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When I think of my dad, I am reminded almost immediately of his loving nature and his playfulness. Now many dads I have met behave lovingly toward their families, so that is not what set mine apart. It was the other half of my description: His instant readiness to play and his aptitude for making up games on the spot.

My dad was an ambitious businessman, and he worked long hours every week. But Sundays were his day to relax and his unconstrained self would emerge. No wonder Sundays were my favorite day. He would begin the morning by getting up somewhere before 6 a.m., and start rustling around in the kitchen. The son of a farmer, he got up early all his childhood, and just because he moved to the city in his teens he wasn’t about to change the diurnal cycle that had been hardwired into him.

He was one of nine children and referred to himself when he was growing up as “Middle Child.” To hear his siblings tell of him, he was the one who routinely organized the pack into daily games in between their farm and school chores. Isolated on a large farm from other children and certainly without any municipal playgrounds in their lives, they created their own fun. That skill served him well not only for us, his children, but for the entire neighborhood. He was the undisputed Pied Piper wherever we were on any given Sunday.

Sundays belonged to my mother. My dad made sure of that. He would concoct a huge breakfast that was never the same from one week to the next. Into a dozen eggs, he would toss whatever leftovers he could find from the fridge, cook the mixture slowly with generous amounts of onions and other veggies and “mystery spices” and present the masterpiece to the salivating family gathered around the kitchen table. I always tried to sleep in on Sundays, but the marvelous smells that filled the apartment unfailingly coaxed me out of bed. Only my mother was impervious and slept through the ruckus of our trying to identify the ingredients as we ate.

My dad would then take us out to the park — Central Park that is — and we would roam over hills and dells, always yodeling in the many tunnels along the pathways. The echoes were hugely satisfying. He would set a rock on top of a boulder, give us each five small stones, and ask us to knock the rock off the boulder from 10 paces.

We’d have a vague destination within the park each Sunday, anywhere from the carousel to the rowboat lake, to Shakespeare Garden to Sheep Meadow with its multitude of baseball games in progress. He was good at pitching horseshoes, and as we strolled by the quoits section the men would offer him a turn. If we had thought to bring a basketball, we might shoot some baskets on the courts.

When the weather was bad, we would wander through the Metropolitan Museum.

Wherever we went, regulars in the park usually recognized us because my younger sister had Down syndrome, a condition that was almost never seen in public places. We stood out, I guess, and my sister, who loved to watch the baseball games and came to know some of the adult players by name, would cheer loudly with each solid hit.

As the day wore on, my dad would buy a box of Cracker Jacks from a park vendor and we would share the contents. By the end of the afternoon, we would head to a predetermined grove of trees where my mother would be waiting on a blanket with supper. I remember how happy my parents were to see each other — you would have thought they had been separated for weeks. Maybe it was just the prospect of some homemade dinner that sealed the day with joy for all of us.

Dear Readers,

Curious to find out how the North Shore community spent the Fourth of July, TBR News Media’s star reporter, Kevin Redding, took to the streets of Port Jefferson to interview local residents before the holiday. Here are some of their responses:

Jackie and Chris Buzaid, Lake Grove

Jackie: We usually go to my grandma’s in the Jersey Shore and watch fireworks and have a big cookout, stuff like that. We go to the beach, have barbecues, do sparklers.

Chris: I just like spending time with my extended family and seeing them, because we don’t usually see them that much over the years and it’s always nice seeing them and spending time together in the summer.

Devon Buckley, Poquott:  All of my friends … around six or seven of us … are gonna go on my family’s sailboat and go out to Pirate’s Cove, the first cove right at the mouth of the entrance of Port, on the night of 4th of July to see some fireworks. It’s usually a leisurely day, [but] we kind of do that every year. We just hang out, we’ll have a grill onboard, grill some food, go swimming. [Fourth of July] has always been a family and friends ordeal every year.

Pat Morelli, Setauket: I’m actually going up to New Hampshire for my brother’s wedding. It’s not on the 4th of July, but it’s going to be a long weekend type of thing with the whole family. Usually the family that’s here on the Island, we try to get together every 4th of July. It’s a nice, summer holiday where we get to remember how great this country is and hang out with each other.

Avery Looney and Michael Famiano, Port Jefferson Station:

Avery: We’re going to a pool party.

Michael: There’s gonna be barbecue, a fire pit, some fireworks. It’s just partying, [red, white, and blue] themed.

Jenna and Jeannette Cleary, Coram

Jeannette: Well, on the 2nd, we have a big family reunion. And then on 4th of July, we have Grandma’s birthday party first and then to my sister, who’s been having an annual party at her house in Manorville forever. We’ll be busy. My brother’s here this weekend from Hawaii and he plays games and is like the event coordinator. He’s bringing fireworks from out of state, there’s a pool. We split the time between my mother-in-law’s birthday and that. We do fireworks, they play horseshoes and volleyball. Then my brother makes up these games. Not a bad weekend

Jenna: Yeah, like egg tosses and stuff like that. You get covered in eggs. I got it last year..

Bill Evans and Kristine O’Brien, Holbrook: We live in Holbrook but we’re doing a little getaway for two days, staying at Danfords and hanging out in town. We’re just gonna walk around, enjoy the atmosphere, have dinner. For us at home, we show patriotism, but here, we’re really just looking to get away and have a 24-48 hours escaping from our four girls, ages 11 to 18, and throughout the weekend we’ll celebrate

.John and Nicole Goncharuk, Selden

Nicole: We’re just taking a walk out here today with the family, and then we’re gonna barbecue at the house for 4th of July.

John: Just barbecue stuff at the house. Not so much, since we have the kids now, nothing too big or extravagant. It’s low-key. We’re in Selden, so we’re way up high and we can see the fireworks at Bald Hill. But we might venture down here [to Port Jefferson] and we have pamphlets that show where fireworks are going on so we might check that out. There’s plenty to see and plenty to do [on Long Island]. We used to get dressed up nice, go out to dinner and stuff like that but now our priorities are different.

All photos by Kevin Redding

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Superintendent James Grossane file photo

Smithtown residents are up in arms about the sale and potential development of the district’s administration building on New York Avenue.

At the Dec. 13 Smithtown school board meeting, citizens gathered to express their dissatisfaction with how the board has handled the plan and criticized them for a lack of transparency.

Joe Fortunato, a Smithtown resident, said he came to the meeting to express his disappointment with the board.

“I understand the need for development in this town, but 250 units on 13 acres is ridiculous,” he said. “The zoning has to be changed, and we’re being almost railroaded into having to accept four-story structures in a neighborhood that we moved into 25 years ago that was very quaint in nature. To be forced to hear that we have to accept this as part of Smithtown revitalization is ridiculous.”

Fortunato said he doesn’t agree the plan will benefit the whole community in part because the increase in traffic will actually cause more problems.

“To be forced to hear that we have to accept this as part of Smithtown revitalization is ridiculous.”

— Joe Fortunato

Dennis Bader, like Fortunato, is a Smithtown resident who said he has lived through many development projects in the area. He asked the board how they came to the decision about the amount of structures in the complex, which the board said they had no control over.

“That was up to the developer,” district Superintendent James Grossane said.

Community member Richard Cardone said the board does not have their best interests at heart.

“Do you think all these people would be here if you had the town’s best interests?” he asked. “You’re going to lose the horseshoe of people that live around this school because nobody is going to want to live in a community with 200 plus apartments, with cars going all around here, the streets can’t handle anymore traffic than we have now. This community does not want this. I’m telling you it doesn’t belong here. Shame on you.”

Grossane addressed the audience before the public comment period.

“This decision was reached following several months of careful planning and extensive research,” he said. “This decision was not made lightly.”

Grossane said the New York Avenue building is more than 80 years old, and is in dire need of repairs, which the district would receive no state funding for because the building is used for administration and not instruction.

“Our enrollment continues to decline each year, by approximately 300 students per year,” he said. “In fact, our enrollment has fallen from a recent high of 10,800 in 2009 to the current 9,300, and is projected to continue to decline until it reaches approximately 8,500 students a few short years from now.”

He said one of the board’s primary responsibilities is to be fiscally prudent to the residents of the entire Smithtown district.

“The sale of the New York Avenue property amount to approximately $15 million or more to assist the district with future budgetary concerns,” he said.

Grossane said the district worked with town officials throughout the year to find the right bidder and to help a plan come to fruition, and he was surprised to hear Supervisor Pat Vecchio’s (R) comments that the school board had no communication regarding the property.

“The school board is being presumptuous in assuming the town board will change the zone,” he said in a previous interview. “There must be a public hearing and the people will be heard for or against such a change.”

The Smithtown school board voted at the Oct. 25 meeting to approve entering a contract with Southern Land Company LLC, for the sale of the property and the surrounding land.

According to Grossane, Southern Land Company is planning to building one- and two-bedroom apartments that will be “in keeping with the architectural style of Smithtown.”

The district was encouraged to explore the sale of the building by members of the community in the spring, in the hopes of avoiding the closure of Branch Brook Elementary School.

Kathleen Kane of the Dix Hills Garden Club places an ornament high on the large tree in the Vanderbilt Library. Photo from Vanderbilt Museum

Interior designers and garden clubs deck the elegant halls of the Vanderbilt Mansion in Centerport each year, and hundreds of visitors see the results beginning the day after Thanksgiving. The decorators create enchanted rooms with lighted trees, boughs, ornaments, wreaths, ribbons and elegantly wrapped faux gifts.

Lance Reinheimer, executive director of the museum, said, “These generous volunteers use their time and talent to create an atmosphere of charming holiday grandeur and sophisticated living. We’re grateful to them for bringing magic to this historic house.”

Stephanie Gress, the museum’s director of curatorial affairs, said “Most of these garden clubs and designers have been decorating the mansion for more than 20 years. We look forward to seeing them each year, and to how they use their creative skills to bring elegant holiday charm to the house.”

JoAnn Canino chairs the Three Village Garden Club (Old Field, Setauket and Stony Brook), which has decorated a mansion room every year for more than a decade. “The Portuguese Sitting Room is very masculine,” she said. “We wanted to bring out the colors of the rug and of the sculpture of the knight on the horse — teal, turquoise, pinks, blues and greens.” In addition to decorating the tree, club members added boughs, ribbons and ornaments to the centuries-old mantelpiece.

Kathleen Kane of the Dix Hills Garden Club places an ornament high on the large tree in the Vanderbilt Library. Photo from Vanderbilt Museum
Kathleen Kane of the Dix Hills Garden Club places an ornament high on the large tree in the Vanderbilt Library. Photo from Vanderbilt Museum

The Dix Hills Garden Club decorated the striking paneled library, the grandest room in the 24-room Spanish Revival mansion. “It’s a dark room, with not much natural light coming in,” said Christine Lagana. “So we added a wide deep-red ribbon that winds down from the top of the tree. The ‘pop’ of the red brightens the tree in that dark space.” The club used many gold ornaments and enhanced the mantel of the imposing fireplace with green boughs and gold ornaments. “Since this is a museum, we can’t use glue or nails on the carved wood,” Lagana said. “So we wrapped hidden bricks in dark-green felt and used them to secure the boughs, which are intertwined with golden ribbons. Then we were able to hang ornaments securely from the large length of bough that runs along the mantelpiece.”

From left, Samantha Bendl, Claudia Dowling and Ian Daly of Claudia Dowling Interior Designs in Huntington decorate a Vanderbilt Mansion guest room. Photo from Vanderbilt Museum
From left, Samantha Bendl, Claudia Dowling and Ian Daly of Claudia Dowling Interior Designs in Huntington decorate a Vanderbilt Mansion guest room. Photo from Vanderbilt Museum

Claudia Dowling of Claudia Dowling Interiors in Huntington said, “We’re blessed to help decorate the Vanderbilt Mansion. It’s such a beautiful historic, Long Island treasure. In one of the guest rooms, we used gold and cream and a very traditional tree, in keeping with the original concept of how the Vanderbilt rooms were designed and decorated. We added subtle ‘whisper’ touches in one of the guest rooms — a garland on the mantelpiece and surprise gifts on the club chair.”

Jenny Holmes, vice president of the Nathan Hale Garden Club, and her friends decorated the upstairs Organ Room, a paneled parlor with an Aeolian pipe organ, large fireplace and sofa, and a table for playing cards and board games. “Because Mr. Vanderbilt loved the sea, we created a nautical theme with lots of shells from the beach — including a gold-sprayed horseshoe crab shell — and added pine cones and large magnolia leaves,” Holmes said. “We sprayed the magnolia leaves and shells silver and gold, and made ornaments from shells, adding pearls, glitter and tiny stones. We wanted to make the large room as elegant as possible, and lightened it with silver and gold ribbon and bows. And of course, a large trimmed tree and wrapped presents.”

Mary Schlotter and her daughter, Krishtia McCord — who operate the Centerport design firm Harbor Homestead & Co. — decorated Rosamund Vanderbilt’s mirrored dressing room and the family’s breakfast hallway.

 Mary Schlotter (left) and Krishtia McCord of Harbor Homestead & Co. Design in Centerport create a Christmas dress for Rosamund Vanderbilt in her dressing room. Photo from Vanderbilt Museum

Mary Schlotter (left) and Krishtia McCord of Harbor Homestead & Co. Design in Centerport create a Christmas dress for Rosamund Vanderbilt in her dressing room. Photo from Vanderbilt Museum

Using a dress-form mannequin, they added green boughs as a skirt. “Our friend, dress designer Lorri Kessler-Toth of Couture Creations, created a fitted turquoise-blue velvet cover for the dress-form torso,” Schlotter said. “We added a necklace of chandelier crystals and a pendant, and embellished the skirt with teal ornaments, champagne ribbon, and filigreed poinsettia leaves. This is a dressing room, so we created a Christmas dress,” added Schlotter. They also added chandelier crystals and champagne poinsettia leaves to the bough that decorates the mantelpiece on the marble fireplace. The crystals on the mantel complement those that hang from the sconces in the mirrored, hexagonal dressing room.

Finally, The Centerport Garden Club decorated the dining room and Mr. Vanderbilt’s bedroom, and the Honey Hills club decorated Mrs. Vanderbilt’s bedroom.

The Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport will give guided tours of the decorated mansion each Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday and each day during the week between Christmas and the New Year through Dec. 30. Special Twilight Tours will be given on Dec. 26 and 27, from 7 to 9 p.m. For more information, call 631-854-5579 or visit

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Courtesy of the Erie Canal Museum An 1852 Abbot map of the Erie Canal.

By Beverly C. Tyler

Farming on Long Island has changed significantly over the past 350 years. The early settlers in Brookhaven used horses and oxen, raised cows, pigs and sheep and grew a wide variety of crops including wheat, Indian corn, barley, rye, flax, grasses, apple and pear trees. As wheat and Indian corn were the largest and most important crops, the local gristmill became the vital connection between the farm field and table.

For farmers, the miller and the blacksmith were the vital craftsmen. Brookhaven’s colonial blacksmiths worked in iron to produce farm tools and hardware. They made horseshoes and shod horses, oxen and occasionally cows. In 1681, John Thompson, Brookhaven’s blacksmith, made all the iron and steel work for a new Setauket gristmill run by John Wade.

By the end of the 18th century, increased agricultural productivity was becoming vital to Long Island farmers. By enriching the soil with seaweed, shells and manure, Suffolk County farmers increased the yield of each acre of wheat and other grains by two to three times. However, the dominance of wheat in Long Island agriculture was soon to change.

At the start of the 19th century, New York City had a number of tidal gristmills along the East River to grind grain. Grain and flour came from Long Island and as far away as Ohio. Grain from the west, transported by wagon, was more expensive than Long Island grain. This, however, was also soon to change.

With the end of the War of 1812, trade with Europe and Great Britain resumed. Europeans remained willing to pay high prices for American cotton and wheat. Great Britain passed the “Corn Law of 1815,” placing a tax on the import of grains. This was to keep the price of grains up and preserve the profits of the “landed gentry” (the British noblemen who owned most of the land).

In 1812 the United States exported 1.3 million barrels of flour to Britain. In 1816 that fell to about half (620,000 barrels). Long Island farmers still earned their living by raising grain and herding livestock, as they had since the 17th century. Now they began to have a wider market through New York City.

The Erie Canal forever changed Long Island’s relationship with New York City. Begun in 1817, the Erie Canal was fully completed in 1825 from Buffalo to Albany — a distance of 363 miles — establishing a water commerce route between the Hudson River and the Great Lakes.

The effect of the canal on Long Island and New York City population and commerce was dramatic. By 1826, 42 barges a day carried 1,000 passengers, 221,000 barrels of flour, 435,000 gallons of whiskey and 562,000 bushels of wheat. Shipping costs from Lake Erie to Manhattan plummeted from $100 a ton to less than $9.00.

By 1830, due largely to the Erie Canal, New York, which had always been behind Philadelphia and Boston in exports, was exporting four times as much as Philadelphia. By 1850, New York’s exports had grown another 160 percent.

On Long Island, wheat, barley, corn and rye proved unable to compete with cereal grains from the West. By 1836, with a population that more than doubled to over 275,000 since 1820 and shipping that tripled over the same period, Long Island farmers, seeing their market disappear, switched to raising potatoes, cabbage, peas, beans, asparagus and tomatoes for booming Manhattan and Brooklyn.

To be continued next time: A trip on the Erie Canal.

Beverly Tyler is the Three Village Historical Society historian and author of books available from the Three Village Historical Society, 93 North Country Road, Setauket, NY 11733. Tel: 631-751-3730.

Kids will have fun learning about the Long Island Sound this Sunday. Photo from Whaling Museum

Environmental conservation is an important, daily issue across the country. Long Island is no exception.

On Sunday, April 17, The Whaling Museum & Education Center in Cold Spring Harbor will try to do its part in spreading knowledge and awareness about humanity’s impact on the Long Island Sound. The museum is hosting SOUNDoff, a brand new event that will feature activities for marine enthusiasts of all ages including science experiments, water monitoring, art exhibits and a touch tank featuring oysters, sea stars, horseshoe crabs and hermit crabs.

Nomi Dayan, the executive director of the Whaling Museum, said that the goal of the event is to be fun and interactive for kids, while also being informative.

“SOUNDoff is [being held] basically [because] we want visitors to understand how to protect the waters around us,” Dayan said in a phone interview. “These are our neighbors that inhabit the waters.”

A press release from the museum highlighted the importance of appreciation and preservation for the large body of water that neighbors the North Shore.

“The Long Island Sound is an amazing natural resource providing economic and recreational benefits to millions of people while also providing habitat for more than 1,200 invertebrates, 170 species of fish and dozens of species of migratory birds,” the release said.

Representatives from the Cornell Cooperative Extension, Seatuck Environmental Association and The Waterfront Center will all be on hand at the event to host workshops, conduct experiments and educate visitors about the importance of keeping that water clean. They will lead mock water sample tests with kids, give a presentation on marine debris and another on storm water management presentation to name a few of the various activities in store for attendees.

“There are a lot of pressures and threats against the Sound today, so it’s really up to us to keep it clean,” Dayan said. “It is a growing problem every year, especially on Long Island. Whatever we put in the water really will come back to haunt us.”

Dayan mentioned the types of fertilizers used on lawns, avoiding facial moisturizers containing micro beads and picking up after pets as some of the every day adjustments that Long Islanders can make to improve the overall health of the Sound.

According to the release, the event was partially funded by a grant from Long Island Sound Futures Fund, which pools funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“This event is poised to have an impact through the rest of the summer months as Long Islanders get ready to hit the beaches, spend time on boats and fertilize their lawns,” Dayan said in the release about the lasting impact she hopes the event will have on those who attend.

Admission to the event, which runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., is free. The Whaling Museum is located at 301 Main Street in Cold Spring Harbor. For more information, call 631-367-3418.

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A night heron sits at Frank Melville Memorial Park. Photo from Beverly Tyler

By Beverly C. Tyler

The intersection of Main Street and Old Field Road in Setauket marks the entrance to the Frank Melville Memorial Park. The horseshoe-shaped park, completed in 1937 includes extensive plantings, a simulated gristmill, a magnificent view of Conscience Bay and the cottage of the last Setauket miller Everett Hawkins. From the park there is an entrance to the Frank Melville Memorial Foundation Sanctuary grounds with its extensive nature paths.

This past month the park and sanctuary suffered a great deal of damage from the storm that devastated a narrow area on the North Shore from Smithtown to Port Jefferson. The park has worked hard to clear debris and bring the park back to its beautiful condition. Please explore the park this month and consider becoming a member of the Friends of the Park. 

The Setauket Millpond was a center of commerce for the community from the time it was settled in 1655 until early in the 20th century. It is easy to imagine almost any time in Setauket history while in the park. Looking out over the milldam, Conscience Bay reflects the 8,000 years the Native Americans lived here before the English settlers came to Setauket. The mill tells the story of the farmer grinding grain in the 1700s. The restored barn remembers the horse “Smokey” and speaks of a 19th-century horse and carriage. The stone bridge relates how an immigrant great-grandson came to Setauket and gave it an image of the countryside of rural England and Europe with a park.

Just after dawn the Setauket Mill Pond shimmers with morning mist and reflects the early morning sky and the trees that partly surround it. Walking along the path in the Frank Melville Memorial Park, the only sounds, except for the occasional car going by, are the birds in the trees and the ducks in the pond. They contrast with the greens, browns and grays of early morning. The contemplative surroundings start the day with the beauty of God’s creation and give perspective to the rest of the day.

The following prose was written by the author:

Spring, the park at morning.
Woodpeckers rat-a-tat, the woosh of wings — Canadian geese, a soft grouse call is heard.
Birdsong, first near and then far, across the pond.
Birdsong left and right.
A gentle breeze turns the pond to silver, moving patterns of dark and light.
The background sound of water flowing over the milldam and into the bay.
Pairs of mallards glide slowly across the pond.
The trumpet call of geese announces flight as they rise from the pond and fly across the milldam, across the march and into the bay.
Trees surround the pond with patterns of greens of every shade.
Dark evergreens and climbing vines.
Bright green beech and silver-green sycamore.
Patches of white dogwood adding depth and contrast.
A heron glides effortlessly across the surface of the pond, rises and disappears into the cover of a black birch tree.
I am overwhelmed by gentle sounds and contrasting scenery, by muted colors in every shade and texture.
Blue-white sky and blue-green water.

Beverly Tyler is the Three Village Historical Society historian.

Galip Gulmez mugshot from SCPD

Police arrested an elderly man on Monday, three weeks after they say he lured children with candy while masturbating.

The 87-year-old Lloyd Harbor man was sitting in his gray 2011 Subaru at West Neck Beach on the afternoon of Aug. 10, when he allegedly offered candy to nearby children. The Suffolk County Police Department said a woman who was at the beach with the kids went up to the Subaru to intervene and saw that the suspect was not wearing pants and was masturbating.

Detectives from the SCPD’s 2nd Squad investigated the case, and on Monday afternoon arrested Horseshoe Path resident Galip Gulmez. He is charged with public lewdness and with endangering the welfare of a child.

Attorney information for Gulmez was not available Tuesday morning.

According to police, the suspect was scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday.

By Rachel Siford & Heidi Sutton

Thirteen-year-old Jessica Finger has loved dolphins all her life. Now, in celebration of International Dolphin Day, which is held every year in September, she is giving back by organizing a unique fundraising event on Sunday, Aug. 30, to help them. Titled Dogs for Dolphins, the event is part of her Bat Mitzvah community service project.

Jessica Finger. Photo from Beth Finger
Jessica Finger. Photo from Beth Finger

It is customary for a community service project to go hand in hand with a Bat Mitzvah, along with Hebrew school and learning about the Jewish faith. Her Bat Mitzvah is scheduled for October.

Jessica has a very strong stance on anti-captivity of these beautiful sea creatures. “I’ve been passionate about helping dolphins and whales since I was really little,” said Jessica. “I started to like them because of SeaWorld, but then I realized the truth and now I am an activist against [SeaWorld].”

“[Dolphins] are just more intelligent than other mammals … they live with their families for their entire lives and they are very interesting,” said Jessica, adding that killer whales (orcas) have a special place in her heart. Her favorite book is “Behind the Dolphin Smile” by former dolphin trainer Richard O’Barry.

Her mother Beth said that Jessica became even more passionate about saving dolphins after watching “The Cove.” The 2009 documentary shows O’Barry exposing Japan’s massive dolphin slaughter that takes place in the town of Taiji by local fisherman annually from September through April. The group Whale and Dolphin Conservation has stated that, since 2000, more than 18,000 dolphins from seven different species have been either killed or taken into captivity during the Taiji hunt.

According to the teenager, “it changed my life ever since. I now use Instagram to be an activist for dolphins in captivity and for giving updates about the infamous ‘Cove’ in Japan,” she said.

Barry went on to found The Dolphin Project, which aims to stop the murder and exploitation of dolphins around the world. Jessica found out about this organization about a year ago through social media and decided to raise money to support this noble cause. With a goal of $750, she has already raised $336.

Jessica and her mother completed a six-hour training course at the Long Island Aquarium this summer and now volunteer at the Riverhead tourist attraction where they interact with guests and provide them with interesting facts about the animals there. Jessica’s favorite job is working at the touch tank where visitors can have a hands-on encounter with sea stars, clams, whelks, hermit crabs and horseshoe crabs.

“I agreed to volunteer with Jessica since it’s something that she desperately wanted. I have to admit that I am enjoying it very much and look forward to it as much as she does. I am constantly amazed at how knowledgeable she is about marine life. We are excited to volunteer at a seal release on Monday, Aug. 31, at Cedar Beach in Mt. Sinai,” said her mother, adding “It’s also a great way for us to have some meaningful mother-daughter time.” Members of the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation will be at the event to speak about how they rehabilitate marine life.

A true animal lover, Jessica lives in Nesconset with her parents, two younger brothers, a dog named Summer, two rabbits, three tortoises, a frog and tropical fish. Jessica said her goal in life is to “be either a marine biologist or a member of The Dolphin Project.”

“I am very proud of Jessica for her compassion for all animals. She has deep integrity at such a young age. Her love for animals led her to become a vegetarian when she was only eight years old — she will not wear leather or even enjoy marshmallows and S’mores with her friends because there is gelatin [an animal product] in them,” said Jessica’s mom. Her stance has “inspired several of her friends to become vegetarians too,” she added.

“It is appropriate that the occasion of her Bat Mitzvah, when she takes on the role of being a responsible young adult, was the impetus for Jessica to bring the community together to help make the world a better place. In Judaism, we call that Tikkun Olam, and I can’t think of a better way for Jessica to launch this next chapter of her life as a Bat Mitzvah,” said her mother proudly.

On Aug. 30, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Jessica invites the community to bring their dogs along with friends and family to the Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard, 2114 Sound Ave., Calverton, for a walk through the trails of the vineyard to support a great cause.

The walk will be followed by lunch, a pie tasting, activities for kids and dogs, crafts and wine. Patrons will be able to decorate bandanas for their dogs and play games. Massage gift certificates, gift cards to restaurants and cooking classes at Sur la Table will be raffled off during the afternoon.

The event is sponsored by Animal Health and Wellness Veterinary Care in Setauket, Pet Supplies Plus and Long Island Iced Tea, and patrons can expect an endless supply of free ice tea and pet treats.

There is a $10 per person suggested donation at the door (includes lunch) with 100 percent of the proceeds going to support The Dolphin Project ( There is no rain date. Advance registration is available by  visiting For more information, please call 917-414-4526.

Setauket Harbor file photo by Rachel Shapiro

Setauket Harbor’s closest friend circle just got a lot bigger.

The newly formed Setauket Harbor Task Force has been appointed to the Long Island Sound Study Citizens Advisory Committee, bulking up the group’s ability to preserve water quality across the North Shore and beyond. George Hoffman, a board member with the Setauket Harbor Task Force, said his group’s new spot on the advisory committee should provide them with greater resources to achieve their goals of protecting the waters of Three Village.

“We are pleased to be named to the bi-state commission,” he said. “Being a member of the CAC will benefit Setauket Harbor and provide us an opportunity to collaborate with other harbor protection committees on both sides of the Long Island Sound.”

From left, Sean Mahar of NY Audubon, George Hoffman of the Setauket Harbor Task Force, Curt Johnson of the LI Sound Study CAC and state Assemblyman Steve Englebright meet at a recent meeting of LISS. Photo from George Hoffman
From left, Sean Mahar of NY Audubon, George Hoffman of the Setauket Harbor Task Force, Curt Johnson of the LI Sound Study CAC and state Assemblyman Steve Englebright meet at a recent meeting of LISS. Photo from George Hoffman

The Long Island Sound Study was established in 1985 under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to restore the health of the Sound and coordinate water quality activities among the various entities. Since 2005, the study has utilized collaborative funding to distribute more than $11.7 million to regional municipalities, environmental organizations and research institutions to improve the Long Island Sound’s water quality and coastal resiliency.

“The LISS CAC welcomes the Setauket Harbor Task Force as a member and is happy to

have new representation from New York and the central basin,” said Nancy Seligson, co-chair of the CAC and supervisor of the Town of Mamaroneck in Westchester County, “We look forward to working together to restore Long Island Sound.”

Since it was formed last year, the task force has been expanding in size and reach with help from volunteers across the North Shore, including Port Jefferson and Setauket. Hoffman and the task force attended a press conference alongside U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) late last month to announce the Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act, a congressional bill that would allocate up to $65 million each year for Long Island Sound initiatives that include various water quality projects, cleanup projects, waste water treatment improvements and nitrogen monitoring programs.

Hoffman also said the group recently took some comfort in a Long Island Sound Founders Collaborative report, which found some improvement in the Sound’s harbors and bays, but also exposed what he called concerning levels of hypoxia — the lack of dissolved oxygen in the water — that threatens fish and shellfish. The same symptom found itself at the forefront of Long Island media over the month of June after several hundreds of dead fish surfaced in waters surrounding the Island.

The Setauket Harbor Task Force most recently met with Brookhaven Town officials to discuss the maintenance of the town’s major stormwater basin that drains directly into the harbor. They also met with marine scientists from Stony Brook University to call for greater restrictions on the removal of horseshoe crabs from town beaches.