Port Times Record

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Earl L. Vandermeulen High School’s Brian Veit and Brennyn Veit with News 12’s Kevin Maher. Photo from PJSD

Earl L. Vandermeulen High School freshman Lucy Kwon and art teacher Lauren Lewonka took part in the Suffolk County Art Leaders Association annual Invitational Show, which celebrates the very essence of art education. 

The online exhibition was an opportunity for member art teachers and their selected students to exhibit alongside them, potentially highlighting a creative path and/or link between them.

Kwon’s graphite pencil still life was showcased with Lewonka’s “Grandma’s Recipes” acrylic paint over collage.

As part of its mission, SCALA recognizes the importance of highlighting the physical manifestations that develop out of the mentor/mentee relationship from both perspectives. The exhibit is an opportunity to give visual voice to imagination, exploration and discovery.

Photo by Kimberly Brown

Staying active has been hard enough during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most indoor sports still have restrictions or are closed entirely, making it difficult for Long Islanders to keep them-selves occupied while living life under pandemic rules.

Yet luckily for some, there is one sport that has not let anyone down in 2020 — golf.

While other activities were cancelled throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, golf courses like this one at the Port Jefferson Country Club became a popular pastime. Photo by Kimberly Brown

As the virus pandemic hit Long Island in March, golf became one of the most popular outdoor sports to play throughout last year. It is one of the few activities where contact is either extremely limited, or even nonexistent, as it can even be played alone.

General manager of the Port Jefferson Country Club, Brian Macmillan, explained how his business has done ex-ceedingly well given the circumstances.

“We saw a great increase in membership and play,” he said. “With many off of work or not losing time in their day-from-work travel, more people were on the course. It seemed to be the only safe activity for anyone to do.”

But the pandemic has created minor setbacks for some golf courses like PJCC. The shortage of cleaning supplies stunted the business for only a short time, but what became a bigger issue was the shutdown of production from golf companies.

“Keeping up with golf balls and gloves was an issue that hit later in the year,” Macmillan said. “The golf compa-nies shut down production for a period while product was in the highest demand ever. Getting products in the door was tough, but we found ways to use different companies to get our members what they needed.”

Besides the increased play, there were many positive attributes to come out of the pandemic. For example, the Wil-low Creek Golf & Country Club in Mount Sinai said COVID brought their members closer together as they com-bated the new mandates New York State implemented.

Photo by Kimberly Brown

“The challenges of 2020 triggered changes in how we operate on a day-to-day basis,” Robin Rasch, general manager of Willow Creek, said. “This strengthened our team here as we continue to evolve and adapt to COVID mandates.”

Without consistent loyalty from golf members, country clubs would have had a difficult time surviving. Thankfully, the businesses have been able to thrive while simultaneously bringing golf lovers together, at a safe distance of course.

“Eventually, golfers came to understand that being on the golf course was a safer place to enjoy the outdoors — the game of golf — and connect in a safer manner with friends,” Rasch said.

Stony Brook University. File photo

Stony Brook University has been at the center of the COVID-19 pandemic, as hospital staff has treated and comforted residents stricken with the virus and researchers have worked tirelessly on a range of projects, including manufacturing personal protective equipment. Amid a host of challenges, administrators at Stony Brook have had to do more with less under budgetary pressure. In a two-part series, Interim Provost Fotis Sotiropoulos and President Maurie McInnis share their approaches and solutions, while offering their appreciation for their staff.

Part I: Like many other administrators at universities across the country and world, Fotis Sotiropoulos, Dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Interim Provost of Stony Brook University, has been juggling numerous challenges.

Named interim provost in September, Sotiropoulos, who is also a SUNY Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering, has focused on ways to help President Maurie McInnis keep the campus community safe, keep the university running amid financial stress and strain, and think creatively about ways to enhance the university’s educational programs.

In January, Stony Brook University which is one of two State University of New York programs to earn an Association of American Universities distinction, plans to announce new degree programs aimed at combining expertise across at least two colleges.

“We have charged all the deans to work together to come up with this future-of-work initiative,” Sotiropoulos said. “It has to satisfy a number of criteria,” which include involving at least two colleges or schools and it has to be unique. Such programs will “allow us to market the value of a Stony Brook education.”

Sotiropoulos said Stony Brook hoped to announce at least two or three degree ideas by the middle of January.

Fotis Sotiropoulos. File photo from SBU

Under financial pressure caused by the pandemic, the university has “undertaken this unprecedented initiative to think of the university as one,” Sotiropoulos said. Looking at the East and West campus together, the university plans to reduce costs and improve efficiency in an organization that is “complex with multiple silos,” he said. At times, Stony Brook has paid double or triple for the same product or service. The university is taking a step back to understand and optimize its expenses, he added.

On the other side of the ledger, Stony Brook is seeking ways to increase its revenue, by creating these new degrees and attracting more students, particularly from outside the state.

Out-of-state students pay more in tuition, which provides financial support for the school and for in-state students as well.

“We have some room to increase out-of-state students,” Sotiropoulos said. “There is some flexibility” as the university attempts to balance between the lower tuition in-state students pay, which benefits socioeconomically challenged students, and the higher tuition from out-of-state students.

While the university has been eager to bring in talented international students as well in what Sotiropoulos described as a “globally-connected world,” the interim provost recognized that this effort has been “extremely challenging right now,” in part because of political tension with China and in part because Chinese universities are also growing.

Stony Brook “recognizes that it needs to diversify right now. The university is considering strategies for trying to really expand in other countries. We need to do a lot more to engage students from African countries,” he said.

Sotiropoulos described Africa as an important part of the future, in part because of the projected quadrupling of the population in coming decades. “We are trying to preserve our Asian base of students,” he said, but, at the same time, “we are thinking of other opportunities to be prepared for the future.”

While the administration at the university continues to focus on cutting costs, generating revenue and attracting students to new programs, officials recognize the need to evaluate the effectiveness of these efforts for students. “Assessment is an integral part,” Sotiropoulos said. The school will explore the jobs students are able to find. “It’s all about the success of our students,” he added. The school plans to assess constantly, while making adjustments to its efforts.

Pandemic Response

Stony Brook University has been at the forefront of reacting to the pandemic on a number of fronts. The hospital treated patients during the heavy first wave of illnesses last spring, while the engineering school developed ways to produce personal protective equipment, hand sanitizer, and even MacGyver-style ventilators. The university has also participated in multi-site studies about the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.

Stony Brook has been involved in more than 200 dedicated research projects across all disciplines, which span 45 academic departments and eight colleges and schools within the university.

Sotiropoulos, whose expertise is in computational fluid mechanics, joined a group of researchers at SBU to conduct experiments on the effectiveness of masks in stopping the way aerosolized viral particles remain in the air, long after patients cough, sneeze, and even leave the room.

“Some of these droplets could stay suspended for many minutes and could take up to half an hour” to dissipate in a room, especially if there’s no ventilation, Sotiropoulos said, and added he was pleased and proud of the scientific community for working together to understand the problem and to find solutions.

“The commitment of scientists at Stony Brook and other universities was quite inspirational,” he said.

According to Sotiropoulos, the biggest danger to combatting the virus comes from the “mistrust” of science, He hopes the effectiveness of the vaccine in turning around the number of people infected and stricken with a variety of difficult and painful symptoms can convince people of the value of the research.

Sotiropoulos said the rules the National Institutes of Health have put in place have also ensured that the vaccine is safe and effective. People who question the validity of the research “don’t understand how strict this process is and how many hurdles you have to go through.” 

Part 2 will appear in next week’s issue.

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Ted Lucki, president of Welcome Friends Soup Kitchen, (left) stands with Barbara Ransome, director of operations with the Port Jefferson Chamber. Photo from Barbara Ransome

One group’s extra funds is another group’s treasure.

Barbara Ransome, director of operations with the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, said that leftover money from the chamber’s restaurant/meal program was donated to the Welcome Friends Soup Kitchen.

According to Ransome, a check for $2,000 was given to the local soup kitchen. The program, she said, ended in late July, but helped bring food during this past spring and summer when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit Long Island. 

“Besides the hospitals we worked with, we also coordinated meals for the soup kitchen as well as other non-profits,” Ransome said. “We suspended services late July with the thought that the remaining money could stay static and used at a later time. This was the time.”

Ransome said the chamber’s board of directors agreed to give the donation to the soup kitchen, which is still providing meals to the food insecure five days a week. 

Ted Lucki, president of Welcome Friends Soup Kitchen, said that for nearly 30 years, the soup kitchen has served the greater Port Jefferson area with a shelter to enjoy a hot meal. Prior to the pandemic, the nonprofit utilized five kitchens in local churches, where food was collected. But things had to change with new guidelines and restrictions to halt the spread of coronavirus. 

“Basically, the churches closed down and we couldn’t keep the kitchens open,” Lucki said. “We had to adjust to becoming a distribution service instead of a cooking service.” And instead of making the meals, they’re giving them to those in need in an organized, and safe, way. “Now you show up and we give you the food,” he said. 

Restaurants like Port Jefferson’s The Fifth Season and Chick-fil-A in Port Jefferson Station have been donating warm meals and sandwiches that the Welcome Friends can distribute. Stores like Cow Palace in Rocky Point and Trader Joes in Lake Grove also have donated groceries, and fellow nonprofit Island Harvest Food Bank also has been involved. 

“All of these people are so giving,” he said. 

While other groups and organizations have halted their donations to those in need, this group still vows to handout food Monday through Friday.

“Because of the great effort of reorganizing a delivery meal program again, our board of directors agreed to give an outright donation to the soup kitchen, which is still providing meals five days a week for the underserved and people in need,” Ransome said. 

The $2,000 will go a long way, Lucki added. “The chamber helped early on and paid for several meals,” he said. “We’re so grateful.”

Grab and go meals are available Monday through Thursday from 1 to 1:30 p.m. at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 309 Route 112, Port Jefferson Station and Fridays at the First Presbyterian Church, Main and 107 South Street in the village from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. 

By John L. Turner

Situated a mile east of Orient Point, the eastern tip of the North Fork and separated from it by Plum Gut, lies Plum Island, an 822-acre pork-chop shaped island that is owned by you and me (being the federal taxpayers that we are). 

The island’s most well-known feature is the Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC), situated in the northwestern corner of the property, but Plum Island is so much more. On the western edge lays the Plum Island lighthouse which was built in 1869 to warn mariners of the treacherous currents of Plum Gut. On the east there’s the brooding presence of Fort Terry, a relict of the Spanish-American War, with scattered evidence in the form of barracks, gun batteries, and the tiny tracks of a toy gauge railroad once used to move cannon shells from storage to those concrete batteries. (The cannons never fired except during drills).

And there’s the stuff that excites naturalists:

■ The largest seal haul-out site in southern New England located at the eastern tip of the island where throngs of harbor and grey seals swim along the rocky coastline or bask, like fat sausages, on the off-shore rocks that punctuate the surface of the water.

■ The more than 225 different bird species, one-quarter of all the species found in North America, that breed here (like the bank swallows that excavate burrows in the bluff face on the south side of the island), or pass through on their seasonal migratory journeys, or overwinter.

■ Dozens of rare plants, like ladies’-tresses orchids, blackjack oak, and scotch lovage that flourish in the forests, thickets, meadows, and shorelines of Plum Island.

■ A large freshwater pond in the southwestern section of the island that adds visual delight and biological diversity to the island. 

■ And, of course, the ubiquitous beach plums that gave the island its name!

For the past decade a struggle has ensued to make right what many individuals, organizations of all sorts (including the more than 120-member Preserve Plum Island Coalition), and many public officials consider a significant wrong — Congress’s order to sell Plum Island to the highest bidder, forever losing it as a public space. 

This ill-conceived path of auctioning the island was set in motion by a half-page paragraph buried in a several thousand- page bill to fund government agencies in 2009. Fortunately, this struggle has been won — the wrong has been righted — as language included in the recently adopted 2021 budget bill for the federal government, repeals the requirement that the General Services Administration sell the island. 

Thank you to Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Senators Christopher Murphy and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and members of Congress Lee Zeldin,Tom Suozzi, Rosa DeLauro and Joe Courtney!

Thanks is also due to New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright who sponsored legislation that was signed into law creating a Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle area in the waters surrounding Plum Island.

While this victory is a vital and necessary step to ultimately protect Plum Island, it is a temporary and incomplete one since the island can still be sold to a private party through the normal federal land disposition process if no government agency at the federal, state, or local level steps up to take title to the island. 

The Coalition’s next task, then, is to ensure that a federal agency such as the National Park Service (National Monument?), U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (National Wildlife Refuge?) or the state of New York (New York State Park Preserve?) expresses a willingness to accept stewardship of this magnificent island, since they get first dibs to the island if they want it. A key enticement toward this end is the $18.9 million commitment in the budget to clean up the few contaminated spots on the island.

Why the sale in the first place? Since 1956 PIADC has been conducting top level research on highly communicable animal diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease. To this end, several years ago staff developed a vaccine for this highly contagious disease that holds great promise in controlling the disease globally.

Despite this successful research, Congress determined the facility was obsolete and should be replaced, approving the construction of a new state-of-the-art facility, known as the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), to be located on the campus of Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. NBAF is complete and will soon be fully operational so as a result PIADC is no longer needed; PIADC is expected to transfer all operations to Kansas and close for good in 2023.

Plum Island is a rare place — a remarkable asset that holds the promise of enriching Long Islanders’ lives —your family’s lives, if we can keep it in public ownership. The Preserve Plum Island Coalition, with the input from hundreds of Long Islanders, has painted a vision for the island … so, imagine throwing binoculars, a camera, and a packed lunch enough for you and your family into your backpack and participating in this realized vision by:

— Taking a ferry across to the island, debarking to orient your island adventure by visiting a museum interpreting the cultural and natural riches and fascinating history of the island before you wander, for countless hours, to experience the wild wonders of the island. A most worthwhile stop is the island’s eastern tip where, through a wildlife blind, you enjoy watching dozens of bobbing grey and harbor seals dotting the water amidst the many partially submerged boulders.

— Standing on the edge of the large, tree-edged pond, watching basking turtles and birds and dragonflies flitting over the surface.

-Birdwatching on the wooded trails and bluff tops to view songbirds, shorebirds, ospreys and other birds-of-prey, swallows, sea ducks and so many other species. Perhaps you’ll see a peregrine falcon zipping by during fall migration, sending flocks of shorebirds scurrying away as fast as their streamlined wings can take them.

— Strolling along the island’s eight miles of undisturbed coastline, with the beauty of eastern Long Island before you, offering distant views of Great Gull, Little Gull and Gardiner’s Islands, Montauk Point, and the Connecticut and Rhode Island coastlines.

— Lodging at the Plum Island lighthouse, converted into a Bed & Breakfast and enjoying a glass of wine as the sun sets over Plum Gut and Orient Point.

— Learning about the role Fort Terry played in protecting the United States and the port of New York as your explore the many parts of the fort — the barracks where soldiers stayed, the gun batteries that once housed the cannons angled skyward to repel a foreign attack.

— At the end of day, if you don’t stay over, taking the ferry back to the mainland of the North Fork, tired after many miles of hiking in the salt air of the East End stopping at a North Fork restaurant to share a chat among friends and family about what you’ve learned relating to this fascinating place.

This legislation has given Plum Island (based on the above perhaps we should call it Treasure Island!) a second chance and an opportunity for us to achieve this vision. But this law is only the first step. We need to take the vital second step of new ownership and management in the public interest if all of the above adventures are to become realities. We collectively need to tell those elected officials who represent us, and who can make a difference in determining the island’s fate, that we want Plum Island protected in perpetuity and the opportunity for its many wonders to become interwoven into the fabric of life on Long Island. 

Go to www.preserveplumisland.org to learn more about the Coalition, receive updates, and what you can do to help.

John Turner is the spokesperson for the Preserve Plum Island Coalition.

Martin Luther King Jr. during a visit to Brandeis University in 1957 at the age of 29.

Join Building Bridges in Brookhaven’s 5th annual (and first virtual) Martin Luther King, Jr., Birthday Celebration on Saturday, Jan. 16 from 1:30 to 4:40 p.m. With this year’s theme We’re All in This Together!, the afternoon’s speakers will focus on local issues of environmental racism/ecological devastation and homelessness and offer practical steps to take action.

Co-sponsored by:
The Poor People’s Campaign Long Island Chapter
The Brookhaven Landfill Action and Remedial Group (BLARG)

WEBINAR SCHEDULE
Introduction and Live Music – 1:30 – 2:00 p.m.
“Environmental Racism Hiding in Plain Sight”– 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
“Homelessness & The Poor People’s Campaign’s Winter Offensive” – 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Wrap-up and Live Music – 4:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Webinar will be also be live-streamed via the Building Bridges in Brookhaven Facebook page. For more information, call 928-4317 or email [email protected]

Stock photo

They said the American flag belongs to everyone — not a single party or point of view. 

With the recent events at the United States Capitol and the riots that ensued from pro-Trump groups, local residents are joining in a national campaign to Take Back Our Flag.

Beatrice Ruberto, a Sound Beach resident, said the campaign, which started online around the 2020 election, implies that the American flag has become a symbol of President Donald Trump’s (R) beliefs.

“We started searching the internet, wondering how the American flag was being used,” she said. “We saw that over the past four years, it became shorthand for MAGA.” That’s Trump’s campaign slogan of Make America Great Again.

During her research, she found that after the election, many people on all sides of the political spectrum were ready to take it back. 

“We want to make the flag a unified symbol rather than a one-sided symbol,” she said.

So now, Ruberto and many members within the community, are looking to make sure the flag stands for its initial emblem, a symbol of We the People.

Ruberto and her group are hoping to persuade all people to hang their American flags outside their homes the day of the U.S. presidential inauguration, next Wednesday on Jan. 20.

“This is not a message of division,” she said. “It’s a message of inclusion.” 

After making its rounds online locally and nationally, Ruberto said the feedback so far has been generally positive, although some has been otherwise. 

But the message is simple, Ruberto noted. “Fly the flag,” she said. “Continue flying the flag, no matter what your point of view is. Everyone should be flying it.”

Kara Hahn takes the oath of office as deputy presiding officer administered by County Clerk Judy Pascale on Jan. 4. Photos from Suffolk County Legislators

The Suffolk County Legislature has officially started its new session, with new lawmakers sworn in this week for the body’s 52nd organizational meeting Jan. 4. 

Legislator Nicholas Caracappa (R-Selden) took his ceremonial oath of office as a new lawmaker, while Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue) and Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) were reelected to their leadership posts.

Calarco, legislator for the 7th District, was reelected to lead the body for a second year as presiding officer in a bipartisan vote, and Hahn, who represents the 5th District, was reelected deputy presiding officer, also in a bipartisan vote. 

Rob Calarco takes the oath of office as presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature. Photo from Suffolk County Legislature

“Important projects await us in the coming year, and we will confront the challenges of 2021 the same way we did in 2020 —in a bipartisan fashion with a shared commitment to cooperation and finding common ground,” Calarco said in a statement. 

In his remarks, he reflected on the challenges of 2020 and pointed to legislative progress on diversity and inclusion, open space and farmland preservation, and updates to the county’s wastewater code. 

In 2021, Calarco looks forward to building out sewers in Patchogue, the Mastic Peninsula, Deer Park, Smithtown and Kings Park, which will help protect Suffolk County’s water and provide an economic boost to downtowns. Additionally, he said the Legislature will soon be presented with a plan to reinvent policing in Suffolk, as required by an executive order from Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).

“The men and women of our law enforcement agencies work hard every day to do their jobs professionally and with a commitment to protecting all the residents of Suffolk County, yet we also know whole portions of our population fear the presence of police in their community, making officers’ jobs far more difficult,” he said. “We must put politics aside to ensure the plan addresses the root of those fears, and builds on the initiatives already underway to establish trust and confidence between our police and the communities they protect.”

Hahn intends to continue focusing on the global pandemic that has hit close to home.

“Looking ahead, 2021 will once again be a tough year, but with a vaccine there is now a light at the end of the tunnel,” she said in a statement. “We will focus our efforts on halting the spread of COVID-19, helping those in need, conquering our financial challenges and getting through this pandemic with as little heartache and pain as possible. There is hope on the horizon, and I know we will come back stronger than ever.”

After winning a special election in November, Caracappa will now represent the 4th District, filling the seat left by Republican Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma) who passed suddenly in September. 

Nicholas Caracappa is sworn in as new legislator for Suffolk County’s 4th District. Photo from Suffolk County Legislature

A lifelong resident of Selden, Caracappa was a 34-year employee of the Suffolk County Water Authority. He was president of the Utility Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO, Local-393 for 14 years and previously served as a member of the union’s national executive board. 

He also served as a Middle Country school district board of education trustee for seven years and volunteered at Ground Zero. He said his goal is to keep his district’s quality of life at the forefront. 

“I am committed to the quality of life issues that make this community a great place for families to live, work and enjoy recreation,” he said in a statement. “My focus will be to eliminate wasteful spending, support our law enforcement, first responders and frontline health care workers, and protect our senior citizens, veterans and youth services.”

He added that he wants to continue enhancing Long Island’s environmental protection initiatives including critical water-quality measures and expanding the existing sewer studies in his district’s downtown regions. 

The Legislature’s Hauppauge auditorium is named after his late mother, Rose Caracappa.

Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) was sworn in last year. Representing the 6th District, she said she looks forward to continuing and expanding on the important work she’s been doing for the community. Specifically, for 2021, her top priority is working with the health department, along with federal, state and local governments to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anker said she wants to prioritize public safety and plans to continue to work with the county’s Department of Public Works and the state’s Department of Transportation to monitor and create safer roads. 

As the chair of the county’s Health Committee and chair of the Heroin and Opiate Epidemic Advisory Panel, she also plans to continue to collaborate with panel members to monitor the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the opioid epidemic on Long Island.

“Together we have worked to protect the integrity of this great community by addressing issues and improving our quality of life,” Anker said. “This year, I will continue to be proactive in dealing with this current pandemic and prioritize issues including stabilizing county finances, fighting crime and the drug epidemic, addressing traffic safety and working to preserve what’s left of our precious open space.”

The Capitol. Stock photo

A lot has happened since the start of 2021, only two weeks ago. 

Shortly before the insurrection at the United States Capitol Jan. 6, Long Island sent four Republicans to the New York State Senate to kick off the new legislative session.

State Senator Anthony Palumbo speaks at TBR News Media during the 2014 election cycle. File photo by Elana Glowatz

Two of those are newly elected Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) and Sen. Mario Mattera (R-St. James), both local to the North Shore. 

On top of their swearing-in and preparation for the new year ahead, various local and national elected officials released statements surrounding the horrors Americans witnessed that Wednesday.

The two state lawmakers are not condoning what happened Jan. 6.

“Most, if not all, New Yorkers were happy to put the year 2020 behind them and are looking forward to the promise of a better 2021,” Palumbo said. “Sadly, last Wednesday’s storming of the Capitol using acts of violence does not help any cause and instead leads to incarceration.”

Palumbo said he will condemn all lawless attacks on America’s institutions and cities.

State Senator Mario Mattera. File photo.

“I fully support our men and women in law enforcement who continue to find themselves in ever more dangerous situations,” he said. “I appeal to everyone’s better angels, both on the right and left. We must all focus on important issues like public health and economic recovery, not stoking division from the political extremes.”

Mattera said that he supports the right to peaceful protests.

“The right to express views peacefully is a fundamental freedom for all Americans and it is essential to who we are,” he said. “But when the events become violent or unlawful, as they did last week and have in the recent past, those responsible must be held accountable and must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Mattera said that what was witnessed must not be condoned or excused.  

“There can be no acceptance of these actions regardless of motivations,” he said. “They attacked our men and women in blue, and their actions insulted all who support the First Amendment.”

But he said that through it all and at the end of the day, Americans must work together.

“We must now join together as Americans to show we are stronger when we stand together,” the state senator said. “This nation has stood for over 240 years and we must work together to ensure its future.”

Port Jefferson Free Library will be hosting photographer Harper Bella for her one night only online exhibition “Flower of Honor” on Wednesday, Jan. 20 from 7 to 8 p.m. The show examines the role of black and brown essential workers throughout the uprise of COVID-19 and social injustices across the United States. Centered around New York, this series highlights their experiences and recognizes their efforts in one of the most uncertain times in history.

Harper Bella is an international photographer. Born in Queens, New York to Trinidadian and Barbadian parents, she was raised in Trinidad and Tobago until the age of six, when her family settled in Long Island, New York. Enamored with the arts from an early age, Harper pursued her first degree in Advertising and Marketing Communications at the Fashion Institute of Technology. It was during a black and white film photography course that she knew she found her calling.

Bella graduated from FIT in 2012 and went on to intern for various photographers in New York City. In 2014, she created the Angela Davis-inspired project, “Reflective Souls: Women in Society.” Well received upon release, Harper was given the opportunity to present her work at the Copiague Public Library. Her work has gone on to be exhibited at the Huntington Arts Council. Harper’s photographs have also been featured in KODD and Epsilon Magazine.

From her Caribbean background to travels to over 25 countries, including Vietnam, Germany, and Morocco, a global perspective is at the heart of Harper’s work and life purpose. Harper’s aim is to initiate conversation and spark growth through powerful visuals. She also values community building through amplifying less prominent voices in art.

Harper Bella currently serves as a freelance photographer and a Board of Director for the American Society of Media Photographers, New York City Chapter. To see more of Bella’s work, visit https://www.harperbella.com/

This project is made possible with funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and administered by The Huntington Arts Council.

Free and open to all. To register, visit https://portjefflibrary.org/flowerofhonor

For further information, call 631-473-0022 and ask for adult reference.