Tags Posts tagged with "Port Jefferson"

Port Jefferson

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Barbara Ransome, front, and journalistic scholars visited Port Jefferson May 10. Photo by Kyle Barr

Something is always new to somebody.

Sixty-three people from 23 different countries were in Port Jefferson village May 10 as the International Association for Literary Journalism Studies surveyed the surroundings as part of its 14th annual conference.

Journalistic scholars visited Port Jefferson May 10. Photo by Kyle Barr

The conference has been held in many other parts of the world, such as Paris, France; Porto Alegre, Brazil and Vienna, Austria, but this is the first event held on the U.S East Coast. Though the conference is being hosted through Stony Brook University and the School of Journalism, the association wanted to emphasize Port Jefferson’s unique flavor of historical significance and modern small-town charm. Members came from as far away as Mexico, Brazil, Poland and all the way to Australia.

Chamber of Commerce Director of Operations Barbara Ransome took the visitors on a tour from Danford’s Hotel, to the Village Center, which was once a shipwright warehouse where shipbuilders constructed masts and other ship parts, and up East Main Street to the Knitting Corner, which was partially the old location of the Bucket of Blood inn. The group then traveled past the Port Jefferson Free Library, visiting the Brewster House and other landmark homes before ending the tour at the Island Christian Church.

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Alden Mohacsi will be traveling to the Czech Republic thanks to a scholarship. Photo from Mohacsi’s Facebook

A Port Jefferson graduate will be spending his summer in the Czech Republic, teaching high school students English thanks to a Fulbright scholarship.

Alden Mohacsi, 22, a history major at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, will be making his way to the Czech Republic this summer for the chance to teach high school students English through “art and music.”

“It’s an incredible honor to be named a Fulbright Scholar,” Mohacsi said. “I can honestly say that expression, ‘It takes a village,’ holds true for me.”

Mohacsi has been a docent at the Port Jefferson Historical Society, and thanked them, among others, for helping him make it through college. He is graduating May 19 with a bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in art history.

“I’m so grateful for all the help and guidance I received growing up in Port Jeff — from my teachers, coaches and mentors, the amazing team at the Performing Arts Studio, the Port Jeff Historical Society, and all the friendships and support,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working with and being a part of the world’s largest and most diverse international educational exchange program.”

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program and is designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the program, which operates in more than 160 countries worldwide. Mohacsi is one of more than 2,100 U.S. citizens who will conduct research, teach English and provide expertise abroad for the 2019-20 academic year.

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Harbor Grill says it will change its dress code to allow religiously significant headwear.

Harbor Grill in Port Jefferson said it has a policy against headwear during Friday and Saturday nights. Photo by Kyle Barr

A young Stony Brook University graduate said he was barred from entering Port Jeff’s Harbor Grill the early morning of Sunday, May 12, because he wears a turban, a religiously significant headwear.

Gurvinder Grewal, 23, who graduated in 2018, said he went out the night of May 11 past midnight to hang out with friends. His companions were already in the Harbor Grill restaurant and bar, and he was having his ID checked when he was stopped and told by a manager he was not allowed in with “a head covering.” Harbor Grill has a weekend dress code for Friday and Saturday nights after 10 p.m. restricting all headwear, though the policy made no explicit exceptions for clothing of religious significance.

Grewal, a medical scribe at CityMD, said he tried to explain his situation as he is a Sikh, whose religion stems from Punjab in northern India. Male practitioners wear turbans as articles of faith, and are not meant to remove the headwear in public.

“Never had any experience like this in my life.”

— Gurvinder Grewal

Not trying to hold up the line of people trying to get in, he went to the back of the line and came up a second time, only to be rebuffed again, and was told it was due to the restaurant’s policy on headwear.

“[I] was shocked and embarrassed,” the graduate said. “Never had any experience like this in my life.”

A Facebook post from Harbor Grill said Grewal’s black-colored turban seemed at the time “would be more widely perceived as the slang term ‘[do-]rag’ or a ‘stocking cap’ and not a traditional turban.” It said the original rule was put in place because a rule that singled out specific groups would itself be “discriminatory.”

Tom Schafer, the owner of Harbor Grill, said he has chided the manager in question and has told him to use his better judgment in cases like this. He added he plans to speak to the rest of his staff and implement a new Friday and Saturday night dress-code policy of no headwear excluding religiously required headwear, for example yarmulkes and turbans. The new code will be posted near the front door.

“I don’t have an inkling of prejudice in any way,” Schafer said. “The code was not meant to be discriminating, it was solely for the safety of patrons and staff.”

Grewal said that he was glad to see them changing the dress code, but he found the comment about his turban looking like “a do-rag” to be problematic, especially since he described it several times as a turban to the manager.

Barbara Ransome, director of operations for Port Jeff Chamber of Commerce, said the policy at Harbor Grill was to better identify troublemakers in a crowd and, as a private property, the owner is allowed to make that decision. Just as in the case of drugs cenforce that will be sold online. At the same time, the barring of a person over religious garment would cross over into First Amendment territory.

“Their staff may need to be educated,” she said.

The SBU graduate said he told the manager he had been let inside the establishment last year, back when Harbor Grill was then named Schafer’s. He said he was told the policy on headgear was a new policy.

Several other students and graduates of SBU, who did not wish to be named in this article, all confirmed watching Grewal be denied entry.

“The code was not meant to be discriminating, it was solely for the safety of patrons and staff.”

— Tom Schafer

Bansri Shah, a digital media/pre-law student at SBU, posted a message to Facebook about the situation, saying she felt it was especially concerning considering the diversity of students from the nearby university.

“Honestly, I never expected this type of action taken from an establishment in Port Jeff considering the racial diversity in a college town right next door, Stony Brook, but I think it’s really messed up,” Shah said in her original Facebook post.

In a conversation over Facebook messenger, Shah said she arrived as several people were trying to talk to the bouncer about what happened, but they were ignored.

Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant said she had messaged both Shah and Grewal and had told the latter she was sorry about what had allegedly happened to him, and that “this does not reflect the tenor or tone of the policies of the Village of Port Jefferson.” She also suggested to him his first step would be to file a police report if he wished to commit to any penal or civil legal action.

“I didn’t want that incident to become a black eye on the village,” the mayor said. “Anybody of race, color, sexuality, we embrace and invite everyone here.”

The graduate said he plans to file a police report and pursue some sort of legal action.

“I was just really surprised that something like this happened to me at a college bar,” he said. “I always read online and on social media about Sikhs and other minorities facing similar situations, but never thought that I would face the situation in my life living on Long Island.”

This post has been amended to correct the origins of Sikhism.

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Port Jeff sophomore Evelyn Walker from behind the plate in a Royal’s 13-1 victory over visiting Southold/Greenport May 6. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

After trailing by a run in the opening inning, Port Jefferson’s softball team had to be patient at the plate and let the game come to them in a league VI matchup notching a 13-1 victory over visiting Southold/Greenport May 6. It was a must win game for the Royals, who must also win the final game of the regular season to make the playoffs.

Port Jeff’s Abby Rolfe, the freshman pitcher, was the spark for the Royals going four for four at the plate, scoring three times with three RBIs, as well as winning from the circle. The victory propels the Royals to 6-7 in league and will lead them to face Mattituck for their final game of the regular season at home May 8.  First pitch is at 4:15 p.m.

 

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County Executive Steve Bellone (D) and Port Jeff Mayor Margot Garant listen to SCPD Chief of Department Stuart Cameron on the new Real Time Crime Center. Photo from Kevin Wood

PJ first village to connect with Real Time Crime Center

Suffolk County Police will be keeping tabs on Port Jefferson village in a new way.

Village of Port Jefferson officials announced that it’s become the first village on Long Island to connect through videography with the Suffolk County’s new Real Time Crime Center. This allows the police to tap into the eight existing village security cameras positioned in places like the train station and the three-way intersection at West Broadway and Main Street.

Connections to the RTCC were made April 15 after piloting the program for a few months with one of the cameras in upper Port Jeff, according to village parking administrator Kevin Wood. He said most of the cameras help cover parking lots and high-traffic streets within the village.

“Having strategically placed high-definition cameras recording in public places 24/7 for the village to look back on for accidents or crime events is valuable,” Wood said in an email. “Having the SCPD also receiving these same video feeds in real time to their brand new RTCC adds an extra layer of security and response for the residents and visitors of Port Jefferson village. I certainly feel this is positive and a deterrent for negative activity.”

“It’s not because a crime is occurring, but they’re using more and more real time tools to help reduce crime.”

— Margot Garant

The RTCC was introduced in March this year and was funded with both county capital and grant funds. The county announced the finished crime center with the intent of cracking down on crime in the Island’s downtown locations. Earlier this month village officials were invited to the RTCC, located in Yaphank, to view the new system with County Executive Steve Bellone (D) and police Chief of Department Stuart Cameron.

Village Mayor Margot Garant said it would be especially effective in tracking shoplifting crimes in the village, with the cameras able to identify vehicle’s license plates or people as they move in front of village shops. She said the cameras have recently aided in catching a shoplifter who stole from The East End Shirt Company.

“Some people ask, ‘Why is there a police helicopter going around Port,” Garant said. “It’s not because a crime is occurring, but they’re using more and more real time tools to help reduce crime.”

The village also has access to these cameras, and the code enforcement bureau has access via a single screen in their offices.

Police would have the ability to control individual cameras, which she said act on swivels to cover more area. Whether or not this means more surveillance for village residents and visitors, Garant said police wouldn’t be looking at each camera every second of every day.

“We’re using these tools to keep crime out of here, not spy on people,” she said. “This is what has to be done.”

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Mayor Margot Garant shows plans for new stage in Harborfront Park. Photo by Kyle Barr

Village to honor Jill Nees-Russell on anniversary of her death

As the weather changes, and the Island shifts itself from the cold of winter to the warm rains of spring, East Setauket resident and singer Carolyn Benson and village-based landscape engineer Michael Opisso walked along Harborfront Park, trying to find a permanent space that could add musicality to the park in honor of Jill Nees-Russell, who passed away in 2018.

Seeing the green grass starting to come in, the two had an epiphany.

Plans for new stage in Harborfront Park. Photo by Kyle Barr

“The spot revealed itself to me, and on the spot — call this being connected to the spirit of Jill — the energy of the whole idea, the concept came out of my pen and onto a piece of paper,” Opisso said.

The village is now on its way toward building a new performance stage in Harborfront Park, likely located on the eastern end closest to the Port Jefferson Yacht Club near a tangle of trees.

Designs for the new stage show a 15 by 25 foot half-circle wood stage surrounded by decorative plantings in front and two small staircases to get to the slightly raised stage. Opisso said the wood of the stage will include subtle etching to evoke the nautical theme of the village’s past. The rear will include decorative panels to focus the acoustics into the park itself. 

Above the stage, Opisso said there are plans for a multicolored canvas sail canopy above performers, using material that evokes the sailcloth of the old days when sailing ships dominated Port Jeff harbor. The landscape engineer said those sailcloths above the stage will be designed to be taken down during the winter months or storms.

“You’re looking at this space at the same time you’ll be seeing sailboats in the harbor,” Opisso said.

June will be the anniversary of the death of Jill Nees-Russell, a beloved Port Jeff resident, village public relations representative and lover of all things music. Benson said she had been good friends with Nees-Russell, and they would often talk about bringing something like these designs into Port Jeff.

“I met Jill a few years back during the [Charles] Dickens Festival, and so we used to walk around and say, ‘Gee, wouldn’t it be great if there could be a permanent place where people could do Shakespeare in the park or dance recitals,” Benson said. “This was a way of combining Jill’s love of Port Jefferson, her love of music, love of being by the water, and that stage down in Harborfront Park is the epitome of her spirit.”

She added she had approached Mayor Margot Garant about the project, and she had quickly gotten on board.

The music stage has already been approved by the village board as of the village’s April 15 meeting. Garant said the idea has been kicked around since last year, especially with the current stage that bands and members of the Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council have been performing on has not aged well.

“Unfortunately, the arts council is performing on a ridiculous piece of plywood that caves in on it for too long,” Garant said. 

The mayor added this is the near-perfect kind of thing to remember Nees-Russell, who moved to Port Jeff from Los Angeles, where she had worked with a record label. On Long Island, she had involved herself with the Port Jeff arts council, had created a youth program with the School of Rock in Port Jefferson Station and worked in tandem with the Long Island Music Hall of Fame.

The new stage is expected to be on the eastern end of Harborfront Park. Photo by David Luces

On Aug. 10, Garant said plans are in place to host a Port Jeff band day that will give particular attention to local bands and performers. On that day Nees-Russell’s family is expected to come down to Long Island where the stage will be dedicated in Jill’s name.

“Performing arts was always something very important to her,” Garant said. “We think it’s a home run, we see it as something that’s affordable, something that we can pull together the not-for-profits to make that happen.”

Current projections of costs by Opisso show a projected $12,500 for the construction of the stage and steps, $2,500 for the planters and flower boxes, $5,000 for landscaping and another $5,000 for the canvas backdrops and overhead sails. Designs for the project still need to determine the costs of lighting, sound and irrigation.

When presented to the village board at its April 15 meeting, trustees voiced their support for the idea.

“It’s about time we had something like this,” Trustee Larry LaPointe said.

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Street sign for the intersection of Liberty Avenue and Main Street. Photo by Kyle Barr

Fire department says light is unnecessary

Red means stop. 

Motorists traveling down Main Street in the Village of Port Jefferson may soon come face to face with a new traffic light at the intersection of Liberty Avenue and Main Street. That corner is notorious for traffic especially around 2 p.m. when the high school and middle school lets out.

The new light is planned to be installed with a 3M Opticom system, which allows emergency vehicles to automatically change a light while they are moving through. While these could mean a more orderly road, the Port Jefferson Fire Department has said it would need to add costly upgrades to their emergency vehicles to be usable by the department.

“We’re going to have to work with the fire department because they need those mechanisms in their trucks, whether they’re installed in the lights or not,” village Mayor Margot Garant said. “We need to mitigate the way that traffic is flying down the hill.”

“They should already have them — these are not the first traffic lights we’re installing in Port Jeff.”

— Margot Garant

The New York State Department of Transportation confirmed it will make those changes to the intersection and pay the costs of installation, as well as change the island at the corner of Barnum Avenue and Main Street to make it a single crosswalk instead of two crosswalks separated by the current island.

Plans have changed since they were initially introduced to the community. Originally those plans called for an island on Main Street just after the Liberty intersection. However, that island has since been changed to double yellow lines after concerns came up about getting snowplows through.

The most contentious part of the new plans comes from the fire department, which worries about the expensive cost of getting the Opticom system installed on all 17 of the department’s first-responding vehicles.

Garant said she is willing to have the village partner with the fire department in seeking grant funding. This would be especially important with more stop lights planned for different parts of the village, including at the top of Belle Terre Road, Sheep Pasture Road and Myrtle Avenue, the latter light will have an Opticom box donated from Suffolk County, according to the village mayor. 

“They should already have them — these are not the first traffic lights we’re installing in Port Jeff,” Garant said. “All of our lights should have that capability to have the fire department change the lights anyway.”

The department sent a letter to the engineering firm L.K. McLean Associates, of Brookhaven, that drew up the original plans, while giving a copy to the mayor, reading, “Each time that discussion has come up our department has opposed it.”

In the letter, Port Jefferson Fire Chief Brennan Holmes questioned the purpose of the traffic light on Liberty, saying they have reviewed the traffic collisions in that area, and over the past five years, the vehicle-pedestrian accidents responded to occurred at the intersection of Barnum Avenue and Main Street, mainly caused by visibility issues and not speeding. 

“For the fire department it presents a great difficulty getting down Main Street,” Holmes said. “It’s not solving the issue they described as the problem.”

“The light is now going to delay some of our volunteers going to the firehouses getting caught at that light.”

— Brennan Holmes

Though Holmes said he would accept the help of the village finding funding for the Opticom system, he added that a light could still cause huge backup for his fleet of vehicles, especially if multiples need to get through the intersection at once.

“The light is now going to delay some of our volunteers going to the firehouses getting caught at that light,” he said. “In addition, it will change the light and give you the green, but during our response you might have multiple vehicles … we might have total congestion there.”

Garant said the decision for the light was made not just by her, but by the DOT in trying to mitigate pedestrian accidents on that road. Stephen Canzoneri, a spokesman for the state DOT said the new light was part of the state’s Pedestrian Safety Action Plan, a $110 million program which started in 2016 aiming to improve pedestrian safety through infrastructure development. He added the light should be installed by 2020.

Currently, none of the stoplights in the village have the Opticom technology. Village Department of Public Works Superintendent Steve Gallagher said there are three lights owned by the village and the rest owned by New York State. The village is in charge of the lights at Myrtle and Belle Terre Road, at North Country Road and Belle Terre Road, and North Country and North Columbia Street.

The Town of Brookhaven has already equipped many of the stoplights on major town roads with the Opticom system and provided grants to assist fire departments in equipping their vehicles with the light-changing devices, except Port Jefferson Fire Department.

A family of deer stands, weary of strangers, at the Port Jefferson golf course. Photo by Kyle Barr

Environmental experts fear the impact of deer on local forests

Deer have made a mess out of the Long Island ecology.

It’s a sentiment shared by several federal employees working in multiple environmental departments. At a presentation held in the Port Jefferson Village Center April 11, Thomas Rawinski, who works for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, said deer eat the saplings that would create new trees. They eat the bushes and flowers that would bring insects to the forests. And since they have no natural predators on Long Island, they multiply at an alarming rate.

“If your land is healthy, you can sit back and rest on your laurels,” Rawinski said. “If it’s not, like every damn forest on Long Island, then somebody has work to do, including me.”

Crowded into the Port Jefferson Village Center, residents of both the Village of Port Jefferson and Village of Belle Terre spoke about their own experiences with deer, but it all begs the question: What are the local villages going to do?

“I can tell you the level of deer damage on the east end is the worst I’ve seen in New York.”

— Thomas Desisto

The villages of Belle Terre and Port Jefferson have been working out the details on some sort of organized deer hunt, either a coordinated hunt or deer culling, one that could likely happen at the Port Jefferson golf course.

“It’s either going to be a controlled hunt or it’s going to be a cull,” Port Jeff Mayor Margot Garant said. “I don’t know which way we’re going to go but we’re going to figure it out.”

Talks have been ongoing since January, where both Garant and Belle Terre Mayor Bob Sandak have expressed their intent to split the cost of a deer culling, which would likely be performed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This would involve a specialized team of hunters using thermal imaging and silenced rifles to kill deer from elevated positions at night. The cost could be expensive, with some estimates as high as $1,000 per deer.

Thomas DeSisto, a wildlife specialist with the USDA said the operation is mandated to charge for their services, as they get all their funding through cooperative service agreements. While the cost hasn’t deterred the mayors from finding a solution, DeSisto said there are issues with performing a culling on Long Island due to regulation by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. 

In 2017, new legislation has restricted hunting to the point that DeSisto said fundamentally restricts the culling process. In Suffolk County, hunting is restricted to bows, or to muzzle-loaded rifles during the January hunting season. In addition, hunters are not allowed to keep loaded firearms within vehicles, use of bait is not allowed within 300 feet of a roadway, and hunters are not allowed to discharge firearms from the road.

“We’ve seen about 50 percent decrease in efficiency in our upstate program, and on Long Island we’ve seen a 75 percent decrease in efficiency,” he said. “I can tell you the level of deer damage on the east end is the worst I’ve seen in New York.”

In January, Belle Terre changed its village code to allow hunting within the premises, saying they had received an opinion by the state attorney general who said that no municipality other than New York State could regulate hunting.

While some village members shared fears of hunting going on so close to their homes, and shared a general distaste for killing animals, Sandak said so far, the change in code, and the facilitating of hunters, has been a success. He estimates since the village allowed hunting approximately 100 deer have been killed.

“Five years ago, if you were in your car and you saw a deer, you took out your phone and took a picture of it, because it was an oddity,” Sandak said. “Now, it’s unbelievable.” 

The New York State DEC allows residents to apply for Deer Damage Permits, which allow property owners to hunt or allow hunters outside of the normal season. The Belle Terre mayor said to his knowledge there are three residents in Belle Terre with DDPs. 

“Five years ago, if you were in your car and you saw a deer, you took out your phone and took a picture of it, because it was an oddity.”

— Bob Sandak

Port Jefferson currently has code on the books that says discharging any kind of firearm, bow or crossbow is strictly prohibited. Garant said village officials are still looking at changing the code so it will allow hunting, conforming to what the state attorney general has said. However, she added the village could not and would not go after residents who break the code and allow hunting on their own property.

Sue Booth Binczik, wildlife biologist with the New York Department of Wildlife Conservation, spoke to those who attended the meeting, echoing Rawinski by saying deer lead to reduced diversity, more invasive plants and fewer canopy and trees.

Deer are perhaps the most efficient devastators of the local ecology. For one, they have prolific breeding patterns. Binczik said does can start to breed at 1 year old and can give birth to two fawns per year in May and June. While deer are naturally prey animals, Long Island shows a distinct lack of natural predators to cull their numbers. An average deer can live to be 20, and while vehicles and hunters may start to pick off the occasional deer, stags can mate with any number of females, ever increasing the population. The only things left to kill the deer are recreational hunters, starvation, but especially moving vehicles.

“Under ideal conditions the deer populations can double every two to three years,” she said. “The reason they have this high reproductive rate is because they’re a prey species.” 

State DEC regulations require that hunters only use a bow and arrow and only during the hunting season, barring a DDP permit. Hunters must also shoot 150 feet away from any structures with a bow, and of course they are not allowed to trespass onto other residents’ property without permission.

Binczik said there are means to get a community involved by completing a “controlled hunt,” which would require each individual homeowner to give permission for the village to hunt on their property. Those participating community members would come together to decide on a set of rules for any hunters participating, including the qualifications of the hunters and the times the hunters would be allowed out.

“There have been communities in upstate New York that have been running for controlled hunts for decades, and they have been very happy with it,” she said.

Despite all these efforts, Rawinski remains skeptical. He said it comes from years of seeing the damage that deer have caused to the local wildlife. People, he said, have to wake up to it. While by the roadside it may seem the forests are blooming with green, but it’s a symptom of what he called the “great green lie,” that while it may seem the forests are lush, on the ground, there’s not much left. 

“It’s hard to come by solutions, especially in this suburban situation,” he said. “Humans have a can-do attitude, but I have to tell you, we’re up against our match. I don’t hate deer. I hate what people have let them do to the ecosystem.”

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John and Mark Cronin, center, came to speak in front of village residents and PJ SEPTA. Photo by David Luces

Village to call March 21 Crazy Sock Day

While a nice pair of socks draws the eyes down to the feet, John and Mark Cronin of John’s Crazy Socks ask that one look up, at the whole person and see what an individual can do, no matter the limits

As part of their ongoing speaking tour, John and Mark Cronin of the Huntington-based John’s Crazy Socks, spoke to members of the Port Jefferson School District Special Education PTA and students April 8 about their inspiring story and the continuing strength of individuals with differing disabilities. 

The Huntington father-son duo’s story began back in 2016 when John Cronin, a 22-year-old entrepreneur with Down syndrome, was trying to figure what he wanted to do after he graduated from Huntington High School. 

Mark Cronin, John’s father, said together they looked at job programs and a college, but the younger Cronin didn’t see a lot of choices he liked. 

“[He’s] a natural entrepreneur — I don’t see something I want to do, so I’ll create it.”

— Mark Cronin

Around that same time, the business the father worked for shut down overnight, leaving him suddenly unemployed. 

That’s when the son came up with the idea of going into business with this dad.

“[He’s] a natural entrepreneur — I don’t see something I want to do, so I’ll create it,” the father said. 

The 22-year-old entrepreneur went through a few ideas for a business until he ultimately went with crazy socks, stating that he didn’t like the selection he found at stores. 

The duo opened John’s Crazy Socks Dec. 9, 2017, and initially were only expecting a few orders. Instead, they were flooded with requests, and people enjoyed the in-person deliveries and the personal card they received with their orders.  

“We learned people wanted to buy socks, and buy them from John,” the elder Cronin said. 

From there, the company has grown to offering more than 2,300 different styles of socks, and the duo now sells internationally. Last year, they shipped over 144,000 orders, accumulated over $5.5 million in revenue and have raised $280,000 for the company’s charity partners.  

The father said their goal is to inspire, show the strengths of people with differing disabilities and their abilities.

“We are showing the brighter side of what people can do,” he said. 

Currently the business has 23 employees who have some type of disability, and according to Mark Cronin, every person working for them earns their place through hard work.

“There is no charity here, everyone earns a job,” he added. 

Over the years, the pair have advocated for jobs for individuals with disabilities. They have gone to Washington, D.C., and Capitol Hill with a special message. “People are ready and willing to work, let’s make that possible.”

The father and son were in Detroit speaking to the National Down Syndrome Society recently, and earlier last month they went on a tour of Canada with the state department. 

Karen Sullivan, president of the Port Jeff SEPTA, was glad the duo was able to come after planning this event for about a year. 

“They are employing people with disabilities. It is important for Port Jeff SEPTA, these men and women need jobs after high school and what are they going to do.”

— Karen Sullivan

“We really wanted to bring him into the village and show our students what is possible,” she said. “They are employing people with disabilities. It is important for Port Jeff SEPTA, these men and women need jobs after high school and what are they going to do.”

The duo was also presented with a proclamation from the Village of Port Jeff. 

Village trustee Stan Louks presented the Cronins with the proclamation stating that every March 21 in the village will be known as Crazy Sock Day. While he added they did not have anything specific planned for the date, they are working out some kind of celebration that could help bring the community together.

“A great deal has to go to Karen Sullivan,” the trustee said. “SEPTA was not in the village and [it was] inactive — Karen really brought it back to life.”

Sullivan said this is the organization’s one-year anniversary, and for close to 17 years Port Jeff didn’t have a special education PTA. 

“It’s very exciting to collaborate with the school district and the village,” she said “Mayor [Margot] Garant has been with us every step of the way.”

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Golf holes at the Port Jeff golf course were vandalized with what’s believed to be gasoline. Photos from Brian Macmillan

The morning of April 9, Brian Macmillan, the golf course superintendent at the Port Jefferson Country Club, walked out onto the green of the village golf course and smelled something like gasoline. Five of the greens at the course had been hit with the substance.

Dead grass after the substance had seeped into the ground. Photo from SCPD

The five holes, namely numbers 8,12,13,14 and 17, had been vandalized between the hours of between April 8 at 7 p.m. and April 9 at 7 a.m. with a substance suspected to be gasoline of some type. The unknown perpetrators had released the substance in random patterns at each of the greens near the holes. Macmillan said he suspected the perpetrators did not do it by accident since each site of vandalism was specifically the greens instead of the grasses between. He added he had no notion why a person would commit the act, but suspected it was an intentional act to hurt the country club.

“This was pretty intentional and aggressive,” the golf club superintendent said. “Ninety-eight percent of the people in the club wouldn’t have anything to do with their motive.”

Suffolk County police was contacted that morning, and Macmillan said they arrived very soon after they had been called. While police have been in contact with the country club asking questions, the superintendent said they have not received any updates on the ongoing investigation. 

While the holes were sectioned off for the day when the club learned of the vandalism, they have since become playable again.

Port Jefferson village trustee Stan Loucks, the liaison to the country club, said each hole had taken excessive damage. The village has since contacted seven different golf course renovation and construction companies to find a person to schedule repairs. Currently the cost to the village is unknown, and they hope it will be covered under insurance for the course.

Suffolk County Police said the damage is estimated to cost $10,000.

Loucks said April 15 the village had contracted out to East Northport-based Delea Sod Farms to handle the repairs, which would start April 22 and should take two to three days.

“This was pretty intentional and aggressive.”

— Brian Macmilla

Macmillan said the substance permeated through the ground a foot and a half down. Repairs will require removing the damaged grass as well as the impacted soil below it. He added the country club has a nursery green used to replace portions of the holes that are damaged through heat stress and disease, though he said he had not expected to use it for a situation such as this. 

Loucks added the village will likely use extra sod from holes 14 and 17. The impacted holes will be unusable during repair but will become playable again afterward, with the affected areas sectioned off during play. 

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