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Port Jefferson

Discovering the science of wind at the Maritime Explorium. Photo by Jacqueline Grennon-Brooks

By Erin Dueñas

Calling all artisans, DIYers, amateur scientists, inventors, innovators and everyone in between: The first large-scale Makers Festival is set to debut on Long Island this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Port Jefferson Village Center and Harborfront Park.

Presented and co-sponsored by the Maritime Explorium in Port Jefferson, the Long Island Makers Festival 2015 will feature a broad range of interactive exhibits including 3D printing, robotics, green screen technology, performance art, African drummers, roller skating, organic gardening and even geologists setting off volcanoes. The Explorium will also be open; there will be a “meet the scientist” booth and a horseshoe crab walk is scheduled. According to festival event coordinator Cindy Morris, the aim of the festival is to encourage the people who are already actively “making” as well as to show the community that innovation can happen anywhere.

“The common thread of the Maker Movement is accessible innovation,” Morris said. “The reality is that people have great ideas. We want to empower the ones who are creating. We found some amazing people.”

Morris said that financial backers and high-tech equipment is no longer necessary for anyone looking to invent and create. “This is something anyone can do. You don’t need a $5,000 piece of equipment. People are doing these things in their living rooms and garages.”

Mixing technology, coding and moving with kidOYO. Photo by Melora Loffreto
Mixing technology, coding and moving with kidOYO. Photo by Melora Loffreto

The Maker Movement is a mash up of lovers of art, science, technology, engineering, entrepreneurship and innovation who quite literally make things based on that love. “These are people who are inventors, artists and scientists who are doing incredible things. We believe it was time to showcase what is going on here on Long Island.” Morris said the festival will include a group of men who make holograms and students who created their own 3D printer. “We are taking concepts that feel big and powerful and making them accessible.”

Morris said that the festival motto is “Try it.” “The event is going to be very hands-on. No one could run an exhibit without it being interactive,” Morris said. “We are not just showing what was made, but we are focusing on what you can be doing.”

According to Lauren Hubbard, executive director of the Explorium, the festival will be an extension of what the Explorium does every day. A hands-on museum that features what Hubbard calls “open-ended exhibits,” the Explorium encourages visitors to build and create whatever they want. “You can do the same activity and get a different outcome every time,” Hubbard said. “There are just a million things that can be built.”

She said that the Makers Festival will offer visitors the same experience. “It’s all going to be hands-on and open ended,” Hubbard said. “We wanted to provide a venue for all Maker people to come together for a family friendly day. There’s going to be something for everyone.”

Melora Loffreto is the founder of the festival co-sponsor KidOYO, a program geared toward children ages 7 to 17 that teaches computer programming and coding. She said that Makers festivals and fairs have been popping up in small-scale locations such as schools and libraries across Long Island, but the Port Jefferson festival is the largest so far. “They take place in larger cities and there is a big one in Queens, but this is really the first to come out this way,” Loffreto said.

She described the Makers Movement as particularly important to Long Island. “Our youth is funneling off the Island. The festival is going to say that we have lots of Makers here, we have the skill set and we want to inspire people to keep the talent local.” She said the Makers Movement and the upcoming festival will help to keep skills in the United States. “We want to spur on inventors and to inspire local youth to go down a path of inventing and engineering.”

Hannah Lawrence leads the Comsewogue high school seniors this year. Photo from the school district
Hannah Lawrence leads the Comsewogue high school seniors this year. Photo from the school district
Hannah Lawrence leads the Comsewogue high school seniors this year. Photo from the school district

By Rachel Siford

Two Warriors and two Royals are leading the pack as they look forward to throwing their caps on graduation day.

Hannah Lawrence and Renuka Diwan were named Comsewogue High School’s Class of 2015 valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively.

Lawrence is finishing her high school career with a 102.61 GPA. She is attending Yale University in the fall, majoring in applied mathematics. Lawrence comes from a long line of valedictorians: her mother Cindy, brother David and sister Rachel all graduated at the top of their classes at Comsewogue High School.

Renuka Diwan leads the Comsewogue high school seniors this year. Photo from the school district
Renuka Diwan leads the Comsewogue high school seniors this year. Photo from the school district

Lawrence kept herself busy throughout high school playing varsity tennis, helping to integrate new tech in her school as a Comsewogue Student Technology Specialist, and participating in the Women in Science & Engineering Program (WISE), Math League, the National Honor Society and the Academic Club. She is also a National Merit scholar.

Diwan wrapped up her high school career with a 101.39 GPA. In the fall she will start college at Brown University but is undecided about her area of study. She was a National Merit Scholarship Program finalist and was involved in the National Honor Society, varsity tennis, the Academic Club, the French Honor Society and the WISE program. She also practices Indian classical dance outside of school.

Noah Davis leads the Port Jefferson high school seniors this year. Photo from the school district
Noah Davis leads the Port Jefferson high school seniors this year. Photo from the school district

The Earl L. Vandermeulen High School announced Noah Davis as its Class of 2015 valedictorian and Natalia Zaliznyak as salutatorian.

Davis, the younger brother of 2013 valedictorian Gabriel Davis, is continuing his studies at Duke University this fall, majoring in biomedical engineering. He is an AP Scholar with Distinction, participated in the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s Partners for the Future research program and is on the Science Olympiad team.

Davis has already made strides in his career by submitting a patent for an environmentally friendly flame retardant and was a semifinalist in the Siemens Foundation Competition in Math, Science and Technology.

Natalia Zaliznyak leads the Port Jefferson high school seniors this year. Photo from the school district
Natalia Zaliznyak leads the Port Jefferson high school seniors this year. Photo from the school district

Zaliznyak is also an AP Scholar with Distinction and a member of the Science Olympiad team. She is a National Merit semifinalist and a member of the Latin Club. She participated in the Simons Summer Research Program at Stony Brook University and in a local Russian theater group. She is attending Yale University in the fall to study molecular biophysics.

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Justin Julich competes for Port Jefferson in the steeplechase in the St. Anthony’s Invitational. Photo from the athlete

The Royals have always risen to the occasion, and the boys’ track and field team hopes their efforts this year on the state stage will be no exception.

Despite missing the entire spring season with an Achilles tendon injury, Port Jefferson standout James Burke — and two of his fellow Royals — placed in the Section XI individual championships and state qualifier on their home track last Friday and Saturday, to advance to the state championship this weekend at the University at Albany.

“It was devastating to lose James this spring season,” Port Jefferson head coach Rod Cawley said. “He’s the captain of the team and one of the best athletes in the state. But it’s quite an accomplishment to have three athletes competing this weekend.”

Although this season’s squad did not win any of the championships the Royals usually nab, like the league, division and county titles, the boys still finished the dual-meet season with a 5-1 record — dropping only their final matchup against Wyandanch, 79-59 — despite missing Burke, as well as junior Billy Witrock for a portion of the schedule.

Although he did not compete during the regular season, Burke placed second in the 1,600-meter, his signature event, at the qualifying meet with a time of 4 minutes, 18.39 seconds — only five-hundredths of a second behind Ward Melville’s John Ripa.

The Royal has finished that event as fast as 4:08.48, during the New Balance Nationals Indoor at the Armory in Manhattan earlier this year. The time made him the second-fastest miler in the country and earned him a silver medal.

“I give him credit for coming back and coming in second,” Cawley said about the qualifier. “The plan was to go out and try to take it easy to rest his tendon, but being the competitor that he is, there’s no taking it easy. He went from the back of the race all the way to the front in second place there, and then he moved to first for a little while, but he also got stepped on during the race — since [his Achilles] was injured anyway, that didn’t help.”

Burke spent a lot of time trying to heal following his injury, and slowly worked himself up to being able to run again.

“He goes around the neighborhood to people who have pools, and asks if he could swim,” Cawley said, laughing. “He’s been to four or five different pools in Port Jeff. … He likes to run in the water in the deep end to simulate running — not touching the bottom — and then he’ll swim laps to get some cardiovascular aspects of it.”

Port Jefferson's Alden Mohacsi pole vaults in a previous meet. Photo from the athlete
Port Jefferson’s Alden Mohacsi pole vaults in a previous meet. Photo from the athlete

Also heading to states is senior pole-vaulter Alden Mohacsi, whose fourth-place finish at the qualifier was a new personal record, making the state bid that much sweeter.

“I’m definitely looking forward to states,” said Mohacsi, who has been on the team since he was a freshman. “I’m practicing every day and there’s been a lot of personal development. I’m going to do the best that I can this week to improve my form and I’m hoping to hit 13 feet this Friday.”

Junior Justin Julich had several successes of his own, competing in the 3,200 and 3,000 steeplechase.

On Friday, Julich hit a new personal record of his own in the two-mile run with a 9:48 — nine seconds better than his standard 9:57 — to finish eighth. Just hours after competing in the 3,200 the evening before, Julich ran a 10:16 in the steeplechase on Saturday to place seventh and qualify for states.

“It’s awesome to do really good at that high of a level,” Julich said. “Competing against the best guys in the county, it always helps to do your best in those kinds of situations.”

Julich is also looking to reach a new personal best in that event this Saturday, and his head coach said the runner has grown a lot over the years, aiding in his success.

“He’s come a long way,” Cawley said. “He was a little guy back in freshman year and now he’s going to be a team leader next year. He was exhausted Saturday morning. It’s a very difficult [double event] to do in 16 hours, but he didn’t complain; he went out there and did it. He knows he has to step up.”

Julich, Mohacsi, Parker Schoch and Alex Rebic also competed in the 4×800 relay in the state qualifier, finishing 12th in 8:50.

Looking ahead to this weekend, Cawley and his athletes are confident that they can be successful on the big stage.

“I think we have a pretty good chance to do very well,” the head coach said. “James is James; I know he will do well just because of his past. Alden is a tough competitor, and I think Justin has an opportunity to do well, too.”

Mohacsi said the program’s winning tradition has facilitated the athletes’ improvements.

“It’s been an absolute pleasure to be a part of this team and this program,” he said. “It’s built me up physically and mentally, and I’m really grateful for the super-talented and supportive teammates and coaches I’ve had. It’s inspired me to keep pushing myself beyond the best of my abilities; to work hard and give it 110 percent.”

Port Jefferson held its annual Boater’s Maritime Festival on June 6 and June 7, bringing pirates, art, animals and water sports to the village’s downtown area on a warm weekend. Residents and visitors learned how to row, stepped onto paddleboards, wiggled into kayaks, went on treasure hunts, stuffed their faces with clams, petted slippery snakes and more.

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Port Jefferson Earl L. Vandermeulen High School. File photo by Elana Glowatz

Port Jefferson school district officials announced on Thursday that middle school Principal Antonio Santana would not return for 2015-16, making him the second building leader in the last few months to step down.

In a letter to parents and staff, Superintendent Ken Bossert said Santana would leave Port Jefferson Middle School for a role at a Nassau County high school beginning in July.

“While this news is disappointing, we are happy for Tony that he has chosen to continue to shape his career in the manner that he believes is best for him and his family,” Bossert wrote.

Antonio Santana, above, is leaving his role as Port Jefferson Middle School principal after three years. File photo
Antonio Santana, above, is leaving his role as Port Jefferson Middle School principal after three years. File photo

The same day, Santana sent out an email to parents about his departure.

“I cannot emphasize enough what a pleasure it’s been working with my students, staff, and parents,” he said. “As I have mentioned at many school functions, it has been a true privilege working in such a great community and all of your efforts in raising such wonderful children have been much appreciated. Having said this, I can’t help feeling a great deal of sadness when I think about all of the people I will miss, especially my students.”

Santana’s news comes about three months after high school Principal Matthew Murphy said he would resign at the end of the current school year, “to pursue other educational opportunities.” Murphy and Santana were both hired three years ago to jointly replace the combined middle school-high school principal, Roseann Cirnigliaro.

The district has filled Murphy’s slot — it announced recently that Christine Austen, the assistant principal for all grade levels and a Port Jefferson graduate, would succeed him at the helm of Earl L. Vandermeulen High School.

“It is wonderful to be given this opportunity to come home and give back to the community this way,” Austen said in a statement.

Austen said she wants to introduce more technology into classroom learning and implement new technology-related courses.

“Our goal is to prepare our students with skills that will last a lifetime,” the incoming principal said.

Bossert said in his Thursday letter that the search is already underway for a new middle school principal, but “due to the timing of this vacancy, it is likely that there will be a gap between Mr. Santana’s departure and the appointment of a new principal.”

Parents may reach out to Bossert, Assistant Superintendent for Business Sean Leister or Executive Director of Curriculum Maureen Hull with any questions.

“Further information about the progress of our search for Mr. Santana’s successor will be shared with our community as it develops.”

At the time of Murphy’s resignation announcement, the superintendent said the district did not plan to return to its previous system of having one principal for both the high school and the middle school. The district was able to operate in that manner for the two schools, which share a building, because it had a waiver from the state education department but that waiver has expired. Bossert has previously said the two schools are different learning environments that require “separate and distinct” principals.

Village Center file photo by Heidi Sutton

It was mostly incumbents versus challengers during a debate between candidates for the Port Jefferson Village Board of Trustees on Wednesday night, with the two groups standing apart on issues such as the village’s comprehensive plan, taxes and the local power plant.

The event, run by the chamber of commerce, featured all of the board candidates: Mayor Margot Garant is running for her fourth term against businessman Dave Forgione; and Trustee Larry LaPointe is running for his third term against resident challengers Matthew Franco and Stan Loucks.

Two trustee seats are up for election — LaPointe’s and that of Trustee Adrienne Kessel, who is not seeking re-election — so the two candidates with the most votes will win slots on the board.

Longtime village Judge Peter Graham, who is unopposed for re-election, was also present.

At the Village Center debate, the five candidates sparred on the topic of the aging Port Jefferson power plant, which could need to be upgraded — or repowered — soon if locals want to keep it as a key source of property tax revenue for the village. Locals have feared the plant will not be repowered for several years, and village officials have been lobbying to save it.

Franco said the village is in a “wait-and-see pattern” on those efforts, but needs to be more proactive by finding places to cut the budget and thus lower taxes. Forgione also pointed to reducing taxes as a solution, saying that year-to-year village tax increases are too high.

On the other side of the argument were incumbents Garant and LaPointe. The trustee said he “resents the implication” that the village board has been just sitting and waiting, as members have been visiting Albany to lobby for repowering and bring parties to the table to negotiate as much as possible. Garant added that to help prepare residents for a potential loss of tax revenue from the plant, the board has been putting money aside each year and working to resolve tax grievances in order to stabilize the tax roll.

Loucks, who fell on different sides of different issues throughout the night, said the village must continue pressuring state officials to push for repowering.

On the topic of the draft comprehensive plan, which includes recommendations for development throughout the village, candidates were asked if they support the document as it reaches its final stages of review.

Garant, LaPointe and Loucks spoke in favor of the plan, with the incumbents saying it will work to improve the commercial areas uptown and downtown in particular.

“We have the problems of a small city,” LaPointe said that night, imploring the audience not to fear change. “I want the blight gone.”

Forgione and Franco argued the village should modify the plan based upon recommendations that the Suffolk County Planning Commission listed in its letter approving the plan.

In the fight for mayor, the candidates closed with Forgione saying he would strive to get more community input.

“I will do more than run this village,” he said. “I will serve this village.”

Garant called on the audience to return her as the village leader.

“This is a very critical time,” she said. “I am your mayor.”

To the left, to the left
A 24-year-old woman from Farmingville was arrested in Smithtown on May 28 and charged with driving while intoxicated, with a previous conviction within 10 years. Police said the woman was driving a 2013 Toyota Rav 4 and was making a left turn onto Main Street in Smithtown, which a road sign prohibited.

Lights out
A 24-year-old East Northport woman was arrested on May 28 in Smithtown and charged with driving while intoxicated. Police said the woman was driving a 2006 Nissan westbound on Route 25A in Smithtown at 2:25 a.m. Cops found her intoxicated after pulling her over because her lights were off.

Drunk driver caught
A 56-year-old woman from St. James was arrested by police in Smithtown on May 30 and charged with driving while intoxicated, operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 of 1 percent. Police said that the woman was driving a 2001 Buick Century at the corner of Route 25A and Edgewood Avenue in Smithtown at about 12:26 a.m. and sideswiped two vehicles.

Nesconset harassment
Police arrested a 39-year-old man from Nesconset on May 27 and charged him with second-degree aggravated harassment, race/religion. Police said the man directed racial slurs at a female victim on the corner of Southern Boulevard and Route 347 in Nesconset at 1:35 p.m.

Church money stolen
Someone took money from the donation boxes at the St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church on East Main Street in Smithtown sometime between May 28 and May 29.

Washed out
Two drivers in two separate cars made off with free car washes at Don’s Hand Car Wash on Nesconset Highway in Nesconset on May 27 between 1:30 and 6:30 p.m. There are no arrests.

Broken window
Someone broke the passenger side window of a 2000 Dodge Intrepid parked on Thompson Street in Kings Park. The incident occurred sometime between 5:15 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. on May 29.

Grill, lights snatched
Someone removed a grill and tail lights from a 2010 Jeep Wrangler located at Certified Headquarters on Middle Country Road in Saint James. The incident was reported to police on May 28 and it occurred sometime on May 22.

Pretty in pink
An unknown man dressed in black pants, a black jacket, one black glove on his left hand and a pink mask covering his head entered a Terryville Road gas station in Port Jefferson Station, stole cash from the register and fled on foot on June 1. Police are still investigating the early morning incident.

Credit score
A 49-year-old man was arrested and charged with fourth-degree grand larceny on May 27 after he stole a wallet containing several credit cards from a 2013 Ford that was parked in the Three Roads Plaza in Port Jefferson Station.

I’ll have the punch
An unknown suspect reportedly approached a man standing in front of a Main Street bar in Port Jefferson and hit him on May 31. The victim was taken to John T. Mather Memorial Hospital for treatment. There have been no arrests.

Ticketed off
A Port Jefferson village code enforcement officer reported that while trying to write a parking ticket on May 26, the recipient decided to leave the scene instead of waiting for the ticket. As the individual pulled away, the officer had to step away to avoid being hit.

Butting heads
A 37-year-old Wading River man was arrested for assault on May 30 after a confrontation between him and another man in Miller Place escalated, moving from inside a Route 25A restaurant to the parking lot. The defendant head-butted the other man.

Falling flat
A Gully Landing Road resident in Miller Place reported that an unknown person had punctured a rear tire of their 2012 Honda Accord on May 29.

Shots fired
Woodhull Landing Road residents in Sound Beach reported that they believed a person had used a BB gun to damage car windows and doors at some point between May 28 and May 29.

Easy entry
Jewelry and a laptop were stolen from a Hawkins Road residence in Centereach on May 30. The suspect supposedly entered through an unlocked back door.

Trailer trashed
A fire rescue education trailer parked at the Middle Country Public Library in Centereach was vandalized on May 30. According to police, graffiti was drawn on the side of the trailer.

Vacancy
A vacant home on Noel Drive in Centereach was burglarized on May 27. An unknown individual entered the home, which had recently suffered a fire, through a basement window and took two TVs, an iPad and video game consoles.

Crash and dash
Police arrested a 32-year-old Stony Brook man on May 29 in Stony Brook and charged him with aggravated driving while intoxicated, with a child in the car. Police said the man was driving a 2015 Nissan Altima southbound on Stony Brook Road and was involved in a motor vehicle crash with his 18-month-old son in the car. The man crashed into a fence, and he also crashed into a 2004 Toyota Rav 4 at about 12:14 p.m. Police also charged him with two counts of leaving the scene of an accident. The man was arrested later that day at his home on Stony Brook Road.

Shoplifter caught
Police arrested a 26-year-old man from South Setauket on May 30 and charged him with petit larceny. Police said the man stole a chainsaw and an air compressor accessory set from the Smithhaven Mall on May 14 at 4:12 p.m. Police said he was arrested in Lake Grove.

Hot outfit snatched
Someone stole jewelry and a tank top from Kohl’s on Nesconset Highway in Setauket-East Setauket on May 30 at 9:43 p.m. There are no arrests.

A crying shame
Someone took assorted baby items from Walmart on Nesconset Highway in Setauket-East Setauket sometime between 7 and 8 p.m. on May 29. There are no arrests.

Jewelry lifted
Someone stole jewelry from a home on William Penn Drive in Setauket-East Setauket sometime between May 26 at 4 p.m. and May 27 at 10 a.m. There are no arrests.

Credit card mystery
A female complainant from Hawkins Road in Stony Brook told police someone made two unauthorized purchases through her credit card. The incident occurred sometime on May 24 and police received the report on May 29.

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Elwood Superintendent Ken Bossert. File photo by Elana Glowatz

The Port Jefferson school board could change the way it evaluates the district superintendent.

Board members approved a first reading of proposed policy updates that would change their schedule for meeting with the superintendent to discuss district goals and to receive updates, resulting in more communication, and would change the rating scale for the administrator’s performance to one similar to the statewide teacher evaluation scale — with scores of highly effective, effective, developing and ineffective.

After accepting its first reading during the board meeting on May 12, the board may vote to adopt the new policy at its next session.

Under current policy, the board must hold a minimum of two evaluation meetings with the superintendent: one midway through the school year and the other toward its end. But the proposed changes would require a first meeting between the board and the superintendent during the summer, for the parties to discuss goals for the new school year. They would meet again in January to go over progress and, after the board convenes to discuss the superintendent’s performance, the members would meet with him again in May or June. Along the way, from September to May, according to the draft of the updated policy, the superintendent would provide “regular updates to the board regarding progress toward goals” and would submit a self-evaluation in April or May.

Rather than relying on an evaluation scale that employs percentiles, the proposed rating scale would assign the superintendent a ranking in various categories — his relationships with the school board, the community and the staff; business and finance; instructional leadership; and district results — as well as an overall rating.

If the school board revises the policy, some pieces of it will not change: The board would still have to vote upon a superintendent’s ratings and provide explanations for them, and the superintendent would retain the right to add his comments to the evaluation for the record.

The entire company of ‘Puss in Boots’ at Theatre Three. Photo by Sarah E. Bush, Theatre Three Productions Inc.

For too short a time, Theatre Three’s Children’s Theatre is presenting a delightful adaptation of “Puss in Boots” on the Mainstage. Written by Steve McCoy and Jeffrey Sanzel, the story is loosely based on the 17th century fairy-tale by Charles Perrault, sans the ogre and with a surprise ending.

In Theatre Three’s version, ‘Boots’ chronicles the journey of a poor boy named Christopher. Kicked out of his home by his two older brothers and their wives, with no possessions but his father’s cat, Puss, Christopher sets off to the palace of King Vexmus to seek his fortune. He soon discovers that the cat can talk and wants to help him. A plan is hatched to pose as the rich Marquis of Carabas to win the heart of Princess Anafaizia and the adventure begins.

Jeffrey Sanzel directs a cast of 10 adult actors who deliver a first-rate performance. Hans Paul Hendrickson shines in the leading role of Christopher and also serves as storyteller. His kind and sweet personality quickly gains the sympathy of the audience. Amanda Geraci is wonderful as Puss. Your ‘basic cat of all trades,’ she sings and dances in practically every scene with boundless energy.

Jenna Kavaler is the beautiful Princess Anafaizia, who quickly reveals that her beauty is only skin deep. Bobby Montaniz and Andrew Gasparini are a terrific team as Christopher’s mean brothers, Amos and Shank. Their antics up and down the aisles to try to catch Christopher with a large net are priceless. James D. Schultz is in top form as the bumbling King Vexmus. Hilarious as usual, he clearly enjoys being onstage, making children and adults laugh. Schultz is perfectly matched with newcomer Tiffany Bux as Queen Ire. Bickering like an old married couple, they are very entertaining. Dana Bush as Ida, Marquéz as Missy and Gabrielle Comanda as Julia are a great supporting cast.

Choreographed by the super talented Marquéz and accompanied on piano by Steve McCoy, the musical numbers are a real treat, from the sweet duet “Take a Moment for Yourself,” sung by Geraci and Comanda, to the catchy tune of “Song of the Marquis of Carabas.” At last Sunday’s performance, many children were observed rocking back and forth in their seats to the music, taking it all in.

The set is simple but effective, utilizing props from the set of the theater’s evening performances of “Oliver!” Imagination is called for, especially when Puss takes the royal family on a tour of her master’s lands. The costumes, designed by Aimee Rabbitt are spot on, with sharp contrast between the rich and the poor.

Overall, Theatre Three’s “Puss in Boots” is funny, entertaining and a perfect introduction to the magic of live theater. Meet the cast in the lobby after the show for a meet-and-greet and photo opportunities.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson, will present “Puss In Boots” on June 6 and 13 at 11 a.m. followed by “Jack & the Beanstalk” from July 10 to Aug. 7 and “The Pied Piper” from Aug. 7 to 15. Tickets are $10 each, with group discounts for 10 or more. For more information, please call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

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Hurricanes have caused power outages in recent years. File photo

With several emergency services packed into a small area, Port Jefferson Village officials hope to secure a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority toward building a local backup energy grid to be used in case of a crisis.

The village applied for the NYSERDA grant to build the backup grid, known as a microgrid, through a statewide competition because of the critical community services that cannot stop functioning during a power outage, Mayor Margot Garant said.

“During a severe weather event such as we had with [hurricanes] Irene and Sandy, where the hospitals lost power and some of us lost power — some up to 14 days, [and the] hospitals were out eight to 10 days — those … patients that were on critical care services were put in harm’s way,” Garant said at the village board of trustees meeting Monday night. “So basically if we have a microgrid during those severe weather systems … where the overall grid goes down, we flick a switch and keep our critical services online.”

Microgrids are independent of the regional grid and rely on their own power-generating resources. NYSERDA may award up to $40 million total to help communities around New York State build those microgrids.

Port Jefferson Village is not the only municipality on Long Island applying for a slice of the pie. Huntington Town officials recently agreed to pursue the grant funding for their own microgrid, to support buildings like Huntington Hospital and the town’s wastewater treatment plant. And a month ago, NYSERDA awarded the first five grants — $100,000 each — to communities from Buffalo to East Hampton, so the applicants could perform feasibility studies on their projects.

NYSERDA expects to announce the next round of grant winners soon.

“We have two major hospitals, a ferry, a railroad station, our own school district, a village hall, a wastewater treatment facility, a groundwater treatment facility, an ambulance company,” Garant said. “We have a lot of emergency services-related components within a very small radius.”

Port Jefferson is listed on the NYSERDA website as one of five “opportunity zones” on Long Island where microgrids might reduce strain on the regional utility system and have other positive benefits. The other zones are Long Beach, Montauk, Hewlett Bay and Inwood. Statewide, there are eight other regions that have their own opportunity zones.

With a $100,000 grant, the village would work with consultants and local stakeholders, like the fire department, to research the Port Jefferson project. In choosing which projects to award grants to, NYSERDA is using criteria such as the area’s level of vulnerability to outages, how a microgrid would improve community function and the possible effect on ratepayers.

Although power generation and distribution in the United States used to operate at a more local level, the grids have become more regional over time to make the utilities more cost-effective and reliable, according to NYSERDA’s website.

“These systems are, however, vulnerable to outages that can impact large regions and thousands of businesses and citizens, particularly as a consequence of extreme, destructive weather events,” the website said. “Microgrids could help minimize the impact of these outages by localizing power generation, distribution and consumption so that a fallen tree or downed wire will not interrupt critical services for miles around.”

Projects awarded the $100,000 grants to perform feasibility studies will later be eligible to apply for more funding under the NYSERDA program, to advance the microgrid construction efforts.

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