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Councilwoman Jane Bonner

The Rocky Point Sound Beach Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the grand opening of Long Island Lending a Helping Hand, Inc. at 341 Route 25A in Rocky Point on August 2.

Guests who attended included Assemblywoman Jodi Giglio, Councilwoman Jane Bonner, Chamber President Gary Pollakusky and the RPSB Chamber board, the Girl Scouts, volunteers, local media and residents.

Long Island Lending a Helping Hand is a food pantry and resource center that helps provide assistance for families in need. They offer families and individuals school supplies, food, diapers, formula, clothing, furniture as well as other resources and support around the holidays.

Founder, Dawn Lang, said “In 2014, I realized that there was a real need in my local community. Many people “in need” have jobs, sometimes more than one, and are still struggling to get by sometimes having to make a difficult decision of whether to pay a bill or buy food / diapers. Some have family and friends to lean on but many others do not. That’s why I created…Long Island Lending a Helping Hand…we do our best to fill in the gap and help people who are in need.”

“We are so appreciative of founder Dawn Lang and Donna McCauley’s commitment to our community. It is with great pride that the chamber formally welcomes this brick & mortar Food Pantry and Resource Center to the community,” added Gary Pollakusky.

Operating hours are Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m, Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., closed Monday and Tuesday. For more information regarding Long Island Lending a Helping Hand, please visit www.lilahh.com.

On June 26, Councilwoman Jane Bonner held her first E-Waste Collection, Paper Shredding and Drug Take Back event of 2021 at the Rose Caracappa Senior Center in Mount Sinai. The event provided the opportunity for residents to safely dispose of unused electronic devices, have their old paper documents securely shredded, and to safely dispose of old prescription drugs.

This special recycling event was co-sponsored by DIME Community Bank. Members of the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department were also on-hand to accept the prescription drugs for disposal. Over 500 cars stopped by to recycle 21,780 lbs. of paper, 11,600 lbs. of e-waste and 15 boxes of unwanted prescription drugs for proper disposal.

“My first 2021 recycling event of the year was an overwhelming success. It’s great to know that we can provide a helpful alternative that allows the public to recycle right and dispose of unused or expired drugs in a safe manner. I thank the Sheriff’s Department for their participation and all the people who came out to help keep Brookhaven clean and green,” said Councilwoman Bonner.

Photo by Julianne Mosher

After months of waiting for its official unveiling, the Joseph P. Dwyer statue was celebrated by local, state and federal representatives in an emotional event to honor the man who lost his life for a serious cause. 

On Saturday, June 26, at 11 a.m., people gathered at Rocky Point Veterans Memorial Square on the corner of Route 25A and Broadway where a bronze memorial statue of the late combat medic now stands. 

Dwyer attended elementary school at Infant Jesus in Port Jefferson and graduated from Mount Sinai High School in 1994. As a young man, he enjoyed playing golf and going fishing with his friends and family. After he left high school, Dwyer moved to North Carolina with his parents and was employed at a local hospital where he transported people who needed medical treatment. 

Known by his family as a sensitive and caring person, he enlisted in the Army on Sept. 12, 2001, immediately after the attacks on the World Trade Center.

After training in Georgia, and a stint at Fort Bliss, Texas, he was deployed to Iraq in 2003. He replaced a single mother, so that she was able to remain home with her child and was one of the first soldiers to enter Iraq during the war.

Dwyer became famous when a photo was published of him carrying a young, injured Iraqi boy during a battle on March 25, 2003. Army Times photographer Warren Zinn saw the situation unfold and clicked away as Dwyer met the boy’s father — who carried a white flag and his injured son to the soldier, eventually bringing the 4-year-old to safety.

His sister, Kristine Dwyer, said at Saturday’s event when the photo came out, he was modest about being in the center of it. 

“He was proud of what he did,” she said, “But he’d always say to give credit to Clark, the man who saved the little boy’s life.”

She added that she believes the notoriety was hard for her brother. 

“I think the attention was hard for him,” she said. “He would say, ‘We’re all doing the same thing over there.’”

When he came home, he began to struggle. Diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, Dwyer became addicted to inhaling fumes from a computer cleaner aerosol. On June 28, 2008, at age 31, he overdosed accidentally, dying in North Carolina. 

Thirteen years from the date of his death, members from his family and officials honored Dwyer and the impact his death had on the veteran community. 

Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-NY1) became instrumental in helping fund the Dwyer Program — a peer-to-peer support program for veterans suffering from PTSD and traumatic brain injury. The program has received bipartisan support and is looking to go national.

Kristine said her brother would have been proud to know that his name now helps veterans across the country today.

“Something good came out of it,” she said. “Something now is here that he didn’t have, that he most likely would have been a part of, where they can feel comfortable and talk about what they saw. That’s so important to have other people say, ‘You know, me too.” He knew he was loved. His family loved him … but if only love was enough.”

The statue took years to complete and, with the help of Town of Brookhaven officials, it was finally finished earlier this year. Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) said the patch of land, which was deemed an eyesore, now is the home of a place where families can come together.

“One of the interesting things about this square is that it has become a reverent place for people to come and reflect,” she said. “You’ll find a memento from a family or a loved one in front of the flag from that branch of service.”

Bonner said the park’s purpose is to honor and pay respect to veterans past, present and future. 

“It’s to acknowledge that our veterans sit at home now and may not have obvious war injuries,” she said. “They have other injuries that you can’t see. And the foundations and the organizations, that provide health, counseling and services to those veterans so they can lead a full and productive life, deserve the biggest hat tip possible because there’s no greater service than the service to our country.”

Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) thanked the local VFW Post 6249 for their help in creating this sacred space. 

“Without their efforts, without their drive, the statute would not be standing here today,” he said. “Their vision has made this possible and, today, we honor the memory of man — we honor his service, we honor a program that helps our veterans that was named for him.”

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.

Port Jefferson’s East Beach after the sand dredging was completed this week. Photo by Gerard Romano

The decade-long, multimillion-dollar project to spruce up Mount Sinai Harbor and its jetties is finally looking more complete, as the dredging project was finalized this past week.

In November of last year, the Town of Brookhaven permitted Suffolk County to complete the dredging at a total cost of $2 million with close to 80,000 cubic yards of sand.

A shot from the dredging process last month. Photo by Gerard Romano

“This is just another project where the layers and layers and layers of government all the way up to the federal level worked together,” said Village of Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant. 

But the project is more than baskets of sand returning to the local shorelines. After many years of planning, both the east and west jetties in Mount Sinai Harbor were repaired in May 2020. For 10 years, both have been largely submerged at high tide, with water and sand leaking through breaks in the stones and settling into the mouth of the harbor. 

Garant added that after about 60 days, “basketfuls of sand” were brought back to Port Jefferson’s East Beach, which included sand from the postponed Stony Brook Harbor dredging project, to replenish the erosion caused throughout the years. 

“We’re just so thrilled to have our beach back,” she said. 

Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) said the completion of the project was a long time coming.

She said there were numerous issues with the jetties, the inlet and the harbor itself. 

“We rebuilt the fishing pier that has been subjected to numerous nor’easters, built two new jetties and a complete dredge of the beaches,” Bonner said. “I’m hopeful it lasts a long time.”

The same spot in 2018. Photo by Gerard Romano

In November, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers designated that most of the sand be primarily brought to the Port Jefferson side of the harbor. While Bonner admitted she hoped for an equitable split of sand, she’s happy that the goals of keeping recreational boaters and fishermen safe, while enhancing the North Shore’s water quality, have been achieved. 

“All levels of government have put a lot of money and resources into this project,” Bonner said. “It’s a win-win.”

It’s not completely done, though. Garant said the next phase is to repair the retaining wall going down the hill and revegetate the bluff. 

“It’s just an ongoing process of protecting our shoreline,” she said. 

From left, Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner, Suffolk Legislator Sarah Anker and Town Supervisor Ed Romaine join together Nov. 23 announcing the purchase of property for open space in Mount Sinai. Photo by Kyle Barr

Town of Brookhaven and Suffolk County officials are combining efforts and funds to protect 15 acres of wooded property in Mount Sinai. The land combines with previous purchases to save a total of nearly 60 acres of land from any potential development now or in the future.

The $1,653,300, 15 acres purchase, which was formerly owned by the Little Portion Friary in Mount Sinai, is in addition to 44.3 acres that had been acquired by both parties in 2014. The purchase was made based on a county bill passed in 2017.

“My hope is that purchasing this parcel will help protect the environmental integrity of the area and provide our community residents with another county park to visit and enjoy the natural beauty of Long Island,” Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said at a Nov. 23 press conference announcing the purchase. “We’re happy to see government at different levels working together — this is how you get things done.”

The county is picking up 75%, or $1,239,975 of the cost, while the town is covering 25%, or $413,325 of the total. The money used to purchase the land was taken from accounts meant to preserve open space. Officials said the property was at risk of being bought and developed on.

Anker added that with the current pandemic, the county has seen a rise in the number of people visiting parks and adding more land will only increase residents’ options. 

The now fully acquired 59.3 wooded acre lies over a groundwater aquifer and is within the watershed of the Long Island Sound national estuary, serving as a source of freshwater for the estuary system. 

Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said he was also happy to partner with Suffolk in such land preservation deals, as with the combined funds they have “the financial resources to ensure this happens.” The deal also means nobody can come in to develop on the property.

“We want Brookhaven town to look like Brookhaven town, and not like Queens,” he said. “The way we do that is by saving our groundwater, preserving our open spaces and having habitats for animals — along with all the things that are important to protecting our shoreline.”

Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) said the land holds a unique significance to her family. Her husband, John Sandusky, grew up in Mount Sinai and traveled those woods as a young man.

“We’ve seen a whole lot of development,” Bonner said. “Some of it good — most of it bad … the last thing Long Island needs is another housing development and more traffic.”

The Little Portion Friary, bordering the new land purchase, was bought by Hope House Ministries back in 2015 and is now being used to help people fight addiction.

Both county and town reps touted open space purchased using joint ventures between the two municipalities, including Cordwood Landing County Park in Miller Place and Heritage Park in Mount Sinai. The county has recently purchased other parkland in the local area, including Pine Lake in Middle Island and Chandler Estate in Mount Sinai.

The next step, Anker said, is to clean up some of the trails in the newly purchased parkland. 

From left. Wading River Fire Dept. Chief Branden Heller, Suffolk Count Legislator Sarah Anker, Fire Commissioner Joesph Moren, Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar, Fire Commissioner Kevin McQueeney, Covanta Huntington Facility Manager Ken Hinsch, Brookaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner, Fire Commissioner Jim Meier, Fire Commissioner Michael Harrigan, Fire District E.M.S. Supervisor Brian Danowski. Photo from Anker’s office

Local Electeds joined fire department members to celebrate a North Shore power plant for donating PPE during the height of the pandemic.

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) recently joined Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar, Brookhaven town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) and local fire department members at the Wading River Fire Department to thank and honor Ken Hinsch and Convanta Energy of Huntington for their donation of personal protective equipment to the Wading River, Ridge and Rocky Point Fire Departments during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Covanta Energy of Huntington’s donation included over 15 cases of Tyvek suits and N95 masks that were distributed to Wading River, Ridge and Rocky Point Fire Departments. The donation was estimated to be between $5,000- $6,000 in supplies.

“This pandemic has brought many challenges to our community, including the availability of much needed PPE for our emergency responders,” Anker said. “I am so thankful to Covanta and their Facility Manager, Ken Hinsch, for donating PPE to our local fire departments, and to our fire department

volunteers who have continued to protect and provide emergency services to our community members throughout the pandemic.” 

Covanta is a waste management company that regularly uses PPE. In April, Wading River Fire Commissioner Kevin McQueeny reached out to Covanta’s Facility Manager, Ken Hinsch, when the department was nearly out of the life-saving equipment. Ken Hinsch coordinated with the Wading River, Ridge and Rocky Point Fire Departments, donating several cases of Tyvek suits and N95 masks. A member of the Ridge Fire Department drove to the Huntington location to receive the initial donation, while the remaining donation was given to the Wading River Fire Department. The Wading River Fire Department then distributed a portion of the donation to the Rocky Point Fire Department. 

“The Board of Fire Commissioners, the Chief’s office and the volunteers of the Wading River Fire Department would like to thank Covanta Energy of Huntington and their Facility Manager, Ken Hinsch, for the generous donation of much needed PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Wading River Fire Commissioner Kevin McQueeney.

Highway Super Dan Losquadro and Councilwoman Jane Bonner on North Country Road in Miller Place. North Country Road has been repaved from Honey Lane to the entrance of the Miller Place elementary school. Photo from TOB highways

The Town of Brookhaven’s plan to redo the well-tread North Country Road is coming close to completion, with only a stretch in Sound Beach left for 2021. Officials said the last bit of work will depend on an extra $600K as part of this year’s proposed capital budget.

Town Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) and Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) announced the completion of three separate capital improvement projects, totaling more than $3.425 million on North Country Road from Miller Place to Rocky Point.

The initial phase of this project took place in 2019 when sidewalk, curbing and crosswalk improvements were constructed on North Country Road and Miller Place Road from the entrance to the Laddie A. Decker Sound Beach School to Echo Avenue. This phase was funded in part by a Multi-Modal grant secured by State Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) in the amount of $500,000, with the Town of Brookhaven contributing the $345,418 match. Also in 2019 and part of this project, crews worked to dredge the bottom of the Miller Place Duck Pond, lowering its level and improving its drainage and water quality, at a cost of $125,629.

The second phase of this infrastructure improvement project included the construction of new sidewalk, curbing, bike lanes, ADA-compliant handicap ramps, driveway aprons, drainage infrastructure, pedestrian crosswalks, benches, bike racks, and the resurfacing of North Country Road from Honey Lane to the entrance to the Laddie A. Decker Sound Beach School. This phase was funded in part by a New York State Department of Transportation “Transportation Alternatives Grant” for $1.159 million, with the Town of Brookhaven contributing the $751,580 match.

It’s not just the road surface, but all the other improvements that make their work so important for the people who use it every day, especially when school is in session,” Bonner said. 

The third phase of this project included the milling and paving of North Country Road from Washington Avenue in Sound Beach to NYS 25-A at the Miller Place/Rocky Point border which totaled $555,411.

To complete the North Country Road reconstruction project in Miller Place, Losquadro said he has included 600,000 in his proposed 2021 capital budget to install over 3,000 linear feet of drainage pipe and 14 drainage basins on North Country Road from Honey Lane to Pipe Stave Hollow Road to solve the significant water problems experienced along this stretch. Once the drainage infrastructure work is complete, the entire roadway from Pipe Stave Hollow Road to Honey Lane will be resurfaced, completing the three-year capital project.

“The capital improvement projects completed on North Country Road over the last two years have created safer pedestrian access for the students who walk to the middle and elementary schools; residents who walk, bike and jog in the area; and motorists,” Losquadro said in a release. “Once the final phase of drainage infrastructure work and resurfacing is complete next year, we will have resurfaced North Country Road from the Village of Port Jefferson border to Route 25A at the Rocky Point/Miller Place border.”

Local civic leaders have noticed the difference from before to where it is now.

“All the improvements that have been done so far have made the area safer and more aesthetically pleasing, especially given all the kids that do walk there,” Sound Beach Civic Association President Bea Ruberto said. “I know that the town is strapped now because of COVID-19, but I do hope that they are able to secure the funding needed to complete this really worthwhile project.”

Supervisor Ed Romaine (right) and Councilwoman Jane Bonner (left) met with Colleen Kelly on July 21 at Brookhaven Town Hall in Farmingville to congratulate her for winning First Prize in the Connecticut Fund for the Environment’s Save the Sound photo contest.

The winning photo (on right) was taken at the Town of Brookhaven’s Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai. A resident of Middle Island, Ms. Kelly is pictured with her son, Caedyn, who is her “photo assistant” and a frequent subject of his mother’s photographs. 

“Cedar Beach is a great location to shoot pictures and Colleen proved that with her stunning, prize winning photograph. It illustrates the need to do whatever we can to preserve and protect the Long Island Sound and our beautiful shoreline for everyone to enjoy,” said Councilwoman Bonner .

“I congratulate Colleen for her outstanding photograph and thank her for showing everyone just how beautiful our north shore landscape is. It also reinforces why we must take good care of the environment and encourage children like Caedyn to preserve our precious natural resources,” added Supervisor Romaine.

The mission of “Save the Sound” is to protect and improve the land, air and water of Connecticut and Long Island Sound. Visit www.savethesound.org for more info