Port Times Record

Severe weather toppled trees and downed power lines across the North Shore on Tuesday morning, leaving roads unnavigable and residents without electricity in areas including Port Jefferson, Setauket, Smithtown and Stony Brook.

The National Weather Service sent out three separate thunderstorm warnings in the early morning hours between 4 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. citing reports of hail, thunderstorms and wind damage with trees falling onto homes and power lines down throughout the Port Jefferson area. By daybreak, intense winds and rain made way for a sunny morning that revealed the aftermath of the storm. Trees were in the streets and traffic lights had gone black.

By 11 a.m. on Tuesday, utility PSEG Long Island reported more than 20,000 customers in Brookhaven Town without power and more than 8,000 in Smithtown. Over 42,000 customers were affected in total and as of 10:30 a.m. 38,027 are without power throughout Long Island and the Rockaways, PSEG said.

Route 25A in East Setauket was a hotbed of activity on Tuesday morning, and the Suffolk County Police Department urged drivers to treat outed traffic lights as stop signs in lieu of electricity. In fact, SCPD requested all drivers to completely avoid Route 25A all together on Tuesday morning in Port Jefferson, Setauket and Stony Brook as various road closures were underway to remove trees from the streets. By 10:30 a.m., SCPD announced that Route 25A was closed in both directions between Franklin Street and Stony Hill Road in Port Jefferson.

Lights along Nicolls Road in Stony Brook, and all lights from Nicolls Road on Route 25A stretching to Main Street in Setauket were out this morning. Tree and leaves were strewn across Route 25A, and traffic moved slowly along the thoroughfare in the Setauket and Stony Brook areas. SCPD cars were a common sight. The lights were out at many businesses along Main Street in Stony Brook.

In a statement, Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine said he was working with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office to coordinate resources to respond to hard-hit areas.

“The storm that hit this morning caused extensive damage and power outages throughout the North Shore, and I have authorized all resources from Parks and Waste Management Departments to assist the Highway Department in the clean-up effort,” he said. “Our Emergency Operations Center was activated at 6:30 a.m. and currently, a PSEG representative is coordinating efforts to restore power to more than 21,000 Brookhaven residents.”

The Smithtown Fire Department responded to a call of the first of many downed power lines at 5:01 a.m., according to spokesman Jeff Bressler. The alarms were the result of a quick-moving powerful storm that made its way through the Smithtown area. As of 8:43 a.m., eight calls were dispatched for wires in addition to a CO activation and a mutual aid to a structural fire in St. James, Bressler said.

The National Weather Service also issued a coastal hazard message as the storm battered the North Shore, warning residents to watch out for strong rip currents flowing away from the shorelines.

Rohma Abbas contributed to this report.

Tweet us your updates on the aftermath of the storm @TBRNewspapers.

Send us your storm photos to News@TBRNewspapers.com.

A local effort to ban a popular ingredient in beauty products has support on the federal level.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman visited Long Island recently to announce the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015, a bipartisan federal bill that would ban cosmetics containing plastic pellets called microbeads, which are frequently smaller than 1 millimeter in diameter and are found in face washes, shampoos, beauty products and other soaps.

Because of their size, most wastewater treatment systems are unable to filter out the microbeads, so they are released into local waterways like the Long Island Sound. But microbeads accumulate toxins in the water, and fish and birds ingest them. Public health could be at risk if the fish are reeled in and eaten.

Schneiderman reported that about 19 tons of the small pellets pass through New York wastewater treatment plants each year.

Gillibrand’s bill has sponsors and co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle, most of them from the Midwest, according to a press release from the senator’s office. It is similar to a New York state-level bill of the same name, which is Schneiderman’s effort to prohibit the sale and distribution of products containing microbeads.

“These tiny pieces of plastic have already caused significant ecological damage to New York’s waterways,” Gillibrand said, “and they will continue to do so until they are removed from the marketplace.”

The state bill passed the Assembly in the last session but was not put up for a vote in the Senate, despite having more co-sponsors than the number of votes it would have needed to pass.

New York is not alone in pushing to ban microbeads — Illinois has already given them the axe, and other states are considering similar legislation.

Many local residents first heard about the issue when Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) led her colleagues to passing a law that required the county to study how a microbead ban would affect health and the economy.

She commended officials for their anti-microbead effort on the national stage.

“The threat posed by microbead waste is of national consequence,” Hahn said in the press release. “The cumbersome task of tackling this issue [from] municipality to municipality and state to state will never prove as effective as a federal approach.”

Adrienne Esposito, the executive director of the local Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said there are other effective alternatives to microbeads, such as apricot shells, salt and oatmeal.

“The public expects facial soaps and toothpaste to clean our face and teeth, not pollute our waters,” Esposito said. “Plastic microbeads pollute our waters, contaminate our fish and shellfish, and could end up back on our dinner plates. They are completely unnecessary.”

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The deck of the Martha E. Wallace, taken by John M. Brown. Photo from the Port Jefferson Village archive
Spectators fill the dock to watch the Martha E. Wallace launch, taken by John M. Brown. Photo from the Port Jefferson Village archive
Spectators fill the dock to watch the Martha E. Wallace launch, taken by John M. Brown. Photo from the Port Jefferson Village archive

It was the largest wooden sailing vessel ever built in Port Jefferson, during the village’s shipyard heyday.

The Martha E. Wallace was built at the Mather & Wood Shipyard in 1902 and topped off at more than 200 feet long and 1,108 tons, according to a history of prominent residents interred at Port Jefferson’s Cedar Hill Cemetery written by cemetery historian George Moraitis.

John Titus Mather — the very same whose name is memorialized on a Port Jefferson hospital, and one in a long line of shipbuilders — and Owen E. Wood had started the shipyard around 1879. Located on the harbor, near the current ferry terminal site, they quickly got to work building the first ship for the Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company, Nonowantuc, a wooden-hulled steam ferry, and later the original Park City ferry before designing the Martha E. Wallace.

The Martha E. Wallace is docked at Steamboat Landing. Photo from the Port Jefferson Village archive
The Martha E. Wallace is docked at Steamboat Landing. Photo from the Port Jefferson Village archive

The schooner Martha E. Wallace launched on Aug. 2, 1902. According to “Images of America: Port Jefferson,” written by local library staffers Robert Maggio and Earlene O’Hare, it was “the last of the great schooners built in Port Jefferson,” with four masts and 16 sails. Those sails were made at the Wilson Sail Loft, another village business situated at the harbor.

About 2,000 people witnessed the ship’s launch, Maggio and O’Hare wrote, but the majesty was short-lived — the vessel was destroyed eight years later when she ran aground off the coast of North Carolina.

The Martha E. Wallace, under construction, sits at the Mather and Wood Shipyard with the Ida C. Southard, which is getting repairs. Photo from the Port Jefferson Village archive
The Martha E. Wallace, under construction, sits at the Mather and Wood Shipyard with the Ida C. Southard, which is getting repairs. Photo from the Port Jefferson Village archive

That incident was early one morning in late December 1910, and records show the Martha E. Wallace got stranded near Cape Lookout in the Southern Outer Banks, while carrying cargo on a trip between Georgia and New York. The small crew was rescued as the schooner was rapidly taking on water.

The Martha E. Wallace was one of several dozens of vessels the Mather family had a hand in building. A half-hull model of the ship is on display — along with other ship models and shipbuilding tools — at the historical society’s Mather Museum on Prospect Street in downtown Port Jefferson, based at a former Mather family home.

People should go through several bottles of sunscreen in one season. Using an ounce of sunscreen is ideal, as companies measure the SPF of a sunscreen by applying that amount of sunscreen to the body. Photo by Giselle Barkley

A little dab here and a little dab there. That’s usually how people apply sunscreen to their skin, according to Dr. Michael Dannenberg of Dermatology Associates of Huntington, chief of dermatology at Huntington Hospital. But with around one in five people developing skin cancer on their scalp, a dab of sunscreen isn’t enough.

Skin cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers in America, and cases for scalp cancer have increased in the past several years. While those who don’t have hair may be more prone to getting scalp cancer in comparison to those with hair, anyone can develop any form of skin cancer on this area of their body.

Squamous cell and basal cell carcinoma are common for those who are frequently exposed to the sun and those who are losing hair. Melanoma can also develop on the scalp. In 1935, one in 1,500 people developed melanoma, but the rate has since increased. Now, one in 50 people have a lifetime risk of developing melanoma.

According to Dr. Tara Huston, a surgeon in the Melanoma Management Team for Stony Brook Medicine, there will be 74,000 new cases this year of melanoma in the United States alone. Huston also said that this form of skin cancer usually requires a surgeon’s attention, as it calls for “a larger excision margin than either basal or squamous cell skin cancer.”

Huston and her team help patients with various forms of skin cancer. While dermatologists treat skin cancers like melanoma if caught early, people with more advanced stages of skin cancer may need surgery and additional treatment to recover. A patient’s lymph nodes are also examined. Lymph nodes are responsible for the drainage of certain parts of the skin. Doctors can further repair issues found from examining the nodes associated with the cancer in that area.

Sunburns, above, and increased sun exposure increase an individual’s risk of getting skin cancer like Melanoma, which accounts for four percent of cases, but 75 percent of skin cancer-related deaths according to Dr. Huston. Photo from Alexandra Zendrian
Sunburns, above, and increased sun exposure increase an individual’s risk of getting skin cancer like Melanoma, which accounts for four percent of cases, but 75 percent of skin cancer-related deaths according to Dr. Huston. Photo from Alexandra Zendrian

Although skin cancer of the scalp is not difficult to detect, Dr. Dannenberg says it can be missed because it is on the head. Lesions can vary based on the form of skin cancer on the scalp. Yet, it is easy to detect, especially when people receive frequent haircuts. According to Dannenberg, his office receives countless referrals from barbers and hairstylists who may find a cancerous lesion on their client’s heads.

Huston agreed with Dannenberg regarding the role of barbers and hairstylists, as a number of skin cancer lesions are identified by these professionals.

Squamous cell carcinoma appears in dull, red, rough and scaly lesions, while basal cell carcinoma appears as raised, pink and wax-like bumps that can bleed. Melanoma on the scalp appears as it would on any other part of the body — irregularly shaped, dark-colored lesions.

While sunscreen is more often associated with skin protection, dermatologists like Dannenberg also recommend protective clothing and hats. Cloth hats allow the wearer’s head to breathe while protecting the scalp. Hats with a three and a half inch or more rim offer the best protection, as they cover the head while protecting the ears and other parts of the face or neck. While people can also use straw hats, the hats should be densely woven and not allow sun to penetrate. Hats as well as sunscreen and protective clothing should be used together to provide people with the best form of sun protection.

“Nobody is completely compulsive about putting on that hat every moment they walk out the door,” Dannenberg said. “Likewise, even for people [who] are using sunscreens, people tend not to use enough of it and they don’t reapply it as often as necessary.”

One ounce of sunscreen might be hard to hold without dripping down the side of someone’s hand, but it is the amount of sunscreen people should use on their entire body. Dannenberg also says that sunscreens usually last for about three hours before people need to reapply.

Since few people follow the directions when applying sunscreen, Dannenberg as well as the American Academy of Dermatology recommend people use sunscreens with at least SPF 30. Using sunscreens with higher SPF counts means that people can under apply and still get some degree of sun and ultraviolet radiation protection.

Huston said individuals who don’t want to wear sunscreen or those with a history of tanning should seek a dermatologist and schedule appointments at least once a year to conduct a full body skin examination.

According to Huston, operating on areas of the head like the ears, nose, eyelids, lips and scalp is difficult because of the surrounding tissue.

“Reconstruction of a 2 cm defect on the nose may require multiple stages/surgeries in order to optimize the aesthetic result,” Huston said in an e-mail interview.

While some patients need skin grafts upon the removal of a cancerous lesion, Huston said, “incisions on the scalp can lead to alopecia, or hair loss along the incision line, if it stretches, and can be very upsetting to patients.”

Both Huston and Dannenberg emphasized the importance of protecting the skin and skin cancer education. Dannenberg hopes that the rates of skin cancer will decrease if people are more consistent about protecting their skin with protective attire, sunscreen and hats.

“We’ve been talking to people for years about wearing hats…telling them that as fashion always seems to follow need, that these hats are going to be coming in style,” Dannenberg said. “We’re hoping that over the next 10 or 15 years, we’ll be able to get a drop in the incidences of skin cancer.”

Exploring
A 2004 Ford Explorer was stolen after its owner left the vehicle and went to an ATM on Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station on July 26 at around 1 a.m. A wallet containing credit cards was left in the car, and police said the cards were used.

Not kool, man
An unknown masked man demanded money and took off with the whole cash register from the Kool Mart on Hallock Avenue in Port Jefferson Station, at around 9:20 p.m. on July 21.

Forgetful
A wallet left behind at a 7-Eleven on Old Town Road in Port Jefferson Station didn’t make it back to its owner. Police said the owner reported returning to the convenience store on July 20 to find someone else took it.

Bumper cars
A 51-year-old Port Jefferson Station woman was arrested and charged with leaving the scene of an incident involving property damage on July 21. According to police, the woman was driving a 2013 Chevy Traverse on July 1 in Setauket when she struck the right side of the rear bumper on a 2006 Honda minivan and fled the scene.

Shattered
A resident on Main Street in Port Jefferson awoke to glass breaking at around 3 a.m. on July 26 and reported a door pane had been broken.

Knocked down
A man was knocked unconscious on West Broadway in Port Jefferson at around 1:40 a.m. on July 25. Police said the man was punched in the face, fell on the pavement and struck his head. He was transported to a local hospital for medical treatment.

Not fast enough
A woman who had dropped her cell phone in a Miller Place parking lot on Route 25A on July 20 reported that someone else claimed and took the phone before she returned.

Garden Road getaway
A Garden Road resident in Rocky Point returned home on July 20 at around 3:30 p.m. to find the front door open and several items, including two flat-screen TVs, jewelry and an Xbox 360, stolen.

Game on
At around 8:30 p.m. on July 25, a man entered a Game Stop in Centereach and demanded cash. Police said he displayed what appeared to be a weapon wrapped in a white cloth. The store clerk obliged and the man fled with cash.

Mission: Impossible
At around 10:30 p.m. on July 21 an unknown person or persons broke through the wall of a Middle Country Road store in Centereach to gain entry to the adjacent shop and attempted to pry open a vault there but was unsuccessful.

Dine and dash
Someone stole a leather wallet from a 2006 Toyota parked at the Suffolk Diner in Centereach at around 1 p.m. on July 20.

It’s personal
A 24-year-old Middle Island woman was arrested in Selden on July 22 and charged with second-degree forgery after she forged a signature on a personal check and chased it.

Off-road thief
A Clearview Avenue resident in Selden reported on July 24 that between 1 and 6 a.m. someone stole a 2005 Yamaha ATV from the backyard.

A quick DWI
Police said a 22-year-old man from Setauket was arrested in Stony Brook on July 25 at 1:42 a.m. and charged with driving while intoxicated. Police said the man was pulled over driving north on County Road 97 in Stony Brook because he was speeding.

DWI crash
A 23-year-old woman from North Massapequa was arrested in Stony Brook on July 24 and charged with driving while intoxicated after being involved in a motor vehicle crash. Police said the woman was driving a 2014 Nissan southbound on Quaker Path in Stony Brook at about 6 p.m. when she was involved in the crash.

Tablet grab
Someone entered an unlocked 2010 Honda Civic parked at a Bentley Lane home in Stony Brook on July 25 and stole an iPad tablet. The incident occurred sometime between 5:13 and 8 p.m.

That Chase
Someone stole money from the Chase bank account of someone who lives on Pheasant Court in Stony Brook. The incident happened sometime around 9:18 p.m. on July 24.

Infiniti window shattered
Someone entered a locked 2012 Infiniti by shattering the rear driver side window and stole money from the car. The car was parked at World Gym in Setauket on Mark Tree Road. The incident happened sometime between 2 and 3 p.m. on July 24.

Stop & Punch
Police said a woman reported that a man punched her in the face while at Stop & Shop on Route 25A in Setauket-East Setauket on July 24 at 9 p.m. She said the punch caused a cut lip.

Stop for a DWI
A 32-year-old man from Medford was arrested in Smithtown on July 25 at about 2:30 a.m. and charged with driving while intoxicated. Police said he was pulled over at Route 25 and Terry Road in Smithtown after failing to stop for a red traffic light.

To the left, to the left
Police said a 34-year-old man from Nesconset was arrested on July 23 at 12:07 a.m. and charged with driving while intoxicated. According to police, the man, who was driving westbound on Lake Avenue in Nesconset, was pulled over after he failed to signal left and was observed speeding.

Sloppy DWI
A 20-year-old woman from Setauket was arrested in Nesconset on July 23 and charged with driving while intoxicated. Police said she was driving eastbound on Route 25 at 2:20 a.m. in a 2009 Jeep and failed to maintain a single lane of travel, driving onto the shoulder of the road.

Missing jewels
Someone stole a jewelry box on the bathroom vanity of a home on Nissequogue River Road in Smithtown sometime between July 25 at 10 a.m. and July 26 at 9 a.m.

Hotel heist
A woman from Madison Street in Smithtown told police she gave someone a deposit on what she thought was a six-night stay at a hotel, but the person had no connection to the hotel. The bank transfer occurred on July 17 at about 10 p.m.

Car parts jacked
Tires and rims were stolen off of a 2015 Chevy parked at Enterprise Rent-A-Car on East Main Street in Smithtown on July 21 at 8:45 p.m.

A dark day
Someone took Ray-Ban and red Maui Jim sunglasses and jewelry by breaking a rear driver-side window of a BMW parked at Carrabba’s Italian Grill on Smithtown Bypass in Smithtown on July 22.

School graffiti reported
An unknown person made graffiti at the R.J.O. Intermediate School on Old Dock Road in Kings Park by spray-painting two walls sometime between noon and 1:49 p.m. on July 25.

Cadillac grab
Someone stole a 2009 Cadillac containing property from St. Johnland Nursing Center on Sunken Meadow Road in Kings Park sometime on July 23 at 11:20 p.m. to July 24 at 8:30 a.m.

Lights out
Someone damaged the left taillights of two vehicles on Ellen Place in Kings Park on July 23 sometime between 11:30 and 11:45 p.m. There have been no arrests.

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Photo by Elana Glowatz

A Miller Place official will change his rally colors to purple and white this summer.

The Port Jefferson school board hired Robert Neidig as the district’s new middle school principal on July 28, a couple of months after three-year principal Antonio Santana announced he would not return to the position for the 2015-16 school year.

Neidig, an assistant principal at North Country Road Middle School for the past eight years, will start at Port Jefferson on Aug. 17, a letter to the community from Superintendent Ken Bossert said.

A recent press release from the Port Jefferson school district said Neidig has two master’s degrees from Stony Brook University and a doctorate in educational administration from Dowling College, and started his career as a social studies teacher in Babylon before becoming an administrator.

At Miller Place, he “fostered a positive relationship between the school and community, initiated character education programs to improve the school climate, facilitated the implementation of the Common Core Learning Standards and served as chairperson for four academic departments,” the press release said.

Until Neidig officially makes the move to Royals country, the middle school has an interim principal, Leonard Bozza, who was once the Longwood High School principal and has previously served in interim roles in Port Jefferson: once as an assistant principal and once as the high school principal.

In addition to appointing the new Port Jefferson Middle School leader, the school board also added Brentwood’s head of speech and hearing, Jodi Cahill, as the new director of special education and Claudia Smith, currently a Middle Country school district staffer, as the elementary and middle school assistant principal.

Cahill has a master’s in speech language pathology from LIU Post and served on Brentwood’s special education committee, the press release said. Smith has been an elementary teacher for 18 years and has a master’s from Dowling College.

“Each was selected based upon outstanding vision, strong content knowledge, and the ability to collaborate with all stakeholders in an effective manner,” Bossert said of the three new staffers.

The district is still looking for an assistant principal for Earl L. Vandermeulen High School, and Bossert said the goal is to have one appointed before school starts.

Neidig, Cahill and Smith are part of a new lineup throughout Port Jefferson schools. In addition to replacing Santana, the district had to find a replacement for Matthew Murphy, the former high school principal, who announced his departure a few months before Santana. Officials recently promoted Christine Austen to the position from her role as the assistant principal for grades pre-k through 12.

Smith is absorbing Austen’s former elementary and middle school duties and the educator who is hired as the high school’s assistant principal will complete that transition.

“This is an exciting time in the Port Jefferson school district,” Bossert said in the press release. “[It is] a time filled with opportunities for growth and development as new leaders join the team.”

Panda the cat is looking for a loving home. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Panda, a black and white domestic short hair, has spent most of his life at Save-A-Pet Animal Rescue and Adoption Center in Port Jefferson Station. Every day this 4-year-old male lounges about his space in the shelter and waits for someone to walk in and adopt him.

Panda had lived in the shelter since December 2012. Save-A-Pet worker Susan Manolakis said Panda was adopted in the past but was returned for an undisclosed reason.

Since then Panda has been patiently waiting to find a permanent place to call home beyond the shelter. The only thing stopping people from adopting this calm and friendly cat is that he has tested positive for feline HIV/AIDS, otherwise known as FIV.

Save-A-Pet Executive Director Lynne Schoepfer said it’s possible he contracted the disease from his mother.

The disease cannot be passed from cats to humans. Panda can also be around other cats as long as they don’t bite, fight aggressively or mate.

Although Panda may catch or have more difficulty recovering from a cold, he is a healthy cat who will live a long life with the right diet and living conditions. Panda doesn’t show any symptoms of FIV, but the shelter recommends that cats like Panda avoid going outside and remain indoors to stay healthy.

Panda is neutered, has tested negative for feline leukemia, and is up-to-date with his vaccinations. Won’t you open your heart and home to this calm and friendly sweetheart? Save-A-Pet is waiving his adoption fee to help him find a family.

Save-A-Pet is located at 608 Route 112, Port Jefferson Station. For more information, call 631-473-6333 or visit www.saveapetli.net.

Astros second baseman and catcher is originally from Kings Park

Craig Biggio and wife Patty greet the crowd at an MLB Hall of Fame induction parade. Photo by Clayton Collier

By Clayton Collier

Much like he did during his 20-year playing career, Craig Biggio left it all out on the field Sunday.

However, instead of an orange-and-white Houston Astros jersey and eye black, the former catcher and second baseman was donning a navy blue suit and a touch of perspiration seeping from his forehead on the hazy summer afternoon, with the hair above his ears just beginning to show signs of graying.

Instead of coming to bat before a packed Astrodome or Minute Maid Park, Biggio took to the podium in front of an estimated 45,000 people on the grassy plain behind the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown to accept his induction into the MLB Hall of Fame.

Grinning ear-to-ear as he began his 17-minute speech, Biggio spoke at length about the place where the journey to his now-Hall of Fame career began, “in a little town, Kings Park, New York.”

A young Craig Biggio tags out a base runner for Seton Hall University. Photo from Seton Hall
A young Craig Biggio tags out a base runner for Seton Hall University. Photo from Seton Hall

Senator John Flanagan (R-East Northport), who represents the Second Senate District, congratulated Biggio in a statement on his Facebook page saying the longtime Houston Astro is “an inspiration to young local athletes by showing them that they can achieve greatness if they work hard every day.”

Biggio, a member of the 3,000-hit club, said he acquired his work ethic from his parents, Yolanda and Lee. The seven-time All-Star’s voice became shaky as he described them: “two hard-working people who are no longer here. But I know they’re watching.’’

His father was an air-traffic controller who never missed a game. Every day, Biggio said, his father would tie a rope around his waist, then to the backstop while he threw to the young slugger during batting practice to prevent him from lunging at the plate.

“It worked,” Biggio said in his acceptance speech, hours before his plaque was installed in the MLB Hall of Fame. “But I came home every day with rope burns around my waist.”

Biggio said although sports were important, he had a number of commitments that kept him busy.

“Growing up in Kings Park, I had three responsibilities: school, sports and I had a job,” he said. “My job was I had a newspaper route.”

Baseball was not the only sport Biggio thrived in at Kings Park. The now 49-year-old was awarded the Hansen Award, recognizing the best football player in Suffolk County in 1983. Kevin Johnson, the then-assistant football coach at Kings Park, said at the time, he thought Biggio was better at football than he was baseball. Earlier this week at dinner, Johnson said he and then-Kings Park baseball coach John Rottkamp pinned Biggio down to the question of whether he thought his talents were superior in baseball or football.

“He picked the sport with the larger ball,” Johnson said with a laugh. “He thought he was a better football player at the time, too.”

Craig Biggio, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and John Smoltz are MLB Hall of Fame inductees. Photo by Clayton Collier
Craig Biggio, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and John Smoltz are MLB Hall of Fame inductees. Photo by Clayton Collier

Biggio had received interest from major football programs such as Boston College and Oklahoma State University, among others, but Johnson said the schools were looking at him as a punt and kickoff returner — a rough position on the body for any athlete, let alone a 5-foot, 10-inch, 165-pound high school senior.

“That’s not a safe occupation in football when you’re undersized,” Johnson said. “When we found out what colleges were going to do with him, right away we were a little nervous that he was just going to get so banged up. Then the Seton Hall scholarship fell into place.”

St. John’s head baseball coach Ed Blankmeyer, then an assistant coach at Seton Hall University under Mike Sheppard — and now Blankmeyer’s father-in-law — was responsible for recruiting Biggio to the Pirates. Blankmeyer said it was Biggio’s hard-nosed style of play, in spite of his small stature, that initially struck him.

“He played bigger than his size,” said Blankmeyer, who has amassed 688 wins in his 19 seasons as head coach of the Red Storm. “He had some outstanding skills. He could run like the wind, he could hit, he had outstanding instinct, but whether he played good or bad, you always found something good about Craig Biggio and the way he played the game. He played with an intensity; he played with a big heart. You had to go away liking the guy, that’s what it was. I just loved the way he played.”

Despite the multitude of football offers and a draft selection by the Detroit Tigers out of high school, Blankmeyer signed Biggio.

“Not many coaches can say they’ve had an opportunity to recruit and coach a big league player,” said Blankmeyer when asked about the satisfaction in knowing he signed Biggio. “But a guy who played 20 years with one organization, who played three positions, an All-Star and now a Hall of Famer? Boy I tell you, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime situation.”

A young Craig Biggio rounds the bases for Seton Hall University. Photo from Seton Hall
A young Craig Biggio rounds the bases for Seton Hall University. Photo from Seton Hall

After Seton Hall’s catcher Tony DeFrancesco was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 1984, there was a spot to fill at backstop. Sheppard called upon his star recruit, who had experience at catcher, to move back behind the plate.

“Craig used to call himself the retriever who became a receiver because he used to chase the ball back to the backstop,” Sheppard told WSOU, Seton Hall’s student radio station. “But let me tell you, he was so fast he could chase it to the backstop and still throw the guy out at first base.”

Biggio played on a Seton Hall squad consisting of future major leaguers Mo Vaughn, John Valentin and Marteese Robinson. They would capture the Big East regular season title all three years Biggio played for the Pirates and earned an NCAA Regional bid in 1987.

Off the field, Biggio converted to Catholicism and met his future wife, Patty.

“Seton Hall is very special to us,” Patty Biggio said. “It’s where our family began. It’s the roots of our relationship.”

Sheppard’s teams prided themselves on a scrappy style of baseball. Biggio said that it was simply the culture of the athletics program at the time, playing on a field he described as a “dirty, nasty bubble.” A far cry from the current playing grounds of the well-manicured turf of Owen T. Carroll Field. Most of all, Biggio said he remembers a common phrase of coach Sheppard.

“Coach Shep’s motto was, ‘Never lose your hustle,’ which is something I took to my pro career,” he said in his speech.

“He was part of the journey,” Biggio said in his post-induction press conference. “How do you get to the Hall of Fame? You got to have a little bit of talent and a lot of people to help you along the way, and Shep was one of those people.”

Biggio was drafted in the first round of the 1987 MLB Draft by the Houston Astros, going on to play the entirety of his two-decade career in an Astros uniform.

Adam Everett, a teammate of Biggio’s from 2001 to 2007, said he learned a great deal from Biggio about how to play the game the right way.

Craig Biggio, right, is all smiles with MLB Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson as he receives his induction plaque. Photo by Clayton Collier
Craig Biggio, right, is all smiles with MLB Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson as he receives his induction plaque. Photo by Clayton Collier

“There’s only one way to play, and that’s hard,” he said. “I owe a lot of my career to him and I really appreciate what he did for me.”

Biggio amassed 3,060 hits, 661 doubles and was hit by a record 285 pitches while playing second base, catcher and outfield at various points in his major league career. He also drew 1,160 walks and stole 414 bases.

What many do not know, however, is Biggio’s extensive charity work, particularly as the national spokesman for the Sunshine Kids, an organization supporting children with cancer. Biggio said his interest in helping children battling cancer came when a boy from a family on his paper route came down with leukemia.

“The Sunshine Kids are a big part of my life and one of the reasons I stayed in Houston for 20-plus years and continue to live there today,” he said.

It was because of his work with the Sunshine Kids and others that he was awarded the Roberto Clemente Award, something Johnson said is more indicative of who Biggio truly is, rather than his baseball statistics.

“I think that says more about him as a person than all the facts and figures that he amassed over the years,” Johnson said. “People have a tendency to look at what he did as a baseball player, but the Roberto Clemente award says much, much more about him as a person.”

Though Biggio has lived in Houston for more than 25 years, his impact on Kings Park is still felt.

“It’s great having an alum like Craig Biggio, because we can always refer to him to our current student-athletes as to what is possible and what can happen through hard work,” current athletic director Bill Denniston said.

The first three words of Biggio’s Hall of Fame plaque read “gritty spark plug,” an appropriate description of a player known for giving it his all in every game. In return, the game of baseball has given the local paperboy from Kings Park turned-MLB great an even greater gift, immortality.

“I gave the game everything I had every day,” Biggio said. “In baseball, tomorrow is not guaranteed, and I tried to play every game as if it was going to be my last. I want to thank the game for everything. The game has given me everything: my family, my friends, respect, but most of all memories of a lifetime.”

Brookhaven’s Youth Bureau is collecting school supplies. File photo

The start of school is right around the corner, and the Brookhaven Town Youth Bureau is making sure no student goes back empty-handed.

Through Aug. 24, the bureau is collecting back-to-school supplies at locations throughout the town, including Town Hall in Farmingville, the Highway Department in Coram, the Rose Caracappa Senior Center in Mount Sinai and all Astoria Bank branch locations.

Pens, calculators, backpacks, notebooks, lunch boxes, folders, glue and binders are among the items needed and that will be distributed to needy families. Last year, the bureau collected enough supplies to help more than 1,500 children, according to a press release from the town.

For more information or to find additional collection bin locations, visit www.brookhaven.org or call 631-451-8014.

Kara Hahn, center, officially opens Forsythe Meadow Count Park/Nora Bredes Preserve’s new walking trail during ribbon cutting ceremony Monday. Photo by Giselle Barkley

The sun appeared just in time for Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn’s (D-Setauket) ribbon cutting ceremony that marked the official opening of Forsythe Meadow County Park/Nora Bredes Preserve’s walking trail.

The ceremony took place Monday afternoon at 52 Hollow Rd. in Stony Brook. More than 50 people were in attendance including Hahn; former legislator Vivian Viloria-Fisher; Cynthia Barnes, president of the Board of Trustees Three Village; and Louise Harrison. Barnes and Harrison were both co-chairs of the Coalition for the Future of Stony Brook Village.

Once Hahn cut the ribbon, those who attended the ceremony were invited to hike the trail.

Coalition members wore pink ribbons, which the group selected upon their  outrage that developers wanted to turn the property into a 40-house subdivision.

For these members, the trail is a symbol of success in an effort to preserve this approximate 36-acre property. But according to Jeffrey Weissman, scoutmaster of Troop 377 for the Three Village Boy Scouts, the trail will not be the last improvement made to the property. Weissman wants to have more benches in the area among other improvements.

Hahn, as well as Viloria-Fisher, Barnes, Harrison and Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) thanked the individuals who helped create the trail. They also thanked those who attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for their support and effort to save “Stony Brook’s last forest.”

“It is this group standing here today that saved this forest,” Harrison said. “Someday we’ll have access from the village center.”