Village Times Herald

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Poquott town board swearing-in ceremony draws a crowd. Mayor Dee Parrish, left, takes the oath of office as Trustee John Mastauskas looks on. Photo by Kevin Redding

By Kevin Redding

On Tuesday, July 5, following an unusually tense and complicated election, the dust seems to have finally settled within the Village Hall of Poquott.

With a newly elected member and all that political turmoil behind them, the mayor and board of trustees can now get things done.

Incumbent Mayor Dolores “Dee” Parrish’s re-election came in the form of 239 write-in votes, after opponent Barbara Donovan launched a heated lawsuit to remove her name from the ballot.

Trustee John Mastauskas holds his hand up as he is sworn in. Photo by Kevin Redding
Trustee John Mastauskas holds his hand up as he is sworn in. Photo by Kevin Redding

After her swearing in, Parrish led a very brief meeting that began with Three Village resident, and fellow write-in candidate, John Mastauskas being sworn in as a trustee.

Following the meeting, Mastauskas said that he’s proud and excited to stand by Parrish. Together, their main focus for the future will be the building of the community dock, which has been in high demand by the beach community’s residents, but ignored by past administrations,

Another issue to be dealt with is making sure that speed limits on the roads are controlled, by way of heightened resident awareness and enforcement.

“That’s been a big issue, for me especially,” Mastauskas said. “I watch people flying up and down my street daily. We’ve got kids playing, A lot of our driveways are on hills. Kids go chasing a ball down to the street.

“All it takes is one person driving a little bit too fast, looking at their phone, changing their radio station, and then that’s it. Then we got a big problem on our hands. We want to try to eliminate that [altogether].”

With a lot left to be done, Parrish is hopeful. “[Mastauskas] is a new energy in the Village,” she said. “Now it’s time to move forward and do what the residents want, and keep doing all the good things that we’ve accomplished the past two years.”

Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine and Councilwoman Jane Bonner. File photo

Long Island residents who go to National Grid for their gas may be paying more come January 2017, but not if the Town of Brookhaven has anything to say about it.

The Brookhaven town board passed a resolution, with a unanimous vote June 30, opposing the company’s proposed rate increase that was announced in January. Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) sponsored the resolution, though all six board members asked to be added as co-sponsors prior to voting.

“This is an outrageous rate hike — it will impose a burden,” Romaine said in a phone interview last week. “We think it’s far too great.”

The increase would cost National Grid’s approximately 570,000 Long Island customers about $160 annually on top of what they already pay, according to a statement from the company in January. The increase would be about 12 percent.

Wendy Ladd, a spokeswoman for the company, responded to the resolution in an email Tuesday.

“We feel our proposals and the costs associated with them are essential to provide customers with safe and reliable gas service, enhance storm resiliency, expand the availability of gas service, help reduce methane, support our neediest customers, and to make the investments required to upgrade and modernize aging infrastructure and grow the system to meet the needs of a 21st century clean energy economy for years to come,” Ladd said.

Romaine said there is a precedent for the town intervening in battles over costs with utility companies. Last year, Brookhaven took on Long Island Power Authority in a similar case.

“LIPA now knows that we, if nothing else, will be watchdogs for the citizens of Brookhaven,” Romaine said.

National Grid New York’s President Ken Daly commented on the matter in January.

“National Grid has invested more than $4.5 billion over the past decade to modernize and build a safer and more reliable natural gas system for our customers. During this period of time, we have also maintained stable delivery rates for our customers,” he said in a statement. “Now, as we respond to the need to invest even more into our aging gas networks and prepare for the future needs of our customers, the investments required to provide this service have increased. The proposals will allow us to accelerate our gas main replacement program, improve critical customer service, and ensure that we have a modernized and technologically advanced natural gas system for our customers and the communities we serve, now and in the future.”

The Brookhaven town board is not against a rate hike altogether, though members said they would like to see it greatly reduced.

The resolution read in part: “the cost of living on Long Island is already astronomical partly due to high utility costs, placing a heavy burden on the residents of Long Island … residents are leaving Long Island in search of better opportunity and a lower cost of living.”

The resolution concluded with the board’s intention to “send a letter in opposition to the proposed rate hikes by National Grid and the Department of Public Service.”

National Grid’s January statement said the rate increases would allow them to significantly increase the gas main replacement program and improve technology in flood-prone areas, among other benefits.

The proposal will be reviewed by the New York State Department of Public Service before it is approved.

Ute Moll in her lab at Stony Brook University. Photo by John Griffin

Some day, people may be able to breathe easier because of a cancer researcher.

No, Ute Moll doesn’t work on respiration; and, no, she doesn’t study the lungs. What Moll, research scientist Alice Nemajerova and several other collaborators did recently, however, was explain the role of an important gene, called p73, in the formation of multiciliated cells that remove pollutants like dust from the lungs.

Initially, scientists had studied a knockout mouse, which lacked the p73 gene, to see if the loss of this gene would cause mice to develop cancers, the way they did for p73’s well-studied cousin p53. Researchers were surprised that those mice without p73 didn’t get cancer, but found other problems in the development of their brains, which included abnormalities in the hippocampus.

While each of these mice had a respiratory problem, researchers originally suspected the breathing difficulties came from an immune response, said Moll, the vice chair for experimental pathology and professor of pathology at Stony Brook University.

A board-certified anatomical and clinical pathologist who does autopsies and trains residents at Stony Brook, Moll took a closer look and saw an important difference between these mice and the so-called wild type, which has an intact p73 gene.

Moll on a recent trip to Africa says hello to Sylvester the cheetah who is the animal ambassador in Zimbabwe. Photo from Moll
Moll on a recent trip to Africa says hello to Sylvester the cheetah who is the animal ambassador in Zimbabwe. Photo from Moll

“Microscopic examinations of many types clearly showed that the multiciliated cells in the airways were severely defective,” she explained. “Instead of a lawn of dense long broom-like motile cilia on their cell surface which created a strong directional fluid flow across the windpipe surface, the [knockout] cells had far fewer cilia, and the few cilia present were mostly short stumps that lost 100 percent of their clearance function.”

This finding, which was published in the journal Genes & Development, could have implications for lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, which affects more than 330 million people around the world and is the third leading cause of death.

The discovery provides “the long-awaited explanation for the diverse phenotypes of the p73 knockout mice,” wrote Elsa Flores, a professor of molecular oncology at the UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, in a commentary of the work.

In an email, Flores said Moll is a “wonderful collaborator and colleague” whose “meticulous” work is “held in high regard.”

Carol Prives, Da Costa professor in biological sciences at Columbia University, suggested this was a “very significant finding.”

Moll and her scientific team went beyond showing that the loss of the p73 gene caused the defective or missing cilia. They took stem cells from the trachea, which can grow on a culture dish into a range of other cells. With the proper nutrients and signals, these stem cells can grow back into a fully differentiated respiratory epithelium.

The organotypic culture had the same defects as the knockout mice. The scientists then used a lentivirus to insert a copy of the functioning p73 gene. The cells in the culture developed a complete set of long, motile cilia.

“It’s a complete rescue experiment,” Moll said. “This closes the circle of proof that” p73 is responsible for the development of these structures that clean the lungs.

In addition to the lungs, mammals also develop these cilia in two other areas, in the brain and in the fallopian tubes.

There could be a range of p73 deficiencies and some of these could be indicative of vulnerability or susceptibility to lung-related problems that are connected to incomplete cilia. This could be particularly valuable to know in more polluted environments, where the concentration of dust or pollutants is high.

Moll plans to “find tissue banks from COPD patients” in which she might identify candidate alleles, or genes, that have a partial loss of function that would contribute to the reduction in the cilia cells.

While Moll will continue to work on respiration and p73 in mice, she described her broader research goals as “gene-centric,” in which she studies the entire p53 family, which includes p53, p63 and p73.

Colleagues suggested that she has made important and unexpected discoveries with p53.

“She was among the first to show that in some pathological states, p53 is sequestered in the cytoplasm rather than in the nucleus,” Prives, who has known Moll for 25 years, explained in an email. “This led to her original and very unexpected discovery that p53 associates with mitochondria and plays a direct role in mitochondrial cell death. She was very courageous in that regard since the common view was that p53 works only in the nucleus.”

Moll was raised in Germany and earned her undergraduate and medical degrees in Ulm, the same town where Albert Einstein grew up. She lives in Setauket with her husband, Martin Rocek, a professor of theoretical physics at SBU. The couple has two sons, 26-year-old Thomas, who is involved in reforestation in Peru, and 29-year-old Julian, a documentary filmmaker focusing on environmental themes.

Moll is also focused on the environment.“If humankind doesn’t wake up soon, we are going to saw off the branch we’re sitting on,” she warns. One of Moll’s pet peeves is car idling. She walks up to the windows of people sitting in idling cars and asks if they could turn off the engine.

As for her work with p73, she feels as if she is “just at the beginning. This is a rich field.”

Setauket native David Calone, left, barely trails former Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, right, after Tuesday’s primary election. File photos

Waiting is the hardest part.

The Democratic primary to decide who will face freshman U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) in the race for the 1st Congressional District seat in November was June 28, but as of print time on Wednesday, Zeldin’s opponent was still a mystery.

The former town supervisor in Southampton Anna Throne-Holst led Setauket native and former prosecutor and venture capitalist David Calone by just 29 votes when the dust settled on election night. More than a week later, it’s still unclear who will come out on top.

There are about 1,800 absentee ballots that haven’t been counted — roughly 15 percent of the overall vote

The Suffolk County Board of Elections will begin counting the 1,794 absentee ballots cast on Thursday, though a department employee said that process might take several days. The absentee ballots will be counted by a bipartisan team of department employees in addition to representatives from both campaigns at the Board of Elections office in Yaphank.

In emailed statements from their campaigns, both candidates expressed confidence about what the tally will hold after all the votes are counted and thanked their supporters for their hard work to date.

“I’m proud to be in the lead after election night, and am most especially proud of the positive campaign we ran,” Throne-Holst said through a press representative. “I owe a heartfelt debt of gratitude to our thousands of supporters and volunteers, who are invaluable partners in getting our message to voters.”

Calone said he has high hopes thanks to the nearly nonexistent deficit.

“Given that there are about 1,800 absentee ballots that haven’t been counted — roughly 15 percent of the overall vote — no one knows who will end up on top until we count every vote,” Calone said in a statement. “More than anything, I’m grateful to Democrats around the district who volunteered to help my campaign.”

Neither candidate hesitated to turn their sites toward Zeldin.

“I expect to prevail once every vote is counted and I look forward to continuing our campaign to provide a strong contrast to Congressman Lee Zeldin, who is one of Donald Trump’s greatest advocates in Washington,” Calone said.

Throne-Holst also invoked presumptive Republican presidential nominee and businessman Donald Trump in referring to Zeldin.

“I look forward to working with Democrats throughout the district as we focus on our common goal of defeating Lee Zeldin,” she said. “We all know Lee Zeldin is not looking forward to going up against my record, and voters will reject not only his extremist views and votes, but also his enthusiastic embrace of Donald Trump, who is dangerous for both Long Island and the country.”

At the end of the night on June 28, unofficial results showed Throne-Holst with 5,446 votes — 50.09 percent of the vote — and Calone with 5,417 votes — 49.82 percent.

Zeldin unseated six-term former U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop (D) by a wide margin back in 2014, with a final vote total of 54 percent to 45 percent.

Check back next week for an update and results, should the counting be complete.

Residents from all over Long Island flocked to parades and firework celebrations happening in from Brookhaven to Huntington, in honor of Independence Day.

In a celebration on the July Fourth weekend, a Black Lives Matter banner is dedicated. Pictured are, Racial Concerns committee co-chairs Kay Aparo and Barbara Coley, Janet Hanson, John Lutterbee and Sara Lutterbee. Photo by Barbara Coley

The congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Stony Brook took a stand in favor of equality the day before the country’s Independence Day.

They held a ceremony to celebrate the placement of a banner below the fellowship’s identifying sign at its entrance on Nicolls Road.

“Unveiling the Black Lives Matter banner on the Fourth of July weekend,” said Barbara Coley, co-chair of the congregation’s Racial Concerns committee, “reminds us that one reason we cherish our country is that we have the freedom to call attention to the struggle for justice for all.”

The idea for the banner originated with fellowship member Laura Lesch.

She attended a Unitarian Universalist congregation where a similar banner was displayed while visiting Florida in January. She took a photo and showed it to Coley upon her return. The photo spurred congregants to do more than just talk about the topic.

A Black Lives Matter banner is dedicated on the July Fourth weekend. Photo from Barbara Coley
A Black Lives Matter banner is dedicated on the July Fourth weekend. Photo from Barbara Coley

Coley presented a proposal to the board of trustees that UUFSB display a Black Lives Matter banner.

“The board wanted to make sure that the congregation learned about the BLM movement,” said Coley, “and had opportunities to express their support and/or concerns about displaying such a banner at a predominantly Euro-American house of worship.”

The question the Rev. Margie Allen posed to the congregation was: “Does our congregation consider itself willing to display the Black Lives Matter banner?”

“We stand with African American citizens in support of the Black Lives Matter movement,” Allen said.

“And we want the surrounding community to know that we support this 21st century civil rights movement – as does the Unitarian Universalist Association.”

Members and friends were invited to express their opinions at two forums.

One concern voiced was a mistaken notion that the BLM movement is anti-police. Another, that it might invite vandalism, was deemed valid.

“But when banners were defaced or destroyed in other places, congregations replaced them and used the attacks on banners as teachable moments,” said Coley, “by inviting community members to participate in discussions where they learned the history, purpose and goals of the movement.”

The banner was approved by a large majority – 92 percent of the congregation – June 1.

The design includes the Unitarian Universalist Association’s standing on the side of love symbol as well as the words ‘Black Lives Matter.’

This tangible expression of support is in keeping with a long history within the Unitarian Universalist tradition of working to advance civil rights as individuals and as congregations.

 

Above, the cover of Darlene Sells Treadwell’s new book

By Colm Ashe

Above, the cover of Darlene Sells Treadwell’s new book
Above, the cover of Darlene Sells Treadwell’s new book

In terms of social prevalence, bigotry and sexism have decreased dramatically over the last century. However, many still remember a world where minorities and women were considered second-class citizens. Darlene Sells Treadwell is one of those people.

In her new book, “The Bittersweet Taste of the American Dream,” the 74-year Setauket native tells the true story of her grandmother — a Native American with African roots and a special knack for cooking who fell prey to a cutthroat corporate money game.

Treadwell, who currently resides in Georgia, will be traveling to Long Island this weekend to present copies of her book to the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library and the Three Village Historical Society. She will hold a book signing event where she will share her family story with the attendees. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Treadwell by phone.

What can you tell me about your grandmother?

Her name was Ms. Emma Francis Calvin Sells of Old Field, Long Island, New York, and she was apart of the Setauket Indian Tribe. She was also of African American descent. She was the daughter of Clifford and Abby, and married Charles Augustus Sells of Setauket on Jan. 11, 1917, at the age of 18. She was my heroine in the kitchen. I always imagined her as a Black Native American Julia Child. If she was around today she would be on all these new cooking shows! Instead, she died heartbroken and disillusioned from her trust in the big buys and the industry… that they would do the right thing.

How did the cooking industry take advantage of Grandma Em?

They stole her recipe. They began the process slowly, never blatantly, but persistently eased knowledge of the recipe away. I have a letter from The National Biscuit Company asking her to bring in four bags and to identify the ingredients. She even tried to reach out to her hero, Jackie Robinson, to intervene when she realized she’d been had. This transgression prevented her from accumulating her rightful place in history. I have all of the proof in the book: letters between attorneys and employees at the National Biscuit Company, names and signatures, her recipes.

When did she realize her recipe had been stolen?

1949. She was at the supermarket when she saw the first ever Ready-to-Use Corn Bread Mix on the shelf — with her recipe on the back of the box. She dropped to her knees crying in the middle of the aisle, realizing the last 12 years of working with the National Biscuit Company to make her dream a reality were nothing but a scam.

How was the story passed on to you?

When Grandma Em died at the age of 74, we slowly went through her list of belongings. We came across a blue hat box. And this was handed to me, that’s how I wrote the book. Upon opening, I unfolded years of sentimental holdings to her heritage, her recipes and her lost dreams. It was given to me to decipher what went wrong and slowly, piece by piece, I carefully, and tearfully, read her notes and recipes. And I could feel her frustration and pain and suffering as she waited patiently for news from patent attorneys and inventors. I read and wept as they lead her on and on, sent her to their New York offices in vain, to sit and wait and wait. From 1937 to 1949.

Why did you want to write this book?

I want to make peace with this injustice and I want to see if they want to right a wrong. No civil attorney can help me because the companies can change one ingredient and it’s no longer litigable. Plus, it’s too late. That corporation (now called Nabisco) benefited from the free labor and ideas of my little old grandma. I wanted to give Grandma Em the power and the humanity that was denied to her that time in history. I just wanted to … publicly honor her ingenuity and entrepreneurial achievements. I’m the last surviving member of the family. I’m 74. When I’m gone, that blue hat box is gone. I wanted to write the book so she could receive her accolades. I did not want to die with her story untold. I don’t want to publicize myself. I really just want to give honor to my Grandma.

Will you be holding any book
signings in our area?

I’m doing a book signing at the Three Village Historical Society. They have an exhibit on the Setauket Indians now — the tribe my grandmother was apart of. I’ll be there on Sunday, July 3, from 2 to 4 p.m., but the reading starts at 3.

You can join the Times Beacon Record at Darlene’s book signing as she recounts this tragic, yet hopeful story of a local Setauket legend who deserves her place in history. The Three Village Historical Society is located at 93 North Country Road in Setauket. For more information, please call 631-751-3730.

Stony Brook University has changed its class policy during the coronavirus outbreak. File photo

By Colm Ashe

The general consensus among those who study the evaporating future of the global water supply is to blame population growth. However, a recent study out of Stony Brook University suggests climate change may be the dominant catalyst for future exposure to drought.

The number of people exposed to extreme drought would see a 426.6 percent increase by 2100 at the current rates of greenhouse gas emissions and population growth 

A team of scholars used 16 climate models and United Nation population growth projections to ensure a more accurate prediction. The study reported that the number of people exposed to extreme drought would see a 426.6 percent increase by 2100 at the current rates of greenhouse gas emissions and population growth. While many might agree that water scarcity will become increasingly more problematic in the future — especially if preventative actions don’t amp up fast — there is a difference between what each party suggests is the best approach: to focus on slowing population increases with socioeconomic development or to cut the rate of greenhouse gas emissions. This study states the latter may be the most efficient way to avoid widespread drought.

Their predictions attribute 59.5 percent of future drought to climate change and only 9.2 percent of the increase to population growth. The remaining 31.4 percent accounts for the combined effect of these two factors. According to Stony Brook University’s professor Oleg Smirnov, who was involved in conducting the study, the “results imply that top greenhouse gas-emitters have the greatest capacity to decrease future exposure to extreme drought.”

Though climate change mitigation policies may have the power to most effectively reduce the future effects of widespread drought, population growth is still an important factor to consider. “Population growth alone is responsible for over 35 million more people exposed to extreme drought globally per month by the end of the century,” Smirnov said. “However, we also found that, for the same period, climate change is responsible for about 230 million more people exposed to extreme drought.”

The conclusion that Smirnov and his team have come to portrays climate change as playing a more important role than population increase. However, each country is affected differently by each factor, so the solution is not as simple as just cutting emissions. The worst-case scenario would be to continue at the present rate of both greenhouse gas emissions and population growth. Regardless of which factor ranks in terms of importance, this study and many others like it suggest the same message: if we are to counter the effects of future global drought exposure, we need to act as soon as possible.

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Eddie Munoz holds the team back before celebrating the Long Island championship win. File photo by Desirée Keegan

Two of Ward Melville’s multisport athletes are taking their lacrosse talents to the national stage.

Junior Eddie Munoz and freshman Dylan Pallonetti made the Under Armour All-America Long Island highlight and command teams, respectively, and are the only two Patriots to represent the school this week in the underclass tournament from June 30 to July 3 in Baltimore.

“It’s a big honor to be representing my school and my team,” Munoz said. “It’s going to be awesome. These are the kids we’re going to be playing in college. We’re all committed to these very good Division I schools, so it’s nice to be able to play them now and then again when we get to the collegiate level.”

Munoz, who committed to Stony Brook University, originally started out playing baseball. His father Eddie Munoz Jr. said his son started to progress athletically at a young age.

Eddie Munoz maintains possession of the ball as he makes his way downfield. File photo by Desirée Keegan
Eddie Munoz maintains possession of the ball as he makes his way downfield. File photo by Desirée Keegan

“He started walking at 10 months old,” said Munoz Jr., who played baseball and wrestled at Newfield, and was a two-time All-County football player. “By 3 years old, I was throwing a football from 10 yards away and he was catching it with his hands. By the time he was 5 years old, he was switch-hitting at a batting cage and hitting 65 miles-per-hour fastballs. I’d bring him up to the field and would hit fly balls into the outfield and he would naturally be able to catch them.”

But Munoz’s mother’s cousin, who played lacrosse at Salisbury University, told the athlete, who was is an All-League, All-County and All-Long Island football player, that he needed to try lacrosse. Once he did, the rest was history.

“We put a stick in his hand in third grade and he never put it down,” Munoz Jr. said.

Munoz, who also wrestled as a freshman and won the New York State wrestling championship for youth in fifth grade, said he tried a few clinics and didn’t like them, but also said that once he got older and started playing in games, he fell in love with the sport.

“I love the chemistry of the game,” he said. “The way everyone is with each other, the respect factor and the competitiveness, physicality — it never gets boring, there’s no sitting around — it’s constant in-and-out subbing. It’s up-tempo and that’s my kind of game.”

Although already committed, the national exposure will help but will work more in the favor of those like Pallonetti.

Dylan Pallonetti cuts to the outside in a previous Ward Melville boys' lacrosse game. File photo by Bill Landon
Dylan Pallonetti cuts to the outside in a previous Ward Melville boys’ lacrosse game. File photo by Bill Landon

“This is good for him for the future,” Dylan’s mother Michele Pallonetti said. “We’re thrilled and I feel he’s very lucky. He’s worked hard for it, he deserves it, he loves the sport and he’s really passionate about it. He’ll really represent New York.”

Dylan Pallonetti also grew up playing a sport other than lacrosse. Since he was a child, his uncle had him on roller skates in the driveway, and it got him really competitive. He plays ice hockey for Ward Melville’s junior varsity team, and also played basketball. He was the fifth leading scorer in his hockey league this season.

“He’s been playing with his brother and uncle in the driveway for years, the neighbors make a joke about it,” Michele Pallonetti said.

Her son began playing lacrosse in fourth grade on the town team, and by seventh grade, he moved to the Long Island Express club team. This past season, Pallonetti made the varsity team, and earned Rookie of the Year for Suffolk County, which all came as a surprise being that it was his first year on the team.

“We’re super proud of him and most proud that he’s a freshman out there and handles himself confidently and he’s very calm,” his mother said. “He fits in with the older boys. He’s a very low-key, he doesn’t get hyped up over anything, which I think helps him deal with those types of situations, and we love watching him play. It’s very exciting.”

Dylan Pallonetti said that he’s learned a lot and believes he’s excelled at a faster rate in the sport because of all he’s learned from the older players. Although Ward Melville is nationally known, being that the team has consistently ranked high in New York standings, and was just goals shy of another New York State title this past season, he’s also excited to represent the school and more importantly, show what he’s made of.

“The competition is going to be good, a lot of coaches are going to be there and I’m going to try to just play like I always play,” he said. “I just can’t wait to play the game.”