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Victoria Espinoza

Reviewed by Victoria Espinoza

Author Patricia Novak with a copy of her book.

With Patricia J. Novak’s new book, you don’t need a time machine to see what the Town of Huntington was like 100 years ago.

Broken into seven chapters, “Huntington,” part of the Arcadia Publishing’s Postcard History Series, looks through the lens at old postcards to get glimpses of what life in Huntington was like back in the day.

“I have been collecting postcards of the towns/hamlets in Huntington township since the 1980s,” said Novak in a recent interview, adding “Before the internet (and eBay), I acquired them by visiting postcard shows and by mail. Dealers would send me their cards for review and I would pick what I wanted. I would return the ones I didn’t want and include a check for the keepers. When Arcadia Publishing introduced their new Postcard History Series, I knew I had a book!”

Novak, who grew up in Huntington, organized her book by different parts of the community. The various chapters, which feature over 220 black-and-white images, span religious structures, schools, businesses and scenes of residents from years past enjoying their lives in the North Shore town. 

The first chapter starts off with a very familiar site, Huntington Town Hall. Initially used as a high school for Huntington students starting in 1910, it eventually changed hands to become the center of government. 

Other school buildings in Huntington and Northport are featured in this chapter as well, along with old mailers detailing and encouraging residents to support school expansion projects due to a population increase in the area after World War II. It’s quite interesting to read a message from Huntington’s school board in 1954 and see the similarities in budget pitches with school boards currently in power.

Aside from school buildings, the first chapter also shows churches in the area, some that look almost identical now as they first did in the early 20th century and some that are no longer standing.

The cover of Novak’s book

Another chapter gives readers a glimpse into the lives of the residents that came before them. Familiar structures like William K. Vanderbilt II’s mansion, Eagles Nest, in Centerport and the Huntington Country Club can be seen in their early starts, but you can also learn about impressive establishments like the Camp Christian Endeavour, located close to where the Huntington train station now stands. This organization worked to provide an opportunity for disadvantaged city boys and girls to enjoy outdoor recreation, three meals, clean surroundings and fresh air for 10 days every summer. Photos show children swinging and enjoying the Huntington scenery. 

Perhaps the most fun aspect of a book like this is comparing the old photos to what everything looks like now, including the chapter that shows the business establishments of the past featured in several postcards. 

Novak said her favorite postcards are ones that tell the greatest stories.“The real-photo postcards are exciting, but any postcard that has writing on it which gives us some insight on events and daily life from that time period are particularly interesting to me.” 

And although she was not phased with the wealth of information she had to work from, Novak said she was surprised with some of the personal stories she got to learn.

“I did extensive research on many of the individuals that I ‘met’ along the way,” she said. “The contributions they made to the social and economic progress of Huntington during the early 1900s should not be overlooked. I even went to visit their graves.”

As for why she thinks people should be interested in learning more about Huntington’s past, Novak said this town has no shortage of fascinating stories.

“Huntington has a rich history dating back to the 1600s,” she said. “It is a perfect, and well-documented microcosm of how communities grew from European settlements to our modern footprints today.”

A lifelong resident of the Town of Huntington, author Patricia J. Novak is a librarian and archivist at the South Huntington Public Library and a member of the Huntington Historical Society. “Huntington” is available online at www.arcadiapublishing.com, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Danny Gardner as Don Lockwood in the iconic scene from ‘Singin’ in the Rain’

By Victoria Espinoza

The latest production at the John W. Engeman Theater will have you dancing and singing — rain or shine. “Singin’ in the Rain” premiered this past weekend to a full house and one of the most energetic crowds in past years. 

The classic movie, which is regarded as one of the greatest movie musicals of all time, comes to life as soon as the curtain rises, bringing the glitz and glamour of Hollywood’s golden age to Northport. It’s 1927 and Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont are the toast of Tinseltown until silent films are threatened with the rise of talking pictures. The Northport stage is set to look like an old Hollywood film studio lot. David Arsenault, the set designer, creates a simple but inviting backdrop, and many times throughout the show the sets are used to enhance musical numbers and bring even more laughs to the audience.

Danny Gardner (Don Lockwood) and Corinne Munsch (Girl in Green) in a scene from ‘Singin’ In the Rain’

While the songs, actors and sets all excel in this production, the choreography comes out on top. Drew Humphrey is both the director and choreographer for this show and brings audiences a nonstop party with intricate and joyful dance numbers that were accompanied by nonstop applause throughout the night. Standouts include “Fit as a Fiddle,” “Make Em Laugh,” “Good Morning” and, of course, the timeless classic, “Singin’ in the Rain.” 

Danny Gardner, who plays Don Lockwood, brings all the magic of Gene Kelly’s iconic scene with his mile-long grin, infatuated attitude and love-struck dance moves. Perhaps the most excited the audience got was when the rain started to pour on stage and Gardner appeared in a fedora with an umbrella under his arm.

Tessa Grady and Brian Shepard round out the main trio as Kathy Selden and Cosmo Brown, respectively, and the chemistry between the three is great fun to watch. Shepard brings the biggest smiles to audiences’ faces with fun jokes and a charming and lovable attitude. He steals the scene in “Moses Supposes,” and you can’t help but look for him in every scene to see what fun little moments he brings to his character.                                                                        All three stars have beautiful voices, and Grady does a great job bringing her talents to Kathy Selden to make her a confident, charming character with some great comedic moments as well. 

Emily Stockdale as Lina Lamont and Danny Gardner as Don Lockwood in a scene from the show.

Of course, the other character who delighted audiences with laughs was Lina Lamont, played by Emily Stockdale. The voice she was able to achieve for Lamont was impressive and hilarious and her short solo number in the second act was sharp and enjoyable. She brought great depth to what could’ve been a one-dimensional character. 

An extra fun treat for audiences was the short films inside the musical. Producer Richard Dolce and Humphrey do a great job making the film shorts hilarious, and as an added bonus a recognizable spot, Northport Village Park, makes a cameo appearance. It makes the black-and-white shorts twice the fun when you see the recognizable white gazebo as a backdrop for a sword fight and a lovers reunion. The ensemble cast who are a part of these shorts also deserve a special shout out for the delight they bring to the small screen.

Musical Director Jonathan Brenner handles the numbers wonderfully, bringing all the right emotion each scene calls for. “Moses Supposes” excels not only for Shepard’s lovable conviction but also the way Brenner handles the music. The same can be said for “Good Morning.” This scene delivers on all the fun the original film brings, and although the characters aren’t trotting together from room to room, this production’s version encapsulates all the charm.

And even with all the fun, this production saves the best for last with a closing number you won’t want to miss. Kurt Alger, costume designer for the show, adds an extra pop with costume choices for the end, bringing extra color and fun to the stage. But, of course, the elegant period pieces in the show’s entirety are also a marvel to see, especially a French-style costume worn by Stockdale. 

With more than just fan favorite songs, this musical promises to deliver a fun-filled evening for all who attend.

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport will present “Singin’ in the Rain” through July 1. Tickets range from $73 to $78. To order, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.

Photos by Michael DeCristofaro

Edith Storey, third from left, in a scene from 'A Florida Enchantment'

By Victoria Espinoza

“I want to be a bit different from the girl across the aisle.” — Edith Storey

Town of Huntington residents may be surprised to learn a Hollywood actress from the early 20th century once lived a stone’s throw away from their own backyards. Silent film star Edith Storey, who has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, lived in Northport for a considerable amount of her life, and in celebration of her career, the Cinema Arts Centre will be showing two of her films this week. 

Edith Storey in 1917

A special screening of “A Florida Enchantment” (1914) followed by the 1916 short “Jane’s Bashful Hero” will take place on Wednesday, May 16 at 7:30 p.m. Film historian Steve Massa will speak at the event, and the film will have live theater organ accompaniment by Ben Model.

Considered one of her best films, “A Florida Enchantment” stars Storey as a strong-willed young woman named Lillian who is irritated with her much-older fiancé, Dr. Cassandene, played by Sidney Drew, who also directs the film. Lillian finds magic seeds that transform her into a man and enjoys the newfound freedoms she gains with her switch of gender. She kisses other women, dances with them, smokes cigarettes, applies for a man’s job and dresses in men’s clothing. When she starts secretly feeding the magic seeds to those around her, including her unsuspecting fiancé, pandemonium ensues.

Born in New York City in 1892, Storey began acting in Vitagraph productions at the age of 16, appearing in “Francesca da Rimini.” From 1908 to 1921 she starred in over 140 films and shorts in a variety of film genres including comedies and westerns. Reportedly an excellent horseback rider, one of her director’s commented that Storey could “ride anything with hair and four legs, throw a rope and shoot with the best of the cowpunchers.” During that time she was one of the most celebrated actresses on the American screen.

Dylan Skolnick, co-director at the Cinema Arts Centre said he happened upon Storey’s life story quite accidentally during a visit to the Northport Historical Society. 

“They had a display of Northport’s history and significant people and there was this section about her,” Skolnick said in a phone interview. “I was shocked, I had never heard this story before.”

Skolnick said he reached out to Massa, who had written about Storey in his book “Slapstick Divas: The Women of Silent Comedy” to learn more about the movie star.

“He was like, ‘Oh, of course, Edith Storey.’ His knowledge is so deep,” Skolnick said. The co-director said after learning more about the actress he reached out to the Library of Congress, which confirmed it had some of her films and would loan them to the Cinema Arts Centre.

Massa called Storey a “talented character actress” and outstanding in “A Florida Enchantment” in a recent email. He said during World War I she took time off from acting to drive an ambulance that transported wounded returning soldiers to New York hospitals.

After retiring from films in 1921 at the age of 29, she moved to a house in Asharoken where she eventually became village clerk, a position she held from 1932 to 1960. According to Skolnick, in the 1930s there was no village hall in Asharoken so elections were held at her house. During World War II, her front yard served as the drop spot for scrap metal. Children who grew up in the neighborhood later recalled how she would tell them stories of her movie career. Storey passed away in Northport in 1967 at the age of 75.

Skolnick is looking forward to this special evening dedicated to the silent film star. “It all sort of came together and here we are,” he said. “Audience members will have a really good time. The film is a delightful comedy and will be accompanied by some wonderful live music.”

The Cinema Arts Centre is located at 423 Park Ave., Huntington. Tickets for this event are $16, $11 members. For more information, please call 631-423-7611 or visit www.cinemaartscentre.org.

Front row, from left, MaryAnn Kessler, Ann Debkowski, Marcie Norwood and Marilyn Shanahan (standing); back row, from left, Marie Reese and Marilyn Petriccone with a finished dress and dolls.

By Victoria Espinoza

For four women in East Northport, using their free time to help others feels “sew” good.

Three years ago Agatha Piropato, Leslie Latchford, Karen Bennis and Sue Perillo discovered Dress a Girl Around the World, a campaign organized by nonprofit organization Hope 4 Women International that brings a new dress to girls in need throughout the world. The dresses these women work on have gone as far as Africa to countries including Malawi and Ghana.

Volunteers work on creating dresses for girls in need.

As all four are avid sewers, they saw this campaign as a worthwhile use of their skills and got to work. They would meet at someone’s house or the local library, but soon Perillo said the women wanted to make a bigger impact than what their four hands were producing.

“One of our friends said the Columbiettes are always looking for some activity to do together that doesn’t cost them anything,” Perillo said in a phone interview. “So, we decided to do a sewing night at the hall and they loved it and immediately asked when we could do it again.”

Since then East Northport members of the  Fr. Thomas A. Judge Columbiettes have been meeting as frequently as once a mmonth at the local Knights of Columbus hall and, along with volunteers, have produced over 200 dresses so far. 

“This just got bigger and bigger,” Perillo said. “We’re all about keeping it going now. We’re constantly adding new people, and we get about 20 women each time.”

Each dress comes outfitted with a small doll in the pocket.

The four women create kits before each meeting that have instructions on how to construct the dress, as well as instructions to create a small doll that goes in one of the front pockets of every dress.

Participants at the hall meetings range in all ages. And for the younger volunteers, there is no requirement to know how to use a sewing machine or be an experienced seamstress. Instead, they help iron, cut fabric and learn simple stitches.

“It’s fun for everybody,” Latchford said in a phone interview.

Perillo said someone put a notice on the Knights of Columbus bulletin for fabric and trim and “low and behold tons and tons and pounds and pounds came in.”

Latchford said the rising popularity of the monthly events has surprised her. “Not at all did I expect it to grow this much,” she said in a phone interview. “It just kind of evolved. We started having meetings at the hall and they just took to it. I don’t know how we got to where we are but we’re making a lot of dresses for girls all over the world.”

Karen Sheehan and Susan Heard work on a dress together.

Not only are the women trying to put a clean dress on as many girls’ backs as possible, they are also trying to ensure them a safer life. Perillo said each dress comes with a purple tag on it that bears the organization’s name. She said the idea is intended to dissuade predators from attacking young girls because the tag symbolizes the girl is being monitored and taken care of by an organization.

Both women agreed that seeing a young girl wearing their dress for the first time was an unforgettable experience.

“To see her happy in the dress, it’s so rewarding,” Latchford said.

Perillo echoed the sentiments, holding back tears as she reflected on the first time she saw a young girl in her dress.

“I cried when I first saw a girl in my dress,” she said. “I was speechless because you think how far the dress had traveled. Someone had to walk the barrels [that the dresses are shipped in] four to five miles up and down rivers. It’s incredible, the journey. To see her so happy in the dress, it’s everything.”

Perillo said the group is currently trying to expand to create clothing for young boys as well, testing short designs and instructions. And Latchford said she hopes in the future some of these clothes can go to young girls right here in the United States who are in need of a clean dress, saying sometimes you forget your own when you’re focusing on other parts of the world.

Perillo said a lot of the help with transporting the dresses from Long Island to the other side of the world comes from Carrie Davis, chapter coordinator for Long Island Quilts for Kids, a nonprofit organization that makes quilts for sick children staying in hospitals. Davis has contacts that help ensure the dresses made get exactly where they need to go.

“The women who made this journey to deliver our love made dresses are strangers and will never be known to any of us,” Davis said in a statement. “Their kindness and perseverance will enable our dresses to arrive in a village 5,400 miles away that cannot be found on a map. It is truly our privilege to be able to do this work and we are very grateful for those along the way who have helped to make this all happen.”

The Columbiettes are always looking for more volunteer dressmakers. No experience is necessary and it’s open to all. For more information, please contact Sue Perillo at 631-754-8606 or Agatha Piropato at 631-499-7138.

All photos from Sue Perillo

 

Liana Hunt as Emma Carew and Nathaniel Hackmann as Henry Jekyll in a scene from 'Jekyll & Hyde' at the Engeman Theater. Photo by Michael DeCristofaro

By Victoria Espinoza

For theatergoers with one personality or more, the newest production at the John W. Engeman Theater has something for all. The Northport playhouse kicked off its seven-week run of “Jekyll and Hyde The Musical” this past weekend to a full house, and the multiple Tony-nominated production felt alive as ever on the Engeman stage.

Led by director Paul Stancato, who also serves as choreographer and has been at the helm of several other shows at the Engeman theater, the classic tale of Dr. Henry Jekyll and his doomed science experiment draws you in from the moment you meet the leading man.

The show starts with a stiff rejection, coming from the hospital board that refuses to support Jekyll’s experiments to understand why man is both good and evil and to separate the good from the evil. However, the doctor does not take defeat lying down and eventually decides to make himself the patient in the experiment. As the name of the show suggests, soon we have two leading men fighting for the spotlight, as Jekyll’s potions give birth to Edward Hyde, the purest projection of evil who lives inside Jekyll.

Above, Nathaniel Hackmann as Henry Jekyll In his laboratory in a scene from ‘Jekyll & Hyde.’ Photo by Michael DeCristofaro

Jekyll and Hyde are played to perfection by Nathaniel Hackmann. As soon as you hear him sing a soft and sad goodbye to his dying father in the first scene, you can’t help but be excited to hear him sing an evil tune, as his voice seems to have no limits. Hackmann makes you feel safe and happy as he sings “Take Me As I Am,” with his betrothed, Emma Carew, played by Liana Hunt, and then just a few songs later sinister seems much more fun as Hackmann belts his way through “Alive” and becomes Hyde.

Not only does Hackmann transport you through love, torment, sin and more with his voice, but he also convinces with his body language. He lurks and awkwardly shuffles across the stage as the murdering Hyde, while embodying the perfect gentleman when playing Jekyll. It becomes hard not to root for the antagonist when it’s so fun to watch his every move on stage.

Of course, Hackmann is not the only star of the show. Caitlyn Caughell plays a seductive yet vulnerable Lucy Harris, a lady of the night who entices both Jekyll and Hyde. Harris’ formidable voice is the perfect partner to Hackmann’s, and the moments featuring the couple are among the most enchanting, including the tragic love song “Dangerous Game.” It’s also not hard to understand why both the successful doctor and the mysterious Hyde enchant the young wench when Hackmann plays both — can you blame her?

Caitlyn Caughell as Lucy Harris and Nathaniel Hackmann as Edward Hyde in a scene from ‘Jekyll & Hyde.’ Photo by Michael DeCristofaro

Tom Lucca, who plays John Utterson, Jekyll’s loyal friend and lawyer, is also worth mentioning. Scenes where the two share the stage are very entertaining. The ensemble cast also has some stand-out moments, and it starts at the beginning with the hospital board all denying Jekyll. Each board member is worth focusing on for a minute, especially Joey Calveri as Lord Savage, whose facial expressions in every scene bring added fun to the stage. Ensemble songs like “Façade” and “Girls of the Night” highlight the singing strength of the cast.

The set, designed by Stephen Dobay, helps make Hyde even more menacing, with several long screens that cast Hyde as a prowling red shadow on the hunt. Each screen also has two empty frames hanging from the top, subtly reminding the audience of Jekyll’s original inspiration of each person having two sides in them: good and evil. And, of course, the orchestra, under the direction of Kristen Lee Rosenfeld, brings the pop rock hits of the original score to life and makes the evil tunes of the show all the more fun.

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport will present “Jekyll and Hyde The Musical” through April 30 with Thursday, Friday and Saturday night shows, as well as afternoon shows on Saturdays and Sundays. Valet parking is available. Tickets range from $71 to $76. To order, call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.

Cami Gallagher and Emma Brandt smile during A Mighty Lass event. Photo from Jana Raphael-McDonough

Empowering a generation of girls and young women will require the efforts of society as a whole, but two Huntington residents have taken on a leadership role in the endeavor.

Cami Gallagher and Emma Brandt are the co-founders of A Mighty Lass, an organization that provides tools and strategies to promote confidence, compassion and independence for females of all ages. A Mighty Lass holds educational events and programs across Long Island to help promote a culture that celebrates individuality, bravery, strength and kindness.

The duo first started developing their mission when Gallagher was teaching in Old Brookville in 2009. She said she noticed girls needed more education for the issues they deal with outside of the normal school curriculum and was able to lace that together with one of her own passions — running.

“As an educator I saw it in the classroom, and I saw it with my daughter, these girls were putting so much pressure on themselves,” she said in a phone interview.

“Me and a couple of my colleagues decided to start a running program with an empowerment, classroom piece to it.”

Gallagher said the first year they had 15 girls in the program, and talked about body image, nutrition and dealing with tough relationships.

Gallagher and Brandt pose with girls during an education program. Photo from Jana Raphael-McDonough

“I struggled as a young girl with body images, that drive for perfection and competing with other girls,” she said. The following year the program doubled in size, and soon enough Gallagher called on a friend to help.

“We set up a girl’s forum to discuss what was going on in their lives and how to support each other,” Brandt said in a phone interview. “Every minute of every day we think about how we can expand this to more people.”

The pair has expanded their initiative since then. They created “A Mighty Box,” a monthly subsription delivery filled with products, motivational messages and confidence building activities for women and girls.. Each month’s box has a different theme, like planning and achieving dreams, self-empowerment and more. Activities include a kindness journal, where the girls are encouraged to document every kind act they see, and a pin project, where each girl is given a pin with the portrait of a famous female leader who they must research and learn more about. Gallagher’s daughter has also helped with the boxes — suggesting each girl starts out with a charm bracelet and each month the box comes with a new charm.

“That was all her idea — it was so creative and fun,” Gallagher said proudly of her daughter. “We’ve gotten such great feedback on the charms and she’s very proud of that.”

A Mighty Lass holds educational events throughout the year. This past weekend they held their flagship event, “Mpower,” an all-day conference for both girls and moms.

“This event is meant to get girls inspired and motivated, and teach them new strategies to deal with problems in their lives,” Brandt said. But it’s meant to help mothers out.

“There’s no handbook on motherhood — especially for social media,” Brandt said. “We have no idea about this world.”

The programs for mothers that day included a course on understanding social media, improving communication with your daughter and understanding and treating their anxieties.

“Before we started this I would turn to friends and talk to them about their experiences,” Gallagher said. “I need this education just as much as the attendees at our events.”

For the girls at Mpower, workshops included improving public speaking, reflecting on perfection, improving self-esteem and maintaining a healthy body.

Programs span different age groups, and the team said as they continue to grow they hope to expand their teachings to include workshops for young women who are starting to make the transition into the professional world.

“It means everything to be able to be a leader in this arena,” Brandt said. “It’s a dream come true.”

To learn more about A Mighty Lass visit their website at www.amightylass.com.

The high school football field, which currently floods easily during games. Photo from Northport-East Northport School District.

The Northport-East Northport school district is set to roll up their sleeves and get to work, as the community recently voted to approve a nearly $40 million bond to improve infrastructure, athletic and physical education needs, classrooms and more.

Residents voted Feb. 28 overwhelmingly to support the bond, with 2,802 yes votes to 1,025 no votes.

Superintendent Robert Banzer was pleased the community was behind the board in this endeavor.

“I thank all community residents who took the time to vote today and for their support of the referendum,” Banzer said. “Through this support, we will be able to make improvements that will enhance our instructional learning, upgrade our physical education and athletic facilities for students and the greater community, and make needed infrastructure improvements that are long overdue. As we move through the process of finalizing plans and submitting them to the State Education Department for approval, we will continue to keep the community updated on our progress.”

One of the boys bathroom stalls with urinals that no longer work. Photo from Northport-East Northport School District.

The $39.9 million bond has been in the works for more than a year, with committees touring school grounds and facilities to see which areas are in dire need of improvements, meeting with officials and administrators from other districts to see how they’ve tackled upgrades and more. The school board voted to approve the scope of the work in December, and then worked to educate the community on the project with building tours and community forums.

Half of the funds — $19.9 million — will be going towards infrastructure improvement. This includes repairing and replacing asphalt pavement, curbing, sidewalks and masonry; renovating bathrooms; upgrading classroom casework; renovating classroom sinks and counters; replacing windows and some ceiling areas at several buildings; and reconfiguring the south entrance of Northport High School.

The other 50 percent of the bond will be divided for classroom and security enhancements and athletic improvements.

Ten million dollars will go towards renovating three outdated science labs at East Northport Middle School, five at Northport Middle School and 10 at Northport High School; constructing a security vestibule at every school building; upgrading stage rigging and lighting at East Northport Middle School and replacing the auditorium stage floor at Northport High School.

For the first two scopes of work, the majority of the ideas came from the Capital Projects Committee, created in 2016 to review district buildings’ conditions.

For the athletic and physical education improvements, the Athletic Facilities Citizens Advisory Committee, formed in 2015, suggested most of the work.

Projects will include replacing the track and reconstructing the baseball and softball fields at East Northport Middle School; replacing the track and tennis courts at Northport Middle School; and renovating and redesigning the athletic fields at Northport High School, as well as installing a synthetic turf field at the high school’s main stadium and reconstructing the track and reconstructing Sweeney Field with synthetic turf.

According to the board, approximately 90 percent of the projects included in the proposed plan are eligible for New York State building aid at a rate of 28 percent, which would reduce the cost impact to local residents. The cost to the average taxpayer in the school district would be approximately $122 per year. To ease the cost to residents, the board has timed the project so a portion of the new debt created by the plan essentially replaces debt that expires in the near future.

A woman enjoys a bite at Our Table. Photo from Stacey Wohl.

Farm to table dining has become a popular trend, and one Fort Salonga spot intends to bring an even more localized experience to residents with Our Table.

Owner Stacey Wohl is recreating the space that has been known for the last year as Cause Café, a restaurant that offered jobs to young adults with cognitive and developmental disorders, such as autism. Our Table is not doing the same. Wohl said it was time for a change, and that change came in the form of Northport-native chef Michael Heinlein.

Heinlein came in as a guest chef while Wohl was still running the business as Cause Café, and brought up the idea of working together and creating an organic, healthy menu.

Stacey Wohl is trying a new venture, leaving Cause Café behind. Photo from Stacey Wohl.

Wohl loved the idea. “I eat organic, I eat healthy food and it’s very difficult if you’re trying to eat gluten free or organic to take your kids anywhere to go out to eat — there’s very few places to go,” she said. “What we’re trying to do here is offer a nightlife place where you can meet a friend or go on a date while also having a healthy meal — instead of going to health food stores to eat clean.”

Heinlein, a Northport High School graduate, said the menu is more than just farm to table because of where the company will get its ingredients.

“Everybody uses the term farm to table and I think it’s kind of overused — I think it’s more local to table than anything,” Heinlein said in an interview.

And Our Table intends to bring local products, currently getting produce from farms on Eastern Long Island, but planning to buy from the Northport Farmers Market once the season begins. All the seafood is wild caught instead of farm raised, and the beef is grass fed. Wohl said the pair also intends to offer biodynamic local wine, meaning wine with grapes that are grown organically without the use of pesticides.

Wohl said Our Table’s menu is diverse and offers something for everyone.

“Michael is very eclectic and creative, he draws from a lot of different global influences,” she said. “There’s so many flavors going off in your mouth at once — he’s just using a lot of creative foods and ingredients. It’s food that’s going to make you feel good.” Items include jumbo lump crab cakes and deconstructed chicken tamales.

Heinlein agreed he thinks people will enjoy his menu.

“It’s a good mix of the healthy grains and other ingredients, while still getting that fun fine-dining experience,” he said.

Wohl said Our Table also has an in-house pastry chef to make fresh desserts.

“You’re not coming in here and getting a frozen piece of cheesecake,” she said.

Our Table is set to launch this weekend, with hours from 5 to 10 p.m. daily and Sunday brunch. The restaurant is located at 1014 Fort Salonga Road.

File photo

Suffolk County Police arrested two people Saturday, Feb. 25 during New York State Liquor Authority inspections at Town of Huntington businesses.

Officers from the 2nd Precinct Crime Section, Community Support Unit, and Gang Team conducted an underage alcohol and tobacco check at nine businesses in Huntington. Some of the businesses were chosen in response to community complaints and others were randomly selected.

Yousef Macer, 22, employed by Superstar Beverage, located on Walt Whitman Road in Melville, was charged with first-degree unlawfully dealing with a child and New York State Alcoholic Beverage Control Law 65.1-sale of alcohol to a person under 21.

Hakan Ekren, 48, employed by Sunoco Gas, located on Broad Hollow Road in Melville, was charged with second-degree unlawfully dealing with a child for selling a tobacco product to a minor.

The above subjects were issued field appearance tickets and are scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip at a later date.

The following businesses complied with the New York State law and refused the sale of alcohol/tobacco to a minor:

  • 110 Convenience Store, located at 213 Walt Whitman Road in Huntington Station
  • BP Gas Station, located at 231 Walt Whitman Road in Huntington Station
  • Citgo Gas Station, located at 475 Walt Whitman Road in Huntington Station
  • Gulf Gas Station, located at 743 Walt Whitman Road in Melville
  • P and P Deli, located at 139 West Hills Road in Huntington Station
  • Citgo Gas Station, located at 1811 New York Ave. in Huntington Station
  • Valencia Tavern, located at 236 Wall St. in Huntington

Young members of the Northport-East Northport Community Drug and Alcohol Task Force smile with their flag as they prepare to walk in a parade. Photo from Anthony Ferrandino

By Victoria Espinoza

The Northport-East Northport Community Drug and Alcohol Task Force took 2016 by storm.

The organization raised $19,000 for a local youth group, organized its sixth annual Recovery Awareness and Prevention educational week districtwide and secured a $625,000 federal grant — not a bad way to commemorate its 10th year in existence.

The local organization works to eliminate drug use and substance abuse in the Northport-East Northport community as well as promote prevention, offer educational resources for parents and community members and more.

For the work the task force does for the community, Times Beacon Record News Media has chosen the members of the Northport-East Northport Community Drug and Alcohol Task Force as People of the Year.

Anthony Ferrandino, co-chair of the task force, said he’s pleased with the work the group was able to accomplish this year.

“It’s definitely a good feeling,” he said in a phone interview. “We’ve grown so much, it’s nice to break through certain thresholds.”

Sean Boylan, Ferrandino’s co-chair, agreed the task force accomplished a lot in 2016.

“We’ve come a long way as a task force,” he said in a phone interview. “This year was a tremendous amount of work.”

Anthony Ferrandino, co-chair of the task force, back left, and Sean Boylan, back right, stand with members of the task force at a board of education meeting. Photo from Sean Boylan

Ferrandino said the mission of the task force is to educate as many students, parents and community members as possible about the dangers of drugs — and it’s safe to say they exceeded their goal this year.

In June, the task force worked with the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport to host the premiere of a short film “Grace,” created by Marisa Vitali, a former heroin addict. The film depicted the struggles and triumphs of living life in recovery, and after the film Vitali answered audience questions and discussed her own personal experience with drug addiction. At the event, Ferrandino said he was thrilled to see how many community members they were able to educate that night.

Boylan echoed the sentiment, saying the success of the fundraiser was great but the real achievement was the conversations had.

“The tremendous event was the question and answer portion after the show,” he said. “We had many different subgroups talk about recovery and have real conversations with our community members. It was awesome.”

The premiere raised $19,000 in ticket and raffle sales, which was donated to the Youth Directions and Alternatives, a nonprofit with a new establishment in Northport that hosts free programs and events for the Northport youth. The YDA recently started offering a prevention program for kids as well.

Ferrandino said organizations like the YDA are key to reducing the amount of kids who turn to drugs.

“We collaborate with everybody,” he said. “It really takes an entire community to be on the same page to create change. We create partnerships and try to change the culture of a community.”

“It really takes an entire community to be on the same page to create change. We create partnerships and try to change the culture of a community.”

— Anthony Ferrandino

The task force is committed to branch out into the community as much as possible. They have organized countless Narcan training programs, prescription take-back events and most recently town hall events to try and collaborate with leaders with their new federal grant.

Late this September, the task force received more than half-a-million dollars in a grant that is part of the Drug Free Communities Support Program, a White House project that works to reduce youth substance abuse by promoting communitywide participation and evidence-based practices.

For winning this nationally competitive grant, the task force will receive $125,000 per year for the next five years. It enables the hiring of a full-time task force coalition leader and supports a range of coordinated practices and evidence-supported activities aimed at prevention. The programs include parent education, social media initiatives, pharmacist/youth collaboration and stricter law enforcement practices.

This is where the group wants as much community input and support as possible.

“We’re trying to create partnerships with local doctors, business owners and more,” Ferrandino said. They hope to use their grant as effectively as possible and educate as many residents as they can.

This past October, the task force successfully hosted its sixth-annual RAP Week — a five-day event in every school in the district that featured special guest speakers, activities and assemblies dedicated to raising awareness of prescription drugs, alcohol and other unhealthy habits in an effort to highlight the dangerous impact they can have on a person’s life.

Northport Superintendent Robert Banzer praised the work the task force does within the schools.

“We are very pleased The Drug & Alcohol Task Force is being recognized for their continued efforts to confront a pervasive problem facing the youth of our community,” he said in an email.  “The Task Force, under the leadership of Anthony Ferrandino and Sean Boylan, is made up of a diverse group of community members who all share the same resolve: bringing an end to drug and alcohol abuse and providing resources, awareness and opportunities for healthy decision-making, free of addiction.”

Boylan said he is thankful for all the support the district gives the task force to allow them to dedicate an entire week to teaching the students.

He said one memory from this year that sticks out for him was walking in the Cow Harbor Day Parade down Main Street.

“We’ve done it for many years, in the past we’ve had ten kids walking with us,” he said. “But this year we had more than 70 kids and parents, holding banners and wearing shirts. It was so symbolic; to me that is the impact we’re having. It’s showing we’re making an impact on a lot of different levels.”

But the work is far from over, both co-chairs said.

“We have a long way to go,” Boylan said. The task force holds open meetings on the second Wednesday of every month at 7 p.m. in the superintendent’s conference room at the William Brosnan Administration Building, and Boylan said new members are always welcome.

“What’s great about us is we’re made up of volunteers that bring their own passions to this,” he said. “They are dedicated to this community.”

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