Authors Posts by TBR Staff

TBR Staff

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

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Port Jefferson Village Board Trustee Bruce D'Abramo attends the Port Jefferson Dragon Boat Race Festival in Harborfront Park in 2016. Photo by Alex Petroski

By Liam Cooper

The Port Jeff Village elections, which take place Sept. 15, will elect the trustees for the Village Board. Trustees’ terms, which usually last two years, have been extended a few months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are two seats open, meaning that newcomer Rebecca Kassay, the owner of the Fox and Owl Inn, and current Trustee Bruce Miller will both be running uncontested. Nine-year Trustee Bruce D’Abramo will not be seeking reelection this year.

Rebecca Kassay, the owner of the Fox and Owl Inn in Port Jeff, announced she would be running for village trustee. Photo from Facebook

As a child, Kassay said she used to visit Port Jefferson, and has been in love with the shops and waterfront ever since. Now a Port Jefferson resident of seven years, she decided to run after attending several of the recent public meetings, and wanted a voice in their decisions. 

“We have such potential here as a small government,” Kassay said. 

She said she’s most excited about Upper Port development and working with developers.

“[I’m excited to] step into the next phase of Port Jefferson — be proactive about Upper Port development — reaching out to these developers and trying to work with them to get what is best for the village,” Kassay said. 

She said she believes that, as a business ownerm who has felt the wrath of COVID-19, she can add an interesting perspective to the board of trustees. On her Facebook page, she says she has experience obtaining COVID-19 relief grants and will advocate for outdoor dining at restaurants beyond COVID-19. Kassay said she is excited to be a trustee and make lasting decisions with the Board.

“I want my decisions to be good for the next 50 years, not just the next two years,” Kassay said. 

Current Trustee Bruce Miller, who has been on the Board for over eight years and has been a Port Jefferson resident for 45 years, is running again for his 4th term. Before being on the board of trustees, he was on the Port Jefferson school board for 12 years. 

“I like being able to contribute to the community — It’s fulfilling for me,” he said. “I’m trying to give back,” Miller said. 

Like Kassay, he is excited about  Upper Port development. Specifically, he’s looking forward to working with the architectural and parks departments. 

“There’s a new project close to approval, and I’m concerned with the architecture on it,” Miller said. “..It’s important to do it right. It will benefit the people who produce the buildings, rental potential, and the image of the village.”

Along with Upper Portdevelopment, Miller has plans with the Port Jefferson power plant.

“We want to get new green energy on the Port Jefferson power plant site,” Miller said. “A very long time ago, I saw we were going to have problems with the power plant.”

Bruce Miller is running for re-election. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Miller said he is excited to continue to work with the board.

“I give my time because I love my community and it’s rewarding to me — I have a vision for a better community,” Miller said.  

Current Trustee Bruce D’Abramo is not running for reelection. He has been on the board since he was appointed by Mayor Margot Garant in November of 2011.

“I’ve decided not to seek re-election as a trustee and I do it with a heavy heart — I’ve really enjoyed being here,” D’Abramo said at the Board of Trustees meeting Aug. 3. 

He has decided not to run to focus more time on family, specifically his granddaughter, his business, and to travel with the Port Jefferson Lions Club. 

Kassay and Miller will both be running for  uncontested seats. 

Voting takes place at the Village Center Sept. 15 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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File photo

Suffolk County Police 4th Squad detectives are investigating a motor vehicle crash that killed a motorcyclist in Smithtown Aug. 12.

Christopher Figueroa was driving a 2000 Nissan Pathfinder westbound on Carriage House Road when he made a left turn onto Route 25A and struck a northbound 2007 Honda motorcycle operated by James Shellock at approximately 11:20 p.m.

Shellock, 22, of Smithtown, was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Figueroa, 17, of Nesconset, was not injured. Both vehicles were impounded for safety checks.

Detectives are asking anyone with information on the crash to contact the 4th Squad 631-854-8452.

The North Country Peace Group stood outside the Setauket post office Aug. 12 to show support for the system. Photo from the North Country Peace Group

The North Country Peace Group, a local grassroots organization, held a vigil in front of the Setauket post office on Route 25A Aug. 12 to show support for postal workers and to express concerns that the Trump administration’s cutbacks in United States Postal Service services will undermine mail-in voting, according to a press release from the group.

About two dozen people took part in the hour-long demonstration, titled, Sound the Alarm: Attacks on the USPS Threaten Our Democracy. Several protesters went inside the post office to thank the postal workers and to deliver a message directly to the postmaster.

“Since President Donald Trump’s (R) new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy instituted cuts designed to slow down the mail, deliveries are languishing at postal hubs,” the press release read. “This year, with so many people choosing the safety of mail-in ballots due to the COVID pandemic, a delay in mail delivery could deny voters’ constitutional rights and egregiously impact the November election.”

Many drivers honked in support of the ralliers who held signs that read “Protect Mail-In Voting,” “Save the USPS — Save democracy,” and “Thank You, Postal Workers.”

METRO photo

Schools have been releasing their reopening plans — ranging from students attending full time to hybrid models — and many parents and teachers are buzzing with concerns.

We’re disappointed that some of our local districts did not reveal their reopening plans until the state deadline of July 31. We understand the massive undertaking it was to craft these plans and the number of people on committees involved to see it through, but many districts’ reopening data is long and convoluted. More effort can be made to present this reopening data in a digestible way.

It’s no surprise that Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has not yet created a blanket school reopening plan across the state. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for our school districts during a pandemic. Each one varies in size and number of students, teachers and space available. All this, of course, with an ax hanging over schools heads with state aid potentially being cut later this year.

The same is true for within a school district. Each student’s family is different. There are those who legitimately fear catching the coronavirus to the degree that it has kept them in lockdown even after some restrictions have been lifted. And while some have the luxury of having at least one parent being able to stay home if the local district offers a hybrid model, other families will be unable to provide the supervision their child needs.

Dr. Anthony Fauci and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended that schools across the country reopen as long as they put safety first. Cuomo, after reviewing the districts’ reopening plans, will be making a final decision later this week.  The governor has said that as long as infection rate averages over a two-week period stay below 5 percent, schools will be able to reopen to some capacity. Suffolk County currently hovers at around 1 percent. There is no guarantee that figure won’t increase in the future, especially considering the current case with states like California, which was heading in the same promising direction as New York until cases spiked to a current total of more than 525,000.

Here is the thing we have to understand, none of us will be happy. Nobody will get everything they want from current plans. In a normal year, every kid would be learning in school, desks spaced only inches from each other and halls crowded with kids.

A parent who relies on schools to watch their children while a parent or guardian is at work may not be able to afford a different kind of day care. Families that rely on school reduced cost or free lunches won’t have that option without a kid in school. Hybrid models only help with a portion of those issues, but it’s better than nothing.

Some parents ask why the district can’t provide learning options for students who stay home 24/7 while the rest go into their full-time or hybrid schedules. Districts are already hurting financially due to the pandemic. Many are taking from their fund balances just to afford the additional staff and resources needed to have some students in the classroom. Asking them to put further resources into the extra time it takes to help students at home may not be feasible for so many districts.

We are now in a situation where each family needs to look at their school’s plan and then adjust it to their reality. Districts should do all they can to keep residents in the loop on a consistent basis. Parents, for their part, must acknowledge no plan will be perfect. It will take both parties and compromise to get the best outcome for students while keeping the virus under control.

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Suffolk County police car. File photo

Suffolk County Police 4th Squad detectives are investigating a single-vehicle crash that seriously injured a woman in Kings Park Aug. 8.

Vincent La Rose was driving a 2006 Ford Mustang eastbound on Fort Salonga Road near the intersection of the Sunken Meadow Parkway when he swerved to avoid another vehicle that made a U-turn in front of him. La Rose lost control of the vehicle before it rolled over several times, striking a utility pole at approximately 2:25 p.m.

Dawn La Rose, 59, of Kings Park, a passenger in the vehicle, was seriously injured and transported via Suffolk County Police helicopter to Stony Brook University Hospital. Vincent La Rose, 63, of Kings Park, was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital with minor injuries.

The Ford was impounded for a safety check. Anyone with information is asked to call the 4th squad at 631-854-8452.

Local non-profit pivots fundraising effort and aids local farmers, community, and economy

The Smithtown Children’s Foundation has spent the last twelve years helping local residents in need. Funds are raised primarily by large gathering events. C0VID-19 has canceled all of those events for 2020. “We had to pivot just like every other business. Unfortunately, need is at an all-time high, when our funds are at an all-time low,” said Christine Fitzgerald, President, and Co-Founder of Smithtown Children’s Foundation. “We had to get creative.”

Farm to Trunk is the brainchild of SCF board member and former Nesconset Farmer’s Market Manager, Nancy Vallarella. “COVID related social media posts revealed local residents were ordering product from distributors that were sourcing produce from all over the country. With Long Island’s harvest approaching, why not organize a minimal contact delivery system that would help Long Island farmers, the local economy, and provide the consumer with the freshest, nutrient-packed produce available?” she said.

Red Fox Organic Farms, located on the property of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Brentwood, was the first Long Island farm to join this fundraising program. Jim Adams, Red Fox’s Farm Coordinator remarked,” We are thrilled and so grateful to be working with SCF. It’s just the connection we needed to begin sharing our food with the Long Island community.”

Smithtown resident Dawn Mohrmann has purchased the Red Fox Organic produce box for the past four weeks. “The Farm to Trunk Smithtown Children’s Foundation program has been an easy decision. A great foundation paired with great local, organic, farm-fresh food! Healthy produce for our family is what we look forward to every week,” said Mohrmann.

SCF’s Farm to Trunk will be bringing Sujecki Farms (Calverton), back to Smithtown as an additional produce provider for the Farm to Trunk Fundraiser. “Sujecki Farms has a following here in Smithtown. They have been an anchor in Smithtown’s Farmers’ Market history for over a decade,” said Vallarella. “They are a family that has been farming on Long Island for over 100 years. We welcome their products and are excited to continue to support their farming effort.”

All orders are placed directly with each farm and are delivered to Watermill Caterers, 711 Smithtown Bypass/Rt.347, Smithtown. Smithtown Children’s Foundation volunteers deliver the produce boxes to the customer’s car trunk from the southwest corner of the Watermill’s parking lot every Wednesday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. There is no on-going commitment. Consumers can order week to week.

Information on the program can be found on the Farm to Trunk — Smithtown Children’s Foundation Facebook.

Order links:

Red Fox Organic Farms —

Sujecki Farms —

Photos from Nancy Vallarella

Photo by Falcon Sahin


Falcon Sahin of East Setauket was in the right place at the right time when he spotted an osprey carrying a fish back to a nest in Cranes Neck in early July and captured this incredible shot. He writes, “This was a challenging photo. Had to wait until low tide to get close. But at the end it was worth the wait, getting wet and bitten by mosquitoes. “

Richard Anderson, a retired art teacher who now enjoys a second career as a wood sculptor, created “The Sages” from a tree stump on Old Town Road. Photo by Christine Petrone

By Kara Hahn

Kara Hahn

I was delightfully surprised as I drove along Old Town Road in Setauket last week to discover the tree sages that later graced this paper’s July 30th cover. The intricate carvings left me in awe of the artist’s talent and skill. It left me wondering who had the vision for this wooden sculpture. What were his motives? It left me wondering why anyone would ever want to grind a tree stump again? Public displays of art — whether officially sponsored or created by private citizens — enhance and refine a community’s culture, character and charm.

We are a community defined by our history, renowned for our cultural arts institutions and beloved for our strong sense of place. Creativity is central to how we identify ourselves.  Our landscape is full of beauty, both natural and purposefully fashioned; from stunning waterfront vistas to architectural masterpieces reflecting colonial heritage. Living up to our cultural legacy can be more than relying solely on what has already been made. We can continue to find new ways to augment that legacy, one creative project at a time adding to what amounts to our shared collection. We gain value through public art, not only by improving our aesthetics but by inspiring our imaginations. Public art invigorates and humanizes, it shapes a unique identity that acts as a beacon, attracting new visitors and potential new neighbors.

With growing fascination over “The Sages” could interest in public art installations continue to spread?  Will spaces we pass every day without a second glance now been seen in a new light? Can we continue to break up the bland and transform the same into the memorable? Art that reflects and reveals our collective heart?

For the past several years, community leaders have discussed potential new locations for place-making, transformational works of art. Let’s come together to find ways to enhance our existing beauty, inject our unique identity and add meaning where aging infrastructure is an eyesore. Adding to our public collection will undoubtedly have a tangible impact on how we define ourselves. Let’s revisit conversations about the train trestle over Nicolls Road, the medians along Stony Brook Road and other spaces of possibility. We are blessed with an abundance of art expertise in institutions like Gallery North, the Long Island Museum, Reboli Center and others. Let’s have an open dialogue with residents and experts on increasing the presence of public art and bolstering our local artists and the art community.    

The artistic and cultural influences present throughout our region have been central in defining who we are. On the eve of Gallery North’s annual Wet Paint Festival, we can all witness art as it is created, learn of its inspiration and marvel at the beauty left behind. Not only can we all celebrate unique installations like the “The Sages,” but we can make a conscious commitment to expand the visual intrigue of our community through public art. We will all be wealthier for it.

Kara Hahn is Suffolk County Legislator in the 5th District. She is also the deputy presiding officer of the legislature.


John E. Coraor. Photo courtesy of Heckscher Museum

Michael W. Schantz has stepped down as Executive Director & CEO of The Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington, fulfilling a ten-year commitment. The Board of Trustees has announced that John E. Coraor, a former Heckscher Museum director, has been named Interim Director.

“We thank Michael for a decade of effective and thoughtful leadership that has continued to propel the Museum forward as a cultural and educational center on Long Island,” said Robin T. Hadley, Chair of the Board of Trustees. During his tenure, Schantz guided the Museum through its most recent accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums, and built a qualified and dedicated staff while leading the Museum into its Centennial year.

John E. Coraor was Director of The Heckscher Museum from 1988 to 2000, and is a current Board member. Coraor begins his role as Interim Director effective immediately. He has more than four decades of professional experience in art and cultural agencies, most recently as Director of Cultural Affairs for the Town of Huntington. He holds a Ph.D. in art education from the Penn State University.

“John’s extensive experience and close ties to the Museum will make this transition seamless. The staff and Board look forward to working with him as we move ahead with the Museum’s 100th celebration,” said Hadley. The Board has formed a Transition Committee to lead the search for the next Executive Director.

Photo from Smithtown Animal Shelter
Photo from Smithtown Animal Shelter

This week’s featured shelter pets of the week are … kittens, kittens and more kittens!

Kitten season is in full swing and the Smithtown Animal Shelter has several adorable little ones to add to any family. Most kittens are between 10 to 16 weeks old and are spayed/neutered, tested and microchipped!  Come fall in love!

If you are interested in meeting the many kittens waiting at the shelter, please fill out an adoption application online at The Smithtown Animal & Adoption Shelter is located at 410 Middle Country Road, Smithtown. For more information, call 631-360-7575.