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Three Village Chamber of Commerce

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Rain may have postponed some fun Aug. 7, but the next day, more than 400 attendees at the Three Village Chamber of Commerce Community Family BBQ made up for it on the Aug. 8 rain date.

It was the chamber’s 19th barbecue held at West Meadow Beach where members and residents played games, had the chance to win raffle prizes donated by local businesses and enjoyed music as well as catering from David Prestia of Bagel Express. Children also had the chance to get their face painted. All proceeds from the raffle tickets sold at the barbecue went to Ronald McDonald House at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital.

Michael Ardolino, president emeritus, said the barbecue ended with a beautiful sunset that was created by a storm coming over the Sound as the sun was going down. Fortunately, the barbecue was over before another rain event hit the area.

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Members of Three Village Chamber of Commerce.

The Three Village Chamber of Commerce is working with local businesses to ensure owners and employees are up to date when it comes to a new state law.

In October of 2018, New York State passed a law that requires all businesses, including churches and nonprofits, even if there is only one employee, to have a written sexual harassment policy and post it in a highly visible area, as well as provide each employee with a copy of the policy. All employees must be trained once a year and new employees soon after their start date, according to Christine Malafi, a senior partner with Ronkonkoma-based law firm Campolo, Middleton and McCormick.

Recently, Malafi led a discussion at the chamber’s March meeting titled “What the Sexual Harassment Law Means for Business.” The attorney shared insight into the new laws with local business owners and how they impact workplace policies and culture.

The discussion kicked off a new service where the chamber will sponsor two sexual harassment training workshops for employees of member and nonmember companies led by Malafi. The workshop will discuss what sexual harassment is, what one is allowed and not allowed to do and what to look for if harassment is suspected.

Malafi said she has found that many businesses aren’t up to date when it comes to their sexual harassment policies.

“It’s very important because it’s the MeToo era, and if someone makes a complaint against you or an employee, if you can’t check the boxes — yes, complied with this, yes, complied with that — you may find yourself facing liability,” she said.

Andy Polan, the Three Village chamber president, said the goal is to make the mandated training more accessible and affordable for members. An alternative for business owners, he said, would be to work directly with an attorney or insurance carrier who specializes in the law or take an online course. He said he has heard such services could cost $1,500 or more per business or practice, which he said can be a big hit for a small business or nonprofit.

“We want to help our members, and it’s adding value to their membership,” Polan said.

Malafi said the new law now covers independent contractors and other contracted workers.

In the last few years, Malafi said she has seen an increase in sexual harassment cases.

“The number of cases filed with the EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] and similar agencies have doubled in the past few years,” she said, adding she doesn’t think actual occurrences have doubled, but people are more likely to report offensive language or action.

Workshops are scheduled for May 10 at 9 a.m. at the Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s Educational & Cultural Center and May 21 at 6 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Express at Stony Brook. Rates for chamber members are $15 per employee and $25 per person for nonmembers.

Preregistration is required and can be made online at www.3vchamber.com or by check to Three Village Chamber, P.O. Box 6, East Setauket, NY 11733.

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Jane Taylor, third from left, with some of her fellow board of trustee members at the Sept. 26 Three Village Chamber of Commerce meeting. Pictured with Taylor is John Tsunis, Michael Ardolino, Colette Frey-Bitzas, Elizabeth Miastkowski, Gloria Rocchio, Charles Lefkowitz, Andy Polan, Ron LaVita, Leah Dunaief, Billy Williams, Carmine Inserra and the Hon. Howard Bergson, who swore in the members. Photo from Three Village Chamber of Commerce

The Three Village Chamber of Commerce welcomed a new executive director at the beginning of September.

Town of Brookhaven Supervisor congratulates Jane Taylor on being chosen as Three Village Chamber of Commerce Member of the Year in June. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

Jane Taylor, who retired in June as assistant head of The Stony Brook School, has taken on the leadership role. The position has been vacant since David Woods’ retirement last year. Taylor has been involved with the chamber for 20 years and a member of the board for more than five. In June, she was named Three Village Chamber of Commerce Member of the Year.

Charles Lefkowitz, first vice president of the chamber, said Taylor is the “last part of the puzzle for the reorganization of the chamber.” Over the last few years, he said the chamber has been undergoing a reorganization that has included planning events 12 months in advance and changing how they arrange networking activities to allow for more mingling.

“Jane Taylor is an outstanding selection for the executive director for the Three Village chamber, and she comes with a wealth of community involvement and knowledge of the Three Village area,” Lefkowitz said.

Taylor’s association with the organization came about when she first started at The Stony Brook School. She said she felt it was vital to network with community members to talk about issues and connect with local vendors.

“I felt it was an organization that was committed to the community and was something that was built on the importance of developing relationships,” she said.

When Taylor, who grew up in Pittsburgh, first moved to the Three Village area with her husband, Robert, 45 years ago, she started working at the school as a physical education teacher and coach. Taylor said when she started she was able to connect with the local athletic communities including Ward Melville and Port Jefferson.

“The local business community is one of the key elements that make a community healthy and vibrant.”

— Jane Taylor

“I realized that people really cared about this place and wanted me to be successful even though we were competing against these schools,” she said.

Taylor said her new responsibilities as executive director of the chamber include working with the board identifying goals for the coming year, making sure the e-newsletter is posted, building membership, visiting businesses and not-for-profits in the community, maintaining communication and “whatever needs to be done.”

She said she feels local businesses play an important role in communities, covering everything from when a baseball team needs a sponsor to who is hosting the Christmas parade.

“The local business community is one of the key elements that make a community healthy and vibrant,” she said, adding that she looks forward to helping local businesses grow.

Taylor lives with her husband in Stony Brook, has two grown children and two grandchildren. She said she has learned to juggle a lot in the past and looks forward to her new responsibilities.

“You just take what’s in front of you, put one foot in front of the other and assume the goodwill of everybody,” Taylor said.

Sun, food and fun were on the agenda at West Meadow Beach in Setauket.

The Three Village Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual family barbecue at the town beach Aug. 8. Bagel Express was on hand to serve the food, and the store’s owner Dave Prestia donated all the hamburgers and hot dogs. Attendees had a chance to win a variety of raffle prizes, and the Stony Brook Rotary provided a golf simulator.

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) and Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) joined residents at the barbecue which has been an annual tradition of the chamber for nearly 20 years.

For more information about the Three Village Chamber of Commerce, visit www.3vchamber.com.

Charles Lefkowitz, right, one of the co-founders of the Setauket Harbor Task Force, presents an award to state Assemblyman Steve Englebright, center, along with George Hoffman, left, another founding member of the task force. Photo by Maria Hoffman

By Anthony Frasca

When he noticed there were issues with the cleanliness of Setauket Harbor, Charles Lefkowitz took matters into his own hands. A founding member of the Setauket Harbor Task Force, Lefkowitz has become an advocate for attention to the harbor.

“Nobody was doing anything and it was just deteriorating until Charlie and a bunch of us got together and said this harbor needs a group of people that will start advocating for its improvement,” said George Hoffman, also a founding member of the task force and a vice president of the Three Village Civic Association.

By forming the task force to call attention to the issues regarding the cleanliness of the harbor, such as roadway runoff, the group was able to procure a $1 million dollar grant in state funding with the help of state Senator John Flanagan (R-East Northport). The task force was also appointed to the Long Island Sound Study, a cooperative multistate effort to improve the water quality of Long Island Sound, in existence since 1985.

“As a founding member of the Setauket Harbor Task Force he has involved himself from the very beginning,” said state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), who has attended numerous task force meetings. “He has made time out of his very busy schedule to attend meetings, sometimes in the middle of a workday. He very often offers some of the most sage advice around the table. This is worth noting and saying thank you to Charlie for being part of the individual glue that holds our community together. It speaks to a level of sincerity of love of the community and serves as an example of what it means to be a community leader.”

Once an elected official in the Town of Brookhaven, Lefkowitz continues to involve himself with numerous community issues and advocacy groups in addition to the task force.

“He’s a former town councilman and his involvement in our community and to our town continues,” Englebright said. “If anything he is even more effective now because he is unshackled from politics, and he is able to express his commitment to making our community even better.”

“The subtle side of Charlie is that he is the owner of the Stop & Shop [shopping center] on Route 25A, and I’ve seen him outside pulling weeds out of the flower beds. That’s an indication of the level of detail he’s willing to invest himself in.”

— Steve Englebright

Hoffman said Lefkowitz is vice president of the Three Village Chamber of Commerce and has reinvigorated the chamber by recruiting new people, broadening the chamber’s focus and making it more representative locally.

“Charlie is responsible for reinventing the chamber of commerce,” Hoffman said. “He is a driving force in keeping the group together and focused.”

Lefkowitz was also involved in the community visioning committees for the re-examination of the zoning along the Route 25A corridor in the Three Village area. Drivers along the state road in the vicinity of the Ridgeway Plaza Shopping Center can sometimes see Lefkowitz tending to the flower beds that are planted every spring.

“The subtle side of Charlie is that he is the owner of the Stop & Shop [shopping center] on Route 25A, and I’ve seen him outside pulling weeds out of the flower beds,” Englebright said. “That’s an indication of the level of detail he’s willing to invest himself in.”

Lefkowitz’s influence also extends beyond the Three Village area, according to Hoffman.

“He is a visionary on land use issues especially upper Port Jefferson in terms of its commercial viability,” Hoffman said. “He is also an advocate for electrification of the Port Jefferson branch of the Long Island Rail Road. He focuses on how to make it happen and for the first time we are seeing progress.”

Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) said she has worked on various projects with Lefkowitz, and he is currently working with the town on implementing aspects of the Port Jefferson Station Commercial Hub Study on some of his properties.

“As a former councilman, chamber vice president, business owner and resident, Charlie has a unique perspective of our community,” Cartright said. “Charlie’s knowledge of real estate and of the history of the Three Village area was a valuable addition to the community forums my office held while working on the Route 25A-Three Village area corridor community visioning report this past year. The award of Person of the Year is well deserved by Charlie, and I look forward to seeing him continue to work with residents on community projects.”

Attendees at the Three Village Chamber of Commerce annual barbecue enjoyed an evening of eating and dancing on the beach Aug. 2. Photo from the Three Village Chamber of Commerce

By Rita J. Egan

A little rain didn’t stop families from enjoying an evening at the beach Aug. 2 when the Three Village Chamber of Commerce hosted its family barbecue.

Attendees at the Three Village Chamber of Commerce annual barbecue enjoyed an evening of eating and dancing on the beach Aug. 2. Photo from the Three Village Chamber of Commerce

This was the 18th annual summer event at West Meadow Beach for the chamber. Vice president Charles Lefkowitz said while it rained for a short period, attendees weathered the storm by spending time under the beach’s pavilion or umbrellas.

“The rain made it fun and interesting, and thanks to the great volunteers we have, and David Prestia from Bagel Express, we were able to get several hundred through the food line,” he said. “It was a very successful event.”

Chamber president Andrew Polan said he estimated  400 people were in attendance, and added the number of families participating in the event has grown over the years. Polan said while the organization doesn’t advertise as much as it did in the past, many still come, looking forward to the raffles and camaraderie at the beach.

“It’s nice to see after 18 years it’s as much of a hit with the community as it’s always been,” Polan said.

Lefkowitz said Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) and Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) were among the local residents who attended.

Attendees at the Three Village Chamber of Commerce annual barbecue enjoyed an evening of eating and dancing on the beach Aug. 2. Photo from the Three Village Chamber of Commerce

“This is something that the local community looks forward to every year, and I’ve been involved in it since its inception,” Lefkowitz said. “I’m really proud that the chamber can deliver such an event to give back to the community.”

David Woods, the chamber’s former executive director, recently retired, and Lefkowitz said the board banded together to organize this year’s barbecue. He said their work together on the event has left a great impression on him.

“The true highlight was how my fellow board members really pulled together, and we worked as a group to deliver this barbecue as a successful event,” Lefkowitz said.

The Three Village Chamber of Commerce’s mission is to provide local professionals and business owners the opportunity to grow professionally through community events. The organization is planning its next event — Disco Night at The Old Field Club — Oct. 19. For more information visit www.3vchamber.com.

Three Village Chamber of Commerce executive director, David Woods, has been a member of the organization for nearly 10 years. Photo from David Woods

By Jenna Lennon

During his time with the Three Village Chamber of Commerce, executive director David Woods is most proud of the new signs welcoming people to the Three Villages and Stony Brook University, placed around the community and  along Nicolls Road.

“Before they went up, I can remember, for example, one of the former directors of the university hospital was talking at one of the chamber meetings, and he said that it had taken him an hour and a half to get from the airport to the university,” Woods said in a phone interview.

The former university hospital director flew into the airport in Islip, just twenty or so minutes from Stony Brook, but he drove around for another hour trying to find the university and its community, according to Woods.

“One of the things that I never would have thought of is putting up a sign like that because in the days where I first came to the community to work for the university, there was a sort of invisible fence between the campus and the community,” Woods said. “There would have been opposition. And those beautiful signs have helped a lot.”

Now after nearly 10 years with the chamber, Woods is retiring on June 30 at the end of the organization’s fiscal year.

Charles Lefkowitz, vice president of the Three Village Chamber of Commerce, worked with Woods nearly his entire time with the chamber.

Woods has “a unique style and passion to bring the business community together. He was never afraid to try something new or even borderline what would be deemed outrageous,” Lefkowitz said.

Woods started with the chamber after retiring from the “regular work world” and having just finished his novel “Buffalo Snow Day” — “a sort of comic novel about Buffalo turning into Aspen.”

Woods spent 17 years as assistant to the president at Stony Brook University. For 20 years after that, he worked in Manhattan “in marketing communications as secretary of the New York City Press Club, the Deadline Club, doing things like introducing the hit board game Pictionary and then an unknown new radio talk show host, now for better or worse a household name, Rush Limbaugh.”

When the chamber needed a manager, they called Woods.

“It was, still is, a great job because we were sitting here like ships passing in the night, our historic community on one side of the railroad tracks, Stony Brook University making new history on the other side and convergence clearly needed,” Woods said. “Since then, leaders on both sides of the tracks have been bringing our two worlds together and doing a lot of it at the monthly chamber meetings.”

Andy Polan, chamber president alongside Woods for the last four years said Woods’ “historical knowledge of the community is pretty amazing from the university to the local history.”

Polan is looking to fill the vacancy with someone who is outgoing, social media-savvy and “interested in developing the chamber to grow to our next level.”

Woods and his wife, Desiree, are taking some time off to go upstate to his hometown of Dunkirk on Lake Erie with their daughter and granddaughter for a family reunion.

Woods will keep in contact with the chamber and continue to support the new director for the upcoming 18th annual chamber beach barbecue, a networking event in July.

For now, Lefkowitz will miss Woods’ “smile and grin at the other side of the table.”

Interested applicants for the executive director position with the Three Village Chamber of Commerce should send their resumes to jobs@backofficemail.com.

Parade will begin on Main Street in Setauket near the Emma S. Clark Library and elementary school

An electric float in 2014 carries parade participants. Photo from Cheryl Davie

After a one-year hiatus, a long-running holiday tradition is returning to Setauket.

It was ‘lights out’ for the Electric Holiday Parade last December, when a couple of glitches prevented the popular event from taking place. Cheryl Davie, longtime organizer of the event, which has been around for two decades, said there were budgetary cutbacks at the town level and a permit deadline was missed.

Billy Williams, a civic-minded local businessman and a member of the Setauket Fire Department, Three Village Kiwanis and the Three Village Chamber of Commerce, said he heard of the issues last November — just not soon enough.

“I remember moving to the area in the late ’90s and bringing my kids to the parade,” he said in an email. “I thought it was a great hometown experience. I was saddened when I heard it wasn’t happening last year.” But by the time he found out, he said, it was too late to make it happen. So he decided to pick up the pieces and planned to resurrect the parade this year.

Davie immediately offered her assistance and expertise and the two became a team. Williams joked he is the producer and Davie is the director. She’s in charge of “the script” and running the show. He’s responsible for making sure the funding comes through.

“I have put together a team of small businesses and individuals who wanted to produce a great parade,” Williams said. “We have about 20 sponsors that have generously donated to offset the cost of producing the parade. State Farm [Williams’ business], Shea & Sanders Real Estate, Four D Landscaping and Shine Dance Studios are the major sponsors — with many others contributing as well. Each has made donations of money, time and/or other needed goods and services for the event.”

Lights will blaze again when the parade kicks off Sunday, Dec. 11 at 5 p.m. There will be floats and marchers, lights and music, decorated conveyances of all kinds, entertainment, hot chocolate and cookies — not to mention the arrival of Santa Claus on the Setauket Fire Department float — according to Davie.

“We have a lot of floats signed up,” Williams said. “Thirty-five have registered so far. We are also hiring a professional marching band to perform as well as providing many other great attractions for the kids. We have Wolfie from Stony Brook University attending, as well as the SBU pep squad.”

Williams said the Three Village school district will also be well represented. Many of the elementary schools are building floats — at all grade levels — which is a change from previous years when only sixth-graders were invited to create floats. The Ward Melville Jazz Band will also perform.

Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Brownies, dance academies, preschools and local businesses have registered online to participate in the parade of lights. Registration will remain open until Dec. 10.

“The more, the merrier,” said Davie, referring to participants and spectators alike.

No article about the Electric Holiday Parade would be complete without a shout out to one of the original founders and supporters. Michael Ardolino was a member of the small group that established the parade 21 years ago. Today he is very happy and proud.

“I’m so excited the parade is back,” Ardolino said in a telephone interview. “I’m so proud it’s going to continue. So pleased with the new group that has stepped up to create this year’s parade. I’m looking forward to coming and enjoying it with my granddaughter. The tradition continues.”

For more information about the parade — or if you’d like to sign up — visit www.3vholidayparade.com. Staging for the parade will begin at 3:30 p.m. along Main Street in Setauket near the Emma S. Clark Library and the Setauket Elementary School. Kick-off is at 5 p.m. sharp.

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