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Daniel Febrizio

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The Village of Huntington Bay will be conducting its trustee elections on June 20. Incumbent trustees Mark Dara and Barbara Beuerlein are running for reelection while Janice Schillig is challenging.

Mark Dara

Dara has been a resident of Huntington Bay for 23 years. He has been serving in the trustee position for the past 11 years.

Dara worked as a construction electrician for 42 years. “I’m very familiar with dealing with contracts with subcontractors and different phases of construction, because electricians kind of get involved in everything,” Dara said in a phone interview.

He says that this expertise is particularly useful, as he also serves as road commissioner. “I thought it was very helpful for me over the years to deal with the contractors,” Dara said. “We secure a lot of state, federal and local funds and try and get most of our road repairs offset by grants and different funds that are available to us.”

Dara said that if reelected, he would continue to do what he’s been doing in his time in office. “We’ve been able to broker deals with utility companies and we’re getting roads restored curb to curb,” Dara said. “We’re getting very good results. So, I would just continue to do the same thing I’ve been doing and trying to get those same results for everybody.”

Barbara Beuerlein has been a resident of Huntington Bay for the past nine years and is a lifelong resident of Huntington township.

Beuerlein was elected to the position of trustee in 2021. She will be attempting to win reelection for her second term.

In an email interview Beuerlein said that professionally she had a career as an advertising executive for a major women’s magazine. Following her career,  she has done a lot of volunteer work in her community. 

Barbara Beuerlein

She currently volunteers at The Church of St. Patrick outreach program and the Society of St.Vincent de Paul. According to Huntingtonbay.org, she is on the Advisory Board for the not-for-profit hospital and education center Volunteers for Wildlife. She has also served on the board for the Cold Spring Harbor Citizen Faculty Association.

“As the Trustee of the Village of Huntington Bay, I will listen to the needs and wants of all the residents and focus on what is best for the entire community through fiduciary responsibility and integrity,” Beuerlein said. “I took an oath to work for the residents of the Village of Huntington Bay and I will continue to do so.”

Schillig has lived in Huntington Bay for 26 years. In an email interview, Schillig said that she has 46 years of experience in financial services in corporate and advertising agencies. She recently retired from her position of senior marketing executive at UBS Wealth Management Americas.

Schillig has also served on the UBS Veterans Network Steering Committee, actively volunteers with The Helping Hands Rescue Mission in Huntington and is chair of The Head of Bay Club Membership Committee. She also volunteers writing book reviews for the Stroll Huntington Bay magazine,

Janice Schillig

“As Village Trustee, I will ignite much needed positive change and lead with integrity as my foundation,” Schillig said. Her goals include: leading with fiscal oversight and accountability; delivering timely emails/newsletters to improve communication and transparency and to keep residents informed; encouraging active participation in village trustee meetings; representing the voices and opinions of fellow residents; and promoting a civil, cooperative tone in leadership.

The annual village election will take place on Tuesday, June 20, from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. The voting location is Village Hall, located at 244 Vineyard Road, Huntington Bay.

Asharoken

The Village of Asharoken is also holding elections on Tuesday, June 20. Incumbent trustees Mary P. Pierce and Ian Jablonski did not respond to requests for comment. They are running unopposed.

Voting will take place from noon to 9 p.m. at Village Hall, located at 1 Asharoken Ave.,Asharoken.

Residents enjoy a stroll on the community dock in Poquott. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Village of Poquott residents will vote June 20 on the open seats on the village board. There are two trustee positions for two-year terms while the justice position runs for four years.

For the two trustee seats, the three candidates are incumbent trustee and Deputy Mayor John Musiello, Jeremy Flint and Jim Ma. Current trustee Dee Parrish is not seeking reelection. For village justice, the candidates are incumbent Paul Edelson and current trustee Darlene Mercieca.

Musiello, Flint and Mercieca are running on an informal ticket known as Team Poquott. Their website is yourpoquott.com.

Village trustee candidates

John Musiello

Musiello has served as trustee the past two years for one term. He has lived in Poquott for almost 10 years now. He was appointed deputy mayor last year by Mayor Tina Cioffi. Traditionally the village mayor appoints one of the four trustees to take on the mantle of deputy mayor.

“I think it’s going really well,” Musiello said in a phone interview regarding his time on the village board. He explained that everyone on the board has their areas of expertise, and that a lot of what he has done is work with landscapers and construction workers fixing potholes and paving roads.

He said that his responsibilities include helping organize the annual budget as well as attending the monthly meetings which, he said, “gives me an opportunity to learn not only the operations but to work with a lot of our residents.”

“I agreed to run for trustee because I really felt like I could help bring the community together, and I certainly want to have a united front with our residents,” Musiello said. He explained that the platform he ran on was “to keep Poquott safe, clean and friendly.”

He said that neighborhood cleanliness is particularly important to him and that multiple times per month he’ll go out with gloves and garbage bag to pick up garbage on the neighborhood streets. He has also helped coordinate cleanup initiatives, like the annual beach cleanup.

Jeremy Flint

Flint is a newer resident of Poquott, having moved into the neighborhood in 2021 with his wife and now three small children. Flint was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, although his parents are from Brooklyn and Connecticut.

Flint has a “background in construction insurance and consulting,” he said in a phone interview. He has experience running his own public adjusting firm, which specializes in “commercial and large loss catastrophe work,” according to yourpoquott.com. 

“I’ve worked with a lot of municipalities, vendors, associations,” Flint said. “I can bring some of that experience to the village with helping them run their day-to-day activities and any of the issues that the village [encounters] through the year.”

“I think it’s really important to be involved in your community,” Flint said. After he was approached to run for the open trustee seat, he spoke with his wife and they decided he should run for the position. “If you can help and contribute to it, we thought it would be a good opportunity to continue our involvement in the village,” he said.

He indicated that he’s looking forward to “better getting to know [the residents] and working with them and seeing the best way I can help with this process and the continued growth of the village.”

Jim Ma

Ma has lived with his family in Poquott since 2013. His professional experience includes more than 15 years as a financial risk manager. Now he consults for regulatory, credit and market risks on client portfolios.

“My consulting business mainly focuses on domestic and international banks on Wall Street,” Ma said in an email interview. “We have had many challenges in the village for the past few years that trace their roots to financial resources and planning. Some of the village’s previous very successful projects already showed the benefit of leveraging the proper financial tools.”

Ma continued, “I have a strong finance and business development background, which equips me to represent and fight for our interests effectively. I envision making Poquott village the best place to live, work and raise a family.”

He highlighted the importance of maintaining financial responsibility, enhancing infrastructure, preserving the environment and promoting community engagement.

“I will ensure our village’s budget is handled responsibly, focusing on essential services and strategic investments while also pursuing additional sources of funding to ease the burden on our taxpayers,” Ma wrote.

Village justice candidates

Village justice incumbent Edelson and health care professional Mercieca did not respond to requests for comment in time for publication.

According to Musiello, if Mercieca were to win, she would leave her trustee seat and the mayor would appoint a replacement trustee to fill the vacancy.

The elections will take place on Tuesday, June 20, from noon to 9 p.m. at Village Hall, 45 Birchwood Ave., Poquott.

By Daniel Febrizio

On Sunday, June 4, the community gathered for the 33rd annual Smithtown Festival Day presented by the Greater Smithtown Chamber of Commerce. Thousands walked up and down Main Street to interact with a wide variety of vendors and exhibitors.

Families with children could stop at a side street with an inflatable axe-throwing target game and a variety of different bounce houses. Food vendors like Mister Softee, Philly Pretzel Factory, and G&L Gyro were in attendance for hungry visitors. Dozens gathered around a Marine recruitment stand that had a pull-up bar where people could earn prizes for successfully reaching certain pull-up thresholds.

Other vendors in attendance included Hope for Cleo Animal Rescue, Pet Supplies Plus, Uncle Giuseppe’s Marketplace, Smithtown Picture Frame, Podcat Farms, Mathnasium, Freebird Henna, Fred Astaire Dance Studio, Acupuncture Wellness Services, KP Dance Center, Brotherhood for the Fallen, and American Legion. 

All photos by Daniel Febrizio

On Memorial Day, May 29, hundreds of Smithtown residents gathered on Main Street to watch the 99th annual Memorial Day Parade marching westbound toward Town Hall where a short ceremony was held.

Parade participants included veterans, volunteer firefighters, high school bands, twirlers, Scouts and more.

After the singing of the National Anthem by a Smithtown West High School student at the ceremony, American Legion Post 833 Commander Bill Coderre said a few words to begin the ceremony. “On this memorial day, we are reminded that the rights and freedoms that we enjoy as Americans are possible in large part because of those who have protected our great nation through military service,” he said.

Smithtown Town Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) spoke, reading a Memorial Day speech honoring the lives lost in U.S.-involved wars throughout its history. The piece concluded with, “Remember all that has been sacrificed when you look around at your beautiful families, at your homes, your neighborhoods and your friends. Only then can we truly appreciate the incredible gifts that we have: life, liberty, pursuit of happiness.”

The ceremony concluded with a rendition of “God Bless America” while those in attendance sang along.

Other elected officials that spoke at the ceremony included state Sen. Mario Mattera (R-St. James), Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick (R-St. James) and Suffolk County Comptroller John Kennedy (R).

A concept drawing of proposed plans for an African American museum in Huntington

An African American Museum will be coming to Huntington. It will be located on the former Naval Reserve center on Mill Dam Road on a roughly 1.5-acre parcel of town-owned land.

In April, the Huntington Town Board passed a resolution to approve a 99-year lease of the property for the museum. Although the project is still in its infancy, progress is being made quickly.

Councilwoman Joan Cergol (D) was primary sponsor of the resolution, with Councilmen Sal Ferro (R) and Dave Bennardo (R) signing on as co-sponsors.

Irene Moore, who chairs the African American Historic Designation Council in Huntington, and Barry Lites, president of the Huntington African American Museum Board, spoke before the unanimous vote, as did several other residents.

After the approval by the Town Board, the African American Museum Board established three new committees that will focus on the overall development of the project. These committees are the Development Committee, which will focus on fundraising; the Building Committee, which will work with architects to develop the design for the museum; and the Community Engagement Committee, which will involve the community, primarily in the realm of social media.

Lites, an attorney based out of Huntington and a longtime resident, is doing much of the planning and organization of the project at this stage. 

While location for the museum is secured, in a phone interview Lites expressed that it will be difficult to do significant fundraising until a definite plan is made for the construction of the building itself. He has been conducting preliminary meetings with various architectural firms to try to come up with a plan and eventually hire one of these firms to design the project.

Lites also has a vision for what he wants the layout inside the museum to look like. 

“My vision is to incorporate, to blend, to bring together history and technology,” Lites said. “History because we’re telling stories. But I want to use technology to do that.”

He said that one thing he envisions is an LED wall with different images and videos and interactive maps for guests to experience. “I really want to blend in technology principally because our focus is the school districts,” Lites said.  

Lites expressed that the goal is to really get the younger generation involved and engaged in the museum and that this will drive the design of the museum, both inside and out. He expressed that the way the land and parking lots are laid out should be specifically tailored for suitability and accessibility for school buses.

“Technology is what attracts young people,” Lites said. “I want it to be an attractive cultural center.” He wants this museum to be valuable to all local residents as well. “We want a museum that is going to be a permanent institution in the Town of Huntington.”

Lites has met with representatives from other museums to get an idea of what the layout might look like in terms of exhibit space, office space, conference rooms, storage space and possibly an auditorium and a media room for video presentations. He said that they could potentially incorporate an event space for renting out to other groups.

As the kinks in the design continue to be worked out, fundraising will become a more tangible focus with $10 million as a general starting goal. However, Lites said that it’s difficult to know exactly how much money will be needed until the design is ironed out. Fundraising will vary from big foundation donors to individual philanthropists to smaller scale local fundraising. They plan to utilize the Community Engagement Committee to get residents involved in this process.

They are planning to have social media accounts on all the major platforms and to develop a website soon so that the plans for this project are more shareable among the community. For residents who want to get in early and join the Friends of the Museum, they should email the board secretary, Beverly Gorham, at [email protected] to get involved.

Lites also expressed that he wants this museum to be for everyone, particularly for residents of Huntington.

“I think it’s really exciting for everyone, not just African Americans,” he said. “It’s already a great town and this just makes it greater by finding out about all these neat people who did all these neat things who struggled, succeeded, showed bravery.”

The content in the museum is planned to be Huntington-focused. Individuals like Jupiter Hammon, Samuel Ballton and Peter Crippen will be heavily featured, so that the focus will be on African American history specifically related to Huntington. 

There is not yet a hard timeline, but in the coming months, as seats on the museum’s committees and subcommittees are filled, the timeline will become more apparent to interested residents of Huntington.

Dr. Eve Meltzer-Krief, a Democrat from Centerport, is running this year for the Suffolk County Legislature’s District 18, challenging incumbent Legislator Stephanie Bontempi, a Republican also from Centerport.

After growing up in Queens, Meltzer-Krief moved to the Town of Huntington in 1999. She has raised two children with her husband, also a doctor. Meltzer-Krief has been a practicing physician at Huntington Village Pediatrics for nearly 25 years.

In a phone interview, Meltzer-Krief shared her family history. Her Jewish mother was born in Paris. Her parents hid her in the French countryside during World War II, enabling her to survive the Holocaust. 

When she was 17, an aunt living in New York reconnected with her and brought her to America. She met Meltzer-Krief’s father a few years later. He was born in the Bronx. They had two children, Meltzer-Krief and her brother.

Meltzer-Krief said her mother had instilled in her the many values she seeks to practice today.

“It’s kind of remarkable that despite what she’d been through, she always taught me that everybody is inherently good,” the candidate said. “She always taught me to see the good in everybody and that people are capable of great good or of tremendous evil, and it really just has to do with their life experience or leaders that misguide them.”

In keeping with the themes of her upbringing, Meltzer-Krief has maintained active involvement in various community enterprises, including the Huntington Anti-Bias Task Force. 

“It’s just so important for elected officials and educators and clergy to all stand together with a united voice whenever we see hate rearing its head,” she said, adding that it is encouraging to see the task force revamped in recent years.

As legislative advocacy chair of her chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Meltzer-Krief has advocated for gun-safety legislation and against flavored vapes targeting minors. She called these substances a gateway that can be damaging to the developing brain. 

She has also advocated for addressing food insecurity among children and has promoted climate change awareness, among other environmental initiatives.

Meltzer-Krief majored in Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She received her medical degree from the Sackler School of Medicine in Tel Aviv and completed her residency at Schneider Children’s Hospital of Long Island Jewish Medical Center. She says writing is a passion of hers. She has published op-eds in Huntington Now and The Times Union.

Meltzer-Krief was recognized as the Woman of Distinction for Suffolk County’s 18th Legislative District in 2018. She received the American Academy of Pediatrics Outstanding Achievement Award 2019 and a NYS Senate Commendation Award in 2019 for her advocacy work.

The election will be held on Nov. 7, 2023.

Smithtown school district's administrative Joseph M. Barton building on New York Avenue. Photo by Kyle Barr

In February, the Smithtown Central School District Board of Education opted to bolster school security by adding armed security guards to the exterior perimeter of its schools.

Since the decision, some students have opposed the new policy. While the school district has not yet employed armed security, Maddox Elbert, a freshman at Smithtown High School East, preemptively organized a petition calling upon the school board to reverse the decision.

“There’s a multitude of reasons why armed guards shouldn’t be in any school,” Elbert said in a phone interview, noting the costs associated with the plan. 

It is projected to cost $800,000 to employ these armed guards, Elbert indicated, a price tag more than eight times more costly than a proposed mental health initiative from Northwell Health that has been widely controversial in the community.

Elbert argued that mental health initiatives are more effective in mitigating armed violence at schools than employing armed guards, citing a study from University of Albany and the RAND Corporation that found that school resource officers “do not prevent school shootings or gun-related incidents.” Elbert added that death rates are actually higher for school shootings in schools that employ armed guards than in those that don’t.

The school board has focused more on appearances and less on addressing the issue at hand, Elbert said. “God forbid there was a situation, they could say that they did something when really it would be doing the opposite.”

Elbert also expressed concerns over the proximity of firearms to school grounds. “Armed guards are proven to increase anxiety levels and stress levels, which can lead to a mental health crisis,” he said.

In a letter dated Feb. 15, Superintendent of Schools Mark Secaur and BOE members argued that their primary reasoning for this initiative was to increase response times for potential active-shooter incidents.

“Having armed guards on school grounds will improve our response time in order to better protect our students, faculty, staff and community members who are in and around our buildings on a daily basis,” the letter stated.

School officials also maintained that the guards would only be stationed in the exterior of the buildings, and that they would not “comment on specific details, such as guard deployments, locations and working hours as it may compromise their safety and effectiveness.”

Elbert presented his concerns to the school board in an April meeting. He said that he and BOE President Matthew Gribbin had agreed to disagree on best practices for protecting schools.

The student organizer hoped something might change, encouraging the board to consider changing its course. To read the full petition, visit: www.change.org/p/remove-armed-guards-from-smithtown-schools.

When contacted for further comment on this topic, a district spokesperson stated: “The district is not providing any comments outside of the community letter.”

Stony Brook University hosted its commencement ceremony on Friday, May 19, for all 2023 graduates. The ceremony conferred more than 7,830 degrees, including 4,895 bachelor’s degrees, 2,115 master’s degrees, 580 doctoral and professional degrees and 240 certificates.

“Over one third of our graduates are the first in their families to attend college,” SBU President Maurie McInnis, pictured below right, told the 2023 graduating class. “These students are making a significant step not only towards their own future, but the future of their families and their communities.”

McInnis welcomed guest speakers, including U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Merryl Tisch, board of trustees chair for the State University of New York system.

Schumer encouraged graduates to be bold and seize the opportunities before them.

“Sitting in your seats, you may not be sure of what’s coming next with so much of the world changing so fast around you,” he said. “The key is not to fear the unknown. Embrace it. Relish it. Soak up every possibility it has to offer. Cast aside your fears and your doubts. So, my advice to the class of ‘23 is simple: go for it.”

Elected officials also in attendance included New York State Senator Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk); New York State Assembly members Ed Flood (R-Port Jefferson) and Jodi Giglio (R-Riverhead); and Suffolk County Legislators Sam Gonzalez (D-Brentwood), Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) and Jason Richberg (D-West Babylon).

Members of the Stony Brook Council were also in attendance, including Kevin Law; Village of Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant; Chris Hahn; Reverend Michael Smith; and Frank Trotta.

Three Village Dads Foundation held a fundraiser April 16 to raise money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Food trucks were available during the event. Photo from Three Village Dads Foundation

On April 16, the Three Village Dads Foundation organized a fundraiser to raise funds for childhood cancer research for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Representatives from the Suffolk County Department of Health Services interrupted the event, saying that the proper permits had not been purchased.

David Tracy, chairman and CEO of Three Village Dads, refused to shut down the event.  He was upset by the disruption and contacted several news outlets to seek some answers and hopefully an apology from the county.

On April 17, a spokesperson from the county told Newsday that the citation given to the Three Village Dads Foundation did not carry a fine, but on May 2 the Department of Health Services did send out summons to two different vendors that had donated their time at the event: Chico’s Tex Mex and The Long Island Airstream Experience.

“We were thinking that, with not hearing anything after the public pushback, they were willing to just kind of forget about it,” Tracy said in a phone interview. “Maybe they realized, ‘Maybe we kind of kicked the wrong hornet’s nest here,’ and they were just going to leave it alone. And then all of a sudden here we are getting these letters to appear in court.”

Tracy’s biggest frustration is the lack of communication and clarity from the county. “Nobody from the county at any level called to even tell me that I was wrong,” Tracy said referring to the permits that were not secured prior to the event. “It was pure ignorance; it wasn’t negligence. We weren’t trying to avoid paying a $100 permit.”

Tracy said that they raised over $25,000 for childhood cancer research and that paying a small fee for permits would not have been an issue. He wishes that someone from the Health Department had contacted him prior to the event.

“Why not just pick up the phone and rectify it there if it was truly all about educating us?” Tracy queried, referring to the fact that a spokesperson from the county told Newsday that their purpose was to educate the event organizers about regulations for future events.

An email from the Department of Health’s media relations department said that on April 10 it became aware through a Facebook advertisement that Long Island Airstream Experience would be operating at the Three Village Dads event. “The Facebook post contained no contact information for the sponsor or organizer of the event,” the email stated. “As a result, [Bureau of Public Health Protection]was unable to contact the organizer in advance to discuss SCDHS requirements for food service.”

The Three Village Dad’s website is the first search result when googling “Three Village Dads,” and contact information can be found on that website.

Tracy expressed that Airstream Experience and Chico’s Tex Mex both were donating their time for the event and were doing this as a favor to Tracy and the Three Village Dads.

“My organization will be paying any fines,” Tracy said. “I even have people that are ready to start a fundraiser if need be.”

Tracy believes that the Health Department was primarily targeting The Long Island Airstream Experience after some complaints from food truck vendors on Long Island that airstreams are not scrutinized as heavily as food trucks are. Tracy said the county may have used this event as an opportunity to fine the airstream business and that the Three Village Dads and particularly Chico’s Tex Mex got caught in the crossfire.

“They’re just going after the airstream business and they used our event to get to him,” Tracy said.

Another email from the Department of Health’s media relations department states that Chico’s Tex Mex will not face a fine since they do not have a history of non-compliance, but that “LI Airstream Experience has a history of non-compliance with the department and faces a possible fine.”

The email also added that Long Island Airstream Experience “has previously been informed that the operation meets the sanitary code definition of food service and requires department permits.”

 “I’m ready for this to be over,” Tracy said. “I was hoping that it was already over. It’s unfortunate this has to be dragged out again … I don’t want the county to look bad … but they need to understand that there’s different ways to go about things and this was handled poorly.”

Thomas Francis of The Long Island Airstream Experience and Vinny Galan of Chico’s Tex Mex are scheduled to appear to answer for the alleged permit violations on May 31. The summons state that penalties could be up to $2,000 for a violation.

The Kings Park Board of Education, pictured above, has one seat open, with Joe Bianco, third from left, running unopposed. Photos from Kings Park Central School District

Residents of the Kings Park Central School District will be able to vote on this year’s proposed budget as well as an open Board of Education seat  Tuesday, May 16.

According to a presentation from the April 18 Budget Adoption meeting, the previous academic year’s budget was $102,244,458, and this upcoming year’s proposed budget is $104,039,636, a 1.76% increase.

The tax levy would increase from last year’s $77,430,655 to $80,103,141, which is a $2,672,486 increase. This results in a 3.45% tax levy increase, which, according to the presentation, is the percent limit so that the school district is under its tax cap.

The board estimates that for the average homeowner in Kings Park, school taxes would rise from $9,613.48 last year to $9,945.14, an increase of $331.66, or $27.64 per month.

In the presentation, the board states that its “primary focus continues to be best ensuring a safe and secure environment in which to provide a globally competitive education for our students.”

The presentation stated that the goal for the budget is to include as many student support items as possible. A list of those areas of focus include: technology/cybersecurity; health and safety; student learning; new Kings Park High School courses, like a guitar elective and a life skills course; extracurricular activities; and capital facilities work.

In the event the proposed budget fails to pass twice, the school district would revert to the contingent budget, which would be $101,367,150 and would contain a 0% tax levy increase from the previous year ($77,430,655).

Additionally, incumbent BOE member Joseph Bianco is seeking reelection. It is for a three-year term. He is running unopposed.

The vote will take place on Tuesday, May 16, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Kings Park High School back gymnasium, located at 200 Route 25A, Kings Park.