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Ernestine Franco

Photo by Raymond Janis

Community members, first responders, civic leaders and elected officials gathered at the Sound Beach Veterans Memorial on Saturday, Oct. 22, in celebration of the life of Ann Moran.

She was born in Rockville Centre Jan. 14, 1943, and died on June 30 at age 79. Throughout her life she remained active in Sound Beach and the Rocky Point school district. Moran seemed to have made a lasting impression on those who knew her, whether as an educator, a teachers union president, a volunteer or a civic leader.

Dozens attended the memorial event, which featured the dedication of a bird bath at the park’s edge, a permanent marker honoring her lasting legacy of service to the community. 

Above, Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai). Photo by Raymond Janis

Sound Beach Civic Association, where Moran was longtime treasurer, hosted the event. Bea Ruberto, president of the civic, told a tale of the memories she shared with Moran over the decades they worked together. 

The civic president commented on the picturesque weather of the early afternoon: “Who doesn’t believe that Ann had something to do with this beautiful day?” 

Ruberto described Moran as “a force” whose abundant energy was devoted tirelessly to the betterment of her community. For this reason, the memorial celebration included several perspectives on her life.

“There is no one voice that can speak to how important Ann was to all of us, so a number of people are going to speak to that,” Ruberto said.

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) spoke of Moran’s contagious effect on her peers. “When one person touches another and inspires and encourages them to do good things in their community and good things to other people, it’s like a ripple in a pool, and it just keeps going,” the county legislator said. “Ann always seemed to start this ripple, and she will continue because we are here today celebrating her legacy.”

Above, Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point). Photo by Raymond Janis

Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) was also in attendance. She spoke of Moran’s professionalism and ability to keep a civil dialogue in the face of contention. 

“Ann was just cool, calm and collected,” Bonner said. “Even though we had opposite political philosophies, [we had] very respectful conversations, interesting conversations about life in general.” The councilwoman added, “She was a dynamo, a tiny, mighty person that never took ‘no’ for an answer.”

Following her remarks, Bonner delivered a special announcement. “Very few individuals get two days in the Town of Brookhaven, but today has been declared Ann Moran Day.” The other day in Moran’s honor is Sept. 12.

Susan Sullivan, a trustee of the Rocky Point school district board of education, described Moran’s impact as the district’s teachers union president. According to her, Moran led the union with a steady hand, representing the teachers firmly and holding her ground when necessary.

‘I was impressed by her strength, confidence and assertiveness — she stood down to no one.’

— Susan Sullivan

“She was a woman ahead of her time,” Sullivan said. “I was impressed by her strength, confidence and assertiveness — she stood down to no one.” Sullivan added, “She was respected by the administration, teachers, and [school-related professionals], which is a tribute to her ability to work respectfully with everyone.”

Moran served four terms as president of the Sound Beach Fire Department Auxiliary. Nancy Ford, trustee of the auxiliary, discussed Moran’s nearly three decades of contribution to this institution.

“She was a loyal member of our organization for 28 years,” Ford said. “As was her mission, she raised her hand to help with all of our events.” The auxiliary trustee added, “She worked on Military Bridge, getting donations for the fire department’s steak dinners, fire department anniversary celebrations, [which] were just some of the many ways that Ann helped out.”

Joseph Russo, at podium, right. Photo by Raymond Janis

Sound Beach civic member Ernestine Franco knew Moran for around 15 years. During that time, the two cultivated a close friendship. Responding to the turnout of the memorial celebration, Franco said Moran would have been delighted.

“I think she would have loved this today,” Franco said. Following Moran’s selflessness and commitment to service, however, Franco added, “There is only one thing she would have loved better: If she could be standing here and we could be honoring somebody else.”

Last to speak was Moran’s son, Joseph Russo. He told an endearing personal anecdote epitomizing the bond the two shared. Russo then thanked those who attended, honoring his mother’s legacy.

“I just want to thank you all for coming today on a nice, sunny day,” he said. He concluded, “Thank you, Mom.”

Graphic from the school district website

The Rocky Point Union Free School District Board of Education convened Monday, Oct. 17, for a public meeting.

Proceedings commenced with a brief presentation by the district superintendent, Scott O’Brien, recognizing school board appreciation month in the district. In his presentation, O’Brien discussed the vital work performed by school board members in educating students and advancing the community’s educational aims.

“School board members give Rocky Point citizens a voice in education decision-making,” he said. “Even though we make a special effort to show our appreciation this month, their contribution is certainly a year-round commitment.”

During the meeting, the board unanimously approved a resolution to accept the donation of posters by Sound Beach resident Ernestine Franco. These posters, valued at approximately $130, are related to diversity, equity and inclusion, colloquially known as DEI. 

“I am happy that the posters were accepted,” she said. “I hope that this means that the board supports inclusiveness.”

This poster donation comes on the heels of months of tension between the school board and some in the public after the board reversed its long-standing practice of accepting book donations. [See story, “Rocky Point BOE reverses practice on book donations, causes controversy,” The Village Beacon Record, Aug. 11, also TBR News Media website.]

Despite this recent history, Franco viewed the outcome of Monday’s decision as a positive step, signaling a possible cooling of tensions.

“We were also happy that they accepted the donation as a way for the community to participate in school activities,” she said, adding, “For us, this was a way for them to say, ‘Yes, you can be a part of this.’”

During the public comments portion of the meeting, Bea Ruberto, president of the Sound Beach Civic Association, shared news of an upcoming memorial event to be held at the hamlet’s Veterans Memorial Park. Scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 22, at 1 p.m., community members will celebrate the life of Ann Moran, a former teacher in the district and treasurer of the civic.

“This Saturday, we are holding a celebration of her life,” Ruberto said. “She was a force to be reckoned with, and she will be missed very much.” Ruberto invited those in attendance to join for Saturday’s service.

The BOE will reconvene on Monday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium.

File photo by Giselle Barkley

Tensions swelled inside the Rocky Point High School auditorium during a special meeting of the Rocky Point school district board of education on Thursday, July 28.

In early July, the board reversed its longstanding practice regarding book donations, deciding to no longer accept books from the public. The controversy centers around a June donation made by district parent Allison Villafane, who donated several books exploring themes dealing with sexuality, gender identity and race during Pride Month.

“This past June, in keeping with my past practice, I have donated books to promote diversity, equity and inclusion,” she told the board. “These books were best sellers, approved by the library here.”

In an interview, Villafane shared the list of the seven titles that were included in the donation, saying these books were intended to be spread out across different schools throughout the district depending upon age appropriateness. The titles are:

  • “Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race” by Margot Lee Shetterly 
  • “All Different and Beautiful: A Children’s Book about Diversity, Kindness, and Friendships” by Belle Belrose 
  • “Our Diversity Makes Us Stronger: Social Emotional Book for Kids about Diversity and Kindness” by Elizabeth Cole 
  • “Stamped (For Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You” by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
  • “The 1619 Project: Born on the Water” by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renée Watson 
  • “Pink Is for Boys” by Robb Pearlman 
  • “The List of Things That Will Not Change” by Rebecca Stead

Jessica Ward, president of the board of education, defended the decision. She said the board did not take its decision lightly and that all five members of the board had arrived at its determination together.

Ward told the public that the decision was motivated by a basic lack of expertise on how to evaluate children’s literature.

“None of us — the five of us on the board — are experts in children’s literature,” Ward said. “None of us has a master’s degree in library science … so we thought it would be best for all of our schools to allow our librarians, who are the experts in children’s literature, to populate their libraries and their catalogs with books of their choosing.”

Villafane detailed her past practice of donating materials, saying she has made several rounds of donations over the years as each of her four children has moved through the school district. In the past, Villafane has donated materials regarding food allergies. In other years, they would focus on promoting diversity or compassion.

She said this most recent donation is not a significant departure from her past practice. Because the books were already in circulation in various school libraries throughout the district, Villafane believed she was performing a service to the school by making the approved books more accessible.

Villafane suggested the board was applying an arbitrary standard to her donation, asking if the board would apply this same standard to the donations of gifts such as piano keyboards and trumpets.

Responding to these charges, Ward said that the board’s decision “wasn’t necessarily in response to the books that you donated. It was in response to all books.” 

She added, “Our current policy says … that we may accept gifts, grants … as well as other merchandise. If there was something else [such as] a musical instrument or some other educational or instructional item that you or someone wanted to donate, then we would take that on a case-by-case basis, but we are not taking any donations of books.”

Along with Villafane, other members of the public joined in their criticism of the board’s decision. Ernestine Franco, a resident of Sound Beach, said the board did not apply reason to its decision and that it failed to properly consider the consequences.

“If it was just a change of practice, then they did it very badly,” she said in an interview. “That’s what makes me think it was a political move.” She added, “Even if they wanted to do what they did, there had to be some logic to it and there wasn’t.”

Bea Ruberto, also a Sound Beach resident, concurred with this assessment, arguing the decision was a product of hasty decision-making and primarily motivated by the board members’ political preferences.

“I am convinced that it is political,” Ruberto said in an interview. “I am also convinced that for them to do that, they didn’t look at the practice they had in the past on how to deal with and accept book donations.”

Despite criticism from the public, there were others who responded favorably. One such individual, identified as “Ms. Sarlo” in the meeting’s minutes, defended the decision. According to her, it is best for the board not to consider these materials as there is no universal agreement on their content. 

“I think that the decision was the correct one because … not everybody agrees with all of the books,” she said. “There are so many more important things that we need to be talking about that the board could be spending time on instead of book donations.”

Franco disagreed with this assessment, suggesting that it minimizes the issues at stake and offers a convenient excuse for the board to rid itself of accountability.

“I think [Sarlo] was trying to validate what happened by saying it wasn’t important,” Franco said, adding, “But what’s important, at least to me, is not the book but what the book stands for, which is education. … Instead of opening up to a very diverse atmosphere, they’re trying to close up the atmosphere to what kids are going to be exposed to.”

Villafane suggested that the board’s new practice on book donations violates common sense. She believes the board can correct course by adopting a new policy allowing the acceptance of books for titles that are already in circulation.

“It’s not rocket science,” she said. “There is a database of books that have been approved for distribution at various grade levels, so as long as the book you want to donate is within that system, you should feel free to donate it.”

The Rocky Point board of education will reconvene on Monday, Aug. 29, at 7 p.m., where deliberations on book donations are likely to continue.

Members of the Sound Beach Civic Association during this month’s meeting. Photo by Julianne Mosher

During Sound Beach Civic Association’s recent meeting, a local resident was recognized for her community service and drive to help others. 

Ernestine Franco was honored by Leg. Sarah Anker. Photo by Julianne Mosher

On Saturday, Oct. 9, civic association member Ernestine Franco was surprised during the meeting when Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) approached her with a county proclamation.

“I love your dedication to our well-being, while staying so humble,” Anker told Franco. “I’ve had a lot of folks that did not want to get any type of recognition. They see that as selfish, but actually it is a selfless way of being because you’re looking at other people, you’re trying to help other people and you inspire — you’re one of my inspirations.”

While working with the civic, Franco was instrumental in creating and publishing a local cookbook, “Signature Dishes of Sound Beach and Beyond,” for fundraising for a tribute to the frontline and essential workers of the COVID-19 pandemic at an adopted spot the civic takes care of on New York Avenue.  

“Sound Beach would not be the beautiful, great place that it is if it were not for you,” Anker said.

Girl Scouts, Girl Scout alumnae and volunteers will once again help out at the event. Image courtesy of Jenn Intravaia Photography

By Ernestine Franco

I never need a reason to eat pancakes. In case you do, head over to the 4th annual Butterfly Breakfast for a Cure at Applebee’s, 355 Route 25A in Miller Place on Saturday, Oct. 13 at 8 a.m. and eat pancakes to help find a cure for the worst disease you’ve probably never heard of: epidermolysis bullosa. Young people who suffer from this disease are called “butterfly children” because their skin is so fragile it blisters or tears from friction or trauma. This rare genetic disease affects 1 out of every 20,000 births in the United States. Currently, there is no treatment or cure.

Proceeds from this fundraiser will support DEBRA of America, an organization that provides assistance and education to families with children born with this genetic condition.

Rocky Point resident Donna McCauley is often associated with this event, but it is her daughter, Kelly, who is the driving force for this fundraiser. “It all started when I was a junior in High School with this out of the world idea to host a fundraiser and create more awareness for the disease that affects both my mom and my uncle. Doing this event every year is just a small act that I can do to repay my mom for showing me what being strong is like, and not letting ANYTHING bring you down,” said Kelly.

 As in the past, former and current members of Donna McCauley’s Girl Scout troop will volunteer their time as servers for the breakfast. In addition to a breakfast of pancakes, sausage, scrambled eggs and a beverage (coffee, tea, juice or soda), there will be a raffle auction with fantastic prizes. So come and “enjoy a short stack for a tall cause.”

Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for children 10 and under. Tickets can be purchased online at www.debra.org/butterflybreakfast. To pay by check, email Donna at [email protected] For more information, please call 631-821-6740.

Civic association event renamed to honor animal lover and friend

Gina Mingoia performed in concert at this year’s Pet Adopt-A-Thon in honor of her father, Sal, who passed away in 2017.

By Ernestine Franco

In 2012, the Sound Beach Civic Association hosted its first pet adopt-a-thon. Fast forward six years and the event is still going strong, fulfilling its goal of encouraging responsible pet ownership and providing a venue for local rescue groups to get animals adopted. The event will be held on Saturday, Sept. 22, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., in the Hartlin Inn parking lot, 30 New York Ave., Sound Beach, across from the Post Office.

Mela, Fuji and Dooly will be at the Pet Adopt-A-Thon on Sept. 22.

For five years two people made this event special — Sal and Gina Mingoia, a father-daughter team who donated their time and musical talents. In 2015 Sal was diagnosed with cancer. In 2016, although often in pain, when he heard the event was on, he said he and Gina would be there. In 2017 Sal passed away. A gentle, caring soul loved by all, the many people whose lives he touched could be seen in long lines along the roadway the day of the funeral holding their hands over their hearts. Although he’s gone, Sal’s kindness and generosity are not forgotten. 

To honor his life as well as his great love for animals, the civic is proud to announce a change in the name of its annual pet adoption event to The Sal Mingoia Pet Adopt-A-Thon. Gina will be performing this year without her dad. She said, “it was my dad’s and my favorite gig,” and she wouldn’t miss it. 

The animal welfare groups participating in this event take unwanted, abandoned, abused or stray animals and care for them until loving homes can be found. Some will bring adoptable pets, others will have information on adoptable pets as well as responsible pet care. Taking part this year will be The Adoption Center, Town of Brookhaven Animal Shelter, Grateful Greyhounds, Last Chance Animal Rescue, Long Island Bulldog Rescue, Long Island Rabbit Rescue, North Fork Country Kids, Paws Unite People, Save-A-Pet, STAR Foundation, Strong Island Animal Rescue Group and Suffolk County SPCA. 

Romeo will be at the Pet Adopt-A-Thon on Sept. 22.

There will be lots of great raffle auction prizes — donations still being accepted — and a 50/50, with all proceeds going to the participating animal welfare groups. Bring your children for face painting and making pet ear bands with Marissa Renee. Bring your pet and have Brianna draw a digital caricature of your “furever” friend. And, of course, come and meet your new best friend. A shelter cat or dog is waiting for you.

Pictured are a trio of siblings at Last Chance Animal Rescue that know they’re adorable! They love to be held and cuddled and love dogs and kids. Stop by and help Mela, Fuji and Dooly find a happy ending!

Meet Penny and Polo, two 7+-year-old poodles at Save-A-Pet waiting for their forever home. Their elderly owner is ill and can no longer care for them. If you’re looking for a sweet, gentle dog consider adopting either one or both. All they need is love.

Also pictured is Romeo, a fun and affectionate boy at the Town of Brookhaven Animal Shelter. If you’re looking for a partner who will play ball with you for hours and enjoy going for long walks with you, Romeo is your boy. He is about 9 years young and is vaccinated, neutered, microchipped and heartworm negative. Also at the town shelter is Brownie — what a cutie he is!

Lance will be at the Pet Adopt-A-Thon on Sept. 22.

Four melt-in-your-arms kittens with Strong Island are currently in a foster home but desperately need forever homes. They have all been spayed/neutered and vaccinated, are FIV/FeLV negative and are dewormed. They love people and are looking for families of their own. 

Meet Lance and Jackson at The Adoption Center. Lance is a 3-month-old blue heeler mix and Jackson is a 2-year-old Australian shepherd mix. Anyone would be lucky to call either of these cuties their furever friend.

Whether you’re looking to adopt, would like to support the great work of animal welfare groups or just want to have a family-friendly fun day in Sound Beach, stop by.

Admission is free and all are welcome. For more information call 631-744-6952 and remember, Save A Life — Adopt A Pet.

The Sound Beach Veterans Park memorial

By Ernestine Franco

A few weeks ago, Ann Moran, a member of the board of the Sound Beach Civic Association, was getting the Sound Beach Veterans Park’s garden ready for its upcoming Memorial Day celebration when she noticed something she had never seen before.

On the horizontal slab of the granite stone that displays the plaques of the seven fallen veterans of Sound Beach, someone had left two coins in front of each plaque, two quarters to be exact, and she wondered why. Moran knew that people sometimes leave a small stone on a headstone in a cemetery to indicate that they had been there but had no idea what it meant to leave a coin. When she stopped by the park a few days later someone had left a number of long-stemmed red roses in front of every plaque next to the coins.

When she told me about the coins, I was moved and knew it meant something to the person who left them there — but what? In an effort to understand this ritual, I decided to do some research.

People have been leaving small items on or near the graves of loved ones for a very long time. Excavations of even the earliest graves have uncovered goods meant to serve the deceased in the next world, such as pottery, weapons and beads.

Coins have been around since the late seventh century B.C., and as societies began using monetary systems, the practice of leaving currency at grave sites began as yet another way of equipping the dear departed for the afterlife.

Mythologies of different cultures added specific reasons for coins being left with the dead. In Greek mythology, Charon, the ferryman of Hades, required payment for his services. A coin was therefore placed in the mouth of the dear departed to ensure Charon would ferry the deceased across the river Styx and into the world of the dead rather than leave him or her to wander the shore for a hundred years. Although it is unclear when and why this started, in England and the United States  pennies were routinely placed on the closed eyes of the dead.

 

Coins left on the headstone of Ann Moran’s late husband

Leaving a coin is meant as a message to the deceased soldier’s family that someone has visited the grave to pay respect. Which coin is left on the headstone seems to symbolize different things. Leaving a penny at the grave means simply that you visited. A nickel indicates that you and the deceased trained at boot camp together, while a dime means you served together in some capacity. By leaving a quarter at the grave, you are telling the family that you were with the soldier when he or she died.

Traditionally, the money left at graves in national cemeteries and state veterans cemeteries is eventually collected, and the funds are put toward maintaining the cemetery or paying burial costs for indigent veterans.

In the U.S., this practice became common during the Vietnam War, due to the political divide in the country over the war. Leaving a coin was seen as a more practical way to communicate that you had visited the grave than contacting the soldier’s family, which could devolve into an uncomfortable argument over politics relating to the war. Some Vietnam veterans would leave coins as a “down payment” to buy their fallen comrades a beer or play a hand of cards when they would finally be reunited.

All the coins that Moran found at the memorial park were quarters. Because the veterans honored there died in action between 1942 and 2005, she knew the coins could not mean that the person who left them was with the soldier when he passed. She knew it was a sign of homage and remembrance. 

This past week she went to Calverton National Cemetery to visit the grave of her husband Matt and she left a nickel and a dime — one to remember him and one to just say hello. She did remove the coins at the Sound Beach park and put them in the civic association’s fund for upkeep at the Veterans Park.

We all remember the day that a friend or family member died and we mourn their passing. Memorial Day is the national day of mourning when we as a nation, as a people, remember those who have died to preserve our freedoms. 

Small tokens are left by visitors for no greater purpose than to indicate that someone has visited that particular grave. When visiting the grave of a good friend buried at Calverton, I left a tiny statue of a bunny at her grave for no other reason but that she loved bunnies.

A close-up of the roses and coins left at the memorial.

Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) expressed her feelings about Memorial Day by saying, “For 150 years, America has paused on Memorial Day and honored those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our liberty. These brave souls truly defined what a hero is: someone who has given his or her life for something bigger than themselves. It’s a day to mourn their loss and honor their sacrifice, but also to thank God that such men and women have lived.”

A remarkable scene around Memorial Day at grave sites of men and women who have died for our country is the placement of American flags at each grave by Scouts at national cemeteries throughout the U.S. Sound Beach resident Nancy Ford, whose daughter Katie is now in the Air Force Reserves, places another kind of flag at Calverton each year in remembrance of her husband Jim, who served in the Air Force and was in the Sound Beach Fire Dept. Ford said, “Placing a fireman’s flag each year helps to renew my sense of patriotism in Jim’s military service.”

So this Memorial Day, if you visit a soldier at a national cemetery or a family member at a local cemetery, if you place a flag by the grave site, if you position flowers in front of the headstone, if you leave a memento that meant something special to the person buried there, or if you simply leave a coin, know that you are part of a tradition that remembers and honors the person buried there as well as lets family members know that someone has visited, that the person is  remembered. 

The traditions of a people are born from and nurtured by history. History remembers and safeguards the traditions that make up the spiritual center of a people. We follow them because somehow these rituals connect us with our past and link us to our future.

Ernestine Franco is a member of the Sound Beach Civic Association and a proofreader at Times Beacon Record News Media.

All photos by Ann Moran

In a July 2017 tweet, U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin insisted he’d ‘married up’ when his wife Diana asked him to take their date to the shooting range. Photo from Twitter

By Ernestine Franco

We’ve seen a number of letters in this paper where you [U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley)] expound on all the great things you’ve done for your district. However, it seems to me that you either have forgotten
about or don’t want us to know some of your votes and issues you’ve supported, especially relating
to gun control.

The horrific events at the Parkland high school in Florida happened because a 19-year-old was able to walk into the school with an AR-15-style rifle, which he legally bought, and murder 17 people. Some of the children who survived the shooting, the deadliest school shooting since Sandy Hook, are speaking out: “How are we allowed to buy guns at the age of 18 or 19? That’s something we shouldn’t be able to do,” Lyliah Skinner, a student who survived the shooting, told CNN.

Beginning with the attack at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999, life for many of our children has become about practicing active shooter drills and huddling through lockdowns. So I have to wonder about your position on gun control. I question whether you care about what many children now have to deal with when they go to school.

On Jan. 14, 2014, after the Newtown massacre, in a letter to the New York State Senate, you wrote, “This debate should be even more focused on targeting illegal guns and providing maximum assistance to New Yorkers with mental illnesses in order to most directly avoid another tragedy like Newtown. Our focus …  has to be providing people in need of mental health care more access to help. Society as a whole also needs to better understand mental illness and develop improved means of detecting potential violence long before it can become a threat to anyone else.”

So it seems you believe the solution to some of these mass shootings is that we need to better detect problems with the mentally ill rather than ensure that people with mental illness cannot buy a gun? Then please explain why you voted “yes” on the bill to nullify the Obama-era rule that prohibited people with severe mental health issues from purchasing guns?

Granted there was lots of evidence that the shooter’s behavior should have triggered alarm in those around him, but it is unclear whether recognizing and trying to deal with the signs would have changed what this young man wanted to do that day. However, it is clear that if he couldn’t buy an AR-15, he more than likely could not have been able to kill 17 people. So, I ask you, will you support a ban on assault-style weapons?

The day after the school shooting in Florida, in a Facebook post, you expressed sympathy for the victims and their parents. Taking President Donald Trump’s lead, however, you never used the word “gun,” as if the carnage were just about the person.

According to MoveOn.org, you have received $33,732 from the National Rifle Association. So, here, I have to again wonder whether your views on gun control have more to do with gun sales than with gun rights. The majority of Americans, even most gun owners, as well as the majority of Republicans, support enhanced background checks as well as a ban on assault-style weapons. Why don’t you? Is it about the money you can get from the NRA rather than what most people want? What’s more important to you: That anyone, even someone who is mentally ill, should be able to buy an AR-15 or ensuring that our children are kept safe?

On Dec. 6 you co-sponsored H.R. 38 — the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017. This act authorizes someone who holds a concealed-carry permit issued in one state to carry a concealed firearm in any state that also authorizes concealed carry of firearms. This bill overrides federal law concerning the concealed carry of a firearm into a school zone or onto a federally owned property.

In case I have misrepresented any of your positions, and if you are really committed to keeping our children — and your own — safe, how about holding an in-person  town hall meeting so we can
discuss these issues?

Ernestine Franco is a Sound Beach resident and proofreader for TBR News Media. She is also a member of the Sound Beach Civic Association.

By Ernestine Franco

Why does a generally rational society drag a sleeping groundhog out of his hibernation burrow to learn how much more winter is to come? Don’t we have calendars? Don’t we have memories of what has happened in previous years? Don’t we have the Weather Channel?  Let’s consider how all this happened.

Sound Beach Susie enjoying a carrot. Photo by Ernestine Franco

According to Charles Panati’s “Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things,” the groundhog (also called a woodchuck or whistle pig) is not really interested in how long winter is. Looking for a mate or a good meal are the actual reasons that determine a groundhog’s behavior when it emerges in winter from months of hibernation.

Quite simply, if on awakening a groundhog wants some company or is famished, he will stay aboveground and search for a mate and a meal. If, on the other hand, these appetites are still dulled from his winter slumber, the groundhog will return to the burrow for a six-week doze. Weather has nothing to do with it.

Folklore about the animal’s shadow originated with 16th-century German farmers. However, the German legend did not rely on a groundhog. Rather, the farmers relied on a badger. (Happy Badger Day?) The switch from badger to groundhog did not result from mistaken identity. German immigrants who settled in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, in the 19th century found that the area had no badgers. It did, however, have hordes of groundhogs, which the immigrants conveniently fitted to their folklore.

Weather did play one key role in the legend. At Punxsutawney’s latitude, a groundhog emerges from its hibernating burrow in February, again looking for company or food. Had the immigrants settled a few states south, where it’s warmer, they would have found the groundhog waking and coming aboveground in January. In the upper Great Lakes region, the cold delays its appearance until March. Thus, it was the latitude where the German immigrants settled that set Groundhog Day as Feb. 2.

German folklore dictated that if the day was sunny and the groundhog (badger) was frightened back into hibernation by its shadow, then farmers should refrain from planting crops, since there would be another six weeks of winter weather. Scientific studies have squashed that lore. The groundhog’s accuracy in forecasting the onset of spring, observed over a 60-year period, is a disappointing 28 percent —   although, in fairness to the groundhog, the estimate is no worse than that of a modern weather forecast.

So Groundhog Day has become part of American culture. The official groundhog that gets yanked out of its burrow is Punxsutawney Phil, named for the town where the German immigrants settled. Thousands of people and the national media cover poor Phil’s treatment. And let us not forget there is the film, “Goundhog Day,” which is enjoyed by many people year after year after year.

Many other states celebrate their own groundhog. In New York we have Staten Island Chuck, Dunkirk Dave, Malverne Mel and Holtsville Hal, whose sleep is interrupted at the Town of Brookhaven’s Wildlife and Ecology Center in Holtsville.

For me, I recently had my own groundhog, whom I called Sound Beach Susie (shown in the accompanying  photo eating a carrot), take up residence in my backyard. But I did not bother her in February. I waited until late spring when she brought her five babies out in the open. I had very interesting encounters with them when she allowed me to feed them all for a few weeks. They particularly liked carrots, broccoli and romaine lettuce. They did not like celery, asparagus or zucchini.

So Happy Groundhog Day, no matter how or when you celebrate it!

By Ernestine Franco

The Sound Beach Civic Association brought together a number of health professionals at a health and wellness expo Oct. 21.

At the health fair, professionals were on hand to provide blood pressure screenings, nutritionists discussed how to live a healthier life, representatives from the police department collected unused and unwanted medication and the Sound Beach Fire Department provided tips for calling 911 in case of an emergency

Participants, screeners and presenters participating in the even included: The Chiropractic Joint, The Community Growth Center, Ear Works Audiology, Echo Pharmacy,
Harbor View Medical Services, John T. Mather Memorial
Hospital, the LI Chapter of NYC + PANDAS/PANS Awareness Group and NY PANS Awareness Group, North Shore Youth Council, Rite Aid, Santi Yoga Community, Senior Callers, Suffolk Center for Speech,  Suffolk County Health Department, Suffolk County Police Department’s 7th Precinct., Wellness and Chiropractic Solutions and Young Living Essential Oils.

Patty Pulick, a Sound Beach resident, said she absolutely loved the health fair.

“The various tables were very informative,” she said. “I got my sugar checked, learned about healthy alternatives and discussed hearing issues. It was great that the SCPD was there so I could dispose of my unused medications. I hope they have it again.”

Civic association president Bea Ruberto extended her gratitude to BPN Home Improvement Inc., Echo Pharmacy, Harbor View Medical Services, John T. Mather Memorial Hospital, Matt’s One Stop, Pern Editorial Services, Schwamb Plumbing and Heating and St. Charles Hospital, who sponsored the event.

“I would also like to give a special thank you to all the volunteers who worked tirelessly to coordinate this event, as well as Bonnie Boeger, a Coldwell Banker residential broker who provided water,” Ruberto said. “As everything else we work on, it’s the generosity of the people in the Sound Beach community that made this event possible.”