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TBR Staff

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TBR News Media covers everything happening on the North Shore of Suffolk County from Cold Spring Harbor to Wading River.

File photo by Raymond Janis

Thank you from the White Family

To: Reverend Lisa of Bethel AME Church; our Bethel Church family; The Three Village community; Kevin Finnerty, director of athletics at Ward Melville High School; the Ward Melville faculty, Booster Club, students; Town of Brookhaven and others:

Words can’t express the heartfelt gratitude you all showed in your own special way during our time of sorrow. Thank you all so much for your kind words, cards, love and support!

Your memories, tributes and accolades that you shared were absolutely beautiful! They truly warmed our hearts and eased the pain for the moment. We knew Willie was special to his family, but from the attendance at his wake, homegoing celebration of life and repass, showed the love you had for him. Willie L. White is gone for now, but truly left a legacy that will forever live in our hearts.

Sincerely With Love, 

The White Family

A call for fiscal accountability

The Port Times Record of Feb. 8 published a letter [“Rallying against unjust state aid cuts”] from Jessica Schmettan, superintendent of schools of the Port Jefferson School District, asking residents to use a district-provided form letter opposing the New York State governor’s proposed cut of 28.38 % in state aid (“Foundation Aid”) to the district.

 I chose to write my own letter and sent state Assemblyman Flood [R-Port Jefferson] and state Sen. Palumbo [R-New Suffolk] the following:

 I’m a longtime resident of the Port Jefferson School District and notice that the district is aggressively encouraging parents to engage in a letter-writing campaign to state legislators regarding the cut in Foundation Aid proposed in the governor’s [Kathy Hochul (D)] budget. I’m sure you will receive the form letter the district is circulating.

 At this time, I would encourage you to examine the fiscal practices of this district. While the enrollment in the district continues to decline (from the present 910 students overall to projected enrollment close to 766 students by 2031) the district has done nothing to address this, despite numerous comments by district residents at Board of Education meetings.

 Instead, a pattern of spending has seen district funds expended of close to $800,000 on new bleachers on an athletic field, $240,000 on sod for that field, and a proposed “security booth” projected to cost close to $400,000.

 Two recent multimillion dollar bond issues ($23 million and $16 million, respectively) calling for substantial enhancements in an existing school building, as well as an artificial turn field costing $1.6 million, were wisely rejected by residents, although the district continues to ignore the message sent by residents.

 Despite the significant drop in enrollment, administrative staffing in the district has not been reduced nor has the district explored other potential cuts to address this major financial problem.

 The revenues from a Long Island Power Authority plant in the district are rapidly dwindling and the district presently faces seven Child Victims Act lawsuits. (The latter has only been acknowledged by the district when the proposed Foundation Aid cut was announced.) Transparency has not been evidenced by the school board and the administration.

 While you are examining the campaign to restore Foundation Aid cuts to the district, I would strongly encourage you, in the interest of fiscal prudence, to examine the spending practices of this school district and hold the board and district accountable for the lack of effective stewardship of taxpayer funds.

Charles Backfish

Port Jefferson

Cut the losses!

The recent article in the Port Times [“Uncertainty looms over the future of Port Jefferson Country Club,” Feb. 8] shows the futility of trying to keep back the forces of nature — the way of wind and waves — as concerns the East Beach bluff. For some of us the attempt to save the country club building always seemed a fool’s errand. 

To start with: Nature usually wins, but the previous village board of trustee’s would not admit to this, and forced without a vote a [$10 million] bond onto our taxes. See where this got us.

What to do? Declare the loss and build a more modest country club house way, way back, and let nature take its toll on the bluff; and focus on how to protect the downtown area with parks, shops, apartments and ferry infrastructure for the future and coming high waters.

Bente and Flemming Videbaek

Port Jefferson

Immigration history lesson

I want to thank Arnold Wishnia for the history lesson on immigration [“A critical analysis of immigration rhetoric,” TBR News Media letter, Feb. 8]. I was totally unaware that it occurred before the latest wave or that throughout human history some groups of people — including “mostly brown” people as Mr. Wishnia writes — treated other groups of people poorly. What an eye-opener. An eye-opener for him is that it is not only “Latin American immigrants” who are coming here illegally and in fact we don’t know who is coming. For this and many other reasons fear is reasonably mongered.

I could not and did not disregard “[George] Altemose’s inflammatory talk of invasion” as I do not know him and have not read the letter he wrote. This did not stop Wishnia from making assumptions about heroes and projection. An artful word to describe these assumptions is “prejudice” as Wishnia has, indeed, prejudged me.

Wishnia concludes by writing that I slandered the racist and sexist policy of diversity, equity and inclusion by describing it as racist and sexist. Let me ask him: If he did not get accepted by an Ivy League college or get hired as a university professor because of a quota, would he consider that to be “rather minimally” a mitigation of harm inflicted — not by him, but by other people? It seems that like Bruce Stillman [president and CEO of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory], Wishnia’s prototypical elitism is showing.

Paul Mannix

Wading River

One year after Grand Central Madison’s opening

There is still much to do one year after the opening of the Grand Central Madison station. Information was omitted from the MTA ceremony celebration that Port Jefferson LIRR branch riders would be interested in.

How many of the original 73 East Side Access contracts has the MTA completed? What is their collective dollar value? How much of the $600 million in debt service payments buried in the agency operating budget that covered project costs are still outstanding? 

The same applies to several hundred million more in debt service payments that financed $4 billion worth of LIRR readiness projects to support start of full service in February 2023. They are carried offline from the official project budget. These include the $2.6 billion Main Line Third Track, $450 million Jamaica Capacity Improvements, $387 million Ronkonkoma Double Track, $120 million Ronkonkoma Yard Expansion, $44 million Great Neck Pocket Track, $423 million for rail car fleet expansion. Without these, the LIRR would lack the expanded operational capabilities to support the promised 24 rush-hour train service to GCM and 40% increase in reverse peak rush-hour service. Honest accounting would include these other expenditures bringing the true cost of ESA to $16.1 billion.

How many thousands of the original promised daily ridership projection has not been achieved? This goes for the reverse peak as well. Why does Grand Central Madison still not provide 24/7 service as does Penn Station?

Grand Central Madison still has only two men’s bathrooms with a total of 18 urinals and 13 toilets, two women’s bathrooms with a total of 25 toilets, one lactation room and two gender neutral bathrooms each with a single capacity, all located on the Madison Concourse. There are none on the lower or upper level platforms and mezzanine.

There is still only one waiting room located on the Madison Concourse. It has only 29 seats and seven stools for Wi-Fi connections to serve riders. There are no other seating options on the platform and mezzanine levels while waiting. 

Options for recycling newspapers or beverage containers, disposal of garbage or other waste continues to be nonexistent except for a handful of garbage cans at the platform level. There are few options to dispose of waste at either the mezzanine or Madison Concourse levels. This conflicts with MTA’s claim to be environmentally friendly. 

There are still no open newsstands. These services are readily available in Metro-North Rail Road Grand Central Terminal, Penn and Jamaica stations. 

There are 11 ticket vending machines still waiting to be installed. It appears that the designed space is not wide enough to accommodate standard LIRR ticket machines. 

All the facility storefronts still stand vacant. The original completion date was 2011. Full-time service began in February 2023. MTA Real Estate had years to find tenants for the 32 vacant storefronts. MTA Real Estate has yet to issue a request for proposal to find a master tenant to manage all 32 vacant storefronts. When will this take place?

The MTA Arts & Design recent announcement that it is presenting a selection of works from photographer Stephen Wilkes’ “Day to Night” series of famous New York landmarks at this facility is of little value to most commuters. Some advertising posters would be better and generate some badly needed revenue. 

Transparency on the part of Gov. Kathy Hochul [D], MTA Chairman Janno Lieber and LIRR President Richard Free in sharing with commuters, taxpayers, transit advocates and elected officials in dealing with these remaining open issues is required

Larry Penner

Great Neck

 

Rocky Point 2023-24 girls basketball team. Photo courtesy Rich Acritelli

By Rich Acritelli

Since 2001, there have been many fine girls basketball players that have suited up for the Rocky Point High School team. But there has been a playoff drought for the 23 years that has been broken through this year’s Lady Eagles squad. Longtime field hockey coach Katie Bittner, who coached the junior varsity basketball team in 2008-09, recently took over and the positive results have been extremely noticeable.

After defeating Smithtown West Feb. 2, the girls earned a playoff seed that saw Rocky Point ladies enthused about this major achievement. Bittner explained that this success originated from the “importance of playing defense, hustling and showing heart on a regular basis.” This formula has worked, as Bittner was pleased with her team’s ability to utilize its unyielding defensive strengths earlier in the season against Westhampton Beach. This opposition was averaging over 55 points a game at the time, but was limited to 43, and Rocky Point lost by only three points. This week, on Feb. 12, the Lady Eagles again played Westhampton Beach, which is one of the higher-ranking teams in the county, was leading at halftime 27-25 and lost a hotly-contested game 50-41.

The Rocky Point girls are led by the aggressive presence of McKenzie Moeller who is committed to play lacrosse at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. She has been a dominant point scorer who drives to the net and is a rebounder. Moeller scored 24 points against Smithtown West and enjoys the camaraderie of this group. The “comic relief” is senior Sarah May who was the team’s most valuable player as a junior and is a shooting guard who will dive for loose balls. Julia Koprowski is a point guard whose goal is to play basketball next fall in college. Rhiannon Donovan is a senior power forward who has also been a special player. She has found it has been immensely “gratifying” to be a part of a close-knit team that has performed well.

An all-state field hockey player and a lacrosse standout, Kylie Lamoureux has solidified her spot as one of the toughest female athletes in the school and as a determined leader on the basketball team. Her presence is felt playing defense, forcing turnovers and being a fiery player against the opposition. This junior, who will play lax at the University of Maryland, is a two-year starter and a shooting guard. Her good friend junior Fiona Vu, who will be playing lacrosse at Brown University, is a major three-sport athlete who provides key minutes off the bench as a guard and forward. Coming off the bench is senior Nicole Spadafina who is hoping to either attend Indiana University or Tulane. This guard brings the ball up the court and has hit some outside shots. Many of these girls have played together since they were children at the local church league and truly enjoy playing ball together.

The future looks promising with eighth grader Giuliana Tocci gaining valuable experience that will mold her leadership role. Sophomore Kaleigh Moeller is part of the youth movement that has helped push the Eagles toward making the playoffs. She is a forward who comes off the bench where she has played a tenacious defense and has gained many rebounds. 

Athletic director Jonathon Rufa is elated with the drive of this team to succeed this year and make the playoffs. Rufa identified these ladies as being a “hardworking, talented and coachable group of athletes, who are willing to do the little things to win,” adding, “The future of Rocky Point girls basketball looks bright with first-year coach Katie Bittner leading the way.” 

Rich Acritelli is a social studies teacher at Rocky Point High School, an adjunct professor of American history at Suffolk County Community College and curator of Suffolk County World War II and Military History Museum.

File photo

By Emma Gutmann

As of a January report from the New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli (D), Middle Country Central School District has dipped into the “susceptible” fiscal stress status. The district’s community letter on Feb. 1 stated that reserves are “close to being exhausted” and the budget gap is around $7.5 million.

The comptroller’s Fiscal Stress Monitoring System uses data submitted by local governments to provide every school district in New York with a fiscal and environmental score out of 100. Financial indicators for school districts consist of cash position, year-end fund balance, operating deficits and surpluses, as well as reliance on short-term debt for cash flow. Environmental indicators are forces beyond local officials’ immediate control, including teacher turnover rate, changes in property values, budget vote approval rate and percent of economically disadvantaged students and English language learners. 

A district’s overall score determines whether it has the label Significant Stress, Moderate Stress, Susceptible to Stress or No Designation. Middle Country’s 2022-23 fiscal year scored 25 points, the minimum value in the Susceptible to Stress range. Four other Long Island school systems joined Middle Country on the fiscal stress spectrum, with New Suffolk and Amityville in the most extreme category and Roosevelt and Springs in the mildest warning stage alongside Middle Country.

Instructional expenses continue to contribute to Middle Country’s budget overflow as the district strives to maintain excellence for students and staff under the financial strain. The district anticipates a need for two or three more PRAISE classes, where each accommodates eight special-needs kindergarteners. These valuable and necessary specialized classes come with a jarring expense, costing around $350,000 each according to Superintendent of Schools Roberta Gerold.

In an interview, Gerold noted that the pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the student body, who could use support for their anomalous learning and mental health needs. In the vein of wellness, a boost in health care for current employees (plus 10%) and retirees (plus 25%) has been another cost driver. 

“We are a state-aid-dependent school district, which means when state aid is reduced, we feel the impact — and don’t have many alternatives other than raise taxes or cut programs or services,” Gerold said. “This year, Gov. Hochul’s [D] budget proposal cuts state aid. In Middle Country, if we were to receive what current law indicated we should, our state aid would be about $1.4 million more than what we are now supposed to receive.”

Middle Country has been lobbying to receive a larger slice of state aid with the support of local elected officials and working on a plan for financial recovery with the guidance of their administrative colleagues. The proposed state aid for 2024-25 is nearly $120 million, an increase of 4.64%.

Gerold reported that the school was able to offer programs with resources for their students’ evolving needs through federal funding — a pool which will expire in September of this year.

Although Middle Country has done its best to budget and ration its reserves, “the next couple of months are going to be difficult as decisions are finalized and implemented,” the district’s letter said. 

Brookhaven landfill sign. Photo by Samantha Ruth

The Town of Brookhaven landfill, a titan of our local landscape, casts a long shadow over our future. While the initial plan promised its closure by 2024, the recent extension for incinerator ash disposal leaves us in a state of uncertainty. This reprieve begs a crucial question: What is the actual plan for the landfill, and where will our garbage go?

Residents deserve clarity. We’ve been told the landfill, nearing capacity, would soon reach its final chapter. Now, faced with a year or two extension, we’re left wondering: Is this a temporary fix or a signpost to a longer life for the landfill?

Beyond the timeline, the elephant in the room is ash disposal. Accepting Covanta’s waste may solve its immediate problem, but at what cost? Have the potential environmental impacts been thoroughly assessed? Are we simply swapping one set of concerns for another?

Perhaps most importantly, where is the long-term vision for waste management? Is this extension just a stopgap measure, or is there a concrete plan for a sustainable future beyond the landfill’s life span? We haven’t heard much about exploring alternatives like recycling, composting or waste-to-fuel technologies. Shouldn’t these be at the forefront of the conversation?

The Town Board owes it to residents to provide a comprehensive plan, not just piecemeal extensions. We need to know how the extension fits into the bigger picture, what alternatives are being explored and when  we can expect a clear roadmap for the future.

This isn’t just about the landfill’s closure date, it’s about responsible waste management for generations to come. While there has been a lot of discussion, this postponement raises doubts about a future course. Residents seek transparency, clear communication and a commitment to solutions that prioritize both environmental health and responsible waste disposal. Until then, we’ll remain in limbo, watching the shadow of the landfill grow longer – and wondering where our waste will ultimately end up.

Sunrise Wind. Photo courtesy Sunrise Wind

By Serena Carpino

Several Suffolk County elected officials have gathered in support for Sunrise Wind, an offshore wind project dedicated to using clean energy to power thousands of Long Island homes. 

Sunrise Wind is operated under a 50/50 partnership between Ørsted, a Danish international climate action leader, and Eversource, a national leader in clean energy. The project has been ongoing since 2019 and organizers aim to have it completed by 2026, with the farm generating about 924 megawatts and supplying energy to nearly 600,000 homes across the Island. 

Sunrise Wind is located approximately 30 miles east of Montauk. Developers plan to run cables through Smith Point Beach that will connect to Long Island’s electricity grid in Holbrook. Officials intend to use the wind farm to provide Island residents with 70% renewable energy by 2030, and 100% by 2040. Eventually, they hope to make Sunrise Wind a national energy hub. 

The project has received bipartisan support across the county, with members of both parties agreeing to look toward a more renewable future. Officials supporting Sunrise Wind include County Executive Ed Romaine (R), state Assemblyman Joe DeStefano (R-Medford), Brookhaven Town Supervisor Dan Panico (R), and other business and labor leaders. 

“Here, this is not a Democrat or Republican issue,” Romaine explained. “Our focus is local and since we all live here, we want to solve the problems together to get this done. When I look at the future, I realize we’re going to need more energy than ever: Why not renewable?”

Other officials have commented how the project is already helping parts of Long Island with its $700 million investment in jobs, assets, and partnerships across Suffolk County. 

“In the Mastic-Shirley community, Patriots Preserve, we got our first million dollars from this agreement,” Panico said. “We used that money in the creation of a beautiful pristine park in the tri-hamlet community, one of the most densely populated communities that is underserved.”

Furthermore, Sunrise Wind has brought many job opportunities to Long Island residents. According to Meaghan Wims, a spokesperson for Sunrise Wind, the project will “deliver major economic benefits and local jobs to New York … while accelerating the state’s growing offshore wind workforce and supply chain.”

Many officials agree that Sunrise Wind will bring many benefits to Long Island. However, they have also addressed potential concerns about the effect on marine life and fisheries. 

“Climate change is an existential threat to the biodiversity of the natural world, and one of the best ways to protect that biodiversity is the development of clean energy,” Wims explained. That being said, Sunrise Wind takes “great care to ensure that offshore wind and wildlife coexist and thrive. We’ve taken a number of steps to ensure this coexistence, often by being directly responsive to requests from the fishing community.”

For example, officials at Sunrise Wind decided the boundaries of the wind farm after considering feedback from parties that could be affected. In addition, “we’ve set the industry standard by agreeing to uniform 1 x 1 nautical mile spacing across and gridded layout of our lease areas,” Wims said. “This is the widest spacing of any offshore wind farm in the world.” Because of this type of spacing, marine transit and fishery activity can continue to occur. 

In addition to Sunrise Wind, Ørsted and Eversource also have South Fork Wind and Revolution Wind in the works. South Fork Wind is estimated to provide 132 MW of energy to New York and is projected to become the first utility-scale offshore wind farm in United States waters. 

Revolution Wind will supply Rhode Island and Connecticut with 704 MW of power and offshore construction is set to begin in several months.

Sarah Anker. Photo courtesy Sarah Anker

By Aidan Johnson

Former county Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) has announced she will be running for the District 1 state Senate seat currently held by Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk).

“I am running for the New York State Senate because we need a strong voice in the majority to put people above politics and deliver for Suffolk County,” Anker said in her Feb. 5 press release.

“For close to 13 years, as a full-time Suffolk County legislator, I have listened to the concerns of my constituents and took action to address them,” she added.

Anker was first elected as the Suffolk County legislator for the 6th District after winning a special election in 2011, being reelected six times before stepping down in 2023 due to term limits.

In a phone interview, Anker said that she first got involved in local politics when she moved to Long Island and read about tritium, a radioactive substance, that was leaking into the local groundwater.

“I read it in the papers and it made me want to get more involved to see what was being done … and I joined the Democratic Party back then to get a better understanding of how to get things done working with the elected officials,” she said.

In the press release, Anker cited her accomplishments during her time as a legislator as including chairing the county Addiction Prevention and Support Advisory Panel, addressing environmental issues through supporting the acquisition of open space to protect drinking water and cleaning up pollution in Long Island Sound, also initiating expediting the health permit process for businesses.

“As a Democrat who has represented a Republican district, I will continue to find common ground for the common good by bringing people together and setting politics aside,” she said.

If elected, Anker said her first priority would be to identify what the state legislators feel are Long Island’s main concerns in order to establish common ground to move issues forward.

“One of [the issues] we’ve had … was when the governor [Kathy Hochul (D)] came and she wanted to take control over local housing and development, and it wasn’t accepted in a positive way,” Anker said, stressing the importance of communication between the senators, governor and legislators “to try to understand where they’re coming from.”

Anker’s top priorities for the state Senate include supporting law enforcement and “working on common sense measures to keep New Yorkers safe, being a leader on policy to support clean water and open space funding, including ensuring that we receive our fair share of New York State Environmental Bond Act funds, supporting fair school aid so school districts have reliable and stable funding” and “supporting New York women’s right to choose and access to health care.”

“The reality is, the state Senate has a 42-21 Democratic supermajority, and the only way Suffolk County can get its fair share is to have strong voices in the majority who will fight for our Long Island values,” Anker said in the press release.

For more information, visit her website at sarahanker.com. The election will be held on Nov. 5.

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Constance Brown

Constance T. “Connie” Brown of Point Lookout and formerly of Stony Brook passed away on Feb. 7 at the age of 94.

She was the beloved wife of the late James E. and loving mother of Francis (Karen), Edmund (Christina), James (Deborah), Robert (Laura) and Thomas (Kristin); cherished grandmother of Megan (James), Denis (Alice), Kelly, Ryan, Daniel, Mairead, Kyle, Jacklyn, Chloe, Michael, Emily, Thomas, Erin, Matthew, Timothy and Kiera; proud great-grandmother of Eden; and adored sister of Eugene and predeceased by Wylie, William and Raymond.

Funeral arrangements entrusted to Charles J. O’Shea Funeral Home in Wantagh. Visitation was held Monday, Feb. 12, with a Mass of Christian Burial the following day at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal R.C. Church, Point Lookout. Final resting place is at Calverton National Cemetery

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Harry Meeker

Prepared by the Meeker family

Harry Alan Meeker of Melbourne, Florida, and East Hampton passed away on Feb. 5 at Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne after a fall in his home. At the time of his passing, Harry was surrounded by his loving family and the caring staff at HRMC. 

Harry was born on Aug. 18, 1927, in Mineola to Henry and Marie Meeker and was the eldest of six children. He is survived by his wife Joan of 70 years; his daughter Susan and son-in-law Jim Paul of Melbourne; his son Christopher and daughter-in-law Sally of Sound Beach; his son Stephen and daughter-in-law Eileen of Newtown, Connecticut; grandchildren Kyle, Owen and Peri; and great-grandchildren Ava and Silhouette; his youngest brother Jon; and his sisters-in-law Nancy, Anne and Kathy. He was predeceased by his brothers David, Roger and Peter, and sister Doris Benson.

Harry received his bachelor’s in education from Cortland State Teachers College in 1950. Throughout college, Harry participated in a variety of intercollegiate sports and was named a member of the All-American college lacrosse team. Immediately after college, Harry was drafted into the Army, attended Officer Candidate School and deployed to Korea where he served as a platoon leader in the 3rd Infantry Division. There he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and Combat Infantryman and Sharpshooter (Carbine) badges. Upon his honorable discharge from the Army as first lieutenant in 1953, Harry began his 31-year teaching career and received a master’s degree in education from Colgate University. Throughout his career as a high school math, science and physical education teacher in the Three Village Central School District, Harry took an active interest in his students often chaperoning hiking, camping and skiing trips. As the P.J. Gelinas Junior High School principal, Harry developed and chaperoned an international exchange program with a middle school in England.

Harry enjoyed the outdoors whether gardening, camping, canoeing, skiing, hiking, boating or sitting and watching the sunset. He drew his family along on many a mountain climb, canoeing expedition and camping trip. Cooking and planning the week’s menu was a passion that led to many an adventurous meal. He was a hard worker, a natural leader, a supportive friend, faithful husband and dedicated father. While working his way through college, he met his wife while delivering ice in the late 1940s. Harry and Joan were married on June 27, 1953, in Most Holy Trinity R.C. Church in East Hampton. Even into his 96th year, Harry referred to a refrigerator as the “ice box.” 

Interment with military honors will be on Wednesday, Feb. 21, at 10 a.m. at Cape Canaveral National Cemetery, Mims, Florida, with memorial repast immediately to follow. 

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations are considered to the American Cancer Society at www.cancer.org or the IRCC Foundation at colonyclub.com in Harry’s name.

Craig Herzkowitz. Photo courtesy Craig Herzkowitz

By Aidan Johnson

Three out of the four Democratic congressional candidates for District 1 — Nancy Goroff, Kyle Hill and Craig Herskowitz — attended a meet-the-candidates night at the Brookhaven Town Democratic Committee headquarters Tuesday, Feb. 6. During the meeting, the candidates addressed why they are running, their most important issues and policies they would support. The fourth candidate, former District 5 state Sen. James Gaughran [D-Northport], was unable to attend. The current congressional seat is held by Nick LaLota (R).

Introductions

Goroff, who has formerly served as the chair of the chemistry department at Stony Brook University, and previously ran for the congressional seat in 2020 against former Congressman Lee Zeldin (R), said that she was running “to protect our right to bodily autonomy” and “to build an economy that’s going to work for everybody,” along with environmental issues such as coastal erosion, climate change and water quality.

Herskowitz has interned for Sen. Edward M. “Ted” Kennedy (D) and Rep. Steve Israel (D). The candidate believes that his “judicial, legislative and executive experience, as well as criminal prosecution and criminal defense experience,” which includes him working at the Office of the General Counsel in the U.S. Marshals Service, the FBI and the Department of Justice, before being appointed as assistant counsel to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), before working as a criminal defense attorney and being appointed as an administrative law judge within the New York City Department of Finance, will allow him to connect with the congressional district. 

Hill went to graduate school at Stony Brook University, after which he worked for Israel on Capitol Hill, where he “became a health care policy expert.” He worked on rallying congressional support to update the organ transplant rules, and since coming back to Long Island, he has become a volunteer EMT and is involved with the Brookhaven Town Democratic Committee. He has become frustrated “every single day with [Congress’s] dysfunction,” and believes that by winning the CD1 seat, along with gaining a Democratic majority, Congress can function better. 

Health care

Hill would support passing the Social Security 2100 Act, which, among other things, would change the current law that caps earnings subject to the Social Security tax which, at the time the bill was introduced, was $160,200, but now stands at $168,600, to instead have earnings over $400,000 once again be subjected to the tax. However, all earnings in between would not be subject to the tax. He also said that it is necessary to build upon incentives for doctors and health care agencies to keep folks healthy and out of the hospital

Herskowitz said that he was “the only candidate in this race that’s supporting Medicare for All” and said that “we need to make sure people are paying their fair share of taxes,” and that “people that are damaging our environment are paying more for our health care system because they are the ones who are polluting our water, polluting our air.” He also said that “we need to find ways to ensure that Social Security is available to everyone.”

Goroff called Social Security and Medicare “two of our most successful government programs ever.” She said that it is necessary to “lift the cap on salary at which we take Social Security taxes,” adding, “That one change would make Social Security and Medicare both financially secure going into the future.” She also said that the age to receive Medicare should be reduced. 

Voter engagement

Herskowitz said that it is important to fight against misinformation, activate the voters and get people excited to vote, adding that a strong grassroots campaign was necessary to make sure “every single voter is touched, several times throughout the campaign, to make sure that people come out to vote.” He also said that it was necessary to appeal to the moderate center voters.

Hill said that “we’ve seen cycle over cycle that the Democrats who are coming out to vote have become fewer and fewer and more folks are registering as unaffiliated,” adding that it was necessary to figure out why they are not coming out to vote, and that it was necessary to have a message that brings out both Democrats and those in the middle. He said that Democrats need to lean into their strengths, citing issues such as infrastructure, drug pricing reform and the cost-of-living crisis.

Goroff said that in order to get people to vote who don’t automatically do so, or who vote for either a Democrat or a Republican, “it’s not about the issues, it’s about them believing that this person is going to represent them.” She said that she is committed to making sure voters know who she is as a person, educator and community leader, adding that it matters that they know they would have someone working hard for them “versus somebody who is just spewing talking points.”

Climate change

Hill said that he supports changing every car that the federal government owns to an electric vehicle, including from government agencies such as the post office. “We can use the purchasing power of the federal government to shape the market and make EVs more available, bringing down the price, make it more accessible, have more charging stations everywhere, and that’s something the federal government directly controls and already has its hands on,” he added.

Herskowitz said that it was necessary to move away from fossil fuels and invest in technologies that could remove carbon emissions from the atmosphere and nitrate from the soil and ground that leaks into the water. He also said that it was important to combat misinformation surrounding renewable energy.

Goroff said that the United States should be carbon neutral in energy production by 2035, and in transportation and buildings, along with the rest of the economy, by 2050. She supports the Inflation Reduction Act, which would invest in clean energy: “We need to be investing in clean energy and technologies now, making sure that we’re having proper oversight, and investing in new technologies for the future.”

Immigration

Goroff said that DACA recipients need a pathway to citizenship, and that it’s important to recognize the challenges for communities in getting resources for large numbers of migrants and nonnative English speakers. “The only way we can deal with that fairly is for the federal government to make sure that for school districts, like in Riverhead where they have very large numbers of nonnative speakers of English, that they’re getting adequate funding for those programs,” she said.

Herskowitz said that the vast majority of people who are in this country illegally do so by coming here legally and overstaying their visas, and clarified that coming to the border and requesting asylum is 100% legal, adding that more judges are needed to adjudicate asylum claims. “The migrants that are here want to work, and they should be able to work, and we should be able to expedite [that] so they can work, they can pay taxes, they can contribute to the economy,” he said, adding that comprehensive immigration reform was needed because “obviously the immigration system is broken.”

Hill said that it is necessary to address what’s causing the issues, “which is the rampant gang violence in Central America. Part of all of these comprehensive solutions has been greater investment in our southern neighbors to make sure there’s economic development [and] a reason to stay in their home.” He added, “Every time these comprehensive packages don’t end up happening, those things get left off the table.” He also said the budget, which Congress has yet to pass, would be an opportunity to address the concerns by “more appropriately [targeting] our foreign aid,” and better funding for the Department of Justice “so that judges can adjudicate asylum claims so that folks can enter society and be part of the society.”

The Democratic primary is on June 25. 

By Serena Carpino

Hundreds of patrons gathered in the village Sunday, Feb. 4, for the finale of the 5th annual Port Jefferson Ice Festival. The first part was held Saturday, Jan. 27.

The festival, organized by the Port Jefferson Business Improvement District and the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, had many activities, including live ice carvings, interactive games such as ice corn hole and ice mini golf, also horse and carriage rides. In addition, attendees could walk around and find ice sculptures purchased by local businesses. 

Retailers could purchase the sculptures for about $300, only half of what they cost to make. Many stores are in full support of the festival because of the business it attracts. 

“I’m totally in support, it brings people out certainly and this is a beautiful weekend,” said Mary Joy Pipe, the owner of East End Shirt Company. “People want something to do in the middle of winter and this is it. I mean, come out, be outside, bring your family and there’s a lot of activity a lot of things to do.”

Pipe explained that her business did not purchase a sculpture this year because of their proximity to businesses that did, but they have bought sculptures in the past. However, they did participate in a raffle that store customers “were able to engage in and we were happy to see them.”

Other business owners shared their love for the festival as well. “It’s a terrific event that brings a lot of happy people,” Sue Hoeffner, owner of Sea Creations, said. “Gets everybody out of the house in the cold weather. It’s such a perfect day, the sun is out. Everybody has a smile.”