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Old Field

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Some Three Village residents became concerned when they received an advertisement for a deer management program offering its services. File photo

Recently, Setauket residents living just outside of Old Field received a postcard that raised some eyebrows, and so they reached out to The Village Times Herald with their concerns.

Long Island Wildlife Control, a group of bowhunters, sent out a postcard to Three Village residents advertising its free deer management program for private property owners. The card listed the program as New York State Department of Conservation Nuisance Wildlife Control licensed. With this license, the group can charge a fee and can hunt with a homeowner’s permission outside of hunting season, according to the postcard, if the owner feels the animals are a nuisance.

Jean Darrow, Village of Old Field animal warden and resident, who is opposed to the hunting, said she has heard from local residents who are both for and against deer hunting.

“If it’s legal, there’s nothing we can do,” she said, adding it disturbs her that the hunters involved in the program can hunt even outside of hunting season.

Frank Kentoffio from Patchogue, who is part of the LIWC deer management program, said he and others have hunted on the North Shore for years and are familiar with the overpopulation of deer and the potential problems that arise from them, including tick-borne diseases and the animals eating plants.

“We’re just hunters that are trying to reduce the numbers so federal sharpshooters don’t come in and wipe them out,” Kentoffio said, adding the members of the group are highly trained and must pass a qualification test every 30 days.

He said when asked to hunt on private property, members of the program first check out the location to ensure neighbors’ houses are 150 feet or more away. If not, and they cannot secure the neighbor’s permission, they do not hunt on the property in question.

He said when they hunt on a residential property, the hunters set up a central area and don’t wear camouflaged clothing. They also use plastic sleds to put the deer in to prevent leaving blood behind.

“We try to keep everything as low key as possible,” he said.

Kentoffio said the hunters do everything possible to keep deer, which may travel from about 30 to 40 yards after being shot with a bow, from running on a neighbor’s property. If the animal does, he said the hunters will ask the property owner before stepping in their yard. He said he has never had an animal run into the road.

The group focuses on shooting does, which it believes is the best method to reduce the population, he said, unlike the average bowhunter who may go out to shoot a buck or two just for a trophy.

“By shooting a buck, another buck is just going to come in and impregnate all the does,” he said. “Shooting a buck doesn’t really help the problem because each doe has between two and three fawns every year.”

Darrow said she believes the best solution is to neuter the bucks because it’s easier, and they can get multiple does impregnated at a time. She also said another solution is hormones for the does to stop the estrous cycle.

“It’s not being painful to anything,” Darrow said. “It’s just stopping something that doesn’t have to happen to as many animals.”

She said there are ways to deal with deer, including putting up a 7-foot fence around plants, adding homeowners should check with their town’s or village’s regulations before installing one. The animal warden said rutting season, when the bucks run after the does to mate, will soon begin, and drivers should be cautious on the roads after dusk. She also said the deer tend to stay away from properties with dogs, and if humans make noise when they see them, they will run away.

One of several signs that have been placed in front of homes near Kaltenborn Commons located at the intersection of Old Field Road and Quaker Path. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Residents who live near an open space on the border of Old Field and Setauket have noticed something new popping up, and it’s not flowers.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, signs appeared in front of houses in the vicinity of Kaltenborn Commons, a small park located at the intersection of Old Field Road and Quaker Path, protesting a cellphone tower proposed for the location by the Village of Old Field. The signs read: “Save Kaltenborn Commons, say no to cell tower and equipment corral.”

Residents and nonresidents of Old Field are protesting the proposed plan to install a cellphone tower on the grounds of the park known as Kaltenborn Commons saying it will be unaesthetic and create possible health consequences. Photo from the Village of Old Field website

Charles Catania, who lives across from the commons, said he wasn’t sure who put the signs up, but he didn’t mind that there was one in front of his house.

“I think they should be all around,” he said. “I’m in favor of seeing the signs because I don’t think most people are really aware — even to this date — I don’t think most people are aware of what’s going on.”

Old Field and Setauket residents who live near the commons attended multiple Old Field village meetings this year to express their concerns over the installation of a cellphone tower in the open space. Many have cited concerns about the aesthetics of the tower, a potential decrease in real estate values and possible negative health effects.

Catania said he and his wife, Kathleen, attended the meetings in order to understand why the village trustees would want to install a tower at the location that he said many children play in and residents bring their miniature horses to. While the couple had planned to add an extension to their home, he said the plans are on hold until they find out if a tower will be erected or not.

“It’s a blight on this park,” Catania said. “I just can’t imagine that as a gateway to Old Field or anywhere, that they would want this kind of a structure on this park.”

“It’s a blight on this park. I just can’t imagine that as a gateway to Old Field or anywhere, that they would want this kind of a structure on this park.”

— Charles Catania

Former board member John Von Lintig, who lives directly across from the park, presented a petition Feb. 13 signed by 100 residents who were against the installation of the cell tower.

“The opposition of the cellphone tower, or pole as you call it, is primarily based on aesthetic reasons, which tie very closely to the impact on real estate immediately in the vicinity of the tower,” Von Lintig said at the February meeting.

After the appearance of the signs, Von Lintig said in an email that he found that opposition to the tower has grown stronger.

While a vote to approve signing a lease with telecommunications tower site developer Elite Towers LP was tabled in February until new trustees were voted in, no vote has been taken since Bruce Feller and Tom Pirro were sworn in this April. Mayor Michael Levine said the vote could possibly take place at the June 12 meeting, but the village did not confirm a date at press time.

Tanya Negron, founder of Elite Towers, said at a Jan. 9 meeting that the proposed tower would have a 50-by-50-foot footprint. A stealth concealment pole, the slim structure will have cellphone carrier antennae inside, and the only antennae that would be outside are for emergency agencies, such as the fire department, if requested. Negron said no trees will be removed, and the pole will be centralized within the property and set back from the road 132 feet on the west, 130 feet on the east and 160 feet to the south.

Catania said he hopes trustees will sit in the park to understand its beauty before voting.

“Think of what Old Field stands for,” he said. “Think about what you’re always defending in Old Field with regard to it being such a beautiful village and maintaining that character of a village. And think of the families that are surrounding the park and how this cell tower can impact everyone in Old Field.”

Attorney Ted Rosenberg defeated incumbent Ron LaVita for the village justice seat in Old Field. Photo from candidates

A race 20 years in the making has created some bad blood.

The Old Field village justice election between incumbent Ron LaVita, who has run unopposed for two decades, and attorney Ted Rosenberg, ended in a 114-all tie March 20 after all the votes, including absentee ballots, were counted. A recount confirmed the vote totals and a run-off election is scheduled for Tuesday, April 3.

Rosenberg, the village’s current associate justice and a partner with Rosenberg & Gluck LLP, said he was surprised when he heard the news. LaVita, a general practice attorney, said he was disappointed when he heard the results.

“I thought I would have a commanding lead,” he said, adding he should have notified residents who were unable to vote March 20 to submit absentee ballots while he was campaigning, feeling that would have helped him take the election.

Things became heated between the two candidates before the March 20 election for the unpaid position when Rosenberg alleged during his campaign that LaVita did not have a certificate of occupancy for his home since making renovations 15 years ago. After submitting a Freedom of Information Act request with the village, it was confirmed by The Village Times Herald there is no current CO on record.

In a letter he handed out to residents, LaVita addressed the allegations saying he was ignorant in dealing with a “gypsy” contractor who he said did not complete the renovation and failed to file the proper paperwork. In spring 2017, LaVita said he paid the requested permit fees in anticipation of obtaining a CO. In July of that year, he was granted an extension, which expires in July of this year.

In the letter to residents and an ad, LaVita said despite doing his best to follow the canons of judicial ethics, he felt he needed to address allegations and provide further information about his opponent. He alleged Rosenberg represented an accident client who sued the Village of Old Field and the constable, and hosted a campaign fundraiser, which violates judicial ethics; and that the village treasurer works for Rosenberg’s law office.

Rosenberg confirmed he represented a client against Old Field and said he checked with the mayor first, who said there was no conflict of interest created for taking on the case. As for the alleged fundraiser, the attorney said it was a meet and greet his wife arranged, and there was no admission charged.

Rosenberg said he looks forward to a run-off election, and added he had hoped this time around there would be a meet the candidates night or debate so Old Field residents could learn more about the candidates. At press time, there was no debate scheduled, but Old Field residents can meet Rosenberg at The Setauket Neighborhood House at 95 Main Street April 2 at 7 p.m. to learn more about him. LaVita has not scheduled any sort of debate or meetings.

“I think it’s an opportunity for the voters of the village to gain more knowledge about the candidates and our qualifications,” Rosenberg said in regard to a debate. “Particularly for me, because I’m not the incumbent.”

During the March 20 election, Michael Levine, who has been mayor of Old Field since 2008, ran unopposed and maintains his seat. Bruce Feller and Tom Pirro are the village’s new trustees. Feller and Pirro ran for two seats on the village board after Timothy Hopkins and Robert Whitcomb decided not to run for re-election.

The village justice run-off election will be held April 3 at the Keeper’s Cottage at 207 Old Field Road. The polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m. Absentee ballots will be re-accepted and must be in to Village Hall no later than 9 p.m. April 3

Attorney Ted Rosenberg defeated incumbent Ron LaVita for the village justice seat in Old Field. Photo from candidates

After a tie between Old Field Village justice votes was confirmed, a run-off election has been scheduled.

Twenty-year incumbent Ron LaVita and attorney Ted Rosenberg each received 114 votes once all ballots, including absentee votes, were counted March 20. A recount confirmed the numbers March 22.

A run-off election will be held Tuesday April 3 at the Keeper’s Cottage, located at 207 Old Field Road. The polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m. Absentee ballots will be re-accepted, and must be in to Village Hall no later than 9 p.m. April 3, according to Village Clerk Adrienne Kessel.

To read more about other results from the election, and reactions from the village justice candidates: Old Field justice race ends in tie.

Run-off election will be held April 3

Attorney Ted Rosenberg defeated incumbent Ron LaVita for the village justice seat in Old Field. Photo from candidates

A race 20 years in the making ended in a tie March 20.

The Old Field village justice election between incumbent Ron LaVita, who has run unopposed for 20 years, and attorney Ted Rosenberg, ended in a 114-all tie after all the votes, including absentee ballots, were counted. A run-off election will be held Tuesday April 3 at the Keeper’s Cottage, located at 207 Old Field Road. The polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m. Absentee ballots will be re-accepted, and must be in to Village Hall no later than 9 p.m. April 3, according to Village Clerk Adrienne Kessel.

Both candidates received the news of the tie the night of March 20. A recount confirmed the vote totals.

Rosenberg, the village’s current associate justice and a partner with Rosenberg & Gluck LLP, said he was surprised when he heard the news.

He looks forward to a run-off election, and said after the results were in that he hopes this time around there will be a meet the candidates night and/or debate so Old Field residents can learn more about each of the candidates.

“If there’s another election, I think it’s an opportunity for the voters of the village to gain more knowledge about the candidates and our qualifications,” he said. “Particularly for me, because I’m not the incumbent.”

LaVita, a general practice attorney, said he was disappointed when he heard the results.

“I thought I would have a commanding lead,” he said, adding he should have notified residents who were unable to vote March 20 to submit absentee ballots while he was campaigning, feeling that would have helped him take the election.

LaVita said he is also open to a meet the candidates night and/or debate.

During the election, Michael Levine, who has been mayor of Old Field since 2008, ran unopposed and maintains his seat. Bruce Feller and Tom Pirro are the village’s new trustees. Feller and Pirro ran for two seats after Timothy Hopkins and Robert Whitcomb decided not to run for re-election.

This version was updated to include that the vote totals were confirmed and a run-off election is scheduled.

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Sitting mayor and two new trustee candidates will run unopposed in their races during March 20 Old Field election

One of the concerns Old Field Mayor Michael Levine and two trustees will face in the near future is whether or not to install a cellphone pole in Kaltenborn Commons. Photo by Rita J. Egan

By Rita J. Egan

It’s been 20 years since Old Field Village Justice Ron LaVita has been challenged in an election, but when residents vote March 20 they will see two names on the ballot.

Attorney Ted Rosenberg, who has served in various positions in the village and is currently associate justice, decided to throw his hat in the ring. Recently LaVita and Rosenberg answered questions about their backgrounds, and why they feel they would be the best choice for Old Field village justice.

Ron LaVita, village justice

Ron LaVita

LaVita, an Old Field resident since 1995, has lived in the Three Village area for nearly 50 years. For 27 years, he has been a general practice attorney working from his Setauket law office and, 18 years ago, he opened an additional office in Rocky Point.

“I have 34 years’ experience handling client cases similar to the ones I have presided over for the last 20 years,” LaVita said. “I am also a former Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association attorney. My opponent is an accident lawyer.”

LaVita became associate justice in Old Field in 1997. Soon after, he became acting village justice when William Johnson moved from Old Field and was unable to complete his term. LaVita said he has been unopposed in elections, except for his first run for office in 1998.

The attorney said he has presided over hundreds of village court cases through the years and has a perfect attendance record, which means no associate judge has had to serve on a village case. He said he prides himself on being independent from the village board and has concerns that Rosenberg, a former trustee, may be influenced by the board.

“I have done a good, dedicated and faithful job for the residents of Old Field for over 20 years and therefore there is no reason for a change,” LaVita said.

In addition to serving as village justice, the attorney said he has helped improve the village. During his early days as justice, he helped to obtain a state grant which enabled the village to update the court clerk’s office including its technology.

Ted Rosenberg, justice candidate

Ted Rosenberg

Rosenberg is a 20-year resident of Old Field and has been an attorney for 35 years. He is currently a partner with Rosenberg & Gluck LLP, located in Holtsville. He is a member of the Suffolk County Bar Association select bench/bar committee, a frequent lecturer to the bar on trial practices, and a mentor to the Ward Melville High School mock trial team

“I have 35 years of courtroom experience — most lawyers don’t spend any time in the courtroom — and I spent a better part of my career as a trial attorney trying cases,” Rosenberg said. “I very much enjoy being in the courtroom, and I have a lot of experience doing that.”

Through the years, in addition to currently being associate justice, Rosenberg said he has served as a trustee, deputy mayor, commissioner of roads and harbor commissioner for Old Field. He said while he has worked well with both past and current board members, he would not be influenced by the mayor or board members. He said he has received the highest rating from his fellow lawyers for both ethics and professionalism in the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings, which rates lawyers on their legal ability and ethical standards.

Rosenberg said running for justice is something he has thought about for a few years.

“The current justice has been in office for 20 years, and I think that I could bring some new fresh thinking to the table,” Rosenberg said.

Meet the mayor, trustee candidates

Current Old Field Mayor Michael Levine is running unopposed in the March 20 village election. With two seats open, two trustee candidates, Bruce Feller and Tom Pirro, are also running unopposed as current trustees Timothy Hopkins and Robert Whitcomb  decided not to run for re-election.

Michael Levine, mayor

Michael Levine

Levine moved to Old Field in 1992 and became mayor in 2008. The attorney, a partner with Rappaport, Glass, Levine & Zullo LLP, said he has a couple of goals in mind for his next term.

“One of my major goals if re-elected will be to restore the Old Field Lighthouse/Village Hall to its original beauty, both inside and outside,” he said. “I would also like to continue to work on grants to address stormwater runoff issues in the village. Where the funds will come from for these projects is always a major issue.”

Recently, the village board has been facing the debate over whether or not to install a cellphone pole in Kaltenborn Commons, a small park located at the intersection of Old Field Road and Quaker Path and surrounded by homes. At the January and February public meetings both residents and nonresidents filled village hall, some to voice concerns and others to show their support of the pole. Levine said the meetings have been helpful to him and board members. The vote on the tower has been postponed until the two new trustees take office.

“There are always difficult issues that must be dealt with and the way to deal with them is to listen to the residents and do what you feel is best for the village, while at the same time trying to accommodate the residents,” Levine said. “It’s a balancing act. I try to constantly strive to be fair and attentive.”

Tom Pirro, trustee candidate

Tom Pirro

Pirro recently moved from Bayport to Old Field with his fiancé, Shannon McCann. The certified public accountant, who has had his own business for 30 years, said he has been traveling to the Three Village community as a member of St. George’s Golf and Country Club since 2003. In June 2017, he opened a new office in Setauket. The candidate said he feels his work experience and love for the village will be an asset as trustee.

“I have spent my entire life in the business sector, and I feel those experiences will help me in carrying out my duties as a trustee,” Pirro said. “I chose to live in Old Field because of its natural beauty, and I would like to be a part of its continued preservation.”

When it comes to the issue of the cellphone pole in the village, Pirro said he is open to discussing the debate as long as needed to come to a decision. He said a lot of good questions were raised at the public meetings, including the aesthetics of the pole, which many feel may affect real estate values.

“I think it’s going to be difficult because no matter where it goes it’s going to impact someone,” Pirro said.

With a deep appreciation for his new village, he is on board with helping the mayor work to renovate the lighthouse.

“It’s part of the local heritage, so obviously it’s something you would want to address and maintain,” Pirro said. “It’s not something you want to go into disrepair, and I don’t think Old Field is a village that would let that happen.”

Bruce Feller, trustee candidate

Bruce Feller

A resident of Old Field since 1988, Feller retired as vice president from MetLife in 1998. Shortly after his retirement, he served as a village trustee after taking over the expired term of Barbara Swartz when she became mayor. During his first time as trustee, he said he established the village’s entitlement and access to funding from New York State’s Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program. This gave Old Field a revenue stream to improve and maintain the village’s roadways.

He and his wife, Marianne, in the past have served on a village committee to preserve the Old Field lighthouse. He currently is the vice chair of the village planning board.

Feller said when it comes to the cellphone tower, he is undecided. At press time, he was hoping to attend the March board meeting, and said he is open to hearing everyone’s opinions. He said he has heard persuasive issues on both sides at the village’s January meeting.

“There’s a lot to take into account, and I’m hoping that there is additional information that will nudge me decidedly in a direction that I can personally live with and live with as a representative of the constituents in the village,” Feller said.

He said when he was previously a trustee, a bone of contention was subdivision of properties. The candidate said listening to both sides was important, and believes his listening skills have developed even more over time. Remembering when the residents debated over deer hunting in the village and the mayor held multiple public hearings to come to a decision, he said it’s a skill he believes Levine also has.

“I give the mayor a lot of credit, he pays a lot of attention to what people think,” Feller said.

The Old Field Village elections will be held March 20, from noon until 9 p.m. at the
Keeper’s Cottage located at 207 Old Field Road.

The Se-Port Delicatessen, located at 301 Main St. in East Setauket, will be featured on Travel Channel's 'Food Paradise.' Photo by Rita J. Egan

When a television show narrator fondly remembers his favorite hometown delicatessen, it turns into an opportunity of a lifetime for the deli’s owner to showcase his signature sandwiches.

The Se-port Delicatessen, located at 301 Main St. in East Setauket, will be featured in the Sept. 17 episode of Travel Channel’s “Food Paradise” in an episode titled “Bun-Believable.” Owned by Wisam Dakwar, the deli is a favorite of many in the area, including former resident Jesse Blaze Snider. The oldest son of Twisted Sister front man, Dee Snider, and 2001 Ward Melville High School graduate is the narrator of “Food Paradise.” When he was younger, Jesse Snider was a frequent visitor to Se-Port.

Jason Levine, co-executive producer of the show, said the deli was a perfect choice.

“Our host Jesse Snider grew up going to Se-Port Deli with his family,” Levine said. “There’s a sandwich called ‘The Snider’ on the menu, and he’s been going there for approximately 20 years at this point. And, anytime we can incorporate that much love from our host into a childhood favorite we’re going to go for it.”

Wisam Dakwar, owner of Se-Port Delicatessen, during filming of ‘Food Paradise.’ Photo from Se-Port Delicatessen

While Dakwar and Levine couldn’t discuss the sandwiches featured on the Sept. 17 episode taped earlier this summer, Dakwar said years ago the television narrator created his namesake sandwich that includes honey mustard, bacon, chicken salad, and melted mozzarella on a toasted garlic roll.

Dakwar said it was great seeing Snider again, and he was honored he appeared on screen to eat the sandwich. According to the deli owner, Snider usually only provides the voice-over and doesn’t appear on screen.

“I’ve known Jesse since high school, and his dad,” Dakwar said. “The whole family, they grew up here.”

The deli features specialty sandwiches bearing the names of other well-known residents — especially sports figures — including Mets pitcher Steven Matz, a 2009 graduate of Ward Melville. Dakwar said recently he received a call from Matz to deliver 35 sandwiches and Se-Port’s iced tea to his teammates at Citi Field in Queens.

For many, television appearances and recognition from sports figures may equal the American Dream. Dakwar has achieved the dream through hard work and long hours. He said when he emigrated from Israel to the United States in 1991 he worked at his cousin’s deli in Islip every day and played violin at Middle Eastern clubs in New York City at night to earn additional cash in order to save up for his own deli.

“I always wanted to own my own business,” Dakwar said. “I’m a workaholic. I’m not scared of working and nothing comes easy, I know that.”

Dakwar bought the Se-Port Deli and the building it occupies in the late 1990s and renovated it. Originally the delicatessen was approximately a quarter of the size it is now until he expanded when a TrueValue hardware store next to the deli closed. The Old Field resident, who only takes off Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas, still works days and nights.

Dakwar said while working with his cousin he gained the knowledge to run a deli business, and he also improved his English language skills by interacting with customers. He knew very little English before moving to the United States, because being of Palestinian descent and living in Israel, he grew up speaking Arabic and Hebrew.

The single 40-year-old, who became a U.S. citizen in the late ’90s, said his parents still live in Israel and visit him once a year for a few months at a time. Dakwar said his parents are proud of the success he has achieved while living here.

Jesse Snider, Food Paradise’s narrator, with his namesake sandwich at Se-Port Delicatessen. Photo from Jesse Snider

“I’m thankful because I do a lot of business,” the deli owner said. “A lot of people come here.”

Lately, Dakwar has been busy creating a gyro sandwich, which offers a different taste than the average one by using various meats and ranch dressing. He has plans to install an additional counter where he can offer a wider variety of foods including Mexican favorites.

Dakwar said the day of the taping the restaurant was filled with cameras and the television crew, and he appreciated the customers’ patience. Abdul Mustafa who has worked behind the counter for four and half years said it was a good day for the deli.

“The place was packed with people on the day of the taping,” Mustafa said.

Mustafa said he and the other deli employees are looking forward to seeing themselves on television. However, Dakwar said he isn’t organizing a big screening of the show, because he said he would like to view it in private.

“I’m nervous because I’m not a camera guy,” he said. 

The deli owner said he’s grateful for his regular customers, and he’s looking forward to the exposure the show will give his business.

“I’m always looking forward to seeing new people, new customers from the area,” Dakwar said.

The Travel Channel will air the “Bun-Believable” episode of “Food Paradise” Sept. 17 at 9 p.m.

Setauket firefighters battle a 2010 Old Field barn fire. Photo by Dennis Whittam

Residents of Old Field Village will see a new line on their Brookhaven tax bill for 2018.

At a July 20 Brookhaven Town public hearing, the town council unanimously approved a motion to extend the boundaries of the Setauket Fire District to include Old Field. The change means that instead of paying for contractual services through the village budget, residents will pay taxes for fire, rescue and emergency services to the town when the new tax billing period begins Dec. 1.

Towards the end of last year, Old Field Mayor Michael Levine and the village board of trustees requested the expansion after the village received fire and emergency protection services from the district on a contractual basis for decades. The village includes approximately 400 homes and no commercial properties, and while residents received the same services from Setauket fire departments as residents in the district, they were unable to vote in district elections or run for a position on the board.

Marie Michel, assistant town attorney, said the hearing was required by the state.

“While a fire district is its own municipal entity, New York State town law requires that the town in which the fire district is situated conduct a public hearing to consider the proposed fire district extension,” Michel said.

According to the plan prepared by Hauppauge-based law firm Farrell Fritz, P.C. and posted on the Brookhaven Town website, the cost of the one-year contract for Old Field in 2017 was $515,000 with the right to renew in 2018 at the same rate. From 2012 to 2016, the village paid a contractual rate, which increased slightly each year. The cost of the contract ranged from $340,000 in 2012 to $382,673 in 2016.

The increase in the cost of the contract was attributed to the fire district’s plans to expand and refurbish the existing Main Street Fire Station at a cost of approximately $14 million dollars.

Both Stephen Shybunko, Old Field deputy mayor, and Jay Gardiner, vice chairman of fire commissioners, were in attendance at the July 20 public hearing.

Shybunko said the village’s reasons to be included in the fire district were monetary.

“The amount of payment proposed in the most recent contract would be equal to what the tax rate was so in fairness and equity we have been going through the steps to be included in the fire district as we will be paying a rate equal to all other members of the fire district,” Shybunko said.

Gardiner said the board of fire commissioners was in favor of the resolution.

“We have been providing fire and emergency services to Old Field for over 50 years, and we intend to continue to provide excellent fire, rescue and emergency services,” the commissioner said.

Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said residents who spoke at a previous town board meeting asked if taxes would increase for residents within the fire district’s current boundaries.

“Their taxes will not be raised as a matter of this extension,” Michel said.

Jenn McNary and her children, above, are featured in the movie ‘To the Edge of the Sky.’ Photo from Brian Ariotti

By Jenna Lennon

Duchenne muscular dystrophy is the number one genetic killer of boys in the world.

In “To the Edge of the Sky,” Emmy and Oscar Award winning producers, and Old Field natives, Jedd and Todd Wider tell the story of four mothers in their fight against the U.S. Food & Drug Administration for the approval of a potentially life-saving drug for this fatal disease.

The world premiere of the 118-minute documentary at the 22nd annual Stony Brook Film Festival was met with a standing ovation July 23. Continued feedback from the audience, during and after the Q&A period, has been nothing but positive for the brothers and for raising awareness for treatment of this disease.

“As a documentarian, there’s no greater reward than hearing audience members come up afterwards and ask how we can help, what we can do, how can we bring further attention or shine further light on these issues and help the families that are suffering so deeply,” Jedd said.

‘To the Edge of the Sky’ is produced by Jedd and Todd Wider brothers who grew up in Old Field. Photo from Brian Ariotti

“We spoke to so many people after the film who wanted to get involved and that’s incredibly rewarding to us as filmmakers,” he continued. “We invest years of our lives into these topics to help bring attention to these issues to help these families and for us there’s just nothing greater than that, than hearing that response.”

With such a large audience, Todd couldn’t help but be emotional as he took the stage with his brother for the Q&A session.

“It was a weird thing — I’m not normally that emotional during a screening,” he said. “I got to say it …. was a little surreal. It’s not like I hadn’t seen it before. I’ve probably watched it about a thousand times now, but I found that screening was extremely, unbelievably, emotionally powerful.”

Jenn McNary, one of the mothers in the film, brought her sons Max and Austin to the July 23 premiere.

“Jenn and her family have been incredibly supportive of the film from the very beginning, as has all of the other families as well,” Jedd said. “They’ve all been strongly behind the film and hoping that this film could bring more attention to these issues and bring more attention to the potential companies out there and the foundations that are working to help fund further research.”

Filming took place periodically over almost four years and “was a significant emotional investment,” Jedd said.

“At any given point, the story line would change on the drop of a dime,” he continued. “We became very attached to these boys and very attached to these families.”

Duchenne is the most common type of muscular dystrophy and occurs from a mutation in the gene for the protein dystrophin. Symptoms begin appearing around the age of three or four. At first, young boys start having trouble walking. By their early 20s, they’re essentially paralyzed from the neck down.

“To the Edge of the Sky” examines the fight for FDA approval of the drug eteplirsen, produced by Sarepta Therapeutics, that is meant to help produce the missing protein. In 2016, and at the end of the film, the FDA granted an accelerated approval for the drug, but Todd said the fight is far from over.

“We live in the United States of America where we’re in a functioning democracy, and we can move our political organizations and our political institutions with the power of our will if we choose to,” Todd said. “And in the case of this situation, it was really these four moms that really moved the needle, we feel, on how the FDA was sort of dealing with this … it was the power of their advocacy and the connection and their love for their kids that helped to sort of focus that attention on what was going on in terms of the drug approval process in this particular case.”

Suffolk County Leg. Kara Hahn and recovering alcoholic and addict David Scofield answer questions posed by concerned parents at a past Three Village Drug & Alcohol Awareness meeting. File photo by Donna Newman

Heroin addiction can still be seen as a closely guarded secret in North Shore communities, but a couple of Three Village residents are doing their part to try to change that.

About 20 people were present Jan. 22 at the Bates House in Setauket for an informational meeting geared to help the loved ones of those battling heroin addiction. The addicts themselves were not present, but parents, grandparents, siblings, friends and other loved ones were, with the hope of gaining a greater understanding for how to combat the problem.

The gathering was a joint venture of both the public and private sectors, initiated by Lise Hintze, manager of the Bates House, a community venue in Frank Melville Memorial Park.

To help a loved one dealing with addiction call Lise Hintze 631-689-7054

“Pretending we don’t have a drug problem [in our community] only hurts the children and perpetuates the problem,” Hintze said. “I have a 19-year-old and a 21-year-old and we’ve been to too many funerals. Parents say ‘not my child, not in our town’ but it’s very real and it’s happening here.” 

Stony Brook resident Dori Scofield, who lost a son to heroin addiction in 2011, established Dan’s Foundation For Recovery in his memory to provide information and resources to others. Old Field resident Dana Miklos also has a son battling addiction and she wants to share what she has learned to empower parents and help them deal with addiction’s many challenges. The two represent the “private” interests.

“One of the reasons I wanted to come out and talk about it is to give parents ways to navigate through this horrible process,” Scofield said. “From being at the hospital when your son or daughter ODs and you know you have to get them into treatment, but you don’t know [how].”

Scofield said she dialed a 1-800 number someone had given her when her son overdosed and said she lucked out when the placement turned out to be a good one. She told the event attendees they need not “reach out to a stranger” as she did. She can help.

Miklos wants to eliminate the stigma that keeps affected families in hiding.

“I want parents to know the three Cs: they didn’t cause it, they can’t cure it, and they can’t control it,” she said. “We become so isolated [dealing with an addicted child] just when we should be talking to other parents, supporting each other.”   

Suffolk County Leg. Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), who has been working to alleviate the community’s drug problem since taking office, also participated in the event.

“In 2012, the first year I was in office, I couldn’t believe this would be something I could work on and change,” Hahn said. “But I wrote legislation that got Narcan — which is an antidote for opioid overdoses — for our police sector cars. Within a matter of days we were saving one, two, three a day. Within two weeks we had an officer who had two saves back to back.”

Hahn said she authored another bill that would make sure there was a follow-up for each person saved. A Narcan reversal saves a life, but does nothing to end the need for the drug and the cravings. The second piece of legislation tasks the health department with reaching out to those saved to attempt to get them into treatment.

A third piece of legislation she wrote provides training for lay people — like the group assembled at the Bates House — to carry and use Narcan. She encouraged all present to be trained and prepared.

The statistics Hahn gave for Narcan saves showed a steady increase over the last five years. In 2012 after passage of the legislation in August, there were 325 saves. Numbers rose year by year to 475 in 2013, 493 in 2014, 542 in 2015 and 681 in 2016 when at least 240 people died of overdoses, according to Hahn.

David Scofield, who has been sober for three years, delivered a message of hope for those in attendance.

“I don’t have the answers,” he said. “I do know how [it is] to be a kid struggling with drug addiction. This thing is killing people. Hundreds of people are dying from heroin addiction every day and you don’t hear about it. That’s just the truth.”

Scofield’s message also included a plea for loved ones of addicts to get past the stigma of addiction and bring the conversation to the community. As long as people hide the cause of death, he said, he believes kids will continue to die.

For information about this support group, call Lise Hintze 631-689-7054.

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