Authors Posts by 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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Ward Melville High School. Photo by Greg Catalano

By Mallie Kim

Three Village Central School District plans to cut 30 full-time positions, primarily instructional staff, according to Superintendent of Schools Kevin Scanlon. 

The cuts are a result of declining enrollment — district data shows the student population dropped by more than 1,500 over the last decade — and the need to stay within the 2.65% tax levy increase cap the district has calculated based on state regulations for the 2023-24 budget.

“It’s unavoidable,” Scanlon said at a March 8 Board of Education meeting, noting some 75% of the school budget is payroll. “We simply don’t have enough money to sustain where we’re at right now, financially.”

Scanlon said that cuts would not lead to larger class sizes or affect programs already in place, but rather bring staffing more in line with student population levels. Excess positions will be both in elementary and secondary, he said, adding that instructional staff will be most affected because they make up the majority of employees, and the administrative team already made cuts last year.

The meeting was a step in the process of developing next year’s school budget in advance of the May 16 community vote, which will take place in Ward Melville High School’s gymnasium.

Cost increases due to inflation have added budget challenges for the school district, according to Deputy Superintendent Jeffrey Carlson. The part of the tax levy pegged to inflation can only increase by 2% but inflation in the United States at the end of last year was 6.5%.

“It’s killing us, everything is costing so much more,” Carlson said. “We’re really going to learn the difference between ‘we need something’ and ‘we want something.’”

But, Carlson said, at this point that won’t mean taking away aspects of Three Village that make it a desirable district. These include special education services, a topic that often comes up in budget conversations since the district educates students with special needs in-house as much as possible. According to Carlson, this makes the district’s per-pupil cost appears to be higher than neighboring districts, because costs associated with sending students to BOCES programs are not figured into a district’s per-pupil expenditure numbers, while costs for in-district services are. 

Carlson said at the meeting he is often asked why Three Village provides more special education services than legally mandated.

“Well, of course we do,” he said. “We give more than is mandated to all of our students,” adding that pre-K, sports, clubs and universal busing are also not mandated. “I don’t think we’d be proud of ourselves as a district if all we did was the bare minimum.”

The board is advocating with local politicians for the inflation-based cap to reflect real world inflation, Scanlon said, out of concern the rates might continue to soar. 

“We are lucky for next year where it’s not going to affect programs,” he said. “But if it continues at this [rate], it will.”

The district is also seeking additional revenue streams, according to Scanlon, like renting out portable buildings to BOCES and taking on more tuition-based students from other districts. Carlson added that the district would raise rates for after-school care, enrichment programs and facility rentals for private programs.

“We certainly have not kept pace with inflation over the years,” Carlson said, adding the district has seen these programs as a kind of community service. “But those items, too, are costing more and more and more.”

The budget conversation comes just over a month after the district was labeled “susceptible to fiscal stress” by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli (D). Carlson said this designation did not come as a surprise and reflects too little money in district reserves. Three Village spent nearly $7 million in reserve funds to keep schools open full time during the 2020-21 school year, with a virtual option. 

Carlson expressed pride that Three Village was one of the few districts nationwide to maintain full-time, in-person learning during the pandemic, and said refilling the coffers is a priority. He added the district is in the middle of a plan to replenish this rainy day fund over several years.

“We would love to be in a position where hopefully nothing like that ever happens again, but if it does, we could do that again if we wanted to,” the deputy superintendent said.

The board opened its meeting with a moment of silence to remember R.C. Murphy Junior High student Qamat Shah, who was struck and killed by a car while riding his bike on Thursday evening, March 2. He was 14.

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By Mallie Kim

The results are in. Across stakeholder categories, the clear favorite in Three Village Central School District’s restructuring survey was Option B, moving up both sixth and ninth grades to mean the two middle schools would house sixth through eighth grades, and the high school would house grades nine through 12.

Option A represented maintaining the current configuration with kindergarten through sixth grade in elementary school, seventh through ninth in junior high, and grades 10-12 in high school; Option C would have moved up only ninth grade; and Option D was the Princeton Plan, which would have split elementary schools and placed upper and lower grades in separate buildings. All four options, including Option B, left open the future possibility of closing or repurposing an elementary school.

Among district parents, staff, secondary students and the community at large, the data followed very similar trends, with the status quo coming in a distant second place when all four options were ranked against each other. “We’re so often told that different groups are in conflict with one another — schools and parents and teachers and politics,” said Deirdre Rubenstrunk, the district’s executive director of technology, at a special meeting to present survey results to the Board of Education on Monday, March 13. “But here we got to see in this data a real alignment of where people want to go, and as a school district administrator, that was really reassuring.”

The strategic planning committee recommended the board adopts Option B, but BOE president Susan Rosenzweig said they would take their time making a decision.

“We are not in a rush to make this vote; there’s a lot to consider,” she said, pointing out that there were many helpful comments and concerns written in the survey responses, especially from some forward-thinking teachers who had suggestions from the front lines. “We’re going to do what’s absolutely the very best for the kids but while remaining within our fiduciary responsibilities.”

Restructuring plans are separate from the budget planning currently in process for the 2023-24 school year, but restructuring is under consideration because of declining enrollment trends and other budget concerns.

Even if the board votes to adopt Option B in the coming weeks, that would mark only the beginning of the work, according to Superintendent of Schools Kevin Scanlon. Whatever the board decides, he said, “the work then begins for the employees of the district — the administration, the staff.” 

If Option B moves forward, Scanlon said, district staff would need to go through all the nitty gritty details to figure out logistics, such as moving instructional staff, adjusting curriculum and planning to have enough guidance counselors in the right school buildings. That work, Scanlon said, would need to be finished by next December to make implementing changes for the 2024-25 school year possible. “We want to do this properly,” he said. “We don’t want to rush at this.”

Scanlon mentioned that making secondary school start times later, the part of the strategic planning committee process that wasn’t included in the survey, was still high on the administration’s priority list, but they have not yet figured out logistics and finances. 

The district plans to schedule four informational meetings in coming weeks, two at night and two during the day, to explain the survey results to interested parents and community members. In the meantime, the results — including comments — are posted on the district’s website and can be found by clicking on the “District” drop-down menu and selecting “Committees.”

By Greg Catalano

The Friends of St. Patrick held the 71st annual Miller Place-Rocky Point St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday, March 12.

In a grand spectacle, marchers walked along the parade route of Route 25A from Miller Place to Rocky Point. The event featured countless community organizations, business groups and performers.

— Photos by Greg Catalano

Photo courtesy Stan Loucks
By Stan Loucks

Let’s return to a small high school in Cherry Valley, near Cooperstown, where I was an all-county athlete in three different sports. The school was small, and the village was also small, to the extent that I could not fulfill my goals to work with and help people and different organizations. 

After high school graduation, I went to SUNY Cortland, where I majored in physical education and health education. This was perfect. I knew this would lead me to a career that would also allow me to work with children and adults. As a senior, I was fortunate to meet Peggy Ulmer, who eventually became my wife. 

Graduation came quickly, and I landed on Long Island, where schools were expanding and springing up all over Nassau and Suffolk counties. I took a position in the Plainview-Old Bethpage school district as a physical education teacher. Wow, 13 schools and over 10,000 students. Indeed, it wasn’t Cherry Valley. 

Over the next 34 years in Plainview, I moved from teacher to athletic director of the junior high to athletic director of the high school and eventually to districtwide director of athletics. Every day of every year, I was doing what I loved, working with youngsters and adults in classrooms and various athletic facilities.

In 1980, we bought land and built our home in Port Jefferson. This was one of the best decisions we ever made. I immediately joined the Port Jefferson Country Club to play tennis and golf. I volunteered to serve on the tennis board and eventually became its chair. I also ran for a position on the board of governors, was elected and became the chair of that board. I was forever expanding what I loved doing, giving my time to make things better.

Then in 1995, retirement came along. Now what? A major part of my time became open and empty. I turned to the country club, where I volunteered to work as chair of the greens committee. That committee work eventually led to my appointment to the country club’s management advisory committee. I was elected chair of that committee in 2005 and served until Mayor Margot Garant finally twisted my arm enough to run for village trustee. I am at a point now where I am asking to continue working for the betterment of our community. 

I often hear the comment, “I want to finish what we have started.” Well, I know that there is no finish. A challenge is always waiting to be solved, fixed, improved or implemented. I welcome each one and will work tirelessly toward success. Do we always reach what we want? No, but I guarantee 100% effort.

My vision going forward involves maintaining our infrastructure, providing a safe community through solid code enforcement, providing an all-encompassing recreation program, upgrading our beautiful parks and beaches, finding new sources of revenue and working to keep our budget under control. These items are the responsibility of the entire board of trustees.

More specifically, each trustee is the liaison to a different facet of our village government. Currently, I am the liaison to the parks department, which includes all of our parks and beaches, and liaison to the country club. I know that many of you have never had the opportunity to see the entire club, and I would love to show it to you. Call me at 631-275-3730 or email me at [email protected], and I will give you a tour of your club. 

The country club serves over 500 members, runs on a $2.9 million budget, increases all of our property values and costs the nonmember resident zero dollars. Yes, your country club is totally independent while still being a wonderful village asset. 

We are working on expanding the social aspect, which should be present at the club. We have constructed a beautiful patio with a barbecue station and a separate patio that contains a firepit. 

The club employs two full-time certified PGA professionals who offer group and private lessons and clinics, and camps for all ages. These camps, clinics and lessons are available to everyone.

We are excited that we will have access to East Beach this summer. To that end, the parks department is renovating both bathrooms at the beach and also bringing those kayak racks back into our system. To learn more about your club and parks, visit or

So, we not only found out how I became a trustee, but we discovered what I have done, what I am doing and what I can do moving forward.

Tenzin Tanaka playing on a swing set at his mother’s home. Photo by Samantha Blandi
By Chris Mellides

When a family member is diagnosed with cancer, the road ahead can be hard and uncertain. And when this diagnosis befalls a child, the situation appears even more dire. While it can be difficult for families affected by this disease to seek assistance, it is all the more meaningful when a community answers the call and comes together to offer its support.  

At a Comsewogue School District Board of Education meeting Feb. 6, Colleen Tanaka, a care coordinator for kids with special needs and single mother of two, stood to address the room. She shared the story of her 8-year-old son, Tenzin, who in June 2022 was diagnosed with T-ALL leukemia. Tanaka’s eldest son, Paxton, has been attending school, though Tenzin has yet to do so since the family’s move into the district.

Tanaka said that when her youngest son began feeling unwell he was taken to see his pediatrician, an ear, nose and throat doctor and an allergist. Tenzin was originally diagnosed with parainfluenza virus type 3, which can cause a variety of respiratory illnesses and was in line with some of the symptoms he was experiencing. This would ultimately be determined as a misdiagnosis. 

“He really was just very fatigued, not keeping down food,” Tanaka said. “They put him on medication and within two days he was vomiting water. The poor kid could not stand without wanting to pass out and his lips were just bloody and chapped.”

When Tenzin was admitted to the emergency room at Stony Brook University Hospital, the mother said that the doctor examining him was visibly concerned, immediately calling for bloodwork, followed by an X-ray to rule out the presence of any tumors, according to Tanaka. 

Tenzin was officially diagnosed with leukemia on June 2 and was immediately admitted into the hospital for further treatment. 

“I think the biggest thing is that this child went from being a typical 8-year-old whose biggest worry was getting up and going to school to, like, we almost lost him the first night,” his mother said. “He was that sick.”

One of the attendees at the Feb. 6 meeting was Joan Nickeson, who sits on the facilities and legislative advocacy committees at CSD. Nickeson sat directly behind Tanaka and, upon hearing the mother speak, described feeling as though “the planets aligned.” At the close of the meeting, Nickeson asked Tanaka whether there was anything she could do to help. 

“I immediately asked if she had a Venmo account and donated some money because she revealed that she was a single parent,” Nickeson said. “When families are faced with these sort of diagnoses, often one parent in a two-parent family loses their income to care for their child, and she’s a one-parent income family.”

Tenzin’s story also drew the attention of the school board, including BOE trustee Rob DeStefano, organizer of the Terryville Volunteer Connection. Board members, along with the district’s superintendent of schools, Jennifer Quinn, spoke with Tanaka, offering supportive suggestions and well wishes.

“I felt like I moved into this district and nobody knew what was going on with our family,” the mother said. “It wasn’t until I went to the board meeting and then the outpouring started.”

DeStefano said that since learning about Tenzin and his family, he has noticed a massive response from the community.

“Hearing any of our neighbors enduring this challenge is initially a gut punch for sure,” he said. “But upon processing the situation, the response is to explore ways to assist and ensure they know they are not alone.”

As the organizer of the Terryville Volunteer Connection, DeStefano works with community members to help champion local causes. The goal of the group, he indicated, is to connect residents with causes that build pride and spread good throughout Long Island. 

“The connection among our local residents, our schools and the students within is strong,” the school board member and volunteer organizer said. “We are a family of Warriors and that is once again proven by the awesome outpouring of support we’re witnessing here.”

Paxton Tanaka, left, plays with his younger brother, Tenzin, at the Tanaka residence. Photo by Samantha Blandi


As a local resident with three children attending Comsewogue School District, Laura Feeley took a creative approach to helping Tenzin and his family during their time of need, starting a district-approved T-shirt fundraiser that went live on Feb. 8. 

The red shirts for sale are emblazoned with a yellow lightning bolt on the front, reminiscent of the logo worn by DC Comics’ The Flash, Tenzin’s favorite superhero. The back of the shirts bear the name Tenzin’s Fan Club.

Feeley said that there has been a fair number of T-shirts already sold, adding that she hopes the fundraiser will reach 200 shirts in the near future. 

“I thought it would be a great idea to not only show moral support by wearing the T-shirts, but also raising funds,” she said. “I think people need to know how much mental, monetary and social strain it puts on not only the child but the whole family.” 

Feeley added, “It’s a devastating disease and holds so many negative repercussions. This is why I think the shirts are a great idea — it’s showing the family we care enough about them to show it on our backs. Tenzin is a strong fighter who deserves all the support that we can give him, along with his family as well.”

A GoFundMe was created by a close friend of the Tanaka family at the time Tenzin was diagnosed. It has already raised over $16,500 as of March 7. The mother, while appreciative, said that the experience felt strange to her and that she wasn’t keen on the idea at first. 

“It was a lot to process, but it was a saving grace because I was able to pay some of my bills at that point,” Tanaka said. “I’m very fortunate that I have people that know my situation, care about me and went out of their way to make sure that in that time there was something in place because I don’t know what I would have done.”

In addition to the GoFundMe page, a program through Meal Train was created for Tanaka’s family, which the mother is grateful for and helps her take her mind off of cooking for her children after sometimes spending all day at Stony Brook Cancer Center where Tenzin receives his outpatient care.

Asked about her experience with Meal Train, Tanaka expressed her appreciation for the service. “It’s almost like a website that gives a little information on the family and people can go on there and pick dates that they either want to cook a meal and bring it to us, send a meal or donate money,” she said.

The Tanaka family enjoying a day together at their home. Left to right: Tenzin, Colleen and
Paxton. Photo by Samantha Blandi

A great kid

Tanaka said that while Tenzin is currently on a feeding tube and undergoing chemotherapy, his medical team has recommended that when the third grader feels hungry he should eat. 

The mother said that her son’s favorite place to eat is at Applebee’s and that she has lost count of the number of times she’s had to make Uber Eats and DoorDash orders to be delivered to the hospital. Later, Applebee’s became more involved with the family and has even pledged to donate Tanaka a meal each week while Tenzin is receiving care. 

“I guess one of the PTA moms or somebody had reached out to Applebee’s and told them that this kid loves it,” Tanaka said. “And they had given us a couple of gift cards and things. So, we actually went there and he got to sit and actually eat there. I know it sounds crazy, but to him that was the best part of his day.” 

When asked to describe her son, Tanaka was forthcoming. “He is quite the individual,” she said. “Tenzin is very headstrong, determined and he’s always been that way.” 

Tenzin’s mother added, “He’s very into Minecraft

and Lego building. He’s probably one of the kindest 8-year-olds I’ve ever met — just very empathetic, always thinking of others before himself. He’s just a great kid.”

Quinn conveyed just how welcoming the district has been to Tenzin, despite him being a newcomer. She also noted how endearing the community has been in assisting him and his family. 

“I can’t express how proud I am to live and work in a community that is always so willing and able to step up and help anybody when they’re in need, like true Warriors,” she said, adding, “Tenzin is the definition of a Warrior.”

The superintendent added, “I think the big takeaway is how brave he is and how as I said before, no child should ever have to face something so terrible. But we’re going to be here with him. … We’re really looking forward to him getting past this and putting it behind him — and living a full, happy life.”

Correction: In the print version of this article, we reported an incorrect timeline for Tenzin Tanaka’s recovery. Tenzin is expected to receive treatment until October 2024, not this spring, according to his mother. We do regret the error.

Pixabay phoro

Community choice aggregation is a nationwide revolution in energy procurement with transformational implications for Long Island.

The benefits of CCA are threefold. It offers ratepayers an avenue for lower energy costs. It introduces competition into the energy marketplace, incentivizing public utilities to deliver a better product. And it places entire communities down a path toward 100% renewable energy.

The popular fiction is that fossil fuels are cheaper and more efficient than their expensive and immature renewable counterparts. CCA proponents challenge this thinking, stipulating that renewables can outperform fossil fuels with the proper economic structure, a structure supporting energy consumers instead of suppliers.

Classical economics indicates that one company controlling the entire supply of a given commodity constitutes a monopoly. Since the Industrial Revolution, vertically integrated utilities have exercised exclusive control over the supply of energy, setting prices arbitrarily and controlling the market at will.

CCA seeks to flip this dynamic on its head, introducing competition into the energy market using the bulk-buying power of a community of people. Though they are opted in automatically, ratepayers can opt out at any time at no expense. More importantly, CCA gives municipalities a choice over the energy source, with the option to select renewables over fossil fuels.

Competitors’ cheaper, greener power may incentivize utility companies to deliver a better product. If consumers want affordable and renewable energy, the utility’s rational choice would be to invest heavily in renewables and reduce rates. Competition spurs innovation and growth, benefiting all parties.

Here at TBR News Media, we hold that local governments must be highly active and potent and challenge the centralized bureaucracies in Albany and Washington when those fail to deliver meaningful results for our communities. For too long, state-regulated utilities have not done enough to counteract the effects of climate change.

A U.S. Energy Information Administration report notes, “In 2021, renewable sources and nuclear power, together, supplied 54% of New York’s total in-state generation from utility-scale and small-scale facilities.” For New York state to reach its energy goals under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, the report indicates that figure must climb to 70% by 2030.

To meet this task, local governments must do their part, negotiating on behalf of their residents for 100% renewable energy. CCA offers our local officials the means to fulfill this end.

The Town of Brookhaven recently instituted a CCA program for a two-year fixed rate on natural gas prices. Given the volatility of today’s international gas markets, Brookhaven’s program has potential cost benefits.

However, the town has only dipped its toe into the greater CCA dialogue. A gas-exclusive program offers merely the financial rewards of the CCA model without the reduced greenhouse gas emissions. We encourage Brookhaven leaders to study the Town of Southampton’s model, where electricity may soon be procured from 100% renewable sources.

In the meantime, other municipalities should take a close look at CCA. The portside Village of Port Jefferson — already grappling with the hazardous effects of coastal erosion and worsening flooding — could send a strong message by joining this effort. Other municipalities, such as the towns of Smithtown and Huntington, could do so as well.

CCA is a cost-effective, market-friendly and environmentally sustainable policy. For residents and the natural environment, it is time for all our local leaders to take it seriously.

Indu, left, with sister Kiran Wadhwa at The Meadow Club’s new garden area. Photo from Indu Kaur

By Mallie Kim

Indu Kaur was destined to rise from the ashes.

Indu, right, celebrating Christmas with her sister Kiran and her mother several years after the train accident. Photo from Indu Kaur

Kaur, who runs The Meadow Club banquet hall in Port Jefferson Station and the Curry Club at SāGhar in Port Jefferson, was born in Afghanistan and survived a series of tragedies to become the woman she is — dedicated to family, exuding confidence and poised to solve the next problem.

In the early hours of July 14, 2018, as she watched flames shoot from the roof of The Meadow Club, Kaur made a promise. “‘The tragedy that happened to us will not happen to anybody else,’” she recalled saying to her father and business partner, Kulwant Wadhwa, thinking about the christening and wedding they were scheduled to host that day. “‘We will make sure everybody’s celebration goes on.’”

And she did, together with her father and sister Kiran, the club’s creative director. Within hours, they secured a new venue and redirected staff members and guests.

Long before Kaur was running hospitality businesses, she was a small girl gathering eggs for breakfast outside the earthen home in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, she shared with her parents, grandmother, great grandmother, aunts and uncles. Life felt simple inside the multigenerational Sikh home. Kaur remembered the whole family eating meals together, sitting on traditional hand-sewn floor mattresses. After dinner was the real treat: “The whole family would do this beautiful dance, and then smile, laugh, just be free,” she said.

Outside the home, things were not so free or peaceful. In 1979, when Kaur was a toddler, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. The United States supported the anti-Soviet rebellion of the Afghan mujahideen guerrilla fighters.

Kaur’s ancestors had immigrated to Afghanistan from India several generations before, and Kaur’s father, Wadhwa, who took over his own father’s job as pharmacist and family provider at age 15, remembered the nation with affection. “The country was very safe before the Soviet Union,” he said, recalling there were even buses of American tourists. “It all changed.” 

Indu, in chef hat, with her managers and sister.
Indu runs the omelet station at brunches. Photo from Indu Kaur

Smaller communities like Jalalabad became hotbeds of fighting, so in the early 1980s, Wadhwa decided to move his family to the relatively safer capital city of Kabul, where his pharmacy business thrived and the family’s lifestyle improved. They had running water, raised wooden beds and a proper school, but also a backdrop of fear, with unpredictable fighting and bullets flying. “Seeing our parents not smiling or not dancing after dinner was something we really missed,” she said. 

Worse, stray bullets twice hit close to home: One bullet struck a girl at Kaur’s school, and another killed her cousin Harpreet, who was only a couple years older than Kaur. “It could have been me,” she said.

Kaur’s grandmother shielded the children as best she could, trying to bring fun into daily life. “I used to look forward to coming home and washing dishes,” Kaur said, remembering her grandmother would let dishes pile up so the two of them could wash up together after school. “I enjoyed getting wet in the soapy water, and then she would get the hose and, you know.”

In February 1989, the Soviet soldiers withdrew from Afghanistan, and for non-Muslim minorities, life worsened further. Wadhwa remembers the mujahideen, predecessors of the Taliban, told the Sikh community, “‘You guys have three options: You guys either leave the country, or die here, or you can work to be a Muslim,’” he said. “They wanted a nation of only Muslims.”

Wadhwa made plans to uproot the family once again, but not before they faced danger one more time.

Early one morning while everyone was still asleep, mujahideen soldiers came into the house, and Kaur was too far distant to reach the basement hideaway she usually crowded into with the other women and children when soldiers came around. While her father stalled the men, her grandmother laid her on a bench, Kaur recalled, and covered her with a blanket to pretend she was a cushion. “My grandmother sat on me to hide me,” Kaur said, and she remembered listening with horror to the threats and demands of the mujahideen. “They beat my dad up, big time.”

From Afghanistan to India and the U.S.

When safely in India, the family’s lifestyle improved again. Wadhwa restarted his pharmaceutical business and was more successful than in Kabul. They would once again, Kaur said, “rise up stronger.”

Indu, left, with her family in India. Photo from Indu Kaur

Kaur, 13 years old when she arrived in Delhi, attended a British school to fill gaps in her education and learn Hindi and English. She also learned what it meant to be a “country girl” refugee wearing big bows and flowery clothes, among young teens who had an eye for glamor. The bullying was brutal, and Kaur said she did what many adolescent girls around the world do — she plucked her eyebrows and changed her style to fit in. One bright spot was “a beautiful British teacher in a sari,” who inspired the confident posture Kaur still holds today, and also taught her what turned out to be a helpful survival tool — the British “stiff upper lip.” She remembered, “Always, spine straight, look straight, perfect expression.” No matter what emotion, “I could take control and just figure it out.”

This skill was vital when, at age 19 in 1994, she arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport as a new bride in an arranged marriage, a common custom in Indian culture. The day the marriage offer came, Kaur remembered Wadhwa asking if she was OK with it. Kaur reflected on how Wadhwa had led the family so far, and told him, “Whatever you do is always good for us, so [I’ll follow] whatever decision you make.”

She faced settling into life in the United States the same way she faced that first meeting with her future husband at JFK: When things were overwhelming, she went with the flow. “I was very good at smiling and keeping it quiet and having a stable face,” she said. “Emotions were always very internal.”

Internal, but not gone. Kaur is a woman who feels deeply but acts decisively. When she tired of feeling lonely in Delaware and then in Virginia, Kaur built skills, first in retail and computers, and then in banking, working her way up from teller to commercial loan inspector within a couple years. “I was a thriver, I wanted to learn,” she said. “I was eager and hungry for education and doing well.”

Kaur’s parents and younger sisters immigrated to Suffolk County as asylum seekers soon after Kaur’s wedding, once again leaving everything behind. Wadhwa built a completely new career in 1996 as a restauranteur serving Indian cuisine at The Curry Club’s first location in East Setauket, powered by family connections and the entrepreneurship he’d learned restarting his pharmaceutical business twice.

But in the fall of 2000, tragedy came again, when Kaur’s mother Amargeet was walking the dog and suffered a brain hemorrhage, falling onto the tracks at Port Jefferson railroad station. A departing train severed her arms and one of her legs, but — incredibly — she survived.

Indu at her wedding. Photo by Indu Kaur

Kaur remembered her father running to her when she arrived, devastated, in the waiting room. “He hugged me, and he said, ‘We are done, we are done. I’m destroyed. We are not going to live anymore,’” she recalled. “His heart just poured on my shoulder.”

The whole family was heartbroken by the accident, but they were not done. Everyone banded together to keep the family business running, care for Amargeet and raise Kaur’s youngest sister Kiran, who was only 11. Kaur drove nine hours from Virginia every weekend to help.

This back and forth continued for several years, but eventually the pull of family was too strong to resist. In 2013, Kaur moved to Long Island and cared for her mother full time. When her father presented the opportunity to take over The Meadow Club with her sister a year later, she was up for the challenge. Kaur remembered feeling nervous since her two children, Sahiba and Sartaj, were still young. Wadhwa told her, “Well, we have each other.”

With Kiran’s contemporary, Americanized vision and Kaur’s practical determination, The Meadow Club was a success. Then, in 2018, it went up in flames. During construction and permitting, Kaur continued to find venues for her clients and attend events to be sure clients were well served. 

Meanwhile, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced restaurants to shut down in 2020, Kaur’s family survived as they always had, together. Kiran created a donation-based meal delivery service to hospital workers, Kaur drove the delivery van and her father oversaw food packing. Kaur said they delivered hundreds of meals a day.

When The Meadow Club finally reopened in January 2021, no scars of the fire were visible. The sisters had crafted a modern, classy, better-than-ever venue.

“It’s a blissful, blessed feeling of knowing that, yes, everything is up and running,” Kaur said. “But the best part is that we are together.”

And together is how she plans to weather any future storms. “I just keep going, just like my dad,” Kaur said. “We wake up in the morning: All right, it’s a beautiful day, sun is up, what’s next? What do we have to tackle now?”

As Bellone Rides Off, Others Step Forward. Editorial cartoon by Kyle Horne: @kylehorneart

It is shaping up to be a big election season for the residents of Suffolk County. It may be early in 2023, but we’re already thinking about Election Day. County Executive Steve Bellone (D) is termed out, triggering massive turnover across levels of local government.

As local Democratic and Republican committees put forward their slate of candidates for county executive, town supervisor and various legislative positions, it is time for We the People to do our homework.

County, town and village officials have a different set of responsibilities than those serving on the state or federal levels. Their duties locally include making decisions about land use, law enforcement, roadwork, waste management, recreational facilities and matters that affect our everyday lives.

Preserving open space, treating our garbage and paving roads are not issues of Democrat versus Republican. These matters impact every resident, which is why it’s important to put aside party affiliation when we enter the voting booth this year.

Experience matters.

Before you vote, take a look at the candidates’ respective backgrounds. Does a candidate have relevant experience in the public or private sectors that will aid his or her decision making? Here at TBR News Media, we will take a deep dive into these candidates over the coming months, introducing our readers to their professional backgrounds and policy positions.

We know all the candidates will have much to say in the months ahead, and many will back their goals for our future with concrete plans.

As journalists, it is our job to provide our readers with the information necessary to make informed decisions on Election Day. We take this responsibility seriously and look forward to following these elections closely.

In the meantime, we remind our readers that you play a part in this as well. By writing letters to the editor about the various local races, you have the opportunity to interpret and contextualize our election coverage. Letters are your chance to influence the shape of our democracy, so don’t squander it.

Before voting, remember to research your ballot thoroughly, check your party affiliation at the door and keep an open mind. We will be here to help along the way.