before it was too late, was presented with four golden pendants.

Each one was a perfect replica of his lost golden gloves pendants, made and paid for by Ring 10. Veteran fighters from the nonprofit took turns placing them around his neck.

All Davis could do was bury his head in his hands.

“It was such an emotional moment and it was all because of Matt Farrago and Ring 10,” his wife Karla Guadamuz-Davis said, adding that the organization regularly helped pay for her now-late husband’s expensive medical treatment. “After Howard passed away on Dec. 30, 2015, I called Matt and said, ‘Thank you for giving Howard some joy during the last months of his life.’”

For Farrago, 56, a former middleweight boxer who lives in Greenlawn, helping retired fighters who have fallen on hard times is what he does every single day as the founder and president of Ring 10.

Formed in 2010 with a board of directors made up of ex-fighters, a cutman and some boxing advocates that meet once a month in the Bronx, the group stands as one of the few in the world that looks out for those who have been beaten in and out of the ring. Veteran boxers who are often discarded by managers and promoters at the top of their careers have been lost ever since, and that’s where Farrago comes in.

Ring 10 founder Matt Farrago with board member Richard Schwartz. Photo from Facebook

A majority of them wind up in physical and financial ruin because, unlike other professional sports like football, baseball or hockey, protected by NFL, MLB and NHL agencies, there’s no retirement or medical plan or structure in boxing for them to rely on.

You’re by yourself in the ring and in life, Farrago said.

“This is the rare sport that doesn’t take care of its own,” said Farrago, who was a top fighter in the 1980s until he was abandoned by his manager after losing a main event at Madison Square Garden. “There’s nothing — no safety net — nothing for these guys to fall back on. In boxing, if you don’t produce, you’re of no use. That’s the manager’s philosophy.”

He explained that while most athletes are drafted into the pros based on scholarships and achievements in college, that’s almost never the case for fighters, many of whom come up from the streets.

“If they make money, they think it’s going to last forever,” Farrago said. “Then they wake up with $150 in the bank. Whatever it takes, we try and get them back on their feet. We are the most effective club like this in the world.”

One of Ring 10’s proudest success stories is that of Iran “The Blade” Barkley, the World Boxing Council middleweight champion of 1988. The only guy to beat boxing legend Tommy Hearns twice, Barkley went from top of the world to homeless in the Bronx.

Matt Farago with elebrated boxing judge and analyst Harold Lederman. Photo from Facebook

“We were literally told there’s a fighter in the subway system living only with a bag of clothes and his championship belt,” Farrago said. “When Iran retired, he had nothing. We took him in, got him settled, got him a place to live, had social services kick in and about a year and a half ago he got married to a nurse.”

Barkley now serves on the group’s board of directors, which also includes top boxers Mark Breland and Richard Burton, and celebrated boxing judge Harold Lederman.

Since its inception, Ring 10 has raised thousands of dollars through events and banquets to help more than 30 top fighters struggling around the world.

They send monthly gift cards to boxers who can’t afford groceries and clothes, and checks to the families of those suffering from illnesses such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy — an extremely common degenerative disease among fighters that’s brought on by repetitive brain trauma, also known as “punch-drunk syndrome.”

For the last six years the group has helped out former two-time middleweight champion Gerald McClellan, who suffered an aneurysm and collapsed in the ring in 1995 and is now blind and 80 percent deaf; it frequently sends care packages to Charlie “White Lightning” Brown, who was once regarded as having the fastest hands in the fight game and now resides in a nursing facility in Illinois with fluid on his brain and difficulty speaking; and even provided a proper headstone for a Floridian fighter who died from injuries in the ring and was buried in a nameless plot in Flushing, Queens.

Matt Farrago. Photo from Facebook

While most of the boxers helped are between 45 and 60 years old, board members said they anticipate some younger guys currently in the ring coming to them for help.

“Boxers are basically pawns to be moved around,” said Richard Schwartz, one of the board of directors. “I also think there’s the feeling that a lot of people just don’t care — they don’t care about the modern-day gladiators who get in the ring to entertain them, who risk their lives. Once they hang up their gloves and a lot of the hits to the head kick in, many of them don’t even have any kind of medical insurance when they need it most. Where is Don King? Where is Oscar De La Hoyas? These people have made hundreds of millions of dollars from the sweat, blood and tears of these fighters, and where are they?”

To Burton, a boxer who has been swindled out of a fair share of money over the years, there’s hope as long as Farrago is around.

“Everything he says he does, he actually does,” Burton said. “He goes beyond what’s expected of him and he’ll help anybody. If you’re down on your luck, Matt will find a way to raise money for you. Ring 10 is helping as many fighters as we can.”

The Ring 10 7th Annual Fundraiser will be held at the Marina del Rey Caterers in the Bronx Sept. 24 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

‘Child’s Play 2’ starring Chucky will kick off the annual Horror Movie Marathon at the CAC.

By Kevin Redding

As summer winds down, the Halloween season sets in and nobody kicks off the spookiest time of the year better than the folks over at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington. In collaboration with Retro Picture Show for the second year in a row, the theater unleashes its 13th annual “Pay To Get Out” Horror Movie Marathon to the masses on Saturday, Aug. 26, starting at 10 p.m.

For 12 hours, moviegoers will be treated to a blood-splattered serving of six horror films, ranging from the popular to the forgotten and spanning the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, all shown in glorious 35mm.

Stephen King makes a cameo appearance in ‘Pet Sematary

The night’s lineup includes everybody’s favorite killer doll in “Child’s Play 2” (1990); Stephen King’s “Pet Sematary” (1989); horror legend John Carpenter’s overlooked “Prince of Darkness” (1987), celebrating its 30th anniversary; “Blackenstein” (1973), the blaxploitation sendup of Mary Shelley’s classic tale; the once-X-rated “I Drink Your Blood” (1971); and Grindhouse Releasing’s “Trailer Apocalypse,” a feature-length compilation of creepy and nauseating trailers sure to thrill each and every horror lover in the crowd.

Plus, as is tradition, there will be a bonus mystery film that won’t be revealed to the audience until it starts.

The idea is that each film will get increasingly more and more deranged as the marathon goes on — an endurance test of which Jigsaw would surely approve — until those in the audience who have “survived” the experience emerge from the theater the next morning. Anyone who does will receive $10 back on their ticket and a free breakfast of bagels and coffee in the Sky Room Cafe after the final feature.

John Carpenter’s ‘Prince of Darkness’ wages war on mankind.

In typical Retro Picture Show fashion, five raffle winners will be announced at the top of the evening, with prizes including an official “I Drink Your Blood” collectible toy to coincide with its Blu-ray release, a brand new “Blackenstein” Blu-ray, the vinyl soundtrack of “Pet Sematary” and a CD soundtrack of “Prince of Darkness.”

“It’s a special year for us because 13, in horror movie terms, is a moment to celebrate,” said Raj Tawney, director of publicity and promotions for Cinema Arts Centre. “I always encourage everybody to give it a shot but I think you have to be a horror movie fan to sit through these kinds of films. Anybody else wouldn’t really appreciate the artistry these films have to offer.”

Tawney said the horror movie loyalists who come to the marathon year after year are among the most passionate audience members ever.

“Those that come out are such big fans, we always get a packed house,” he said. “They bring pillows and blankets from home to get themselves comfortable all night and many do make it through the entire event. People have a great time.”

Returning as curator of the marathon is Retro Picture Show, a Long Island-based revival screening series focused primarily on horror, sci-fi and exploitation films. Run by husband and wife team Michael and Nina Ciani, the company hosts monthly series at the theater, most recently a special “Sleepaway Camp” triple feature last month that included a special guest appearance by actress Felissa Rose. Back in May, Retro Picture Show launched its online store and will be selling event T-shirts and posters during the marathon.

“I’m excited for the entire lineup [this year],” Michael Ciani, who curates all the company’s programs, said. “Curating the lineup is probably my favorite part, then announcing it and seeing everyone’s reaction. It takes hours of dedication over the course of a few months, many factors are taken into consideration … it’s definitely not a simple process.”

‘Child’s Play 2’ starring Chucky will kick off the annual Horror Movie Marathon at the CAC.

Among the movies Ciani’s most looking forward to screening with the crowd are “Blackenstein” and “I Drink Your Blood,” by far the least known and strangest entries of the night. “[They’ll] give the evening a nice exploitation and grindhouse feel,” he said. “These movies are crazy and perfect for an all-night marathon. Dozing off in your seat and waking up to the insane sights and sounds of ‘Blackenstein.’ That’s what it’s all about.”

Although the marathon has had a handful of different curators since it began, Tawney said Ciani brings a special touch to the event.

“He puts so much passion and thought into the movies that he’s showing and kind of takes you on this roller coaster ride throughout the evening,” Tawney said. “So much effort is put into his design and artwork and into the culture he’s cultivating through these screenings. He’s really developing a brand here and we’re really happy to be part of that experience. We’re kind of giving Retro Picture Show the forum to experiment and develop their film exhibition.”

And to also scare the living daylights out of people.

The Cinema Arts Centre is located at 423 Park Ave. in Huntington. Tickets for the 13th annual Pay to Get Out Horror Movie Marathon are $45 per person, $40 for Cinema Arts Centre members. To order call 631-423-7610 or visit www.cinemaartscentre.org. For more information on upcoming Retro Picture Show events, including its 2017 Halloween Horrorthon, visit www.retropictureshow.com.

TriCrosse creators Bill Kidd and Andy Matthews demonstrate how their game works at Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai. Photo by Kevin Redding

By Kevin Redding

Back in the 1980s, Setauket natives Bill Kidd and Andy Matthews would often spend their summer days fishing and clamming on the Long Island Sound.

But when they returned to shore, the best friends were the only ones playing TriCrosse — a then-brand new toss-and-catch game in which two players with scoop rackets throw a ball back and forth trying to score into goal nets set up in front of their opponent.

That’s because Kidd and Matthews made it up in their backyards.

A man plays TriCrosse during Town of Brookhaven Tournament Aug. 12. Photo by Kevin Redding

“We started off tossing and catching a ball with some lacrosse-like rackets, and then got some fishing and crab nets from the shed to stick in the ground so we could be a little competitive with each other,” said Kidd, 48, laughing. “We thought, ‘This is kind of fun, it’s neat to aim this thing and try to get a goal.’ It kind of grew from there.”

On Aug. 12, more than 30 years after its creation, TriCrosse was played by kids, teens, moms, dads, uncles, aunts and grandparents along Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai during the first Town of Brookhaven-sponsored Fight Breast Cancer TriCrosse Tournament.

The fun-filled event, made up of 28 registered locals and dozens of spectators, pit players against each other in a double-elimination style and marked the game’s first public tournament since it was officially rolled out into several small stores and made available online in April.

Even though most of the tournament participants had never played TriCrosse before, it didn’t take long for them to get into it.

“It’s borderline addicting,” said Kevin McElhone, 25, of Huntington. “As soon as you get the racket in your hand, you can stand out here and do this for hours.”

So far, the portable game — which contains two goals with three different sized nets on each, two bases for indoor and outdoor play, two plastic rackets, two balls and a large carry bag — is on shelves at Amity Harbor Sports in Amityville as well as toy stores in Lake Placid and Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

“It’s very fun, it’s great exercise, just a great outdoor game,” said Richard Kryjak, 13, of East Setauket. “It’s definitely perfect to play on the beach.”

A girls tosses her TriCrosse ball during a Town of Brookhaven Tournament Aug. 12. Photo by Kevin Redding

The TriCrosse team, which consists of Kidd, Matthews and Bill Strobel of Setauket, said they plan to meet with multiple retailers in the fall, as well as many physical education and camp conferences later this year to discuss expanding the game’s reach.

“I think I’m going to be a TriCrosse person in retirement,” said John Gentilcore, the former principal at Mount Sinai Elementary School. “It’s important I have a good self-esteem
because I’m probably going to be beaten by a 10-year-old. That’s OK, though.”

Matthews, the director of math, science and technology in the Mount Sinai School District, said the school recently bought four TriCrosse sets to bring into the gym curriculum.

“We want to be the ultimate outdoor game for people at beaches, in parking lots, tailgating, gymnasiums,” Matthews said.

Kidd said he likes to also think it can work in a variety of settings.

“The best part about it is it’s like old school baseball and mitts with the family, but in an environment where it can be very competitive or as leisurely as just hanging out in the backyard and having some fun,” Kidd said.

Although it has been a popular game in Kidd and Matthews’ close circles for years, TriCrosse was tucked away as jobs and families took priority.

That was until recently, when backyard games like Spikeball and KanJam made a splash on the market, encouraging the team to turn TriCrosse into a family-friendly product.

TriCrosse team of Bill Kidd, Andy Matthews and Bill Strobel take their game TriCrosse to Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai. Photo by Kevin Redding

“The three things we’ve always heard from people is ‘What is that?’ ‘Where can I get it?’ and ‘You should be on Shark Tank’,” Strobel said. “It’s such a great family activity, which people really enjoy. Our big thing is also getting kids off the couch, getting them off of their phones and getting them out playing. I know there’s a bunch of backyard games out there, but there’s nothing like this, which is cool.”

After it was released in April, Strobel brought TriCrosse and videos of game play to Brookhaven’s superintendent of recreation Kurt Leuffen in an effort to bring it to residents in a friendly, competitive setting.

Fifty percent of the proceeds that were raised during the event, $200 total, will be donated to the Stony Brook Foundation, which supports research, prevention and treatment of breast cancer.

“We’re not trying to make any money at this tournament,” Matthews said. “We just want to show people what it is and try to get the word out.”

Not much of the game has changed since Kidd and Matthews developed it, they said. The rule is that each player stands behind the goals, which are about 50 feet apart, while throwing and receiving a foam ball with plastic rackets to try and score into any of the three nets for varying points. The first player to reach seven points in 10 minutes wins.

Fittingly, one of the last matches of the  night was between the game’s two creators. Kidd and Matthews struck the ball back and forth with glee as if they were teenagers in the backyard again.

Through Compassion International, Mount Sinai Congregational, United Church of Christ can give clean water to communities in need

Sylvia, on right, passes a sponge to Natalie as the pair help youth group leader Michael Clark scrub down a car. Photo by Kevin Redding

By Kevin Redding

The soap suds were flying as young members of a Mount Sinai church hosed down dozens of cars this past Saturday to better the lives of children in need around the world.

During a car wash fundraiser Aug. 12 on the grounds of the Mount Sinai Congregational, United Church of Christ on North Country Road, members of the church’s youth group cleaned cars for three hours and raised $320 in donations. All proceeds are going toward clean and safe water filtration systems for impoverished communities in faraway countries.

Natalie hoses off a car during the Mount Sinai Congregational, United Church of Christ fundraiser. Photo by Kevin Redding

In these areas, which include villages in Africa, Asia and South America, life-threatening diseases emerge from contaminated waters, taking the lives of a child every 15 seconds.

From the money raised, four $79 filtration systems will be purchased and delivered to these communities in need by Compassion International, a child-advocacy organization that’s been helping the poor worldwide since 1952.

Each village will receive a filtration system which also includes two buckets, a hose and training on how to maintain it so it can provide a lifetime supply of water.

“We got to choose what we wanted the money to go for,” Natalie, a 12-year-old church member from Rocky Point, said during the car wash.

When she and others in the youth group, which is made up of fifth through 12th grade students from five local school districts, saw the water initiative among a long list of others on the Compassion International website, Natalie said it immediately excited them.

“A lot of people are getting sick because they’re drinking dirty water, so we chose to do something to give them clean water,” she said “It makes me really happy to know someone else is going to have a better life because of this. It’s one of my life goals to help people around me, and make the world a better place.”

Natalie’s youth group friend Sylvia, 12, from Selden, said she was also moved  by the idea, and decided to join the cause.

Mount Sinai Congregational, United Church of Christ youth group leaders Michael Clark and Mary Larson helped put together a car wash to raise money for water filtration systems in needy communities. Photo by Kevin Redding

“To me that’s just incredible,” Compassion International communications director Tim Glenn said upon hearing about the car wash. “To see youth — 10- to 12-year-olds — come together to raise money to change a family’s life like that — I just love that. In 2017, a day and age where we’re told to think of ourselves first, there are teenagers and young people out there who are putting the needs of others first, to make sure their basic needs are met.”

Mount Sinai Congregational began its partnership with Compassion International roughly a year ago when a member on the church’s Board of Christian Outreach decided to sponsor an 8-year-old girl from Kenya named Kanana Ferry through the organization.

A first-grader living in the village of Ruiri, Ferry has become an honorary member of the church’s youth group through letter correspondence and is frequently provided tuition assistance, books and games.

“From there, the kids got interested and thought that any child should have water, any child should be able to go to school; they’d say ‘let’s do more,’” said Mary Larson, one of the youth group leaders. “I’m so proud of them that they’re taking their Saturday to do this. It’s important to help those who are marginalized, but they’re also working
together to get this done.”

While Natalie, Sylvia and 10-year-old Jake scrubbed Toyotas and Mercedes with sponges and sprayed windshields and each other with water, other kids held up signs on the side of the road waving more cars in.

“In a few hours of the day, a world change can be made,” said Jake, from Stony Brook,  before washing down a pickup truck.

Jake smiles as he washes a car during the fundraising event for water filtration systems for communities in need. Photo by Kevin Redding

Earlier this year, the kids raised more than $200 to donate chickens and miscellaneous supplies to help families in need, and regularly host fundraisers to pay for mission trips.

Youth group leader Stephanie Clark, who grew up attending the Mount Sinai church, said she’s always happy to see how enthusiastic the kids are about helping others.

“It’s very exciting,” said Clark, whose husband Michael also became a youth leader. “I think it’s good to have a community like this growing up. And growing up in this church, when I was young, I looked up to older members and now they look up to older members. That’s just how we are.”

Glenn said he personally visited some of the poor villages in South America and witnessed how much the water filters boost the morale of families. Each filter produces up to one million gallons of clean water and lasts years, he said.

“I want to thank the youth group and church so much for stepping up and changing the lives of families,” Glenn said. “Thank you for thinking beyond yourselves and taking the time out of your busy schedules to do something like this for others you may never meet.”

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The Long Island Seaport and Eco Center in Port Jefferson held its 7th annual “Quick ‘n’ Dirty” boat build and race Aug. 12 and Aug. 13 at Harborfront Park. The competition allows five hours for teams of two to build boats out of wood on Saturday, which are then painted for three hours Sunday and raced around Port Jefferson Harbor. Port Jeff residents Ken Callirgos and Matthew Deveau came out on top in the field of eight boats, and raced their UFO-themed boat to victory.

Christopher O’Shea races to the finish line in the U.S. Open. Photo from Kelley O’Shea

By Kevin Redding

When he was 9 years old, recent Rocky Point High School graduate Christopher O’Shea was encouraged by a friend to try out for the Three Village Swim Club team in East Setauket.

His mom was surprised at his newfound interest in swimming, because, as she recalled, he was deathly afraid of the water not too long before.

“We could never figure out why he hated the water so much, he just always cried,” Kelley O’Shea said.

Whatever it was disappeared quickly.

Jason Louser swims the breaststroke. Photo from Jason Louser

“He tried out for the team and made it,” she said. “He really loved it. And the rest, as they say, is history. Now it’s his life.”

O’Shea, 18, a two-time All-America swimmer who graduated in the spring, was one of just two Suffolk County high school competitors in the 2017 U.S. Open Swimming Championships at the Nassau County Aquatic Center in Eisenhower Park, East Meadow, held Aug. 2-6.

He and Shoreham-Wading River junior Jason Louser joined the best swimmers in the country, including 12-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte, in the largest single-tank pool in the country for the biggest event of their athletic careers.

O’Shea, who swam the 100-meter long course butterfly Friday and 100 long course backstroke Saturday, placed 68th with a time of 57.38 seconds and 58th in 58.71, respectively. Lochte placed fifth in the same backstroke event.

The Rocky Point grad, who considered this event “the baby steps” toward the Olympic trials, said he couldn’t believe his luck upon entering the massive Nassau facility.

“Oh, I was completely ecstatic,” O’Shea said of the experience. “Typically when you go to a swim meet you’re with people on your level, but when you’re going to this worldwide meet and there’s not only the French national team and a bunch of guys from Australia, but then Ryan Lochte and other Olympians, it was surreal. I didn’t believe I would ever be able to see these people in person let alone swim in the same pool as them.”

He had previously qualified to compete, based on his time, in the Senior Metropolitan Long Course Summer Championships July 22.

Christopher O’Shea swims the backstroke in the U.S. Open. Photo from Kelley O’Shea

Louser, 16, who represented his Long Island Aquatic Club in Garden City, competed in the 200 long course breaststroke, 100 long course breaststroke, 400 long course individual medley and 200 long course individual medley during the meet. He echoed O’Shea’s awe, especially when it came to seeing Lochte.

“The first time I saw him was astonishing,” Louser said. “I was just thinking, ‘I’m swimming in the same meet as him and this is kind of crazy.’ Everyone’s crazy good at the U.S. Open and it’s also very intimidating because there are college coaches around.”

O’Shea was also nervous as he warmed up for his first race, competing alongside top swimmers from around the country.

“Being such a small fish in a giant pond, it was a lot to take in,” he said. “The aquatic center was covered with posters and flags and signs, so it made it all the more better. It made it seem all the more official that we were actually there. It was intense and I had to get into a mental focus.”

But O’Shea has gone above and beyond to earn his spot among the best.

He won the 100 butterfly at the state championship and placed second in the 100 backstroke in March, and won the county championship in the backstroke and 200 freestyle last winter.

Rounding out his ninth and final year on the Three Village Swim Club team, as he’ll be attending Eastern Michigan University on a swimming scholarship this fall, O’Shea has maintained a rigorous schedule to prepare for the U.S. Open.

Christopher O’Shea smiles in his Three Village Swim Club team uniform. Photo from Kelley O’Shea

This summer, the daily process has been waking up at 5 a.m., eating breakfast and driving 25 minutes to train at the Aquatic Center for two hours from 6 to 8 a.m. After practice, he’d go to work at the summer buddies program at the North Shore Youth Council and give private half-hour swimming lessons to kids between the ages 4 and 12 at home. Then, he heads to the gym, go back home, and repeat.

“This is a sport you can’t give up on because once you do, it’s over,” he said. “A lot of people do give up and I don’t want to be one of those people. That keeps pushing me along.”

Both O’Shea and Louser beat the odds in becoming successful. Neither Rocky Point nor Shoreham school districts have a pool or official swim team, so the two had to work extra hard and go the distance to practice.

Despite an apparent lack of interest, O’Shea said the tide is starting to turn. Some of his friends came out to watch him compete over the weekend, which was a big deal to him as they’d never come to a meet before. Even younger members of the Three Village Swim Club arrived with signs and cheers.

“Now that they’ve heard that Chris is swimming with Ryan Lochte, they’re thinking, ‘Wow, he must be really good,’” his mom said, laughing. “It’s pretty cool to see how everyone’s changing their attitude, and I couldn’t ask for anything better in a son. We are continually surprised and thrilled with his achievements.”

Reflecting on how far he’s come, O’Shea said, “When I started swimming it was just a ‘Let’s see how it goes’ kind of thing, and now a few years down the line, I find myself competing against the world’s best … it’s really something else.”

Rocky Point residents took to the polls Aug. 8 to vote on propositions to demo the old and rebuild a new North Beach Company 2 firehouse, and purchase a new fire truck. Photo by Kevin Redding

By Kevin Redding

Following a tight vote Tuesday, a decades-old firehouse in Rocky Point will officially be replaced with a more modern one, and a brand new fire truck will inhabit it.

Rocky Point Fire District residents took to voting booths at the North Beach Company 2 firehouse on 90 King Road Aug. 8 to weigh in on two propositions, one, to knock down the existing station for a safer, updated structure and the other, to acquire a new aerial apparatus.

Among a total 401 votes, 204 residents voted “yes” and 197 voted “no” to demolition, costing $7,250,000 to do so. Taxes will increase, but the maximum maturity of the bonds will not go beyond 30 years.

Rocky Point residents took to the polls Aug. 8 to vote on propositions to demo the old and rebuild a new North Beach Company 2 firehouse, and purchase a new fire truck. Photo by Kevin Redding

To purchase the new ladder truck, with a total cost of $1,250,000, members of the district voted 214 to 187 in favor. The maximum maturity of the bonds is said to not exceed 20 years.

“I’m very relieved,” Rocky Point Fire District Secretary Edwin Brooks said upon announcing the tallied votes to a crowd of cheering volunteer firefighters. “I didn’t think it would be as close as it was, but I’m relieved it passed. The majority of the community thought it was the right thing.”

Tim Draskin, a volunteer firefighter within the district for two years now, said it was an absolute necessity to refurbish the firehouse.

“The whole community will realize once it’s done just how much it’s going to impact everything,” Draskin said. “The building’s old and definitely needs it.”

Built in the early 1950s with very few upgrades since then, the current structure has been in need of repair and renovations for decades to accommodate for more modern requirements of firefighters, from new safety regulations to equipment and apparatuses, as well as mandatory handicap-accessibility.

Also, major out-of-date infrastructure, like heating systems, will be replaced.

Before votes were tallied, residents explained where they stood on the propositions.

“I’m not ashamed to say I voted ‘yes’ on both,” Pam Fregeau said, adding she knows the equipment needs to be updated. “I just want the firemen to be safe, because them being safe means my family is safe, means my grandchildren here are safe. I want us all to be safe. These firefighters put their lives on the line and they’re not even paid for it. For the amount it’s going to cost me a year, I think I can handle that.”

Mary Volz shared the same sentiment.

“I just want the firemen to be safe, because them being safe means my family is safe, means my grandchildren here are safe.”

— Pam Fregeau

“For the firefighters to do their job properly, they need a well-working building,” Volz said. “It should definitely be refurbished and if the taxes are going up either way, they should really do this work.”

One man, however, who asked to remain anonymous, did not agree.

“I think they’re excessive,” he said of the costs. “I’ve been in contact with numerous fire departments for many years and I’ve seen excessive spending of taxpayers’ money, so that’s why I did double ‘no.’”

District Commissioner David Brewer, who was among the board of commissioners that set the project in motion in June, said he was extremely grateful for the community’s support.

“The Board of Fire Commissioners is always trying to balance the needs of the fire department with the tax burden of the residents,” Brewer said over the phone. “We think these two bonds do just that.”

According to district officials, final design of the project will go forward, as well as the bidding processes for contractors.

They hope to break ground next spring.

Exhibit showcases the brilliance of the Serbian American inventor

By Kevin Redding

Asked in 1927 about not getting the proper recognition for inventing radio among other uncredited scientific achievements, Nikola Tesla said, “Let the future tell the truth and evaluate each one according to his work and accomplishments … the present is theirs; the future, for which I really worked, is mine.”

Ninety years later, not only is the truth out about the greatness of the Serbian American inventor — whose long list of contributions to modern science includes the alternating current motor, the electric motor, wireless communication, X-rays, the remote control, and, yes, radio — his work is utilized everywhere we go.

And now it is celebrated every day in Stony Brook Village for the rest of the summer. Residents far and wide are invited to explore the radical genius of Tesla in a new exhibit at Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s Educational & Cultural Center titled Nikola Tesla: Past, Present, Future. Visitors can immerse themselves in the life and inventions of the man who electrified history, powered the present and continues to shape the future.

On view through Sept. 4, the exhibit was designed by board members within the nonprofit Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe in Shoreham, where Tesla’s last remaining laboratory stands and features a litany of displays such as an operating replica of the famous Tesla coil, augmented reality technology and a signed Tesla Roadster off the Tesla Motors assembly line.

Buzzing sounds of electricity, dramatic music and compelling narration of Tesla’s life pervade throughout the large room, where kids, teens, adults and seniors have enjoyed since July 8 interactive kiosks, screens showing in-depth documentaries, biographical banners, models and more.

“There’s a real desire on the public’s part to learn more about him because he’s an unsung American and international scientific hero,” said David Madigan, the Tesla Science Center board member who was tasked with bringing the exhibit to life. “He’s also the name that most people don’t know, and yet he’s one of the most influential scientists of the 20th century. It’s very important that the public supports it.”

Back in March, Ward Melville Heritage Organization President Gloria Rocchio approached Madigan and other members of the Tesla board and asked them to take up the exhibit space for the summer as a way to give the nonprofit visibility and promote their cause. (The Tesla Science Center is in the process of raising funds to open its doors to the public next year.)

Board Director Marc Alessi and Madigan took on the challenge, seeing the exhibit as a mini version of what will ultimately be their expansive Visitor’s Center, which will serve as the site’s main focus until the museum is in operation — the group needs a minimum amount of $20 million to open it.

“We made a decision as an organization that this would force us to put together an exhibit and start collecting the necessary materials; we’re going to need to put items into our building when we open next year so why not get started now?” Alessi said during a recent tour. “I think people are getting a bit of a taste of what this will be and this is just one pillar of what the Tesla Science Center will eventually be.”

But filling the exhibit room was no easy feat, as the two would learn. “It was a huge and heavy lift for us because I wasn’t aware of what we might have on hand in storage,” Alessi said. “I knew we had some donations, but did we really have enough material for an exhibit this size? At the time, we didn’t.”

Madigan quickly got on the horn with everyone he knew would want to contribute to a Tesla-centric space, which, luckily for him, ended up being a lot of impassioned people. In two months, the exhibit bursted with life.

Banners were brought in from the Tesla Science Foundation in Philadelphia and Belgrade, Serbia, and a Rocky Point artisan named Rob Arnold built a replica of Tesla’s teleautomaton — the first ever remote-controlled boat that Tesla premiered at Madison Square Garden’s Electrical Exhibition in 1898. Local filmmaker Joseph Sikorski, who made the documentaries “Fragments from Olympus: The Vision of Nikola Tesla” and “Tower to the People” about the history and preservation of Wardenclyffe, set up the exhibit’s kiosks and even donated his model of Tesla’s laboratory used in many of his films.

Nan Guzzetta of Antique Costumes & Prop Rental in Port Jefferson submitted Tesla-period wardrobe to be displayed; neon sculptor Clayton Orehek created a spectacular portrait of Tesla as well as a coil-inspired design of the inventor’s signature; and Richard Matthias of Hot Springs, Arkansas, built and donated a Jacob’s ladder display and the replica of the Tesla coil — which visitors are able to charge with the help of neon glass tubes.

Next to the Tesla Roadster in the corner of the room sits a 3D hands-on exhibit brought in by the National Museum of Mathematics in New York City that allows people to manipulate the magnetic field on which the Tesla induction motor is based.

“We found it all very inspiring,” Madigan said of the support. “Everywhere we go with this, it’s not us, it’s Nikola Tesla that is fascinating to people. We wanted to put together an illustrative exhibit that would help educate the public as to exactly who this man was and how he contributed to society, and continues to. You can’t talk about Tesla in the past without talking about the future.”

Madigan demonstrated in the exhibit what’s called the Nikola Tesla augmented reality app, designed by Brian Yetzer of Philadelphia, that superimposes a 3D animation of a Tesla-related image over something in the room with a quick scan of a phone. Upon scanning over a banner, a film of Tesla played on the phone screen.

Bill Pagels and Sue Ann Wilkinson of Salt Lake City, Utah, made sure to go to the exhibit during a recent vacation to the area. Both of them waved neon glass tubes and watched in amazement as the Tesla coil erupted with electricity. “We know [Tesla’s] a towering giant,” Pagels said. “But we didn’t know the extent to which his inventions resulted in something we would be carrying around in our pockets, or the range of technology he invented. It’s fascinating to understand the depth of his impact on humanity and, frankly, that he was such a humanitarian. It’s really quite amazing.”

Looking around the active room, Alessi said, “For us, it’s remarkable that this was pulled together the way it was over the course of a few months and we’re grateful Ward Melville gave us this opportunity. Having them help us with this first exhibit is remarkable and we’re seeing the benefit, we’re seeing local profile raised as a result.”

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine and Councilman Dan Panico, on left, with the new food scrap composters. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

As far as the Town of Brookhaven is concerned, going green is not just a casual practice — it’s a moral obligation to ensure Long Island’s future.

In the last few months, Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and members of the town board have launched a series of environmentally friendly initiatives and continued ongoing efforts that encourage local residents to
reduce their carbon footprints and preserve the serenity of their surroundings.

“Whenever there are ways to benefit the environment, I’m 100 percent involved [and] I’m blessed by an extremely supportive town board,” Romaine said, highlighting an especially strong partnership with Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point). “I don’t want to say Jane is my environmental soulmate, but she and I are on the exact same page. She is one of my cheerleaders in every manner, shape or form.”

Other environmental actions taken by Brookhaven:

– A 127-acre solar farm called Shoreham Solar Commons will be constructed on the recently closed Tallgrass Golf Course.

– The extension of the Pine Barrens to include 800 acres of national property around the former Shoreham nuclear plant will go forward upon Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) signed authorization.

A multiyear project to convert all 40,000 of Brookhaven’s streetlights to LED bulbs has begun with 5,000 already converted.

– Through a partnership with U.S Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the town has secured funding to fix stormwater infrastructures along the North Shore, from Miller Place to Shoreham.

– A center at Ceder Beach in Mount Sinai  has been established to grow millions of oysters and sea clams that filter and clean the water.

In May, Bonner held her fifth bi-annual Go Green event at the Rose Caracappa Senior Center in Mount Sinai. It’s the town’s biggest recycling event where residents can dispose of unwanted medication and prescriptions and recycle old TVs and computers, as well as paper. The e-waste drive gathered 15,000 pounds of electronic waste and shredded 13,580 pounds of paper products and 26 boxes of unwanted pharmaceutical drugs, according to the town.

The councilwoman also hosted a Homeowner’s Guide to Energy Efficiency forum at the center later in the month, educating residents on how to get a free energy audit, affordable home energy improvements and save $1,000 a year on home energy bills. Through this effort, less fossil fuels are used to heat and light homes.

“We take it very seriously,” Bonner said of the town’s green initiatives. “We have a moral obligation to be good stewards of the Earth and this transcends party lines. Regardless of party affiliation, we all know we can do a better job of taking care of the planet.”

Aside from providing free compost and mulch to residents at Brookhaven Town Hall, officials also recently utilized a $5,000 grant to rip up the back lawn of the property to plant and restore native Long Island grasses, from which seeds can be collected and used.

In June, the town officially authorized the nonprofit Art & Nature Group Inc. to transform Brookhaven’s historic Washington Lodge property into a community nature center that offers environmental education programs.

Romaine and Councilman Dan Panico (R-Manorville) organized Brookhaven’s Food Scrap Composting pilot program at town hall last month, with hopes to expand it as a townwide initiative.

Through the program, town employees can deposit food waste, such as banana peels and coffee grinds, into organic material collection containers placed throughout the buildings, which are then collected and composted to be used for garden beds around town buildings.

“We must provide alternative waste management solutions like these if we are going to provide a cleaner, greener earth for future generations,” Panico said in a statement.

Resident trying to repair cracked bulkhead calls fee "highway robbery"

Rocky Point resident Susan McCormick lives along Culross Drive beach. Photo by Kevin Redding

By Kevin Redding

Things are rocky between the North Shore Beach Property Owners Association and surrounding residents.

Locals from the close-knit beach community of Culross Drive in Rocky Point are voicing their frustrations over what they call an egregious hike in fees and membership requirements put in place by board members of the private beach association in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

According to residents, the association has been charging homeowners who live on the bluff up to $3,800, and now possibly more, just to gain access to their beach. If a Culross Drive resident has a bulkhead in need of repair, the fee is for vehicles to drive a few hundred feet over the association’s private beach in order to reach Culross Beach homes.

Rocky Point resident Susan McCormick, who lives on Culross Drive beach, is having issues with a fee from the North Shore Beach Property Owners Association to access a cracked bulkhead for repair. Photo by Kevin Redding

There is no other way for the machinery to enter Culross Beach, residents said, and in the past all who needed access through the association’s property were charged with a performance bond of about $250 and asked that the contractor include the association on their construction insurance policy in case any damage to their beach occurred.

The North Shore Beach Property Owners Association so far has not provided an explanation to residents as to why the fee was raised so high, despite numerous attempts to get answers by email and phone.

The group did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Only members can log onto the website in order to read the constitution and by-laws.

While repairs to bulkheads are usually few and far between — as most are projected to last several decades — bulkhead maintenance is crucial for those who live in the beach side community, according to Susan McCormick, a Culross Drive resident since 1981.

“We are religious about it here,” McCormick said. “Every single one of us, at some point in time, have needed bulkhead repairs. If you don’t maintain it, all of the sand slides down, the bulkhead could disappear and then the sand would  just creep onto the next property. Once all that slides down, the top of your property is going to go. It’s cost me a fortune over the last few years — after the two hurricanes — to repair.”

McCormick, 66, the co-owner of School of Fish Swim and Scuba in Rocky Point, said she first heard of the hiked-up fee about a month ago when she pursued the replacement of a cracked piling on her bulkhead.

“It’s cruel and they don’t need this money. I can’t imagine what they’re even using it for or what their excuse is for doing it.”

— Susan McCormick

After a neighbor informed her of the $3,800 charge just to get the repair equipment over to her property, she called the association. She didn’t receive a response, and proceeded to contact members of local government, including Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point), Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R), and a representative from the Environmental Conservation Office in Stony Brook.

While she said those in Brookhaven have been sympathetic and supportive of her concerns, McCormick was told there was nothing the town could do about it because the beach belonging to the association is private property.

She said the association did not waive the fee, even for a neighbor whose house was and still is in danger of sliding down the bluff due to severe damage from Hurricane Sandy.

“It’s wrong what the North Shore Beach Association is doing and I’m not giving up,” McCormick said of her determination to speak with someone on the association’s board. “I would never do to another person what they’re doing. It’s cruel and they don’t need this money. I can’t imagine what they’re even using it for or what their excuse is for doing it. We’re not doing any damage to their little section of beach. This is what I call highway robbery — they’re making money from people’s misfortunes.”

Pete Falcetta, president of the private Culross Corporation said McCormick is doing the right thing.

“[She’s] trying to make an emergency repair the proper way by stopping the bleeding, and yet she’s being forced to pay this exorbitant fee that’s more than the original repair,” he said.

Mickey Wolcson, one of McCormick’s neighbors who has lived on Culross Drive for 11 years, said he’s long thought about filing a lawsuit against the association ever since he became the first and last person to pay the $3,800 charge two years ago. His house and bluff plantings were in danger of sliding down, so he needed to make the urgent repair. He said he was flabbergasted when he discovered how much it would cost.

Rocky Point resident Susan McCormick’s cracked bulkhead. Photo by Kevin Redding

According to Wolcson, the association also pushed a 10-year membership on him in order to maintain his bulkhead. When he called and finally reached someone on the board at the time, he said he received no sympathy.

Recalling the conversation, Wolcson said when he informed the board member he didn’t want the 10-year membership, explaining that he had his own beach, he was told, “that’s the only way that this can happen.”

“They’re forcing you to become a member even when you don’t want to be one,” Wolcson said. “There’s no justification in this. I think it’s just pure greed. I don’t think they want more members, they want more money. Are they running on a deficit? Why are they stealing money from their neighbors?”

Losquadro called the access charge “excessive and unwarranted” in an email.

“I have been contacted many times about this issue and the sentiment is always the same; the association is just punishing the very neighbors they are purportedly protecting,” Losquadro stated.

Bonner said she is also continually contacted by people losing bulkheads and running the risk of losing their homes because of the charge.

“One of the nice things about Rocky Point is that it’s a very cohesive community and everyone works very well together, except in this instance, and it’s very disappointing,” the councilwoman said. “It’s just not neighborly and is an instance where some compassion and kindness would go a very long way, especially when you’re talking about people that run the very real risk of losing their house.”

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