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Aidan Johnson

By Aidan Johnson

Over 150 people participated in the Stony Brook Rotary Club’s Oktoberfest 5K Run Sunday, Oct. 15.

The event, which saw clear skies and mild temperatures, raised money for the Stony Brook Cancer Center’s Mobile Mammography Van, which goes around to different communities to offer free breast cancer screenings.

“This year, we started our new pledge to Stony Brook Cancer Center, who sponsored the mammogram bus,” explained Debbie Van Doorne, president of Stony Brook Rotary. 

The fundraiser was timed well since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, followed by “Movember,” which raises awareness of breast cancer in men, Van Doorne added.

The Bench Bar & Grill on Route 25A in Stony Brook was the starting and finishing point. As runners returned, they were greeted with refreshments and live music by the band Alternate FRED.


By Aidan Johnson

This past weekend, the Village of Nissequogue and the Friends of Stony Brook Harbor jointly hosted the first Happy Harbor Day in over 15 years at the Long Beach boat ramp in St. James.

The event, which took place Saturday, Sept. 30, helped generate tortoise awareness around Stony Brook Harbor while spotlighting other related environmental issues.

Despite considerable rainfall, the event was well attended, especially early on. Live bands played while free ice cream was handed out, and members from local organizations, such as the Sweetbriar Nature Center, helped educate attendees on the local environment.

“We had a wonderful turnout, notwithstanding this lousy weather that the morning started with,” said Nissequogue Mayor Richard B. Smith, who took part in the dunk tank to help raise money for next year’s Happy Harbor Day.

During the event, former New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) was presented with the Dr. Larry Swanson Environmental Award for his work protecting the harbor from overdevelopment.

File photo

By Aidan Johnson

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While the mantra “Every vote matters” applies to all elections, it can be best highlighted in local races in which a handful of votes can decide the outcome. Consider county Legislator Sarah Anker’s (D-Mount Sinai) 2015 win that was decided by just 19 votes.

However, there are some elections and referendums, like last year’s Tri-Harbor Ambulance District Referendum, which could have been decided by one singular person — because no one voted.

The Tri-Harbor Ambulance District, which covers Mount Sinai, Port Jefferson and Belle Terre, held a referendum last year and is once again holding it on Aug. 1 at Port Jefferson EMS at 25 Crystal Brook Hollow Road, Mount Sinai, between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

This vote deals with the Length of Service Award Program, which rewards volunteers by providing them a pension based on the length of their service.

In a statement, Brookhaven Town Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) explained what the changes would entail. If volunteers have served for at least five years, he stated, they currently receive $20 per month for each year of service starting at age 65. However, the proposal would change that to $30 per month starting at age 60. 

“For example, under the current plan someone who served for 10 years would receive $200 per month starting at age 65. Under the new proposal they would get $300 per month starting at age 60,” Kornreich further explained.

Since no one voted last year, the referendum didn’t pass; hence it is being held once more.

While Kornreich was surprised that no one voted, he wasn’t necessarily shocked. 

“Most of the volunteers at PJ EMS are college students who do not participate in LOSAP. There are probably less than 10 people in the service there who do participate, and they are not the type to run out and self-promote a program which would benefit themselves, even if it is a modest increase,” Kornreich stated.

Confusion over who was supposed to publicize the vote, Town of Brookhaven or the Tri-Harbor EMS, could have also been the reason that many people did not even know that it was happening.

If you live in the Tri-Harbor Ambulance District, remember to vote on Aug. 1 at 25 Crystal Brook Hollow Road, Mount Sinai. 

By Aidan Johnson

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Stony Brook Medicine’s new facility at Smith Haven Mall held its official ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday, July 19, welcoming the completion of the facility’s Phase One of its advanced specialties, which will likely be finished by 2027.

The new facility, which will be the new home to the different advanced specialties that were found on Technology Drive, offers a much more accessible “one-stop shop” for patients.

Maurie McInnis, president of Stony Brook University and overseer of Stony Brook Medicine, spoke at the ceremony, saying Stony Brook Medicine’s new location will be reminding their patients that they are there for them.

“We believe in quality health care that is accessible to all,” McInnis said in her speech. “As a world-renowned medical system and an entrusted flagship university for New York State, it is our duty and our privilege to make it so,” she continued.

Dr. Todd Griffin, vice president for clinical services and vice dean for clinical affairs at Stony Brook Medicine, shared his outlook for the facility’s future, saying, “We eagerly anticipate hosting a health care open house in the near future where our community and patients can explore our beautiful facility and learn more about the services that are available to them.”

Since Smith Haven Mall falls in both the towns of Brookhaven and Smithtown, Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) each spoke during the ceremony.

“You think about life and you wonder, and you ask people in their everyday lives what concerns them,” Romaine said after praising SBU, the hospital and its staff.

“They’re concerned about health, because without health, you don’t have anything else. This facility will do so much good for so many years and for so many people,” he added.

Wehrheim spoke about the renaissance he believes is underway in Smithtown. 

“This is an excellent partnership and a huge benefit both to the new residents that will be coming to live in our Town of Smithtown, and also for Stony Brook Medicine,” he said, expressing his gratitude to McInnis.

“We make laws in government, but you folk, you doctors and staff and nurses, actually save lives and that’s what’s important to a community.”

Alan Ghidaleson, left, with his wife Diane. Photo from Alan Ghidaleson

By Aidan Johnson

Mount Sinai is saying goodbye to the beloved pet store Feasts For Beasts, as owner Alan Ghidaleson moves onto the next chapter of his life with his wife, Diane.

Ghidaleson, who has owned and operated his shop since 1977, originally started working in building maintenance in Manhattan. “It was fun in the beginning because it was new, but then it just wasn’t my passion,” he told TBR News Media in an exclusive interview. “What I always had a passion for was pets, especially dogs.”

‘I really had a great time doing what I love.’

— Alan Ghidaleson

The industry was suggested to him by a friend who managed a few pet stores in Atlanta. “He said, ‘This is an industry you would absolutely love,’ and I went for a visit,” Ghidaleson shared. “I did like what he was doing, but said, ‘You know what, I’m a New York boy, so I’m going to do it in New York.’ And that’s what I did.”

Ghidaleson found success in his new business, going from operating a single store to, at one point, running 10 locations including a pet hotel by the mid-1980s. “I really had a great time doing what I love,” he said. 

Among its other professional services, Feasts For Beasts handled dog grooming and dog training.

Ghidaleson described his staff as being “the best staff of employees of anybody in any industry,” taking pride from working with some of them from their teenage years to their 30s. 

He also detailed watching his customers progress through the different stages of life, going from teenagers to parents to even grandparents. 

Over the course of nearly a half-century, Ghidaleson had many fond memories, including participating in the annual Miller Place-Rocky Point St. Patrick’s Day Parade. People from across Long Island would come to watch him and his Rottweiler pet riding on his motorcycle.

Ghidaleson also used to raffle off a new car and loved calling people to tell them they had won. “I’d buy a car from Ram, Chevrolet and raffle it off,” he said. “Calling people to say that you won an automobile, I have to say that was very exciting.”

Being in business for as long as he had meant witnessing several tragedies. After Hurricane Katrina, which resulted in over a thousand deaths in Louisiana in 2005, Ghidaleson and a few friends traveled to New Orleans to help out. They managed to save hundreds of dogs over the course of 10 days. 

Ghidaleson’s service to the community did not end at the pet shop. He completed a 68-mile walk from Mount Sinai to Chinatown in 2019 in order to raise money for the New York Warriors, a Long Island-based quadriplegic rugby team. It took him 28 hours to complete straight through, though it may have been shorter if the torrential rain hadn’t forced him to dry his clothes in the bathrooms of multiple Starbucks locations.

Despite his contributions to the community, Ghidaleson only recently realized the effect his business has had through the years. “It’s a feeling that’s hard to put into words,” he said. “It’s magnificent.”

He added, “I didn’t realize what an impact that Feasts For Beasts has had on the community until the past month or so, because I get an abundance of people calling and coming in, and crying on the phone and crying in the store.”

Ghidaleson said he will still be around as he and his manager, Nick Kucharski, transition into the real estate business. While the pet store may be closing, Ghidaleson maintained he will still be there for anybody needing pet advice and information.