Village Times Herald

Gerry Mackedon has become a swinging success, finishing qualifier nine strokes ahead of second

Gerry Mackedon swings away during a St. John’s University tournament. photo by Big East/Stephen B. Morton

By Desirée Keegan

Gerry Mackedon can be found swinging his golf club until the sun sets.

Once the Port Jefferson native’s shift is over at the local country club, the St. John’s University sophomore takes time to perfect his game.

“Gerry spends six or seven hours a day maintaining his game and training for his tournament schedule,” said his father Bill Mackedon, a Professional Golfers’ Association of America head golf professional at Port Jefferson Country Club. “During the summer months, unlike with most kids, there’s really been no taking the summer off. He’s very dedicated to giving himself the opportunity to, and improving, his skills to become the best golfer he can be.”

Gerry Mackedon competes for the Red Storm as a freshman. Photo from St. John’s Athletics Communications

Gerry Mackedon is coming off some recent successful tournaments, and is currently competing in the New York State Men’s Amateur Golf Championship at Bethpage State Park’s Black Course to prepare himself for the USGA U.S. Amateur golf tournament at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California, Aug. 14 to 20.

Last month he won the 2017 U.S. Amateur Championship sectional qualifying round at Huntington Country Club with a 131 36-hole performance — nine strokes under par and ahead of the second-place finishers at even par.

“I am deeply honored by this accomplishment and hope I can represent Port Jefferson Country Club by playing my best golf ever,” Mackedon said in a country club statement. “I am extremely thankful to all of the members who have shown me support in many ways during the last few weeks.”

Winning by that margin is something St. John’s University head coach, Mal Galletta, said is an impressive achievement.

“No matter what his score is in relation to par, to win anything by nine shots in golf shows tremendous ability to put yourself way ahead of the competition,” he said. “His ability to go low, too — it really shows that he’s not just comfortable with winning by one. Not many players can do that or have that mind-set, and I think that’s going to bode well for him in his future.”

Mackedon also placed first at the Michael Hebron championship, the Long Island Golf Association’s top amateur stroke play, Aug. 1 at Bethpage Black.

“It’s nice to play a tough golf course like that — Riviera is a tough golf course as well,” he said. “I still have a lot of work to do so playing well in that tournament gives me some confidence.”

“He was always a top player and he’s so focused and very dedicated to the game.”

— Bob Spira

Mackedon began swinging the club seriously at the age of 10, but was a tri-sport athlete at Ward Melville, playing baseball and basketball.

“I think children should play multiple sports,” the standout golfer’s father said. “It enhances their abilities in each. I think it helped in his development as a golfer.”

Although the swing for baseball is different than golf, the Ward Melville graduate tried out for the varsity golf team in seventh grade, and made the team.

“His stroke was good and he had a great straight ball — at that stage he just needed to work on his mental game,” Ward Melville head coach Bob Spira said. “He was always a top player and he’s so focused and very dedicated to the game.”

Mackedon captured the Suffolk County individual title by shooting a 145, three strokes over par, and also led Ward Melville to its second-straight Suffolk County team championship his senior year. He finished second in the state tournament — one stroke behind first.

He also competed in the renowned American Junior Golf Association circuit, where he shot an average of 77.3 per round, and placed first in both U.S. challenge cups — the Long Island and Northeast junior classics. He took second place in the 2015 Met PGA future series at Bethpage Red, finished third in the 2015 Met PGA future series at Eisenhower Park White and carded a 64 to post another first-place showing at the Met PGA junior event.

“He has a natural talent and that ability to make it look easy.”

— Mal Galletta

“Gerry’s ability to go low is very special,” said Jim White, a Port Jefferson Country Club member and former Long Island caddie scholarship winner. “To win U.S. Amateur sectional qualifying medalist honors by nine strokes is unheard of. He’s a great kid.”

Bill Mackedon said he and his son practiced on his short game for the first two years as the young golfer’s body changed month to month, before adding to his repertoire.

“The initial training and development was to make him an outstanding player around the greens,” the father said. “Then we worked on his full swing and training him to play at the highest level he could possibly play at.”

The head pro said his son’s determination never wavered.

“He stayed within the Mackedon realm when it comes to instruction, but he’s a student of the game,” he said. “He studies the swing — he does what he needs to do. In my opinion, he out trains and outthinks most athletes on the golf course and I think that’s why he’s been so successful.”

He learned from not only his father, who won numerous PGA section events and three player of the year awards while still holding three course records, but also from his grandfather, a head professional for more than 35 years.

Gerry Mackedon winning the 2017 U.S. Amateur Championship qualifier at Huntington Country Club. Photo from Bill Mackedon

Galletta said he sees the work put in, as his athlete came away with a one-hole playoff win for the Connecticut Cup Championship in October — just a month into his college career.

“He has a natural talent and that ability to make it look easy,” he said. “Besides his playing record, I was really impressed with the length he can hit the ball, even in high school. He’s committed to the team and wants the team to win just as much, if not more than he’d like to see himself win.”

His achievements have helped him proudly continue his family’s legacy.

“My wife Michele and I are very excited of this segue into possibly playing beyond college golf,” the college coach said. “I think it’s the beginning of a very bright future for Gerry.”

At the Riviera Country Club, he will be competing in the USGA championship won by the likes of Bobby Jones, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.

“I just hope Gerry enjoys the experience out there,” Galletta said. “Even people who are just part-time golfers, or even those who don’t know Bill or Gerry, should rally around him and be proud of that fact that someone is doing well enough at that age to compete on a national level. It’s a top-notch professional championship setup, and having competed in it myself I know it’s a different feeling than anything else he’s ever competed in. I hope he takes it all in and if he puts his head to the fact that he can do well, besides just thinking about the fantastic achievement of qualifying, I think big things are coming his way.”

'Great Blue Heron' by Chris Bazer
Photo artist Chris Bazer shares magical images of nature in latest exhibit at Emma Clark Library

By Melissa Arnold

Like all great photographers, Christopher Scott Bazer has an eye for beauty. But he also knows how to take a beautiful image to the next level with a little computer magic.

It’s what he calls photo-art, a unique blend of traditional photography and modern, digital effects. The result is vivid and ethereal.

A collection of Bazer’s favorite pieces is on display at the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library in Setauket for the month of August in an exhibit called Essence of Nature.

‘Butterfly en rose’

Bazer has been a shutterbug for almost his entire life, starting out with a little Brownie camera at just 5 years old while growing up in Queens. “My mother was very artistic and became a very good painter in her own right,” said Bazer, who now lives in Huntington. “Her brother, my uncle, also painted, so I think [the artistic talents] came down from that side of the family.”

While Bazer didn’t major in art, he did take a handful of art classes while working toward a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Southampton College. During his time there, he had the chance to study under painter and filmmaker Larry Rivers.

After college, Bazer worked for a time as a salesman before settling into a successful 35-year career as a DJ. But his love for painting and photography never died. At one point, he was the brother-in-law of Richard Bernstein, an artist who ran in the same circles as Andy Warhol. “I learned so much from [Bernstein]. He ended up being one of my idols,” he said.

Now 70, Bazer has had more time to devote to his artwork. He’s done more than a dozen public exhibits in the last few years, mostly in libraries and village centers. He is one of many artists to benefit from the support of Princess Ronkonkoma Productions, an organization that helps the disabled and elderly find outlets to show their art.

Bazer said that he’s not much of a painter, but there are usually a few acrylic paintings in the mix at his exhibits. “My paintings are what you’d call folk art — they’re not meant to be taken as realistic,” he explained.

‘Shore wader’

As for photography, Bazer now uses an Olympus Stylus 1 to capture the world around him. It’s a natural part of his routine to bring the camera along whenever he’s headed out. His favorite subjects are wildlife and landscapes, especially beaches; and he enjoys taking photos of Coindre Hall’s boathouse on the Long Island Sound in Huntington.

As traditional photography evolved with the arrival of digital technology, Bazer was inspired by a whole new realm of possibilities.

“I just started playing around with the software that came with my camera and experimented with different effects and styles. What I’m able to do now is stuff that you were once only able to do in the darkroom, and it was hit or miss, and very expensive,” Bazer said. “What’s interesting is a lot of times I go out and take pictures and I’ll come home and look at what I have and not see anything good, but then I can work with it on the computer and end up with something really great.”

The Essence of Nature exhibit will feature 21 photos and paintings, all of which can be purchased as a low-number print. For information, contact Bazer directly at [email protected] or CSBazer Art on Facebook.

The Emma S. Clark Memorial Library is located at 120 Main Street, Setauket. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. For more information, call 631-941-4080 or visit www.emmaclark.org.

Joseph and Maddie Mastriano, co-founders of Three Village Kids Lemonade Stand, held the fifth annual fundraising event at R.C. Murphy Junior High School. Photo by Rita J. Egan

By Rita J. Egan

Thirteen-year-old Joseph and 17-year-old Maddie Mastriano turned lemons into lemonade and then turned a lemonade stand into an annual fundraising event that has raised thousands for Stony Brook Children’s Hospital.

The Three Village Kids Lemonade Stand event was held on the grounds of R.C. Murphy Junior High School in Stony Brook Aug. 2. What started as a simple lemonade stand in front of the Mastrianos’ home one hot day five years ago has turned into a summer event that draws hundreds from the local community to show their support.

Maddie said when she and her brother set up their first lemonade stand, neighborhood children helped them out. They sold lemonade for 50 cents, and at the end of the day, they weren’t sure how to split the few dollars they made amongst 16 kids. Their mother suggested giving the money to a charity, and they decided to donate the money to the children’s hospital since it was in the area.

Volunteers set up the lemonade stand. Photo from Three Village Kids Lemonade Stand

Through the years, the lemonade stand, formerly known as the S-Section Kids Lemonade Stand, began to draw more customers when neighbors discovered through word of mouth that the Mastrianos were donating the money. After serving nearly 500 customers last summer, the family approached the Three Village school district this year to see if the annual event could be held at one of the school’s properties, and the district agreed.

While their first lemonade stand enlisted the help of various neighborhood children, this year’s event included more than 100 volunteers from the school district.

“It’s amazing to know that all those people want to help out with this cause,” Maddie said.

Among the volunteers were the siblings’ cousins Sierra Edwards, 14, Savanna Edwards, 11, and Zoie Mastriano, 11. The girls were helping out at the T-shirt table, and they all said they were amazed at what their relatives had accomplished.

“I don’t know any young kids who have done something like this before,” Zoie said.

At press time, the Mastriano siblings raised more than $19,000 towards their 2017 goal of $20,000. In addition to local residents attending their Aug. 2 event, donations were accepted on their website, and the siblings solicited the help of sponsors. Maddie said they noticed various fundraisers that partnered with companies so she and her brother decided to approach local businesses.

Maddie said it feels good to give back. It’s something she and her brother have learned from her parents who she said are always helping out wherever they can and have been a good influence.

While the event has turned into more than selling lemonade, with corporate sponsors, the Setauket Fire Department on hand giving demonstrations, and the Ward Melville alumni band SWIM performing, the siblings said they enjoy donating their time. Maddie said they think of the children in the hospital who don’t have the chance to enjoy their summer vacation like they do. 

“This is our way of giving back,” Maddie said. “We give them one day of ours to possibly give them summers in the future.”

The Mastriano siblings receiving a proclamation from Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine and Town Clerk Donna Lent. Photo from Three Village Kids Lemonade Stand

The Mastrianos estimated that 400 people stopped by throughout the day including Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine and Town Clerk Donna Lent, presenting them with a proclamation; celebrity chef Barrett Beyer of Hell’s Kitchen, making gourmet lemonade; Mr. Met, greeting guests; and Stony Brook University men’s basketball and women’s soccer teams. Three Village Central School District Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich and board Trustee Inger Germano also stopped by.

County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), who grew up in the Three Village school district, has attended the event for the last few years.

“It has been exciting to see it grow and evolve, from block to neighborhood to community event in such a short time,” Hahn said in an email. “This annual event highlights the generosity of spirit within the Three Village community and the compassion of its organizers and volunteers. It is reaffirming to see children and teenagers work so enthusiastically, and with such empathy, to try and ease the suffering of others.” 

Joan Alpers, director of Child Life Services at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, attended the event and delivered a short speech. She said the funds the children raised will go towards programs such as horticulture therapy, art therapy and music therapy for children plus relaxation sessions for stressed parents.

Alpers said she is amazed by Joseph and Maddie’s work and the community’s support of the children.

“I just think it’s really phenomenal that kids did this one year but then had the resources to do it again and to grow it each year,” Alpers said. “That takes skill, dedication and a special human spirit for a young person.” 

Maddie and Joseph’s father Joseph Mastriano, who was volunteering at the event, said he is proud of his children.

“It teaches them lessons they don’t necessarily learn in school,” the father said. “They went out on their own and solicited different businesses. I think it’s a good experience for them all around.”

Next year’s lemonade stand is scheduled for Aug. 8, 2018 at R.C. Murphy Junior High School. For more information about Three Village Kids Lemonade Stand or to donate, visit www.threevillagekidslemonadestand.com.

Children sit in one of the carriages at The Long Island Museum during a school program. Photo from The Long Island Museum

The planning process for a new gallery is about to begin at The Long Island Museum of American Art, History and Carriages in Stony Brook thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) announced Aug. 3 the museum was awarded $40,000 through NEH’s competitive grant program. The new interactive gallery will be called “A World Before Cars” and plans include developing a simulation ride where visitors can experience how it felt to ride in a carriage.

“The Long Island Museum has continued to do amazing work in preserving this great heritage.”

— Lee Zeldin

Zeldin thanked the NEH for recognizing the museum’s contributions of providing a source of art, history and culture to the community.

“Our local history and culture is so important to us here on Long Island, and The Long Island Museum has continued to do amazing work in preserving this great heritage,” Zeldin said in an email. “The Long Island Museum presented a strong application for this grant when compared with other applicants, and as such were able to get through the rigorous NEH selection process.”

The NEH is an independent federal agency that was established in 1965 and provides grant funding for museums, archives and libraries to promote excellence in the humanities in the country. Zeldin was among the congressmen who voted to fund the agency at $149.8 million this year, which was an increase of $1.9 million from 2016.

Funding organizations such as this is important to Zeldin.

“Our museums, libraries, art galleries, archives, and other related venues serve an incredibly important purpose, and it is imperative that they remain supported through initiatives like these,” the congressman said. “Long Island has a unique and cherished history unlike any other, and securing grants like this for our local institutions is integral in preserving our distinct heritage and attracting visitors to help our local tourism economy.”

Neil Watson, executive director of The Long Island Museum, said in a phone interview he feels the future gallery is the missing element at the museum.

The director said they submitted a proposal in 2016, and while they weren’t awarded a grant last year, they were able to rework and resubmit the proposal for 2017. He said the grant was awarded for the planning necessary to construct the gallery, and the museum will apply for another grant through the NEH to implement the plans. Additional funds will be raised to supplement both grants.

“We don’t know what’s possible yet and that’s what we want to discuss [in] the next nine months to a year.”

— Neil Watson

Watson said the proposal was one that needed time to be honed as the new gallery will incorporate history, interactive features and is object-driven.

The director said the concept for interactive elements was a result of requests from visitors to the museum, which features carriages from various eras. 

“What visitors have told us often … is they want to know what it’s like to ride in a carriage,” Watson said.

The director said the planning period will take approximately a year and the gallery will be located on the lower level in a 2,500 square foot space. While they have held preliminary meetings with the architecture company Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership, future meetings will include historians, curators, and they will also approach the plans from the educational and public access angles.

“We don’t know what’s possible yet and that’s what we want to discuss [in] the next nine months to a year,” Watson said.

Joshua Ruff, director of collections and chief curator, will be part of the planning process and said he was pleased when he heard the news about the grant.

“I think it’s a terrific thing,” he said. “NEH has been very instrumental in the process to renovate the carriage museum.”

The curator said the planning committee will be taking a long, meticulous look at the proposed plans for the gallery that he said will be rich in content. He said a simulation ride will give museum guests the opportunity to choose the type of horse, carriage and ride they would like to experience and feels it will add a new dimension to the museum.

“I think it will help us to connect with a new, larger audience,” Ruff said. 

Watson and Ruff said the gallery will incorporate displays to show the direct correlation between cars and carriages, too.

“[A carriage] was the car before there were cars,” Watson said. “Everybody used it for industry, for everyday life, to get to one place to another. It was like a car. So we want to make that connection through a variety of activities.”

For more information about The Long Island Museum of American Art, History and Carriages, visit www.longislandmuseum.org.

Above, Alesi, the skull of the new extinct ape species Nyanzapithecus alesi. Photo by Fred Spoor

By Daniel Dunaief

They were in a terrible mood. They had spent an entire day searching for clues about creatures that walked the Earth millions of years ago and had come up empty.

“We were not finding even a single bone, nothing,” recalled Isaiah Nengo, who will be an associate director of the Turkana Basin Institute and an assistant research professor at Stony Brook University this fall.

Alesi after attached sandstone rock was partially removed at the Turkana Basin Institute, near Lodwar, Kenya. Photo by Christopher Kiarie

One of the fossil hunters in the group, John Ekusi, started rolling a cigarette. Nengo told him to move away from them so that they didn’t inhale second-hand smoke. Walking ahead, Ekusi made a spectacular discovery that Nengo called a “freak of a fossil.” Ekusi pointed out a bone sticking out of the ground that looked like the femur of a large animal. When they got closer, they could see that it had brow ridges. Pushing aside dirt, they saw the outline of a primate skull.

“We knew we had found something unique and we started celebrating right there,” Nengo said. “We were dancing and high-fiving. The thrill was unimaginable.”

Nengo and his team discovered the fossil on Sept. 4, 2014, in northern Kenya. This week, a team of researchers from the United States, France and England are unveiling three years worth of research into this remarkable find in the prestigious research journal Nature.

For starters, the researchers had to confirm the date of their fossil, which was about the size of a lemon. Rutgers University geologists Craig Feibel and Sara Mana studied the matrix around the fossil and the area around it.

Akai Ekes and John Ekusi watch as Isaiah Nengo lifts the sandstone block with Alesi after six hours of excavation. Photo from ​Isaiah Nengo

“There was no doubt that [the fossil] came from this deposit and hadn’t rolled in or washed in” during some later period, explained Ellen Miller, a professor of physical anthropology at Wake Forest University.

Next, they had to figure out what kind of primate they had: It could have been an ape or a monkey. Fred Spoor, a paleontologist at University College London, did an initial CT reading using a medical scanner. He found intact molars that were characteristic of apes.

The researchers wanted to do a more thorough analysis of the three-dimensional shape of the skull, so they called Paul Tafforeau, a paleoanthropologist specialist of X-ray imaging who works as a beamline scientist at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, France. Typically, such research centers require scientists to wait a year or more.

As soon as Tafforeau saw the photos, Nengo recalls, he said, “You can bring it in anytime.” Tafforeau used a technique called propagation phase contrast–X-ray synchrotron microtomography. In an email, Tafforeau described it as being close to a medical scanner, but 1,000 times more precise and sensitive.

Over the course of three or four days, Tafforeau analyzed the teeth that hadn’t erupted from this young primate, which indicated that this individual died when it was only 16 months old. The teeth also demonstrated that the toddler, whose gender is difficult to determine because of its age, belonged to a new species, called Nyanzapithecus alesi. The name Alesi comes from the Turkana word “ales,” which means ancestor.

Tafforeau said the thickness of the tooth enamel suggest a classic hominoid diet, which would be similar to that of a modern gibbon, and would consist mostly of fruits and leaves. Researchers estimate that an adult of this species would weigh about 20 pounds.

Turning their attention to the fantastic creature’s ears, the researchers found that it didn’t have a balance organ. That means it couldn’t move as rapidly through trees as a gibbon. The ears of this primate, however, did have fully developed bony ear tubes. These ear structures “absolutely confirmed that these were apes,” said Miller. “We had no specimens between 15 million and 10 million years ago.”

Field crew of the​ Stony Brook University-affiliated​ Turkana Basin Institute​ when Alesi​ ​was discovered​ ​at​ Napudet​ in September 2014. From​ ​left, Abdala Ekuon, John Ekus​i, Isaiah Nengo,​ ​Bernard Ewoi, Akai Ekes and Cyprian Nyete.​ Photo from Isaiah​ ​​​Nengo.

Scientists generally believe apes and humans diverged in their evolution about 7 million years ago. That means this toddler ape belongs to a species that is likely a common ancestor for other apes and humans.

Anthropologist Meave Leakey, a research professor in the Department of Anthropology and the Turkana Basin Institute, suggested that this fossil “gives us a picture for the first time of what the ancestor of apes and humans looked like 13 million years ago. It also suggests,” she continued in an email, “that the nyanzapiehecines were close to the origin of all living apes and humans.”

Leakey described the fossil as one of the most complete skulls of an ape ever found anywhere and indicated it was of an age that is poorly represented in the African fossil record.

The three years between the discovery of the fossil and its unveiling to the world in the Nature article is “actually very quick,” Leakey explained. The images captured through the synchrotron provide detailed pictures of structures that would otherwise be hidden by bone.

Gathering and interpreting these images meant traveling to Grenoble, which, she explained, “takes considerable time.”

Researchers involved in this study said this is just the beginning of the work they will conduct on this rare and detailed fossil. Nengo said they had already collected two terabytes worth of data from their scans. Much of the further study of this ape will involve a closer examination of all of that data.

“A paper coming out in Nature makes it seem like the end of the process,” Miller said. “This is just the beginning.” He is intrigued to learn more about the organization of the brain.

Nengo hopes to bring together researchers for a two- or three-day workshop in September or October at Stony Brook University to tackle the next phase of analysis for Alesi.

As it turns out, September will likely become an important anniversary for Nengo, as he recalls the memory of a day three years ago that didn’t start out particularly well, but that ended with a rare and thrilling fossil find.

Nengo recalled how excited he was to return to the Turkana Basin Institute to show Richard Leakey, the founder of the site, Meave Leakey and Lawrence Martin, the director of TBI. “I had photos on my iPad and they were absolutely thrilled,” said Nengo. “Everybody was beginning the guesswork of wondering what it is.”

Exhibit showcases the brilliance of the Serbian American inventor

By Kevin Redding

Asked in 1927 about not getting the proper recognition for inventing radio among other uncredited scientific achievements, Nikola Tesla said, “Let the future tell the truth and evaluate each one according to his work and accomplishments … the present is theirs; the future, for which I really worked, is mine.”

Ninety years later, not only is the truth out about the greatness of the Serbian American inventor — whose long list of contributions to modern science includes the alternating current motor, the electric motor, wireless communication, X-rays, the remote control, and, yes, radio — his work is utilized everywhere we go.

And now it is celebrated every day in Stony Brook Village for the rest of the summer. Residents far and wide are invited to explore the radical genius of Tesla in a new exhibit at Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s Educational & Cultural Center titled Nikola Tesla: Past, Present, Future. Visitors can immerse themselves in the life and inventions of the man who electrified history, powered the present and continues to shape the future.

On view through Sept. 4, the exhibit was designed by board members within the nonprofit Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe in Shoreham, where Tesla’s last remaining laboratory stands and features a litany of displays such as an operating replica of the famous Tesla coil, augmented reality technology and a signed Tesla Roadster off the Tesla Motors assembly line.

Buzzing sounds of electricity, dramatic music and compelling narration of Tesla’s life pervade throughout the large room, where kids, teens, adults and seniors have enjoyed since July 8 interactive kiosks, screens showing in-depth documentaries, biographical banners, models and more.

“There’s a real desire on the public’s part to learn more about him because he’s an unsung American and international scientific hero,” said David Madigan, the Tesla Science Center board member who was tasked with bringing the exhibit to life. “He’s also the name that most people don’t know, and yet he’s one of the most influential scientists of the 20th century. It’s very important that the public supports it.”

Back in March, Ward Melville Heritage Organization President Gloria Rocchio approached Madigan and other members of the Tesla board and asked them to take up the exhibit space for the summer as a way to give the nonprofit visibility and promote their cause. (The Tesla Science Center is in the process of raising funds to open its doors to the public next year.)

Board Director Marc Alessi and Madigan took on the challenge, seeing the exhibit as a mini version of what will ultimately be their expansive Visitor’s Center, which will serve as the site’s main focus until the museum is in operation — the group needs a minimum amount of $20 million to open it.

“We made a decision as an organization that this would force us to put together an exhibit and start collecting the necessary materials; we’re going to need to put items into our building when we open next year so why not get started now?” Alessi said during a recent tour. “I think people are getting a bit of a taste of what this will be and this is just one pillar of what the Tesla Science Center will eventually be.”

But filling the exhibit room was no easy feat, as the two would learn. “It was a huge and heavy lift for us because I wasn’t aware of what we might have on hand in storage,” Alessi said. “I knew we had some donations, but did we really have enough material for an exhibit this size? At the time, we didn’t.”

Madigan quickly got on the horn with everyone he knew would want to contribute to a Tesla-centric space, which, luckily for him, ended up being a lot of impassioned people. In two months, the exhibit bursted with life.

Banners were brought in from the Tesla Science Foundation in Philadelphia and Belgrade, Serbia, and a Rocky Point artisan named Rob Arnold built a replica of Tesla’s teleautomaton — the first ever remote-controlled boat that Tesla premiered at Madison Square Garden’s Electrical Exhibition in 1898. Local filmmaker Joseph Sikorski, who made the documentaries “Fragments from Olympus: The Vision of Nikola Tesla” and “Tower to the People” about the history and preservation of Wardenclyffe, set up the exhibit’s kiosks and even donated his model of Tesla’s laboratory used in many of his films.

Nan Guzzetta of Antique Costumes & Prop Rental in Port Jefferson submitted Tesla-period wardrobe to be displayed; neon sculptor Clayton Orehek created a spectacular portrait of Tesla as well as a coil-inspired design of the inventor’s signature; and Richard Matthias of Hot Springs, Arkansas, built and donated a Jacob’s ladder display and the replica of the Tesla coil — which visitors are able to charge with the help of neon glass tubes.

Next to the Tesla Roadster in the corner of the room sits a 3D hands-on exhibit brought in by the National Museum of Mathematics in New York City that allows people to manipulate the magnetic field on which the Tesla induction motor is based.

“We found it all very inspiring,” Madigan said of the support. “Everywhere we go with this, it’s not us, it’s Nikola Tesla that is fascinating to people. We wanted to put together an illustrative exhibit that would help educate the public as to exactly who this man was and how he contributed to society, and continues to. You can’t talk about Tesla in the past without talking about the future.”

Madigan demonstrated in the exhibit what’s called the Nikola Tesla augmented reality app, designed by Brian Yetzer of Philadelphia, that superimposes a 3D animation of a Tesla-related image over something in the room with a quick scan of a phone. Upon scanning over a banner, a film of Tesla played on the phone screen.

Bill Pagels and Sue Ann Wilkinson of Salt Lake City, Utah, made sure to go to the exhibit during a recent vacation to the area. Both of them waved neon glass tubes and watched in amazement as the Tesla coil erupted with electricity. “We know [Tesla’s] a towering giant,” Pagels said. “But we didn’t know the extent to which his inventions resulted in something we would be carrying around in our pockets, or the range of technology he invented. It’s fascinating to understand the depth of his impact on humanity and, frankly, that he was such a humanitarian. It’s really quite amazing.”

Looking around the active room, Alessi said, “For us, it’s remarkable that this was pulled together the way it was over the course of a few months and we’re grateful Ward Melville gave us this opportunity. Having them help us with this first exhibit is remarkable and we’re seeing the benefit, we’re seeing local profile raised as a result.”

Jack Harrington. Photo from Jack Harrington

Concerned about the direction of Brookhaven in recent years, Stony Brook attorney and U.S. Navy reservist Jack Harrington (D) has decided to take his first step into politics to push a new vision — one he hopes will make him the town’s top leader this fall.

Harrington, 34, who grew up in Sound Beach and was a student in the Miller Place school district before graduating from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and Yale Law School, is the official nominee of the Democratic, Working Families, and Women’s Equality parties. In November, he will run against Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R), who has held the position since 2012 and is pursuing his third term at the helm.

As the father of a 2-year-old son, with another child on the way with his wife Sarah, Harrington said his main motivation to run was to make sure his kids have as many opportunities to succeed as he had growing up in the town in the 1980s and 90s.

“It’s getting harder and harder for middle class families to survive in this area and I think local government plays a large role in that.”

— Jack Harrington

But, Harrington expressed, a lot has changed in Suffolk County since then, and not for the better.

“It’s getting harder and harder for middle class families to survive in this area and I think local government plays a large role in that,” Harrington said.

Since deciding to run in May, he spends two hours a day going door-to-door to speak with residents about issues they have.

“It’s getting increasingly difficult to find a job and increasingly difficult to enter the property market,” he said. “I’m worried that if we don’t elect leaders that have a long-term vision for what Brookhaven should look like, when my son graduates college and if he decides he wants to stay in the town, he’s not going to have the means to do so.”

The candidate said he wants to grow Brookhaven’s economy by promoting transit-oriented development, high-tech corridors and vibrant downtowns in line with Patchogue Village and the planned revitalization project in Port Jefferson Station.

According to Harrington, Suffolk County should be utilizing its research hubs like Brookhaven National Lab and Stony Brook University, where he has taught as an adjunct professor of business, to bring back jobs.

He also wants to create alternative housing options for young people and seniors, and help make Town Hall a better overall partner to local businesses and residents by cutting through the “bureaucratic red tape” many have complained to him about.

“If I’m elected, one of the first things I want to do is evaluate every program, office, person in Town Hall that interacts with businesses in any shape or form and ask a very simple question: how can we make these interactions easier? How can we reduce wait times?” Harrington said. “I want to ensure that every resident in Brookhaven has an ironclad belief that their government is working on behalf of their interest and their interest alone.”

“I want to ensure that every resident in Brookhaven has an ironclad belief that their government is working on behalf of their interest and their interest alone.”

— Jack Harrington

He said he plans on releasing a package of tough ethics and contracting reforms that include term limits, a database for residents to see exactly where their taxpayer dollars are going, and public financial disclosures of elected officials.

Harrington commended the town on its initiatives to preserve open space, and made it clear he is actively running, but not waging a personal campaign against Romaine, who was unable to be reached for comment.

Raised by a public school teacher and a restaurateur, Harrington grew up valuing education and hard work. Upon receiving a full academic scholarship to Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, he attended  University of St Andrews in Scotland, where he received a bachelor’s degree in international relations, and managed initiatives at The Center for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence.

He then pursued international security studies at Georgetown University. After taking time to work in Washington, D.C. as a counter-terrorism and intelligence analyst, he began studying law at Yale, from which he graduated in 2010.

In between passing the New York State bar examination and entering private practice in Stony Brook, Harrington interned for President Barack Obama (D) in the White House Counsel’s Office —  an experience he said was remarkable.

“The hours were long, but they’re gratifying,” he said, “and if you don’t get chills walking into the Roosevelt Room for the staff meeting five feet from the Oval Office, then you might have other problems.”

When he and his wife moved back to Long Island to settle down, Harrington decided to join the Navy Reserve, serving for almost four years, and become locally active.

“He has a real dedication and commitment to his community,” said Lillian Clayman, chairwoman of the Brookhaven Town Democratic Committee, which is where she first met Harrington. “He cares deeply about his family and he’s very conscious of his role as husband and father, and is active in his church. I had approached him and asked if he considered running for office because he’s just the kind of quality young person that Brookhaven needs. I think he’s going to win.”

Above, seated from left, LIM Executive Director Neil Watson, Jennifer Lawrence and Paul Lamb; standing from left, Christopher A. Miano and Michael J. Opisso. Photo above from LIM

Passengers traveling through Stony Brook past The Long Island Museum on Route 25A might have noticed a new bit of landscape recently. The Long Island Museum unveiled the Betty and William F. Howind Memorial Garden, funded by the North Suffolk Garden Club, at a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony on June 29. The event celebrated the Howinds as longtime supporters of the museum and Betty as a devoted member of the garden club.

A view of the new memorial garden with the sculpture, ‘Three Sheets to the Wind,’ by Drew Klotz in the foreground. Photo by Michael J. Opisso

“Betty and Bill Howind were longtime supporters of LIM and Betty enjoyed working in The LIM’s Emma Lee Blackford Rockwell Herb Garden, designed and maintained by North Suffolk Garden Club. The garden club wanted to honor Betty and Bill for their generosity and for Betty’s devoted service to the club. So NSGC felt The LIM campus was a perfect place to create a lasting memorial to the Howinds and LIM agreed!” commented Jennifer Lawrence, NSGC president, who was instrumental in the project.

The North Suffolk Garden Club has been maintaining the Emma Lee Blackford Rockwell Herb Garden on the grounds of The Long Island Museum since 1993. The Howind garden is the most recent highlight of this long-standing partnership. Together, The LIM and the garden club selected Michael J. Opisso to design the garden.

A key feature of the space is a beautifully designed black walnut bench by Christopher A. Miano. When LIM Executive Director Neil Watson proposed Miano’s design to Lawrence, he mentioned that Miano works only in black walnut. It happened that Lawrence and her husband Brewster had 600 board feet of black walnut from trees on their Nissequogue property and Miano was able to use some of the wood for the bench. “It really is a local product,” said Lawrence.

The Betty and William F. Howind Memorial Garden provides several key elements to the museum property including delineated walkways, a resting spot for visitors on their way into Stony Brook Village and a beautiful focal point to celebrate the new vision of LIM as a community destination. The new garden will enhance the museum grounds for years to come and will be enjoyed by thousands of Long Islanders throughout the seasons.

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine and Councilman Dan Panico, on left, with the new food scrap composters. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

As far as the Town of Brookhaven is concerned, going green is not just a casual practice — it’s a moral obligation to ensure Long Island’s future.

In the last few months, Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and members of the town board have launched a series of environmentally friendly initiatives and continued ongoing efforts that encourage local residents to
reduce their carbon footprints and preserve the serenity of their surroundings.

“Whenever there are ways to benefit the environment, I’m 100 percent involved [and] I’m blessed by an extremely supportive town board,” Romaine said, highlighting an especially strong partnership with Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point). “I don’t want to say Jane is my environmental soulmate, but she and I are on the exact same page. She is one of my cheerleaders in every manner, shape or form.”

Other environmental actions taken by Brookhaven:

– A 127-acre solar farm called Shoreham Solar Commons will be constructed on the recently closed Tallgrass Golf Course.

– The extension of the Pine Barrens to include 800 acres of national property around the former Shoreham nuclear plant will go forward upon Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) signed authorization.

A multiyear project to convert all 40,000 of Brookhaven’s streetlights to LED bulbs has begun with 5,000 already converted.

– Through a partnership with U.S Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the town has secured funding to fix stormwater infrastructures along the North Shore, from Miller Place to Shoreham.

– A center at Ceder Beach in Mount Sinai  has been established to grow millions of oysters and sea clams that filter and clean the water.

In May, Bonner held her fifth bi-annual Go Green event at the Rose Caracappa Senior Center in Mount Sinai. It’s the town’s biggest recycling event where residents can dispose of unwanted medication and prescriptions and recycle old TVs and computers, as well as paper. The e-waste drive gathered 15,000 pounds of electronic waste and shredded 13,580 pounds of paper products and 26 boxes of unwanted pharmaceutical drugs, according to the town.

The councilwoman also hosted a Homeowner’s Guide to Energy Efficiency forum at the center later in the month, educating residents on how to get a free energy audit, affordable home energy improvements and save $1,000 a year on home energy bills. Through this effort, less fossil fuels are used to heat and light homes.

“We take it very seriously,” Bonner said of the town’s green initiatives. “We have a moral obligation to be good stewards of the Earth and this transcends party lines. Regardless of party affiliation, we all know we can do a better job of taking care of the planet.”

Aside from providing free compost and mulch to residents at Brookhaven Town Hall, officials also recently utilized a $5,000 grant to rip up the back lawn of the property to plant and restore native Long Island grasses, from which seeds can be collected and used.

In June, the town officially authorized the nonprofit Art & Nature Group Inc. to transform Brookhaven’s historic Washington Lodge property into a community nature center that offers environmental education programs.

Romaine and Councilman Dan Panico (R-Manorville) organized Brookhaven’s Food Scrap Composting pilot program at town hall last month, with hopes to expand it as a townwide initiative.

Through the program, town employees can deposit food waste, such as banana peels and coffee grinds, into organic material collection containers placed throughout the buildings, which are then collected and composted to be used for garden beds around town buildings.

“We must provide alternative waste management solutions like these if we are going to provide a cleaner, greener earth for future generations,” Panico said in a statement.

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Local Girl Scout troop gets ready to hide some rocks after a painting event. Photo from Denise Allicino

By Jenna Lennon

Denise Allicino has started a movement with the hopes of spreading positivity in her hometown and beyond — simply by scattering decorated rocks around several local parks and public places.

The East Setauket resident and her family along with members of her Facebook groups, “Suffolk County Rocks” and “Nassau County Rocks,” decorate and hide rocks with positive messages on them to be found and kept or hidden again for future finders. Rocks have been spotted in local parks such as Avalon Park and Preserve in Stony Brook and Hoyt Farm Nature Preserve in Commack.

The idea for this “pay it forward type movement” came about when Allicino’s cousin visited from Florida.

“We had some rocks laying around, and I saw online some people were also painting rocks, and I thought it’d be a cute little thing,” Allicino said. “I’m actually a graphic designer so I always have to have some sort of creative outlet. So it was a rainy day, she was visiting me. It was a perfect opportunity. I had my two girls with me, and we decided to paint some rocks.”

A sampling of rocks featuring positive messages and drawings. Photo by Denise Allicino

A few months later, her cousin messaged her.

“She goes ‘you’re not going to believe this: people are hiding rocks all over the place,’” Allicino said.

Her cousin mentioned a Facebook group in her area dedicated to painting and hiding rocks with over 10,000 members. Allicino decided to try and bring a similar group to Long Island.

What started with just 80 members back in March has quickly grown to a combined nearly 800 members.

“People have kind of just taken it and ran with it,” Allicino said. “They’re painting their own rocks, they’re hiding them, and that’s it. It’s just going on its own, it has its own momentum, and it’s just gaining speed.”

Painters are encouraged to include instructions on the back of the rock such as the name of the Facebook page, so people know where to post pictures, and what to do with a rock after it’s found. It is up to  the finder whether they wish to keep it or re-hide it.

But Allicino only has one real rule: keep it positive.

“I think that’s what everyone likes about it is that it’s just so uplifting, just something good out there in the world for free for no reason,” she said. “Even if people aren’t on social media and don’t post a picture of the rock they find, it doesn’t even matter. The whole point is to just brighten someone’s day, so that’s what we’ve been trying to do, just keep it completely positive.”

Jennifer Fallon began painting rocks after Allicino brought a rock-painting event to their daughters’ religion group at St. James Roman Catholic Church. Since then, Fallon has participated in six different painting sessions and hiding in the community.

“It’s unexpected first of all,” Fallon said. “And then when you turn the rock over and you’re directed to the Facebook page you see that other people are painting rocks and enjoying them and spreading good messages to other people, I think it brings people together.”

Children at Setauket Elementary School’s Spring Fling paint rocks to hide at local locations. Photo from Denise Allicino

Other rock-painting events include Setauket Elementary School’s Spring Fling and several Girl Scout Troop meetings.

Shawn Patrick and his two nieces first went rock hunting at a local beach about six months ago.

“Then we went to Michaels and bought the paints and got to it,” Patrick said in an email statement. “It was really a nice day.  Without cell phones, iPads, etc., and the kids loved it.  I mean it took up the whole day.”

Patrick said he appreciated the simplicity of the craft.

“It’s really something that gives a nod to simpler times,” he said. “And now it’s spread all over. And it’s something you can do all the time and spend quality time with the kids. I think that’s why it’s spreading so fast. It’s like one of the few things that kids seem to like to do with family without being distracted.”

Allicino said there were many benefits for children when it comes to the movement.

“There’s nothing bad about it,” Allicino said. “They’re out there running, they’re getting exercise, and it’s community service, so now they’re also giving to the community.”

Allicino continued, “That was one of my main things was getting my kids active in it too and teaching them to give back. Whether they get a picture posted on Facebook or not, they get a lot out of it.”