Times of Middle Country

METRO photo

For more than 35 years, March has been set aside to honor American women who have made their mark on history.

Over this time, Women’s History Month has evolved into a period to reflect on women’s roles in the country and the steps made to further equality, an effort that is still unfinished. While there’s no denying that women have come a long way over the decades, more work must be done.

Unfortunately, in this 21st century, countless women don’t earn the same as their male counterparts, who do the same exact job as they do. Sometimes, women even find themselves in work situations where they make less than men who don’t have as much experience or education as they do.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 1979 women who were full-time, salary workers had earnings that were 62% of men. In 2020, the gap closed somewhat but not completely, with women on average making 82% of what men make in similar jobs. Females of color make even less.

Women are underpaid in many fields, including the media. A 2021 study researching the newsrooms of 14 Gannett-owned newspapers found women earned up to $27,000 less annually than men, according to the labor union NewsGuild. That equates to 63% of the median salary of males in the same roles.

The days of women working only to earn some spending money are long gone. Today, society doesn’t limit women to feeling as if they can only choose to be a secretary, teacher or nurse. Girls can grow up to be whatever they aim to be and, just like men, females have college loans that must be paid for and carry the burden of household expenses. In an era where two incomes are often needed to own a home, and there are single mothers and women looking to build a future of their own, paying women only 82% of what men make is inexcusable.

Females deserve the same respect as males in every aspect, yet they are still fighting on every level. Another distressing example of what females experience comes from a survey conducted by the Seattle University Department of Communication and Media which reported 79% of 115 women journalists surveyed feared online abuse. Such harassment could put a female reporter in a position where she may fear covering certain kinds of stories. Preying on women journalists to prevent them from properly doing their job is unconscionable.

Women have the right to choose whatever career path they desire. When they land their dream job, they deserve to be paid the same as their male counterparts and to be treated with respect.

Women’s History Month reminds us that the fight for equality is universal. Men require strong women, and vice versa. Today’s females stand on the shoulders of the women and men who have fought for their equality. 

Let us continue their work. Let us envision a world that will be better for the girls who follow in our footsteps.

The Selden campus of Suffolk County Community College. File photo

For the first time in nearly five years Suffolk County Community College is experiencing an enrollment increase, due in part to an increase in the number of students returning to the college from the fall 2022 to spring 2023 semesters, according to preliminary census data reported today to SUNY administration.

“Suffolk offers not only the lowest college tuition on Long Island but also an engaging and supportive on-campus environment that welcomes every student,” said Suffolk County Community College President Dr. Edward Bonahue. “By focusing on what students need from their college experience — whether it’s transfer to a bachelor’s degree or career-facing opportunities — our faculty and staff are committed to helping students achieve their goals.”

“We also know that many of our students balance college courses with work and family obligations, and we want to do everything we can to offer flexible options that meet their needs,” Bonahue said. MicroMesters are a great way to earn credits in a compressed time frame, he said.

“There are two 7.5-week MicroMesters within a traditional 15-week semester. MicroMester classes are faster-paced, meet more often and may appeal to recent high school graduates who are accustomed to attending classes five days per week and completing daily assignments in a shorter time frame,” Bonahue explained.

“Community College state funding is tied to enrollment” said College Board of Trustees Chair E. Christopher Murray.  “Enrollment increases our revenue and fees as well as New York State’s contribution to our College,” he said. “Over the last 18 months, the college has made a focus on the students’ experience its highest priority, has expanded outreach to Hispanic students and families with bilingual marketing materials, and has raised the visibility of career-facing programs and short-term workforce certificates and the college is now seeing the benefits in terms of growth.”

“At Suffolk, there are signs of a promising enrollment recovery, particularly with the number of first-time students enrolling at the college and students who are continuing their studies at Suffolk,” said Suffolk’s Interim Vice President for Planning and Institutional Effectiveness Kaliah Greene.  “This mid-semester snapshot shows enrollment increases at every campus and in nearly every student category, including new students, continuing students, and transfer students.”  The college also expects to report increases in the number of high school and non-credit workforce students being served.

According to institutional enrollment data, year-over-year spring enrollment grew by nearly three percent or 367 students, from 13,982 to 14,349 students. The college’s full-time equivalent, a measurement that converts all enrollment into a common standard, also increased one percent.

“The real story is the shift in persistence of students we’re seeing,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Patricia Munsch. “More students chose to continue their studies from the fall ’22 semester to the spring ’23 semester as compared to last year.”  Nationally, retention and persistence are indicators of whether students will progress and ultimately complete their college education. “The entire college is focused on engaging students in ways that encourage their persistence, and we are working hard to extend this enrollment momentum into the fall and next spring.”

 “The increase in enrollment we’re seeing right now is a credit to our employees,” added Bonahue. “Every single employee, every office in the college is committed to serving our students, and the enrollment increase we’re now seeing shows how we’re focused on that mission every day.”

File photo

Suffolk County Police arrested a Farmingville man for allegedly driving while ability impaired by drugs after he was involved in a motor vehicle crash that killed a man in Centereach on March 19.

Christopher Guzman was driving a 2022 Chevrolet pickup truck westbound on Middle Country Road, near Wood Road, when his vehicle struck the side of an eastbound 2011 Toyota Camry, driven by Virginia Molkentin at approximately 5 p.m. Guzman continued driving westbound and, a short distance away, the Chevrolet struck a westbound 2012 Ford Escape, driven by Stacy Carpenter.

Guzman, 39, of Farmingville, and Molkentin, 66, of Coram, were transported to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. Carpenter, 55, was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment of serious injuries. Carpenter’s passenger, his nephew, Timothy Carpenter, 21, was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Guzman was charged with allegedly Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs. He is scheduled for arraignment at later date. The vehicles were impounded for safety checks. Detectives are asking anyone with information on the crash to contact the Major Case Unit at 631-852-6555.

A criminal charge is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Do you recognize this man? Photo from SCPD
Do you recognize this man? Photo from SCPD

Suffolk County Crime Stoppers and Suffolk County Police Fourth Precinct Crime Section officers are seeking the public’s help to identify and locate a man who allegedly damaged a vehicle in a Lake Grove parking lot in March. 

A man exited a white Mercedes Benz SUV in a parking lot on Alexander Avenue at 8:10 p.m. on March 4 and allegedly scratched the side of a 2023 Rivian R1S parked in the lot. The man got back in the Mercedes and left the scene. 

Suffolk County Crime Stoppers offers a cash reward for information that leads to an arrest. Anyone with information about these incidents can contact Suffolk County Crime Stoppers to submit an anonymous tip by calling 1-800-220-TIPS, utilizing a mobile app which can be downloaded through the App Store or Google Play by searching P3 Tips, or online at www.P3Tips.com. All calls, text messages and emails will be kept confidential.  

Have you seen Travis? Photo from SCPD

UPDATE: Travis Perry, who was reported missing by family on March 19, was located, unharmed, at a friend’s house.

Suffolk County Police Sixth Squad detectives are seeking the public’s help to locate a missing 13-year- old boy from Lake Ronkonkoma.

Travis Perry was last seen leaving a friend’s house on Farner Ave. in Selden, at approximately 8 p.m. last night. He was riding a red Vonda mountain bike. He was reported missing by a family member at 11 p.m. Perry, who lives in Lake Ronkonkoma, is Black with light skin, 5 feet 5 inches tall, 120 pounds with brown hair and hazel eyes.

Detectives are asking anyone with information on Perry’s location to contact the Sixth Squad at 631-
854-8652 or call 911.

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.”

By Carolyn Sackstein

Tipping for home delivery of food has been debated in the media lately, with a viral video of a delivery driver taking an order back because she felt an $8 tip was inadequate for transporting the food from Commack to Smithtown. 

The internet is full of videos instructing drivers on techniques for working with DoorDash, Uber Eats and Grubhub apps to maximize pay and improve service. It is also filled with complaints of drivers being stiffed by non-tipping customers and undertipping. Drivers also decry the practice of “tip-baiting,” in which a good tip is promised with pre-tipping and then is adjusted down after delivery.

On Friday, March 10, TBR News Media asked people on the street in downtown Port Jefferson to discuss their tipping practices. The following are their responses.



Elizabeth Garland, Port Jefferson

Garland rarely gets food delivery, but said she tips “20% like I would in a restaurant, maybe a little more. If it was a bad weather day, maybe a bit more.”






Gloria Neumair, Patchogue

“For food delivery, I don’t tip as much as I would in a restaurant, but I still tip.” When asked what she bases her tips on, she responded, “I guess the distance they had to come, the total of the order, but I don’t generally do a percent.”






Alexa Noriega, Patchogue

“I think the amount should be based on factors like the weather, how much they are getting for you and whether they provided any extra customer service during the shopping process. I do think they should be tipped on top of their pay.”






Jesse Guerra, St. James

“I usually do 20%. I consider it a generous tip, depending on where I go.” When asked if a fee should be built into a person’s salary, he responded, “I don’t think it should be built into a person’s salary. There are better workers than others. I don’t like when they put [the tips] into one big bucket and spread it out because the less good workers are getting a share of the better workers.”





Nick Lemza, Smithtown

“I actually work for DoorDash and Uber Eats. I always tip 20-to-25%.” He went on to discuss the criteria on which he bases his tipping. These factors include “how quickly the food gets to you, if the food is in proper care, what the ratings are on each profile and just if the food is good. I tip even if the food is bad — 18-to-20% because this is someone’s living.”

An assortment of cannabis products resembling household children's foods and snacks. Photo courtesy the Town of Brookhaven Drug Prevention Coalition

Public officials and drug prevention advocates are sounding the alarm over cannabis products packaged for children.

During a recent Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association meeting, civic vice president Sal Pitti circulated a flier revealing various cannabis products resembling commonplace children’s foods and household snacks. 

Pitti, who is also active with the Town of Brookhaven’s Drug Prevention Coalition, suggested these products are branded for children and attributes the problem to false advertising.

“We all grew up with Trix and Cocoa Pebbles when we were kids,” he said. “It’s a branding that people know, they recognize and might more easily purchase.”

‘This is going to open up a door to our youth that’s going to hurt them. This is just a bomb that’s waiting to go off.’

—Sal Pitti

Pitti detailed several potential dangers associated with tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in marijuana commonly known as THC, getting into the hands of young people. He said processed edible cannabis often has exponentially higher THC concentrations, which can get kids hooked on the substance more efficiently and create a gateway to harder drugs.

Recent statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse substantiate this claim. Samples analyzed by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency since 1995 indicate that today’s cannabis products are nearly four times as potent as those collected in that year.

“They’ve sophisticated this technique to great extents,” Pitti said. “Now they’re making gummies, candies, granola bars, honeys and spreads out of this stuff. But the problem is, in processing all of this, that THC level has gone up dramatically.”

Pitti said packaging highly potent THC products to children signals potentially severe societal harm. “This is going to open up a door to our youth that’s going to hurt them,” he said. “This is just a bomb that’s waiting to go off.”

A crisis for children

Pitti is not alone in these concerns. Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) has introduced legislation targeting the practice. 

Her bill cites the risks associated with underage THC consumption, such as impaired memory and coordination, and the potential for hallucinations and paranoia among minors. 

In an interview, Hahn suggested marketing cannabis in a manner that makes it desirable to children represents a public safety hazard.

“If it’s intentionally designed to look like candy, the purpose is to confuse the consumer,” she said, adding, “If an adult purchases marijuana gummies that are packaged similarly to candy-type gummies and a young child gets their hands on it and eats it unknowingly, that’s a very dangerous situation for the child.”

Hahn’s bill would require packaging of THC products to be plain, containing clear warning labels and prohibiting the words “candy” or “candies.” She noted that the measure’s goal is to make THC products less enticing to kids.

“The packaging of the products is incredibly important,” the county legislator said, stating the bill would prevent merchants from “mimicking candy wrappers, having logos that are like cartoons or characters or having flavors that are attractive to children.”

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai), chair of the county’s Addiction Prevention and Support Advisory Panel, has signed on as a co-sponsor to Hahn’s bill. She referred to child-friendly THC packaging as a harmful way for cannabis sellers to market their products.

“These cannabis folks see this as a marketing strategy,” she said. “It’s creating a problem, we know for a fact, and we’re trying to address that.”

State oversight

Marijuana was legalized in New York state in 2021 under the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act. The New York State Office of Cannabis Management is the regulatory arm overseeing the licensure, production, sale and taxation of cannabis throughout the state. In an email statement, the office confirmed the uptick in packaging branded for children.

“We have seen illicit sellers marketing products clearly imitating candies and snacks that target children,” said Lyla Hunt, OCM’s deputy director of public health and campaigns. “New York State would never allow those products to be sold in licensed cannabis dispensaries. Our enforcement teams are working every day to shut those sellers down.”

Further compounding the issue, Hunt added that illicit dealers often do not follow the same protocols as their licensed counterparts. “We also have heard reports unlicensed storefronts are not checking ID when selling illicit cannabis products, heightening the importance of shuttering these operators before they can do more harm,” she said.

According to her, OCM has worked to curtail the issue through stringent guidelines, putting forth regulations regarding packaging, labeling and marketing to mitigate this technique. 

“We at New York State’s Office of Cannabis Management are committed to building a safe, regulated cannabis industry for consumers ages 21 and over that also protects those under 21,” the deputy director said.

OCM’s regulations concerning packaging echo several of the items raised in Hahn’s bill, restricting words such as “candy” and “candies” while mandating that packages be resealable, child-resistant and tamper evident. The guidelines also limit the use of cartoons, bubble-type fonts and bright colors on the packaging.

Despite OCM’s approach, Anker said the work of local and state government remains unfinished. “More must be done,” the county legislator said. She added, “This product is legally new to the market, and you need to be aware and do your part as a parent and as a teacher … to protect the kids.”

From left, Arthur Giove Jr., Brookhaven Town Clerk Kevin LaValle and Camille Giove. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

On March 7, Brookhaven Town Clerk Kevin LaValle visited with Arthur Giove, Jr. and Camille Giove at the newly reopened Giove Funeral Home located at 1000 Middle Country Road in Selden. 

The business was temporarily closed as a result of extensive fire damage on the night of May 25, 2021. After being closed for nearly two years, the Giove Funeral Home will hold a dedication ceremony on April 29 at 3 p.m. in honor of Arthur Giove, Sr., who passed away in 2022. Giove Funeral Home first opened in 1965. 

Prior to being elected to his current position in January 2023, Town Clerk LaValle served as the Councilman in District 3 which included the Giove Funeral Home. He and his office staff assisted the Giove family to get though the process of demolition, rebuilding and reopening.

“The Giove family has been a staple in the community for nearly 60 years and they needed assistance to get through the process of reopening. Arthur and Camille are always ready to help when asked and they always come through. It was my turn to reciprocate for all they have done to make the Selden community the best it can be,” said Town Clerk LaValle.

“It is a privilege to be back in the community that my family has served in for the last few decades. Thank you to the Town of Brookhaven for helping me through the entire building process and getting us back up and running so we can once again help families during some of the most difficult times and thank you to the Selden Fire Department for all you did to save our building 21 months ago,” said Arthur Giove, Jr.

Pixabay photo

Correction: Good Energy is New York-based

First, thank you for the in-depth March 9 article about Community Choice Aggregation in Long Island. It is a well-written article that shares much important information about CCA programs. 

Long Island residents and businesses can benefit from such programs for years, so the more information, the better. Such CCA programs will enable Long Islanders to secure stable, low energy rates and also feature renewable energy options. That is, indeed, important news for Long Islanders.

As a media contact for Good Energy, I would like to add a small — but important — correction and a clarification to that article. 

Good Energy is mentioned as being a London-based company. It’s an understandable error because there is a United Kingdom-based company with the same name as ours. However, Good Energy LLC is based in Manhattan, with employees on Long Island and has been helping New York and other states create CCA programs for more than 20 years. 

 For our company, it’s important that residents of the Town of Brookhaven and the rest of Long Island know we are a New York-based business working for New Yorkers. We look forward to serving Brookhaven as the energy consultant for their CCA program. Part of that service is providing Brookhaven with new, exciting renewable energy options. 

 I would also request that your publication clarifies the scope of Good Energy’s CCA program: The Town of Brookhaven’s Community Choice Aggregation Program is for gas, electricity and renewable energy. 

In fact, Good Energy is currently working with Brookhaven officials to develop such renewable energy projects. More news about that will be coming soon.

Doug Donaldson

Media Representative

Good Energy LLC

New York

Fund the state’s new campaign finance program

In a representative democracy, money should not be the determining factor in whether a person can run for public office. When working-class people run and serve in public office, our government works better for working families. Yet too often, the process is dictated by wealthy donors and special interest groups, making it difficult for the average person to run for office and win. The New York State Public Campaign Finance Program would help to change that.

This new state program would eliminate barriers and level the playing field for good, qualified people to run for public office. Under the new system, individual contributions of between $5 and $250 would be eligible for public matching funds, enabling candidates — incumbents and challengers — to spend their time fundraising among more of the people they seek to represent, as opposed to wealthy megadonors. This makes it easier for ordinary people without access to wealth to run for office, with the support of our communities.

Instead of officeholders who are beholden to corporate donations, special interests and megadonors, they would be listening to constituents who built their campaign, one small donation at a time. Furthermore, these small donors would be engaged in the process to a greater degree, as they have a personal connection with the candidate who represents them and the community. This is what a government of, by and for the people is all about.

Unfortunately, no one will be able to make use of public campaign finance if there is no funding allocated to the program. Our legislators must take bold action and fully fund the Public Campaign Finance Program this year, so that candidates can begin using it in the 2024 election cycle, as the law intended. This funding must be a part of our fiscal year 2024 budget that is currently being negotiated in Albany.

We in Suffolk County know all too well that special interests dominate the process. Special interests who hold power with our Republican and Conservative county legislators that killed Suffolk County’s public campaign finance program before it began. We cannot let this happen again at the state level. I urge you to let your state legislators know that you support New York’s Public Campaign Finance Program, and that you want your government to represent you, not the special interest groups. That is the leadership and democracy we deserve.

Shoshana Hershkowitz

South Setauket

Friendly, generous people

I would like to share how my wife and I have twice been the recipients of little acts of kindness.

The first occurred when we were dining in a Port Jefferson restaurant with another couple. The man, John, was telling us that he had fought in Europe in World War II. A few minutes later, our waitress informed us that the people in the next booth had paid for John’s meal. A thank-you for his service. We, of course, went to their booth and thanked them. 

More recently my wife and I had finished lunch at Outback Steakhouse in East Setauket, and the check arrived. The total appeared to be wrong, and I asked our waitress about it. She explained that the couple at the next table had some money left on their gift card and requested that it be applied to our bill. Unfortunately, they had left before we learned this, and we could not thank them. Whoever you are, if you read this: A profound thank-you for your generosity. I will pay it forward.

Steven Perry

Rocky Point

On the road again

March 12 was the 101st anniversary of East Northport resident Jack Kerouac’s birth.

It made me reread one of his best writings, “On the Road.” His works remind me of the more adventurous spirit of youth.

Sadly, as we get older, with more responsibilities and less free time, there are fewer journeys to take, but the ideals of Kerouac continue to live in all of us.

Larry Penner

Great Neck


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