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Jennifer Dzvonar

The Curry Club at SāGhar, 111 West Broadway, Port Jefferson celebrated its one year anniversary with a ribbon cutting ceremony, cake and champagne on Feb. 7. 

The event was attended by members of the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce (PJCC), Port Jefferson Station-Terryville Chamber of Commerce, elected officials, family and friends. 

Owners Kiran and Kulwant Wadhwa and Indu Kaur were presented with proclamations from Suffolk County Legislature Kara Hahn and Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich.

Pictured from left, President of the Port Jefferson Station-Terryville Chamber Jennifer Dzvonar; PJCC 1st VPStu Vincent; PJCC President Mary Joy Pipe; Leg. Kara Hahn; owners Kiran Wadhwa, Kulwant Wadhwa and Indu Kaur; Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich; and PJCC Director Loretta  Criscuoli.

Two bastions of commerce and culture joined forces on Saturday, Oct. 22, for a night of fright and fun at Port Jefferson Station’s Train Car Park.

The Spooktacular Music Festival was a three-hour production co-hosted by the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce and the local affiliate of the School of Rock, the largest music school franchise nationwide. The event showcased the talents of local student musicians while bringing community members together for a night out.

Tracie and Jaime Smith have owned the Port Jefferson-based franchise of the School of Rock for 12 years. They described the music school as a place connecting like-minded youth with a shared passion for music.

“A lot of the kids that come to the School of Rock don’t quite fit in in public school,” Jaime Smith said. “When they come to our school, they are exactly who they are, and they’re accepted for that, regardless of age, race, it doesn’t matter.” He added, “They all share that common goal of art, and they do a heck of a job expressing that on stage.”

This sentiment held on Saturday night as the student performers entertained hundreds of spectators on the Train Car Park’s main lawn, playing songs across various genres, such as classic rock and punk rock. 

Tracie Smith offered her perspective on the evening, saying that the event closely aligned with the music school’s organizational principles.

“We pride ourselves on getting the kids on stage,” she said. “It’s not just taking a guitar lesson in your basement and never doing anything with it. We get the kids on stage multiple times per year, and they get to rock out,” adding, “It helps them build their confidence and meet other like-minded kids.”

While the School of Rock has held the event in years past, this marked the first year the performance was held at the Train Car Park. Jennifer Dzvonar, president of PJSTCC, was also present during the event and discussed how it all came together. 

“We’re trying to get some more community events over here at the Train Car Park, so together we said, ‘Bring it here, and we’ll do it in collaboration with the chamber,’” she said. “We have some chamber members here setting up some tables. It’s open to the community, free admission, and with live music and fun.”

For Dzvonar, this event marks just the next chapter in a string of recent positive developments for the Greater Comsewogue area. According to her, boosting recreational use at the Train Car Park has been the chamber’s priority for years. 

Now, with the availability of public funds and political will, those plans are bearing fruit. “We have always been trying to get this up and running,” she said. “Phase one is trying to get the park usable for the community, so they’re going to be making a walking path in here, we’re getting a parking lot and we’re going to get a playground.” She added, “Hopefully, that should be completed by the end of this year. If not, then the beginning of next year.”

After these improvements are executed, the chamber plans to use the historic train car on-site for community tourism. In addition, plans are in place to repurpose some of it as office space, providing chamber members with new headquarters.

“Our vision is coming to fruition finally,” Dzvonar said. “This is exactly what we wanted for the community — a place to come, a place for kids and adults, a place for anybody. Basically, the motto of the chamber is to bring local businesses and the community together. This is a hub for that.”

Jaime and Tracie Smith have observed a gradual shift in the area throughout their time running the music school. For them, the arts will continue to play a central role in the area’s burgeoning cultural renaissance.

“What we’ve seen in the over a decade that we’ve been here is a movement toward families and the arts and a dedication to the community,” Jaime Smith said. “There has been a real movement forward toward creating something different here … and music always brings people together.”

Tracie Smith added to this perspective, touching upon how the COVID-19 pandemic has brought more families from New York City onto Long Island. Given these trends, she sees reason for optimism.

“We’ve seen such a nice bump in our enrollment post-COVID,” she said. “We’ve seen a lot of new families, a lot of resurgences, a lot of people moving from the city to come here, so we’re looking forward to the future for sure.”

— Photos by Raymond Janis

Pixabay photo

Save the date! The Meadow Club, 1147 Route 112, Port Jefferson Station will be hosting the 7th Annual United Nations Day of Yoga on June 21 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event is open to all and will include a variety of yoga classes for all ages and levels, meditation sessions, vendors and more. 

This event is being sponsored by Indu Kaur, Director of The Meadow Club; Jas Singh, founder of ReflectandRespond; Sharmila Nigam, founder of One Love Generation; and Marcy Guzman of The Healing Center at Port Jeff Salt Cave, along with 14 holistic teachers and volunteers.  

Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich, Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn, Director of the Staller Center Alan Inkles, and President of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce Jennifer Dzvonar, to name a few, will be in attendance for the candle lighting ceremony to start the morning program. 

A vision of Indu Kaur, owner of The Meadow Club, the event is intended to promote harmony, world peace, health and wellness through the various practices of yoga and holistic modalities.

Event speakers include Dr. N who is Board certified Doctor of Integrative Medicine, Alternative Medicine and Doctor of Humanitarian services with PhD graduated from International Quantum University of Integrative Medicine; and Meditation teacher Bhante Kottave Nanda from Long Island Meditation Center. 

Attendees will be able to learn and practice various forms of yoga such as Hatha, Chair, Kundalini, Restorative, Vinyasa, Yin, Yoga Nidra and more from local instructors of Yoga, Pranayama breathing, Ayurveda, Holistic health lifestyle, meditation, Reiki, financial wellbeing and more.

In addition, a delicious vegan vegetarian buffet will be available for a nominal fee along with raffle of baskets valued at $200+ to support this fully volunteered sponsored event and raise awareness of peace with yoga, love, and light. Bring your own yoga mats or mats will be available for purchase.

The event is FREE and open to the public. RSVP requested by calling 631-828-4818.

On April 26, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine and Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich attended the 22nd annual Brookhaven Chambers of Commerce Coalition (BCCC) Awards Night at the Meadow Club in Port Jefferson Station. 

Established in 1992, the Brookhaven Chambers of Commerce Coalition represents more than 16 chambers in the Town of Brookhaven. The awards reception honors members that represent the values and mission of the coalition.

During the evening, Brookhaven Town chamber members were recognized by the Supervisor and Councilmember for their service to the business community. In addition to running their own businesses, members share the understanding that small businesses provide jobs to thousands of people and help create a sense of place in the community. 

“Congratulations to all the award recipients. This recognition of service to the business community is well deserved, especially after the difficulties brought on by the pandemic. Small business was hit hard, but now it’s their time to rebound and get back to business as usual,” said Supervisor Romaine.

“I was so proud to see our own Jennifer Dzvonar from the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce; James Luciano from the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce and Colette Frey-Bitzas from the Three Village Chamber of Commerce be nominated as members of the year,” said Councilmember Kornreich. 

“The town wide winner was our very own Jen Dzvonar. Thank you, Jen and all our Chamber members for everything you do to make Council District 1 a great place to live and do business. Special thanks to Indu Kaur for hosting the event at the elegant Meadow Club, and a shoutout to Barbara Ransome for running a great event,” he added.

Photo from Councilmember Kornreich's office

On April 20, Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich joined members of the Port Jefferson Station /Terryville Chamber of Commerce to celebrate the installation of a new fence at Train Car Park. The park, which is home to one of the last remaining Long Island Railroad electric baggage coach cars, is located at the southeast corner of the intersection of Nesconset Highway (Route 347) and Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station.

Future improvements to the park include enhanced parking, updated signs and a new stage for community events, including “Summer Concert Wednesdays.” Pictured from left to right are Port Jefferson Station /Terryville Chamber of Commerce members Craig den Hartog (Events Director); Jennifer Dzvonar (President); Indu Kaur (Director); Councilmember Kornreich; Kristin Winter (Membership Director); Dee Earle (Director); Joan Nickeson (Community Liaison) and Jeff Kito (Facilities Director).

“We’ve all passed the intersection of Route 347 and Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station a million times. Most people have seen the train car, which is the home of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce and many people have attended one of the amazing events hosted by the Chamber. But despite the best efforts of the community, for far too long this park has not received the attention and resources it deserves. We’ve decided that it’s time for that to change,” said Councilmember Kornreich.

“Working closely with Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber’s board and Commissioner Ed Morris from the Brookhaven Town Parks Department, we have identified the first few steps in helping establish this park as one of the centerpieces of a Port Jefferson Station renaissance. We started with a beautiful wooden paddock fence to help define the space and echo the area’s long equestrian history, but there are many great improvements to come. I look forward to enjoying this space together with the community and taking part of the exciting changes coming to Port Jefferson Station and Terryville.”

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Chamber President Jennifer Dzvonar, left, and Town Councilwoman Valerie Cartright, right, stand alongside Suffolk Legislator Kara Hahn and family. Photo by Kyle Barr

By Joan Nickeson

I am shining the local spotlight on Bass Electric and more importantly, its President and CEO, Jennifer Dzvonar. The hardest working community activist in Port Jefferson Station is the person we know as the can-do president of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce. Under Jennifer’s guidance the PJS/T Chamber represents the businesses in our community. Bass Electric puts in an inordinate amount of time and treasure maintaining the antique train car at the Train Car Park. Last year the plumbing pipes froze and Jennifer’s crew was there on the double. Additionally, the door locks, the electric needs, the critter removal and ongoing incidentals are all reviewed, repaired or replaced by Bass Electric. The Train Car would not be in as good condition as it is, were it not for Jennifer.

She is a dynamo. We chatted over a hard cider recently at Po Boy Brewery in Port Jefferson Station. Jennifer does so much but she is humble. She is an activist of sorts, constantly advocating on behalf of not only the chamber members, but for families, students and job seekers in our district. She devises virtual and social gatherings connecting folks to business, and putting people in touch with each other. From Family Fun Days, to Summer Concerts, BMX demonstrations, school aged dance troops, musicians, and singers, to menorah and tree lighting gatherings at the Train Car Park, to outreach through her work on the Town Quality of Life Task force, trying to get help for the homeless, Jen doesn’t quit.

Sincerity, a strong work ethic and patience. These tools enable her to motivate all strata of our social and political networks to successfully promote main street, side street, and home-based businesses. This extends to chamber of commerce support of Port Jefferson Station’s exceptional nonprofits like Sensory Solutions and The Social Brain and scouts. She is eloquent, she is woke and works day in and day out to benefit others.

Who is the leader of Suffolk County Girl Scout Troop #3067. That’s Jennifer. She is also a member of our school district PTA; she served as secretary and often chaired the committee for Mother’s Day Plant Sales and Family Fun Nights. If you’ve ever “chaired” a PTA committee, suffice to say is usually a committee of one.

Have you heard of ‘LeTip’ business network support organization? Jennifer serves as president of the LeTip Suffolk North Shore chapter. She is a member of Decision Women and the Rotary. These are business and philanthropic organizations where she has served on various fundraising, food collection and holiday gift programs.

In her capacity on board of the Brookhaven Town Business Recovery Task Force, she advocated for restaurant COVID relief, encouraging the use of square footage to allow for increased customer capacity. She also supported extending outdoor dining permits. And she is quick to give thanks and show her appreciation.

The Train Car would not be in as good condition as it is, were it not for Jennifer. Contact for Bass Electric is 631-807-4438. 

“It is important to have an independent perspective and do everything you can to remain fair,” Jen said while we were discussing the December Drive Through Letter to Santa event, and the Harvest Basket fundraiser, which will allow the chamber to add dozens of daffodil bulbs to the Train Car Park. I could easily go on about Jennifer Dzvonar, but I’ll leave it here with a heartfelt, Thank You.

Joan Nickeson is an active member of the PJS/Terryville community and community liaison to the PJS/T Chamber of Commerce.

Mount Sinai-Miller Place Chamber Alliance Co-President Donna Boeckel, co-owner of Awsomotive Car Care in Mount Sinai, talks to members about new goals during the chamber's first meeting May 16. Photo by Kyle Barr

The Mount Sinai-Miller Place Chamber Alliance has sprung up from the ashes after the dissolution of the North Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce and hopes to learn from its mistakes.

“We will help promote shop local,” said Donna Boeckel, co-president of the chamber and co-owner of Awsomotive Car Care in Mount Sinai. “We want to help people recognize how much value and how many personable small businesses we have in these two areas.”

The first meeting of the new chamber was held last wednesday and was

“We want to help people recognize how much value and how many personable small businesses we have in these two areas.”

— Donna Boeckel

She was joined by more than 30 local business operators and owners, Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) and Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) who wanted to show support during the chamber’s first meeting May 16. The Mount Sinai-Miller Place Chamber Alliance expects to hold meetings the first Wednesday of every month.

In October 2017, the North Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce, which covered businesses from Port Jefferson Station to Wading River, dissolved because the time commitment proved too much for such a large coverage area. It was then decided that the chamber would split up to take on original shapes, which focused on business in just a handful of hamlets.

“It got too big — the businesses of separate hamlets, whether they’re in Miller Place or Mount Sinai, know their needs and know their concerns,” Bonner said. “If you think about the Shoreham-Wading River chamber, their competition is the [Tanger Outlets in Riverhead.] That isn’t the same here.”

Boeckel said the previous group did not encompass enough volunteers but said that while these splintered chambers will remain separate organizations, they do expect to work with each other.

“We’ll probably do some joint meetings, maybe some joint events — we’ll bounce ideas off each other,” said Jennifer Dzvonar, owner of Bass Electric in Port Jefferson Station and president of the Port Jefferson/Terryville Chamber of Commerce. Her association began meeting in January of this year.

Chamber leadership anticipates forming connections with leaders at Heritage Park and Cedar Beach for plan or sign on to participate in events. Members also hope the chamber will help them and their business with networking and exposure.

“People have to remember to shop local — Amazon is not going to the schools, Amazon is not supporting your community, it’s not employing your children.”

— Jennifer Dzvonar

“It’s good to immerse yourself in the business community,” said chamber member Brett Hochreiter, managing director of Long Island Tint in Rocky Point. “You get your name out there, you get some exposure, hopefully you get some leads.”

One of the biggest issues that members said they face is maintaining clientele when the lure of online shopping, especially with Amazon, is so strong.

“People have to remember to shop local — Amazon is not going to the schools, Amazon is not supporting your community, it’s not employing your children,” Dzvonar said.

Anker echoed the Port Jefferson Station chamber president’s sentiment.

“Chambers are so important because you can energize your community,” Anker said. “You can make sure people understand they need to put their money where their house is. Made in the U.S.A and shop local are taking precedence over convenience.”

Boeckel emphasized that the work for the chamber was and will continue to be done on a volunteer basis. Every members work full time, but she said the important thing is that local businesses should continue to support one another by donating just a little time.

“That’s what it takes,” Boeckel said. “We’re all doers. It takes doers to do what we do.”

By Desirée Keegan

The North Shore is losing one of its most powerful lobbyists.

The North Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce announced its dismantling this month, as the result of president Jennifer Dzvonar stepping down. Currently no members or outside businesses leaders have stepped up to take her place.

North Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce President Jennifer Dzvonar, also owner of Bass Electric in Port Jefferson Station, with her husband William. File photo

Dzvonar did not return requests for comment, but Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point), who represents the territory that’s home to most of the area businesses involved in the chamber, said she was shocked, but not surprised, knowing the Port Jefferson Station’s Bass Electric owner has a family of young children.

“It’s very time consuming,” Bonner said of being a chamber leader. “I’m surprised no one else stepped up to the plate, but I understand the quandary they’re in. Volunteerism on any level really, really does cut into your personal life. It’s a lot of balls to juggle and I know, because I’m a serial volunteer. I have a lot of respect for people who put their family first.”

Losing the 17-year-old business network, a local organization of businesses whose goal is to further the interests of businesses, means losing a go-to organization for new small businesses owners seeking help. The towns it covers also lose a local advocate fighting on behalf of the business community in the community it serves. It is not only a welcoming committee but it also helps promote business in the area. The dismembering of the chamber will result in less funding and support for tourism and trade, and the loss of a large scholarship program for local high school seniors — including those who reside in Wading River, Shoreham, Rocky Point, Sound Beach, Miller Place, Mount Sinai, Port Jefferson Station and Terryville.

“People will miss new business owners wanting to get involved with the chamber, not having a go-to person,” said Bonner, whose comments were also echoed by Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station). “But as council people we will, as we always do, make our doors open to help with the process.”

The future of the train car

The breaking down of the North Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce leaves the future of the historic train car at Memorial American Flag Park on the corner of Route 112 and Route 347 in Port Jefferson Station in question, but executive director Mike Poveromo said residents needn’t worry.

Despite the dismantling of the chamber, Poveromo, although he refrained from providing specific details just yet, said a Port Jefferson Station-Terryville Chamber of Commerce will be emerging, and taking with it, the responsibility of using dues to pay for what was once the chamber of commerce’s office.

“The train is one of the first electric trains and one of the two remaining of its model on Long Island,” Poveromo said. “The train car is a 1914 baggage/passenger car, that was in use from Jamaica Station to Grand Central Station. In my opinion, it is not only a chamber office, it is a community landmark.”

At the park is also a 20-feet wide, by 30-feet long American flag. A remembrance piece from the World Trade Center is also encompassed into the foundation circle.

“The picnic tables provide visitors and residents the opportunity to enjoy the area when taking a break when shopping, driving and visiting our area,” he said. “I am not concerned when the north Brookhaven chamber closes, since a new chamber is being formed, and will continue its ongoing effort in this respect.”

Mike Poveromo, general manager of Family Times Event Rentals in Mount Sinai and executive director of the chamber, said he knows a thing or two about how demanding the position can be. He joined the then-Miller Place-Mount Sinai Chamber, a small group of 30 local merchants, and eventually moved from membership director to president in 1997. He then served as president of the Council of Dedicated Merchants Chamber of Commerce from 1998 to 2004, which is when the chamber grew to include Sound Beach and Rocky Point. His business was also active in the Port Jefferson Station and Shoreham/Wading River chambers.

“Some of the first local merchants who welcomed me, like Mike Allen of Janitorial Plus and Paul Houghton of Miller Place Sea Food made a lasting impression,” Poveromo said. “They convinced me to become the volunteer membership director. But being a volunteer officer or director of any chamber of commerce is a demanding undertaking, especially in this time in history when both residents and business owners feel they do not have enough time in their day for personal, meaningful and beneficial relationships.”

The executive director recalled what to him was the first significant program established to connect business owners with the community — the Music and Arts Festival at Mount Sinai’s Cedar Beach. It was also the place to raise funds to support the scholarship.

“The chamber membership grew quickly, the business and residential community grew rapidly once the four-lane highway was in place [on 25A],” Poveromo said.

Poveromo said he is worried about the future of the area businesses.

“The days of when your doctor knew you, your whole family, your pharmacist helped you personally, your local butcher, baker and dentist that had your family covered is gone,” he said. “Today it is all about fast food, cheap service and instant gratification.”

He said he feels the dismantling of the chamber is a huge mistake.

“I cannot answer the question of why no member business owner or director hasn’t stepped up to the plate to bring the NBCOC into the future, but it could be they feel they could not afford to volunteer their personal time and expertise away from their business and family,” he said. “With no serious candidate willing to take over, I understand and support the chamber’s decision to dismantle, and this will open up new opportunities for individual town business leaders to open a chamber of commerce and promote their community as a great place to live, work, raise a family and open a business.”

Currently, a Port Jefferson Station-Terryville Chamber of Commerce is in the works, but no merchants have stepped up to fill the void in the other hamlets.

“It is a loss to hometown recognition for small businesses embedded for years in the fabric of the community they serve,” Poveromo said. “Today’s new small business start-ups must find innovative ways and the means to become part of the community fabric. They are choosing to open and invest their time, money and talents in the American dream, and the chamber of commerce is a great resource. New chamber leaders must find solutions to show and prove to residents the value of shopping locally at small business locations where owners are making a direct investment in the towns they chose to open a business.”