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Councilman Sal Ferro

Town of Huntington officials held a press conference on Aug. 30.
Town Officials and Task Force Members announce purple flag initiative 

Huntington Town Officials were joined by elected officials and members of the Town of Huntington Opioid & Addiction Task Force at a press conference on August 30 to announce the return of “Huntington Goes Purple,” an initiative designed to raise awareness of the drug addiction crisis on Long Island and across the United States.

Town of Huntington officials held a press conference on Aug. 30.

Approximately one million Americans have died of a drug- or alcohol-related overdose since 1999, with a 30% increase in overdose deaths from 2019 to 2020. Some of the most prominent barriers to recovery include social stigma toward addiction and a lack of access to treatment options.

As part of this initiative, the Town of Huntington will fly purple flags on the front lawn of Town Hall and on lamp posts along New York Avenue and Larkfield Road in observance of National Recovery Month, which was created in 1989 in order to destigmatize the disease of addiction, promote evidence-based treatment, and celebrate the tens of millions of Americans in recovery.

“Huntington Goes Purple” was started in 2021 by Huntington resident Sharon Richmond, a member of the Town of Huntington Opioid & Addiction Task Force who donated the first set of flags for the inaugural program. This year, the program has expanded to Larkfield Road in East Northport with the support of the Northport-East Northport Community Drug & Alcohol Task Force, on which Richmond serves as President.

“This initiative allows us to preserve the memories of those we lost to addiction and pay tribute to the amazing social workers, mental health care professionals, and nonprofit volunteers who work tirelessly to support individuals in recovery.  “I am honored to help bring back ‘Huntington Goes Purple’ for its third year,” said Councilwoman Cergol.  “But, it is now time for me to pass the torch to my colleague, Councilman Sal Ferro, who will be the new Town Board liaison to the Town of Huntington Opioid & Addiction Task Force.

Town Officials further announced a series of Recovery Month events to be held in the Town of Huntington, including:

  • Wellness Walk for Recovery at Heckscher Park on September 9
  • Interfaith Community Forum on September 20 at the at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington
  • Celebration of Hope and Recovery at Old First Presbyterian Church on September 28

Following the announcements, Dr. Jeffrey L. Reynolds and Mary Silberstein, Co-Chairs of the Opioid & Addiction Task Force, spoke on the importance of educating the public on both the dangers of drugs and alcohol and where to locate treatment for substance use disorder.

Sharon Richmond closed the press conference by urging New York to follow the lead of the State of Illinois and mandate prevention and support education for all school age children.

“Together we show support for those individuals and families affected by mental health and substance use disorder,” she said. “Together we send the message: you are not alone.”

Individuals seeking support for substance use disorder are urged to call one of the following hotlines:

SAMHSA: 1-800-662-4357 (or text your ZIP code to 435748)

LICADD: (516) 747-2606 | (631) 979-1700

OASAS: 1-877-846-7369

Huntington councilmembers Joan Cergol and Sal Ferro, shown above on the right, hosted free Earth Day festivities at Manor Farm Park April 23 along with co-sponsors the Town of Huntington, Covanta and not-for-profit Starflower Experiences.

It was the first time the event was held at the park and included hands-on activities, raffles and giveaways. Activities included a marine touch tank operated by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County; an exhibit of formerly wild animals hosted by Volunteers for Wildlife; water chemistry and conservation demonstrations by the Town of Huntington Maritime Department; garden planting, composting, and beekeeping demonstrations by Starflower Experiences, and face painting and arts and crafts booths

All participants received a raffle ticket with the chance to win electric-powered landscaping equipment courtesy of a $2,500 donation from Covanta, including a string trimmer/leaf blower combo kit, a compost tumbler with a cart, a lawn mower, and a pressure washer. Several event attendees also took home a birdhouse courtesy of Love of Learning Montessori School in Centerport.

The town’s Planning Department distributed bare root tree saplings, provided by the Long Island Native Plant Initiative, to everyone in attendance, and volunteers from the Robert M. Kubecka Memorial Town Garden gave away vegetable and flower seedlings.

The event also provided free paper shredding, e-waste and medical pill disposal services.

Photo from Councilman Sal Ferro

Town of Huntington Councilman Sal Ferro recognized Elwood resident Charleen Francis before the February 1 Huntington Town Board meeting for her role in local Huntington history. Charleen and her siblings integrated the Elwood School District over 60 years ago. Charleen, a retired high school guidance counselor and principal, is currently a member of the Education Committee for the Huntington Chapter of the NAACP.

“Charleen is someone who spent most of her life helping others while being a role model to the kids in her school and community. I wanted to make sure she knew that we wanted to make a difference in her life, the way she made a difference in Long Island,” said Councilman Sal Ferro.

“I’m so very honored to have been recognized by Councilman Salvatore Ferro and the Town Council last night. It will be a fond memory and continued encouragement to keep moving forward in my efforts to shine a light on the contributions of my community in the past and in the future,” said Charleen on Wednesday.

Councilman Sal Ferro also announced that he would be reappointing Charleen to the Town’s African American Historic Designation Council.

Pictured in photo, from left, Charleen’s brother Lawrence King, Councilman Sal Ferro, Charleen Francis, Charleen’s sister in law Sandy Lane, Charleen’s brother retired Supreme Court Judge Howard Lane, and Charleen’s 97-year-old mother Hilda Lane.