Tags Posts tagged with "Barbara Ransome"

Barbara Ransome

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Here comes Peter Cottontail … 

On Sunday, April 4, Barbara Ransome, director of operations with the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, dressed up in her Easter Bunny costume to hand out treats and take photos with passerbyers for the holiday.

Over the past 25 years, Ransome has played the role, carrying a basket full of candy — and carrots for herself — throughout Main Street.

From 11 a.m. until the late afternoon, Ransome visited the local shops to say hello, and took pictures with several families. 

“We’re hoping next year we can have our parade and egg hunt,” she said, “But in the spirit of the holiday, I wanted to spread some cheer.”

Last year, the holiday events were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this year was the same but that didn’t stop people from snapping a selfie with Ransome, or a quick group photo with the local Easter Bunny.

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From left, Mary Joy Pipe, Stu Vincent, Maryanne Douglas, Marites Son and Nancy Bradley are sworn in by Leg. Hahn (in foreground). Not pictured, Michael Sceiford. Photo from Barbara Ransome

The Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce held its swearing-in ceremony last week for new members and celebrated existing ones. 

On Feb. 24, members joined at The Space at 234 Traders Cove, where Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), chamber installing officer, helped swear in its executive board including President Mary Joy Pipe, of The East End Shirt Co.; 1st Vice President Stu Vincent, of Mather Hospital; 2nd Vice President Michael Sceiford, of Edward Jones; Treasurer Maryanne Douglas, of Davis Town Meeting House Society; 3rd Vice President Marites (Tess) Son; and Secretary Nancy Bradley of People’s United Bank. 

The chamber also welcomed its new directors: Loretta Criscuoli of The Spice & Tea Exchange; Raquel Fernandez of Icon Properties; Rose and Robert Rodriguez, of Hook & Ladder Party Company; and Kristine Murillo, of Fedora Lounge Boutique Hair Salon. 

Flowers for the event were donated by the chamber’s new partner, Diane Mutell of Slate Floral & Event Studio, and antipasto boxes were provided by chamber partner Pasta Pasta.

Only the board of directors were invited to attend the event physically, while remaining attendees were on Zoom. 

Other members were celebrated for their reelections, including TBR News Media publisher Leah Dunaief, Steve Muñoz of Amazing Olive, and Suzanne Velázquez of Stony Brook University. 

Barbara Ransome, director of operations, said the chamber’s small business award was given to John Urbinati of The Fifth Season restaurant. The $500 award will be used to upgrade and enhance their e-commerce and online shopping cart. 

— Courtesy of Port Jeff Chamber

By Julianne Mosher

The Christmas season may be over, but one local man just won a holiday gift that will last him for quite a while. 

Ron Carlson, a long-time employee of the Village of Port Jefferson, recently won a prize of $1,000 in gift cards thanks to the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce’s most recent raffle.  

Barbara Ransome, Director of Operations at the chamber, said that during December’s annual Festival of Trees display inside the Port Jefferson Village Center a Gift Tree was set up next to the Festival’s main tree in hopes of raising money for the chamber. Visitors to the holiday exhibit were able to purchase a $5 raffle ticket to take a chance in winning gift certificates from over 25 chamber partners (a combined total of $1,000), plus a mini tree the family can use next year. 

A resident of Miller Place, Carlson had worked as Parks and Recreation Director for 35 years, he said, and even after retirement decided to come back to the village part-time. “I have a strong feeling for the village and I wanted to support it when I saw the gift tree and the raffle,” Carlson said. “Barbara and the chamber are doing such a great job.” He said he didn’t expect to win, but when he did, it was “a great surprise.”

“There are a lot of fun things to do in the village,” he said, naming some of the shops and restaurants that donated including the Fox and Owl Inn, The Steam Room, Torte Jeff Pie Co., The East End Shirt Company and more. 

Carlson said he has already started using some of the certificates, bringing his wife Gina to Pasta Pasta last week to celebrate her birthday. And even though he lives a little more east than where the village is, he said that events like these keep bringing him and his family back. 

“It’s a fabulous place to come to, whether you’re a village resident or not,” he said. “Port Jefferson is one of the jewels of Long Island.”

Ransome said the raffle helped raise $200 which will go towards the operational budget of the chamber. “[The prize} couldn’t have happened to a nicer family that supports the village and the chamber of commerce.”

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Ted Lucki, president of Welcome Friends Soup Kitchen, (left) stands with Barbara Ransome, director of operations with the Port Jefferson Chamber. Photo from Barbara Ransome

One group’s extra funds is another group’s treasure.

Barbara Ransome, director of operations with the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, said that leftover money from the chamber’s restaurant/meal program was donated to the Welcome Friends Soup Kitchen.

According to Ransome, a check for $2,000 was given to the local soup kitchen. The program, she said, ended in late July, but helped bring food during this past spring and summer when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit Long Island. 

“Besides the hospitals we worked with, we also coordinated meals for the soup kitchen as well as other non-profits,” Ransome said. “We suspended services late July with the thought that the remaining money could stay static and used at a later time. This was the time.”

Ransome said the chamber’s board of directors agreed to give the donation to the soup kitchen, which is still providing meals to the food insecure five days a week. 

Ted Lucki, president of Welcome Friends Soup Kitchen, said that for nearly 30 years, the soup kitchen has served the greater Port Jefferson area with a shelter to enjoy a hot meal. Prior to the pandemic, the nonprofit utilized five kitchens in local churches, where food was collected. But things had to change with new guidelines and restrictions to halt the spread of coronavirus. 

“Basically, the churches closed down and we couldn’t keep the kitchens open,” Lucki said. “We had to adjust to becoming a distribution service instead of a cooking service.” And instead of making the meals, they’re giving them to those in need in an organized, and safe, way. “Now you show up and we give you the food,” he said. 

Restaurants like Port Jefferson’s The Fifth Season and Chick-fil-A in Port Jefferson Station have been donating warm meals and sandwiches that the Welcome Friends can distribute. Stores like Cow Palace in Rocky Point and Trader Joes in Lake Grove also have donated groceries, and fellow nonprofit Island Harvest Food Bank also has been involved. 

“All of these people are so giving,” he said. 

While other groups and organizations have halted their donations to those in need, this group still vows to handout food Monday through Friday.

“Because of the great effort of reorganizing a delivery meal program again, our board of directors agreed to give an outright donation to the soup kitchen, which is still providing meals five days a week for the underserved and people in need,” Ransome said. 

The $2,000 will go a long way, Lucki added. “The chamber helped early on and paid for several meals,” he said. “We’re so grateful.”

Grab and go meals are available Monday through Thursday from 1 to 1:30 p.m. at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 309 Route 112, Port Jefferson Station and Fridays at the First Presbyterian Church, Main and 107 South Street in the village from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. 

The little escape artists Penny and Sadie at their home in Setauket. Owner Alexa Quinn said the two are practically inseperable, and it would have been horrible if the former went missing. Photo by Quinn

A small act of compassion can make anyone’s day, and in days such as these, they almost become a necessity. One act by a local Port Jeff resident meant a family dog was returned to a loving home. 

Barbara Ransome, director of operations of The Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, said she was driving along Old Post Road near the intersection of California Avenue Wednesday, Dec. 2, when she spotted a puppy standing in the middle of the road. She approached it, seeing it had no tag and no collar, and waited to see if it would run. Instead it stayed there, and even allowed her to pick it up. It was a female, something like a miniature schnauzer, and she was extremely friendly, so much so that Ransome thought it was unlikely the dog was a runaway. It was so well behaved and comfortable, even around strangers. Ransome went to nearby doors but either nobody answered, or the people didn’t know who the owner was.

Joining up with her husband, Dan Tarantino, Ransome took the dog to Countryside Animal Hospital where the vet said she did not have a chip either.

“And now, I’m like, now what do we do?” she said. “And if we left it there, they would not have held onto the dog for more than maybe one, possibly maximum three days and then they would turn it over to a shelter.”

That same day, Alexa Quinn, a Setauket resident, said the escape happened when her 2-year-old daughter opened the front door, and both of her dogs, littermates, ran outside. Within a half hour, she found one on the front lawn, while the other was nowhere to be found.

“I started to freak out, [the dog] loves anybody and she’s that kind of dog, after three-and-a-half hours I was really starting to be beside myself,” Quinn said. 

She went door-to-door to ask if anyone had seen her dog. She eventually enlisted the help of a neighbor, a fellow animal lover, to help find her missing pup. A short time later, the neighbor pulled up next to her, showing her a picture on a telephone pole of her missing dog.

That was because after leaving the animal hospital, Ransome took the puppy home to spend some time with her two dogs. The young puppy was demure, calm even, as Ransome’s dogs grew excited. The Port Jeff resident even saw how the puppy climbed up the stairs after her, which proved even more that the animal was used to a normal home.

Ransome was not ready to surrender it to a shelter, even though it was missing any identification. She had a nagging feeling that some poor person was still looking for their lost dog. So, she dropped off a missing-dog poster at Save-a-Pet Animal Shelter in Port Jefferson Station, while her husband took the dog in his car and started putting posters all around. Practically right after that, Quinn called the number to ask about her dog. 

The Setauket resident went to pick up her dog from Ransome’s home. The dog’s name, it happened to be, was Penny.

“I just started crying,” Quinn said. “I know it’s something I would have done, but it’s so good to see that thought reciprocated. It was just nice to see how they were willing to help.”

Somehow during Penny’s escape, she managed to slip out of her collar. One of the first things on retrieval of her dog, Quinn said, was to go to Petco to buy her a new one.

Penny and her sister Sadie are rescue dogs. Quinn said she was working upstate when she stopped along a road after seeing a young girl with a box of puppies, a rural tableau seemingly rare in this day and age. The schnauzer mixes were all part of a litter, and seeing their malnourished and mangy status, she purchased one and took it home.

A short time later, with Quinn back in her Setauket home, the young girl called and told her there was still one dog left if she wanted it. The way the young girl spoke about it, Quinn feared what might happen next. 

Once Penny and Sadie were home together, they became inseparable. They rarely go anywhere without the other, and they are often found sleeping next to each other, their heads close together. 

“I was so sad for Sadie, too, thinking she would have lost her best friend,” Quinn said. “I’m just super grateful to Barbara for finding her.”

Such a small act of kindness, but Ransome agreed that such stories are important during a year of untold hardship and heartbreak.

“We just want to have to be kind to someone else, you know,” she said.

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From left: Suffolk Chamber Alliance Co-chairs Bob Fonti and Gina Coletti, Discover LI President and CEO Kristen Jarnagin, Greater Port Jeff Chamber Executive Director Barbara Ransome, VP of Community Development for People’s United Bank Elizabeth Custodio and artist Kara Hoblin in front of the new artwork in Port Jeff. Photo by Kyle Barr

Business advocates are hoping that local businesses in Port Jefferson can rise above the challenges of the day — on wings if necessary.

A new interactive mural was painted by a North Fork artist over the past week displaying two bird wings in the alleyway between Salsa Salsa and Chris Silver Jewelry. Each wing displays a host of flora, fauna and landmarks of the eastern part of Long Island. Residents and visitors are being encouraged to stand between the two wings to take pictures or selfies underneath the colorful feathers.

Greenport-based artist Kara Hoblin said her piece evolved over the course of painting to represent the multitude of things that make the East End unique. There is everything from monarch butterflies, who make a stop on Long Island during their migration, to the North Fork’s pumpkins in the fall to the everpresent deer. 

The mural is part of Discover Long Island and the Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers’ Shop Small Long Island campaign trying to encourage residents to shop small and shop local this holiday season despite the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Kristen Jarnagin, the president and CEO of Discover Long Island, said they are doing “everything we can to help our small businesses and downtowns.” 

Creating local art that can be utilized by social media campaigns and bring traffic downtowns is just one initiative of several, Jarnagin said. They are also emphasizing residents can use tools such as the Suffolk County Alliance of Chamber’s MyChamber App and Discover Long Island’s Downtown Deals Travel Pass app to allow shoppers to explore businesses within Long Island’s downtowns while also redeeming savings at their favorite shops. Discover LI is also pushing its own Long Island TV that airs every week on where to go and what to see on Long Island.

That message, coming in right before Small Business Saturday Nov. 28, has become especially important now, as the positive rate in Suffolk County rises past 4% in some areas, and all are looking to see if Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) implements any new restrictions or business shutdowns.

Co-Chairs of the Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers Bob Fonti and Gina Coletti said that they see these wings flying and they “want local businesses to soar as well.”

Small businesses have had more than a rough few months since the start of the pandemic. The murals, Fonti said, help make places like Port Jeff a destination. 

“It’s important that we as an alliance of chambers promote our downtowns,” Fonti said. “The financial tsunami, that we don’t know where that’s going to go, we want to drive 10 cars ahead of that, or hopefully ride above that wave.”

The new mural is just one of a host of public art the local chamber and Business Improvement District have been adding to the village over the past several months. Barbara Ransome, the executive director of the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, said “it’s an added attraction, for sure.”

“It’s visually appealing, and it’s safe,” she said. “Those combinations lend itself to hopefully people coming to see them.”

Ransome also thanked the landowner Dominick Parillo, who not only gave his blessing for the project but had people come in to whitewash the wall in preparation for the mural.

The original mural crafted for the village by Port Jeff artists Linda Menda-Alfin and Jennifer Hannaford was of a fish tank-type scene on an electrical box behind Chase Bank.  

The chamber had requested $1,000 in seed money from the BID back in January for the initial mural projects. Seeing the positive response, the chamber received an additional $2,000 to create even more murals on public infrastructure around the village. 

In addition to the one described before, Ransome said the village will have five electrical boxes featuring artwork. The chamber is planning another mural of a sea turtle and baby sea turtles on the alleyway wall between Chase Bank and Ralph’s Famous Italian Ices.

Another mural sponsored by Discover LI is being crafted for Long Beach in Nassau County, which new art will showcase the sites and other landmarks of western Long Island.

The Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce and the Port Jefferson Business Improvement District hosted Pumpkin Mania, a fun Halloween event featuring professional pumpkin carving demonstrations by Ian Cinco of Maniac Pumpkin Carvers LLC and a carved pumpkin contest on East Main Street in Port Jefferson Oct. 17.

Photos by Barbara Ransome and Kyle Barr

Port Jefferson hosted its 24th annual Charles Dickens Festival In 2019. It won't be back until 2021. File photo by Kyle Barr

The 25th annual Charles Dickens Festival may be quarantined until next year, but Santa himself may be coming down from the North Pole for some socially distanced festivities come December.

Village and chamber officials both confirmed the annual Dickens fest is moving to next year, skipping this year to host their quarter-century event. Though Charles Dickens won’t appear on any of the taglines or advertising, there will still be holiday-based events. 

The village is hosting what’s been dubbed A Touch of Holiday Cheer on the three Saturdays before Christmas. 

“What we really would like to see happen is on the Saturday’s through December, we can find some small ways for having people come down and celebrate the holiday season,” Mayor Margot Garant said. 

Although Garant said that not hosting the festival’s 25th anniversary is “gut-wrenching,” they do not want to create an atmosphere that could become unsafe, since the festival normally brings in thousands of people Down Port. 

“We want to give reasons for people to come down here, celebrate the day, do some local shopping, support our local markets,” she said. “That’s the underlying reason we do Dickens, after all, to be together and hopefully we have something to celebrate come December.” 

A full list of happenings are still being determined, but the chamber has set several events already for the three December Saturdays before Christmas. Barbara Ransome, the executive director of the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, said they still plan to do Cookie Land for kids to decorate cookies by appointment at the Village Center. The chamber will host a photo opportunity with Santa on his big red sleigh from 1 to 4 p.m. Children will be staged in front of the sleigh instead of their usual position on his lap so there will be no direct contact. People are also asked for a $5 donation to the chamber.

Garant added the Festival of Tress – with social distancing – is planned on the third floor of the village center, some outdoor concert and plays, as well as a performance from Setauket resident and singer Carolyn Benson. A belle choir is also scheduled for Dec. 5.

“It’s going to be an interesting season,” Garant said. “But I think the one thing that brings everyone together is the holidays, and I think we can all agree on that.” 

More information on chamber events can be found at portjeffchamber.com

Additional reporting by Kyle Barr

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Professional muralist Linda Menda-Alfin, pictured, worked alongside Jennifer Hannaford to paint the new mural behind Chase Bank. Photo by Barbara Ransome

As Port Jefferson, as well as the rest of Long Island, is struggling to its feet after the last sorrowful months of the pandemic, Port Jeff business entities are looking to inject a little more life and art into places that haven’t seen it before.

The electrical box before it was painted with the mural. Photo by Barbara Ransome

The Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce and Business Improvement District worked together to fund a new art installation on a previously graffiti-covered electrical box behind Chase Bank on Main Street. The solid green box now features an aquatic scene like staring into a fishbowl, complete with painted faux wood panels on both the top and bottom of the cabinet. 

The project was actually being planned in January, but once the pandemic hit all plans for the new art installation were pushed back into summer. Chamber President Mary Joy Pipe was actually the one to suggest the fishbowl design, according to chamber director of operations Barbara Ransome. Artists Linda Menda-Alfin and Jennifer Hannaford, both of Port Jeff, spent two and a half days in July crafting the mural. It has been sprayed with a coat of varnish to protect the paint, and there is a security camera watching the space in case of any attempted vandalism.

Ransome said the chamber requested $1,000 in seed money back in January for the project.

“It was a three-pronged reason, one for beautification, two was for those areas that were blighted a little bit or vandalized with graffiti, and the third was to recognize our artistic community and make people aware of our artwork,” she said.  

The chamber has plans to paint another such mural on the electrical box on East Broadway just east of The Steamroom’s dining area. Both artists have already told Ransome they were interested in a second project.

Mayor Margot Garant said at the village’s Aug. 3 trustee meeting the chamber did an “outstanding job” on the murals. 

However, even more public art installations could be coming to Port Jeff in the next few months. The chamber has worked with tourism promoter Discover Long Island in creating a kind of mural tourism, with Port Jeff set to be one of the first of what could be many such installations. Maggie LaCasse, director of communications for Discover LI said the other mural is also being planned for Long Beach. The project is being funded by the tourist promoter though is working with local groups in finding the best locations. The installation of both murals is set for September.

The finished mural behind Chase Bank in Port Jefferson. Photo by Barbara Ransome

Street art, or murals, has seen a new wave of popularity in places like Philadelphia, which has been called the mural capital of the world for the number of incredible building-spanning artworks. 

“This is to generate more foot traffic in our downtowns for people to safely enjoy all our wonderful businesses — drum up some extra excitement for our shops,” LaCasse said.

The new mural is planned for the alleyway off of Main Street between Salsa Salsa and Chris Silver Jewelry. Ransome said this could be the perfect spot, with plenty of foot traffic and a nice solid brick wall. She said the tentative plan is for an interactive mural, to create a set of angel wings for people to stand under and take photos and selfies with.

“Street art tourism is a fantastic way to encourage foot traffic to our downtowns and keep our communities buzzing with pride during this unprecedented time,” said President and CEO of Discover Long Island Kristen Jarnagin in a statement. “This initiative is part of a series of targeted projects designed by Discover Long Island to boost economic recovery for the region. Long Island’s tourism industry is a $6.1 billion industry and an essential component in providing relief to the small business community whose lifeblood is at stake.”

Amazing Olive in Port Jefferson village is just one of many businesses which has turned to online orders as nonessential shops have been closed. Photo by Kyle Barr

As Long Island continues to take steps toward reopening and some sense of normalcy, municipalities are aiming to help small businesses and their financial futures. The Town of Brookhaven has created a post-COVID-19 task force for economic recovery in an effort to revitalize the downtown areas and help small businesses affected by the pandemic, many of which are receiving no income at all during this time.

The Small Business Recovery Task Force is made up of business owners, chamber of commerce representatives, business experts and other officials. 

Barbara Ransome, executive director of the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, said the task force gives them the opportunity to come together and be on the same page on how to help these small businesses. 

“We all have similar concerns and it’s important that we rally together and have a unified plan,” she said. 

The task force has continued to comply with feedback from local business owners. A complaint they have brought up is the state’s process of phasing in business reopenings.

“They could come up with a formula that could be based on square footage of a business and safety measures.”

— Barbara Ransome

Ransome said the state’s plan favors big box stores. While large retailers like Target and Walmart have been able to stay open, smaller merchants, who sell many of the same products, have been forced to close. =

“Those businesses don’t have that ability right now [to reopen],” she said. 

Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and the Suffolk County Supervisors’ Association has sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) calling on him to come up with a consistent way of judging businesses. 

“They could come up with a formula that could be based on square footage of a business and safety measures,” she said. 

The group has also called on elected officials to help with insurance coverage issues.

Educating business owners, merchants and customers on social distancing and other best practices is another area the task force is focusing on. 

“It’s all our responsibility to make sure we are on the same page,” said Charlie Lefkowitz, the president of the Three Village Chamber of Commerce,. 

One idea they’ve proposed is creating a public service announcement in coordination with the town. Lefkowitz said it would inform the public on safety measures, social distancing compliance and other information. They would also use it as an opportunity to send out a positive message of unity. 

“The hardest thing we will have to figure out is how we are going to social distance,” he said. “We are trying to help these main street and small businesses.”

In addition, the task force is looking at ways to ease the reopening process for owners. Capacity and the number of customers a business can serve could play a huge role in how they do so, given the state’s COVID-19 guidelines. 

Lefkowitz said he has been working with the town officials on a way to allow business owners to temporarily extend their store space either by permits, tweaking town code or drafting new legislation. 

“Some businesses might be able to use walkways and put merchandise outside, or they could set up a tent outside in the parking lot,” he said. 

The chamber of commerce president has a draft legislation proposal that would increase the floor area ratio of a business, which would help in making more selling space. 

Lefkowitz said restaurants were just one type of business that could benefit from increase in space. 

“They can be more efficient with indoor and outdoor space,” he said. “Whatever the capacity is, you may have customers that might not feel comfortable going inside.” 

Long Island has taken steps toward reaching Phase 1 of Cuomo’s New York Forward plan for reopening its economy, meeting five of seven benchmarks required by the state. The governor’s plan to reopen consists of four phases which include different categories. Restaurants are in Phase 3. 

“Whatever the capacity is, you may have customers that might not feel comfortable going inside.”

— Charlie Lefkowitz

Michael Ardolino, a past president of the Three Village Chamber of Commerce, said businesses will be facing different challenges when they reopen. 

“How will places like beauty salons and barbershops fare when everyone is in close proximity to each other?” he said. “These owners will want to be able to get their business going.”

Ardolino said he could envision a scenario where those types of businesses take a certain number of customers by appointment only.  

“We will continue to monitor all businesses and may have to plan for what might be a new business climate,” he said.  

Owners hope business reopens sooner rather than later, with summer close by. 

“As the warmer weather gets closer it will be challenging to keep people at bay,” Ransome said. “We have to continue to push government leaders, need to continue to make these phases and hit these benchmarks so we can reopen. We don’t want to be going backward instead of going forward.”