Port Times Record

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The improved Port Jefferson Village website includes new features like paying parking tickets online. Image from village website

Port Jefferson Village is now accessible to residents and visitors in ways it never was before.

The village launched its upgraded website in June after countless hours of research, planning and development, and at this point the hard work seems to have paid off and then some.

“We just really wanted a much more vibrant [site], something that gives off the vibe of the village and we also felt that there was not a place where residents could get information that they really needed,” Mayor Margot Garant said in an interview last week.

A view of the website from a mobile device. Image from village website
A view of the website from a mobile device. Image from village website

Village officials interviewed half a dozen companies, Garant approximated, before settling on a collaboration between two that just happened to operate out of the same building on Main Street. The project cost the village about $40,000 all told, Garant said.

Kendra Beavis of Moka Graphics and Drew Linsalata of The Gotham Bus Company put their heads together to handle the data and design of the site. Garant said during the process she realized how much of an advantage it would be to have people who work right in the village working on a site that would serve as a gateway to Port Jefferson.

“We wanted a nice hometown look — they get us,” Garant said.

The new site has features tailored to residents. Information about recycling bins, leaf pickup, birth and death certificates, along with the ability to sign up for recreational events or pay for parking or even parking tickets were some of the highlights Garant mentioned which should serve to improve the residents overall web experience.

Though the list is much longer.

Garant said the village essentially crowdsourced ideas by asking various departments what they most frequently receive phone calls about on a daily basis. Now, most answers are a click away.

Another component had village employees like Jill Russell, who handles media relations for Port Jefferson, enthusiastic about the upgraded site’s features for visitors.

“I think one of the things that I really pushed with the site, the missing link was the visitors’ side,” Russell said in a phone interview Wednesday. Visitors can now get a feel for restaurants in the area, activities and other events before they even arrive in the village.

“I, for one, am very excited,” Russell said.

Garant and Russell both expressed excitement about another possibility that is still in the works for the site — information for prospective business owners about requirements and permits for opening a business, and eventually even listings of available spaces.

The site is not complete as more information and features are still being added.

Check out the new village website at portjeff.com on desktops or mobile devices.

Setauket native David Calone, left, barely trails former Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, right, after Tuesday’s primary election. File photos

Waiting is the hardest part.

The Democratic primary to decide who will face freshman U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) in the race for the 1st Congressional District seat in November was June 28, but as of print time on Wednesday, Zeldin’s opponent was still a mystery.

The former town supervisor in Southampton Anna Throne-Holst led Setauket native and former prosecutor and venture capitalist David Calone by just 29 votes when the dust settled on election night. More than a week later, it’s still unclear who will come out on top.

There are about 1,800 absentee ballots that haven’t been counted — roughly 15 percent of the overall vote

The Suffolk County Board of Elections will begin counting the 1,794 absentee ballots cast on Thursday, though a department employee said that process might take several days. The absentee ballots will be counted by a bipartisan team of department employees in addition to representatives from both campaigns at the Board of Elections office in Yaphank.

In emailed statements from their campaigns, both candidates expressed confidence about what the tally will hold after all the votes are counted and thanked their supporters for their hard work to date.

“I’m proud to be in the lead after election night, and am most especially proud of the positive campaign we ran,” Throne-Holst said through a press representative. “I owe a heartfelt debt of gratitude to our thousands of supporters and volunteers, who are invaluable partners in getting our message to voters.”

Calone said he has high hopes thanks to the nearly nonexistent deficit.

“Given that there are about 1,800 absentee ballots that haven’t been counted — roughly 15 percent of the overall vote — no one knows who will end up on top until we count every vote,” Calone said in a statement. “More than anything, I’m grateful to Democrats around the district who volunteered to help my campaign.”

Neither candidate hesitated to turn their sites toward Zeldin.

“I expect to prevail once every vote is counted and I look forward to continuing our campaign to provide a strong contrast to Congressman Lee Zeldin, who is one of Donald Trump’s greatest advocates in Washington,” Calone said.

Throne-Holst also invoked presumptive Republican presidential nominee and businessman Donald Trump in referring to Zeldin.

“I look forward to working with Democrats throughout the district as we focus on our common goal of defeating Lee Zeldin,” she said. “We all know Lee Zeldin is not looking forward to going up against my record, and voters will reject not only his extremist views and votes, but also his enthusiastic embrace of Donald Trump, who is dangerous for both Long Island and the country.”

At the end of the night on June 28, unofficial results showed Throne-Holst with 5,446 votes — 50.09 percent of the vote — and Calone with 5,417 votes — 49.82 percent.

Zeldin unseated six-term former U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop (D) by a wide margin back in 2014, with a final vote total of 54 percent to 45 percent.

Check back next week for an update and results, should the counting be complete.

Residents from all over Long Island flocked to parades and firework celebrations happening in from Brookhaven to Huntington, in honor of Independence Day.

Scenes from the pet parade. Photo by Bob Savage

Over 120 patrons and their pets took part in Comsewogue Public Library’s 16th annual Pet Parade in Port Jefferson Station on Monday, June 27. The front lawn of the library was full of dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, birds, rabbits and even chickens who made a truce to get along for a day. A wonderful time was had by all.

By Ellen Barcel

The Port Jefferson Village Center will present a very special exhibit, The Natural Beauty of Plum Island, from July 2 through Aug. 30. Two artists, photographer Robert Lorenz and painter John H. Sargent, will be showcasing approximately 70 of their works.

Shown previously in Connecticut and the East End of Long Island (including Plum Island itself), this is the first time that the show will be presented so far west. Lorenz, who lives in Connecticut but works in New York City, said, “I’m looking forward to having the show getting closer to New York City.” He added that the PJVC is such a great venue for showing the work because of its large size.

Sue Orifici (head of Graphic, Archival & Special Projects at the PJVC) noted that while the exhibit touches on the fact that the animal disease research at Plum Island is being moved, and the island scheduled to be sold, “mostly [the exhibit] is about the art.” She added, “The artists wanted people to understand how much life there is on the island.”

“The bulk of the island is undeveloped — about 85 percent — in its natural state,” said Lorenz.

Plum Island (technically part of Southold Township) is particularly important to the Long Island area, now, since the work on animal diseases research, carried out by the federal government, is scheduled to be moved to Kansas. Plans to sell the island for development have been met with much controversy. The Preserve Plum Island Coalition is working to keep the island undeveloped.

The island is currently under the control of the Department of Homeland Security. In 2009 Congress passed legislation that stipulated that if the animal disease center was moved off the island, the government could sell the island subject to government interests, to the highest bidder. “The animal research facility on Plum Island is still very active,” said Lorenz. “It has a long list of wonderful accomplishments. It’s the premier lab of its type in the world.” He noted that one of the major research accomplishments of the lab has been the control of hoof and mouth disease. “There has not been an outbreak in this country since the 1920s.” But it is found in other countries that rely on the lab for assistance. Because of its research projects, access to the island has been very limited. But, said Lorenz, “the years of secrecy did them no good,” as far as public relations is concerned.

The island consists of 830 acres of both wildlife habitat and historically significant sites such as the Plum Gut lighthouse built in 1870 and the 1897 Fort Terry army barracks and weapons batteries. The island was originally home to Native Americans who sold the island to a colonist in the 1600s. It is also home to threatened and endangered species of plants and animals. Noted Sargent, “It is the largest seal haul out in southern New England.” Anywhere from 180 to 200 seals at a time can be seen on the rocky southern side of the island, he said.

How did this unique exhibit come about? Lorenz and Sargent met on a tour of Plum Island organized by Save the Sound, a bi-state project of the nonprofit, Connecticut Fund for the Environment. “I was the only person allowed to photograph the island,” said Lorenz, who had applied beforehand and gone through a vetting process.

While Lorenz was photographing the natural beautify of the island, Sargent was sketching. Said Sargent, “Because we had to be escorted it didn’t allow me time to paint [on the scene] … I did most of my work in the studio,” based on his sketches and photographs as well as some of Lorenz’ photos.

A representative from Save the Sound suggested producing a traveling exhibit together. “Because access to Plum Island was limited, I saw it as a challenge,” said Lorenz who was always interested in environmental issues. “We went out 12 to 14 more times over a two-year period,” to photograph and sketch the island. “We were told when we could go out,” so the time of day and weather varied with each visit.

“In our shows we have some images that are similar,” a photo and a painting of the same scene said Sargent. These will be shown side by side. But many of their other works are very different and grouped by themes: night scenes, bluffs, winter scenes, etc. There are also scenes of the historic lighthouse.

Sargent was an art teacher for many years. Retired now, he is a professional, freelance artist who works in acrylics and pastels. “I have lived along the Connecticut shore most of my life, along the waters of Long Island Sound. I have an appreciation of the beauty and a concern for the health of the Sound,” he noted. Chris Cryder of the Preserve Plum Island Coalition will be making a presentation at the opening reception. According to Laura McMillan, of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, the coalition consists of 60 to 70 organizations and individuals working to prevent the development of the island. “Plum Island is not just a local, but a regional and even global area of concern,” she said.

Cryder noted that half of his presentation will be a virtual tour of the island. There will also be a panel discussion with several legislators [as of this writing, NYS Assemblyman Steven Englebright (D-Setauket) and NYS Senator Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) are scheduled to attend] discussing the current status of legislation pending in Congress. Cryder added that the Town of Southold created a conservation zone on the island.

If the legislation requiring the sale of the island is repealed, Cryder added that there are a number of possible uses for the island, “another research center? A renewable energy research lab? A marine research lab?” Possibly the island could be transferred to the National Parks Service. Long-term goals include saving the jobs of many of the people who work on Plum Island, saving the endangered species and opening up the island to public access — ecotourism.

The Natural Beauty of Plum Island, featuring work by Robert Lorenz and John Sargent, will be on view at the Port Jefferson Village Center, 101A East Broadway from July 2 through Aug. 30. An opening reception, to which all are invited, will be held on Thursday, July 7, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Both artists will be in attendance.

For further information, call 631-802-2160 or visit www.portjeff.com/facilities/village-center. The center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (10 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday).

Stony Brook University has changed its class policy during the coronavirus outbreak. File photo

By Colm Ashe

The general consensus among those who study the evaporating future of the global water supply is to blame population growth. However, a recent study out of Stony Brook University suggests climate change may be the dominant catalyst for future exposure to drought.

The number of people exposed to extreme drought would see a 426.6 percent increase by 2100 at the current rates of greenhouse gas emissions and population growth 

A team of scholars used 16 climate models and United Nation population growth projections to ensure a more accurate prediction. The study reported that the number of people exposed to extreme drought would see a 426.6 percent increase by 2100 at the current rates of greenhouse gas emissions and population growth. While many might agree that water scarcity will become increasingly more problematic in the future — especially if preventative actions don’t amp up fast — there is a difference between what each party suggests is the best approach: to focus on slowing population increases with socioeconomic development or to cut the rate of greenhouse gas emissions. This study states the latter may be the most efficient way to avoid widespread drought.

Their predictions attribute 59.5 percent of future drought to climate change and only 9.2 percent of the increase to population growth. The remaining 31.4 percent accounts for the combined effect of these two factors. According to Stony Brook University’s professor Oleg Smirnov, who was involved in conducting the study, the “results imply that top greenhouse gas-emitters have the greatest capacity to decrease future exposure to extreme drought.”

Though climate change mitigation policies may have the power to most effectively reduce the future effects of widespread drought, population growth is still an important factor to consider. “Population growth alone is responsible for over 35 million more people exposed to extreme drought globally per month by the end of the century,” Smirnov said. “However, we also found that, for the same period, climate change is responsible for about 230 million more people exposed to extreme drought.”

The conclusion that Smirnov and his team have come to portrays climate change as playing a more important role than population increase. However, each country is affected differently by each factor, so the solution is not as simple as just cutting emissions. The worst-case scenario would be to continue at the present rate of both greenhouse gas emissions and population growth. Regardless of which factor ranks in terms of importance, this study and many others like it suggest the same message: if we are to counter the effects of future global drought exposure, we need to act as soon as possible.

The cast of TURN on AMC. File photo

By Joseph Wolkin

Students of history will have the opportunity to participate in TURN ACADEMY, a program highlighting the significance of the Roe brothers’ involvement in George Washington’s Culper Spy Ring.

The North Shore has been more interested in the Revolutionary War-era spies since AMC began airing the TURN television series about Gen. Washington’s turncoats a few years ago, and now a six-week lecture series will break down the role of Port Jefferson’s Phillips and Nathaniel Roe, who were among those who helped supply Setauket’s Caleb Brewster with information for the patriots and Washington. The academy is held at the Drowned Meadow Cottage Museum in Port Jefferson Village, at Barnum Avenue and West Broadway.

The program will include a letter from Loyalist soldier Nehemiah Marks from Dec. 21, 1780, which informed his comrades about the Roe brothers. The lecture series will also feature multiple maps and other documents.

Historical consultant Georgette Grier-Key, a Long Island resident, detailed the academy in an interview.

A historic letter detailing the involvement of Port Jefferson brothers in George Washington's Culper Spy Ring is on display at the Drowned Meadow Cottage. Photo by Giselle Barkley
A historic letter detailing the involvement of Port Jefferson brothers in George Washington’s Culper Spy Ring is on display at the Drowned Meadow Cottage. Photo by Giselle Barkley

“It’s important because it is all about our local history,” she said. “There has been this new way of how history is being told. The importance of it has to do with the Culper Spy Ring. The program will mainly be about showing the reality versus fiction. We’re going to have a bunch of local historians that have specialized in fact and fiction. It’s entertainment and education conjoining.”

Grier-Key created an exhibit at the Drowned Meadow Cottage Museum based on Marks’ letter. The letter, according to Grier-Key, proves Port Jefferson’s involvement in the Culper Spy Ring.

“The importance for the Port Jefferson Village is the fact that we have this newly discovered letter,” Grier-Key explained. “It’s rediscovered because the letter was originally found in the early 19th century. The letter resurfaced, and that’s a really important part of [the] history of Port Jefferson.”

The program began on June 24 and runs weekly through July 29, from 6 to 8:30 p.m., at the Port Jefferson Village Center.

Mark Rothenberg, Mark Sternberg and Jim “Zak” Szakmary will lead the discussions. Each speaker will lead two lectures, with a cost of $120 to attend the series.

Rothenberg is a senior reference specialist, along with being a history liaison for Suffolk cooperative library system and Patchogue-Medford Library, while Sternberg is an entertainment attorney who represents independent film, television and news media producers; creative talent; production companies and distributors. Szakmary is a former president of Narrow Bay Historical Society and a current Suffolk County Historical Society researcher.

Grier-Key said the program is open to any age group, and is still accepting participants.

“The goal is to provide a learning opportunity for history within the local region,” Grier-Key said. “More importantly, the fictional series that people know is fiction is something we can use as education, and compare it to what really happened. This is our history of how early America started and how the local community evolved with patriotism.”

Mayor Margot Garant discusses the new historic letter mounted on the wall at the Drowned House Cottage museum in Port Jefferson. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Mayor Margot Garant discusses the new historic letter mounted on the wall at the Drowned House Cottage museum in Port Jefferson. Photo by Giselle Barkley

North Shore shows support in family’s time of need

Supporters display custom-made #PrayforDan shirts donated by Port Jeff Sports. Photo from Facebook

Helen Keller once said, “alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” And in former Comsewogue baseball player Daniel Colasanto’s time of need, the community has come together to be the catalyst for recovery, in mind, body and spirit.

Colasanto suffered significant head trauma after being hit by a car on Route 25A around 1 a.m. on June 16. The 18-year-old received what his father Wayne called “life-saving surgery” at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson before he was transported to Stony Brook Hospital’s trauma center.

“The care that he has received, although a different type of care, has been parallel with the efforts and outpouring of the community,” Wayne Colasanto said of the staff at both hospitals. “You couldn’t ask for more. They’ve been that impressionable.”

Friends and family wait in the hospital lobby. Photo from Facebook
Friends and family wait in the hospital lobby. Photo from Facebook

Following the accident, the family’s pastor, Randy Paige, of Christ Church United Methodist in Port Jefferson Station, held a prayer service for Daniel, who his father said always wakes up with a smile because he finds the good in everything.

“It’s a small church,” Colasanto said. “And there were over 300 people there — there was zero room left. Some of the people included surgeons, people Danny played baseball with 10 years ago, teachers, guidance counselors, an endless amount of family members. There was a potpourri of people from every facet of our life represented at that prayer service. It was truly amazing.”

And that support hasn’t quieted down. It’s still more than noticeable — as the community helped the Colasanto family heal.

Wayne Colasanto said the family has received food, blankets and other things to keep the average 25 kids in the waiting room comfortable, almost entirely from anonymous donors.

“That, to me, speaks volumes,” he said. “I always felt that the gift was in the giving, not the recognition.”

The Port Jefferson Station family has also received donations from local and surrounding community establishments.

Chick-fil-A in Port Jefferson Station has brought in freshly cooked food to the Ronald McDonald Lounge on the 11th floor of the hospital every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. GREEK-TO-GO in Stony Brook has brought a “humongo” Greek salad every day, and Gyro Palace in Rocky Point has also supplied food.

“Seeing the caring spirit in humanity, the general concern of people you don’t even know and how they have leaped into action in support, it’s humbling.”

— Wayne Colasanto

“The people who are donating to our family are feeding everyone up on the 11th floor,” Colasanto said. “The amount of food that’s been donated through friends, other restaurants — if we were having an eating contest at Coney Island on the Fourth of July we couldn’t get through all the food.”

And the donations keep coming.

Colasanto said that every time he goes downstairs to retrieve donations, he’s almost immediately sent back, if not interrupted on his way back upstairs, to collect more donations.

Assistance has also come in other forms.

Zachary Colasanto, one of Daniel’s older brothers, is extremely close with his brother.

“They’ve never had a fight in their life,” Wayne Colasanto said.

The father said that when Daniel was a junior and Zachary a senior, they approached him to ask if they could forego their own bedrooms and purchase a bunk bed to live as they did when they were younger.

“That’s how close they are. But as a parent with some wisdom, I said absolutely not,” Wayne Colasanto said, laughing.

Zachary Colasanto wanted to do something special to show support for his brother, who was a four-year varsity baseball player for the Warriors, and started on varsity as an eighth-grader at The Stony Brook School. Colasanto also played football at Comsewogue, and is currently on the roster as a pitcher at The College of Saint Rose.

Zachary had T-shirts made at Port Jeff Sporting Goods, which have the hashtag #PrayforDan and the No. 42, Daniel’s jersey number, on the back. When Daniel’s eldest brother Michael went to pick up the 50 shirts that Port Jeff Sports helped design and make, they would not accept payment.

“I was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude at the fact that Port Jeff Sports was generous enough to donate those shirts,” Zachary Colasanto said. “It is incredible to see the love and support the entire community has been sharing with my family during this very difficult time.”

Wayne Colasanto said Father’s Day was especially difficult, but added it was also a positive reminder.

Former Comsewogue baseball player Daniel Colasanto suffered head trauma after being hit by a car on Route 25A. Photo from Facebook
Former Comsewogue baseball player Daniel Colasanto suffered head trauma after being hit by a car on Route 25A. Photo from Facebook

“It was probably the toughest Father’s Day, but it’s the one that I feel the most blessed about, because of the unity of my family,” he said. “I had to fight his friends to go home on Saturday night before Father’s Day. They literally refused. I told them that they would not outwait me. And before noon, they were all back here the following morning.”

Other area businesses and community members continue to show support. A GoFundMe page was created by a friend, to help raise money for the family: www.gofundme.com/dancolasantosfight. Also, Sundaes in Port Jefferson Station, on Route 112, will be holding a fundraiser on Friday, July 1. The day happens to be Daniel’s 19th birthday. The fundraiser will be held from 5 to 8 p.m., and 20 percent of all sales will be donated.

That constant, and around-the-clock support has opened Wayne Colasanto’s eyes.

“I don’t mean to sound cynical, but it’s almost disbelief,” he said. “I’ve admittedly adopted a cynical look at people in general because of their abrasiveness at times, and after seeing the caring spirit in humanity, the general concern of people you don’t even know and how they have leaped into action in support, it’s humbling. I just feel rejuvenated in my own mind about people in general. I’ll never forget what people have done. You can’t put into words.”

To stay updated on Daniel’s condition, you can visit the Facebook page the family has created, called Daniel Colasanto’s Fight: www.facebook.com/danielcolasantosfight/.

Comsewogue High School held its graduation ceremony on the football field on June 23. Nearly 300 seniors that made up the class of 2016 were recognized on a perfect summer evening. Speakers included District Superintendent Joe Rella, School Board President John Swenning, New York State Sen. Chuck Schumer (D), senior class President Julia Diaz, Valedictorian Casey Nevins and Salutatorian Eric Ranaldi.

PJFD responds to a fire at Billie's 1890 Saloon on Main Street. Photo by Alex Petroski
PJFD responds to a fire at Billie’s 1890 Saloon on Main Street. Photo by Alex Petroski

A well-known watering hole on Main Street in Port Jefferson is closing its doors — at least for a little while — after a fire shut it down late Monday afternoon.

Billie’s 1890 Saloon, located on the western side of Main Street near the intersection of East Main Street and about a quarter of a mile south of Port Jefferson Harbor, was ablaze after a fire started toward the rear of the building around 4 p.m. on Monday.

Port Jefferson Fire Chief Charlie Russo addressed the incident after the flames were extinguished.

“Right now it’s just a fire that started in the back area of the building— it’s under investigation so I can’t give you too much information, but again it started in the back of the building, not the street side of the building,” Russo said. The kitchen is located in the back of the building.

“It was extinguished fairly quickly and minimal damage was done,” Russo said.

Russo also said that one civilian was taken to John T. Mather Memorial Hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation after the blaze.

A spokesman for the business who was on site after the fire declined to comment Monday, but two messages were posted on the saloon’s Facebook page later that night.

“We are temporarily closed for business,” the first message read at about 5:20 p.m.

The second message was posted just before 8 p.m.

“If not for the [Port Jefferson Fire Department],” the message said. “Billie’s would have been no more. Thank you for the prompt response! We will be back soon. [We’ll] keep you posted.”

It is unclear how long Billie’s will remain closed.