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Councilman Kevin LaValle

Photo from Town of Brookhaven

On April 30, the Town of Brookhaven celebrated Arbor Day by planting a Red Maple tree in front of Town Hall, following a longstanding tradition. Since 2016, the Town has been designated as a “Tree City USA” by the National Arbor Day Foundation.

The annual planting at Town Hall is part of Supervisor Romaine’s Green Energy & Sustainability initiative for Town facilities announced in his 2015 State of the Town Address. The plan focuses on Town-owned Buildings and Facilities, Traffic Controls, Street Lights and Town Vehicles. Pictured left to right are the Town’s Environmental Analyst Alan Duckworth; Councilman Kevin LaValle; Supervisor Ed Romaine; Councilman Dan Panico; Councilwoman Jane Bonner; Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich and Councilman Neill Foley.

Arbor Day has been celebrated around the world since originating in Spain in 1805. The first American Arbor Day was on April 10, 1872 in Nebraska. In 1907, President Theodore Roosevelt brought the event to national attention when he issued an “Arbor Day Proclamation to the School Children of the United States.”

Photo from Urban Air

Urban Air Lake Grove owners Dave Wolmetz and Keith Handler (holding scissors) held a ribbon cutting to mark the official reopening of their business — one year after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic — on March 26. The celebration was attended by local, county and state officials and local chamber members.

The 48,000 sq. ft indoor adventure park, located at 3147 Middle Country Road in Lake Grove, was closed in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It reopened briefly in fall 2020 after providing sufficient demonstration that it could operate safely but was ordered closed again five weeks later. A lawsuit filed in February 2021 forced the State of New York to allow Family Entertainment Centers across the state, including Urban Air, to open again under COVID-19 safety protocols.

“I was happy to attend the grand reopening of Urban Air Adventure Park at 3147 Middle Country Road in Lake Grove. For too long indoor entertainment facilities, like Urban Air, were ignored in the Governor’s reopening plan despite proving they could operate safely. I was proud to stand with my colleagues in government today and congratulate Urban Air on their reopening and wish them the best of luck with their business,” said Councilman LaValle.

“[It was] great to join Urban Air Adventure Park in Lake Grove for a grand re-opening! Amusements are opening back up in time for summer!” added Assemblyman Smith. 

Pictured from left, Brendan Chamberlain representing Leg. Nick Caracappa; Greater Middle Country Chamber President Lenore Paprocky; Leg. Leslie Kennedy;  Councilman Kevin LaValle; Assemblyman Doug Smith; Carrie and Dave Wolmetz; Suffolk County Comptroller John Kennedy; Keith Handler; NYS Senator Mario Mattera; Lake Grove Mayor Robert Scottaline; and Barbara Franco, Executive Director of the Greater Smithtown Chamber of Commerce. 

The park will operate at 25 percent capacity, with an e-commerce ticketing system managing two-hour timed entry for all guests. Tickets are purchased online in advance. To encourage social distancing, tickets will be offered for purchase at the door on a capacity only basis. Operating hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. For more information, call 631-861-4125.

Photo from Councilman LaValle's office

On Feb. 24 Councilman Kevin LaValle and Suffolk County Legislator Nick Caracappa joined other community leaders in welcoming Lidl Grocery Store to Selden at their grand opening-ribbon cutting ceremony. Located in the Selden Plaza shopping center at 211 Middle Country Road in the former Best Market, the new store is the fourth Lidl location in the Town of Brookhaven, including Lake Grove, Patchogue, and Center Moriches. 

Lidl’s history dates back to 1973, when the first modern Lidl store opened in Ludwigshafen, Germany. With only three employees and about 500 products, this small store became the foundation of Lidl’s far-reaching expansion. During the 1990s, they began opening stores outside of Germany and within a few years, had stores all across Europe.

They now operate approximately 11,200 stores, are active in 32 countries, and employ more than 310,000 people globally. In June 2015, they established their U.S. headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, and now sell their award-winning products in more than 100 stores in nine states across the East Coast.

Leg. Nick Caracappa makes a statement during the grand opening of Lidl in Selden

“I welcome Lidl to Selden, as their commitment to Long Island has been steadfast. I look forward to them servicing our community as well. What makes Lidl a welcome addition to Selden is its commitment to environmental responsibility, and its effort to support groups in addressing hunger,” said Legislator Caracappa.                                                    

“I welcome the new Lidl food market to Selden and encourage people to stop by. They are well known for discount prices and for their community outreach, and I look forward to working with them in the future to benefit the Selden residents. Congratulations and good luck in the new location,” added Councilman LaValle.  

Pictured in top photo, from left, are Linda Miller, President of the Selden Civic Association; Lenore Paprocky, President of Greater Middle Country Chamber of Commerce; Robert Pepe, Lidl Selden Store Manager; Leg. Caracappa; and Councilman LaValle. 

Lidl is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more information, call 844-747-5435 or visit www.lidl.com/contact-us.

Fans of White Castle’s iconic Original Sliders have a cause for celebration as the long-awaited renovation of the hamburger restaurant in Centereach is complete. Brookhaven Town Councilmen Kevin LaValle and Neil Foley attended the grand reopening and ribbon cutting ceremony at the 2201 Middle Country Road eatery on Dec. 3.

“White Castle has been a staple in Centereach and has continued to give back to the community for nearly 40 years. Congratulations and best of luck on your reopening,” said Councilman LaValle before presenting the store manager with a Certificate of Congratulations.

The Ohio-based company has more than 370 restaurants in 13 states. Like most of the chain’s other restaurants, the Centereach location offers a drive thru and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, satisfying the crave of White Castle fans morning, noon and night. While the restaurant does not deliver, they work with delivery partners  Uber, Door Dash, Grub hub.

For more information, call 631-467-3147 or visit www.whitecastle.com.

Photos courtesy of Councilman LaValle’s office

Brookhaven Town Councilman Kevin LaValle attended a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new 7-Eleven at 1545 Middle Country Road in Centereach on Oct. 30. The new location showcases the latest national interior decor, design and equipment including Bean to Brew coffee and espresso machines, flavored frozen lemonade, baked-in-store danish and cookies and more.

Hosted by the Greater Middle Country Chamber of Commerce, the event was also attended by Robert Martinez, Chief of Staff, 4th Legislative District, New York State Assemblyman Doug Smith, Thomas Lupo on behalf of Suffolk County Comptroller John Kennedy and members of the chamber and community. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the store’s grand opening community festivities have been postponed to a later date.

“It was my honor to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony [last Friday]. This property had been a deteriorating eyesore until 7-Eleven came in to redevelop it. I am happy to see so many new businesses opening up across the Middle Country corridor. Congratulations to the 7-Eleven team and best of luck with your new location!” said Councilman LaValle.

 

The Greater Middle Country Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony for Voodoo Crab in Centereach on Oct. 20.

Pictured from left, Robert Martinez, Chief of Staff, 4th Legislative District; Assemblyman Doug Smith; co-owner Scott He; Brookhaven Town Councilman Kevin LaValle; and Thomas Lupo on behalf of Suffolk County Comptroller John Kennedy.

The new restaurant, located at 1759-G Middle Country Road in the New Village Plaza shopping center, joins locations in Massapequa and Rockville Centre in offering New Orleans-inspired appetizers, cajun boil and fresh seafood dishes, and dessert.

The event was attended by members of the chamber as well as local, county and state officials who presented proclamations to co-owner Scott He and welcomed the business to the Middle Country community.

Hours for lunch are Monday through Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. and dinner hours are Monday to Thursday from 4:30 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 4:30 to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 9 p.m.

For more information, call 631-676-7007 or visit www.voodoocrab.com.

Photos from Councilman LaValle’s office

Photo from Councilman LaValle's office
Photo from Councilman LaValle’s office

Brookhaven Town Councilman Kevin LaValle (third from left) joined representatives of the Selden Civic Association the Suffolk County Police Department for the grand opening celebration of Texas Roadhouse in Selden on Sept. 1. The councilman presented the staff with a Certificate of Congratulations and wished them many years of success.

Construction began last fall at the former location of Ruby Tuesdays at 289 Middle Country Road at the corner of Route 83 in the Selden Plaza shopping center. The steakhouse is the third Texas Roadhouse on Long Island, joining the East Meadow and Deer Park eateries famous for its hand-cut steaks, ribs, freshly baked bread, made-from-scratch sides, bottomless peanuts and 15 different varieties of margaritas.

The 7,163 square-foot space is open Mondays to Thursdays from 3 to 10 p.m., Fridays from 3 to 11 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. For more information, call 631-496-3073 or visit www.texasroadhouse.com.

Town of Brookhaven Councilmen Neil Foley (R-Blue Point) and Kevin LaValle (R-Selden) joined the Lake Ronkonkoma Improvement Group and members of the community at Lake Ronkonkoma on Feb. 21 to cover graffiti and restore a popular mural painted on an old concrete retaining wall along the beach. The wall is one of the last remnants of a bygone era when grand pavilions lined the once-popular tourist destination. 

The mural, which depicts scenes that tell the story of the lake’s history, was originally painted by the LRIG in 2017. 

Between Jan. 31 and Feb. 2 vandals spray-painted obscenities and profane images on the mural, which is located along Lake Shore Road. Evelyn Vollgraff of the LRIG put out a rally cry and organized the cleanup. 

“It’s always amazing to work with the LRIG. The group is very proactive in addressing issues around the lake but when something like this happens they always react quickly and turn a negative situation into a positive one. I guess that’s what happens when you work with a group whose catchphrase is ‘Just get it done!’” LaValle said.

“It was great to see so many people come out to help restore the Lake Ronkonkoma mural. These people take pride in the community and are determined to keep it looking beautiful. Vandalism isn’t just mischief, it’s a crime that will not be tolerated anywhere in Brookhaven Town,” Foley said.

“I want to thank everyone who answered the call and helped to turn a bad situation into a group effort to make it better. That’s what this community is all about and I was proud to join in the cleanup of this beloved piece of Lake Ronkonkoma’s legacy,” LaValle added.

The police urge anyone who knows who committed this crime to call 800-220-TIPS (8477). All calls will be kept confidential.

Photos courtesy of LRIG

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.