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Eye on the Street

File photo by Samantha Rutt

By Samantha Rutt

As Mother’s Day rolls around, TBR News Media took to the streets throughout our coverage area, asking locals what this special day means to them.

It’s a day which makes people remember the importance and significance of mothers in their life, and to express love, appreciation and gratitude toward mother figures for their unconditional love, support and sacrifices. TBR wants to know, “What does Mother’s Day mean to you?”

Seema Pandya, Smithtown

Seema Pandya, Smithtown

I think it means the honoring and passing of traditions and wisdoms of mothers to mothers to mothers. Usually, I spend time with my kids, calling my parents and wishing them well.

I used to work at a restaurant in Colorado and for Mother’s Day they would make chocolate-filled buns with raspberries and they looked like breasts! They were so clever. It was a bun with a chocolate areola and a raspberry for the nipple — they were so good!

Jordan Mahmood, Stony Brook

Jordan Mahmood, Stony Brook

Mother’s Day is a day to appreciate my mom for what she does. She is a single mom and she literally means the world to me and my family. Each year we celebrate by spending time together and doing whatever it is she wants to do — it’s really nice spending time with my mom.

Tyler Stephenson-Moore, Queens

Tyler Stephenson-Moore, Queens

I love my mom a lot. Mother’s Day to me is just like the day-to-day stuff, acknowledging all the sacrifices she’s made, honoring her for everything she has done for me. 

Usually, I’ll go to Queens to see her with cards and flowers.

Rubens Meza-Henderson, Centereach

Rubens Meza-Henderson, Centereach

The United States was the country that enacted this holiday. I can say that because before the enactment, nobody cared about that — but now many countries in the world follow the U.S. example. 

Typically, because I am in the restaurant business, every Mother’s Day I work. This year is going to be an exception. Mother’s Day is a very special holiday because we honor the person who has the privilege to carry life in their womb, we were born through that person, honoring that act is very important.

I do believe in the Bible and one of the commandments says that you have to honor your parents. The Bible encourages you to honor your father and mother and there are many ways to honor them. One way is behaving well and another is through words — you have to express your gratitude. I was with my mother a couple of weeks ago in South America. She was a little sick, but she’s well now. I took time off to go see her, to honor and love my mother.

Jen and Jillian Dunn, Setauket

Jen and Jillian Dunn, Setauket

On Mother’s Day, Jillian values time well spent with mom Jen: “I really don’t get to spend too much time with her, so just being able to see her is a gift — that is what is most important to me.” Jillian usually takes her mom out to lunch and goes for a nice walk through one of their favorite spots, Avalon Nature Preserve.

 Jen loves to spend time with her family on Mother’s Day: “This year my son is graduating that weekend, so we will take a trip down to see him.” On a typical year, Jen and her family like to celebrate with a daytime activity like a drive out east or a day exploring local farm stands. “One of my favorite things is picking out flower flats and the kids will help me plant them.” 

Steve Frederico, Stony Brook

Steve Frederico, Stony Brook

My mother has passed and there isn’t a day that I don’t think about her. But on Mother’s Day we always commemorate her. 

I seem to quote her unconsciously — she had these infamous sayings, like, “It’s a great life if you don’t weaken.” 

Stephanie Moncavage, Coram

Stephanie Moncavage, Coram

I love my mom. We spend the day golfing and then my sister and I will make her a nice dinner — of mom’s choice of course.

By Carolyn Sackstein

The end of the year is a time for reflection. 

To round out 2023, TBR News Media took to the local streets throughout our coverage area, asking locals to nominate a Person of the Year. Responses ranged from family members to artists to local and world leaders.

As we all contemplate our lives and look toward the future, we offer the following responses as a starting point for reflection.

— Photos by Carolyn Sackstein


Jason Woreth, Poquott

Woreth said he nominates “my wife, Jessica. She can do everything. She’s a superhero.”



Michael Gravino, Port Jefferson

Gravino nominates his daughter, Amy Louise Gravino. He said, “She has Asperger’s syndrome. When she was in high school, we were told don’t waste your money with college. She has a master’s degree now. She’s a success story.”


Julie Grosjean,  France and Setauket

“I nominate my mother, Anne. She is the best woman in the world. She does a lot of things for me.”


Adam Aliberti, Setauket

When asked to nominate some-one as person of the year, Aliberti said, “Steven Englebright,” Suffolk County Legislator-elect for the county’s 5th District. “He was an assemblyman for years. He’s done wonders for the Setauket area.”


Lisa Parker, Coram

Parker was enthusiastic in her support for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. “He’s doing everything he can for his people,” she said. “He is trying so hard to give his people and country freedom. He deserves it.”


Ileana Toribio, Port Jefferson

Toribio stopped walking her dog to speak of having lost her father, Isaac Toribio, in February. She said, “He passed suddenly, out of nowhere. I was always a daddy’s girl. He has been in my spirit all day, every day this year. I would like to nominate him for his spirit and everything he did to contribute to our family.”

Nancy and Brian Wegenaar, East Setauket

Nancy Wegenaar wished to nominate actor Maurice Benard, who plays the character Sonny Corinthos on “General Hospital.” This was not a matter of simple fandom. Nancy said, “He wrote a book about bipolar disorder, ‘Nothing General About It: How Love (and Lithium) Saved Me On and Off General Hospital.’ Our son, Travis, suffered and passed away from that at age 34. I read [Benard’s] book, and it helped me very much. He helped me through the loss of my son. He spends a lot of time online soothing people.” Her husband added, “He, Benard, is a big advocate for treatments of bipolar disorder.”

Brian Wegenaar wanted to add Father Frank Pizzarelli to their nomination. Brian said, “Father Frank, Hope House and Little Portion Friary helped us dealing with our son Travis. They gave us a lot of counseling and hope to move on from it and helped us understand the disease. He, Father Frank, has helped our family and the community. Father Frank is a saint.”

Chris Haydon, West Islip

Haydon agreed with Time magazine’s selection of Taylor Swift as Person of the Year. He said, “I followed her career from the early days. She is very talented. She’s a great businesswoman. She is wholesome. She gives back to the community.”


Anthony Tallini, Coram

Tallini nominates his mother as Person of the Year. “She does everything for everyone,” he said. “She’s very helpful. She doesn’t ask for much in return. My mother is taking care of my dad, who’s going through some medical issues.”

Louise Stagg, Port Jefferson

“I nominate my son, Jeffery Stagg. He’s very generous, a real family man. He’s a good provider and a good husband.”

Photo by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay
By Carolyn Sackstein

Between Friday, Oct. 13, and Sunday, Oct. 15, visitors to the North Shore were asked if the six straight weekends of rain had prompted any alterations to their recreation plans or other impact on their lives.

Last Saturday, Oct. 14, was so rainy that outdoor interviews were conducted under an awning, a beachside gazebo and two people followed into the shelter of the Port Jefferson Library. 

Most respondents were sanguine about the recent foul weather, taking the bad with the good.

Judy Spina, Pennsylvania

Spina was here house-sitting for her sister. When asked if she had altered her activities due to the rain, she cheerfully said, “No, I have not. I drove here in the rain two Fridays ago. I just continue to do what I do.”



Joseph Lubrano, Shirley

Lubrano came to Port Jeff Sunday on his motorcycle. “We’re bikers, so yes, we don’t really go out in the rain,” he said. “Any time you have a nice day, like a weekend day — like a Sunday that’s beautiful — we go out. Normally, we would have gone upstate many times, but we don’t do it anymore. The weather has been terrible upstate, too.”

Bruce Folz, Coastal Steward Long Island

Folz, director of the Shellfish Restoration Program for the Coastal Steward Adopt a Beach Program, was manning registration for the beach cleanup that was scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 14. He said rain had reduced the number of participants and, because they were short staffed, Folz could not drive along the shore picking up large debris with his truck. 

“This time of year, we usually have between 20 to 50 people, depending on which service organizations [volunteer] — from the schools to people looking for community service credits. Churches do it also,” he said. “Normally, we have a bigger turnout than this.”

Mary Leming, Stony Brook

On Saturday afternoon, people ran from their cars into the Port Jefferson Free Library. Leming, who teaches a weekly citizenship class, agreed to relate her experiences with this season’s rain. 

“Yes, I have altered my routine because of the many straight days of rain,” she said. “I teach a class at the Port Jeff Library. I like to park by the harbor and walk up to the library.”

But, she added, “With this rain, I don’t get my walk in. I park in the [library] lot. After class, I go straight home and make a hot cup of tea. I have been waiting a month to get my mailbox repaired. The handyman can’t come with all this rain. That’s OK, the garden needs rain.”

Marilyn Haftel, Philadelphia 

Haftel was in town celebrating a confirmation. She said, “We know we need the rain, but we are very happy to see the sun today. We are here visiting, and we can walk around, visit our friends and enjoy this lovely town.” When asked if she had to cancel any activities this summer, she replied, “Where we live, yes — nothing outside. Nothing big, fortunately.”

Sharon Barnes, residence unidentified

Barnes teaches knitting and crochet arts at the library on Saturday afternoons. She said, “Over the last 12 to 15 years, I have a very good group of women.” We asked how the rain had impacted this class besides raining on supplies and materials being carried into the course. Barnes replied, “It has impacted how I dress. I don’t want to be drenched, yet when I put on too much, I get too hot. It’s depressing — it’s been 40 days and 40 nights. I have one student who does not come out when it rains. We are all looking forward to seeing her again, but it is raining and she can’t do it.”

From left, Danny Amron of Florida, Johanna Rennert of Massachusetts, Alexa Whitman of New Jersey, Katie Metis of Queens and Alice Kilkelly of New Jersey

Syracuse University Sailing Team

Also on Saturday morning, the Syracuse University club sailing team was huddled under a gazebo next to the Port Jefferson Yacht Club, waiting for the wind to increase. Johanna Rennert, whose home is in Massachusetts, said, “We will sail in the rain.”

However, Danny Amron, who’s from Florida, explained, “The wind is only at 3 miles an hour, and that is just not enough to move the Js,” — meaning the model of boat they use — “They’ll just bob in the water.” 

When asked if any sailing competitions had been canceled due to the recent storms, Alexa Whitman, from New Jersey, smiled and said excitedly, “Last weekend, there was a whole squall going through. I was sailing out of Larchmont, New York. It was the Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta. There was absolutely no wind at the beginning of the day. It was downpouring the entire time but, at the end, a cold storm went through. It clocked out at 41 knots. It was crazy, but we still went out in it. It was miserable, but we did our best. There were boats that almost flipped. The boats we were in are not supposed to flip. We were in a J/99. I watched one boat whose mast almost touched the water. They had to throw down their spinnaker, they had to dump the whole thing. It was bad.”

James Liffey

By Carolyn Sackstein

TBR News Media headed to the Port Jefferson Station Department of Motor Vehicles, located in Three Roads Plaza, on Thursday afternoon, Aug. 3, asking locals how they felt about the announced closure of that location on Aug. 25 and how it would impact their future interactions with the state DMV. 

Reactions ranged from dismay to outrage, with near-universal praise for the staff’s courtesy, efficiency and speed over the years. Not one respondent suggested that the other locations for the area, which will now be at Hauppauge, Medford, Riverhead and Dix Hills, could match the quality of service and courtesy found in Port Jeff Station.

Craig Kolasinski

Craig Kolasinski, Selden

Kolasinski expressed consternation at the DMV closure, saying, “I live right in the neighborhood, and it is just sad. It’s close by.” When asked if he uses any other locations, he said, “Sometimes 112 [in Medford], but mostly this one. Hauppauge, yes. I used to live in Smithtown. This one is a lot quicker.”

James Liffey

James Laffey, Port Jefferson

“It’s disappointing. This office has served the community for many years. It’s a big loss. It’s a busy office, and it seems needed here.” When asked if he has used any other locations, he said, “Only when my kids had to register for road tests in Medford.” TBR Media asked if he was satisfied with the service there, and he replied, “The job got done, but it is not nearly as convenient and it is a busier branch. [Medford] is not as friendly as here.”

Steve Englebright

Steve Englebright, Setauket

“It’s outrageous!” said Englebright, the former Democratic New York State assemblyman representing the area who is currently running against Anthony Figliola (R-East Setauket) for Suffolk County’s 5th Legislative District. “This location is always crowded, they have people out the door. The only way you could get in the door Monday was with a reservation. So, the idea that it’s OK to close this site is a complete outrage and complete nonsense.” He added, “This is an anchor store and an anchor business. It stabilizes a sense of place. It provides meaningful services to everyone in the community.”



Lucia Kelly
Kevin Kelly

Kevin and Livia Kelly, Port Jefferson

Kevin said, “I really wish they’d keep it open. We had to come multiple times today, not their fault. If we had to go to Hauppauge four times and wait on line, this would have taken a week. We resolved it in a day, and it was a complicated situation. They are very polite. The best DMV around.” 

When asked if they had tried Medford, Livia replied, “I am not even sure if they showed up as an option when I was looking online. I remember seeing Huntington [Dix Hills], Hauppauge and Port Jefferson as the options for what I needed.”

Selena Kocay, Port Jefferson Station

Selena Kocay

Kocay’s husband is in the military and facing deployment next month. She is likely losing her job with the DMV after this location closes. 

“I think it is ridiculous. There is no common sense behind [the closure]. We take on Hauppauge and Medford [clients] when they can’t accommodate the amount of people they have as far as appointments go and walk-ins. They come straight to us. We help them; we get them in and out quick and happy.” When asked if any other locations were closing, Kocay replied, “No, just this one. They built Dix Hills last year, and we take on more [people] than Dix Hills does. They also said they are trying to cut costs. I don’t know where that came from. We just got new equipment! We got a new system put in, and within less than a month, we found out by News 12 that we are closing.” 

When asked if there was a review of the decision taking place to keep this location, Kocay said, “No, none at all. We are just trying to tell our customers. There are a lot of them that are upset. Some of them are even crying.”

Emanuel Koutalides

Emanuel Koutalides, Port Jefferson Station

He has been using this office for 10 years. “I think it’s a bad idea,” he said. “This place services a lot of the community between here and the next location, Medford.”

Walter Molinaro

Walter Molinaro

Molinaro, who sells vehicles, campers and trailers, was eager to voice his displeasure at the closing of the PJS location. “It takes an hour to get a [customer number] at [Route] 112 [in Medford]. Here, you just walk right in and you get a ticket — in and out. And they are nice people. They should never close this place.”

Leonidas Lascano

Leonidas Lascano, Port Jefferson Station

“I am really angry now, you know. I don’t understand, because many, many neighbors [are angry], too.”

John Arini

John Arini, Mount Sinai

Arini came to register and title his car. He said he does not use any other locations because “this is the most convenient to where I live, it is in and out for the most part.”


By Carolyn Sackstein

TBR News Media went to downtown Port Jefferson, where we asked people if they had ever experienced or witnessed bullying and, if so, how they dealt with it. While some were willing to share their experiences, few were willing to go on the record with their names and photographs.

One gentleman spoke about his child, who has special needs, being bullied. This man said he has experienced blowback for exercising his First Amendment right to free speech. He discussed the need for accountability for bad behavior. It was his opinion that without accountability people will continue to bully others. 

One woman expressed her belief that people today act without love in their hearts. Kindness from others helped her to deal with her daughter’s death due to cancer. This lady wears a golden heart, which a stranger gave to her daughter. “It is a reminder to be kind,” the mother said.

Meg Sayers, Bethpage

Meg Sayers

A professional social worker in private practice, Meg works with children who are being bullied. She explained, “Bullying can be detrimental to children. Starting from a young age to adolescence, bullying can affect their self-esteem and mental health. Children who are bullied can experience depression and anxiety.” 

She defined bullying as, “Intentionally saying and taking action to cause harm to other people when they are asked to stop. Even when they are not asked to stop. It can be unintentional.” 

She suggested, “Part of the best coping mechanism is to help a child first identify that they are being bullied and then to help them advocate for themselves by sticking up for themselves or expressing what they are experiencing to others, to adults who can be helpful. Not normalizing bullying.”

Austin Prince

Austin Prince, Yaphank

“Growing up I saw my friends and situations where they were getting bullied. One of the biggest things I learned with it is making sure you’re not just standing by, making sure you’re proactively trying to help them at the time or if need be trying to rectify it later on. Sometimes [it takes] talking with the bully: Where is this coming from? What’s going on in their life? Making sure that the person being bullied is OK.”

Jason and Christine Contino

Jason and Christine Contino, Port Jefferson

Jason, a retired police officer and lead pastor at Harborview Christian Church on East Main Street, said, “I witnessed [bullying] as a police officer. I dealt with it by not only trying to figure out what was happening but getting [victims] to have the courage to come forward, if it got to the point where a criminal complaint was made. Whether it’s a student or somebody who calls the police, they know that the teacher, the principal, the police officer is not always going to be there. If it is someone in their family, they are still going to be interacting with that person.”

“Sometimes the most difficult point is getting them to feel confident in the fact that the system is actually able to protect them.” Christine added, “It is something we instilled in our children — that bullying is not tolerated. Both our boys ended up sticking up for others. … We have to teach our children what is right and wrong. It starts in the home.”

Kurt O’Brien

Kurt O’Brien, Connecticut

“There was always bullying in school growing up. It never happened to me, but I saw it happen to other people. I stuck up for them sometimes. I got beat up a couple of times from it.” Kurt added that bullying in the adult world is about “power, it is more hidden. There is bullying in law enforcement, in the court system, everything. It is not just like going after a little kid’s lunch money.”

Laonie and Noah

Laonie, France and Noah, Port Jefferson

Noah recently returned to Port Jefferson after serving in the military for seven years. “I haven’t seen it in the village recently, but as a kid I definitely noticed it around school. I saw it on the bus when I was a senior. A young kid on the bus was getting bullied by a kid a couple of years older. I did tell the kid to stop. It was pretty evident that it was happening a lot.” 

Laonie said she experienced bullying in primary school. “I was having bad results at school. My mom moved me twice to get better. I was very quiet. I didn’t talk to my parents about it. I just keep it to myself about it. I thought it was almost like normal.” When asked if it has affected her as an adult, she replied, “I actually have a baby, and I am wondering if it happens to him, how am I going to deal with it? Of course, I am going to be more sensitive and emotional. I am going to be more focused on this because I was so shy when I was so little. My mom was so great, but I couldn’t speak to her.”

Anthony Tallini

Anthony Tallini, Coram

Anthony acknowledged that he was bullied for his weight and glasses. “As a kid in high school, I used to be heavier, [called] “four eyes” and “heavy.” Very standard. I just never cared.”

When asked if he had seen bullying as an adult in the workplace or a social setting, he said, “Yeah, I guess. It’s more just being mean. I haven’t stepped in. If it was someone I knew, I would. If it were someone I don’t know, probably not without knowing the relationship.”


Gilgo Beach sign. Photo by Hector Mosley, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District
By Carolyn Sackstein

The July 13 arrest of Rex Heuermann, of Massapequa Park, for the alleged murders of three women — Megan Waterman, Amber Costello and Melissa Barthelemy — has people talking. As investigations ramp up, TBR News Media interviewed mainly visitors to downtown Port Jefferson on Saturday, July 22, asking them for reactions to Heuermann’s arrest, evidence against him and closure for the victims’ families. One is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

— Photos by Carolyn Sackstein



Wilber Argutea, Bridgeport, Connecticut

Argutea suggested parents must do a better job raising children, promoting positive activities such as school and sports. He said, “We need more people in the community raising kids [to do] good. Teaching good stuff in schools, sports, so people stay away from [doing] bad things.”






Maddy Trotta, Glen Cove

Trotta expressed her concern, “It is just ridiculous to me that people can get away by doing that for such a long time and not get caught right away. Now that they got caught, I think they will pay the price for all they have done and the damage they have caused.”




Sarah Hull, Port Jefferson, and Thomas Hull, Wilmington, Delaware

Sarah was breathing a little easier with the arrest. She had heard that Heuermann had visited Port Jefferson years ago, explaining, “I found out that he had dinner at the Steam Room, and I used to work there — luckily not in the same year.” 

Thomas also weighed in on the alleged crimes. “I live out of state right now, so I got the news [from] people all over Long Island who kept texting me, ‘Did you hear the Gilgo Beach killer got caught? They caught the Gilgo Beach killer!’ I was driving in, driving past Massapequa Park. I said, ‘Oh my God, that’s the exit.’”



Marinka Buckley, West Hartford, Connecticut

When asked about the recent arrest, Buckley responded, “It brings you back to when they first were talking about it. I was surprised to hear who they had arrested. It seems like he was a normal guy, I guess. It’s interesting.”





Naomi Ponce, Bridgeport, Connecticut

“I saw the news a few days ago,” said Ponce. “I was surprised after so many years that they were looking for this person. I was happy that the families finally have closure. It must be terrible.”






Janet Ficht, Long Island

When asked about the arrest, Ficht said, “It was scary and crazy, but I’m glad they got him. It is unbelievable the stuff they are finding, how far back it goes and how many states it goes over. It’s crazy.” 






Matthew Kubelle, Suffolk County

When Kubelle was asked about the recent arrest and the evidence, he said, “It is great it finally happened, but obviously not how long it took. Closure for the families is great for them. I think it is a solid arrest. They have a lot of evidence, and he doesn’t have any clear alibis. And as more evidence comes up, he looks guilty. It’s about time we stopped this stuff.”

Photo by Des Kerrigan from Pixabay
By Carolyn Sackstein

In keeping with heightened media attention to the threat of shark bites, TBR News Media went to the streets on Saturday, July 8, asking visitors to Port Jefferson if they were concerned about reports of shark sightings and shark attacks on Long Island’s South Shore. 

One person voiced fear of sharks. Another said she doesn’t like fish in general. The rest seemed confident that local authorities and lifeguards could minimize the risks from sharks and keep beachgoers safe.

— Photos by Carolyn Sackstein


Douglas Maze, Connecticut, and Dee Schmitt, Connecticut

When asked if they had changed their beach habits due to the recent reports of shark attacks, Douglas said, “Yes, I will not go to the beach or in the water because I have a fear of sharks.” When asked how long he feared sharks, he replied, “My whole life.” 

Dee said, “Yes and no. I am more cautious now. I still go in the water, but only up to my knees. That’s about it.”




Lisa Freeman, Tarpon Springs, Florida, and Al Latchford, Clearwater, Florida

Lisa responded to our inquiries with, “Yes, I go to Clearwater Beach, which is in the Gulf of Mexico.” She also acknowledged that there are sharks in the Gulf and that she plans to go in the water while she is visiting Long Island. “I am going to Robert Moses [State Park] tomorrow. We heard there are shark sightings there.” When asked if sharks deter her from going in the water, she said, “No. We respect that it is their place. If we see them, we get out of their way.”

 Al added, “As long as we are aware and watching out what is going on, I’m OK with going in the water. No fear, just caution.”



Mike and Lauren Librizzi, Lynbrook 

Mike said, “I go to, more often than not, Atlantic Beach [in Hempstead].” When asked if he was concerned about the recent sightings and attacks, he replied, “Not as much. If the lifeguards are on duty, and you’re being smart by not going in too deep, you should be OK.”

Lauren won’t go in the water at the beach. She explained she does like the beach for the sun and sand: “We go to a beach club in Atlantic Beach. I just don’t like fish. If I can’t see my feet, I don’t go in. I do go into pools.”




Genie Weisman, Mount Sinai

When asked if she goes to any of the South Shore beaches, Genie offered, “Not very often. We’ve taken the kids to Corey Beach [on the Great South Bay].” She explained that not going to the beaches anymore is a matter of opportunity, not sharks. Genie suggested that the increase in shark sightings is likely, “the bunkers and the bait fish. [Sharks] are following their food.” She added that she is willing to go to a beach if the opportunity arises, “probably, as long as there are no red flags.”



Megan Wesolowski and Jake Hine, Port Jefferson Station

Megan said she goes to Cupsogue Beach. Jake also goes to Cupsogue and out in Montauk.

When asked why they chose those areas, Megan explained, “Nice sand, the water’s nice. They keep it clean.” When asked about the recent shark reports, they weren’t concerned. Megan said, “I hadn’t really thought about it.” 

Jake continued, “We swim at our own risk either way — lifeguards or no lifeguards. We just like the towns over there. No change [in beach habits], still going in.”


Gregg Fedus, Mystic, Connecticut

“I don’t really know about the local reports [on shark sightings and attacks] because I just came here yesterday and staying for the weekend. My guess is it’s overblown a little bit. You’ve just gotta be careful when you’re out on the water.” He feels the warmer water is drawing the sharks here. When asked if he would go into the water, he responded, “Sure.”





Trey Pratt, Old Saybrook, Connecticut

When asked if he fears sharks, he emphatically responded, “No!” When asked what is responsible for the reports of shark sightings, he felt it is due to “active media!” He fishes but has no problem going to any of the ocean beaches or fear of needing “a bigger boat.”

Photo by Terry Ballard from Wikimedia Commons
By Carolyn Sackstein

People across Long Island and New York City experienced the worst air quality in decades. On Wednesday, June 7, the local air quality was deemed the worst in the world. 

Canadian forest fires and the resulting atmospheric pollution have been the subject of social conversations over the past week. 

After the smoke cleared, TBR News Media took to the streets of downtown Port Jefferson, asking residents and visitors how they dealt with the smoky haze and whether they had any health issues resulting from their exposure.

— Photos by Carolyn Sackstein



Connie Linzer, Port Jefferson Station

Linzer “stayed in and used eye drops and nose spray,” adding that her eyes and nose were irritated by the pollution.







Sheila Garafola, with dog Pinto, Port Jefferson 

“I’d take him out for shorter walks than I used to. Sometimes, I will even use a mask. I have many masks from the pandemic. I sometimes feel a little scratchy. It doesn’t affect me that negatively. I am aware that I am breathing in a few extra morsels. The dog is OK. He is just happy to be out there,” Garafola shared.





Victoria D’Angelo, with daughter Aidlee Zachary, and Diego Sanchez, Pensacola, Florida

“We flew into LaGuardia last Wednesday when they were having issues,” D’Angelo said. “Our flight was delayed about 45 minutes because of it. When we flew in, it was a little smoky, but it cleared out on Thursday.” Sanchez nodded in agreement. 

Zachary said, “I was coughing because of it the next day.”




John Suozzi, Mattituck

“Had to deal with it by virtue of traveling to work. It meant paper masks when I was outside and exposed for any period of time. Recirculation of air in the cabin of my car.” Suozzi added that he coped with the conditions by “staying indoors during the peak times of difficulty … when you could just spoon it up!”





Jacqueline Poten, Port Jefferson

“We just stayed inside.” When asked if anyone in her family had health issues from exposure to the pollution, Poten replied, “No, not us, but I heard stories about people having asthma, having trouble breathing.”

File photo
By Carolyn Sackstein

In downtown Port Jefferson Saturday, May 27, we asked the passersby if they had ever considered moving away from Long Island and if so, why? Some had actually moved away and returned. Others said family and connection to the place they called “home” were contributing factors for staying on Long Island. While some people cited the high cost of living and taxes, only one native Long Islander committed to leaving the Island for this reason.

— Photos by Carolyn Sackstein


John Stoldt with daughter Jocelyn, 4, Mount Sinai

“We talk about either South Carolina or Florida.” He continued by saying that his wife “went to college down in Miami and she loved it, plus we like the warmer weather. Ultimately, it is because of the high taxes and the expenses here on Long Island. And there is less opportunity for jobs here for what I do. I manage warehouses, micro-fulfillment centers, distribution centers. There are not many on Long Island, so I have to commute into the city. That makes it difficult for a work-life balance.”




Michelle and John Chiappino, Smithtown

Michelle said, “I was born and raised in Smithtown, then I lived in Port Jefferson for 15 years. We lived in Nesconset, and now we are back in Smithtown.” Michelle explained they stay here “because it’s home, I really have no desire to go someplace else.” 

John added, “It’s home. Leaving Long Island — there’s nowhere really to go. All our family is here.”




Nancy Volpi, Port Jefferson 

“My business brought me here from Albertson 20 years ago. The shop, Carry-All Wine & Liquors, was in Mount Sinai. I still see a lot of my customers.” When asked what keeps her here, she added, “My son. He lives around the corner from me.” When asked if she ever thought about moving, she said, “Yes, I have a daughter in Knoxville, Tennessee and a son in Jupiter, Florida. Maybe someday the family will get back together.”




Larry Bramer, Shirley

“I have always lived in Shirley.” When asked what keeps him there, he replied, “The pay, the jobs. There are a lot of opportunities here.” When asked if he ever considered leaving, he replied, “I did leave for about a year. I went to Tampa Bay, Florida. It was beautiful. It was just very hard to survive there. We found work. My wife and I went there for a new start, but it was just hard. There are just a lot of opportunities in New York. That’s why we came back here.”




Maureen Corrdeliso, Mount Sinai

“We are connected with friends. Our medical care is really good here — that’s a big thing — between the two hospitals [in Port Jeff] and Stony Brook. And we are close to the city. I like Long Island. I have spent most of my life here. It’s home. If you go somewhere, you have to start off anew. I don’t want to do that.”





Karla Jimenez, Stony Brook

“I am from Mexico City. My sister moved here, and I kind of just followed her. I have been here 25 years. I finished high school here, and then got my associates [degree] from Suffolk [County Community College].” When asked if she would leave she replied, “No. I married young and have three kids. My oldest is about to [attend] The Stony Brook School. We are home schooling the younger children. They will go to The Stony Brook School. I just like the way we are set. We get the four seasons. We have the beach, and we have the city.”



Joseph Lubrano, Shirley

“Yeah, we are going to move away when I retire [and] get Social Security. We already have a house in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. It is on the western border. Taxes! I can’t afford to retire here. $13,000-a-year here. There, it is only $1,500. How do you compare?”

Pixabay photo

Last week felt a little more like summertime than springtime. Although it was an unusually mild winter, many individuals might be looking forward to the warmer weather, and recently they’ve been able to get a preview of the summertime heat. 

On Friday, April 14, on a beautiful, 80-degree, sunny day, we went out to T. Bayles Minuse Mill Pond and Park in Stony Brook village to ask people what summer activities they are most looking forward to. The following are their responses.

Photos by Daniel Febrizio


Felicia Bilka with children Angelina and Thomas and parents Joe and Genine Spinelli, Port Jefferson

“Being with our family outside, not trapped inside,” Genine Spinelli said. “Definitely concerts, fairs, hot dog wagons,” Joe added. Bilka said that she was looking forward to family barbecues and teaching Angelina and Thomas how to swim.


Eddie McGee, South Setauket

“Definitely hiking,” McGee said. “I’ve been big lately on mental health, specifically for men because we don’t really address it or do anything about it.”

 He said that it can be a bit harder to work on your mental health in the winter months. 

“Being outdoors now and hiking and just being physical and whatever you can do … being in nature, soaking it all in, being mindful of your surroundings,” he said, adding that Mill Pond and Cold Spring Harbor are two of his favorite locations for being outdoors. In reference to his guitar, he said, “That’s another thing that also helps with my journey of peace.”


Christine Burkhardt and anonymous friend, East Northport

“Just hanging out at a place like this and going to the beach,” Burkhardt said. “Walking on the boardwalk. Any of those kinds of activities.” 

She would not miss any winter activities. “I’m more of a spring/summer/fall girl,” she said. “I’m not really a winter girl.” Burkhardt said that one of her favorite locations to dine during the summer is Salt Shack, a restaurant in Babylon that features live music.


Lawrence and Debra Batton, Middle Island

“My favorite spot: the beach!” Debra Batton said. She usually goes to Smith Point on the South Shore or to Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai. “Lawrence said fishing was his favorite warm-weather activity. “That’s what I’m waiting for,” he added.

Lawrence said he didn’t make it out at all last year, but he’s planning to do a lot of fishing this season, come summer.