Tags Posts tagged with "Councilman Kevin LaValle"

Councilman Kevin LaValle

Cayla and Iris Rosenhagen pose for a photo during a beach cleanup at Cedar Beach last August. Photo by Kyle Barr

Approximately 8 million tons of plastic waste is dumped into the oceans each year, according to the nonprofit Ocean Conservancy. Long Islanders have seen what plastic waste can do to their waterways and beaches firsthand.

Cayla and Iris Rosenhagen, two 14-year-old twins from Selden, wanted to change that and in July 2019 they created a beach cleanup initiative fittingly called the Beach Bucket Brigade.

Throughout the summer, the duo hosted seven beach cleanups, and with the help of about 300 volunteers they were able to remove more than 23,500 pieces of litter off Long Island beaches — 45 percent of that was plastic waste.

The sisters said now that they are not too focused and busy planning events, they’ve been able to reflect on the success they’ve accomplished these past few months.

“We are ecstatic, everything has gone so well, and everyone has been so supportive of us,” Cayla said.

From a young age, the sisters have had a keen interest in the environment, nature and animals. They said they would go out on their own and do cleanups and wanted to see if they could get more people involved.

“They really thought of everything, they’ve done this all on their own and really made their vision a reality.”

– Jane Bonner

“We had the idea for a couple of months and we wanted to find a way to get the community involved,” Iris said. “We reached out to the Town [of Brookhaven] and they liked what we had in mind.”

Brookhaven Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden) said it was great seeing young people take the initiative for a good cause.

“The presentation they gave us was so well done, we were immediately all on board and wanted to help in any way we could,” LaValle said. “It has been a great collaboration and the whole program/initiative really sets up well for the future.”

One of the events hosted by the twins included a Beach Bucket Brigade Books at the Beach event that involved a story time for young kids before heading out to clean the beach. At all cleanups, for each bucket of trash volunteers returned they were given a raffle ticket in which they could win eco-friendly prizes, recycled toys and products donated by a number of local businesses.

“They really thought of everything,” said Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point), who attended one of the beach cleanups at Cedar Beach back in August. “They’ve done this all on their own and really made their vision a reality.”

For the duo’s effort, the town honored them by making Sept. 12 Cayla and Iris Rosenhagen Day. They also appointed them to the youth board, which advises the Brookhaven Youth Bureau about issues affecting young people.

The twin sisters said they have already begun formulating ideas and events for next spring and summer. They also stressed that there are small things people can do to alleviate the abundance of plastic waste.

“What kind of eco-friendly [New Year’s] resolution are you going to make?” they said. “Everybody can do their part and cut out the amount of plastic they use.”

Like LaValle, Bonner has been impressed with what the Rosenhagen twins have accomplished.

“We have been blown away by their presence and passion, this is not the last time you will hear of Cayla and Iris — they are going places and they have a bright future,” Bonner said.

To find more information about Beach Bucket Brigade and future events visit their Facebook page.

SUNY Empire State College cut the ribbon on its new $14 million Long Island campus in Selden on Nov. 13. 

Located at 407 College Road, the 6.6-acre learning center features public nature trails that will connect to Suffolk County’s comprehensive hiking and biking trail network, and provides students with cutting-edge learning facilities for both in-person and distance learning. It will also be equipped with performing arts spaces for programming under the college’s Arts Empower initiative. 

SUNY Empire currently serves more than 1,300 students in Suffolk County through both online and in-person instruction. 

“We’re proud to offer this incredible new learning facility and beautiful campus to our students on Long Island as well as the broader community,” said SUNY Empire State College President Jim Malatras. “I’m grateful to Governor Andrew Cuomo, the State Legislature, including the effort of Senator Kenneth LaValle, and the leaders in Suffolk County who helped make this happen. We look forward to making this campus a hub for both our students and the community, so stay tuned for upcoming events.” 

 Photo by Heidi Sutton

“This new state-of-the-art campus will connect thousands of Long Island students with world-class learning opportunities for decades to come,” said NY State Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. “When we provide New Yorkers with 21st century learning facilities like the SUNY Empire State College Long Island campus, we are helping them reach their full potential and preparing them for the jobs of tomorrow, today.” 

“With cutting edge technology and instructional methods, SUNY Empire under the leadership of President Malatras is committed to providing educational opportunities for working professionals across Long Island,” said SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson. “Our new Long Island hub will expand those opportunities, foster innovation, and build community partnerships, all of which advance SUNY’s broad mission of connecting students to an affordable, high-quality education that meets their specific needs. Thank you, Governor Cuomo, and everyone involved in making today a reality.”  

Senator Ken LaValle, ranking minority member of the NY State Senate Higher Education Committee, said, “This Grand Opening is a culmination of hard work of many people over a number of years. I’m excited that the Long Island Campus will bring leading-edge technology here for SUNY Empire students. The state-of-the-art Immersive Cloud learning will enable real time interaction between students and faculty between campuses and expand learning opportunities. This facility will meet critical needs for SUNY Empire students across Long Island. I am pleased to be a part of the process.” 

“With the grand opening of the SUNY Empire State College Selden Campus, students of all ages and background across Suffolk will now have the opportunity to study and learn at one of New York’s premier educational institutions right in their backyard,” said County Executive Steve Bellone. “We have already begun to partner with Empire State College and I look forward to continuing our work to ensure Suffolk remains a hub of innovation and higher learning.”    

“Having SUNY Empire State College here in Suffolk County, and more specifically in my legislative district, is a very welcomed addition to our community,” stated Suffolk County Legislator Tom Muratore. “Changes in lifestyle and technology have made education more accessible to nontraditional students, and I am grateful for the collaborative efforts of all involved with bringing this state-of-the-art facility to Selden.” 

Pictured in top photo, from left, Erin Young, Selden faculty academic coordinator; Ellyn Okvist, SUNY Empire State College student; Marion Conway, chair of the SUNY Empire State College Foundation Board SUNY; Kevin LaValle, Town of Brookhaven council member; Gregory Blower II, director of communications for Sen. Kenneth LaValle; Jim Malatras, president of SUNY Empire State College; Thomas Muratore, county legislator; Rob Basedow, SUNY Empire State College student; Jason Richberg, clerk of the Suffolk County Legislature; Robert Haelen, senior vice chancellor for Capital Facilities and general manager of the State University Construction Fund; Diane Conard, interim director of facilities and capital projects at SUNY Empire State College; Dennise Waters, SUNY Empire State College student; and Meg Benke, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at SUNY Empire State College.

From left, Leg. Tom Muratore; partners Nick Haviaras, Peter Dilis, Corey Catechis, Gus Catechis and George Dilis of MVC Properties; and Councilman Kevin LaValle. Photo by Heidi Sutton

By Heidi Sutton

Local officials, members of the Centereach Civic Association, Middle Country Chamber of Commerce, family and friends were on hand to celebrate the grand opening ribbon cutting of MVC Properties’ latest venture − New Village Plaza in Centereach − on Nov. 2.

Above, Gus Catechis, center, accepts Certificates of Congratulations from Councilman LaValle on behalf of the Town of Brookhaven and Legislature Muratore on behalf of Suffolk County. Photo by Heidi Sutton

Located at 1707-1759 Middle Country Road across from McDonald’s, the shopping center will have over 75,000 square feet of space when the project is completed over two phases. Tenants include an Arby’s, Wingstop, an AT&T store, Swolehouse, Brownstones Coffee and Pacfe Nail & Spa. Cabo Fresh, Voodoo Crab and ProHealth are soon to follow. 

Gus Catechis of MVC Properties thanked the community, Councilman Kevin LaValle, Legislator Tom Muratore and Diane Caudullo of the Centereach Civic Association before cutting the ribbon. “I just want you to know how grateful I am for all the support you gave me from the very beginning and to everyone who made this a reality,” he said.

“This special project has been a long time coming. We took something that was a blight in our area and Gus put the time in, put the money in, really giving back to the community to build this great shopping center that we have here with great brand names. It’s really going to be something we are proud of here in Centereach,” said Councilman LaValle, adding “This grand opening shows once again that Brookhaven is open for business.”

“I am always happy to support new businesses in our community, and an entire shopping center is a home run for the local economy,” said Leg. Muratore. “Congratulations to the owners, MVC Properties. We are happy to welcome them to our business community.”

Photo by Kyle Barr

Growing up in Centereach and a graduate of Centereach High School, Kevin LaValle (R-Selden) has deep roots in the community. He has seen the area grow, and at times suffer, and therefore fights for what’s best for his district.

It’s because of his commitment to Town of Brookhaven District 3 that we strongly endorse him in his fourth term as town councilman.

LaValle has developed strong relationships with business owners in his district and listens to their needs. He also understands the importance of open spaces as he remembers being a child with no proper ball fields to play on.

He has worked with the state, county and town to get the Selden Park Complex developed that will provide multipurpose fields, a walking trail, ice skating rink and playground and is a proponent of the last working farm in Centereach, Bethel Hobbs.

He also strongly supports Suffolk County Legislator Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma) with his study for a sewer district.

We applaud his challenger Talat Hamdani for her work in battling Islamophobia and fighting for social justice. We encourage her to remain in the public eye, and we hope we will see her name on an Election Day ballot in the future.

Incumbent Kevin LaValle faces challenger Talat Hamdani for the District 3 seat in the Town of Brookhaven. Photo of LaValle by Kyle Barr; photo of Hamdani from her campaign website

On Oct. 28 Brookhaven Town Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden) sat down with the TBR editorial board to talk about his run for a fourth term in District 3. His opponent Talat Hamdani did not attend the debate and did not respond to voicemails and emails asking for an interview, but we summarized points posted on her campaign website at the end of this article.

Incumbent Kevin LaValle

LaValle said he has spent the last few years in office ensuring that his district, which is the smallest geographically in the county, receives its fair share of funds. He said he is out in the community regularly meeting with constituents and addressing quality of life issues such as zombie homes and illegal apartments.

“Six years ago, people were like, ‘What about us in the community?’” he said. “Now people are asking, ‘What are you going to do next?’”

The councilman said when he first took office, he drove down Middle Country Road and found more than 30 buildings had graffiti on them and over 45 had illegal signs. His staff sent notices to clean up the graffiti and get rid of the signs to owners and tenants, and most complied. With thousands of cars traveling daily along Middle Country Road, he said, the clean sites encourage others to open businesses.

LaValle prides himself on his work with the business community, citing bringing brands such as Rite Aid, Five Guys and Guitar Center to Independence Plaza in Selden, and Panera Bread to nearby College Plaza. The councilman said he will sit with owners and developers to hear their needs about zoning and has them work with the town’s Building Division and Law Department to ensure the businesses know what is required of them with codes. He said representatives from larger corporations such as Target travel to Brookhaven to discuss their needs with him.

He said it’s important to build relationships and foster trust.

“A lot of people don’t trust government,” he said. “[They say,] ‘This guy is all right. He’s going to work with us. If he gives us his word that he’s going to do something, he’ll do it.’”

He said building those business relationships has led to many of them participating in events that he organizes such as the annual National Night Out, where residents can interact with police officers and other first responders at the Centereach Pool Complex.

When it comes to water quality issues, while he said his district does not include much shoreline — just a small piece of Lake Ronkonkoma — he supports the initiatives of Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) whom he called “the most fervent advocate of the environment” that he knows. One of the programs LaValle supported was the requirement that new construction within 500 feet of water be required to install a new nitrogen-reducing septic system.

He also supports legislation spearheaded by Suffolk County Legislator Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma) for a study to create a sewer district along Middle Country Road. He said it may take eight to 10 years for the district to be included in the sewer program, but he believes it will attract more businesses to the area.

He added a sewer district, in turn, attracts developers who want to buy a few lots together instead of one, which means one entrance for several stores, instead of one for each business, creating a better flow of traffic. 

“It’s so crucial that sewer district, on so many different levels, that we get that,” he said.

LaValle also recognizes the opioid problem in the town. He said Brookhaven has two social workers who will talk to teenagers and families for free about drug addiction problems. When the social workers came to him and said it would be beneficial to raise the age they can treat people from 18 to 24, he sponsored a bill to make it happen.

He said many young people who may have overcome addiction can relapse, especially on returning to Long Island from college while having to deal with multiple stresses.

“I can tell you that’s a great key to be able to give that education, to be able to have that outreach,” he said.

LaValle also said he believes that the state needs to push insurance carriers to provide coverage for those battling addiction and has approached both state senators, Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and John Flanagan (R-East Northport).

He said the Island currently doesn’t have enough beds for treatment in hospitals and clinics, and patients may be not covered unless they have fought addiction multiple times.

“I think it’s a fight that should be fought,” he said.

He also has worked with Muratore to purchase property behind Hawkins Path Elementary School. An agreement between the county and town allowed the county to buy the property if the town would develop. LaValle said the park, called Selden Park Complex, will have two multipurpose fields with a walking trail, playground and ice-skating rink. Flanagan recently secured $1 million to fund phase 3 of the park, which includes the construction of two baseball fields and a playground.

“It’s great because growing up here, we had the worst fields,” LaValle said.

Challenger Talat Hamdani

Hamdani grew up in Pakistan and immigrated to New York in 1979. She is a retired English teacher, who in 2018 was appointed by County Executive Steve Bellone (D) to the Suffolk County Muslim-American Advisory Board. She is also a regular commentator on CNN, MSNBC, “Democracy Now!”and other media outlets.

The challenger’s family was a victim of Islamophobia when false media accusations linked her son to the 9/11 attacks, according to the challenger’s website. Mohammad Salman Hamdani, her son, worked at Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Manhattan and went down to the World Trade Center to help victims. He, too, died in the aftermath of the attacks.

According to her website, she aims to end corruption “by stopping the endless waste, fraud and abuse in the Town of Brookhaven.” She said she will call out “pay-to-play politics and end the hold of special interests in town government and one-party rule.”

Currently, Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) is the only Democrat on the Brookhaven Town Board.

Hamdani would also like to enhance residential recycling by implementing weekly pickup of plastic, paper, cardboard and aluminum/metals, as well as expand the types of plastics that get collected. She said this would make it easier for residents and not burdensome for taxpayers.

The challenger plans to work to enhance oversight for clean water to increase environmental safety and incentivize small businesses with economic development zones. Her website says she would look to provide rebates for startups and family businesses. She also wants to curb overdevelopment with plans to put a check on big developers and advance a sustainable affordable housing agenda.

“Today, I am passionately involved in social justice,” Hamdani posted on her website. “I want to serve my local community in addressing their issues and trying to resolve them. Like Salman, we need to transcend the barriers of race, faith and ethnicity and stand united for our democracy and our freedoms guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution, with liberty and justice for all.”

The slight chill in the air Oct. 5 created the perfect feel for Bethel Hobbs Community Farm’s annual fall festival.

Hundreds joined the fun at the farm where there were bounce houses, pumpkins, music, tractor rides, face painting, vendors and more.

Country Line Dancing featuring Skip from Country Rhythms Long Island was on hand to provide line dancing lessons throughout the day.

By Heidi Sutton

Bethel Hobbs Community Farm in Centereach hosted its 5th annual Run the Farm 4-Mile Challenge on Aug. 17. The event attracted over 300 runners from as far as upstate Albany and France who braved the humidity for a great cause.

Proceeds from the day will benefit the farm whose mission is devoted to providing fresh organic produce to those in need of a network of local food pantries and food programs.

The fundraiser also featured a farmers market, vendors and music and was attended by local officials including Councilman Kevin LaValle, Councilwoman Valerie Cartright, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine, Chief of Staff Bob Martinez from Leg. Tom Muratore’s office,  Comptroller John Kennedy Jr. and his wife, Leg. Leslie Kennedy and members of the Centereach and Selden civic associations.

LaValle addressed the crowd before announcing the winners of the race. “I just want to thank everyone for coming out and for the great race we had today. This is the last remaining farm in Centereach,” said LaValle, adding that the 11-acre farm, located at 178 Oxhead Road, raises over 30,000 pounds of food for nonprofits.

“It takes an army to run this farm and without all the volunteers working together it would never happen,” added HF Vice President Ann Pellegrino. She also thanked Hobbs Farm President Larry Corbett and Bethel AME Church of Setauket for all their support.

“We love being out here at Hobbs Farm. They do so many great things for the community. To have a working farm here is quite special,” said Comptroller Kennedy. “I’m just happy to see everyone out on a Saturday morning working out, having fun, maybe buying some products and contributing to sales tax,” he joked.

The overall first place winner for men with a time of 24.40.53 was 24-year-old Cole Conte of Port Jefferson. Second and third place went to the father and son team from Baillargues, France, Fran Ois Le Grix (43) and Titoun Le Grix (17) with a time of 25.09.37 and 25.10.93, respectively. “We’ve gone international, ladies and gentlemen,” quipped LaValle as he handed out the awards and the crowd shouted out “Vive La France!”

Jessica Petrina (37) of Selden captured the title of overall first-place winner for women with a time of 27:24:94. Jamie Butcher (28) of Port Jefferson garnered second place with a time of 31:57:60 and Grace Mill (15) of Centereach won third place with a time of 32:20:18.

“To Mr. Hobbs, who is no longer with us, his legacy continues; to those who run the farm and really Run the Farm, thank you,” said Romaine. He thanked the runners and thanked the community for “helping keep the farm alive, keep the dream alive right here in the middle of Centereach where no one would expect a farm. It’s here, it’s great, it’s part of Brookhaven town. We are so proud of this farm.”

Photos by Heidi Sutton

Legislators, police officers, local business representatives and residents enjoyed some playtime Aug. 6 on a perfect summer’s night.

Town of Brookhaven Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden), the Suffolk County Police Department’s 6th Precinct and the Middle Country Public Library hosted the annual National Night Out at the Town of Brookhaven’s Centereach Pool Complex. The free event promotes police-community relationships and neighborhood camaraderie.

This year more than 1,000 residents came out to swim in the pool, play games and interact with first responders and military personnel as well as community vendors.

Photo from Councilman LaValle's office

JUST KEEP SWIMMING

Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden) joined representatives from the Middle Country Chamber of Commerce, Suffolk County Legislator Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma), Assemblyman Douglas Smith (R-Holbrook) and residents in welcoming Goldfish Swim School to Centereach on March 2.

Owners Michael, Rodney and Blake George, Branden Yono and owner/operator Jake Atchoo received a Certificate of Congratulations from the Brookhaven Town Board; a Certificate of Recognition from Muratore and a Certificate of Merit from Smith who wished them well in their new venture.

Goldfish Swim School has 90 locations across the country. The Centereach location, located at 141 Centereach Mall off Middle Country Road, is the first in Suffolk County. Open daily, the facility offers indoor, year-round swim instruction to children ages 4 months to 12 years along with weekly family swims and birthday parties.

Pictured from left, LaValle; Michael George; Blake George; Jake Atchoo; Branden Yono; Rodney George; Bob Martinez, chief of staff to Leg. Muratore; and Samantha Heise, general manager.

For more information, call 631-405-4111 or visit www.goldfishswimschool.com/centereach/.

By Heidi Sutton

The Town of Brookhaven held its annual Groundhog Day celebration at the Holtsville Ecology Site and Animal Preserve on Saturday, 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, and the little guy did not disappoint.

At 7:25 a.m., before a crowd of several hundred spectators, the groundhog awoke from his slumber and did not see his shadow, joining Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil, Malverne Mel, Staten Island Chuck and Dunkirk Dave in predicting that spring weather is right around the corner.

Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden), who was joined by Councilman Neil Foley (R-Blue Point), served as honorary Mayor of the Day and read Hal’s prognostication:

“Upon waking up this morning from my long winter’s nap, I heard Honey Bear yawning after this unusual cold snap, Lucy the Buffalo was up, Victoria the eagle too, wondering what everyone is planning to do. I exited my burrow and took a step out, realizing that my prognostication is what this is all about. Hundreds have gathered waiting to hear, will it be an early spring or more snow this year. I know you’re all anxious to hear what I have to say, I won’t keep you waiting at 7:25 on this cold blustery day. When I came out of my burrow and put my paws on the floor, I did not see the shadow I was looking for. According to folklore, go home and ready your lawn, spring is coming and the winter is more than half gone.”

Superintendent of Highways Daniel Losquadro (R), who was not able to attend the event this year, issued a statement on Monday.  “I’m sure we are all looking forward to an early spring and keeping our fingers crossed that our resident weatherman maintains his accuracy,” he said. “Regardless, the Brookhaven Highway Department remains ready to handle whatever Mother Nature decides to send our way.”

After the event, festivalgoers were treated to bagels and hot chocolate and were able to visit the 100 animals that call the Ecology Site home including deer, horses, goats, llamas, hawks and its newest addition, a pine martin. The center, which is open all year round, also includes jogging and exercise trails.

Greg Drossel, who has been Holtsville Hal’s handler for 22 years, said, “I remember when this ecology site was started by Harold Malkmes [Brookhaven’s longtime superintendent], 25, 30 years ago with a pair of buffalo and a pair of bald eagles and now it’s a gem in the Town of Brookhaven and I’m happy to be a part of it.”

Located at 249 Buckley Road, Holtsville, the Ecology Site will next host the 2019 Home & Garden Show on March 23, 24, 30 and 31 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call 631-758-9664.