Middle Country Public Library has been offering several different activities for patrons this fall season. One activity involved “spirits” — creating  scarecrows out of wine bottles. Fifty-five library patrons at MCPL’s Selden location recently enjoyed participating in the Scarecrow Wine Bottle Decoration program.

Newfield struck first at home on the second play from scrimmage on a flea-flicker play that went 74-yards on a pass play to Kenny Petit Frere to break the ice against crosstown rival Centereach Saturday, Oct 7. 

It would be Newfield’s only points in the game as the Cougars went to work when LaRawn Robinson punched in from short yardage for the touchdown and finished it running in for the two-point conversion for the lead.

Centereach quarterback T.J. Doyle on a keeper found the end zone and, with a two-point run after, took a 16-7 lead into the locker room. Robinson, a wide receiver, threw to Jason Zaita on a 13-yard touchdown pass-play to open the second half to make it a three-score lead. Centereach senior running back Anthony Prince broke to the outside on a 12-yard run for his touchdown score and finished it by running in the two-pointer after, in the Cougar’s 32-7 victory in the Division II matchup.

— Photos by Bill Landon

The Comsewogue Warriors hosted the Newfield in their home opener but struggled to gain traction in the nonleague matchup falling to the Wolverines 4-0 Friday Sept 1. 

Newfield’s Jaidyn Schuman led the way for the Wolverines with a pair of goals along with teammates Audrianna Scott and Emily Wall who each scored a goal apiece. Adrianna Francese had six saves for the Wolverines and Comsewogue’s Grace Peyton stopped 10.

– Photos by Bill Landon

A message from Roberta Gerold, superintendent of schools at Middle Country Central School District

File photo

This update is not what we had hoped it would be. With a very heavy heart, I must inform you that Robert Bush, the student who collapsed Monday at Newfield High School, passed away earlier today, Friday, July 7. We are heartbroken for Robert’s family and friends and all who were fortunate to have been touched by his boundless enthusiasm and love of life.

Tonight, at Stony Brook University Hospital, an honor walk will take place in recognition of the family’s decision to donate Robert’s organs to help provide life-saving miracles for others in need. All those in the community wishing to attend are asked to arrive at the hospital by 10 p.m. (fourth floor). Information regarding the arrangements of future services and memorials will be provided shortly.

On Monday, counselors will be available at Newfield High School for any student, district staff member or member of our school district community who feels the need to talk through their feelings during this difficult time. Counselors will be available from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. 

In closing, I would like to express once again, on behalf of the Middle Country Central School District Board of Education and the entire Middle Country Central School District community, our heartfelt condolences to his family. We ask that you keep Robert and his family in your prayers.

Dawnwood Middle School student of the month, My’Kell Durham, with Assistant Principal Bruno Bernardino and teacher Margaret Porcelli, left photo. Selden Middle School student of the month, Logan Haberstroh, with Principal Andrew Bennett, right photo. Photos courtesy MCCSD

The Middle Country Central School District recently named My’Kell Durham and Logan Haberstoh as middle school students of the month for May, honoring the two students at a recent Board of Education meeting. 

Dawnwood Middle School student My’Kell Durham is an energetic student with a vibrant energy, smile and welcoming personality. He is eager to help those around him, listen to his teachers and put in extra effort in all subject areas. 

Throughout his years at Dawnwood Middle School, My’Kell’s growth as a student and individual has been recognized by teachers and peers. My’Kell has blossomed into a youngster exuding self-confidence and congeniality. Recently, My’Kell went around to students in his school to help raise awareness for the school’s dance and yoga fundraising event, culminating in the raising of $800. 

Selden Middle School student Logan Haberstroh excels academically. He has maintained impressive grades throughout middle school, with grades regularly averaging 95 or higher. As a member of the National Junior Honor Society, Logan has done community service at a local home for disabled adults and has worked to improve the gardens at New Lane Elementary School, where he attended elementary school. 

Logan enjoys being involved in the National Junior Honor Society, which provides him skills and knowledge to become a responsible local and global citizen.  

For more information regarding the Middle Country Central School District and its students’ many achievements, please visit the district’s website:

Middle Country, the seventh seed, entered postseason play hosting tenth-seeded Sachem East in the opening round of the playoffs, leading the Arrows by five goals to open the second half of the Div. I matchup on Tuesday, May 16.

It was the trio of Kate Timarky, Juliana Speziale and Olivia Annunziata who dominated the scoreboard for the Mad Dogs, keeping Sachem East at bay in this contest.

Seniors Speziale and Annunziata, both of whom will play lacrosse for Long Island University next season, notched four goals apiece and three assists between them. 

Senior Kate Timarky, the Notre Dame-bound midfielder, netted five goals along with one assist in the 13-5 victory. Senior goalie Jamie Cuozzo had a quiet day in net with three saves.

Middle County travels to the quarterfinal round on Friday, May 19, when the Mad Dogs face second-seeded Northport. Game time is 4 p.m

– Photos by Bill Landon

Polling sites for this year’s school budget and BOE elections. Centereach High School, left, and Newfield High School. Left file photo by Julianne Mosher; right from Facebook

Residents of the Middle Country Central School District will go to the polls on Tuesday, May 16, to vote on the district’s proposed annual budget for the 2023‒24 school year and trustees to sit on the district’s Board of Education.

MCCSD is proposing a $285.9 million budget, up nearly $11 million from the previous year, with a 1.6% tax levy increase that is under the tax cap.

District voters will also select three candidates to serve three-year terms on the Board of Education. In this year’s contest, three incumbents will square off against three electoral challengers.

Trustees Doreen Feldmann, Deborah Mann-Rodriguez and Kathleen Walsh are defending their seats against candidates Bruce Bennett, Thomas Bettua and Kimberly Crawford-Arbocus.

A Meet the Candidates forum hosted by the Suffolk Region PTA was held last month and is available on the district’s YouTube channel.

Tuesday’s school budget and trustee vote will occur from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. The new gymnasiums at Centereach High School and Newfield High School will serve as polling locations.

Alyson Bass, left, candidate for the Town of Brookhaven’s 3rd Council District, and Brookhaven Councilman-elect Neil Manzella. Left from Bass’ LinkedIn page; right courtesy Manzella

In the race to fill Brookhaven Town Clerk Kevin LaValle’s (R) seat on the Town Board, Neil Manzella (R-Selden) handily secured victory on Tuesday, April 25.

LaValle took over as town clerk in February, vacating the 3rd District and triggering a special election to complete his term, which ends in December. An unofficial tally from the Suffolk County Board of Elections indicates Manzella comfortably defeated his Democratic opponent, Alyson Bass, of Centereach, holding a 57-43% margin of victory.

The councilman-elect explained that there was little time to celebrate. The true test will be this November when he and Bass will be back on the ballot to compete again for a four-year term.

In exclusive post-election interviews with Manzella and Bass, the two CD3 candidates set the table for round two. Following resident feedback heard throughout the special election cycle, repaving the district’s roadways will be a primary focus.

“One of the biggest topics that I heard from the district [residents] themselves is the condition of the roads,” Manzella said. “One of my plans is to go and sit down with the Highway Department — the Superintendent of Highways [Dan Losquadro (R)] — and try to see if we get that taken care of during the summer months.”

Bass, too, heard from district residents about the disrepair of the roadways. To mitigate those concerns, she proposed enacting measures to promote transparency within the road prioritization process.

“You hear of roads being paved multiple times while other roads haven’t been paved in six or seven years,” she said. “How does that happen? There are definitely areas in our district that are neglected, and there are other districts that are not neglected at all.”

The two candidates also narrowed in on the other major overhanging issue for the area, commercial redevelopment. CD3 contains two prominent commercial corridors along Middle Country and Portion roads. The candidates departed in their approach to building up the many undeveloped parcels.

Bass approached the redevelopment issue with caution, noting the need to protect open spaces and restrain sprawl. 

“We’re looking at every piece of green land being sold with no inhibition,” the Democrat said. “You have shopping centers with less than 50 percent capacity, parking lots that are barely used, yet all of our green spaces are being sold.”

Manzella offered a different perspective on redevelopment, viewing the undeveloped lots as a potential tax base for the town while building upon the aesthetic character of the area.

“I see our district trying to thrive in the commercial region,” the councilman-elect said. “I want to push redevelopment of areas along our Middle Country and Portion roads. I want to push redevelopment that can help fill vacancies, empty lots, to make it a more aesthetic and more business-friendly [area].”

Ahead of this November, the closure of the Brookhaven Town landfill looms as one of the most pressing issues facing residents townwide, with regional implications as well. 

Manzella said his campaign has yet to focus on the landfill closure but expressed optimism toward working with his colleagues to remediate the issue.

“The plans for what happens when the landfill closes is not something that I would have even been a part of before now,” he said. “But now that I am in a role where I can contribute to it, I can’t wait to have that conversation.”

Bass said the Town Board staying proactive in the landfill closure would serve the best interest of the residents townwide. “I think pushing to have a plan in place so that we aren’t so affected by the closure of the town dump is huge,” she said in an earlier interview.

Residents of the 3rd Council District will decide upon these two candidates again in just over six months. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Alyson Bass, left, and Neil Manzella are the Democratic and Republican nominees, respectively, for the Town of Brookhaven’s 3rd Council District. Left from Bass’ LinkedIn page; right courtesy Manzella

The eyes of Brookhaven are upon Middle Country, where a special election later this month will help gauge the pulse of the people.

Former Town of Brookhaven Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden) took over as town clerk in February, vacating his seat on the Town Board and triggering a special election Tuesday, April 25, to complete his unexpired term ending in December.

The 3rd Council District spans Centereach, Selden and Lake Grove, with parts of Lake Ronkonkoma, Farmingville, Port Jefferson Station and Holtsville. Republicans currently occupy eight of the town’s 10 elected offices and hold a 5-1 majority on the Town Board. 

Less than three weeks until Election Day, citizens townwide will be watching CD3, with implications for general elections this November.

Attorney Alyson Bass and civil servant Neil Manzella have received the town Democratic and Republican committee nods, respectively. 

Bass, of Centereach, worked in private practice before entering the Suffolk County Attorney’s Office, where she currently deals with procurements, contracts and legislative drafting while coordinating with law enforcement agencies.

She is also involved in various community activities, serving as vice president of the Greater Gordon Heights Chamber of Commerce and president-elect of the Amistad Long Island Black Bar Association.

“My whole entire career was built on helping people, resolving problems and communicating,” she said in an interview. “To some extent, I’ve always felt that I was in public service to some degree because of the nature of my work,” adding that pursuing elective office “feels like a natural progression for me.”

Manzella, of Selden, has held various civil service posts throughout his professional career, working in the information technology department at the William Floyd and Longwood school districts before transferring to the Suffolk County Board of Elections. He currently works in the Town of Brookhaven Assessor’s Office, where he has been for five years.

“Ever since I got involved in government, I’ve loved being able to serve the community,” he told TBR News Media. “I was offered this opportunity to run for an office that can really focus my attention on my home community, and I jumped at the opportunity.”


Bass indicated that the 3rd District is simultaneously grappling with several quality-of-life concerns as the Town Board works to overcome the financial and logistical pitfalls associated with closing the Brookhaven landfill. This facility constitutes roughly half of the town’s public revenue.

“I think pushing to have a plan in place so that we aren’t so affected by the closure of the town dump is huge,” she said.

Given the 3rd District’s dense commercial and residential areas, Manzella highlighted the need for continual and close coordination with the town Highway Department in repaving local roadways.

“Kevin [LaValle] did a fantastic job on helping our roads, and I want to see that continued,” the Republican said.

This month’s special election comes amid calls from Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) to increase statewide housing stock by 3% over three years, a plan recently ridiculed by town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R). [See this week’s story, “Brookhaven officials speak out against governor’s proposed housing plan.”]

Despite gubernatorial pressures, both candidates for CD3 preferred local municipal oversight over development projects in Middle Country. Bass, a former Queens resident, was apprehensive about applying a New York City standard to Brookhaven.

“I came back here for a reason, and I am interested in preserving the suburban lifestyle,” she said, noting that expanding affordable housing options for district residents remains “hugely important.”

Manzella centered his development aims around CD3’s commercial sector, which includes the bustling corridors of Middle Country and Portion roads. The candidate suggested the numerous undeveloped lots as a potentially lucrative tax base for the town.

“If somebody’s going to be coming in and building a shop, we don’t want to drag our feet with it,” he said. “We want to help them get through any red tape that they might hit governmentally and get them on the tax roll.”

Encouraging district residents to remain on Long Island by hosting frequent community events and activities are necessary, Manzella added. For Bass, reducing the town’s carbon footprint, promoting renewables and expanding teen programs are all on the agenda.

Prior to the special election April 25, early voting will occur at 700 Yaphank Ave., Yaphank, beginning Saturday, April 15, and running through Sunday, April 23. For more information, click here.

Approximately 75 eighth grade students at Dawnwood Middle School and Selden Middle School in the Family and Consumer Science and Technology classes participated in the annual Shadow Day event, sponsored by the Middle Country Business Advisory Board. This was the first such event after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students worked alongside or shadowed a family member or friend of the family and had an opportunity for a behind-the-scenes look at an average workday in a variety of careers, including paralegal, teaching, nursing, small business owner and corporate executive. 

The students saw firsthand how the education they are receiving at school, including 21st century skills such as time management, communication, teamwork and problem-solving, are directly connected to future employment.

“I observed in person and through participation in virtual meetings how a cohesive team works,” said Angela Patalano, an eighth grade student at Selden Middle School who shadowed a senior vice president of data and systems integration at Lifetime Brands. “I took a showroom tour and learned a great deal  about product categories and branding.”