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Weather

Theatre Three suffered damaged to costumes, props and other mechanical equipment, though productions went on a mere 72 hours after the storm. Photo by Kyle Barr

Though the floodwaters have receded a week later, cleanup and questions still remain.

Port Jefferson Village was hit with more than four inches of rain in about an hour during the evening Sept. 25, and while village trustee Bruce D’Abramo joked Port Jeff might have been prepared to handle a 100-year storm, it wasn’t ready for the “200-year storm” it sustained. The extreme rate of rainfall resulted in flash flooding that inundated Main Street, trapped motorists in cars, washed out those dining out in restaurants and soaked auditioning actors at Theatre Three. The theater and other businesses like Ruvo East on Wynn Lane and Old Fields of Port Jefferson a block over experienced high water marks of about four feet. Old Fields was closed for a few days after the storm while Ruvo remained closed for renovations due to the flooding as of Oct. 2. Port Jefferson School District’s two instructional buildings also were affected by the flooding, according to its website, and officials are in the process of determining what aspects of the damage are covered by insurance.

Theatre Three suffered damaged to costumes, props and other mechanical equipment, though productions went on a mere 72 hours after the storm. Photo by Kyle Barr

A furious volunteer effort ensued to get Theatre Three up and running in time for its Sept. 28 productions.

“We managed to get everything ready for Friday night and ran the entire weekend,” said Jeffrey Sanzel the theater’s executive artistic director.

Bradlee Bing, who serves on Theatre Three’s board of directors and was one of its founding directors in 1973, said cleanup efforts were undertaken by dozens of volunteers and staff in the 72 hours between the storm and Friday night’s productions. Work was done around the clock, spearheaded in large part by Brian Hoerger, the theater’s facilities manager, who Bing called the “champion” of the cleanup effort for his organizational and leadership role.

“As dark a day as it was, the sunshine and light of the volunteers really rejuvenated our energies and enthusiasm for what we’ve [been] doing these past 50 years,” Bing said. “The number of people that came down, multiple dozens of people that committed their time to putting everything back in order. The support of the town and community was overwhelming.”

He said restaurants donated food to help keep volunteers going, and The Home Depot and Lowe’s donated supplies to help remove the tons of mud and other remnants of the flood. He said much of the theater’s electrical wiring was destroyed. Sanzel said some other important items sustained major damage, including an HVAC unit, the boiler, costumes, a large chunk of props used in annual productions of “A Christmas Carol,” all of the props from the touring show “From the Fires: Voices of the Holocaust,” along with “many, many other things.”

“We’ve experienced in the past certain types of flooding in Port Jefferson,” Bing said. “This last one was the worst flooding event we’ve ever experienced. Wednesday morning was a mud disaster in the theater.”

Theatre Three suffered damaged to costumes, props and other mechanical equipment, though productions went on a mere 72 hours after the storm. Photo by Kyle Barr

New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) indicated he’s seen severe flooding in Port Jeff in the past during nonhurricane weather events, but this particular storm raised his eyebrows for a number of reasons. The storm occurred during low tide and flooding was not due to tidal waters, meaning had it occurred during high tide it’s possible tidal floodwaters would have combined with the flash flooding to cause water levels to reach in the ballpark of 10 feet instead of the four to five feet that actually occurred, Englebright said.

“When you put a layer of sand on top of a living marsh and then build housing and buildings on it, and rename it from Drowned Meadow to Port Jefferson, and hope nobody would notice, nature will come back and bite you from time to time,” he said. As the chairman of the Assembly’s Committee on Environmental Conservation, Englebright indicated storms like this one could become more frequent. “That’s a kind of a preview of what’s going to happen if we don’t seriously address climate. The big flood is still in the future, but the signposts all point toward continuing sea level rise. So I’m concerned.”

Englebright suggested in the meantime serious consideration be given to raising future structures constructed in the village above ground level.

File photo by Victoria Espinoza

The late summer extreme heat wave likely contributed to the death of an 11-year-old girl in Coram Aug. 28.

Suffolk County Police Homicide detectives are investigating the death of the girl who was found unresponsive in a vehicle on Kathleen Crescent in Coram Tuesday at about 3:45 p.m., police said.

The girl’s mother had been running errands with the 11-year-old and two other children, according to police. After returning home, the girl’s mother went inside believing all of the children were out of the car. Sometime later, the mother could not locate the 11-year-old girl and checked inside of the car where she found the girl. The mother carried her inside the house and called 911.

The girl’s mother began CPR. Police arrived in less than two minutes. Police and rescue personnel from Coram Rescue continued CPR and transported the girl to Stony Brook University Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

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Natalie Ardizzone smacks the ball into the outfield. Photo by Bill Landon
Right fielder Dani Badillo tracks down a fly ball in right. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

The No. 4-seeded Smithtown West softball team found itself in a hole against No. 13 Lindenhurst that it started to climb out of before the May 15 Class AA playoff game was suspended due to weather.

“We made a couple of mistakes early on, and you can’t do that against a team like that,” said Smithtown West head coach Dave Miller. “Yeah, we’re the No. 4 seed and we won 14 games, but [Lindenhurst] hits the ball much harder than we do.”

The Bulls ended up in a 3-0 hole fast, with two of the runs being allowed on errors. In the top of the fourth inning, the deficit grew to 5-0 before Smithtown West started to rally.

Sophomore Keri Dufficy singled and got to second base on a sacrifice fly before stealing third. Sophomore third baseman Sarah Chapman’s bat spoke next with a drive to right field for a stand-up double that plated her team’s outfielder for the Bulls’ first run.

Third baseman Sarah Chapman throws the ball to first for an out. Photo by Bill Landon

In the bottom of the fifth with two outs, junior outfielder Kristin Horoszewski smacked the ball to right field and was able to stretch out a double. Junior second baseman and outfielder Natalie Ardizzone hit a long fly ball up center field that scored her teammate to trim Lindenhurst’s lead to three runs, 5-2.

Smithtown West’s defense helped retire the next three Lindenhurst batters before the wind picked up and the skies grew dark. A flash of lightening prompted a 30-minute delay, but as the storm picked up referees made the call to postpone the game.

“I think our pitch selection wasn’t as good as it should be — we have to be smart about that,” Miller said. “We’ve struggled with that the entire year. Hopefully we’ll finish this tomorrow, but we have to do the basics
correctly. Defensively we’ve been solid all year, but mistakes opened it up.”

Smithtown West is scheduled to retake the field Wednesday, May 16, and resume the game in the bottom of the sixth. If storms continue the game would once again be postponed to a later date.

A large nor’easter took form off the coast of Florida and rode up the east coast. Photo from Legislator Kara Hahn's Office

Winter Storm Grayson was touted as a powerful blizzard featuring substantial snowfall and hurricane-force winds, and it has delivered.

The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Warning for the area beginning 1 a.m. Jan. 4 through 12 a.m. Friday, Jan. 5. The advisory is associated with a large and powerful nor’easter, which took form off the coast of Florida and rode up the east coast.

While the greatest snowfall amounts are expected to be northeast of Long Island, meteorologists expect that we may see as much as 14 inches of snow combined with high winds exceeding 60 MPH that will cause near blizzard conditions.  This storm poses a risk of coastal flooding in the Western Long Island Sound.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has issued a State of Emergency for all of downstate New York. Cuomo also issued a travel advisory from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday.

“It is a combination of snow and wind and frigid temperatures,” Cuomo said. “That is a bad mix. I have been driving around myself this morning looking at the conditions — they are terrible, and only going to deteriorate further throughout the day. The wind is going to pick up, and there’s no doubt there is delays on mass transit, and the roads are going to be in poor condition. They’re forecasting three to six inches in the city, up to 12 inches on long Island and six to nine in Westchester. The roads in Westchester are bad. Roads on the Island are bad, and it’s only going to get worse. So schools are closed. If you don’t have to be on the roads, you really shouldn’t be, because it is going to be ugly.”

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) has also issued a State of Emergency in the Town of Brookhaven effective Jan. 4 at 8 a.m. Vehicles that are parked in the street must be moved to driveways or be subject to towing at the owner’s expense. Any abandoned vehicles obstructing access for snowplows and emergency vehicles may also be removed by the town. All residents are urged to stay off the roads unless there is an emergency or if it is absolutely essential to travel.

“Driving is expected to be extremely hazardous due to heavy snow and wind conditions,” Romaine said. “Town snow removal crews will be working throughout the day and night to clear the roads until all are safe and passable.”

As a result of the predictions, many school districts closed school ahead of time.

There are closings at the following schools:

Alternatives For Children – East Setauket

Alternatives for Children Daycare – East Setauket

B.E.S.T. Learning Center – Smithtown

Building Blocks Developmental Preschool – Commack

Calling All Kids, Too – Huntington

Catholic Charities Outpatient Clinic – Commack

Children of America – Smithtown

Children of America – Port Jefferson Station

Church of St. Gerard Majella – Port Jefferson Station

Cold Spring Harbor Central School District

Commack School District

Comsewogue Public Library

Comsewogue School District

Coram Child Care

DDI Adult Day Programs – All Locations

DDI Early Childhood Learning Center – Huntington

DDI School Age Program – Huntington

DDI School Age Program – Smithtown

Day Haven Adult Day Services Program – Port Jefferson

East Northport Jewish Center Religious School

Elwood School District

Elwood’s Little Einsteins

Emma S. Clark Library – Setauket

First Presbyterian Church of Port Jefferson

Gold Medal Gymnastics Center Centereach

Gold Medal Gymnastics Center Huntington

Gold Medal Gymnastics Center Rocky Point

Gold Medal Gymnastics Centers Smithtown

Grace Lane Kindergarten – Coram

Happy Time Preschool – Smithtown

Harbor Country Day School – St. James

Harborfields Central School District

Hauppauge Public Library

Hauppauge Public Library

Holy Family Regional School – Commack

Humpty Dumpty Day Nursery – Greenlawn

Huntington Montessori

Huntington Public Library

Huntington School District

Infant Jesus R.C. Church Religious Ed – Port Jefferson

Ivy League School – Smithtown

JKL Montessori School – Commack

Kiddie Academy – East Setauket

Kiddie Academy – Greenlawn

Kiddie Academy of Miller Place

Kiddie Care Early Learning Center – Commack

Kids of Miller Place

Kids of Mount Sinai

Kings Park School District

LI School for the Gifted – Huntington Station

Little Flower Union Free School District – Wading River

Little Rascals Child Care – Miller Place

Long Island Bone & Joint – Port Jefferson

Love of Learning Montessori School – Centerport

Magic Circle Nursery School – East Northport

Marion Kenney Day Care Center – Wading River

Martin C. Barell School- Commack

Messiah Preschool & Day Care – Setauket

Middle Country School District

Miller Place School District

Miss Barbara’s Preschool – Centereach

Miss Dawn’s Child Care Center – Huntington

Miss Mella’s Footsteps to Learning – Coram

NSSA – Adult Services – Commack

Noah’s Ark Day Care Center – Port Jefferson

North Shore Jewish Center – Port Jefferson Station

North Shore Montessori School – Stony Brook

Northport – East Northport Public Library

Northport / East Northport School District

Options for Community Living Inc. – Smithtown

Our Lady of Wisdom Regional – Port Jefferson

Our Savior New American School – Centereach

Planet Kids – Coram

Port Jefferson Free Library

Port Jefferson School District

Primarily 2’s and 3’s – Mount Sinai

Prime Time Preschool – Kings Park

Pumpkin Patch Day Nursery – Commack

Rainbow Chimes – Huntington

Reach for the Stars Pre – School – Ridge

Rocky Point School District

STEP Preschool – Smithtown

Saf-T-Swim – Commack

Saf-T-Swim – Coram

Sappo School – Commack

Shoreham-Wading River Central School District

Smithtown Central School District

Smithtown Christian Early Learning Center

Smithtown Christian School

Smithtown Special Library District

South Huntington School District

St. Anselm’s Episcopal Nursery School – Shoreham

St. Anthony of Padua Religious Ed – East Northport

St. Anthony’s High School – South Huntington

St. Frances Cabrini Religious Ed – Coram

St. James Lutheran Preschool – St. James

St. James Religious Ed – Setauket

St. Joseph’s Religious Ed – Kings Park

St. Louis de Monfort Religious Education – Sound Beach

St. Louis de Montfort Preschool – Sound Beach

St. Margaret of Scotland Church – Selden

St. Mark’s Religious Formation Program – Shoreham

St. Patrick School – Smithtown

St. Philip Neri Religious Ed – Northport

Step by Step Montessori – Miller Place

Stony Brook Child Care Services

Stony Brook Gynecology & Obstetrics – Rocky Point

Stony Brook Gynecology & Obstetrics – Setauket

Stony Brook Kidney Center – East Setauket

Stony Brook University – Psychological Ctr / Psych B Bldg. – Stony Brook

Stony Brook University

Stony Brook Urology – East Setauket & Commack

Sts. Philip and James Religious Education – St. James

Sts. Philip and James School – St. James

Suffolk County Community College – Selden

Suffolk Y Jewish Community Center – Commack

Sunshine Alternative Education & Prevention Center – Port Jefferson

Temple Beth El Religious School – Huntington

Temple Isaiah Religious School – Stony Brook

Tender Hearts Preschool – Mount Sinai

The Childrens Community HEAD START Program – Port Jefferson

The Day Care Center at Ivy League – Smithtown

The Knox School – St. James

The Laurel Hill School – East Setuket

The Learning Center – Huntington

The Learning Experience – Centereach

The Learning Experience – Mount Sinai

The Learning Experience – Northport

The Learning Experience -Rocky Point

The Learning Experience – Stony Brook

The Village Preschool – Northport

Three Village Church – East Setauket

Three Village Schools – Stony Brook

Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church – Rocky Point

Trinity Regional School – East Northport

Tutor Time of Nesconset – Smithtown

UCP – Suffolk – Hauppauge

UCP Suffolk – The Children’s Center – Commack

United Methodist Nursery School – Huntington

Wesleyan School – Smithtown

West Hills Montessori – Huntington

Wisdom Tree Preschool – Miller Place

Work of Heart Preschool – South Huntington

Please monitor local media coverage or the National Weather Service for up-to-date weather forecasts and notifications. For your safety and the safety of emergency responders, please adhere to all travel restrictions and advisories that may be issued.

For you convenience, listed are some important emergency and not-emergency contact numbers to help you get through the storm should you need assistance:

PSEGLI Outages – 800-490-0075

Police Emergency – 911*

Police Non-emergency – (631) 852-2677, (631-852-COPS)

Town of Brookhaven Highway Department – (631) 451-9200**

Suffolk County Department of Public Works – (631) 852-4070***

*Please do not call 911 or other emergency telephone lines unless you are in need of assistance with an immediate physical or medical emergency.

**Responsible for all roads in the district (outside of incorporated villages) except County Road 97 and New York State Routes 112, 25A and 347.

***For emergency issues on county roads such as Nicolls Road (CR 97) only.

Additional information, notifications and details may be posted by Suffolk County’s Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services as the storm develops and impacts the area.  Click here to visit the department’s information page.

Winter is here on the North Shore, and Brookhaven Town is upgrading their system to handle snow removal. FIle photo by Alex Petroski

The Town of Brookhaven is embracing the modern age to help prepare for severe weather.

With snowstorm season fast approaching, Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) is making it a whole lot easier to clear roadways with the roll out of a new app designed to help foremen streamline the process of contacting hired drivers and achieve efficiency through technology.

The “call-out app,” created by Losquadro and staff in the Division of Information Technology, will do away with the old system in which foremen had to go to their offices and make calls to each individual driver to confirm who was working, what town to respond to and what time their services would be needed. With 1,194 active snow removal vendors throughout the district, that process could take up to four hours — precious time that could be better spent plowing the streets.

A test done on Brookhaven Town Incident Management shows which vendors have and have not responded to call-outs. Image from Brookhaven Town

With the new app, drivers provide their cell phone numbers and email addresses, and from the comfort of their iPads or iPhones, foremen can simply send a text or email about the specifics of the job — what yard to report to, what equipment or vehicle to use, what time to start — and get instant yes or no responses as to who’s available to work.  Foremen are able to see, in real time, who is coming in, who isn’t, and can dictate how many total vendors will be in specific areas.

Address hyperlinks are also included, so with the click of a button, the driver is brought directly to a map with directions to the given job site.

By automating the process and having such an immediate call-out, snow removal vendors can get to roads faster by several hours, saving the Town and its residents time and money.

“There’s no reason government needs to be archaic and not operate with the same technology that we’re using everyday of our lives outside of government,” Losquadro said. “I’ve been striving to bring us into the modern age, and this is just another step toward that. This is technology that everyone is very comfortable and well-acquainted with. The app is going to make us more efficient; we can actually spend our time doing the work that needs to be done.”

Losquadro introduced and trained supervisors and field workers on a custom-built, electronic work order system last year, developed a system to track work orders during severe weather the year before that, and is currently in the process of making an electronic time sheet program that will keep track of work hours operational before the end of this snow season.

A test email of what a call-out would look like. Image from Brookhaven Town

He said he and the IT staff have been able to build these programs in-house, rather than go out to consultants and spend thousands of taxpayer dollars. From concept to reality, the call-out app took roughly four months to get off the ground and functions on an Apple-operating system, making it as user-friendly as possible. The app can run on desktop computers, tablets and iPhones.

Matt Sabatello, an IT staff member, said a test of the app was conducted in early December and feedback from foremen has been incredible.

“The app allows for better decision-making for foremen,” he said. “It gives them a good idea of which vendors are responding to work in what areas and, if need be, allows them to react immediately to reassign a vendor to an area that nobody may have been calling in about.”

With Brookhaven being such a large township, Losquadro said “there’s no reason we shouldn’t be leading the way.”

“I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of ideas about what I’ve wanted to do, and being able to [see them through] has been very satisfying. The app is a fully live and operational system and, God willing, I won’t have to use it that much this year.”

Centereach's Sean McGuinness scoops up an infield dribbler. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

With rain coming down, Centereach took to the field against Huntington and the Blue Devils stepped into the batter’s box first for a League IV baseball matchup Tuesday afternoon in Centereach.

Huntington's Luke Eidle releases a fastball. Photo by Bill Landon
Huntington’s Luke Eidle releases a fastball. Photo by Bill Landon

Huntington (1-11 in conference play) struck first when, on a Centereach throwing error, Brian Donnelly crossed the plate for the first run of the game.

Centereach’s Victor Corsaro doubled, representing the tying run in the bottom of the inning, and teammate Kyle Cerbone ripped one through the gap to even the score with two outs.

The rain grew steady though, and when the umpire behind the plate charged the infield to cover the ensuing play, he slipped and fell in deteriorating conditions.

“I saw him slip the first time and he warned me about the field conditions, and I said to him ‘we’ve had this conversation before,’” Centereach head coach Mike Herrschaft said. “This field can’t take a lot of rain and you can see how it’s getting slick out there at shortstop.”

Huntington managed to score another run in the top of the second to take a 2-1 lead, and the Cougars went back to work at the plate. Centereach (2-10) popped the ball up shallow in the infield and the plate umpire approached the play and fell a second time. The official was slow to get up. After a brief conference between both coaches, the umpires left Nick Corsaro in the batter’s box with his team trailing by one with two outs.

“The umpire called the game because of unsafe conditions on the field,” Huntington head coach Bill Harris said. “Where the field transitions to the grass, he slipped and fell.”

Centereach's Matt Hirsch hurls from the mound. Photo by Bill Landon
Centereach’s Matt Hirsch hurls from the mound. Photo by Bill Landon

The game was suspended after an inning and a half, so the balance of the game will be completed at a later date.

“I saw him slip the second time and he said he didn’t want to see one of the kids slip and get hurt,” Herrschaft said. “You can’t argue with that, but this is the first time I’ve known a game to be called because of unsafe conditions for the umpires. The kids are wearing spikes and the umpires are wearing sneakers.”

Herrschaft added that both teams will take the mound Friday afternoon for a scheduled matchup and then complete the suspended game for the doubleheader at home.

Centereach traveled to Huntington on Wednesday for game two of the three-game series, but results of that game were not available by press time.

Highway super takes systems online

Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro sifts through a town map with the touch of his finger. Photo by Phil Corso

Managing one of the largest highway departments in New York State takes a lot of work, and Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) has put all of it in the palm of his hand.

As of Jan. 5, the entire department went paperless with a new electronic work order system and by the end of that month, foremen in the field either updated or closed more than 1,500 work orders using a mobile app on town-issued iPads. In an exclusive interview with TBR News Media, Losquadro and his team said the Brookhaven highway department has raised the bar for municipalities across the state.

“To me, this is nothing short of transformative,” Losquadro said. “Improving efficiencies of the highway department has been one of my priorities since taking office three years ago.”

In the past, Brookhaven residents hoping to see something as simple as a pothole being repaired in front of their home would need to file a work order, which an office staffer would enter into a computer, print out and then deliver to a foreman, typically taking five to seven days before resolution. But now, the highway superintendent said, the information can be shared almost immediately.

“We owe that to our customers, because they deserve the response that a customer from any business should get,” Losquadro said, referring to his Brookhaven constituents.

The new paperless system capitalized on already existing geographic information systems the town had invested in over recent years to help create one cohesive platform, allowing town employees to view, update and create work orders in real time, from the field. And through each step of development, Losquadro said foremen and town workers who would be using the technology on a daily basis provided their feedback.

Matt Sabatello, who works in the town’s tech department, worked alongside a dedicated crew of in-house developers to grow the mobile application and make it accessible for all town employees. With more than a decade of experience working with the town already under his belt, Sabatello said he has seen the arc of technological advancement go into overdrive under Losquadro’s direction.

Some of the interactive features Losquadro and his team helped to launch over the past year included color-coded visual queues identifying outstanding work orders, a display of all open work orders prioritized by the date created and a new “follow me” GPS-enabled feature that could be used to identify problem areas as well as track town vehicles when they are out in the field.

“If you see something, create a work order,” Losquadro said, playing off the Metropolitan Transportation Authority slogan, “if you see something, say something.”

And the efficiencies stretch far beyond a run-of-the-mill pothole fix, too. John Giannott, a senior administrator with the highway department, said the mobile technology has made Brookhaven’s response time to serious weather events such as severe snowfall nearly two hours quicker.

“We keep finding new uses for this every day,” he said. “It puts you ahead of the curve, because all your assets are tracked.”

The “green” technology has also allowed the town to apply for state grants and emergency relief funds in a more efficient way, making Brookhaven that much more equipped for more green.

Looking ahead, Losquadro said he hoped to see other facets of Brookhaven government follow suit in implementing such technology. He said he has already seen an interest from the town board to use similar platforms to track constituent complaints.

“I had a vision of how I wanted to transform this department,” he said. “Working with them allowed us to move to this point in less than three years.”

Holtsville Hal, his handler Greg Drossel and Master of Ceremonies Wayne Carrington make their way onstage to cheers and applause on Groundhog Day. Photo by Alex Petroski

To the delight of about 100 people in attendance on Tuesday, it was announced that famed Brookhaven groundhog Holtsville Hal did not see his shadow, indicating spring would come early this year.

Excited Holtsville Hal fans collected streamers as a keepsake from Groundhog Day. Photo by Alex Petroski
Excited Holtsville Hal fans collected streamers as a keepsake from Groundhog Day. Photo by Alex Petroski

Hal made his yearly Groundhog Day appearance at Brookhaven Town’s Holtsville Wildlife and Ecology center at about 7:30 a.m., before a crowd with fresh memories of being walloped with more than 2 feet of snow in a recent blizzard.

Tradition says that if Hal — or, as he’s known in the Town of Brookhaven as a throwback to the classic Bill Murray movie “Groundhog Day,” the Great Prognosticator of Prognosticators — sees his shadow when he wakes from hibernation on Groundhog Day, the community is in for six more weeks of winter.

“As I stood by my burrow and looked to the ground, there was no shadow for me to be found,” Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) read from a large scroll as Hal was presented to the mass of onlookers. “So kids and their families, put away your sleds and snow blowers.” There were raucous cheers.

Holtsville Hal is presented to a group of young onlookers on Groundhog Day. Photo by Alex Petroski
Holtsville Hal is presented to a group of young onlookers on Groundhog Day. Photo by Alex Petroski

Holtsville Hal was handled by Greg Drossel as he posed for photos with Master of Ceremonies Wayne Carrington, Councilmen Neil Foley (R) and Dan Panico (R) and Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D), members of the Holtsville Fire Department and many others. He even posed for a selfie with one young admirer.

Last year, Hal also predicted an early spring. This year he might be right, if only just for Tuesday, as those who woke up early to attend the event were treated to a mild, sunny morning by the time the groundhog made his much-anticipated appearance.

With the viewers in good spirits, Carrington reminded the crowd to donate whatever they could to the ecology center to support its programs.

This version corrects the spelling of Councilwoman Valerie Cartright’s name.

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By Talia Amorosano

It’s fall, and you know what that means: Winter is around the corner. And we all know what that means is near — that biting cold that makes you want to wrap yourself up in a warm blanket and enjoy a cup of steaming hot-something in front of a cozy fireplace. 

There’s only one problem: You don’t have a fireplace. Or you do, but it doesn’t meet your specific needs. With so many different kinds of fuel, functions and forms, it can be difficult to know which fireplace is the right fit. So if you haven’t already warmed up to the idea of installing a new fireplace in your home, read on to see what each type has to offer.

FUEL OPTIONS

Wood: If you’re into that cozy rustic vibe, a wood-burning fireplace is best at creating the classic woodsy ambiance associated with log cabins and homemade pies.  It gives off that “burning wood” smell (sometimes of hickory or maple) literally, and the sound of crackling logs is the perfect accompaniment to a night of board games with friends around the living room table or a quiet evening alone with a book. On the down side, this kind of fireplace takes lots of work to clean, can clog the chimney and create smoke if not maintained correctly, and while it provides heat in a small space, it sucks the warmth out of other areas of the house.

Gas: According to the Hearth, Patio and Barbeque Association, the popularity of gas fireplaces is on the rise, probably because of the balance of ease and efficiency that they strike. Gas fireplaces offer more use options than wood fireplaces do, often featuring blowers, timers and fans, which give the user more complete control. On the other hand, while many gas fireplaces feature realistic-looking logs and embers, they don’t replicate the smoky smell or crackling of a real fire, and the option of using fallen trees as free fuel is lost.

Electric: Like wood fireplaces, electric fireplaces function well as space heaters. However, they don’t emit harmful fumes (such as carbon dioxide from wood and carbon monoxide from gas) into the home. They are easy to use, requiring nothing more than a simple plug-in and switch-on to function and aren’t easily corroded; but they will also lose power if your home does, and if used often, can be costly components of an energy bill. If you don’t have time for something high maintenance but like the aesthetic value that a fireplace brings, an electrically powered fireplace might just be for you. 

INSTALLMENT OPTIONS

Wall mounted: These kinds of fireplaces must be attached to a chimney and require major construction if a chimney is not already present. While this can be expensive, it can also add value to a home. They are built into a wall and usually lend themselves to the burning of real wood or gas fuel but can also accommodate electric.

Free standing: Depending on the fuel type, these fireplaces can be attached to a ceiling or completely free standing and can require a vent pipe to act as a chimney.  They usually don’t require much construction and have the appearance of large cabinets.

Portable: Perfect for a home built without space for a huge fireplace, portable fireplaces are small, decorative and typically much less expensive than built-in or free-standing fireplaces.  However, these fireplaces are more aesthetic than functional, typically not able to heat a large area or space.

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Downed trees were a common sight along Route 25A in the Setauket- East Setauket and Stony Brook areas. Photo by Rohma Abbas

The winds have subsided, but Setauket and Stony Brook still have a lot of debris to clean up since last week’s brutal storm sent the North Shore for a spin.

An early morning windstorm made its way through the area early last Tuesday morning, toppling trees and downing power lines. The electricity has since been restored, a spokesman for PSEG Long Island said, and the utility has been providing more than 600 workers to ensure all temporary repairs are made permanent. Most roads have been cleared of fallen trees, and the town has been moving nearly 1,000 cubic yards of material a day amid cleanup efforts.

But there is still a ways to go.

Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) said it could take another two to three weeks for Setauket and Stony Brook to be declared 100 percent passable. In the immediate aftermath of the storm, Losquadro said his team buddied up with utility PSEG to help remove trees from roadways while grappling with fallen utility poles and electric wires. Now, he said it’s all about following through on the stragglers.

“This week, we’ve been bringing crews in an hour early each day to continue the debris removal process,” he said in a phone interview this week. “While we have shifted skeleton crews back out to their respective districts, a vast majority of my assets are still deployed in this area doing debris removal.”

Losquadro said the trucks were moving quickly to remove debris and bring it to his department’s Setauket yard to be handled. And he credited a big chunk of his team’s efficiency since the winds came barreling through on his emergency management preparedness.

“We had a plan set up with [the] waste management [department] that they would move their big grinder — the one at the Brookhaven landfill — to an area where we would stage material out of,” he said. “Now, we only have to handle the materials once.”

In prior storms, Losquadro said the town moved waste materials two to three times before they hit a landfill, which slowed down the recovery process and ended up costing more money. But the new plan has made cleaning up more efficient.

On a financial note, Losquadro said the storm will undoubtedly put a dent in his overall budget but his team would remain vigilant in tracking all costs and seeking reimbursement from the state, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency, when the recovery efforts conclude.

“It will be a significant number,” he said. “There’s no two ways about it. It’s a fact that that area was hit harder by this storm than it was hit by [Hurricane] Sandy.”

The highway superintendent said the hardest-hit areas in Setauket and Stony Brook should be able to fully put the storm behind them in a matter of two weeks or so.

“The fact that this was a localized event did allow me to pour many more assets into a smaller area to get the recovery done faster,” he said. “It also allowed PSEG to do the same thing. I, myself, could not be happier with the organization of my operation.”

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