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Barbara Sakovich

From left, trustees Bob Juliano and Drew Biondo, Mayor Lauren Sheprow and Deputy Mayor Rebecca Kassay. Not pictured, trustee Stan Loucks. Photo by Aidan Johnson
By Aidan Johnson

Monday, July 10, marked Lauren Sheprow’s first Village of Port Jefferson Board of Trustees meeting as village mayor. 

Sheprow led the new board through their business and reorganization meeting, in which the reconfigured village board voted to reject proposed code changes slated for the Maryhaven Center of Hope property on Myrtle Avenue.

Mayor Lauren Sheprow presiding over the Village of Port Jefferson Board of Trustees on Monday, July 10. Photo by Aidan Johnson

Maryhaven Center of Hope

The proposed code amendments were an effort by the previous administration to preserve the historic building on the Maryhaven site. [See story, “For Maryhaven, Port Jeff village board weighs historic preservation, density and conservation,” April 29, TBR News Media website.] 

It would have created a special permit application to allow the village board to designate specific parcels that contribute to Port Jefferson’s architectural and aesthetic character. 

If approved, an applicant meeting these criteria would have qualified for relaxed standards for land use, allowing for additional height and stories without additional clearing.

During the public comment period Monday night, former village trustee Barbara Ransome addressed the continuing concerns over the property.

“I’m hoping that there are no quick decisions about changing codes for potential developers,” she said. “I think we heard at the [May 1] public hearing a lot of concern about the infrastructure, about losing a wonderful area that people feel is just going to be too crowded with that kind of density.”

Trustee Stan Loucks, not pictured, left the village board meeting after learning he would not be reappointed as liaison to Port Jefferson Country Club. Photo by Aidan Johnson

Reorganization

But not all went smoothly at Village Hall.

Trustee Stan Loucks, who ran in this year’s village election alongside mayoral candidate Kathianne Snaden, left directly after the board’s reorganization meeting, skipping the general meeting altogether after Sheprow revealed he would no longer serve as liaison to the Port Jefferson Country Club.

“I feel very strongly that I’ve had an impact on the resurgence of the country club,” Loucks said. He went on to say that he did not think he could “work any further with this board.” 

Village clerk Barbara Sakovich will leave the village government after more than 13 years in that role. Her retirement will take effect July 19. The trustees expressed their gratitude for her years of service. Silvia Pirillo will take over as the new clerk.

Sheprow appointed trustee Rebecca Kassay as deputy mayor and commissioner of environmental stability.

“It is an honor to step into the position of deputy mayor because it helps me better serve the village and work [especially with] flood resilience and climate studies,” Kassay said in an interview after the meeting. 

“I’ve been talking to organizations like [the United States Geological Survey], and having the title of deputy mayor shows that the village is taking these climate resilience issues very seriously,” she noted. “I’m very glad to be representing the village in this way.”

Trustee Bob Juliano will serve as commissioner of public works and parks. Loucks was appointed commissioner of recreation, and newly appointed trustee Drew Biondo will be commissioner of buildings and communications.

Harry Faulknor will continue as the Port Jefferson Harbor commissioner.

Sheprow will serve as commissioner of finance and public safety/court/code.

A motion to appoint Donald Pearce as village treasurer failed — he held the post previously before resigning in 2015. Juliano suggested that while Pearce is excellent to work with, he was displeased that Denise Mordente was not reappointed.

Code enforcement chief Andy Owen delivering his department’s monthly public safety report. Photo by Aidan Johnson

Public safety

The general meeting started with a brief presentation from Code Enforcement Bureau chief Andy Owen and chief of patrol James Murdocco.

Owen clarified that the code department does not save and store private information through its automatic license plate readers, which are used to identify if a car has a valid Port Jefferson parking permit or a meter is paid.

He also announced that foot patrols downtown would begin after this weekend’s Port Paws Dog Festival. Owen said he is also planning on starting a bike patrol unit.

In June, 60 incident reports were written, consisting of noise complaints, traffic conditions and public disturbances.

A total of 206 summonses were written in June for incidents such as uninspected vehicles, missing license plates, parking without a permit or overtime meter parking. 

Murdocco reported there have been over 200 incidents at the Port Jefferson train station since January, with many happening after 9 p.m.

Murdocco also announced the start of an informational Facebook page for the code bureau.

Public comment

During the public comment portion, held before the trustee reports, multiple residents voiced concerns about the potential overdevelopment of the park at Roosevelt Avenue. Myrna Gordon, along with other residents, suggested these developments would not be conducive to the area’s quiet character.

Sheprow announced a planned Parks and Rec Advisory Council meeting on July 26. All residents of the Roosevelt Avenue area are invited.

Michael Mart also touched upon the issue of transient housing — such as Airbnb facilities — in Port Jefferson, expressing a desire for the board to limit the rental time of a house to 30 days per renter.

After a resident asked how villagers could get involved with the different committees and task forces, Kassay said they are currently working on an online forum where residents could enter their information and the committees on which they would like to participate.

Reports

Juliano announced he would be starting office hours and that his door was always open. He also said that he gave the interim attorney a proposed code change so that when developers apply through the Industrial Development Agency for pilots or property tax exemptions, they would start at whatever they were paying now instead of at zero.

Biondo shared that he had toured a few of Port Jefferson’s facilities as the liaison to building and planning. He said he would discuss with the mayor and village attorney how they can streamline government processes.

Kassay said the Complete Streets and Walkability Plan is moving forward. She also said the board is still working on mitigating flooding challenges, though the problems cannot be eliminated. However, they are working on a study to see which areas need to be focused on for flood mitigation.

Kassay and Andrew Kelly, from Hauppauge-based VHB civil engineering company, are working on assisting grant writers with the documentation needed to apply to the New York State Environmental Protection Fund to progress to the next step for the planned Six Acre Park, which consists of taking a concept and making “show ready” plans for the park. 

Sheprow announced she had appointed an ethics attorney to update the village’s ethics code. She also said that she has met with representatives from Stony Brook University’s Student Affairs office, and they have expressed interest in using Port Jefferson as a “living laboratory.”

The Board of Trustees also passed a resolution to create a budget and finance committee, and has been working to recruit members of a short-term and long-term rental evaluation working group.

Sheprow added that the board is considering establishing a working group to advise on policies related to the Port Jefferson Power Station to explore declining public revenue and possible repowering.

The board will reconvene Monday, July 24, at 3:30 p.m.

Trustee Lauren Sheprow, left, and Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden. Photo by Raymond Janis

The Village of Port Jefferson is nearing a crossroads.

Residents will enter the polls this Tuesday, June 20, to decide on a successor to Mayor Margot Garant. After 14 years leading the administration, the incumbent is stepping down to head the Democratic ticket for Town of Brookhaven supervisor against Deputy Supervisor Dan Panico (R-Manorville).

Garant’s seat is being contested by Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden and trustee Lauren Sheprow. In an exclusive office debate spanning nearly two and a half hours, the mayoral candidates pitched their respective visions to the voters.

Introductions

Defeated by just four votes in her first bid for trustee in 2018, Snaden won election to the board the following year and has since secured several liaison posts before taking over as deputy mayor in 2021.

She said she first ran for office “to be the voice” of the people, bringing their wishes to Village Hall and putting their priorities into action. 

“I am ready to run for mayor because I want to use all of that institutional knowledge, all of my experience, to do even more for the community,” she said.

Sheprow entered the board 10 months ago, unseating former trustee Bruce Miller during last year’s village election. She has since helped establish multiple advisory committees while serving as commissioner of communications, among other liaison positions.

She said she is running to take the village government in a new direction.

“I have been hearing a lot from residents and how they would like to see a fresh start for Port Jeff,” she said. “That’s what I was responding to when I decided to run.”

Petitions

This year’s mayoral contest took an unusual plot twist very recently, on May 30, when the Suffolk County Board of Elections opted to remove Sheprow’s name from the June 20 ballot over faults in her petitions.

“I take full responsibility for not putting my cover sheet on the petition submission,” Sheprow said. “But you know what? I don’t care. I’m running a write-in campaign. I would never stop fighting for the people of Port Jefferson.”

Snaden, whose campaign brought about the charges, said using the Freedom of Information Law to assess the opposition’s petitions is standard practice.

“We all have to follow the same rules,” she said. “It’s our job as candidates to know the laws and follow the laws.”

Budget

The candidates offered competing perspectives on the village’s present finances.

Snaden regarded the current fiscal health as “excellent,” noting the relatively low-interest rates the village pays when borrowing money.

She acknowledged “the budget can always use some tweaking,” adding, “there are some needs that I believe need an increase in budget.” 

Chief among them are salaries, Snaden said: “Bringing those numbers up would be imperative for getting the highest quality employees we can.”

Sheprow suggested the village’s Moody’s rating, a measure that calculates an organization’s relative credit risk, “can be improved,” saying her administration would strive for a AAA bond rating [compared to the current Aa3].

The trustee proposed instituting an advisory committee of certified public accountants and other financial professionals to assist the village board in preparing its budget.

“A zero-based budget is so important,” Sheprow said. “Also, having that budget committee [will help] create a budget that is responsible to the taxpayers.”

Revenue

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced new regulations targeting existing power plants, placing a cloud of uncertainty over the Port Jefferson Power Station.

With questions surfacing about the possible decommissioning of the plant, the candidates were asked whether the village should begin preparing for further losses of public revenue.

Sheprow again advocated for expert consultation.

“I think we need to include the Advanced Energy Center at Stony Brook University,” she said. “Maybe we can come up with ideas about how to bring advanced energy initiatives into that location.”

Snaden said continued collaboration with wind power companies, such as Ørsted and Eversource, would remain pivotal in “bringing green energy to Long Island through the Village of Port Jefferson.”

To account for potential losses in public revenue, she also proposed “increasing our tax base through responsible development.”

Staffing

Both candidates agreed the administration is understaffed but departed on possible solutions.

Snaden emphasized hiring a planner for the building and planning department and additional personnel for the code enforcement department.

She indicated the practice of assigning multiple administrative titles to a single staff member is “absolutely not” sustainable.

“I think that’s where the budget needs to be enhanced — to hire the right people to head up these departments and divide up more of the tasks,” she said.

Sheprow maintained the hiring process should follow “a [human resources] system and policy.”

“The idea that I have, should I become mayor, is to bring in someone to take a deep dive into the organizational chart of the village,” she said. “I find there are some conflicts of interest for these positions and roles for people who wear multiple hats.”

Public meetings

To boost attendance at public meetings, Sheprow supported overhauling the village’s municipal website.

“It is not responsive,” she said. “If there’s a village board meeting coming up, it should be on the front page on the carousel of the website.”

She also favored a more dynamic social media presence on behalf of the village, with suggestion boxes and other modes of “active responsiveness” between board members and residents.

“I think we need to set up — here we go again — another committee to hear and review complaints and take [them] forward to the Board of Trustees.”

Snaden discussed the value of live streaming public meetings.

“Bringing the meetings to [residents] in their living rooms, recorded so they could watch at a later date, was key” during the COVID-19 public health emergency, Snaden said, proposing to expand and enhance these methods post pandemic.

She also touched upon the role of the Port eReport in dispersing information to the public.

In welcoming more citizens into the local decision-making process, Sheprow expressed pleasure at the reformation of the Port Jefferson Civic Association, saying, “That means the people care, that the people in the community want to get involved.”

She said the chance for more frequent communications between residents and trustees during board meetings is “a huge opportunity for us.”

Snaden said, “Regular meetings with whoever wants to have a voice,” combined with an active social media presence, would be crucial for welcoming more residents into the process.

“I also believe there’s an aspect of people going to meetings when there’s a negative issue or problem,” she added. “As a person who always looks for the positive in things, I like to believe that a portion of the people not coming to meetings are very happy with what’s going on.”

Open government

Another central administrative function is the swift distribution of time-sensitive documents, such as public minutes and agendas.

Snaden returned to hiring when asked about expediting the release of these materials.

“That rests now on the clerk’s [Barbara Sakovich] responsibility list,” she said. “She’s just overwhelmed with the amount of work,” adding, “I believe we could help by bringing in more people to divide up those duties to get [those documents] out there.”

Sheprow favored implementing a “proactive communications system,” including an internal newsletter, to bring the information to staff and the public more expeditiously.

“We need somebody who’s creating content,” she said. “The content would include a press release after every meeting [saying] here’s what happened.”

Building density

During the May 1 public hearing on possible zoning code changes for the Maryhaven Center of Hope property, several community members voiced concerns about increased villagewide building density.

Sheprow raised objections of her own.

“The proposals and the sketches that have been drawn for this space are looking like we’re bringing city life into a transitional [not entirely commercial nor residential] area of Port Jefferson,” she said. “The surrounding communities are horrified by the prospect of seeing four stories from their backyards.”

Snaden noted, “Density is already here,” referring to some existing apartment and condominium developments neighboring Maryhaven.

In moving through the building and planning stages, she said, it will be necessary to continue consulting traffic and environmental studies, which she indicated are “always done as a matter of course.”

“Residential use has been proven to be the softest use, environmentally speaking,” the deputy mayor added. “My concern is that if we don’t move ahead with … some type of a code change, then as of right, an office park could move in, causing more issues for the neighboring community.”

Parking garage

The village is also working to mediate longstanding parking issues, with both candidates detailing how a proposed parking garage could offset shortages.

“There has to be a careful balance with that — without overbuilding but creating the parking spaces that are needed,” Snaden said of the parking structure.

She also supported continued public-private partnerships for shared parking agreements.

Sheprow called for establishing a parking committee, composed primarily of business owners, to help manage the village’s municipal parking apparatus.

She referred to the proposed garage as “an idea I think residents need to hear and weigh in on.”

Flooding

During a recent climate resilience forum at Village Hall, local architect Michael Schwarting shared alarming projections of more frequent and intense flood events in Lower Port. Each candidate was asked how the village could mitigate these concerns.

“Utilizing an engineer or planner to lead that process,” coupled with a new grant writer to help underwrite new projects, could “move the village forward conceptually,” Sheprow suggested.

Snaden proposed daylighting hidden underground water bodies to offset increases in flood load. “I would like to continue building bioswales,” she added, “making gardens in conjunction with these bioswales.”

Concluding remarks

Sheprow expressed appreciation for the residents throughout the campaign process.

“I’m having a lot of fun talking to people and learning more about everyone in our community,” she said. “There’s a lot of love for this community, and I would just be grateful to represent them and have their trust put in me.”

Snaden reiterated her past experiences in positioning her for the responsibilities of mayor.

By “voting my opponent in as mayor, you lose me entirely — you lose my experience, knowledge and love for this community,” Snaden said. “However, if you vote for me, Lauren stays on as a trustee, and you have us both.”

Voting information

The public will be the ultimate arbiter of these two mayoral candidates on Tuesday, June 20. Voting will take place at Port Jefferson Village Center, where polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The Suffolk County Board of Elections ruled on May 30 that Village of Port Jefferson trustee and mayoral candidate Lauren Sheprow's petitions were invalid, removing her from the June 20 ballot. Above, Sheprow during a May 10 Meet the Candidates forum hosted by the Port Jefferson Civic Association. File photo by Raymond Janis

The mayoral race in the Village of Port Jefferson just took a shocking twist. 

In the upcoming village election on June 20, trustee Lauren Sheprow and Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden are vying to succeed incumbent Mayor Margot Garant, who is running for Town of Brookhaven supervisor. Following a meeting of the Suffolk County Board of Elections on Tuesday, May 30, Sheprow’s petitions were ruled invalid. This ruling removes Sheprow’s name from the ballot. 

In a statement, Sheprow said her opponent challenged her petitions due to an error on her cover sheet. In the face of the decision, she pledged to continue her mayoral campaign, now running as a write-in candidate.

“My opponent’s campaign and its lawyers challenged my petitions, and due to an issue with the cover sheet, the Suffolk County Board of Elections on May 30 determined that my name cannot be placed on the ballot,” Sheprow said in a statement.

She added, “I am committed to continuing my campaign for mayor even if it means I’ll be a ‘write-in’ candidate. It may be an uphill battle, but I will not quit the people of Port Jefferson.”

A statement issued by The Unity Party, the ticket under which Snaden is running alongside trustee Stan Loucks, clarifies how the challenges to Sheprow’s petitions first came about.

“The Unity Party requested, through the Freedom of Information Act, all documents related to Ms. Sheprow’s petition filing,” the statement said. “Upon discovering several defects, including the lack of a cover page, resident signatures on blank petition forms and other inconsistencies, a challenge to Ms. Sheprow’s election documents was filed. The SCBOE reviewed the challenge and found the deficiencies identified to not only be fatal, but also incurable.”

In the same statement, Snaden commented on the outcome: “While this decision will be disappointing to some, we should take pride that the law and process were followed. I have the utmost respect for the integrity of the bipartisan SCBOE and the decisions they make. Following the rules with transparency and integrity are the hallmarks of good government.”

The Suffolk County Board of Elections declined to comment for this story, referring inquiries to the Village of Port Jefferson clerk’s office. 

In a phone interview, Village clerk Barbara Sakovich said she was not involved in the decisions leading up to the ruling, maintaining that her position is strictly administrative.

“A mayoral challenge was submitted, and it then was brought to the Board of Elections,” she said. “The commissioners met, and the determination was made by them, not at the village level.”

Sakovich said the appeals process will be open until the end of business on Friday, saying, “I’m assuming if there is any change, the Board of Elections will notify me.”

Port Jefferson Village Hall. File photo by Heidi Sutton

In a historic act, the Village of Port Jefferson Board of Trustees voted 5-0 on Monday to extend the terms of service for village mayor, trustees and judges from two to four years.

Prompting the vote, village clerk Barbara Sakovich recommended the term changes during her report, outlining the logistical challenges of holding elections every year. 

“As we have an election every year, and we’re gearing up for this June’s election, we know we’re not getting [voting] machines anymore because of the primaries,” the clerk said. “I just would like to maybe get everyone’s pulse on maybe changing the terms from two to four years so that we don’t have to keep doing this every year.”

‘If the public wants to have a referendum or wants to have a vote on it, then they will let this board know.’

— Lauren Sheprow

Village attorney Brian Egan advised the board the term extensions would be legal under the New York State Village Law. The change would not affect ongoing terms but would impact the incoming mayor and trustees elected this June. The resolution is subject to a permissive referendum, which under the state law would enable the public to put the resolution out for a public vote this June.

Before the unanimous vote on the resolution, some board members offered their opinions on how four-year terms may benefit the village. “I always look at how you can get a higher voter turnout across the village,” trustee Rebecca Kassay said. “Voter turnout is always relatively dismal, but having an election every single year, people don’t seem to know about it.”

Trustee Stan Loucks suggested the existing term lengths are inadequate for long-term decision-making and planning. “I’ve always thought two years is way too short,” he said. “The first year, you’re just getting your feet wet, and the next year you’re out there campaigning.”

Trustee Lauren Sheprow considered the permissive referendum an option available to community members if they choose to exercise it. 

“Let democracy happen,” she said. “If the public wants to have a referendum or wants to have a vote on it, then they will let this board know. Give them the choice to come forward on it.”

Mayor’s response

In an interview following the decision, Mayor Margot Garant explained what village residents could expect moving forward.

“This is a board decision that is subject to a public referendum,” she said. “What that means is that the public … has 30 days within which to garner the requisite signatures to bring it to a public vote.” 

Assessing the board’s motivations for approving the measure, Garant emphasized administering village elections has become highly problematic. She noted that the absence of electronic voting machines to conduct elections has placed undue strain on the village clerk, who must count the ballots by hand.

“I believe part of what’s really driving this is the fact that we’re not getting electronic voting machines from the Suffolk County Board of Elections,” the mayor said. “To count the ballots by hand is a six- to eight-hour exercise,” adding, “I think Barbara did not finish counting votes until 2 a.m. This year being a mayoral election, she’s probably going to be there until 3 or 4 in the morning.”

Garant, asked for her outlook on the electoral process in Port Jefferson, acknowledged that elections foster accountability for those in office. However, she stated the board must also weigh the challenges of administering such elections, especially when they are conducted by paper ballots and counted by hand.

Elections “create a sense of accountability,” she said. “But I think the resources it takes and the amount of energy it takes to run an election really does impact your ability to serve. A two-year term is not a long time to get things done.”

She added, “I think it’s always great to have your community engaged, and I think elections engage the public. … I made the motion because I think the pulse of the room was for that, and again, the 5-0 resolution shows you that the political will was there.”

Asked whether there was adequate public input before passing the resolution, Garant said the board used the appropriate procedures and operated within the confines of the state Village Law.

“If the Board of Trustees has the authority to make that decision, I don’t think hearing more public input would have swayed that decision,” Garant said. “There is a mechanism by which the people can speak, and that was exactly what Lauren said — let them exercise their right to a permissive referendum.”

Pressed on whether fewer elections translate to less democracy, the mayor responded, “I don’t think so.” Effective democracy, she indicated, takes a more holistic approach.

“I think that there’s a broader definition to democracy,” she said. “Democracy is a government of the people, by the people, for the people. There are still a lot of mechanisms to keep that in place and working.”

She concluded, “I think we’re a little behind the times, and I think it’s time to catch up and let the people decide.”

Warmer winters are likely contributing to the steady rise of tick populations and the spread of tick-borne diseases in the area. Illustration by Kyle Horne @kylehorneart
By Chris Mellides

As winters on Long Island become milder due to climate change, the existing tick problem on Long Island will likely intensify.

Already, municipalities along the North Shore have engaged the public to discuss the dangers of ticks and consider possible remedies. 

During a Village of Port Jefferson Board of Trustees meeting July 5, one concerned resident said, “Another child just got bit by a lone star tick and she can’t eat meat for the rest of her life.”

The meat allergy in question is Alpha-gal syndrome. AGS is a tick-borne disease commonly transmitted by lone star ticks, which are commonly carried by deer, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

The instances of the prevalent Lyme disease have nearly doubled in the years 1991-2018, based on findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As the climate becomes warmer, the size of tick populations and the spread of tick-borne diseases are projected to increase. 

Village trustee Rebecca Kassay, whose background is in environmental community outreach, is well aware of the problem that these pests pose to the larger community. She considers recent public interest in tick activity to be worth the board’s attention. 

“As time goes on and as climate change is affecting our area, one of the effects is these more mild winters,” Kassay said. “When there’s not a deep freeze for a prolonged period of time, the ticks don’t have that die-off like they used to and, as that happens, we’re seeing a steady increase throughout Long Island and the Northeast of tick populations.”

Wooded areas and athletic fields are more prone to being havens for these external parasites that are carried by wild animals like mice and deer and typically affect mammals, though other organisms are also fair game to these blood-feeding, eight-legged insects. 

“I’m going to be looking into messaging, making sure that there’s accurate information that gets out to parents,” Kassay said, adding, “What are ticks? What are the dangers of [them]? And how important it is to regularly check for ticks both on their children and themselves?”

Barbara Sakovich, Port Jeff clerk, shared that while the village does not spray for ticks, private homeowners are permitted to spray their own properties.

Referring to the July 5 meeting, Sakovich said in a statement, “Deputy Mayor Snaden, as well as an attendee in the audience, discussed tick tubes and that they can be somewhat effective to manage the tick problem in the mice population.” The village clerk added, “A lint roller can be effective in removing ticks from clothing after being outside.” 

The New York State Department of Health lists several diseases known to be carried by ticks. However, the severity of symptoms has raised a number of eyebrows. Lyme disease is the most common but anaplasmosis, rickettsiosis, ehrlichiosis and tularemia are also contracted via bioactive molecules in tick saliva.

Tick bites affect parents and children alike, and the Port Jefferson Village website recommends that afflicted residents should “call your physician as soon as possible so appropriate preventative treatment can be given.”

“There’s a vigilance and an awareness that needs to be spread and hopefully our community will not be learning about these things through personal experience,” Kassay said. “Rather, [we need] neighbors talking to neighbors and parents talking to parents and sharing this information so that through information we can prevent other children from suffering [from AGS].”

Concluding a hotly contested election season in the Village of Port Jefferson, Rebecca Kassay and Lauren Sheprow were sworn into office for two-year terms on Monday, July 4.

Joined by family and friends, Trustee Rebecca Kassay takes the oath of office. Photo by Raymond Janis

Immediately after dozens of groups and community organizations paraded through the streets for the Fourth of July celebration, community members gathered on the front lawn of Village Hall for the formal swearing-in ceremony. 

Members of Cub Scout Pack 41 performed the ceremonial raising of the flag, which featured a historic 46-star flag that was donated by the Squires family. For more on this flag, see The Port Times Record’s April 28 story, “Squires family heirloom returns to Port Jefferson.”

Following the flag ceremony, Mayor Margot Garant, Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden and Trustee Stan Loucks gathered on the steps of Village Hall to join their incoming colleagues. Barbara Sakovich, the Village clerk, administered the oath of office to Kassay and Sheprow, who each took the oath while surrounded by family and friends. 

Upon taking office for a second term, Kassay thanked members of the Port Jeff community for entrusting her to continue her work on the Village Board. 

“Thank you everyone for being here today, for being a part of this village and for entrusting part of it with me,” she said. “It’s truly humbling to be entering my second term, and I am so very much looking forward to continuing to add strength to this already strong community.”

Trustee Lauren Sheprow sworn in for her first term of office. Photo by Raymond Janis

Sheprow, a first-time public officeholder, was surrounded by a sizable party of family members, including children, grandchildren and her father, former Mayor Hal Sheprow. 

On a similar note as Kassay, Sheprow thanked the community members for their support. “I can’t express how grateful I am that the Village of Port Jefferson has put their faith and trust in me to represent them for these next two years,” the new trustee said, adding, “I hope that I can live up to that faith and trust.”

The trustees took their seats before the public the following night. For more on this meeting, see The Port Times Record’s July 7 story, “Port Jeff board of trustees updates public on recreation, vandalism and local heroism.”

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Port Jefferson Village Hall. File photo by Heidi Sutton

Port Jefferson village is looking to use a New York State Dormitory Authority grant to install a new emergency command center extension to the Department of Public Works’ storage facility.

The board voted unanimously to approve the $450,000 grant to put an extension on the left-hand side of the DPW maintenance and storage facility. 

The village voted to approve the grant at its Sept. 3 meeting, saying it could lose access to those funds should it not meet deadlines. According to Interim Village Clerk Barbara Sakovich, the project is still in the early planning stages.

At the Sept. 3 meeting, village officials talked about a 20- by 10-foot addition to the left side of the DPW building on North Country Road. Mayor Margot Garant said she wished to install emergency equipment in the facility along with the new addition.

“If we don’t do this, we’re going to lose the whole $450,000,” she said.  

Nicole Christian, the Port Jefferson grant writer, said she has already finalized the paperwork for the grant and has sent it up to Albany. 

The command center is going to allow communications during a public emergency including storm events or any other natural disaster, according to Christian. It should allow communications with any emergency rescue units that shows up at the scene.

Alison LaPointe, the special village attorney for building and planning, said the plans for the site are still in their conceptual stage, and they are working with architects to hammer out details on site plans.

“The village is in the process of engaging an architect to work out the plan in terms of size and facilities,” she said in an email. 

The village has not yet put any funds forward or gone out to bid on the project as it awaits confirmation of the grant funds from the dormitory authority.

*Editor’s note: Nicole Christian recently joined the TBR News Media staff as a proofreader. Her duties with the paper are separate from her work with the village.