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Brookhaven Town Clerk Kevin LaValle

A creative writing and drawing contest that started back in 2014 at Emma S. Clark Memorial Library in Setauket is still going strong in 2023. 

Each year, those in grades 7 to 12 who reside in the Three Village Central School District let their imaginations flow and create an original picture book for children in hopes of winning this esteemed prize. 

On April 24, Emma Clark Library board members and staff, the family of the late Helen Stein Shack, local elected officials, representatives from the Three Village Central School District and The Stony Brook School, and guests from the community gathered at the Library to honor the winners of the ninth annual Helen Stein Shack Picture Book Awards.

First prize in the Grades 7 to 9 category was awarded to Julia Hou, a 9th grader at  Gelinas Junior High School for her children’s book titled Boston Santa while Celia Gordon, a homeschooled 11th grader, captured first prize in the Grades 10 to 12 category for her book Sleeping Till Spring.

Caroline Qian, an 8th grader at Gelinas Junior High School, won second prize for her children’s book Cutie the Duck in the Grades 7 to 9 category and Amelia Grant, a 12th grader at The Stony Brook School, snagged second prize in the Grades 10 to 12 category for her book Lily’s Snowman.

Library Director Ted Gutmann, along with the family of the late Helen Stein Shack, presented all of the winners’ books, bound and added to the Library’s Local Focus Collection, along with $400 checks to first prize winners and $100 checks for second prize winners.

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn, Brookhaven Town Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich, Brookhaven Town Clerk Kevin LaValle (representing Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine), and staff members from NYS Senator Anthony Palumbo and NYS Assemblyman Ed Flood’s office were all in attendance to present certificates to the four authors.

Addressing the winners, Leg. Hahn remarked, “You clearly have talent and that’s what storytelling is…it’s sharing what’s in your heart for others to enjoy and learn from.” 

Councilmember Kornreich told all of the authors what he enjoyed the most about each book and added, “Art is a powerful language … I’m sure all of you will one day have the power to change people’s hearts and change people’s minds and to change the world.”

Town Clerk LaValle added, “It’s amazing what you did. You should be so proud of yourselves.”

Library Board President Christopher Fletcher, Vice President Carol Leister, Treasurer David Douglas, and Trustee Deborah Blair along with Three Village Central School District Trustee Jennifer Solomon, Superintendent Kevin Scanlon, Assistant Superintendent for Educational Services Brian Biscari, Gelinas Junior High School Principal Corinne Keane, Gelinas Junior High English Chair Michelle Hanczor and the Assistant Head of School at The Stony Brook School, Will Lingle were in attendance to congratulate the winners.

Guests enjoyed special treats donated by The Bite Size Bake Shop, a local Three Village-owned business.  Library teen volunteer Jack Dennehy photographed the event.

Library Director Gutmann expressed gratitude to the children of the late Mrs. Shack, who cover the cost of the awards as a tribute to their mother and her commitment to passing along the importance and joy of reading for generations to come. “We appreciate the support of all the family [of Helen Stein Shack] for their generosity in establishing this endowment and for their encouragement of literacy in our community,” he said.

In light of the fact that all of the winners were female this year, Sherry Cleary, one of the daughters of the late Helen Stein Shack, spoke of her mother, not just a mom, grandmother, or teacher, but as a woman:

“She was an amazing woman when being an amazing woman was not encouraged and not acknowledged and not a thing, she came up in an era where women had a lack of opportunities. She was brave, gutsy and really looked convention in the eye, in the face, and decided to do what was in her heart and in her soul. I leave you with that. Be brave. Be gutsy. You already are because you put yourselves out there and did this amazing work.”

See more photos from the event online at www.tbrnewsmedia.com.

From left, Arthur Giove Jr., Brookhaven Town Clerk Kevin LaValle and Camille Giove. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

On March 7, Brookhaven Town Clerk Kevin LaValle visited with Arthur Giove, Jr. and Camille Giove at the newly reopened Giove Funeral Home located at 1000 Middle Country Road in Selden. 

The business was temporarily closed as a result of extensive fire damage on the night of May 25, 2021. After being closed for nearly two years, the Giove Funeral Home will hold a dedication ceremony on April 29 at 3 p.m. in honor of Arthur Giove, Sr., who passed away in 2022. Giove Funeral Home first opened in 1965. 

Prior to being elected to his current position in January 2023, Town Clerk LaValle served as the Councilman in District 3 which included the Giove Funeral Home. He and his office staff assisted the Giove family to get though the process of demolition, rebuilding and reopening.

“The Giove family has been a staple in the community for nearly 60 years and they needed assistance to get through the process of reopening. Arthur and Camille are always ready to help when asked and they always come through. It was my turn to reciprocate for all they have done to make the Selden community the best it can be,” said Town Clerk LaValle.

“It is a privilege to be back in the community that my family has served in for the last few decades. Thank you to the Town of Brookhaven for helping me through the entire building process and getting us back up and running so we can once again help families during some of the most difficult times and thank you to the Selden Fire Department for all you did to save our building 21 months ago,” said Arthur Giove, Jr.

Lunar New Year 2023. Photo from TOB

On January 29, the Asian American Association of Greater Stony Brook (AAAGSB), in collaboration with the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander Advisory Board (AANHPI), hosted an event to celebrate the Lunar New Year at Brookhaven Town Hall which included a Lunar New Year and the Year of the Rabbit-themed art show. During the event, the artists were presented with Certificates of Congratulations those whose artwork received special recognition.

The event was attended by Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine, Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich, Councilman Neil Foley and Town Clerk Kevin LaValle.

“The Town of Brookhaven was happy to host a Lunar New Year Celebration for the year of the rabbit. I want to thank the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander Advisory Board (AANHPI) for their hard work in putting this celebration together. Brookhaven Town is a mosaic of many ethnic and cultural groups and the AANHPI is one of the fastest growing in Brookhaven Town that adds to our diversity. We look forward to having this celebration every year,” said Supervisor Ed Romaine.

“It was very meaningful to host this exciting event at Town Hall. The rabbit is often associated with growth and creativity, and it reminds me of how our local Asian community has grown in size and in creative confidence along with this event. We started the Lunar New Year event two years ago online, and it has grown and moved each year since then into bigger and better venues. I especially want to encourage our artists to keep up their important work in moving people’s hearts and minds in ways that the printed or spoken words cannot do. I would also like to thank the Asian American Association of Greater Stony Brook (AAAGSB,) the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander Advisory Board (AANHPI) as well as my staff for working so hard to pull this event together,” said Councilmember Kornreich.

Councilmember Foley said, “The Asian-American and Pacific Islander community is one of the fastest growing in the region and the Lunar New Year exhibit at Town Hall was a great example of their contribution to our local art and culture. Brookhaven Town is a great melting pot, and everybody plays a role in making it a better place to live. I congratulate and thank the Asian American Association of Greater Stony Brook, and the Asian American, Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Advisory Board for bringing this exhibit to Town Hall.

“This Lunar New Year celebration was one of the first events I had the opportunity to attend as the Brookhaven Town Clerk. I was impressed by the creativity and passion that the artists showed through their artwork, and I was glad to see it displayed here in Brookhaven Town Hall. Congratulations to all of the award recipients and thank you to the Asian American Association of Greater Stony Brook, the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander Advisory Board, and my colleague, Councilmember Kornreich, for hosting this event,” added Town Clerk Kevin LaValle.

By Heidi Sutton

The Town of Brookhaven held its annual Groundhog Day celebration at the Holtsville Ecology Site and Animal Preserve on Thursday, Feb. 2. Many families with young children braved the frigid weather to hear a very important prediction from Suffolk County’s most famous weatherman, Holtsville Hal.

Before he read this year’s prognostication, Town of Brookhaven Superintendent Dan Losquadro gave a bit of history of Groundhog Day and how it began in Pennsylvania in 1886 but joked, “We like to say we have the most accurate weatherman. I know they’ve been doing it for longer there in Pennsylvania but Holtsville Hal is the real deal here. Punxsutawney Phil, he had his time; it’s time for Holtsville Hal now.”

At 7:25 a.m. sharp, before a crowd of several hundred spectators, the groundhog awoke from his slumber and saw his shadow,  which, according to folklore, means six more weeks of winter.

Superintendent Losquadro read Hal’s official 2023 prediction with help from the town’s newly appointed clerk, Kevin LaValle.

“As I stepped out of my burrow on this early winter morn’, I rubbed at my eyes and let out a great yawn. It soon became clear the crowd was not here for Honey Bear,  my prognostication was what everyone was waiting to hear.  Six more weeks of winter or an early spring? I know you can’t wait what my prediction will bring.  And so, at 7:25 a.m. on this brisk winter day, I have recorded my prediction and am sorry to say, at sunrise this morning I was startled to see, a shadow in the shape of … none other than me. I scurried back inside to return to my nap, not before reminding you to hold onto your mittens and cap. Spring will have to wait, Mother Nature is not through; six more weeks of winter you can look forward to!”

“I’m always hopeful Hal will predict an early spring and assist with my snow removal budget, but if his prediction proves to be correct, the Brookhaven Highway Department remains ready to handle whatever Mother Nature sends our way,” said Superintendent Losquadro. “I want to thank everyone who took the time to come out and take part in this fun, annual tradition.”

After the event, festivalgoers were treated to bagels courtesy of Bagel Lovers and hot chocolate from 7-Eleven and were able to visit the 100 animals that call the Ecology Site home including deer, horses, goats, llamas, hawks and its newest addition, Leo the Lynx. The center, which is open all year-round, also includes greenhouses, gardens, and jogging and exercise trails. For more information, visit www.brookhavenny.gov or call 631-451-5330.