Authors Posts by Rita J. Egan

Rita J. Egan

Rita J. Egan
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Julia Frangione, director of Huntington’s Senior Division, left, accepts care packages for seniors from Kristin O’Leary, Erin Whelan and Amanda McCrea. Photo from Huntington Hospital

During these days of self-quarantining and social distancing, three Huntington-area women are working together to ensure local seniors have what they need.

With health care professionals and elected officials recommending the elderly stay home during the novel coronavirus pandemic, Erin Whelan, Amanda McCrea and Kristin O’Leary decided they needed to do something for the community’s senior members. Whelan, a phlebotomist/accessioner at Huntington Hospital who lives in Northport, said during a phone interview she reached out to the Town of Huntington’s director of Senior Division, Julia Frangione, to see what was needed and offered to make care packages with her friends for those who receive services from the facility.

“We noticed a lot of elderly people looking very lost in the supermarkets with empty shelves and chaos,” Whelan said.

McCrea added that with shoppers needing to visit multiple stores to get everything on their lists, they realized shopping had become a chore for many.

In the last couple of weeks, the women have been busy creating care packages with essentials such as toilet paper, wipes, bread or English muffins, coffee or tea, oatmeal, cookies and more. They have even added things like crossword puzzles to keep recipients entertained.

“We attached a personal note on each one just to let them know their community is thinking of them,” Whelan said. “We’re all in this together.

Putting together essentials for those in need is nothing new for the three women, who for the last few years have worked together filling backpacks with school supplies and donating them to the Family Service League in Huntington.

McCrea, who also works in Huntington Hospital’s laboratory, said it was Whelan who came up with the idea.

“I can’t ever say ‘no’ to her ideas,” she said. “Who doesn’t want to do good things and feel good?”

The women said that in order to get the items together they had to visit multiple stores. One day they spent about seven hours hunting for items. The women have been balancing the endeavor with work, as Whelan and McCrea are considered essential employees, and O’Leary, who teaches in the Merrick school district, is working from home and teaching online.

McCrea said it’s been worthwhile making the time to pick up these essential items, despite all of them still working their full-time jobs.

“We’ve all kind of made the time, and it gives us something positive to focus on,” she said. 

Whelan and McCrea said they have received help from several friends, some of whom have given their time, while others have donated money.

“It just kind of snowballed with so many people wanting to help,” Whelan said.

McCrea said one day when they only had 30 rolls of toilet paper they posted their dilemma on Facebook, and a friend sent them a message saying where they could find some. Within an hour, with others helping them, they went from 30 rolls to more than 180.

So far, each care package has cost them around $17 dollars, and they have put together 55 packs and are planning to create more. On March 23, they were able to drop off the first of the packages that filled three cars at the Huntington Senior Center.

Frangione said the carloads were welcomed.

“We were happy to distribute these bonus items to our seniors,” she said. “We were amazed when 55 overflowing bags were delivered. It was so heartwarming, it brought tears to our eyes. The next day, the bags were distributed to our seniors who were truly touched by the thoughtfulness and caring of our friends in the community.”

Approximately 350 seniors receive meals from the center, which last Tuesday began delivering all five meals for the week in one day.

Whelan said that helping the seniors has taken stress and anxiety away.

“I’m a frontline person in the hospital,” she said. “It takes a toll on you, it’s stressful. There’s anxiety. I feel that we’re all helping these seniors, and we’re protecting the community from it spreading more, but we’re also helping ourselves because it’s something positive to focus on.”

To help with their endeavors, the women have set up a Facebook fundraiser page at www.facebook.com/donate/212883923126746/.

SBU Community Will Look for Alternate Ways to Celebrate

Stony Brook University student toss their caps to celebrate their graduation in 2018. Photo by Greg Catalano

This year, Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium at Stony Brook University won’t see its usual sea of red caps and gowns.

SBU Interim President Michael Bernstein announced April 2 on SBU’s YouTube page that the university will not be able to hold its spring commencement ceremony in person May 22.

He said the decision was a difficult one that was made “in a deliberate and careful way.” Bernstein added that input from medical experts and the current guidelines from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and the governor’s office were taken into consideration.

“Our choice ensures the well-being of our community and loved ones,” he said.

Graduates will receive their formal diplomas within two months of their graduation date.

He said countless graduations are being reinvented countrywide.

“These unexpected and disheartening circumstances will not, of course, make these occasions any less significant nor less joyous,” he said. “The accomplishments we will celebrate on your behalf will always be real and vivid.”

Faculty, staff members and students, Bernstein said, are weighing different options as to how to celebrate with alternate ways, and the graduates will be brought together in a virtual way May 22.

“I am very sorry that your final semester at Stony Brook has been derailed by this tragic public health crisis,” he said. “And I want to thank all of you who in so many ways have supported our community as we confront this unprecedented emergency. It’s that very spirit for which your class — the Class of 2020 — will always be uniquely known.”

Muhammad Fithra Yoga started a petition on change.org asking SBU to not cancel but postpone the spring commencement ceremony to the summer after the pandemic has passed.

“For us senior students graduating this spring, we all have been waiting for this special commencement of our class,” Yoga wrote on the petition page. “We understand that conducting commencement in May is not possible, however, we do not want a virtual commencement to be held.”

As of April 3, nearly 600 signed the petition. In 2019, more than 7,500 graduates, ranging between the ages of 18 and 72, joined the nearly 200,000 Seawolves worldwide as Stony Brook University celebrated its 59th commencement.

On April 1, the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University announced it would allow its senior medical students to graduate in early April. The move is to enable them to work at SBU hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic under the supervision of residents, fellows and attending physicians. The graduates will begin their residencies July 1 at the facilities they match with across the state and country.

The school held the medical student’s Match Day via Facebook Live last month. The university and 116 students were complying with social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to a press release from Stony Brook Medicine.

Each year medical students around the country look forward to Match Day, a national event where approximately 30,000 fourth-year students find out their residency assignments.

Dr. Kenneth Kaushansky, senior vice president of Health Sciences and dean of the Renaissance School of Medicine, joined in the celebration.

“You are an incredibly bright, energetic and accomplished group who will soon be called ‘doctor,’” he said during the Facebook Live event.

 

Emma Larsen's mother, Megan, is heading up Troop 355 in Setauket. Photo from Troop 355
Audrey Larsen’s mother, Megan, has started Troop 355 in Setauket. Audrey is currently in Cub Scouts. Photo from Troop 355

It’s been more than a year since the Boy Scouts of America became Scouts BSA, inviting girls to join separate, gender-specific units and earn the Eagle Scout rank. Since then female troop units have been popping up along the North Shore.

In the Three Village area, Setauket mom Megan Larsen recently established Troop 355. She said the number is a nod to the famous Culper Spy Ring as “355” was the code for lady. It’s believed the spies used 355 in code to refer to Anna Strong Smith who reportedly hung clothes on a line to send signals to those in the spy ring.

“It’s just a nod to our district and to our local history,” the troop leader said.

Larsen’s 13-year-old daughter Emma belonged to BSA girl unit Troop 2019 in Sound Beach when the family lived in Mount Sinai. When they moved to Setauket at the end of June, they continued with the unit, but Larsen said it was difficult to keep up with the drive with schoolwork and other activities. 

Larsen said the BSA community is tight knit, and she has been receiving a lot of help from other troop leaders. Her husband, Eric, who grew up in Setauket, was involved with the local Boy Scout Troop 70 for years and was even a Venturing crew leader. He would take Emma to meetings, and when she was a toddler, she even had a Troop 70 T-shirt.

“It was sort of foreshadowing,” Megan Larsen said.

What does it take to start an all-girls BSA troop? The 355 troop leader said once a prospective leader goes to the BSA council to file paperwork and it’s approved, it’s then up to the leader to invite the community to join. On Feb. 23, she held an open house to introduce girls to the organization, and said they received a lot of help from Troop 70. Many local units, both boys and girls, also joined them in last year’s Three Village Electric Holiday Parade.

When her daughters, who include 8-year-old Audrey, showed an interest in the BSA, their mother decided to have them join. Her 10-year-old son Peter is a Cub Scout.

“I saw the positive impact that it had on my husband’s life,” she said, adding she was especially impressed with the friendships formed and public-speaking skills the boys gained.

Sound Beach Troop 2019 at a gathering earlier in the year. Photo from Troop 2019

While Emma has belonged to the Girl Scouts, Larsen said Scouts BSA was a better fit for her daughter who loves whittling, kayaking and camping.

Larsen said she can understand how teenage girls may be hesitant to join something until they see their peers are a part of it.

“It’s new, and I think a lot of times girls are a little hesitant because they don’t know it’s out there, or they want to see other girls doing it first,” she said.

Troop leader Ann Colletta from Sound Beach Troop 2019 said she was on board with the idea of girls in the Scouts since it was announced. She currently has 11 girls in her unit, and she sits on the committee in her district.

“I thought it was a great idea,” she said. “I had my reservations at first because I wasn’t sure how it would work out.”

She said once she learned more about it she realized it was what her daughter June had been wanting.

Colletta said while it may seem like a leap of faith to start up a girl unit, she agreed with Larsen that other leaders, as well as boy units, have been helpful. She added when her troop originally started, it was the boys in BSA who taught the girls different skills and were welcoming and helpful.

“My girls are learning from them, and when younger girls come in the girls can teach them,” Colletta said.

The mother of seven children, who has experience with both BSA and Girl Scouts of the USA, said her 12-year-old daughter, who is also a GSA member, wanted to do the same things as her 17-year-old brother Peter, who become an Eagle Scout. Colletta said she knows what BSA can do for children as her son was shy, and she has watched him blossom.

Kings Park Troop 539G will will celebrate its first anniversary this month. Photo from Troop 539G

“We’re outdoor oriented,” Colletta said. “She wanted to do the same thing as him, go to summer camps and go camping.”

Craig Rome, who heads up Troop 539G in Kings Park, said he’s always willing to help other troop leaders and has found many to be helpful in spreading the word about the female units.

His girl unit, which has 17 members, will celebrate its first anniversary April 15, even though a celebration is on hold until after the current COVID-19 pandemic is over.

Like Colletta, he has found that many of the girls enjoy the outdoor activities that BSA offers. He said in addition to outdoor events, the Scouts offer community service opportunities, first-aid skills, archery and more, as well as foster leadership. Meetings are led by the Scouts themselves, and he feels it’s great to have the girls exposed to the same leadership roles as the boys, adding that young women can be part of both the BSA and GSA like his daughter Emma who started in Girl Scouts.

Since she has joined BSA, he said he has noticed a difference in his daughter, watching her now  encouraged to take on leadership roles. 

“I think she enjoys leadership,” he said.

Rome said that, at first, they had four or five girls, siblings of boys already in the male unit. But after putting announcements out in the school, more girls joined, and he said he thinks there was a pent-up demand. Now after seeing the impact it’s had on these children, he said he wished the BSA had done it sooner, and when people ask him if he thinks BSA works for girls, he said he finds it does.

Troop 218G is based in Melville. Photo from Troop 218G

“The energy level that these girls have is incredible,” he said. “It really put a smile on your face when you saw them get together and form the troop.”

Tammy Campagnola-Levinsky has also had a positive experience as a troop leader. Since last year, 218G in Melville has grown from five to 13, and her 18-year-old daughter, Summer, who had wanted to become one since she was 7 years old is one of the Scouts.

Campagnola-Levinsky said one opportunity the girls have is an extension to become an Eagle Scout, which is also offered to the boys. Usually, a Scout must achieve the rank by 17 but an extension can be requested. 

Like many girls, her daughter has become involved in activities such as camping, meeting elected officials and traveling since joining BSA, something she may not have done outside of the organization. Her daughter has also become involved in BSA’s National Youth Leadership Training.

“It’s her passion,” the troop leader said. “It’s her driving force.”

Since there’s such a lack of these all-female troops, Troop 218G has members from Nassau County and the South Shore. Rome and Campagnola-Levinsky said every Scout, whether a boy or girl, should visit different units to see how they operate since each unit can have a different style or focus. Campagnola-Levinsky pointed out that sometimes members of a Cub Scout Pack may even go on to different units.

“Scouting to me is one of the life lessons that you will take all the way through adulthood and it just doesn’t apply to scouting but your life forward — family, friends, job,” Campagnola-Levinsky said. “So, the skills you learn are lifetime skills, and you want them to be comfortable in the environment they are in and like the unit they are with.”

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Jennifer O’Brien and her daughters and son ready to deliver St. Patrick’s goodies to children.

As more Long Islanders are required to stay home from work and school due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Smithtown residents have been coming up with ways to help each other.

Nourishing the community

Teresa LaRosa leaves La Famiglia in Smithtown with food for family members. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Last Friday the phone was ringing off the hook at La Famiglia in Smithtown. Like many restaurants in the area, residents could go there for takeout, but the establishment was also offering a bit more. Last week co-owner John Cracchiolo notified patrons through social media that the family business wanted to show their gratitude to the community during the pandemic.

Cracchiolo and manager John Davella decided to donate 50 meals a day to seniors and those in need Thursday and Friday between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Instead of giving out 100 meals over the two-day period, the owner said they wound up handing out approximately 150. Cracchiolo said it was something he wanted to do to keep the doors open and his workers employed. 

“Am I scared, too? Absolutely, but as long as I can afford to do it, I’ll do it,” he said, adding he hopes to give out meals again March 26 and March 27.

Cracchiolo said he has been touched by those who have stopped by the restaurant to donate money to the cause, and La Famiglia has recognized many of the philanthropists on its social media page. Cracchiolo and Davella have received donations including a few even totaling $500 and $1,000, and one woman walked in and donated a gift card as well as $200 in cash. The owner said another woman drove all the way from Nassau County when she heard what the restaurant was doing to donate $50.

“People just started walking in and handing us money,” he said, adding it was a big help for their ability to donate more meals to the community.

The owner said he knows of people in the restaurant business who have had to close their doors during this time, and he’s grateful for the Smithtown community that he said has been good to him in the nearly 20 years since he opened La Famiglia. On Friday, the restaurant also donated food to the staff at St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center.

“We’ve been here for so many years,” he said. “The community, the town have been good to me,” he said.

Cracchiolo said he had to cut a few things from his menu as they were hard to get, but most of the selections remain the same for those who are ordering takeout. 

For the free meals, the restaurant offered family-style options that included chopped or Caesar salad, a choice of pasta and sauce and a chicken dinner where people could choose between marsala, francese and parmigiana.

On Friday Teresa LaRosa, of Kings Park, picked up food for family members who are out of work. She said if other restaurants have the money to do so they should do the same.

“We all have to work together and do what we can,” she said.

Keeping the community smiling

Jennifer O’Brien runs a State Farm office in Smithtown where reaching out to the community is a big part of her job.

When it came to St. Patrick’s Day, she was unable to go ahead with an event that she had originally planned and decided to try something different. She posted on social media for people to send their names and addresses to her, and she put St. Patrick’s Day goody bags together that included light-up necklaces and a letter from a leprechaun to deliver to their children.

On March 17, she and her children dressed in green and delivered the bags by leaving them at participants’ doors, making sure not to touch any door bells or knobs. The family covered Smithtown from Kings Park to
St. James.

“It’s nice to know that you are still, ‘quote, unquote,’ touching people personally without physically touching them just by brightening their day a bit,” she said.

O’Brien said she is already thinking of different ways to brighten up Easter for community children, and with events canceled, she has been tapping into social media even more so.

When it comes to her everyday life, she said the State Farm office is closed to the public and a couple of employees are working from home. With her son’s birthday Tuesday, she invited friends on social media to pass by her house in their cars during a certain time frame to honk their horns or sing a song.

Looking for the helpers

Social media is filled with feel good posts during the pandemic.

On the Kings Park Downtown Facebook page, Linda Henninger posted that when she went to the grocery store March 20 to get oat milk, she noticed the market had received items that had been sold out for a while. She said she wound up buying more than originally planned.

“At the cashier, I had to take some items out of my cart,” she wrote in the post. “After I paid and left, the cashier came running out after me with a bag filled with the items I had to leave behind. She said a man in line paid for them for me. I was so touched, I sat in the car and cried.”

During a walk in a local park, one mother wrote in a post on the Smithtown Moms Facebook page that she found little vases with flowers with inspirational notes attached throughout the park, something that she said made her day.

“We need to look for the good because it is always there,” she wrote. “I hope this puts a smile on your face as it did mine.”

Have a story about how you or others have helped during this pandemic, let us know about it by emailing rita@tbrnewsmedia.com.

Maurie McInnis has been named SBU's sixth president. Photo from SBU

After a months-long search, a new president has been chosen for Stony Brook University.

Maurie McInnis, currently executive vice president and provost at the University of Texas at Austin and a renowned cultural historian, was named SBU’s sixth president. Merryl Tisch, State University of New York Board of Trustees chairman, and SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson made the announcement March 26.

“This is an exciting moment for Stony Brook, and I’m confident Dr. Maurie McInnis will take the university to even greater heights in its unique role in fostering innovation, creativity and research that impacts the state, country and the world,” Johnson said in a news release.

McInnis will take over the role July 1. Michael Bernstein has been serving as interim president since last summer’s departure of Dr. Samuel L. Stanley Jr., who took on the post of Michigan State University president.

As chief executive for SBU, McInnis will also oversee Stony Brook Medicine.

“It is now as important as ever to support all our campuses with strong and proven leaders who can quickly navigate challenges, such as the impact of the coronavirus, and keep our students on a path to the world-class higher education they expect,” Tisch said in the release. “Dr. Maurie McInnis has demonstrated experience and the characteristics of such a leader, and we are entrusting her to lead and inspire the students and faculty of Stony Brook University for years to come.”

McInnis is SBU’s second female president. Shirley Strum Kenny headed up the university from 1994 to 2009 after serving as president of Queens College from 1985 to 1994.

As the chief academic officer for UT Austin, McInnis leads strategic planning. Her responsibilities include academic programs and initiatives across 18 colleges and schools, budgeting for the university’s academic division and managing $1.8 billion of the institution’s $3.1 billion budget. She is also involved in the university’s fundraising efforts, leading a team of development officers.

McInnis said in the press release she was honored by the opportunity to lead an institution that is “both at the forefront of groundbreaking research and committed to advancing the American Dream.”

“The critical issues we face today have made it even more clear the important role higher education plays in educating tomorrow’s leaders and tackling today’s challenges by fostering cross-disciplinary research,” she said. “At higher education institutions, our responsibility is not just to admit students but to give them the tools to succeed throughout their collegiate careers and after graduation.”

McInnis earned her bachelor’s degree with highest distinction in art history from University of Virginia and received her master’s degree and doctorate in art history from Yale University. She is married with two children.

Her research has focused onthe cultural history of American art in the colonial and antebellum South. Her published works center around the politics involved in slavery. McInnis is one of the authors of “Educated in Tyranny,” which takes a look at the largely unknown story of slavery at the University of Virginia.

In a video posted to SBU’s YouTube page, McInnis applauded Bernstein’s service, especially in the last few weeks as SBU has been on the frontlines fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

“He has been an inspirational steward in this extraordinary upheaval, and we all owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude,” McInnis said in the video.

She complimented how Stony Brook Medicine has responded during the crisis and how SBU has been helping to ensure the academic continuity of its students. The incoming president also praised how the SBU campus and local community have been working together during the pandemic.

“This is a team that I want to be part of, and I look forward to joining you this summer with my husband and two children,” she said.

McInnis added that with such an announcement she normally would be meeting members of the university community but couldn’t because of the current COVID-19 precautions.

“I so look forward to meeting you all in person,” McInnis said. “And if not shaking your hand, at least elbow bumping because at that moment we will be on the other side of this unprecedented public health crisis.”

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Pentimento in Stony Brook Village Center is offering 50 percent off meals for hospital and EMT workers in the Three Village area. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Three Village residents, business owners and community leaders are finding ways to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chuyu Liu, co-principal of the Center for Chinese Learning at Stony Brook, left, and Shaorui Li of the Long Island Chinese American Association, right, present masks to Dave Sterne, district manager of the Setauket Fire District. Photo by Chang Duan

While Stony Brook University was chosen by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) for a drive-through testing center for the virus, along with an external facility for extra beds at the campus, other help has been provided in the area.

The Three Village Civic Association has been emailing members with any updates it receives to ensure residents are informed. In a March 23 email to members, civic association President Jonathan Kornreich wrote of “countless acts of kindness and compassion, large and small” in the community.

Among those acts have been the Della Pietra family creating a community challenge to raise $500,000 for Stony Brook University Hospital. According to SBU’s website, the family is pledging a $250,000 dollar-for-dollar match. The funds raised will go toward critical supplies and treatments at the hospital. At press time, the challenge had nearly 650 supporters donating more than $330,000.

Kornreich said in the email he also noticed residents doing good things in small ways.

“Even in supermarkets I’ve seen people sharing and taking a moment to show some kindness to stressed-out neighbors,” he said.

The civic association also announced that the Three Village Central School District consolidated its food pantries into one location at the North Country Administration Center in Stony Brook. Those who need to access the pantry, or would like to donate, can call Anita Garcia at 631-730-4010. As always, nonperishables and toiletries will be accepted, and gift cards for supermarkets and gas stations are also needed. Civic association volunteers picked up bags of donated items for the food pantry March 25 from residents and have pledged to do so as long as necessary.

Extra steps to help out SFD

The Long Island Chinese American Association donated 120 KN95 masks to the Setauket Fire District last week.

In a March 16 Facebook message, the fire department asked residents to let dispatchers know if there is anyone in their home who is under quarantine when calling to report a house fire. The information will allow responders to ensure they have the proper protective equipment.

Dave Sterne, district manager of the Setauket Fire District, said first responders are in the same position as the health care industry when it comes to the shortage of personal protective equipment.

“We are in unprecedented times with the way we are using and reusing all types of PPE and any donations we receive are very much appreciated,” he said.

Sterne said the district was grateful for the Long Island Chinese American Association’s donation as well as some masks from resident Mark Andrews.

Emma Clark library stays connected with community

While Emma S. Clark Memorial Library is closed until further notice due the ongoing pandemic, it still has numerous services to offer the community. The library announced in a press release Monday it will offer remote technology help for patrons who need to set up communication options like FaceTime, Zoom and Google Hangouts. They can also help remotely with office applications, web browsers, Roku and Fire Stick devices and with general support with mobile devices, phones, tablets and laptops.

Cardholders can send an email to techhelp@emmaclark.org and include their library barcode number and phone number.  A library employee will call back to schedule one-on-one telephone help.

For those who don’t have a library card, the library is also providing temporary digital cards that will allow them to access some of Emma Clark’s online resources including OverDrive and Hoopla for eBooks, eAudiobooks, movies and music. Also, temporary digital cardholders will be able to access databases and the classes in Learning Express. People can go to www.emmaclark.org and find “Get a Library Card” at the bottom of the page to sign up.

Library director, Ted Gutmann, said in an email it’s important for the library to stay in touch with the community.

“A big part of what the library does at all time is connect people with information, with resources, with help, with each other,” he said. “Our virtual time with a tech service is just one example of how the library is reaching out to the community in this period of social distancing, when it’s so easy to feel disconnected and unsure about things.  We’re asking our patrons to come to us like they always have. It may not be face-to-face, but it’s still person-to-person.”

The director added when residents use the library’s Time with a Tech service they will be speaking with the library’s technology librarian or IT manager, or “real people, real voices — not some anonymous ‘someone will get back to you.’ I think this is reassuring, and I hope many of our patrons will feel that way too.”  

Businesses adapt to new climate

Many business owners are coming up with new ideas in order to stay open. One option many dance schools and martial arts studios have taken is creating videos and making them available online for their students.

Nick Panebianco from Alchemy Martial Arts and Fitness of East Setauket last week spent two days working practically nonstop creating 40 videos to put on his school’s website. He said it was something he was thinking about for a couple of months but didn’t get a chance to do, and he knew now was the time to create the online lessons.

The studio owner said during the pandemic he knows children will be spending more time with their families. In the videos, he shows parents how to use everyday items such as oven mitts and pillows to help with a student’s practice.

“I basically teach the parents how to teach the kids,” he said.

Panebianco added that he goes over drills that he normally does in classes and points out ways to adapt to different body types. At press time, he already had 50 subscribers made up of current and former students. He has extended the invitation to watch the videos to community members too. The service is free and can be accessed by going to the studio’s website and signing up.

“It’s pretty cool so far,” he said. “People are sending me videos of their kids working with them. I’m very excited right now. I want to keep adding to it.”

With students currently out of class, he said he feels it’s important to keep them active instead of looking at their mobile devices all day, adding that the videos can also be helpful in general for those who can’t afford or don’t have time to do a full class at the martial arts studio.

As for the Three Village community, the Port Jefferson Station resident said he’s seen many businesses coming up with creative ideas.

“People are adapting fast,” he said. “It’s pretty impressive.”

Lisa Cusumano, co-owner and general manager of Pentimento restaurant in Stony Brook Village Center said even though the restaurant had to lay off most of its staff, they are still providing curbside pickup and delivery to those who are homebound.

Cusumano said they are also offering 50 percent off meals for all hospital and EMT workers in the Three Village area who show an ID as they realize these community members are on the front lines fighting the pandemic.

“We’re trying to do anything to help,”
she said.

Cusumano said when she first heard of the coronavirus she bought more cleaning supplies than usual, and the staff cleaned more regularly than average starting weeks ago, even wiping menus after each use.

She said the restaurant, which has been in business for 26 years, is taking it day by day and as long as they have the ability to open they will.

“As long as we have products and people working, we’ll take care of the community as best as we can,” Cusumano said.

We would love to hear about what readers are seeing in our community. Let us know about residents or business owners who are dealing with COVID-19 pandemic in innovative ways or helping out their neighbors by emailing rita@tbrnewsmedia.

Parking meters in Northport have been covered to provide free parking in Northport during the COVID-19 pandemic. Parking meter fees have also been waived in Huntington Village. Photo by Bruce Adams

Huntington officials have made some adjustments during the coronavirus pandemic.

Parking meter fees in Huntington village are being waived until further notice to assist the restaurant and business communities. The town will continue enforcement of handicap, fire zone and other safety-related parking violations that interfere with traffic patterns or line of sight.

Huntington Town Hall is closed to the public, and this week’s planning and zoning boarding meetings have been postponed, along with traffic court.

Residents are asked to use the white mailbox outside the main parking lot entrance to Town Hall labeled “Town Hall Mail Only” to drop off mail or paperwork. There is a black mailbox to the right of the main entrance to Town Hall labeled “Tax Payments Only” to drop off tax payments. 

All playgrounds and bathrooms at town parks and beaches are closed until further notice. Parks remain open but all permits for play on town fields are canceled through March 31. Crab Meadow Golf Course and Dix Hills Golf Course are closed until further notice. The town will reevaluate March 27.

The town Senior Center’s Home Delivered Meal Delivery program will change starting Tuesday, March 24. The last day for single hot and frozen meal delivery was Monday, March 23.  Starting March 24, five frozen meals will be delivered on Tuesdays only, and the Senior Center has stopped taking new signups for the program. 

The Senior Center’s Congregate Frozen Meal pickup program will change starting Tuesday, March 24. Five frozen meals will be available for collection at the Senior Center on Tuesdays only for registered seniors between 12:30 and 2:00 p.m. Employees will bring the frozen meals outside. There will be a car lineup for registered seniors to be checked in. 

All Huntington schools remain closed.

Northport

Parking meters in Northport have also been covered to provide free parking.

Town Hall is closed with only essential staff on-site. Much village paperwork can be found and completed online at www.northportny.gov.

The Northport-East Northport Public Library will remain closed until further notice. All late fees are suspended. Residents can return items using the outside book and media returns drop box. 

All Northport-East Northport schools are closed until further notice.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has called on residents to donate PPE for health care workers and first responders. File photo by Kyle Barr

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) has received so many offers for potential sites of hospital beds to combat the ongoing surge of residents who require hospitalization that he has developed a submission form on his website.

A real estate team from economic development will do the initial vetting. Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services will consider those submissions that pass through the initial screening.

“We have had tremendous outreach,” Bellone said on his daily COVID-19 briefing with reporters.

At the same time, Bellone’s office has opened up two additional sites to collect donations of personal protective equipment, which is in high demand for first responders, emergency services and health care workers.

In addition to delivering donations to the site in Yaphank, donors can bring masks, lab coats, and gloves to 150 Old Riverhead Road in Westhampton, as well as to 97 Crooked Hill Road in Commack. Thus far, the county executive has collected 282,000 pieces of personal protective equipment, although most of that was collected on the first day.

Bellone urged people who have “a stock of PPE to donate it” to help all those on the front lines fighting the virus.

Amid the pause mandated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) for the state of New York, Bellone urged people to designate a specific shopper, so that the trip to the supermarket doesn’t become an outing.

Bellone also thanked the superintendents of schools, who are working to provide grab and go meals for children.

As the days continue to drag on when people remain in their homes and limit their activities, Bellone said he understood the ongoing mental health impact that triggers. He urged people to contact 311 in Suffolk County if they need assistance.

Meanwhile, the number of people who have tested positive for coronavirus continues to climb to 2,260. The number of residents in hospitals with coronavirus has also risen, with 206 people in the hospital and 67 in the intensive care unit.

Of the 67 people in the ICU, 55 currently need ventilators, highlighting the urgency of bringing additional ventilators to the county.

The county currently has 286 ventilators, a number that is “going to need to dramatically increase as the beds increase,” Bellone said.

The coronavirus also continues to affect the Suffolk County Police Department. Twelve sworn officers have tested positive and one civilian who is part of the department, according to Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart.

The police department continues to try to ensure that the public complies with social distancing regulations and with New York Pause, Hart said.

“Where we’re receiving information where there’s noncompliance, we go out to those locations and take an educational approach,” Hart said.

Meanwhile, the Suffolk County Water Authority reassured residents that water service would not be interrupted because of the virus. Officials at the water authority said stocking up on bottled water is unnecessary.

“Water provided by the Suffolk County Water Authority is and will remain perfectly safe to drink during the COVID-19 pandemic,” SCWA Chief Executive Officer Jeff Szabo, said in a statement. “Pathogens such as COVID-19 would not survive the chlorine disinfection process that occurs at our pumping stations prior to drinking water being delivered to our 1.2 million customers.”

Separately, St. Charles Hospital’s dental clinic has suspended all non-emergency care for three weeks. Patients with standard care appointments will receive calls to reschedule. Patients with emergencies will be contacted a day before their procedures for health screening.

State Sen. John Flanagan (R). Photo by Kyle Barr

In a press release March 25, state. Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport), Republican minority leader, announced he will not seek reelection this election year.
“For almost 34 years I have enjoyed the privilege, honor and distinction of serving as an elected official in the New York State Legislature,” Flanagan said in the release. “The opportunity to serve the public for virtually all of my adult life has enriched every aspect of my life, and so it is a with a heavy but extremely proud heart that I announce today that I will not be seeking re-election to the New York State Senate. The wide array of emotions I am experiencing in making this decision are balanced by knowing that I am making the best decision for me and for my family.”

Flanagan’s career has spanned over three decades. The senator has spent 16 years, eight terms, in the New York State Assembly, and 18 years, nine terms, in the senate.

“I have met some of the finest and most dedicated people in my life throughout this time, and it reminds me of why New York State is so special — because of its people, both in and out of government,” he said. “It is still my fervent belief that New York is the Empire State and will continue to be so for many, many years to come.

In the press release, Flanagan added that he realized the timing of the announcing was not ideal. He said he was making it now though due to“the constraints of the political calendar that guides our elections.”

“Our great state is clearly in a time of crisis and now more than ever we need leaders to guide our public policy as true representatives of our taxpayers and constituents,” he said. “I fully intend to apply the same diligence and work ethic as the Leader of our Republican conference as I have since I was first elected leader in 2015.”

Flanagan said top-tier candidates have been recruited in races across the state which will mean the party’s conference “has the right message to succeed.”

“I look forward to continuing to be part of that process as our conference navigates delicate and challenging budget issues and finishing our legislative session,” he said. “Our residents and my constituents deserve no less.”
The senator said he never envisioned the opportunities that have come his way in the last 34 years.
“The gift and privilege of being elected by my colleagues to be the Senate Majority Leader is an honor I will always cherish, and I recognize that with that position comes an immense responsibility to work for the betterment of all New Yorkers,” he said. “It is a fact that continues to be the cornerstone of all my thinking and actions as the Leader of the Republican Conference in the Senate today. Working closely with my Republican Colleagues, we have advocated for vital local issues and passionately distinguished ourselves as principled lawmakers who care very deeply about public service and the people we represent.”

Flanagan ended the statement by thanking his family, friends, colleagues and the people of New York for their support.

Visitors to a Stony Brook bar and restaurant were looking for more than food and drink March 15, they were aiming to help out a good cause.

The Bench hosted a St. Baldrick’s Day fundraiser Sunday where participants got their heads shaved to raise funds for childhood cancer research. Lead organizer Christopher Pollina said with donations and a company match, participants surpassed the total event goal of $20,000.

According to the organizer the nonprofit group Three Village Dads raised more than half of that amount, and its foundation donated an additional $1,000.

Rob Meo raised the highest amount of the day with $5,000. During the event, Boy Scout troops 70 and 427, both from Setauket, stopped by to have their heads shaved by Amanda Bellavance of Dapper Cuts Barbershop and donate funds. Music was provided by Mike Rutowitcz of Sound’s Alive Entertainment.

Pollina and co-organizer Scott Montekew were pleased with the results from the second annual event at The Bench.

“We topped last year’s $12,500 raised, even during this trying time of COVID-19,” Pollina said.