Editorials

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In the heart of the medical field lies the nurturing presence of nurses.

As National Nurses Week unfolds from May 6 to 12, it’s time for communities everywhere to pause and reflect on the indispensable role nurses play in our health care ecosystem. Beyond being health care providers, nurses embody the essence of compassion, advocacy and expertise. They are heroes whose contributions resonate far beyond the confines of hospital walls.

They are not just caregivers; they are companions on the arduous journey of illness, offering solace and support when it’s needed most. In moments of vulnerability, it’s often the gentle reassurance of a nurse that brings comfort and hope to patients and their families. In this role, nurses serve as a beacon of empathy, providing not just medical care but also emotional sustenance.

Nurses serve as invaluable liaisons between patients, families and the broader health care team. They bridge the gap between complex medical jargon and everyday understanding, helping patients to make informed decisions about their health. Through clear communication and advocacy, nurses ensure that patients receive the personalized care they deserve. Whether it’s coordinating treatment plans, advocating for patient rights or providing vital education, nurses are the linchpins of effective health care delivery.

In the intricacy of individualized health care, nurses act as threads binding it all together. They possess a unique ability to see patients not merely as cases but as individuals with distinct needs and preferences. By tailoring care plans to suit each patient’s unique circumstances, nurses uphold the fundamental principle of patient-centered care.

“Nurses are the lifeline and lifeblood of our Stony Brook Medicine health care system,” said Carol Gomes, chief executive officer, Stony Brook University Hospital. “They provide exceptional and compassionate care for our patients. I’m so grateful and proud of their dedication and commitment to quality care. We celebrate our team during Nurses Week and applaud their talents every day of the year.” 

As we honor National Nurses Week, let us not only acknowledge the tireless dedication and sacrifices of nurses but also advocate for the recognition and support they truly deserve. Let us continue to invest in their professional development, provide them with the resources they need to thrive and ensure their voices are heard in shaping health care policies. Because a health care system that truly prioritizes the well-being of its citizens is one that honors and uplifts its nursing workforce.

TBR News Media attended the annual New York Press Association Spring Conference held at Saratoga Springs April 26 and 27. We were privileged to receive many awards and would not have done so without our readers — so, a sincere thank you.

This yearly conference traditionally serves as a platform for press organizations to meet with and learn from seasoned speakers and professionals within the industry, though this year emphasized a specific focus on a newcomer in the industry — artificial intelligence.

The printing press, invented around 1440, revolutionized how we shared information. Now, AI is poised to do the same for local journalism. While some may fear robots taking over the newsroom, AI offers exciting possibilities for strengthening our community’s connection to local stories.

Imagine a future where AI combs through public records, uncovering hidden trends in traffic data or school board meetings. Journalists, freed from such tedious tasks, can delve deeper into these trends, crafting investigative pieces that hold power to real change. AI can also translate interviews, allowing us to share the stories of a more diverse community.

Local news thrives on hyper-personalization. AI can analyze reader preferences, tailoring news feeds to your interests. This ensures you see not just the headlines, but the stories that truly matter to you. Imagine getting in-depth reporting on the school board race or up-to-the-minute updates on road closures that may affect your usual commute.

Of course, AI isn’t a magic bullet. Ethical considerations abound. We need to ensure AI doesn’t become an echo chamber, reinforcing existing biases. Journalists will remain the cornerstone, using AI as a tool to amplify their human touch — the ability to ask tough questions, identify nuance and connect with the community on a deeper level.

The future of local news isn’t about robots replacing reporters. It’s about AI empowering journalists to tell richer, more relevant stories that connect with you. It’s about ensuring a future where local news remains a vibrant part of the community, informing, engaging and holding power to account. This is an exciting transformation, and together we can ensure AI strengthens, not diminishes, the essential role local journalism plays in our lives.

And we’ll continue to strive for more NYPA awards next year.

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April 22, 1970, marked the first Earth Day celebration. A day dedicated to Mother Earth, to appreciate, recognize and demonstrate support for the planet we inhabit. A time to reflect on the impact our actions have on the environment but, more importantly, it’s a springboard for action.

Here in our own communities, the need for environmental stewardship is particularly relevant. From keeping our streets and parks clean to embracing sustainable practices, we can all play a vital role. The good news is there’s a wave of positive momentum building.

Numerous opportunities exist for us to roll up our sleeves and make a real difference. 

Friends of the Greenway is hosting a cleanup day, on Saturday, April 27. Beginning at 9 a.m. at the Port Jefferson Station trailhead, meet with members of the community to aid in the cleanup efforts along the beloved Greenway Trail. 

If your artistic side thrives outdoors, join the Gallery North Cleanup on April 27 and 28. Day 1 will be held at Flax Pond Tidal Wetland Area on Saturday and day 2 at Smith Point Beach on Sunday. Each cleanup will be conducted in two shifts starting at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. each day. The event is free and open to the public, and will be held rain or shine. All ages are welcome.

On Saturday, May 18, the Great Brookhaven Cleanup will offer a chance to tackle litter in our neighborhoods. Part of a national effort, the event draws over 5 million volunteers in more than 20,000 communities across America who come together to pick up litter and clean miles of roadway, rivers, lakes and more. Last year, the Great Brookhaven Cleanup drew more than 2,600 volunteers.

Stony Brook University also stepped up with Earth Day events — several student clubs joined together to organize a beach cleanup last Saturday, April 20, at West Meadow Beach.

But Earth Day isn’t just about one-time cleanups. Sustainability is the key to long-term environmental health. The Town of Smithtown’s recent upcycling program, NexTrex with the Trex Company, serves as a shining example. This initiative allows residents to transform used plastic into eco-friendly composite materials.

Let’s take inspiration from these efforts. Consider reducing your single-use plastics, opting for reusable alternatives. Support local farmers markets and businesses committed to sustainable practices. Every little bit counts.

Earth Day is more than just a day on the calendar. It’s a call to action, a reminder that the well-being of our environment is intrinsically linked to our own. Let’s celebrate this Earth Day not just with words, but with dedicated action. Together, we can build a cleaner, more sustainable future for generations to come.

Tulips bloom on Barnum Avenue in Port Jefferson. Photo by Heidi Sutton

Spring has sprung, and with it comes the welcome sight of people emerging from their winter cocoons. As we bask in the warmer weather, our streets and sidewalks come alive with pedestrians, cyclists and drivers all eager to soak up the sunshine. But this surge in activity also necessitates a collective reminder: Springtime safety is a two-way street.

It’s easy to get caught up in the allure of the season, but amid the blooming flowers and gentle breezes, we must not forget the importance of vigilance and awareness. Each year, countless accidents occur on our roads and walkways, many of which could have been prevented with a little extra caution and mindfulness.

Drivers, vigilance is essential. Pedestrians, many of whom may have been less active during colder months, are now reclaiming their space on our roads. Be extra cautious at crosswalks and intersections, and remember that pedestrians have the right of way. Yield to those with strollers, wheelchairs or mobility aids, and be extra aware of children who may be less predictable in their movements.

Pedestrians, while enjoying the fresh air, do not let down your guard. Sidewalks are for walking, not texting or talking on the phone. Stay alert to your surroundings and avoid distractions that could impair your ability to react to traffic. Make eye contact with drivers at crosswalks and do not assume they see you. Wear bright clothing during the day and reflective gear at night to ensure maximum visibility.

Cyclists, as always, prioritize safety. Obey traffic laws, use hand signals and wear a properly fitted helmet. Remember, you share the road with cars, so ride defensively and avoid weaving in and out of traffic.

By working together, drivers, pedestrians and cyclists can all contribute to a safer community this spring. Let us embrace the season’s vibrancy while keeping safety at the forefront of our minds. A little awareness goes a long way in ensuring everyone enjoys the beautiful weather without incident. So, buckle up, put down the phone and let us all step safely into spring.

METRO photo

On Friday, April 5, a 4.8 magnitude earthquake hit north-central New Jersey and was reported as having been felt across the tri-state area — including across our communities. An earthquake of this magnitude has not hit the East Coast since 2011, when a 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered in Virginia shook areas across New York. 

Experiencing an earthquake can be a disorienting and unnerving event, as it involves the sudden movement of the Earth’s surface caused by the release of energy in the Earth’s crust. 

For those who have experienced an earthquake, the sensation is often described as a sudden jolt or shaking, sometimes accompanied by a rumbling sound. Initially, there may be a feeling of confusion or disbelief as the ground begins to move unexpectedly.

As the earthquake progresses, the intensity of the shaking can vary, ranging from mild tremors to violent jolts. Buildings and structures may sway or vibrate, causing objects to rattle and shift. The ground itself may undulate or roll, creating a sensation akin to being on a boat or riding a wave.

During a seismic event, individuals may feel a range of physical sensations, including dizziness, nausea or difficulty maintaining balance. It’s not uncommon for people to experience heightened anxiety or fear, especially if they are unfamiliar with earthquakes or if the shaking persists for an extended period.

In some cases, the intensity of the earthquake may be strong enough to cause damage to buildings and infrastructure, leading to collapsed structures, fallen debris and potential hazards such as ruptured gas lines or downed power lines.

It’s important to note that each earthquake is unique, and the experience can vary widely depending on factors such as proximity to the epicenter, building construction and personal resilience. Regardless of the magnitude or duration of the earthquake, it’s essential to remain calm, take protective action and follow established safety procedures to minimize the risk of injury and ensure personal safety.

Be prepared in the event of an earthquake

If you’re indoors, move away from windows, glass doors and exterior walls to avoid injury from shattered glass or falling objects. 

If you’re outdoors, move to an open area away from buildings, trees, streetlights and utility wires. Drop to the ground and cover your head and neck with your arms until the shaking subsides.

Be mindful of potential hazards such as tall furniture, bookcases and heavy objects that could topple over during an earthquake. 

Identify safe zones within your home or workplace, such as sturdy doorframes or interior walls, where you can seek shelter. 

Prepare an emergency kit with essential supplies, including water, nonperishable food, first-aid supplies, flashlights, batteries, a battery-powered radio and a whistle. 

Establish a communication plan with your household members or neighbors to coordinate actions during an earthquake or other emergencies. 

Be aware of potential aftereffects of an earthquake, such as aftershocks, structural damage, gas leaks and electrical hazards. If you suspect damage to your home or utilities, evacuate immediately and contact emergency services for assistance.

Stay informed about earthquake risks and preparedness measures in your area. Monitor local news, weather alerts and emergency notifications for updates on seismic activity and safety recommendations.

Change is not just a distant possibility, it’s a force shaping the way we live, work and connect with one another today. 

From artificial intelligence and machine learning to environmental and clean energy initiatives, the landscape of technology is evolving at an unprecedented pace, presenting us with both challenges and opportunities. 

In recent news we have seen the incorporation of AI in the classroom, workforce and in industry. We have seen integration of technology on a local level as in the case of the CBORD Patient app for meal ordering at Stony Brook University Hospital. We even see technology connecting one another in civics and other community gatherings with the use of platforms such as Zoom. We have the opportunity to chat in the many community-run online forums accessed via Facebook and other platforms.

We have seen proposals for clean energy initiatives such as the Sunrise Wind project or the governor’s proposal for electric school buses. We have also seen investments and grants given to institutions such as Brookhaven National Lab and Stony Brook University to help further innovation and creation. 

While some may view these changes with apprehension or skepticism, we must recognize that the march of progress is unavoidable. Rather than resisting the tide of innovation, let us embrace it as a means to propel our community forward into a brighter, more prosperous future.

One of the most promising aspects of integrating emerging technologies into our community is the potential to enhance efficiency and effectiveness across various sectors. Whether it’s optimizing transportation systems through the use of predictive analytics or improving access to health care services through telemedicine and patient assistive applications, technology has the power to revolutionize the way we deliver essential services and meet the needs of our residents.

Moreover, the integration of emerging technologies can foster economic growth and innovation, attracting new businesses, entrepreneurs and investment opportunities to our community. 

However, as we embark on this journey of technological integration, it’s essential that we do so with careful consideration for the ethical, social and environmental implications of our actions. 

As we embrace emerging technologies, let us not lose sight of the importance of human connection and community cohesion. While technology has the power to connect us in unprecedented ways, it can never replace the warmth of a face-to-face conversation or the sense of belonging that comes from being part of a close-knit community. 

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As the vibrant hues of blossoming flowers herald the arrival of spring, we are reminded of the beauty of change and growth. Just as nature undergoes a transformation during this season, so too can our community benefit from a renewal of spirit and purpose. 

Spring cleaning is more than just a household chore — it is an opportunity to breathe new life into our surroundings and reaffirm our commitment to the well-being of our community. As we shake off the cobwebs of winter and open our windows to let in fresh air, let us also take stock of the areas in our neighborhood that could use a little extra attention. 

Whether it’s organizing a neighborhood cleanup event, like that of the Great Brookhaven Cleanup or the Setauket-Port Jefferson Greenway trail cleanup, or the several town recycling initiatives, picking up litter on our daily walks or simply taking the time to tidy up our own front yards, every effort counts toward creating a cleaner, more inviting community for all.

Recycling initiatives are a crucial component of our spring cleaning efforts, providing us with a tangible way to reduce waste and protect the environment. As we sort through our belongings and declutter our homes, let us also be mindful of how we dispose of unwanted items. 

By recycling paper, plastics, glass and other materials, we not only conserve valuable resources but also help to minimize the burden on our landfills and reduce pollution. Let us make a concerted effort to incorporate recycling into our spring cleaning routines, setting aside items that can be repurposed or recycled rather than discarded.

In addition to traditional spring cleaning tasks, let us also consider other ways to preserve the beauty of our community and foster a sense of connection among residents. Planting native species in our gardens, supporting local environmental initiatives and advocating for sustainable practices are all ways in which we can contribute to the health and vitality of our community. By working together toward common goals, we can create a brighter, more sustainable future for generations to come.

As we embark on this season of renewal, let us seize the opportunity to make a positive impact on our community and the world around us. We can make a difference — one clean street, one recycled item, one act of kindness at a time.

Photo by Lynn Hallarman

By TBR Editorial Board

Within any community, there exist unsung heroes whose dedication and selflessness stand as pillars of strength, ready to respond in times of crisis. Among these heroes are the brave people who serve in our local emergency service organizations.

We owe a debt of gratitude to these individuals who often work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure our safety and well-being.

The landscape of volunteerism in our local emergency services is shifting, and not necessarily for the better. Across the state, we are witnessing a decline in the number of volunteers stepping forward to serve their communities. In 2023, the Firefighters Association of the State of New York reported ranks dropping by more than 30% statewide from 110,000 to under 80,000 in the past 20 years. 

This trend poses a significant challenge as our population continues to grow, placing an increased demand on emergency services.

Volunteer firefighters and emergency medical technicians have long been the backbone of our emergency response system, providing support ranging from medical crises to natural disasters. Their presence in our neighborhoods not only enhances our safety but also fosters a sense of unity and solidarity among residents.

Yet, as the demands on these services increase, the pool of volunteers is dwindling. The reasons behind this decline are multifaceted. Modern lifestyles often leave little room for the commitment required by volunteer emergency responders. Additionally, stringent training requirements and the inherent risks associated with the role can deter potential volunteers.

The ramifications of this decline in volunteerism are far-reaching. Shortages in staffing can lead to longer response times during emergencies, potentially jeopardizing lives and property. Moreover, the strain on existing volunteers can lead to burnout and reduced effectiveness in delivering timely aid.

We must recognize the importance of supporting our local emergency service organizations. First responders put their lives on the line day in and day out to keep our communities safe. Now more than ever, as our population burgeons and the need for emergency services grows, we must rally behind these invaluable organizations.

One solution lies in fostering a culture of volunteerism within our communities. By promoting awareness and appreciation for the vital role played by volunteer firefighters and EMTs, we can inspire more individuals to step forward and serve. More programs such as those offered by Port Jefferson EMS would help. 

Furthermore, we must invest in the training and resources necessary to equip our emergency service organizations for success. Adequate funding and support from state and local governments are essential in ensuring that our firefighters and EMTs have the tools and training they need to excel in their roles.

We have a responsibility to safeguard the well-being of our communities. Supporting our local emergency service organizations is not just a civic duty, it is a moral imperative. 

Prospective local officeholders participate in a Meet the Candidates forum hosted by the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association in 2023. Photo courtesy Joan Nickeson

In the heart of every thriving community lies a network of voices, opinions and ideas that form the very essence of its identity. These voices, when united through platforms such as civic associations and other civic groups, become a powerful force for positive change and progress. As we navigate the complexities of modern life, it is essential to recognize and emphasize the invaluable role that community forums play in representing the unified voice of residents.

Civic associations and similar groups serve as the lifeblood of local democracy, providing a platform where residents can come together to discuss issues that matter most to them. These forums offer a space for open dialogue, collaboration and problem-solving, allowing community members to actively engage in shaping the future of their neighborhoods and cities.

One of the primary benefits of community forums is their ability to amplify the collective voice of residents. In a world where individual voices can often feel drowned out by larger forces, these forums empower individuals to come together and advocate for common goals and interests. 

It is necessary for these groups to facilitate ongoing and productive dialogue rather than drown one another out with differences of opinions. The goal of such associations is to gather together and advocate together. Whether it’s for improved public services, addressing community concerns or promoting initiatives for positive change, the unified voice of residents carries significant weight in decision-making processes. 

Community forums foster a sense of belonging and solidarity among residents. By bringing people together from diverse backgrounds and perspectives, these forums bridge gaps and foster understanding, strengthening the social fabric of our communities. They provide opportunities for residents to connect, build relationships and work toward common objectives, creating a sense of shared ownership and responsibility for the well-being of their community.

Civic groups can serve as a vital link between residents and local government authorities. By acting as a platform for dialogue and collaboration, these forums enable residents to communicate their needs and priorities to decision-makers. This direct engagement not only ensures that the voices of residents are heard but also facilitates more informed and inclusive decision-making processes that reflect the genuine needs and aspirations of the community.

In today’s rapidly changing world, the importance of community forums cannot be overstated. As we face various challenges, ranging from urban development and environmental sustainability to affordability and changing public school landscapes, it is crucial to harness the collective wisdom and energy of our communities. 

By actively participating in civic associations and other civic groups, residents can contribute to the creation of vibrant, resilient and inclusive communities that reflect their values and aspirations.

A view of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. File photo

Upon the recent receipt of a letter from a Virginia-native third-grade student (see Letters to the Editor), TBR has begun to think retrospectively about what it is that makes our coverage area so unique.

As residents and representatives of Long Island’s North Shore, we often forget to share the natural beauty and cultural heritage that defines where we live. The allure of the picturesque beaches, lush woodlands and historic villages capture our hearts, making it an ideal place to call home.

In terms of making a living, our areas offer a diverse range of opportunities. From bustling commercial centers like those off Nesconset Highway to locally owned shops, residents here engage in various professions spanning industries such as health care, education, finance, hospitality and more. Here at TBR News Media, we work to keep the community informed and up to date on all local news and events.

Our area is also home to excellent academic influence provided enormous contributions made by our research institutions, like Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Brookhaven National Lab, and Stony Brook University and Medical Center, the flagship campus of the State University System. 

To paint a picture, our coverage area displays picture-perfect beaches stretching along the coastline, framed by towering bluffs and pebble-riddled sands. You can find quaint village scenery all throughout our coverage area from Shoreham/Wading River to Huntington/Cold Spring Harbor, exhibiting charming Colonial architecture and a pleasant way to tour the towns. 

For fun, residents and visitors alike indulge in a plethora of activities. From relaxing beach days and scenic walks through Avalon or Frank Melville parks to cultural events and culinary delights, there’s something for everyone. Whether it’s exploring historic landmarks on Washington’s Spy Trail, visiting the Long Island Museum, attending art festivals or catching a show at a local theater like Northport’s John W. Engeman Theater, the Smithtown Performing Arts Center or Port Jefferson’s Theatre Three, our coverage area offers endless opportunities for leisure and recreation.

As for wildlife, our coverage area is home to a diverse array of creatures. Along the coast, you may spot ospreys soaring overhead or even the endangered piping plover. Our rocky shoreline creates a unique habitat for horseshoe crabs, hermit crabs and fish galore. While inland, deer, fox and various bird species inhabit the woodlands and marshes, adding to our area’s natural charm.

When it comes to food, there is no shortage of options for whatever culinary palette you crave. Famous for our bacon-egg-and-cheese bagel sandwiches, gourmet delis, New-York-style pizza or fresh seafood caught off the shores to hearty Italian and Irish fare, there’s no shortage of delicious dishes to savor. 

For your ears, you’ll find a vibrant music scene with a diverse range of genres. From iconic rock bands like Billy Joel and Blue Öyster Cult to emerging indie artists and classical ensembles, the music of our area reflects the eclectic tastes and talents of its residents. Local tributes to music and entertainment are at the ready with the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame and The Jazz Loft, both located in Stony Brook, hosting various events catered to music enthusiasts.

For the athletes and sports fans, our local high schools represent some of the most competitive athletes across the state in all disciplines. Rocky Point High School Cheerleading earned another national title this year, while the Lady Patriots of Ward Melville High School were crowned soccer state champions. If that isn’t enough, our very own Stony Brook University is yet another destination for local sports viewing, representing some of the finest student-athletes in the NCAA.

Tourism is a driver of our local economy as well as we are fortunate to have the greatest city in the world, New York City, within reach. Our area is a treasure trove of natural beauty, cultural heritage and community spirit. A place where small-town charm meets cosmopolitan sophistication, where history whispers secrets from its streets and where a vibrant community thrives, hand in hand with the beauty of the natural world. This unique confluence is what continues to make our area a coveted haven in the heart of New York state.