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TBR Staff

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.

Indian Hills Country Club. File photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

The Town of Huntington Planning Board will soon be releasing results from their research on the geographical region in their Final Environmental Impact Statement for The Preserve at Indian Hills project.

“In all of my communities, I reach out to area residents to gain their input to achieve the best results.”

— Jim Tsunis

Northwind Group CEO Jim Tsunis said he is determined to start construction on what he said would be one of the most extraordinary projects on the East Coast. The Preserve is a planned senior residential community through the construction of new units along the Indian Hills golf course and country club, giving residents views from what Tsunis describes as “one of the most beautiful country clubs on Long Island.”

The goal of Hauppauge-based developers Northwind and Nelson Pope Voorhis, land surveyors of Melville, is to respect the country club’s land while blending in a new community. They hope to see home values in the area soar over time. Tsunis’ development team said it has mitigated the environmental impacts from constructing these units through public input. 

“In all of my communities, I reach out to area residents to gain their input to achieve the best results,” Tsunis said.

NPV submitted a response detailing specific comments that were addressed to them through the gathering of town input, such as the requests for marked pedestrian crosswalks and maintaining steady traffic of vehicles, pedestrians and golf carts, all of which have been claimed to be resolved.

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement was designed in 2019 to gather public feedback and utilize it to adjust the project to bridge compromises between the developers and residents. The Town Board presented a notice of completion for the FEIS in August 2020. However, some in the community thought the inquiries were anything but complete.

“The Town of Huntington now has to do what they call a findings statement,” said John Hayes, president of the Fort Salonga Property Owners Association. “They write down their recommendations for the developers and the proposed development.”

Hayes and the association have opposed much of the development’s progress since the draft became viewable in 2019. He expressed his surprise once he found out the FEIS was proposed to be completed from what he calls “an understatement” that he and several local community members highly contest.

Of the total 86 units expected to be built around the Indian Hills Country Club’s perimeter, 36 of them reside a few hundred feet from a labeled coastal erosion hazard area. This 2,500-foot bluff of land is nestled between the Long Island Sound and the country club, chiseled by the rising water levels every spring and summer, washed away and cleared by the passing of every fall and winter.

“The problem is not only that you have this 2,500-foot fault line, but if you are going to build 86 houses, the nitrogen level is governed by wastewater. That makes it even more unstable.”

— John Hayes

Hayes detailed how the nitrogen levels in the Sound could increase with the new units’ construction.

“The problem is not only that you have this 2,500-foot fault line, but if you are going to build 86 houses, the nitrogen level is governed by wastewater,” Hayes said. “That makes it even more unstable.”

Tsunis and his team will require a preliminary subdivision approval from the Town of Huntington in order to start work soon.

The rate of shore recession proves worrisome for environmental professionals concerned that winter storms will continue to remove sediment on the beach and tear away at the base of the bluffs.

“It’s dangerous,” said state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), chair of the state’s Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation. “There’s a very large body of clay that runs along the base of the bluff. The weight of water in the soil is enough to squeeze toothpaste-like clay onto the beach every winter.”

Englebright and his state Assembly committee colleagues were able to measure the rate of erosion in the Baiting Hollow area of Riverhead, where they found dune forms that ran north and south, more than a mile in length from top to bottom. Today, he says that what is left is no more than a few hundred yards of dunes, the rest of which has been eroded since sea levels increased in the Sound.

While reviews for the Indian Hills project are still currently underway to maintain and improve the development shortly, there is still a distance between the property owners association and Northwind.

“We have never turned down talking with the developers,” Hayes said. “We met with them more than three times, and yet we have never been anywhere near an agreement.”

Photo from Councilman LaValle's office

On Feb. 24 Councilman Kevin LaValle and Suffolk County Legislator Nick Caracappa joined other community leaders in welcoming Lidl Grocery Store to Selden at their grand opening-ribbon cutting ceremony. Located in the Selden Plaza shopping center at 211 Middle Country Road in the former Best Market, the new store is the fourth Lidl location in the Town of Brookhaven, including Lake Grove, Patchogue, and Center Moriches. 

Lidl’s history dates back to 1973, when the first modern Lidl store opened in Ludwigshafen, Germany. With only three employees and about 500 products, this small store became the foundation of Lidl’s far-reaching expansion. During the 1990s, they began opening stores outside of Germany and within a few years, had stores all across Europe.

They now operate approximately 11,200 stores, are active in 32 countries, and employ more than 310,000 people globally. In June 2015, they established their U.S. headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, and now sell their award-winning products in more than 100 stores in nine states across the East Coast.

Leg. Nick Caracappa makes a statement during the grand opening of Lidl in Selden

“I welcome Lidl to Selden, as their commitment to Long Island has been steadfast. I look forward to them servicing our community as well. What makes Lidl a welcome addition to Selden is its commitment to environmental responsibility, and its effort to support groups in addressing hunger,” said Legislator Caracappa.                                                    

“I welcome the new Lidl food market to Selden and encourage people to stop by. They are well known for discount prices and for their community outreach, and I look forward to working with them in the future to benefit the Selden residents. Congratulations and good luck in the new location,” added Councilman LaValle.  

Pictured in top photo, from left, are Linda Miller, President of the Selden Civic Association; Lenore Paprocky, President of Greater Middle Country Chamber of Commerce; Robert Pepe, Lidl Selden Store Manager; Leg. Caracappa; and Councilman LaValle. 

Lidl is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more information, call 844-747-5435 or visit www.lidl.com/contact-us.

Stock photo

By Elissa Gargone

Elissa Gargone

If there’s one thing we’ve gained during this prolonged period of sheltering in place and social distancing otherwise known as the pandemic, it’s a deep appreciation for human interactions. Whether brief and in person as you say hello to your letter carrier, or digitally through a Zoom call with family or friends, these contacts make us feel good. They perk us up, stimulate our hearts and our brains and can brighten almost any day.  

Human beings are social creatures.  From the beginning of time, our connection to others has enabled us to survive and flourish. Spending too much time alone can leave us vulnerable to social isolation and loneliness, not to mention related health problems such as cognitive decline, depression, and heart disease. Fortunately, even at this time, there are ways to counteract these negative effects.

During the warmer weather, few of us hesitated to get outside for socially distanced get-togethers or walks, but winter’s chill presents another challenge.  While we can still bundle up for a walk or chat outside, most of us are more confined overall. Even so, getting out occasionally to be in the semi-distanced company of strangers can be invigorating.

Fortunately, our experience during COVID-19 has taught us some valuable lessons by further opening our minds to the great world at our fingertips through our keyboard, key pad and remote control device. At Jefferson’s Ferry Life Plan Community, we’ve strengthened our friendships and our resolve to stay in touch with the people in our lives, even if we have to step outside of our comfort zones.

While some people had an initial resistance to the digital world, most have come to eagerly embrace it and become adept and enthusiastic users. We’ve also adapted to using a number of the limitless apps available, from Zoom meetings to ordering take out, and from downloading podcasts to accessing art performances and information. We even have our own Jefferson’s Ferry app for the added convenience of fitness classes, entertainment, food and more from our devices.

Wherever you reside, social and digital media can introduce us to a whole new world of teachers, friends and entertainers. For many, Zoom, YouTube, FaceTime and TikTok have been a lifeline, keeping us connected with family, friends and even next door neighbors by providing laughs, new ideas, visits to nearby and faraway places and endless how-to videos. 

For the uninitiated, Zoom and FaceTime allow people to connect in real time video to socialize, hold meetings, go on a video excursion, and take classes. If you haven’t seen a loved one in a long time, FaceTime and Zoom are akin to a miracle. YouTube offers a vast compendium of content from performances to cooking and fitness classes of every description, and so much more. 

Your local library is a remarkable resource to entertain, educate and elevate emotional well-being. You can connect with fellow readers, travelers and lifelong learners through Zoom meetings and access an endless array of programming.   A phone call to the library or a visit to its YouTube channel can help you get online and get going to enjoy hours of fabulous programs and opportunities. 

Visit www.livebrary.com to access eBooks and Audiobooks (all you need is a Suffolk County library card) and go to your library’s website to explore its many offerings from the comfort of your home or bundle up and get out to experience nature, history and your overall environment in person on a beautiful winter afternoon. 

Either way you’ll experience a no or low-contact adventure in your own backyard. While we may be living through a time of more “at home time,” a whole world awaits at our fingertips. Make sure you take advantage of it. 

“Adventure isn’t hanging off a rope on the side of a mountain. Adventure is an attitude we must apply to the day to day obstacles of life.” — John Amat

Elissa Gargone is vice president of sales and marketing  at Jefferson’s Ferry Life Plan Community in South Setauket.

This article first appeared in TBR News Media’s Prime Times supplement on Jan. 28, 2021.

Flames shoot out from the O.B. Davis furniture store on Port Jefferson’s East Main Street. The building was fully involved when volunteers from the Port Jefferson Fire Department arrived at the scene. PJFD Collection

By Kenneth Brady

A ferocious fire erupted at the O.B. Davis furniture store on Port Jefferson’s East Main Street at 6:20 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 26, 1960.

Erwin McMullen, whose East Main Street grocery was across from the furniture store, heard the sound of shattering glass hitting the sidewalk as windows in O.B. Davis were blown out by the intense heat.

Irving Lee, chief of the Port Jefferson Fire Department, and his wife Laura were driving on the village’s Main Street heading toward the Elk Restaurant when he saw the mass of flames. Not wasting a second in turning his car around, Lee quickly shifted into reverse, backed all the way to the firehouse on Maple Place and took command of the situation.

“The store was fully involved when units arrived at the scene,” recalled Mike Lee, who witnessed the blaze as a teenager and would later become chief of the PJFD. “Flames were shooting out of the upper floors of the building.”

The volunteer firemen spent hours battling the fire and protecting exposures at the Presbyterian Church, Port Hardware and nearby homes before bringing the roaring blaze under control.

Despite the best efforts of the PJFD, plus mutual aid from neighboring fire departments, the building was completely destroyed in the inferno.

Volunteer firemen battle the roaring blaze at the O.B. Davis furniture store on Port Jefferson’s East Main Street. The ferocious fire claimed one life and destroyed a village landmark. PJFD Collection

The savage fire also claimed the life of Clifford Ivines, the store’s watchman and an over 50-year employee of O.B. Davis, whose body was later found in the building’s ruins.

“Not only did Port Jefferson lose a life and a landmark building in the devastating fire,” said longtime villager Barbara Schroeder who owns a prized desk bought at the O.B. Davis furniture store, “but also part of Port Jefferson’s history.”

O.B. Davis traces the firm’s origins back to 1858 when Elbert A. Raynor bought the late Ambrose T. King’s funeral parlor/furniture shop. The building was located approximately across from today’s Bridgeport-Port Jefferson ferry landing on East Broadway.

Raynor moved the firm in 1898 to East Main Street at Hotel Square. Upon Raynor’s death in 1914, Orlando B. Davis took over the business.

The company’s furniture and funeral divisions separated in 1935. The former continued its activities at Hotel Square while the latter began operations in a new home at 218 East Main Street.

In 1939, the existing furniture store was remodeled, and an addition was constructed to the west of the original quarters.

Built of steel frame and cinder block with stucco on the outside, the three-story addition provided elevator service, 15 model rooms and 17,000 square-feet of floor space. The front was faced with black porcelain and featured three show windows.

“At the time of the fire, one of the show windows at the furniture store included a beautiful canopied bed with white ruffles that I thought of buying for our newborn daughter Brenda,” remembered former Port Jefferson Mayor Sandra Swenk, “but the flames reduced everything to ruins.”

The twisted wreckage of what was once the largest retail furniture store in Suffolk County was hauled away after the fire. The Sil-Flo Building at 407 East Main Street, which houses the local United States Post Office, now occupies the site of the blaze.

Kenneth Brady has served as the Port Jefferson Village Historian and president of the Port Jefferson Conservancy, as well as on the boards of the Suffolk County Historical Society, Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council and Port Jefferson Historical Society. He is a longtime resident of Port Jefferson.

By Steven Zaitz

The inside of the Brentwood High School gymnasium is wallpapered with a half-century’s worth of championship basketball banners. 

League titles, Suffolk County and Long Island crowns are all on display, as the facade behind the north basket at Stan Kellner Fieldhouse holds a rich hoops history.

The most recent decoration behind that basket is a Suffolk County Class AA Championship placard that the Indians earned when they scalped Northport Tigers by 27 points, right before the pandemic struck a year ago. They were Suffolk County champs in 2019 as well.

Short season or not, Brentwood seemed to be on a mission to roll right through anybody that stood in their way in 2021. They had been putting up massive scoring numbers and were winning by 40, 50 or 60 points every night, just for fun. Newsday’s top ranked player for Long Island, senior forward Jordan Riley, who has committed to Georgetown University, averaged an astounding 33 points a game, and he hit that exact mark in Brentwood’s first round win over Commack on Saturday, an 83-49 rout. This Indians team was seemingly an unstoppable force.

Insert immovable object here.

“We didn’t care about any of that,” said Northport junior power forward Dylan McNaughton.  “Once the whistle blows, it’s their five guys versus our five guys. We are Northport.”

In one of the biggest upsets in recent high school basketball memory, the Tigers slipped past the Brentwood Indians, 58-56, on Sunday, to win the Suffolk County Conference I championship in a defensive yet thrilling contest that came right down to the wire.

“Our guys believed in the plan,” said an elated but exhausted Andrew D’Eloia, head coach of Northport. “We played a great brand of help defense, we rebounded well and we limited our turnovers. We have good players, we executed and we believed in each other. That’s the only way to beat a team like that.”

Senior guard and team captain Patrick Healy led the Tigers with 19 points.  He and backcourt mate senior Robbie Kennedy, who had 10, poked and prodded at the Brentwood defense, exploiting small cracks and getting to the rim.

“They didn’t want to give us the ‘3’,” Healy said. “Robbie and I took what they were willing to give us.”

The Tigers only made five 3-point shots on eight attempts, both statistics well below their average.

“Our goal is to get a good shot on every possession,” D’Eloia said. “Patrick and Robbie did an excellent job of running the offense, sharing the basketball and when they had an opportunity to take an open driving lane, they did.”

Going strong to the basket against Brentwood is not for the faint of heart, especially for Kennedy who gave away significant height to the men who were guarding him.

“It’s like that every game I’ve ever played,” said Kennedy, who is listed at 5 feet 9 inches. “I’m always the shortest guy on the floor but I make up for it with confidence in myself.”

He had enough confidence to make what would be the final and decisive bucket of the game with less than a minute to go, and the score tied at 54-54. He drove to the basket against Brentwood’s Marquese Dennis and Billy Lucate, slid between them with a semi-Euro step and banked it in with a right-handed scoop.

“It feels amazing,” said Kennedy on his winning shot. “I’ve been here for four years and this is a great way to end my high school career.”

To get the opportunity to play in this historic title bout, Northport had to beat a game Ward Melville team on Feb. 27. They did that with a 45-32 win in a contest that took place at Northport High School. Healy led the team with 15 points and forward Jake Santamaria posted 10.

Although the final margin was 13, the game was tight for three quarters and the Patriots even enjoyed a four-point lead at halftime. That enjoyment was short-lived as the Tigers blitzed Ward Melville, 24-9 in the fourth quarter.

Santamaria had all 10 of his points in that decisive quarter, and McNaughton grabbed six rebounds and had 11 total boards for the game. In the two games, McNaughton, who also plays linebacker and quarterback for the Tiger football team, had 21 points and 22 rebounds.

“Dylan is a smart, skilled player with a great basketball demeanor,” D’Eloia said. “He’s a three-sport kid, and he competes hard.”

Against Brentwood, McNaughton caught an elbow in the face in the first quarter and played with a bloody nose plug for the rest of the game, a fitting metaphor for the hard-scrabble style that propelled the Tigers to victory and will now give them the opportunity to redecorate the walls of their gym.

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Photo from the Middle Country Library

Amongst the Middle Country Public Library’s many historical artifacts are a few that explain just how far the area has come from its pastoral routes. The pictures and story below comes courtesy of a collaborative effort among the librarian staff.

For over 40 years, Aggie’s Bar and Grill (also known as Aggie’s Steakhouse), located on Middle Country Road in Selden, was the “local watering hole” for area residents. 

Aggie’s opened its doors in 1927 and was owned and operated by Agnes O’Hagan, who moved to the United States at age three from Calabria, Italy. Events at Aggie’s and their contributions to community life were a mainstay in Selden during these years. Celebrations like wedding showers, birthday parties, costume balls, amateur nights, card nights and St. Patrick’s Day parties were held there. The staff even formed a shuffleboard team, which participated in local competitions with neighboring teams in the area.  

Saturday nights would find considerable crowds enjoying 45 cent spaghetti and meat sauce, square dancing and other specialty dances with music provided by Aggie’s Brown Jug Mountaineers. An advertisement for a Gala New Year’s Eve Party was placed in the Patchogue Advance of Dec. 25, 1936 to publicize the event, which featured noisemakers, hats and souvenirs, music and entertainment, and a seven-course turkey dinner. Tickets cost $1.00 for this specially licensed nightlong event, which concluded at 8 a.m.  

In the summer of 1939, Aggie’s showed appreciation to their summer patrons by announcing “a surprise” for them on a Saturday night from 10 p.m. until midnight. 

The festivities included dancing to the music of Leonardi and his Club orchestra, and listening to the pride of Harlem, “Singing Sam” and Aggie’s customary entertainer, Eddy Kane. Earlier that summer, Aggie’s advertised their official Ham and Cabbage Summer Opening for the night of July 22 in the July 19, 1939 edition of The Mid-Island Mail. Performers included Don Ritchie and his Rhythm Masters as well as Eddy Kane and Virginia Servidio. 

These are just a few examples of the central role that Aggie’s Steakhouse played in Selden’s social world, bonding its residents in family, friendship and community for more than four decades. 

Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr.

By Rich Acritelli

In honor of Black History Month, Errol Toulon Jr. (D), of Lake Grove, is the first African American Suffolk County sheriff. Ever since his youth through the lessons that he learned from his father, Toulon has been motivated to achieve his duty and responsibilities.  

As a kid, he asked his father, a longtime correction officer, what he did for a living. His dad replied, “We rehabilitate individuals that are incarcerated, we never throw away the key and we try to help these people safely return back to society.” 

The story of Toulon Jr. began in the Bronx, where he was born in 1962, and he lived in the city until 1990. 

Yankee batboy

Errol Toulon Jr. as a Yankee batboy. Photo from Errol Toulon Jr.

A talented baseball player who excelled as a center fielder and a leadoff hitter during his high school and college years, Toulon had the unique chance of being a batboy for the New York Yankees in 1979 through 1980.  

He was in the locker room to observe the impressive leadership skills and character of the late Yankee great catcher Thurman Munson. In the Bronx, Toulon watched Billy Martin manage the baseball stars of Reggie Jackson and Bobby Murcer, and he also met boxing champ Roberto Durán.  

As a young man in the Yankee Clubhouse, Toulon encountered a young boy, and asked him his name. It was Hal Steinbrenner, who now owns the team after his father George. 

The former batboy ended up becoming the first African American sheriff of Suffolk County, and had a wonderful time being welcomed back by senior management of the Yankees. Players like Ron Blomberg and Mickey Rivers were pleased to see their former batboy who has always worked to protect his community. Still to this day, Toulon is an avid baseball fan who glowingly recalls his special time in pinstripes around the “Boys of Summer.”

City correction officer

Errol Toulon Jr., left, with Hal Steinbrenner, general partner of the New York Yankees.
Photo from Errol Toulon Jr.

During those earlier years, Toulon took the city correction officer exam, after he completed an associate’s degree in business.  As a 20-year-old, he became one of the youngest recruits within the New York City Department of Correction.  

He observed the older jails that were built from the 1930s through 1960s, were cold, secured with steel, and lacking any of the advancements of the penitentiaries of today. Early in his career, Toulon was impacted by watching inmates hold few liberties and living in poor conditions. 

There were dangerous moments during fights, riots and emergencies, that saw officers isolated and unable to see each other where their own safety was compromised. Over the years, Toulon has learned from these lessons to ensure the constant support of the current officers of his department.

As a lifelong officer, a captain and official, Toulon always follow the examples that were established by his father. Toulon Sr. was employed by the NYC Department of Correction for 36 years in positions ranging from officer to a warden at Rikers Island. 

From his dad, he learned the value of attention to detail and always treating his staff with the utmost amount of respect. Whether it was his junior years as a correction officer or as the present Suffolk County sheriff, Toulon never loses focus on the evolving complexities of operating the county system of imprisonment. Over the past decades, he has been involved in hostage crisis, handling drug abuse, attempted escapes, and seizure of guns and contraband that were smuggled into jails by prisoners.

Suffolk County sheriff

Gov. Andrew Cuomo administers the oath of office to Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr. during his inauguration ceremony in 2018. Toulon was joined by his wife Tina. File photo by Kevin Redding

Toulon has always believed in the necessity in analyzing the complexity of criminal justice problems that are always evolving. There was recently a major riot in St. Louis, where the inmates broke windows and set debris on fire. Always understanding the usefulness of information, Toulon’s Sheriff’s Office examines these situations by calling different corrections agencies around the country. They try to determine the root of local or national incidents and utilize these resources to be prepared to sufficiently handle these concerns in Suffolk County.  

Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) has worked with him through their tenures in office.

“Sheriff Toulon leads a proud department of men and women dedicated to upholding the law and running the Suffolk County Correctional Facility,” she said. 

There is always the major process of investigating prisoner grievances over health care, food, communication with family members, religious services and more. Toulon tries to improve these concerns before they materialize into a major crisis. 

During his career, he has dealt with the Ebola and swine flu outbreaks and the health implications within the jail environment. Through the determination to always contain the strength of these sicknesses, protective measures were already established within the county jails before the first COVID-19 case hit New York in last March.  

Due to the pandemic, new ways had to be developed to handle the services that were needed for the prisoners. Toulon’s office made a goal in always sharing current information on the threats and changes that COVID-19 presented to both the outside world and the jails. The virus prevented family visits, but prisoners were allocated two extra calls a week, pictures of loved ones were printed for inmates, and there were virtual substance and psychological programs. 

Professional and educational experiences

Errol Toulon Jr. with Yankees Mickey Rivers and Ron Bloomberg

Education has always been an important part of Toulon’s life which he has incorporated into his many correctional positions. He has a doctorate in educational administration, an advanced certificate in Homeland Security Management and an MBA.  

Since his election as sheriff, Toulon has spoken to many educational programs with local school districts to address the daily concerns that his department handles, always with a positive demeanor. 

VFW Post 6249 Rocky Point Comdr. Joe Cognitore has always viewed Toulon “as an upstanding and an energetic people person that has always protected our residents, worked well with community leaders, aided veterans that have fallen on criminal times in jail, and he has helped create local 9/11 memorials.”

For two years, Toulon taught at Dowling College as an adjunct faculty member. He planned to instruct students at St. John’s University, but was unable to do so due to his present position.  

Harvard University has invited Toulon to address its student body on his professional and educational experiences. While he enjoys his current position and is hopeful that he will be reelected to another term, Toulon enjoys teaching, and he would like to teach again. A leader with a tremendous amount of energy, there have been some personal battles that he has had to endure as a survivor of pancreatic cancer and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Whereas Toulon is determined to have a secure prison system within the county, provide resources and support for his officers, he also wants to ensure that prisoners do not return. Through the Sheriff’s Transition and Reentry Team, known as the START program, correction officers help inmates find housing, jobs, medical services and food, and to become productive and safe citizens. 

Mary McCue poses with her dog Abbie. Photo from Paws of War

By Kimberly Brown

Military members who served overseas are facing countless battles, even after their missions have ended and it’s time to return home.

McCue on duty overseas, below. Photo from Paws of War

Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse disorder are just some obstacles veterans have developed, making it difficult for them to adjust to a routine lifestyle again. Luckily, Robert Misseri, founded in 2014 Paws of War — a Nesconset-based nonprofit to support veterans with service dogs.

“It started out with requests from overseas from active military members who asked for our assistance because they knew I had experience with getting dogs over previously,” he said.

One thing led to another, and soon Misseri was receiving more and more phone calls from retired or disabled veterans who had learned what he was doing. They would share their stories with him about animals they left behind overseas, and how heavy it weighed on their heart.

Knowing their mental health struggles, the veterans began asking Misseri if he could provide them with a service dog.

“Our mission we felt was unique in a way because we were using rescue dogs,” he said. “We would train the dog and the veteran each day, hand in hand in our facility. We slowly started to learn, not from them, but from their families, friends and doctors that whatever we were doing was really working.”

The formula Misseri created worked and he credits the dogs for making such a significant impact on the veterans. What he also learned was that his organization created an alumnus among the veterans who have served in different branches overseas. When all together in the Paws of War facility the veterans became a family, and it made them look forward to coming to training.

“Learning their struggles, and then learning what these dogs can do for them was so important because they also knew that they were helping the dog,” he said. “This wasn’t a dog that we bred or we bought. This is a dog that also likely had come from a difficult situation. That’s why ‘Helping both ends of the leash’ is our motto.”

One of the many military members Misseri helped was Northport resident Mary McCue, a combat Marine Corps veteran who worked as an ammunition technician overseas. She was honorably discharged as a sergeant after she served for six years — two years longer than a typical four-year term.

“I loved it, I was having a blast meeting great people and having great experiences,” McCue said. “I was just really enjoying it at the time, but it’s a lot of traveling and you get a little burnt out. Sometimes it seems so surreal because it’s a whole different world and a whole different life, and sometimes I look back and think ‘Wow, I went to war.’”

McCue created a Facebook page, “Ammo Company! Good Times, Support and Reunions,” to give Marine veterans a platform to support each other through being home, adjusting and missing the Marine Corps.

“A lot of our members are all over the country, so it’s nice to have an outlet where we can reach out and talk to each other because we’re so far apart — and sometimes it gets pretty lonely,” McCue said.

After leaving the Marine Corps, she said she had a difficult time adjusting to civilian life. Missing the comradery that comes along with being a part of the Marines left McCue feeling isolated upon her arrival back home.

“Being in the military, you’re taught to tough things out,” she said. “You don’t complain, you don’t ask questions. You do the mission at hand or people die. So, when you come home, you’re this hard tough person and it’s hard to come to grips with the fact that you may have come home with some type of mental defect.”

“I was sick and tired of not being able to let go of ‘Marine Mary,’ — I wanted to exist as a Marine and a civilian because they were both a part of me, and I really didn’t know how to go about doing that,”

— Mary McCue

It took a long time for McCue to admit that she came back a different person. The many experiences she had packed into six years of service sat with her. After years of not reaching out for help, she finally built up the courage to get counseling.

“I was sick and tired of not being able to let go of ‘Marine Mary,’ — I wanted to exist as a Marine and a civilian because they were both a part of me, and I really didn’t know how to go about doing that,” she said.

A friend of McCue’s introduced her to Paws of War. Being in a better place in her life and always having a love for dogs, she thought a service dog would be a beneficial addition. A year ago, right before the country locked down because COVID-19 cases were increasing, Misseri told McCue he found a sweet golden retriever named Abbie who was rescued from an abusive home in North Carolina

“Of course, I immediately fell in love with her,” she said. “Our personalities match up perfectly. It’s such a blessing that she came into my life.”

Due to the COVID pandemic, McCue wasn’t able to start training at the Paws of War facility until August, but fellow clients, veterans and Misseri always kept in contact with her and Abbie, making sure everything was going fine.

“Once we started training, I found purpose in my life again,” McCue said. “Since Abbie was a rescue, she had her quirks coming in, too. She was definitely physically and mentally abused, so it was like she was helping me, and I was helping her.”

Being able to work with other veterans during training helped McCue, as they were all able to understand what each other went through, therefore providing unconditional support for one another.

Abbie is currently doing at-home Zoom training and, according to McCue, is very smart and doing a great job.

“Abbie has truly changed my life for the better, and I’m in debt to Paws of War for the rest of my life because they were able to make this happen for me,” McCue said.

To learn more about Paws of War, visit pawsofwar.org/donate-today.

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Margaret Ramann

Margaret Katherine Ramann died Feb. 22.

She was born Oct. 7, 1936, in Manhattan, to William and Christina Mullen.

Margaret and her husband, Albert, owned and successfully operated Bernard’s Restaurant in Coram and then Ramann’s Restaurant in East Setauket. Margaret and Albert moved to Florida only to return to New York and work in the restaurant industry until Al’s passing in 2008. They always worked together as a team and loved serving and getting to know their many loyal customers.

Margaret faithfully volunteered at Christian Aid Mission in Charlottesville, Virginia, from 2010 until 2015, assisting in the record keeping and financial divisions.

Margaret was predeceased in death by her husband, son Thomas and two older brothers, Joseph and John. She is survived by her son Timothy and his wife Frances of Fuquay Varina, North Carolina; daughter, Terese and husband Keith of Huntersville, North Carolina; six granddaughters Kimberly and Meghan of Holly Springs, North Carolina, Erika and Noelle of Huntersville, North Carolina, and Mariah and Shavaun of Cary, North Carolina; five great grandchildren Paul, Luke, Mark, Adeline and Clara. Margaret is also survived by her siblings Mary, James, Jeremiah, Kathy, Theresa, Bill, Vincent, David, Michael and many nieces and nephews.

Arrangements entrusted to O.B. Davis Funeral Homes in Port Jefferson Station. Visitation will be held Tuesday, March 2 from 9 to 10 a.m. Mass of Christian Burial at 10:45 a.m. at the Chapel at St. Charles, 200 Belle Terre Road, Port Jefferson. Interment to follow at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

The funeral Mass will be live streamed via Tribucast. Copy and paste the following link into your web browser to view the Mass. https://client.tribucast.com/tcid/80833180

In lieu of flowers the family has asked that donations be made in honor of Margaret to Hope House Ministries at 1 High Street, Port Jefferson, NY, 11777.

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Suffolk County Police Homicide Squad detectives are investigating the death of a cemetery employee who was killed while working in a grave in Mount Sinai Thursday morning.

Rodwin Allicock was working at the bottom of a grave, which was more than 7 feet deep, at Washington Memorial Park, located at 855 Canal Road, when the grave collapsed at approximately 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 25.

His co-workers attempted to dig Allicock out, but were unsuccessful. Allicock, 42, of Coram, was pronounced dead at the scene by a physician assistant from the Office of the Suffolk County Medical Center.

Officers from the Suffolk County Police Emergency Service Section as well as Suffolk County Fire Rescue coordinators, representatives from the Suffolk County Department of Public Works, and members of the Middle Island Fire Department, Hagerman Fire Department, Selden Fire Department and Setauket Fire Department responded to the scene. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was notified and is investigating.