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Brookhaven

Photo from the Town of Brookhaven

Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent Daniel P. Losquadro (R) and Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden) have announced the completion of two paving projects in Centereach and Selden.

 In the first project, heavily-traveled Hawkins Road was resurfaced from Magnolia Drive in Selden to Wireless Road in Centereach. 

Prior to paving, crews inspected drains and made concrete improvements, including replacing damaged concrete sidewalks, curbing and aprons. 

Crews removed and replaced 5,260 linear feet of concrete curb, 7,552 square feet of concrete sidewalk, 3,675 square feet of ADA-compliant handicap ramps, and 7,514 square feet of concrete aprons, at a cost of $506,900. 

The total cost for this project was approximately $1.1 million.

“Hawkins Road is so heavily-traversed and, as such, was in great need of resurfacing,” said Losquadro. “It had been on our radar for some time and I am very grateful we were able to include its resurfacing in our 2021 paving season.”

Additionally, in another paving project, crews resurfaced three nearby residential roadways: Capri Road, Impala Drive and Lark Drive in Centereach. The total cost for this project was $113,557.

“The town’s investment in infrastructure improvements makes our roads safer for motorists, bicycle riders and pedestrians,” LaValle said. “I thank Superintendent Losquadro and the men and women of the Highway Department for the important work they do all year round for the residents in Council District 3 and throughout the town.”

Photo by Julianne Mosher

Town of Brookhaven pools and beaches will now have stations so people can get their SPF.

During a press conference at Cedar Beach West in Mount Sinai Thursday, July 29, Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) announced that new, free sunscreen stations will start to pop up thanks to a collaboration with Northwell Health.

The touchless applicator stations will release the sunscreen so people can use it before they head to the beach — a reminder as soon as they walk in that it’s there. 

Photo by Julianne Mosher

“We can’t stress the importance of sunscreen enough,” Bonner said. “You have to start when you’re very young, you have to prevent the burns and prevent the exposure that builds up over time — even if it’s an overcast day.”

Nancy Uzo, vice president for public affairs at Mather Hospital, said that skin cancer affects one in five adults by the time they hit age 70. 

“If you have had five bad sunburns in your lifetime, your risk of developing melanoma goes up substantially,” she said. 

The free sunscreen program was initiated to generate awareness about how sunscreen can make a difference in the spread of skin cancer and melanoma.  

The program was launched by Creative Advertising Concepts which set up the first sunscreen program, in the City of Long Beach with partner Winthrop Hospital, back in 2017. Currently, CAC manages 13 programs with 11 on Long Island and two in Westchester County. 

The sunscreen dispensers are endorsed by IMPACT Melanoma — a national nonprofit dedicated to working to reduce the incidence of melanoma.

Romaine said that when he was young, he never used sunscreen — and it led to skin cancer later on. 

“I’ve had surgery on my arm, surgery on my head, the tip of my nose from skin cancer,” he said. “It is something that happens if you get too much sun exposure. … You’ve got to protect yourself. We have to say ‘no’ to skin cancer.”

Photo from Town of Brookhaven

At the July 15 town board meeting, Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) presented a proclamation to Maryellen Campbell, wife of the late Glenn Campbell, who recently passed away at age 50. Campbell was a lawyer, a disabilities advocate and the first chairman of the Town of Brookhaven’s Disability Task Force. 

At the age of 16, he was involved in a bicycle accident that left him a quadriplegic. The injuries didn’t stop him from attending college and law school, becoming an attorney focusing on disability law, discrimination, elder law, wills, trusts and estates. 

In addition to his law practice, Campbell was active on several advisory boards including the Suffolk County Disability Advisory Board and the Association of Mental Health and Awareness. 

Leg. Kara Hahn helps out in Port Jeff Station. Photo by Julianne Mosher

The Town of Brookhaven came together last weekend to clean up its community.

For its 13th annual Great Brookhaven Cleanup on Saturday, May 15, people from the North Shore, South Shore and Middle Island gloved up and grabbed their garbage bags to help keep their town clean. 

In Port Jefferson Station, specifically, the train car located on the corner of Routes 112 and 347 had a large group of volunteers to help cleanup.

The Chamber of Commerce was joined by members of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association, elected officials, community members and local Girl Scouts joined in picking up trash and brush to prepare the spot for its upcoming summer concert series. 

“I’m really excited to be here today,” said Councilman Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook). “This is a really important project for Port Jeff Station, and I’m really excited to see it start to take shape.”

Kornreich said there are “big plans for the area.”

“It’s exciting for the next few years to see it come to fruition,” he added. 

Last year, the Great Brookhaven Cleanup was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, approximately 1,600 Brookhaven residents helped tidy up their communities. This localized event is part of a greater cause, the Great American Cleanup — the nation’s largest organized cleanup, beautification and community improvement program. 

“The Brookhaven cleanup gives us townwide exposure, which helps our local community,” said Craig den Hartog, PJST chamber member and owner of Emerald Magic Lawn Care. “The more help the better, and it just starts with one person.”

On the Long Island Sound, town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) joined volunteers from Suffolk County Girl Scout troops 1522 and 2755 to clean Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai.

“Thank you to all of the volunteers who participated in this year’s Great Brookhaven Cleanup,” Romaine said. “The pandemic canceled last year’s event, but people came back enthusiastically and in large numbers. It was a success because of the community members who have dedicated themselves to keeping Brookhaven clean every day of the year.”

Supervisor Ed Romaine and Councilwoman Jane Bonner joined members of the Relic team at Cedar Beach on Earth Day. Photo by Julianne Mosher

To celebrate Earth Day April 22, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) announced a new initiative that will keep local beaches clean.

Photo by Julianne Mosher

The elected officials gathered at Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai that morning to unveil its new beach cleanup baskets, in which the town has partnered with Long Island-based nonprofit Relic Sustainability.

The group, from Remsenburg on the South Shore, collaborated with the town due to Relic’s Coastal Collaborative project, which encompasses seven preexisting stations across Long Island. 

“Our goal is to collaborate the town, businesses and community members to collaborate in combating beach pollution that is a growing issue on the coast line of Long Island,” said Alex Kravitz, COO of Relic.

The stations give beachgoers the opportunity to take a basket on the beach, pick up trash and deposit it into a trash receptacle.

“What better way to celebrate Earth Day?” Romaine said. “The baskets are 100% recycled plastics. You pick one up, walk along the beach, pick up some garbage and put the baskets back. … We want this in all of our town beaches and we want to keep them clean.”

While Relic Sustainability has seven stations, Cedar Beach is the first in the Town of Brookhaven to utilize its concept. 

Aiden Kravitz, CEO of the nonprofit, said the goal is to reach even more beaches.

Councilwoman Jane Bonner with the Relic crew. Photo by Julianne Mosher

“By the end of the summer, we’re hoping to have a bigger partnership with the county with 40 to 50 stations,” he said. “The goal of the program is to help relieve the pressure of trash on the beaches by stimulating voluntary trash pickup from the community. We view the heart of the program as a collaborative between the town, ourselves, local businesses and the community members — everybody plays a role.”

Bonner said she was excited for the new initiative because of the “tremendous garbage problem, not only on Long Island, but in the United States.”

“I cannot think of a better way to celebrate Earth Day than to launch a program that addresses the litter that plagues all of our beaches,” she said. “I encourage people who come to Cedar Beach to use one of the baskets and pick up litter before they leave for home. It’s something we can all do to advocate for a better environment.”

Relic also sells organic apparel that gives back to local waters. For every T-shirt sold, they plant five oysters back into Moriches Bay. 

The clothing items are available at relic-design.com.

Photo from town

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine recently stopped by the Town’s Rose Caracappa Senior Center in Mount Sinai — the site of a two-day COVID-19 vaccination “pop-up POD” for Brookhaven residents over the age of 50. 

During his visit, there was a continuous flow of residents into the center who were scheduled to receive their vaccine. The senior center has been closed in response to the COVID-19 health crisis.

“The Rose Caracappa Senior Center has been closed for over a year and this was an appropriate reason to open the doors again,” Romaine said. “I am greatly encouraged by the number of people who registered for the vaccine and I thank New York State for working with us to make them more convenient for residents. We hope to assist New York State with distributing more of vaccinations soon.”

For more information, eligibility, COVID-19 vaccine registration and more, call 1-833-NYS-4-VAX (1-833-697-4827) or go to covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov. There is no charge for the vaccine.

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Recently I was in New Jersey with my former college roommates. 

We had been Zooming and planning to get together for months. The yearbook came out and we laughed over it. We tried a yoga pose to alleviate back pain, discussed the kids and uses of turmeric. 

We moved to the subject of CBD oil, and dispensaries, when “Sheila” handed us each a small, light weight, paper package.

The next day, retelling this to my 22-year-old, she surmised that, as early 80s college grads, the package likely contained something illicit. 

The envelope, however, contained compressed laundry detergent sheets. 

I was cautiously impressed. My roomie-tribe had vowed decades prior to reject plastic packing when possible. 

The envelope label read in part, “eco-friendly, cruelty-free” and “biodegradable anionic and non-anionic surfactants.”

 To this point I had used powder detergent. I buy the cardboard boxes locally and they do nicely in the outdoor fire pit when empty.

Once home, I gave my 20-year-old Kenmore a whirl. The sheets worked well in both cold and hot washes. 

My kid said they are easy to use. The thin 6 by 10-inch, lightweight envelope takes up minuscule space in the cabinet and the perforated sheets will do 60 loads. 

I foresee fewer shopping trips for me, fewer transport ships and trucks and a reduction in carbon emissions. 

The efficiency in cold water is especially important, I think. Globally, cold water is what humans have greatest access to. 

E.B. White once wrote, “I arise in the morning torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” 

I suffer the same affliction. When shopping, my first thought, after “How many carbs?” is, “How big a carbon footprint?” Thus, I began deeper research. I was curious about the manufacturing process of the emerging hydrate-at-home cleaners if I am to use them. 

As a Long Islander I am not always convinced that dirt is worse than harsh chemicals. Dirt and I are not so different.

Nutrients for humans come from food directly or indirectly through plants grown in soil. If a cleaner breaks down dirt, it breaks me down on some level as well, no? 

What I found is, although all forms of laundry detergent manufacturers have, in response to consumers, removed most phosphates, other substances known to pollute the environment remain. 

With regard to packaging, most people I know are putting plastic into the recycle bin. 

A quick survey of friends in Brookhaven who use liquid detergent, revealed that half had purchased plastic laundry jugs stamped with an HDPE ‘2’ symbol. 

The other half either found no recycle number stamped on the plastic at all, which I found alarming, or, the symbol was high. Not in a good way. 

In either case, these cannot be recycled in Brookhaven. I found one of my own shampoo bottles cannot be recycled. 

Although I have found vegan laundry sheets, cleaning action and chemical ingredients seem equal.  

The choice then for me, is either heavy thermal energy use at the front-end drying process for sheets or on the back end with disposal and transport of plastic jugs. 

After discussion with the family, we are abandoning boxes of powder for laundry sheets. I will throw the envelope in the chiminea when it is empty.  

On a personal level, my goal will be to do fewer loads of laundry and wash my hair less often. You’ll likely find me in dirty jeans and a bandanna covering my hair — flashback to senior year.

Joan Nickeson is an active member of the PJS/Terryville community and community liaison to the PJS/T Chamber of Commerce.

Photo by James Palumbo

By Angela Palumbo

In January 2020, former President Donald Trump (R) signed an executive order that replaced the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers definition of what is considered a federal body of water under the Waters of the United States rule, known as WOTUS. 

In his election campaign, President Joe Biden (D) promised to undo these changes, which are currently under review. 

But what does all of this mean for Long Island?

Wetlands are areas where water covers the soil, or is present near the surface of the soil all year for varying periods of time. According to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report, as at 2004 6% of Long Island was made up of wetlands — that’s about 51,000 acres. 

Wetlands, due to their beneficial services to people and wildlife — including providing habitats to multiple species, improving water quality and assisting with flood protections —are among some of the most productive ecosystems in the world.

Photo by James Palumbo

Wetland protections can also create problems for business developers and farmers. One of Trump’s main reasons for passing his executive order in 2020 was to redefine the definitions of which bodies of water could be protected under WOTUS in order to remove legal roadblocks to farmers caused by the need to determine whether water on their land fell under control of the federal government.

“After decades of landowners relying on expensive attorneys to determine what water on their land may or may not fall under federal regulations, our new Navigable Waters Protection Rule strikes the proper balance between Washington and the states in managing land and water resources while protecting our nation’s navigable waters, and it does so within the authority Congress provided,” said EPA administrator, Andrew Wheeler, in a January 2020 news release.

Now, due to the undoing of restrictions by Trump’s administration, local conservationists are worried about the long-term effects on Long Island’s wetlands.

Coby Klein, a conservationist at the Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society and adjunct professor of Natural Sciences at Baruch College, said that Long Island’s wetlands are beneficial to both the community and the organisms that dwell in them, and they need to be preserved.

“Wetlands provide protection from flooding, especially the coastal wetlands, the salt marshes and things like that,” he said. “They also help work to mitigate climate change. When plants die in these wetland areas, they don’t decompose very quickly. They serve as what’s called a carbon sink. Instead of carbon being put back into the atmosphere when a plant dies, it gets stored in the soil and in the muck in the water.”

Victoria O’Neill, Long Island Sound Study habitat restoration coordinator at the state Department of Environmental Conservation, is another local conservationist who confirms that healthy wetlands are important to Long Island.

“Tidal wetlands provide many different ecosystem services to Long Island communities,” she said. “They help provide protection from coastal storm surge, improve water quality, provide recreational enjoyment and serve as nesting, breeding and resting grounds for commercial and recreationally important fish and shellfish.”

With all of the benefits wetlands provide to Long Island communities and ecosystems, why did the federal government want to push back on protecting them? Klein said it is because, “they get in the way.”

“When there’s any type of pollution that gets into a body of water, it ends up in a wetland,” Klein said.  “That’s bad news for the things that grow there and live there. Salt marshes are very susceptible to nitrogen pollution, and that’s a big problem on Long Island because almost everybody around here fertilizes their lawns, and they tend to overfertilize.” 

He added that because of the high volume of sewage systems on Long Island, the excess fertilizer from people’s lawns and farmers’ fields tends to go from the sewage systems to large bodies of water and then eventually into rivers and wetlands. This causes excess nitrogen that is detrimental to those ecosystems.

Photo by James Palumbo

Under Trump’s redefinition of protected waters under WOTUS, it has become easier for developers and farmers to make those kinds of damages to wetlands but, according to the DEC, New York is taking great steps forward as a leader in the efforts to protect state wetlands and their invaluable natural habitat.

“It is estimated that the Navigable Waters Protection Rule will remove federal protections for about half the nation’s wetlands,” the state DEC said in a 2020 statement. “Thankfully, existing strong protections of waters in New York state will reduce the impact of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule compared to many other states. However, not all wetlands are protected under New York law and we rely on federal protection and our water quality certification review to protect smaller wetlands. Recent changes in the definition of Waters of the United States have resulted in fewer of these smaller wetlands receiving any regulatory protection.”

According to O’Neill, active steps are being taken to restore wetland habitats that have been lost.

“The tidal wetland ecosystem target in the LISS’s 2015 Comprehensive Conservation & Management Plan set a goal to restore 515 additional acres of tidal wetlands by 2035 from a 2014 baseline,” she said. “As of 2020, we are 15.5% toward our goal.”

Klein said that restoration projects are time sensitive and need to happen as soon as possible.

“Wetlands provide us with all kinds of important ecosystem services and even more important than that, they’re just pleasant places,” he said. “We should try to preserve them simply because there are so many creatures besides us that depend on them. So even if they didn’t do all this important stuff for us, we should still try to conserve them because they do important things for other species.”

To see more photos, visit tbrnewsmedia.com.

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Photo from library

Amongst the Middle Country Public Library’s many historical artifacts are a few that explain just how far the area has come from its pastoral routes.

The pictures and story below comes courtesy of a collaborative effort among the librarian staff.

Maybelle Still (Walcott) sits at the wheel of this automobile along with three of her colleagues who are out promoting the Work Projects Administration in Selden. 

The WPA was an ambitious employment and infrastructure program created by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1935 during the Great Depression with the goal to put Americans back to work. 

In Brookhaven Town, sidewalk projects were approved at the cost of $63,531 for Lake Ronkonkoma, Mastic Beach and Selden. 

The Federal government contributed $38,512 to those projects. 

The Selden project plans were drafted by Norton Brothers of Patchogue and called for the construction of sidewalks along a strip of land on the south side of Middle Country Road from Evergreen Avenue to Dare Road. 

The materials for these projects were purchased through the Brookhaven Town projects office by purchasing agent and Centereach resident, Arthur W. Murray.

Stock photo

Local school districts are still maintaining low COVID-19 numbers, while the rest of Suffolk County is nearing 6% in some areas. According to district leadership, that’s because schools have been constantly evolving their plans to keep students, staff and the community safe.

Centereach High School in the Middle Country School District. The district superintendent is just one of many continuing to keep students safe. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Middle Country school district covers a large jurisdiction, Dr. Roberta Gerold, superintendent of schools, said. In non-COVID times, there are roughly 11,000 students within the district, though now approximately 7,500 are in buildings due to hybrid and remote learning options. The district has only had 102 positive COVID cases since the start of school, a 1.3% infection rate — with 52 of those cases coming from Thanksgiving break.

“We have such strong guidelines we’re containing it, not spreading it,” she said. “We know where [students and staff have] been and who they’ve been with.”

Like all the other districts, students are required to wear a mask at all times, except during mask breaks. Social distancing has been implemented with barriers on desks, and teachers are asked to keep their windows and doors open.

If a student is showing symptoms, they are immediately placed into an isolation room and brought home.

But that barely happens, according to Gerold. “The community is doing a good job because they’re not sending us positive kids,” she said. “We’re not getting a lot of cases in the schools.”

Ronald Masera, president of the Suffolk County School Superintendents Association, said that over the summer, local superintendents began putting together plans to better prepare their districts.

“When the pandemic started, there was a feeling of uncertainty,” he said. “But now what we’ve found is we could place a great deal on social distancing.”

Because they have been implementing and following CDC guidelines, he said they’re not seeing spread within the schools.

“Controlled environment helps keep the community safe,” he said. “Even if we see the community numbers rise, I think the government, politicians, leadership and superintendents know how important keeping schools open is.”

A representative from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) office agreed, and said the new guidelines released last month are to keep the doors of local schools open.

“We encourage them to not be closed, but to test instead,” they said.

Guidelines now require mass testing in schools in red, orange and yellow micro-cluster zones before they reopen, followed by vigilant symptom and exposure screening conducted daily. Impacted schools can reopen as early as Monday, however students and faculty must be able to provide a negative COVID-19 test result prior to going back to the classroom. New York State will provide rapid test kits for schools wishing to participate.

After a school reopens in a red or orange micro-cluster zone, vigilant symptom and exposure screening must be conducted daily. A quarter of the in-person learning school community — both students and faculty/staff — must be tested per week, and the school should ensure that it provides opportunities to test on school grounds, or otherwise facilitates testing and accepts test results from health care providers.

If the school does not hold a testing event or provide testing on school grounds, test results provided to the school as part of the 25% testing of the population must be received within seven days.

The governor’s representative said that no regions have hit the 9% emergency number, which would close the county again. Schools, however, have flexibility regarding choosing a comfortable closing percentage.

“They can use their own metrics to close down districts or schools as long as those metrics don’t go against the state mandate of 9%,” the representative said. “A lot of things are state law governed. Schools are done by the locals, and we wanted to be within the local district rules.”

The latest number of confirmed and new COVID-19 cases in the Town of Brookhaven, according to the Suffolk County Department of Health Services on Dec. 7 is 17,307, while a school district like Shoreham-Wading River has seen just a total of 43 positive tests for students and teachers/staff as at Dec. 8.

“I would like to thank our parents, staff and students for implementing the required COVID-19 health protocols this year. The daily temperature checks, health screening forms and conversations about washing hands, wearing masks properly and socially distancing have been really effective in keeping or schools open, healthy and safe,” said Superintendent Gerard Poole in an email statement. “The district is fully prepared for a shift to distance learning if a closure is mandated. We have a great distance learning plan and have already shifted this year successfully for a day or two when necessary due to COVOD-19 related school closures.“

File photo of Port Jefferson Superintendent Jessica Schmettan. Photo by Kyle Barr

Port Jefferson Superintendent Jessica Schmettan said that they are hopeful to remain on their current course, but are prepared to pivot their instructional models as directed by the governor’s office.

“Moving forward, our schools will continue to follow the guidance provided at the local, regional and state levels, including any prescribed steps needed should our area become designed a yellow, orange or red zone,” she said. “We are grateful to our students, staff and community for their unwavering support of and adherence to our initiatives. Their collective efforts have helped to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within our schools and allowed us to keep our buildings open for in-person instruction.”

Marianne Cartisano, superintendent of Miller Place school district, said schools, to date, are the safest places for children to succeed academically, socially and emotionally.

“We are also fortunate to have the acknowledgement of social responsibility in our community, coupled with everyone’s common goal to keep schools open,” she said.

The latest number of confirmed and new COVID-19 cases in the Town of Brookhaven, according to the Suffolk County Department of Health Services on Dec. 7 is 17,307, while a school district like Three Village has seen just a total of 72 positive tests for students and teachers/staff as at Dec. 8.

“Our district continues to follow the guidance of the Department of Health Services and the Centers for Disease Control to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Cheryl Pedisich, Three Village superintendent of schools, said. “We are fully prepared to implement any prescribed measures to keep our schools open, safe and operating in the best interest of all of our students and staff.”

Elwood school district Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Bossert said he agrees with statements made by Cuomo and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in a recent joint press conference.

“Governor Cuomo used the words ‘amazing and astonishing’ to describe how low the infection rates are in schools as compared to many of the communities surrounding them,” Bossert said. “We agree that our schools are safe places for students, faculty and staff. The guidelines that have been put in place in collaboration with the Suffolk County Department of Health are designed to keep students and staff safe and school open.”

Bossert said in addition to mask wearing, distancing and appropriate hygiene, it’s important for those who are symptomatic or think they have been exposed to someone positive for COVID-19 to stay home.

“We are so very thankful to our parents and community members for demonstrating an understanding of the role we each play and acting out of an abundance of caution when making decisions about their children,” he said. “We are confident that we can keep students safe in our school buildings — where we know they will enjoy the greatest benefit of our instruction program, socialization with one another, and have positive interactions with their teachers.”

Smithtown school district superintendent, Mark Secaur, said he is planning for several different scenarios, including the potential of COVID testing in schools, or going back to completely remote.

“Based on the relative safety of our students and staff, providing education for those two things has been at odd at times,” he said. “But it’s the balance we have to navigate because of the pandemic.”

“We have proven that schools are safer than the outside community,” Secaur added. “Kids have been amazing. They’re excited to be with their friends again, and the kids have been more resilient than some adults.”