Arts & Entertainment

Photo by Gerard Romano

FALL FOLIAGE HOT SPOT

Gerard Romano of Port Jefferson Station snapped this colorful photo in Stony Brook on Nov. 19. He writes, ‘This seasons fall foliage has been quite colorful. A short walk into Avalon Nature Preserve near one of the little wooden walk bridges offered some stunning images when taken with a wide angle lens.’

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Port Jefferson Farmer's Market

While 2020 certainly had its downfalls, Thanksgiving is approaching and it’s reminding us what we’re grateful for this year. Our reporter, Julianne Mosher, headed down to the Village of Port Jefferson’s weekly Farmer’s Market to ask stand owners and their friends what they’re thankful for this year, and what they’re doing for Thursday’s holiday.

Erin Reid, NahMaStay Vegan

I’m thankful for love. Love is something everyone lives for, and that’s why I do this because I love what I do.

 

 

 

Rob, Darlene, Bobby and Francesca Baslie

Rob: We’re just so happy to be healthy.

Bobby: I can’t wait to eat corn on Thanksgiving. Francesca likes Lunchables.

 

 

Gary Newman, Beewitched Bee

I’m still working, so that’s really good. I’m thankful I was working throughout the pandemic. A lot of people weren’t, so I’m lucky I was.

 

 

 

JoAnn DeLucia, JoAnn’s Desserts

Family. That’s the first and foremost important thing. I’m thankful for our health and for our family.

 

 

 

Agathe Snow, Mushrooms NYC

I’m thankful for my health, but more importantly my parent’s health. I’m also thankful for our farm surviving – we moved from NYC to Mattituck to expand and it’s going really well!

 

 

Theresa DeGregorio, Bambino Ravioli

I’m thankful for health, my family and good food that we’ll be eating this week.

 

 

 

Marc, Jacob and Melissa Gordon, Sweets by Amy G

We’re thankful for family and having time with our family.

 

 

 

Danielle Paul, Pecks of Maine Jams

I’m thankful for my family and friends – and being able to work during a pandemic. It’s been hard for everyone.

 

 

 

Naela Zeidan, Naela Organics

We’re thankful for our health. Luckily our whole family has been COVID free this whole time, and we’re keeping Thanksgiving small this year.

 

 

Photos by Julianne Mosher

By Nancy Marr

While we await the BOE’s certification of our election results (required by Dec. 7) we need to plan our priorities for the incoming NYS Legislators. Of critical importance is post-census redistricting. After the mid-2021 release of the 2020 census results, states must redraw their state and congressional district lines. These districts determine how communities are represented at the local, state and federal levels, influencing how our government works for us.

Gerrymandering (the intentional manipulation of the redistricting process by the people in political power to keep or change political power) can result from partisan redistricting in a number of ways, such as by consolidating communities into one district, or packing, which gives that community only one representative in the legislature; or by dividing the community across districts, called cracking, ensuring that the community is always the minority and less likely to be adequately represented by their representatives.

Two common forms of gerrymandering are racial gerrymandering and partisan gerrymandering. In 2018, the Supreme Court had the opportunity to set federal standards when states draw their districts that could ultimately curb partisan gerrymandering. Instead, the Court ruled to allow states to make their own determinations about partisan gerrymandering practices.

The New York State Constitution was amended in 2014 to designate an Independent Redistricting Commission to replace the legislature-controlled New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR) as the entity responsible for drawing the lines. The new commission is made up of four Democratic and four Republican appointees. Two additional nonaffiliated commissioners who are not members of those parties are then selected by a majority vote of the eight politically-appointed commissioners.

Members shall represent the diversity of the residents of the state with regard to race, ethnicity, gender, language and geographic reference. They cannot have been a member of the NYS legislature or U.S. Congress, or a state-wide official, or have been a state officer or employee or legislative employee, a registered lobbyist in NYS, or a political party chairman, or the spouse of any of those mentioned. Co-executives, one from each party, direct it. A chairperson, to organize the panel, is elected by majority vote.

The legislature has recently appointed its eight members, and those eight members selected two additional nonaffiliated commissioners. The commission also recently met to hire its Co-Executive Directors and begin planning its bylaws and staffing plans

To ensure that the redistricting process is fair and doesn’t lead to racial or partisan gerrymandering, districts should contain as nearly as possible an equal number of inhabitants and shall consist of contiguous territory and be as compact in form as practicable. It should consider the maintenance of cores of existing districts, or pre-existing political subdivisions, including counties, cities and towns, and communities of interest. Data showing race, income, education, employment, and age will guide the process.

Although New York State has not passed a Voter Rights Act, it should follow the guidelines set by the federal Voter Rights Act, which targeted certain New York election districts for pre-clearance before changing election lines.

Because the date for releasing the census counts was moved from April to July 31, 2021, and June 2022 is now the first NYS primary affected, there is a shortened time frame for public review of the plan, and input of community members as the plan is made. The commission must hold 12 public hearings with proposed maps available at least 30 days prior to the first public hearing. The plan must be submitted to the legislature by Jan. 1, 2022. If it is rejected by the legislature or the governor, the commission must submit a second plan no later than Feb. 28, 2022, to be approved by the legislature and implemented by March 2022. If it is not then approved, the plan will be drawn up by the legislature, or by a court master.

The Independent Redistricting Commission can curb gerrymandering through increased public input, accountability and transparent processes. We urge the legislature to ensure that the commission follows open meetings laws and allows for ample citizen input at the twelve public hearings that are required and as the plans are drafted. The success of New York’s first independent redistricting commission hinges on whether the legislature can provide adequate support and allow sufficient independence for the newly formed maps commission. 

Nancy Marr is first vice president of the League of Women Voters of Suffolk County, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government and influences public policy through education and advocacy. For more information, visit www.lwv-suffolkcounty.org or call 631-862-6860.

Suzie. Photo from Smithtown Animal Shelter

MEET SUZIE!

This week’s shelter pet is Suzie, a 12-year-old Border Collie waiting at the Smithtown Animal Shelter to be adopted in time for the holidays. She and her two senior siblings sadly lost their dad and want to live out their golden years showered with love.

Suze does have significant arthritis and a chronic skin disease. She is available for adoption or forever foster in a home that can manager her medication. She has a young and playful spirit, even if her body isn’t always up to it. She loves to be petted, to be outside exploring and FOOD! She can live with another calm dog and children ages 12 and up. She is spayed, microchipped and up to date on her vaccines.

If you are interested in meeting Suzie, please call ahead to schedule an hour to properly interact with her in the shelter’s Meet and Greet Room.

The Smithtown Animal & Adoption Shelter is located at 410 Middle Country Road, Smithtown. Operating hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the weekend. For more information, please call 631-360-7575 or visit www.smithtownanimalshelter.com.

Tammie Smith, Stop & Shop’s Long Island Regional Director (left) join Randi Shubin Dresner, President and CEO of Island Harvest; and Peter Braglia, Chief Operations Officer of Long Island Cares for a photo at the Stop & Shop in Smithtown with the donated turkeys. Photo courtesy of Stop & Shop

Stop & Shop’s Turkey Express program donated 1,000 Thanksgiving Turkeys each to Island Harvest Food Bank and to Long Island Cares Inc., The Harry Chapin Food Bank, on Nov. 12, surpassing its goal of delivering more than 21,500 turkeys to hunger relief organizations in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island this holiday season.

Island Harvest has seen an overall increase of 47% of food distributed throughout Long Island this year and has helped more than 300,000 families since March.

Long Island Cares Inc. has reported a 43.1% increase in food insecurity vs.  pre-COVID and has assisted over 172,000 Long Islanders since March.

With much regret, Gallery North, the Three Village Historical Society, and the Jazz Loft are canceling the Holiday Markets scheduled for Nov. 28, Dec. 5, 12 and 19. “After closely monitoring the news regarding the renewed spread of COVID-19, we feel strongly that avoiding this sizable public event is advisable at this time. Gallery North, the Three Village Historical Society, and the Jazz Loft all remain committed to the health and safety of our community, and do apologize for any inconvenience. We would like to thank all our sponsors for their support and all the artists, makers, and entrepreneurs who expressed interest in this holiday event,” they said in a statement.

Veronica Sanders. Photo from BNL

By Daniel Dunaief

If doctors could somehow stick numerous miniature flashlights in human bodies and see beneficial or harmful reactions, they would be able to diagnose and treat people who came into their offices.

That’s what Vanessa Sanders, Assistant Scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratory, is working to develop, although instead of using a flashlight, she and her colleagues are using radioisotopes of elements like arsenic. Yes, arsenic, the same element at the center of numerous murder mysteries, has helpful properties and, at low enough concentrations, doesn’t present health threats or problems.

Arsenic 72 is useful in the field of theranostics, which, as the name suggests, is a combination of therapeutics and diagnostics.

Isotopes “allow us to observe visual defects and through using these radioactive agents, we can also observe the functionality of organs,” Sanders explained in an email. These agents can assist in diagnosing people, which can inform the treatment for patients.

What makes arsenic 72 and other radioisotopes helpful is that they have a longer half-life than other isotopes, like fluorine 18, which only lasts for several minutes before it decays. Arsenic-72 has a half life of 26 hours, which matches with the life of an antibody, which circulates through bodies, searching for targets for the immune system. The combination of arsenic-72 and arsenic-77 allows the former to act as a diagnostic agent and the later as a therapeutic partner.

By attaching this radioisotope to antibodies of interest, scientists and doctors can use the decay of the element as a homing device. Using Positron Emission Tomography, agents allow for the reconstruction of images based on the location of detected events.

“When you want to use an antibody as a target for imaging, you want an isotope that will be able to ride with the antibody and accumulate at an area of interest,” Sanders said.

A radiochemist, Sanders is working to develop systems that help researchers and doctors diagnose the extent of problems, while also tracking progress in fighting against diseases. She is working to produce arsenic-72 through the decay of selenium-72.

Using the Brookhaven Linac Isotope Producer, scientists produce selenium-72. They then create a generator system where the selenium 72 is absorbed onto a solid substrate. As it decays, the solid substrate is washed to obtain arsenic-72.

Sanders is hoping to create a device that researchers could ship to clinical institutions where institutions could use arsenic-72 in further applications.

The system BNL is creating is a research and development project. Sanders and her colleagues are working to optimize the process of producing selenium-72 and evaluating how well the selenium, which has a half life of eight days, is retained and how much they can load onto generators.

“We want [arsenic 72] in a form that can easily go into future formulations,” Sanders said. “When we rinse it off that column, we hope to quickly use it and attach it to biomolecules, antibodies or proteins and use it in a biological system.”

With the increasing prevalence of personalized approaches to diseases, Sanders explained that the goal with these diagnostic tools is to differentiate the specific subtype.

A person with pancreatic cancer, for example, might present a specific target in high yield, while another patient might have the same stage cancer without the same high yield target.

“We want to have different varieties or different options of these diagnostic tools to be able to tailor it to the individual patient,” explained Sanders.

Cathy Cutler, Director of the Medical Isotope Program at BNL, said the isotopes Sanders is working on “have a lot of promise” and are “novel.” She described Sanders as “very organized” and “very much a go-getter.”

Cutler said the department feels “very lucky to get her and have her in the program.”

In her group, Sanders explained that she and her colleagues are eager to develop as many radioisotopes as possible to attach them to biomolecules, which will enable them to evaluate disease models under different scenarios. Other researchers are working with arsenic-77, which acts as a therapeutic agent because it emits a different particle.

Scientists are working on a combination of radioisotopes that can incorporate diagnostic and therapeutic particles. When the arsenic 77 destroys the cells by breaking the DNA genetic code, researchers could still observe a reduction in a tumor size. Depending on the disease type and the receptor targeted, scientists could notice a change by observing less signal.

Sanders is working on attaching several radioisotopes to biomolecules and evaluating them to see how well they are produced and separated.

“We make sure [the isotope] attaches to the thing it’s supposed to stick to” such as an antibody, she said.

A resident of Sound Beach, Sanders grew up in Cocoa, which is in central Florida. When she was younger, she wanted to be a trauma surgeon, but she transitioned to radioisotopes when she was in college at Florida Memorial University. “I liked the problem solving aspect of chemistry,” she said. While she works with cancer, she said she would like to investigate neurological diseases as well.

Sanders, who has been living on Long Island since 2017 when she started her post doctoral work at BNL, enjoys the quieter, suburban similarities between the island and her earlier life in Florida.

At six feet, one and a half inches tall, Sanders enjoys playing center on basketball teams and, prior to the pandemic, had been part of several adult leagues in the city and on Long Island, including Ladies Who Hoop and LI Hoops. She is also involved in a sorority, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc, that contributes to community service efforts.

Sanders and her fiancee Joshua Morancie, who works in IT support, had planned to get married in July. They set a new date in the same month next year. If the pandemic continues to derail their party plans next year, the couple plan to wed in a smaller ceremony.

As for radioisotopes, Sanders hopes people become inspired by the opportunities radioisotopes provide for science and medicine.

“There are so many good things that come out of radioisotopes,” Sanders said. “There are so many promising advantages.”

By Barbara Beltrami

I read someplace (don’t ask me where) some tips for this Thanksgiving when, if we follow the advice of experts on the pandemic, we should by all means celebrate the holiday but avoid large gatherings indoors and do a small intimate dinner with our immediate families and, in some cases, close friends or neighbors who we are sure are not contagious.

Difficult as it may be to forgo the usual groaning board feast, safety should be our primary consideration so that next year we can comfortably gather as we’ve always done. To make the day more celebratory and enjoyable we should first set a festive table. Even the smallest turkey may be too large so roasting a turkey breast or even a chicken might make more sense. The plethora of side dishes should be down-scaled so that it includes everyone’s favorite, of course, and dessert, rather than being an assortment of pies, could be individual tarts.

I’m taking a guess at what are likely to be everyone’s favorite dishes and giving you a little twist on each one. The rest is up to you.

Have a happy healthy and thankful holiday!

Creamy Mashed Potatoes with Chives

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, pared and quartered

Salt to taste

1/2 -2/3 cup half and half, heated

1/4 cup softened unsalted butter

Freshly ground white pepper to taste

1/2 cup snipped chives

DIRECTIONS:

Place potatoes in a large saucepan; cover with cold water; add salt and over high heat, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until fork tender but not mushy, about 20 to 25 minutes. Drain and return to pan, then reduce heat to low and cook, tossing frequently, another two minutes to dry the potatoes out. Place them in a large bowl and using a ricer, food mill or masher, puree them. (Do not use a food processor or you will end up with a gluey mess!) Gradually stir in half and half and butter; add pepper and chives and stir again. Set aside to keep warm. Serve with turkey gravy and all the fixings.

Sausage and Walnut Cornbread Stuffing

YIELD: Makes about 5 cups

INGREDIENTS:

4 cups cornbread stuffing mix

1 pound sausage meat, crumbled and browned

1 large onion, diced and browned

1 sprig fresh sage, finely chopped

8 ounces unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup-1 cup hot chicken broth

1 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and toss thoroughly to combine. When mixture is at room temperature, place in a greased casserole or cavity of turkey which is also at room temperature, just before cooking, no sooner. Bake in 375 F oven for 45 minutes or until top is crispy if in casserole; if in turkey cavity, remove and serve with turkey and fixings.

Candied Sweet Potatoes with Apples and Pears

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings

INGREDIENTS:

4 small-medium sweet potatoes, pared and quartered, lengthwise

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 large Granny Smith apples, pared, cored and quartered lengthwise

2 medium Bosc pears, pared, cored and quartered lengthwise

3/4 cup brown sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 F. Place and space sweet potatoes in large shallow baking pan; season with salt and pepper. Place apples and pears in between sweet potatoes; sprinkle evenly with brown sugar and dot with butter. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until tender and brown on top. Serve with turkey and fixings.

This has been a particularly trying year for so many. As such, Emma S. Clark Memorial Library, 120 Main St., Setauket will host a Share the Warmth Drive this holiday season to bring some compassion and positivity to the end of 2020. The staff will be collection new mittens, scarves, hats, gloves and socks from Nov. 23 to Jan. 3. The donation box will be located in the library’s lobby and items will be quarantined before being distributed to local charities. All are encouraged to donated (residents and non-residents) and all size items are welcome. For more info, call 631-941-4080.