METRO photo

By Nancy Burner Esq.

Nancy Burner, Esq.

The Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP) allows Medicaid long term care recipients to choose their own home care attendant, including family members, rather than hiring an aide from a home care agency.

Under the standard Medicaid process, after Medicaid approval, the recipient undergoes an assessment with a Managed Long-Term Care plan (MLTC). The assessment determines the number of hours of care Medicaid will provide. After the assessment process, the Medicaid recipient signs up with a home care agency that is under contract with the preferred MLTC. The agency sends the aides to provide the care and Medicaid covers the cost.

Home Care aides are limited to assisting patients with activities of daily living (ADLs), which include but are not limited to walking, cooking, light housekeeping, bathing, and toileting. But, aides cannot perform “skilled tasks” such as administering medication or assisting with insulin injections. The aide can give certain cues, such as placing the medication in front of the patient indicating it is time to administer.

While many of our clients enrolled with an MLTC and home care agency are happy with the care provided, this is not the case for everyone. Some patients need an aide who performs skilled tasks. This is especially true for patients who live alone. Other patients already have a caregiver that they prefer to use instead of a home care aide they do not know.

CDPAP allows almost any individual to act as a paid caregiver, except for a legally responsible relative, such a spouse or guardian. A child, for example, who takes care of his or her parent can get paid under CDPAP. There is no prerequisite to get certified as a home health aide or a registered nurse. Training occurs at the home and the aide is not restricted to solely assisting with ADLs- but can also assist with skilled tasks.

It is important to note that under CDPAP, an aide is an independent contractor, not an employee of the agency. The patient is thus responsible for hiring the aides, scheduling the care, and ensuring the plan is carried out. Additionally, the patient cannot take advantage of some of the benefits an agency provides, such as sending in backup care if the current aide is sick or if an emergency arises.

Navigating Medicaid’s various programs can be confusing. It is important to discuss your options with an elder law attorney who has extensive Medicaid long term care experience. This way you get the best care that matches your specific needs.

Nancy Burner, Esq. practices elder law and estate planning from her East Setauket office. Visit

The standard American diet is very low in nutrients. METRO photo
Nutrient intake is stunningly low in the United States

By David Dunaief, M.D.

Dr. David Dunaief

Most chronic diseases, including common killers, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers, can potentially be prevented, modified and even reversed with a focus on nutrients, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Here’s a stunning statistic: 60 percent of American adults have a chronic disease, with 40 percent of adults having more than one (1). This is likely a factor in the slowing pace of life expectancy increases in the U.S., which have plateaued in the past decade at around 78.8 years old (2).

The truth is that many Americans are malnourished, regardless of socioeconomic status and, in many cases, despite being overweight or obese. The definition of malnourished is insufficient nutrition, which in the U.S. results from low levels of much-needed nutrients. Sadly, the standard American diet is very low in nutrients, so many have at least moderate malnutrition.

I regularly test patients’ carotenoid levels. Carotenoids are nutrients that are incredibly important for tissue and organ health. They are measurable and give the practitioner a sense of whether the patient may lack potentially disease-fighting nutrients. Testing is often covered by insurance if the patient is diagnosed with moderate malnutrition. A high nutrient intake dietary approach can resolve the situation and increase, among others, carotenoid levels.

High nutrient intake is important

A high nutrient intake diet is an approach that focuses on micronutrients, which literally means small nutrients, including antioxidants and phytochemicals – plant nutrients. Micronutrients are bioactive compounds found mostly in foods and some supplements. While fiber is not considered a micronutrient, it also has significant disease modifying effects. Micronutrients interact with each other in synergistic ways, meaning the sum is greater than the parts. Diets that are plant-rich raise the levels of micronutrients considerably in patients.

In a 2017 study that included 73,700 men and women who were participants in the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, participants’ diets were rated over a 12-year period using three established dietary scores: the Alternate Healthy Eating Index–2010 score, the Alternate Mediterranean Diet score, and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet score (3).

A 20 percent increase in diet scores (indicating an improved quality of diet) was significantly associated with a reduction in total mortality of 8 to 17 percent, depending on whether two or three scoring methods were used. Participants who maintained a high-quality diet over a 12-year period reduced their risk of death by 9 to 14 percent more than participants with consistently low diet scores over time. By contrast, worsening diet quality over 12 years was associated with an increase in mortality of 6 to 12 percent. Not surprisingly, longer periods of healthy eating had a greater effect than shorter periods.

This study reinforces the findings of the Greek EPIC trial, a large prospective (forward-looking) cohort study, where the Mediterranean-type diet decreased mortality significantly – the better the compliance, the greater the effect (4). The most powerful dietary components were the fruits, vegetables, nuts, olive oil, legumes and moderate alcohol intake. Low consumption of meat also contributed to the beneficial effects. Dairy and cereals had a neutral or minimal effect.

Quality of life

Quality of life is also important, though. Let’s examine some studies that examine the impact of diet on diseases that may reduce our quality of life as we age.

A study showed olive oil reduces the risk of stroke by 41 percent (5). The authors attribute this effect at least partially to oleic acid, a bioactive compound found in olive oil. While olive oil is important, I recommend limiting olive oil to one tablespoon a day. There are 120 calories per tablespoon of olive oil, all of them fat. If you eat too much, even of good fat, it defeats the purpose. The authors commented that the Mediterranean-type diet had only recently been used in trials with neurologic diseases and results suggest benefits in several disorders, such as Alzheimer’s. 

In a case-control study that compared those with and without disease, high intake of antioxidants from food was associated with a significant decrease in the risk of early Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), even when participants had a genetic predisposition for the disease (6). AMD is the leading cause of blindness in those 55 years or older.

There were 2,167 people enrolled in the study with several different genetic variations that made them high risk for AMD. Those with a highest nutrient intake, including B-carotene, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, EPA and DHA- substances found in fish, had an inverse relationship with risk of early AMD. Nutrients, thus, may play a role in modifying gene expression. 

Though many Americans are malnourished, nutrients that are effective and available can alter this predicament. Hopefully, with a focus on a high nutrient intake, we can improve life expectancy and, on an individual level, improve our quality of life.


(1) (2) (3) N Engl J Med 2017; 377:143-153. (4) BMJ. 2009;338:b2337. (5) Neurology June 15, 2011. (6) Arch Ophthalmol. 2011;129(6):758-766.

Dr. David Dunaief is a speaker, author and local lifestyle medicine physician focusing on the integration of medicine, nutrition, fitness and stress management. For further information, visit 

A group of gelada monkeys in Ethiopia. Photo from Jacob Feder

By Daniel Dunaief

Timing can mean the difference between life and death for young geladas (an Old World monkey species). Geladas whose fathers remain leaders of a social group for as much as a year or more have a better chance of survival than those whose fathers are displaced by new males under a year after they’re born. 

New males who enter a social group can, and often do, kill the young of other males, giving the new male leaders a chance to impregnate the female members of their social group who might otherwise be unable to conceive.

Jacob Feder


The odds of a new male leader killing a young gelada are about 60 percent at birth, compared to closer to 15 percent at around a year of age, according to researchers at Stony Brook University (SBU).

Additionally, pregnant gelada monkeys often spontaneously abort their unborn fetuses once a new male enters the group, as the mother’s hormones cause a miscarriage that enables them to dedicate their resources to the future progeny of the next dominant male.

At the same time, the survival of females depends on becoming a part of a group that is just the right size.

Jacob Feder, a graduate student at SBU, and Amy Lu, Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology in the College of Arts and Sciences at Stony Brook, recently published a paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society B that explores the ideal group size that optimizes the longevity of females and the number of their offspring.

The researchers discovered a Goldilocks effect. By studying the behavioral and group data for over 200 wild geladas over the course of 14 years, they determined that a mid-size group with five to seven females has the greatest benefit for their own fitness and for the survival of their offspring.

“There tends to be a trade off” in the dynamics that affect female geladas in different groups, Feder said. Females in the biggest groups face a higher risk of takeovers and takeover-related infanticide, since males are more likely to try to dominate a part of larger social groups where they have greater reproductive opportunities.

By contrast, individuals in the smaller groups may live on the periphery of a multi-group dynamic. These females are less protected against predators.

In their native Ethiopia, geladas are vulnerable to leopards, hyenas, and jackals, among others.

For the females, the survival of their offspring depends on the ability of males to remain in the group long enough.

“The male turnover is one of the major drivers of their reproductive success,” explained Feder.

Researchers have seen new males enter a group and kill infants born from another father. The infants, for their part, don’t often recognize the need to avoid new males, Lu said.

When males enter big groups, females often have to reset their reproduction.

Groups with about nine to 11 females often split into units of four to seven, Feder said. A new male might become the leader for half of the females, leaving the remaining male with the other half. Alternatively, new males may take over each group.

The pregnant females who are part of a group with a new male will spontaneously abort their offspring about 80 percent of the time, as females “cut their losses,” Feder said

About 38 percent of females live in a mid-sized group that is close to optimum size.

Gelada charm

According to Feder and Wu, geladas are a compelling species to research, Feder and Wu said.

Feder found his visits to the East African nation rewarding, especially when he had the opportunity to watch a small female named Crimson.

An important part of daily life for these primates involves grooming, where primates comb through each other’s hair, remove insects and, in many cases, eat them.

Crimson, who was a younger member of the group when Feder started observing geladas, didn’t have much grooming experience with this activity. Instead of running her hands over the body of her grooming partner, she focused on her mouth. Her partner’s wide eyes reflected surprise at the unusual grooming choice.

One of the favorites for Lu was a monkey who has since passed away named Vampire. A part of the V group, Vampire was taller and bigger than most adult females. She displaced male geladas, some of whom were larger than she, almost as often as they displaced her.

“If you go out in the field enough, you know the individuals pretty well,” Lu said. “They all have their own personalities. Some of them walk in a different way and react to situations differently.”

A resident of Centereach, Feder grew up in northern Connecticut, attending Wesleyan University as an undergraduate, where he majored in music and biology. A bass guitar player, Feder said he “dabbles in anything with strings.”

In fourth grade, Feder read a biography of Dian Fossey, which sparked his interest in biology.

While he has yet to combine his musical and science interests with geladas, Feder said these monkeys have a large vocabulary that is almost as big as chimpanzees.

Lu, meanwhile, started studying geladas as a postdoctoral researcher. They’re a great study species that allow scientists to ask compelling questions about reproductive strategies. “At any point, you can follow 20 social groups,” Lu said.

Lu, whose two children are four years old and 16 months old, said she has observed the similarities between human and non-human primate young.

“Babies throw tantrums, whether it is my child or a gelada infant protesting being put on the ground,” she described in an email. Gelada infants use a sad “cooing” sound. Sometimes, the sad cooing sound is real and sometimes “they just get what they want.”

Chicken Kabob. Pixabay photo

By Barbara Beltrami

This is the third in a series of columns about easy summer dinners, and because it’s about meat and poultry, it’s mostly about grilling. One of the great things about these recipes is that they make tasty leftovers which pay forward for less time in the kitchen. Slice or chop them up for salads or sandwiches, but on second thought, they’re all so good that I doubt you’ll have any leftovers.

Saffron Chicken Kabobs

YIELD: Makes 4 to 6 servings


1/2 teaspoon saffron threads

1/2 cup boiling chicken stock

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2” cubes


In a large bowl stir together the saffron and chicken stock and let steep for half an hour. Add the wine, oil, cardamom, salt and pepper; add chicken; toss to combine, cover, and stirring occasionally, refrigerate for 3 hours. Prepare grill: oil grill rack with an oil saturated crumpled paper towel and place rack 4 to 6” above fire. Remove chicken from marinade but reserve the liquid; pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then thread it onto skewers and arrange them on the rack. Grill, turning frequently and brushing with reserved marinade, until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Serve with rice pilaf and sliced tomatoes with olive oil and fresh herbs.

Barbecued Beef Brisket

YIELD: Makes 8 to 10 servings


One 4 – 5 pound brisket

4 garlic cloves, cut into slivers

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3/4 cup ketchup

3/4 cup tomato sauce

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce


Make slits all over surface of meat and poke garlic slivers in them; rub brisket with two tablespoons of the oil. In a small bowl combine salt and pepper, thyme, paprika and cayenne and smear over meat; let sit at room temperature 15 to 20 minutes. 

Meanwhile make the barbecue sauce: In a medium saucepan over moderate heat warm the remaining two tablespoons oil, then add the onion and chopped garlic and heat, stirring frequently, until onion starts to turn golden, about 5 minutes; add ketchup, tomato sauce, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, chili powder and hot sauce; stir to combine, then reduce heat to simmer and cover partially; cook until sauce thickens, about 15 to 25 minutes. 

Prepare fire for indirect heat cooking and position an oiled rack 4 to 6 inches above fire; place brisket so it is not directly over heat, cover grill and cook for one hour; brush meat with about a third of the sauce and cook another hour, turning occasionally and brushing sparingly with more sauce. Remove from grill and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Slice across the grain and serve with coleslaw and fresh corn on the cob.

Spicy Pork Chops

YIELD: Makes 6 servings


1/3 cup grainy Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons orange juice

2 tablespoons orange zest

2 tablespoons whiskey

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Six 6-8 ounce boneless 3/4” pork chops


In a small bowl combine mustard, orange juice , orange zest, whiskey, Worcestershire sauce, sage and pepper. Smear over both sides of pork chops and let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature. Oil grill rack and heat grill to medium-high. Cook, turning once, until chops are barely pink inside, 4 to 5 minutes. Serve with sweet potato fries and salad.

Blazer. Photo from Smithtown Animal Shelter


This week’s shelter pet is 1-year-old Blazer who is currently up for adoption at the Smithtown Animal Shelter. Blazer assimilated himself into a local feral cat colony several months ago. He was so sweet and outgoing, the caretaker assumed he had a home, but Blazer continued to show up for food daily. 

This boy has a beautiful personality to match that handsome face. He is outgoing with people and with other cats and is very adventurous. He will need a home that can commit to keeping him indoors and giving him endless love! He is neutered, microchipped and up to date on his vaccines. If you are interested in meeting Blazer please call ahead to schedule an hour to properly interact with him in a domestic setting, which includes a Meet and Greet Room.  

The Smithtown Animal & Adoption Shelter is located at 410 Middle Country Road, Smithtown. Shelter operating hours are currently Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Sundays and Wednesday evenings by appointment only). For more information, call 631-360-7575 or visit


Pixabay photo

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

There is so much chaos in our midst. As we see a light at the end of the tunnel and start to feel free from the shackles of this pandemic, we need to seek out a deserted place to renew our spirit, recharge our battery and reflect on the things that are most important to us.

These past 18 months have been challenging. We have seen so much suffering, so much death, so much pain. For many of us, over the past few weeks we have been fortunate to reconnect with children, grandchildren, parents and good friends for the first time in more than a year. It’s overwhelming because we are beginning to realize that we have to create a new normal.

Hopefully, this new normal will cause us to value human connections over things; to see the importance of the people in our lives and to try to live every moment to the fullest. Hopefully, this new normal will underscore the importance of human relationships and the need for us to be respectful of all human beings no matter what their social circumstance, their sexual orientation, their race, religion or ethnicity.

As we begin to embrace this new normal, may we appreciate the sacredness of all life at all stages; may we also appreciate life’s fragileness and respond appropriately. We never know the time, the hour or the day that life as we know it might end. So, the challenge is to live life to the fullest, to make every moment count and to communicate to the people we love how much we love them and how important they are to us.

During this pandemic, I have seen so much pain and suffering, so much senseless death. I have deepened my appreciation for the people who give of themselves every day in healthcare and mental health — for all the essential workers that have sacrificed so much so others might live.

This past year has made me appreciate how hard life can be for so many who live in the shadows of mental health and addiction. Recently, I buried a 35-year-old recovering heroin addict who died last year in the midst of this pandemic. He spent the better part of his life in active addiction and destructive decision-making. He was lost and couldn’t find his way. Finally, he made the decision to embrace the road to recovery.

As he began that journey, it was very difficult. He had a number of stumbles along the way. He committed himself to a long term, nontraditional residential treatment program that helped him to change his life. He discovered a voice he never thought he had in poetry. It helped him to see life with a different lens. It empowered him to discover spirituality that helped him to cope with some of the potholes that he encountered along the way. His mother said she discovered a son who she thought was dead and found a son that, at first, she did not recognize. She saw laughter, compassion and concern for others. His new voice provided solace for so many and she found peace of heart. Although brief, she had reclaimed a lost son who was blessed with three years of a wonderful life.

This young man was doing well but like anyone who carries the cross of addiction, it took only an instant for him to disconnect and lose his life. The world is better because he walked among us and shared his new voice of hope, love and life. However, he is also a powerful reminder of how fragile life is and we do not know the time, the hour or the place when life ends. His life is a powerful reminder that we need to live each moment to the fullest, to become the best version of ourselves and to leave this world better than when we found it.

Addiction is like a cancer spreading out of control. People do recover and reclaim their lives but we have to do more to support those who are struggling on that road to find their way.

Father Francis Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

By Cayla Rosenhagen

Cayla Rosenhagen

In 2011, Stitch, a young Red-tailed Hawk, was flying low over the grasslands hunting for her next meal adjacent to Sunken Meadow Parkway. She could never have foreseen how drastically her life was going to change that day. The hawk spotted a rodent darting out onto the highway and she swooped in. With all her attention focused on her prey, she did not notice the cars hurtling toward her and was struck. 

Fortunately, a good Samaritan rescued Stitch, and she found her way to Sweetbriar Nature Center in Smithtown to be expertly cared for. The team at Sweetbriar did an amazing job rehabbing Stitch back to health. Although she cannot be released into the wild as a result of losing an eye and part of her wing, she now lives a comfortable and happy life at the Center.

Over 2000 animals, like Stitch, are taken to Sweetbriar every year to be rehabilitated, including various reptiles, rodents, opossums, deer, and birds. The staff at the Center work tirelessly tending to the animals and eventually releasing many of them back into the wild. The dedicated team also cares for about 100 permanent animal residents who cannot be released and often answer 50 to 100 calls a day regarding animals in need. Additionally, they run educational programs and events to encourage the public’s appreciation and respect of Long Island’s unique wildlife and ecosystems.

On July 11th, I attended an event at Sweetbriar hosted by Long Island BIRDtography, a Facebook group made up of local photographers and birding enthusiasts. The fundraiser allowed the photographers to meet and photograph Sweetbriar’s ambassador raptors. Participants heard the extraordinary backstories of the birds of prey and how each one made their way to the Nature Center. 

We met Bee, a female American Kestrel who was captured for falconry and malnourished, as well as Nugget, an Eastern Screech Owl who was rescued from a collapsed nest in a storm, and Tiger Lily, a Great Horned Owl who was hit by a car. Other birds of prey we met included Cleo the Harris Hawk, Nebula the Barn Owl, Seven the Barred Owl, and of course, Stitch the Red-Tailed Hawk. 

All of these birds are now permanent residents of Sweetbriar because of their inabilities to survive in the wild due to injury or imprinting on humans. In addition to our feathered friends, we were greeted by some furry ones, too. As we were snapping photos of the birds, Charlotte, a very amiable white-tailed deer, sauntered up to us looking for attention. Also, Ricky, an Eastern Grey Squirrel, and Tulip, a Virginia Opossum nearly stole the show with their cuddly antics.

Among the 2 dozen photographers at the fundraiser, Susanne Bellocchio, one of the administrators of BIRDtography, warmly expressed, “It was just a perfect day…Everyone is so kind…I am thrilled…These birds would never be something I could get to photograph.”

The team at Sweetbriar was so welcoming and eager to share their extensive knowledge about the animals. The employees and volunteers I met with greatly expressed how much they love their time at the Nature Center and how rewarding their jobs are.

Veronica Sayers began her career there as a volunteer to care for the baby squirrels and she was later hired as the program coordinator three years ago.

“I love teaching people of all ages about our local wildlife and the environment around them. When I see people excited about what I’ve just taught them, it’s a wonderful feeling. The wildlife rehab part of my job is a passion of mine as well. Nursing an animal back to health and seeing it released back into the wild is a thrill,” Veronica explained when asked about her favorite aspects of working at the not-for-profit organization.

Isabel Fernandes, the Wildlife Care Coordinator, feels it is critical to educate people about wildlife, so they become good ambassadors in their own homes and communities. She loves “seeing kids so excited to see the animals up close and personal.”

Sweetbriar’s many upcoming events can be viewed on their website. They truly have something for everyone. Check out their adult and children programs and the long-anticipated Taps and Talons beer-tasting event, presented on September 19th for those 21 and over. The Center also offers frequent yoga classes in person as well as online.

The Center and Preserve are open for the public to visit daily. The grounds are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and are free of charge to enter. The main house is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m and the butterfly house is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for a minimal entry fee. I encourage you to visit the outdoor animal enclosures and walk along the Preserve’s beautiful nature trails.

Sweetbriar Nature Center is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization and therefore relies on the community’s generosity to continue their invaluable work. Make a difference by attending their programs, visiting the Center, or through a donation. Monetary contributions can be given through the Donate Now button on their website or by participating in AmazonSmile and selecting Environmental Centers of Setauket Smithtown to receive donations. They also use Amazon Wishlist to ask for necessary animal care supplies.

Visit Sweetbriar’s website,, to learn more about their mission, to see complete listings of their programs, and to view heartwarming photographs of the animals they have rehabbed. The site also provides comprehensive resources for what to do if you should find an animal in need.

In the words of Veronica Sayers, when asked what else community members can do to support Sweetbriar, she replied enthusiastically, “Share, share, share! Talk about us and what we do. Let your schools and libraries know we do programs. If you learned something about wildlife through us, please share it. Become a Sweetbriar member. Attend our events! On social media, comment and share our posts. If you have the time and can commit, consider volunteering.”

Cayla Rosenhagen is a local high school student who enjoys capturing the unique charm of the community through photography and journalism. She serves on the board of directors for the Four Harbors Audubon Society and Brookhaven’s Youth Board, and is the founder and coordinator of Beach Bucket Brigade, a community outreach program dedicated to environmental awareness, engagement, and education. She is also an avid birder, hiker, and artist who is concurrently enrolled in college, pursuing a degree in teaching.

File photo by Rhoma Abbas

Road conditions are a regular topic of conversation on Long Island. Many of us have experienced flat tires after hitting a pothole on local roads, but while we demand road repairs and have the right to them as taxpayers, sometimes we’re not as patient as we should be with the department of transportation workers who repair our roadways.

As soon as the warm weather arrives, crews begin to pepper the streets filling potholes and paving roads. While busy schedules have many rushing all over the Island at times, when a driver begins to see orange cones and, more importantly, a person holding a sign that says “slow” or “stop,” it’s imperative to follow directions.

According to the New York State website, in 2018 “there were 701 crashes in work zones on state roads and bridges, resulting in 13 motorist fatalities and 329 injuries to motorists, contractor employees and NYSDOT staff” in the state. The fatalities and injuries could have been avoided with some extra care while driving around road work zones.

A flagger’s directions by law hold the same authority as a sign. Imagine what many of the flaggers have to go through every day. For some standing on the edge of the work zone to slow down or stop traffic, not only puts their lives at risk but it also puts them in a situation where they can be harassed by drivers when all they are doing is their job to keep drivers and workers safe while navigating a disrupted roadway.

It’s pretty simple. When you see a work zone approaching, slow down and merge into the correct lane when it is safe to do so, and do not speed at the end of the closed lane to try to get into the other lane.

Speeding through a work zone also can mean a lighter wallet for a driver. New York State fines are doubled for speeding in these zones. A driver’s license can be suspended if a motorist receives repeat convictions of speeding violations in work zones.

With only a couple of months left until summer’s end, we’ll still see many workers on the road. Take care to slow down and keep more than the usual distance between you and the car in front of you to show respect for those who are putting their lives in our hands to keep our roads smooth.

For road maintenance workers, their livelihood should not mean risking their lives, because someone couldn’t be inconvenienced for a few minutes.

Ashley Langford. Photo from SBU

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

She hasn’t scored a point or dished out an assist in a college basketball game since 2009. That hasn’t stopped Ashley Langford, Stony Brook University’s first-year women’s basketball coach, from mixing it up with the players.

A point guard who graduated from Tulane University and who holds the school record for the most assists, scored over 1,000 points, and, despite being five feet, five inches tall, brought down 403 rebounds for 25th in school history, Langford plans to tap into her playing experience at Stony Brook.

“I’m a hands-on head coach,” said Langford, who most recently was associate head coach at James Madison University in Virginia. “I’m a demonstrator.”

Langford, who took over for Caroline McCombs this year when the former coach joined George Washington University, believes she can help a team that won back-to-back America East Championships by stepping onto the floor during practices and drills.

When she’s guarding them, she wants to “see them do a move,” she said. “At a certain point, they get too good” for her skills, which is when she pats herself on the back, especially after she sees her players exuding increased confidence.

Langford is pleased with the start of her time at Stony Brook, where she has felt welcomed and supported by Athletic Director Shawn Heilbron and President Maurie McInnis.

“This is a big reason why I chose to come here,” Langford said. “The administration is great and the president has been awesome.”

Langford appreciates how Heilbron knows the names of so many student-athletes, which is consistent with her approach to coaching.

Langford believes her players and the coach should have similar expectations.

“I need to be connected to my players, and I want them to be connected to me,” Langford said. “I want players to come into my office and talk. I want that relationship.”

Langford has been working within the limitations of National Collegiate Athletic Association rules during the summer. She hopes to use this time to build a rapport with her team and help them learn her terminology and the drills she runs.

“I want to give them a preview” about her and the program, Langford said.

In making the transition from playing to coaching, Langford said she has tried to improve and grow. She believes she and her team should constantly strive to improve.

Coaching is “less about basketball and more about how you connect with your players,” Langford said.

To be sure, that connection doesn’t mean she coddles the team. She strives to be honest without sugarcoating the message. 

“When they’re doing well, I’m going to tell them,” she said. “When we need to be better, I’m going to tell them that, too.”

Langford explained that basketball has changed considerably since her playing days, as players have more resources available to them. She sang the praises of Elizabeth Zanolli, assistant athletic director for Sports Medicine, who supports the basketball and other teams.

Players also have nutritionists, dietitians, and strength and conditioning support, which improve the overall health and endurance of the athletes.

On the court, the men’s and women’s games have increasingly emphasized the value of the three-point shot, which means that most of the points in a game come from in the paint close to the basket or outside the three-point line, where long-range shooters can rack up points quickly.

Langford doesn’t see much of a difference between the men’s and women’s games.

“I want players to pass, dribble and shoot,” she said. “It’s that simple.”

Pixabay photo

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

Help. I have a strange problem and to this point can’t find the solution. The man who nicely takes care of our pool said that he removed 600 dead frogs last week. That’s more than the previous week, which yielded more than the week before. The problem is worsening as I write. My neighbor’s pool, according to his estimation, had 2,000 dead frogs, and so on at other houses in the area. I suppose there is some comfort in knowing that others are having the same intrusion, but actually not much. Even as I respect and enjoy nature, I would like to have the pool water for my family and not share it with dead amphibians.

The pool guy suggested I call an exterminator, which I did. I happen to know a competent one, who confessed to me after hearing my story that in his 35 years of being in business, he had never heard of such a predicament. “Call a pool guy,” he suggested. So we are right back to square one. He did kindly offer to call an expert entomologist he knew. I was grateful for the suggestion but I haven’t heard anything back from him as of this writing. 

I tried to think of someone else who might have dealt with this situation before and finally came up with the answer man (and woman) for any questions concerning our house: the good folks at the local hardware store. Ben at Ace Hardware tried hard to think of a method for dealing with hundreds of frogs and after much thought, gave me a mesh screen to tie to the side of the pool and hang into the water. The theory goes like this. The frogs are dying because they can’t get out. Maybe they hatched in the pool, maybe they just jumped in because it has been so hot. Either way, the smooth sides don’t permit them to escape. So if we give them a way to exit, they will leave. At least, that’s the hope. We’ll try that. I like it because it’s nontoxic. 

My son and daughter-in-law looked for a clue to this unprecedented dilemma on Google. They came up with a couple of answers that we will also try. One is to spray the bricks around the pool with white vinegar. Apparently, frogs don’t like vinegar on their feet. Or maybe they don’t like the smell. In any event, we have a gallon of white vinegar and a spray bottle, and we’re going to give it a go. Google also suggested giving the frogs a way out. It even suggested a froggy ladder, which they happened to sell, and we then dutifully bought. Worth a try. 

Other suggestions, with our responses:

Turn off the pool lights. Lights attract insects, which in turn attract frogs, who eat the insects.

We don’t use pool lights. We like the insect-eating part though.

Cover the pool.

We want to use it.

Install fence.

We have a fence with posts widely enough spaced for a squadron of frogs to march through. We could, however, put wooden boards or chicken wire at the base to keep them from hopping in.

Keep lawn mowed and free of weeds and debris.

Already do that. Neighbors will bear witness.

Make own DIY frog repellent.

If vinegar doesn’t work, will try a heavy concentration of saltwater. Or a mixture of bleach and water. Maybe all three.

Sprinkle coffee grounds around the pool. Acid in the coffee can also irritate their feet.


Keep pool water circulating. Frogs don’t like to lay eggs in moving water.

We could do that by keeping the filter going all day and night. It’s an expensive solution, however, because it would require a lot of electricity.

Keep the pool heated.


Keep pool sparkling clean.

We try.

When I was a kid, I dreamt of having a swimming pool. The frogs were not in my dream. It could be worse though. Australia is presently undergoing a plague of mice.

Any help for us?