Port Times Record

The barracks of the 124th Illinois Infantry in Vicksburg, Miss. Photo in the public domain

By Rich Acritelli

Independence Day commemorates the birth of our nation as well as a day when the Union Army notched a huge victory during the Civil War. It was a July 4 more than 150 years ago that saw some of the most serious fighting ever to take place on U.S. soil.

President Abraham Lincoln wanted desperately to end the Civil War and preserve the Union. By mid-1863, the only way to accomplish that goal was to destroy the southern will to fight. Lincoln’s most important leader was Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, who in 1861 was a shop clerk in his family’s store in Illinois. Nobody, including Grant, could have foreseen his quick rise from obscurity to one of the best fighting figures the nation ever produced.

Gen. Ulysses S. Grant poses in Virginia in 1864. Photo in the public domain
Gen. Ulysses S. Grant poses in Virginia in 1864. Photo in the public domain

During the war, Lincoln grew increasingly bitter toward the officers tasked with attacking the South. He detested Gen. George B. McClellan and later fired him for his unwillingness to crush the rebellion in Northern Virginia. For two years, the Army of the Potomac became a revolving door for other officers who failed to defeat Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Lincoln had a limited military background, serving as a captain during the Black Hawk War between the U.S. and Native Americans three decades earlier, but took his job as commander-in-chief seriously. One of his most important decisions was keeping Grant as the head of the Army of the Tennessee after the 1862 Battle of Shiloh and in the face of rumors that Grant was an alcoholic and unable to carry out his duties.

Grant’s rise to commanding general began during the Battle of Vicksburg.

Vicksburg was known as the “Gibraltar of the Confederacy” and the “citadel” on the Mississippi River. Early in the Civil War, Grant understood taking that location would divide the Confederacy, open the river to Union naval and commerce shipping and prevent resources from reaching Lee in Northern Virginia. Grant was determined to destroy it.

In April 1863, he saw he would only gain a victory by moving his army south and attacking Vicksburg on the same side of the Mississippi held by the enemy. This was a risky decision — one that could win or lose the war in the West. The campaign involved Grant cutting off his own supply and communication lines, with he and his men living off the land using the lessons he learned while fighting in the Mexican-American War. If he and his fellow soldiers could survive in the deserts and heat of Mexico, the Civil War fighters could do the same with the hearty agriculture, cattle and poultry resources in Mississippi.

On April 16, with his wife and youngest son Frederick next to him, Grant ordered a naval flotilla of gunboats and barges to make the perilous journey south. The Confederacy opened up its vast armaments but failed to destroy the ships, and Grant turned his gamble into a string of victories that led to the demise of Vicksburg.

Through July 4, Lincoln watched in amazement as the general decisively drove against the enemy. When one politician suggested the operation was a failure and that Grant was again drinking too much, Lincoln retorted that Grant was engaged in some of the most serious and successful fighting the world had ever known.

It was a cunning campaign to operate within the Confederacy. Southern Gens. Joseph E. Johnston and John C. Pemberton both commanded larger forces but under the attack of Grant’s Union Army were unable to combine their forces in battle. In Washington, D.C., Lincoln watched Grant take Jackson, Miss., the home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, thereby cutting off the supply, communication and transportation links that supported Vicksburg.

In late May 1863, Grant began a 48-day siege that trapped Pemberton, a native of Pennsylvania, and his forces on the Mississippi River. By July 4, Pemberton’s men were starving and had lost their morale; they surrendered. On our nation’s birthday, Grant took 31,000 Confederate soldiers as prisoners of war, and seized 172 cannons and 60,000 rifles.

Church bells rang out in northern cities to celebrate the Army of the Tennessee’s efforts to finally take Vicksburg in one of the most vital campaigns of the war, on the road to reuniting America.

Rich Acritelli is a social studies teacher at Rocky Point High School and an adjunct professor of American history at Suffolk County Community College. He was a staff sergeant in the New York Air National Guard 106th Rescue Wing in Westhampton Beach.

Activists, politicians, volunteers taking closer look at declining population of Long Island’s ocean life

Horseshoe crabs have been on Earth for almost 500 million years, but their future is uncertain. Researchers like Matt Sclafani, a marine educator from the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Riverhead, said he believes that the species is in an alarming decline.

“It’s a very important issue for a lot of reasons,” Sclafani said during a horseshoe crab monitoring session at West Meadow beach in Stony Brook on Monday night.

Horseshoe crabs are a valuable species to human life, Sclafani said. Their blue blood is used for pharmaceutical purposes. Fishermen use them as one of the most effective sources of bait that exists.

Sclafani called Delaware Bay the epicenter for horseshoe crab spawning activity, with Long Island coming in as a close second as one of the most important areas to the species on the East Coast, he said.

Sclafani and his team of volunteers take to the local shores when the tides are low, usually in the middle of the night, to count and tag horseshoe crabs that come up to the shore to spawn. On Monday, Sclafani was joined by Frank Chin, the regular site coordinator for West Meadow beach, along with Grace Scalzo, a volunteer, and Karen Papa and her sons — 12-year-old Zachary and 8-year-old Jonah.

North Shore activists take to the waters to learn more about the area horseshoe crabs. Photo by Alex Petroski
North Shore activists take to the waters to learn more about the area horseshoe crabs. Photo by Alex Petroski

“We get a lot of volunteers for this program,” Sclafani said. “That’s the part I think is really great, too. We get people involved in their backyards. There’s not a lot of marine life that you can get involved with and handle this directly — that comes right out onto the beach for you without a net or fishing pole.”

In all, the team tagged 55 horseshoe crabs over the course of the night, though that is nothing compared to the night on the South Shore when Sclafani said he and a team of about 35 volunteers tagged about 800 crabs. The process requires measurement, drilling a small hole into the shell, and then applying a round tag that has tracking information on it which is recorded.

“I think the entire population up and down the East Coast is in trouble,” Larry Swanson, associate dean of the Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, said of the horseshoe crab population in an interview last week. “It’s in trouble for a variety of reasons including people overfishing the population, but also certain birds, including the red knot, are particularly prone to using them as a food source.”

Sclafani said the consequences could be dire, if the crabs are not saved.

“Their eggs are really important to the ecosystem,” Sclafani said. “A lot of animals feed on them, including migratory shore birds.”

Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) divulged plans to urge the Department of Environmental Conservation to expand restrictions on harvesting horseshoe crabs in May, to the chagrin of fishermen. Those plans have since been tabled.

“I’m just a man, but I’m a vital part of the food chain and I think I’m at the top,” Ron Bellucci Jr. of Sound Beach said in an interview last month.

Horseshoe crab harvesting is a vital part of his income, he said. Local fishermen have also questioned the validity of claims about the declining population.

North Shore activists take to the waters to learn more about the area horseshoe crabs. Photo by Alex Petroski
North Shore activists take to the waters to learn more about the area horseshoe crabs. Photo by Alex Petroski

The idea that the species may not be declining is not an encouraging sign to Malcolm Bowman, professor of physical oceanography and distinguished service professor at SoMAS, Stony Brook. He is also the president of Stony Brook Environmental Conservancy and the Friends of Flax Pond, two environmental advocacy groups.

“We know in nature that things go up and down, and up and down, but you have to look at long-term trends; 10 years, 20 years,” Bowman said in an interview last week. “I’ve worked with fishermen a lot. They have to make a living, I understand that, but it’s important to keep communications between the scientists and say the fishermen with mutual respect, and that way we can learn a lot from them. We scientists are trained to have a long-term view. It’s not just this season, this summer, this breeding season. It’s a long-term view. I think that’s so important.”

More restricted areas, which Romaine is pushing for, could simply result in overharvesting in areas without restrictions, both Bowman and Sclafani said.

There has also been some experimentation with extracting the blue blood while the animal is still alive, then rereleasing them into the water. This process is called biomedical harvesting.

“That’s becoming a more and more controversial topic,” Sclafani said. “The biomedical companies have maintained that it’s a low mortality rate — about 10 percent … they might even be as high as 40 or 50 percent.”

He also mentioned that there are concerns about the horseshoe crabs’ spawning activity after this process is completed.

Bowman stopped short of saying that the extinction of the horseshoe crab would have a drastic impact on human life, but it’s not a good sign.

“I was reading some very important news that’s coming out about the extinction of species on the planet,” Bowman said. “Species are going extinct at a huge rate. The cumulative effect is going to have a very bad effect on human civilization, far greater than we can imagine. We only see a little piece of it.”

iPad grab busted
Suffolk County Police arrested three individuals in connection with stealing 12 Apple iPads from Walmart on Crooked Hill Road in Commack on Aug. 25, 2014 at about 7:30 p.m. Police said a 20-year-old woman from Bay Shore, a 24-year-old man from Waterbury and a 32-year-old woman from Bellport were all charged with third-degree grand larceny. Each in the trio was arrested on different dates ranging from May 18 to June 27.

What a blow
A 23-year-old man from Kings Park was arrested in Smithtown on June 28 and charged with third-degree assault with intent to cause physical injury. Police said that on Nov. 16, 2014, at about 12:21 a.m., the man hit another man on the top of his head, causing a laceration. The incident happened on Pulaski Road in Kings Park. The victim had to go to St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown.

Get drunk, crash and flee
Suffolk County Police arrested a 66-year-old man from Nesconset on June 27 and charged him with driving while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident where there was property damage. Police said the man, who was driving a 2002 Jeep, struck a 2005 Jeep three times on Route 347 in Nesconset at 10:12 p.m. on June 27, causing damage. He then fled the scene without exchanging information, and was later stopped and charged with driving while intoxicated.

CVS shoplifted
Police arrested a 24-year-old man from Nesconset on June 25 and charged him with petit larceny. Police said the man stole merchandise — they couldn’t say exactly what — from a CVS on Middle Country Road in Centereach on May 15 at 5:44 p.m. He was arrested at his home on Truval Lane at about 6:30 p.m.

Back up and out
A 63-year-old woman from Kings Park was arrested at her home on Kohr Road for first-degree leaving the scene of an accident and failing to show license/identification. The woman was arrested on June 28 for an incident that occurred on June 18 at 4:35 p.m. Police said the woman, who was driving a 2010 Nissan, backed into a 2014 Lexus on Broadhollow Road in Melville and fled.

Busted with syringes
Police arrested a 23-year-old man from Northport on June 27 and charged him with possession of a hypodermic instrument. Police said the man possessed hypodermic syringes in his vehicle on Pulaski Road in Kings Park on June 27 at 12:26 p.m. He was arrested at the scene.

Shattered windows
Someone reported to police that windows were broken on a vacant building located on Maple Avenue in Smithtown sometime between June 2 and June 28. There are no arrests.

This trash is on fire
A garbage pail full of yard debris on Dewey Street in Port Jefferson Station was burned at some point between June 27 and June 28.

I spy punches
A 24-year-old man was arrested in front of Junior’s Spycoast bar on Main Street in Port Jefferson at around 2:30 a.m. and was charged with second-degree harassment after he pushed and attempted to punch a police officer.

Designer thief
Between June 25 at 6 p.m. and June 26 at 10:30 a.m. an unknown person took items, including a Michael Kors bag and money, from a Volkswagen and a Toyota parked on Jamaica Avenue in Port Jefferson.

Insta-threat
A Mount Sinai resident reported on June 26 that a high-school-aged girl threatened a male student over Instagram.

Full throttle
The front fender of a Harley-Davidson parked at a Pipe Stave Hollow Road residence in Mount Sinai was damaged at some point between June 22 and June 24.

Details
A 2014 Toyota’s paint was damaged while parked at a residence on Oakland Avenue in Miller Place on June 25 between 1 a.m. and 9 a.m.

Snooping
A North Country Road homeowner in Miller Place reported on June 24 that the panel of a back door was damaged and a person possibly went through items in their home.

Beach party gone wrong
A security guard at the beach off of Friendship Drive in Rocky Point was struck in the head by a bottle. According to police, at around 10:40 p.m. on June 24, the guard had asked a group of youths to leave the beach and the individuals started throwing bottles. The guard wasn’t injured and no arrests have been made.

Tired of this
A customer at a Centereach Goodyear Service Center was accused of harassment and causing public alarm after he entered the Middle Country Road business on June 28 and demanded his car be fixed. The man then pushed the complainant after being told he would have to wait.

Imperial Civil War
A 29-year-old man was arrested on Imperial Drive in Selden on June 24 after he went to a residence and ran up to the complainant, swinging his fists, and then wrestled the man to the ground. The man is charged with second-degree harassment.

No happy meal
Police said a group of teens damaged a fence in the parking lot of McDonald’s  on Nesconset Highway at Stony Brook. There are no arrests.

Money taken
Someone broke in through the side door of Dunkin’ Donuts on Main Street in Setauket-East Setauket and stole money, sometime between 11 p.m. and 3:30 a.m. from June 27 to June 28. There are no arrests.

Boat burglary
Someone entered a boat docked at Setauket Harbor and stole safety flairs and a toolbox, sometime between June 20 and June 28. There are no arrests.

Package stolen
Someone lifted a packaged delivered to a home on Old Town Road in Setauket-East Setauket sometime between June 26 and June 27. There are no arrests.

Car keyed
Police said someone keyed a 2008 Cadillac Escalade parked at Walmart on Nesconset Highway sometime between 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on June 25.

The Suffolk County Police Department is seeking federal funds to purchase body cameras. File photo

While the Suffolk County Police Department has applied for federal funding to embed body cameras into its force, officials recognized that there is a long way to go in terms of establishing protocol and before officers start donning the devices.

In May, the U.S. Department of Justice announced a $20 million Body-Worn Camera Pilot Partnership Program, with $17 million going toward competitive grants to purchase the cameras, $2 million for training and technical assistance, and $1 million for the development of evaluation tools to study the best practices.

The pilot is part of President Barack Obama’s (D) proposal to invest $75 million over three years to purchase 50,000 body cameras for law enforcement agencies.

The program’s launch follows a series of high profile incidents, including the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., Eric Garner in Staten Island and Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Md., which raised questions of alleged police brutality.

“Body cameras and new technology will not be going away, and if it benefits the officers and citizens of Suffolk County, we are interested,” Deputy Chief Kevin Fallon said in a phone interview.

An Economist/YouGov poll published earlier this year stated that 88 percent of Americans support police officers wearing body cameras, and 56 percent strongly favor the idea, while only 8 percent oppose.

“This body-worn camera pilot program is a vital part of the Justice Department’s comprehensive efforts to equip law enforcement agencies throughout the country with the tools, support and training to tackle the 21st century challenges we face,” U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said in a statement.

According to a camera implementation guide from the Justice Department, “by providing a video record of police activity, body-worn cameras have made their operations more transparent to the public, and have helped resolve questions following an encounter between officers and members of the public.”

While the program seeks to protect officers and citizens, Fallon said there are issues and concerns.

“This is more than simply about body cameras itself,” he said.

Suffolk County Chief of Support Services Stuart Cameron said one of the biggest issues is how to store the videos. Not only would archiving be expensive, the volume of high definition videos would be “tremendous.”

New protocols would also have to be established to determine how long a video is saved, and in what circumstances the video could be used.

The issue of privacy would need to be tackled before any body cameras go into action, as well.

“We don’t know if citizens would be OK with cameras filming in their house,” Fallon said.

In addition, police have to figure out how to handle sensitive cases dealing with witnesses and sexual assault victims, as their identities need to be protected.

The procedure of when to turn the camera off and on is not set in stone by the Justice Department. Rather, the grant program is intended to help identify the best practice for a body camera’s many uses, including when, and when not, to film.

“At what point does it become a privacy issue?” Cameron said. “Does a citizen’s right override protocol to continue filming?”

There are more than 2,700 different types of sworn officers in the SCPD, including plain-clothes officers, detectives and chiefs. The department would need to determine if every type of officer would wear a body camera.

Fallon and Cameron said the department would look at pilot programs across the country to see how they are handling the issues, and would also want to hear residents’ thoughts.

If a grant is received, community meetings will be held to educate the public.

Officers would have to be trained as well.

“Giving clear information to the officers is important,” said Fallon.

In 2012, a police department in Rialto, California partnered with the Institute of Criminology at the University of Cambridge, in England, and randomly assigned body-worn cameras to various officers across 988 shifts. The study showed a 60 percent reduction in officer use of force incidents.

The study also showed that shifts without cameras experience twice as many use of force incidents as shifts with cameras. There was an 88 percent reduction in citizen complaints between the year prior to camera implementation and the year following deployment.

In the county police’s application, the department had to establish an implementation plan and a training policy.  Fallon said he was unable to provide additional details.

Police forces can expect to hear if they’ve received the grant by Oct. 1, according to the Justice Department.

Joan LaRocca, a public affairs specialist for the department, said 50 law enforcement agencies, along with one training and one technical assistance provider, are expected to receive grants.

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Port Jefferson school district held its 57th annual senior prom on Monday night. Parents had worked tirelessly to transform Earl L. Vandermeulen High School into Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory for the event, secretly painting sets and making dummies to surprise the Class of 2015.

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Ketan Shah photo from SCPD

Police arrested three people they allege were illegally selling fireworks with names like Saturn Missiles, Splendid Flower, Big Bad Bucket, Anaconda and Tornado Alley.

According to the Suffolk County Police Department, officers working off an anonymous tip on Saturday afternoon found about 65 boxes of fireworks — both on display with price tags in front of the store and in the back room — at the Card Smart on Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station, just south of Route 347.

The officers arrested the store’s owner, 46-year-old Hicksville resident Ketan Shah, as well as employees Vijaykumar Patel, a 30-year-old Elmhurst resident, and Nancy Sapienza, 65, of Ridge, charging all of them with unlawfully dealing with fireworks, which is a Class A misdemeanor.

Police said the employees were issued field appearance tickets while Shah was arraigned on Sunday.

Shah’s lawyer, Riverhead-based Richard Pellegrino, declined to comment on the case Monday morning, saying he was still investigating the case.

Attorney information for Patel and Sapienza was not available.

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President announces candidacy against Valerie Cartright

Above, far right, Ed Garboski testifies before the town board. He has announced he is running for the seat held by Councilwoman Valerie Cartright. File photo

Ed Garboski will be taking a leave from his role as civic president as he works to unseat Councilwoman Valerie Cartright in the fall.

Garboski, of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association, announced his run against one-term incumbent Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) for Brookhaven Town Board’s 1st District at the civic’s meeting on Wednesday night — opening up much debate.

The association’s bylaws do not contain a provision for taking a leave of absence, which originally created a tricky situation for the membership during the discussion. The room was divided — and at times argumentative — over whether Garboski should resign his position as he runs for political office on the Republican and Conservative tickets.

Faith Cardone said she felt it would be a conflict of interest for him to remain the president while running a political campaign for the Town Board.

Garboski said he had wanted to take a leave of absence, largely because he foresees having less time to fulfill his presidential duties, but was limited because of the bylaws’ shortcoming. He pushed back, however, when some called for his resignation, including fellow civic executive board member Joan Nickeson.

Councilwoman Valerie Cartright. File photo
Councilwoman Valerie Cartright. File photo

“I don’t think that I need to resign as of right now,” he said. “Where’s the conflict [of interest]?”

Other members also spoke up against Garboski remaining in his civic position.

“I don’t want to insult your integrity, Ed,” Gerard Maxim said, but having Garboski serve as president while also running for Town Board “makes it awkward for us.”

There were, however, voices of support in the audience.

Kevin Spence, a Comsewogue library board member, said there is no ethical problem before Election Day.

“I don’t see where this is a conflict until he gets elected.”

After some back and forth, Garboski relented somewhat, saying, “if this is such a big problem … if it’s that important to this membership here that I step down, I’ll step down.”

But instead, another library board member, Rich Meyer, made a motion for civic members to vote on granting Garboski a leave of absence starting in August and ending after the election, overriding the bylaws.

The members unanimously approved the motion for his leave.

Once Garboski departs in August, Vice President Diane Lenihan-Guidice will step into his shoes, including running the civic meetings for the months he is away.

Cartright, who is running for a second term on the Democratic, Working Families and Independence lines, said in a statement she and Garboski “will continue to work together to address community concerns. As a sitting elected representative, I firmly believe government always comes before politics.”

She said if re-elected she would “address the needs and ideas of the community and advocate for an informative and transparent local government.”

A deer tick is a common type of tick on Long Island. Stock photo

As Long Islanders are warned about an uptick in Lyme disease, another tick-borne virus has emerged in Connecticut across the Long Island Sound.

Nearly 12 years ago, Eric Powers, a biologist and wildlife educator, noticed an increase in the tick population at Caleb Smith park in Smithtown, after pulling nearly 40 ticks off a group of his students.

Powers conducted a survey of the park and discovered the population of tick predators had decreased, as feral and outdoor house cats either chased them off or killed them.

“It’s becoming a huge nationwide issue with our wildlife,” Powers said during a phone interview. “Wherever people are letting their cats out, we’re seeing this disruption in ecosystem where these tick predators are gone.”

But what Powers did not find was the prevalence of a tick-borne virus, the Powassan virus, which recently appeared in Bridgeport and Branford in Connecticut.

Between 1971 and 2014, 20 cases of POW virus were reported in New York, according to the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Suffolk County. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the virus has been found in Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Like Lyme disease, the virus can cause long-term neurological problems if left untreated. But Long Island POW virus incidences remain low despite the increase in tick population, according to Daniel Gilrein, an entomologist at Cornell Cooperative Extension.

POW virus, which is related to the West Nile virus, was first identified in Powassan in Ontario, Canada, in 1958 after a young boy was bitten by an infected tick.

Little is known about how much the tick population has exactly increased on Long Island, but Tamson Yeh, pest management and turf specialist for the Cornell Cooperative Extension, said it is unlikely cats are contributing to the increase by eating tick predators like birds.

“Birds will eat ticks, but not all birds are insect eaters,” Yeh said in a phone interview.

She said the snow cover during the winter months served as insulation for the ticks hiding in the ground, which helped them survive during the colder weather.

Richard Kuri, president of R.J.K. Gardens, a St. James-based landscaping company, has not noticed an increase in tick population recently. Regardless, he and his men continue to wear long sleeves and use a variety of sprays to ward off bugs while on the job. Kuri also said people may use more natural remedies to deter ticks.

“There are people who apply peppermint oil and rosemary mix that will help,” Kuri said. “But none of them are cure-alls.”

He added that granular insecticides, like Dylox, help kill a variety of unwanted bugs including ticks carrying viruses like Powassan.

There are two strains of the virus, which are carried by woodchuck and deer ticks. Since only about 60 cases of POW virus were reported in the United States in the past 10 years, Yeh said the chance of encountering POW virus is unlikely since the virus is rare.

Symptoms of the virus include fever, headaches, vomiting, weakness, confusion, drowsiness, lethargy, partial paralysis, disorientation, loss of coordination, speech impairment, seizures, and memory loss. Other complications in infected hosts may possibly arise, such as encephalitis, inflammation of the brain and meningitis.

Powers said he hopes to reduce tick population on Long Island through his quail program. He encourages local teachers, who use chicks or ducklings to educate their students about the circle of life, to raise bobwhite quails. He said releasing these quails annually will not only help them adjust to the presence of cats, but also control the tick population.

Solar shingles shine on the roof of a Long Island home. Photo from Division 7

The idea of installing solar panels to a roof as a source of electricity for a home is not exactly prehistoric.

Reducing the use of electricity or gas to power and heat homes undoubtedly has a positive effect on the environment. Despite being fairly new to the market, solar panels may be supplanted soon by a less expensive, more effective alternative.

Solar shingles have been available in the United States for about five years, according to an estimate by Richard Ciota, a Stony Brook resident who owns Division 7 Inc. Ciota’s 21-year-old roofing company is located in Lake Grove. Its residential division is the only one in the Suffolk County, Nassau County and New York City areas permitted to sell Dow Powerhouse solar shingles.

Solar panels have been available for decades, Ciota said in an interview at Division 7’s main office. They are at this point more efficient in generating electricity than shingles in terms of kilowatts per-square-foot of roof space, though there are problems associated with panels that contribute to the higher cost Ciota said.

“When you’re putting a solar panel onto a roof surface, you’re mounting that solar panel to the rafters through the existing roof,” Ciota said about the older technology, which his company offered prior to the availability of shingles. “So the waterproof technology has got to be perfect because you could be putting 40, 50, 60 penetrations through a perfectly good roof.”

Solar shingles are installed onto the roof of a Long Island residence. Photo from Division 7
Solar shingles are installed onto the roof of a Long Island residence. Photo from Division 7

Wind, shade from trees, excessive heat and animals are other factors that Ciota said are enemies to solar panels, which are installed on top of asphalt shingles and leave wiring exposed to the elements. Wind can cause the panels to pull the asphalt shingles away from the roof, which is an annoying and costly problem to have to fix after panels are installed.

Solar shingles replace asphalt shingles. They are waterproof and work in the same way that any conventional asphalt shingle would along with the added benefit of a reduced electric bill and a more environmentally friendly home than one that runs on electricity or gas heating.

Despite availability and the obvious benefits, solar panels only currently exist on about 5 percent of Long Island homes, according to Ciota. The number of homes with solar shingles is exponentially smaller.

John Petroski, Division 7’s director of solar and residential operations, estimated that the company has done about 70 shingle installations on Long Island since 2012 when Dow partnered with Division 7 Inc. Petroski said they have about 35 booked jobs left to complete, as part of Dow’s pilot program, which offered leasing or purchasing options to consumers.

“The way [Dow] is moving forward with the technology of the shingles, the improvements they’re making — they’re covering their bases,” Petroski said in reference to the notion that unanticipated issues have arisen as solar panels have gotten older, which could also happen to the shingles.

“I personally think the solar shingle will take over the marketplace,” Ciota said about the future as the technology continues to be upgraded. “There are new generations of solar shingles that will be coming out that will increase its efficiency and eventually they’ll probably tie up and meet [the efficiency of panels].”

Other companies sell solar shingles on Long Island, though Dow’s are widely considered to be on the cutting edge. In 2012 Dow received a Breakthrough Award from the magazine Popular Mechanics for pioneering an integrated solar roofing system, according to a press release on Dow’s website.

Note: John Petroski, director of solar and residential operations, is this writer’s brother.

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Port Jefferson Middle School has a new interim principal. Photo by Caroline Biondo

A familiar face will guide Port Jefferson Middle School as the district searches for a new principal.

At a school board meeting on Tuesday night, members approved Leonard Bozza to serve as interim principal effective July 1. The board resolution stipulates that Bozza will be in the role for no more than 100 days, and will be compensated $600 for each day.

According to a Wednesday letter from Superintendent Ken Bossert, Bozza was previously an interim assistant principal in the district and an interim high school principal. Before stepping into those roles at Port Jefferson, he had retired from his position as the Longwood High School principal.

The district is searching for a permanent replacement for outgoing Principal Antonio Santana, who announced earlier this month that he would not return for the 2015-16 school year, instead going to work for a Nassau County high school beginning in July.

Santana’s news came about three months after the high school principal, Matthew Murphy, announced his own departure at the end of the current school year, saying he was going “to pursue other educational opportunities.”

Murphy and Santana had been hired together three years ago to jointly replace Roseann Cirnigliaro, who had served as principal of both the middle and high schools.

Despite the pair’s coinciding resignations, the district has said the two schools will retain separate principals. Officials have already filled Murphy’s spot — Christine Austen, the Pre-K to grade 12 assistant principal, will take the helm of the Earl L. Vandermeulen High School.

Until a permanent middle school principal is chosen, parents can reach Bozza at the school’s main office, at 631-791-4431.