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Legislator Stephanie Bontempi

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On Wednesday, June 15, at 6:30 p.m. Suffolk County Legislators Rob Trotta, Manuel Esteban and Stephanie Bontempi will host an Identify Theft Prevention Seminar at the East Northport Public Library, 185 Larkfield Road,  in East Northport.

Assistant District Attorneys from District Attorney Ray Tierney’s Financial Crimes Bureau will address Identity Theft from an elder abuse point of view focusing on motor vehicle theft, forged documents, insurance fraud, and other acts of identity theft.

As a former Suffolk County Detective, I know first-hand how devastating identity theft can be for our seniors and that they are reluctant targets of such crimes,” said Legislator Trotta. “I encourage everyone to attend as anyone can be an unwilling victim,” Trotta added.

“Anyone can be the victim of ID theft, especially someone who is not equipped with preventive strategies. Hearing from and engaging with ID theft prevention experts is a fantastic way to avoid becoming a victim,” said Legislator Stephanie Bontempi.

Legislator Manuel Esteban Sr. said, “It is my pleasure to partner on another important community program to help our residents.”

The event is free and open to all. The library will be taking reservations via phone at (631) 261-2313 or through its website at https://www.nenpl.org/


The road leading to the Coindre Hall boathouse. Photo from Leg. Bontempi's office

Suffolk County Legislator Stephanie Bontempi (R – 18th L.D.) recently  announced that restoration has begun at the historic Coindre Hall.

“Working with the Coindre Hall Advisory Board, the community, my colleagues in the legislature, and county officials, I am proud to say that we have begun to restore the property to its former glory,” said Bontempi.

“Despite the narrative the rumor mill has continued to push, this land will not – and cannot – be used for any development or commercialization.  Coindre Hall will be preserved for generations to come.”

Coindre Hall’s seawall. Photo from Leg. Bontempi’s office

“A major part of the CHAB’s mission is to restore the property without compromising the overall character of the complex and larger park,” said Bontempi.  “Before the recent restoration work began, Suffolk County secured the necessary DEC permits.  Notice of such permits has been prominently posted on the property for the public to view.  This has been a transparent and cooperative effort.”

Upon completion of the work, a replanting phase will begin to replace any vegetation that may be impacted during the project.  In addition, the wetlands are protected as per DEC guidelines.

“These are pristine wetlands, surrounded by native flora and fauna,” said Bontempi.  “It is of paramount importance that we protect the site’s natural state.”

Some proposed uses of the restored boathouse include establishing a law enforcement station, given the complex and unique location on the shoreline, providing easier access to various points on the waterfront.

“Restoring this Suffolk County park benefits every resident in Suffolk County,” said Bontempi.  “This is a tremendous victory for Suffolk County residents.”

To learn more about the great work done by the members of the community working on the Coindre Hall Advisory Board, please visithttps://www.scnylegislature.us/1187/Coindre-Hall-Advisory-Board


Pictured: Legislator Stephanie Bontempi (at the podium) speaking at a press conference at the William Rogers Legislative Building on April 21st.

At a press conference held on April 21st, in recognition of National Donate Life Month and in anticipation of Blue and Green Day, Legislator Stephanie Bontempi (Centerport) met with colleagues, organ donors, recipients and advocates to encourage more people to consider becoming organ donors.  Blue and Green Day is a component of National Donate Life Month, and its role is to promote organ donation through inspiring stories of those whose lives were touched by it.

“We are probably at least somewhat accustomed to hearing stories about someone who received an organ transplant, but rarely do we meet the donors, who have often passed on.  For this very reason, much more attention needs to be placed on living donors – those who donate while still alive and healthy,” said Bontempi.

The speakers at the press conference made it clear that New York is lagging behind a good number of other states when it comes to the number of registered donors.  While it is unclear exactly why New Yorkers are not adding their names to the donor list, it has become the mission of organ donor advocates to turn the tide.

“While becoming a living organ donor is not for everybody, it would be wonderful if more people would at least consider becoming a donor upon their death.  Many of us have the potential to save at least one life, possibly more,” added Bontempi.

To learn more about becoming an organ donor, please visit: www.liveonNY.com.

Founder of the Bald Eagles of Centerport Facebook group honored

At the April 12th general meeting of the Suffolk County Legislature, Legislator Stephanie Bontempi (Centerport) formally recognized Robert Schwartz, founder of the Bald Eagles of Centerport Facebook group. In addition to Bontempi sharing a little bit about Mr. Schwartz’s contributions to the community, he was presented with a proclamation to commemorate such.

Legislator Bontempi (center) with Robert Schwartz and his wife, Liz. Photo from Leg. Bontempi’s office

Schwartz’s group has an enormous following and has become an important advocacy platform for the protection of the local bald eagles and the environment in general. The group’s presence on social media also provides an opportunity for bald eagle admirers to share their photos and stories associated with their unique encounters with the national bird.

“In Huntington, when one thinks of its bald eagles, Mr. Schwartz’s group will likely come to mind. The ever-growing following of the Bald Eagles of Centerport is proof of its ability to communicate how special these birds are,” said Bontempi. On top of his interest and advocacy work associated with the bald eagles, Schwartz is also a thriving beekeeper. Whenever there is an opportunity to share his knowledge in these two arenas, he does so with great enthusiasm and has likely inspired many individuals of all ages.

“Whenever Mr. Schwartz talks about the bald eagles or his beekeeping activities, you cannot help but listen intently as his passion is contagious. As a former teacher, it is fantastic to see someone with such a thirst for knowledge and the ability to motivate others to broaden their horizons in constructive and unique ways,” added Bontempi.

At the April 12th general meeting of the Suffolk County Legislature, Legislator Stephanie Bontempi (Centerport) sponsored legislation that secured much-needed funding for critical repairs and improvements at the historic Vanderbilt Mansion, Museum and Planetarium.

“We are so lucky to have this cultural and educational resource in Suffolk County.  The Vanderbilt is frequented by countless schoolchildren each year and tourists of all ages from near and far.  Keeping up with the maintenance ensures that we can continue to deliver its wonderful programs, while simultaneously avoiding greater costs down the road,” said Bontempi.

Soon after being elected, Bontempi learned of the specific needs of the facility when she met on site with its executive director, Elizabeth Wayland-Morgan.  Although the grounds were an impressive sight to behold, it was clear that its components were showing their age. The funding, sponsored by Bontempi, addresses new seating, carpeting and kiosks at the planetarium, improvements to thwart water intrusion affecting numerous buildings, and a new boiler for the mansion.

“Like many tourist attractions during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vanderbilt felt the economic pinch,” said Bontempi. “These improvements will play an important role in the museum’s recovery and future.”

To learn more about the Vanderbilt Mansion, Museum and Planetarium, please visit its website at: https://www.vanderbiltmuseum.org/.

Legislator Stephanie Bontempi (wearing sunflower towards rear of group) with colleagues from multiple levels of government, trade union members and leaders. Photo courtesy of Bontempi's office

On Friday, March 25th, Legislator Stephanie Bontempi (Centerport) joined with a wide variety of elected officials from the town, county and state levels to call on the governor to prevent a ban on fuel connections in new construction.  Standing side-by-side with the electeds were trade union members and leaders, who spelled out very clearly what such a ban would mean – the loss of jobs and technologies that do not yet have full replacements.

“Although we can all confidently say that we are committed to the environment, we have to be realistic and fair in the policies we put in place,” said Bontempi.  “Seeing the increasing use of cleaner energy technologies is a positive thing, but we cannot pretend that everything older can be replaced overnight.  Newer technologies replacing older ones need to be adopted in stages so that we can properly adapt to the changes and ensure we are getting a better product or service in the end.”

Essentially, some of the proposals being considered by New York State lawmakers include banning the installation of natural gas and/or mixed use fuel connections in new construction by the year 2024.  Proposals of this nature are raising the ire of many in communities across the state who rely on fuels such as natural gas in a time when oil prices are rising quickly.

“We have to look at the needs of the people and balance them with the capabilities of the technologies that are available both new and old.  Doing anything less is shortsighted and dangerous,” added Bontempi.

Legislator Stephanie Bontempi (seated) and an aide, Caitlin Curry, examined the donated items. Photo from Leg. Bontempi's office

Recently, Suffolk County Legislator Stephanie Bontempi (Centerport) began an effort out of her district office in collaboration with the county executive to collect essential supplies for the people of Ukraine.  Bontempi called for a variety of items (e.g., cold weather clothing, boots, baby and medical supplies, etc.) that are so desperately needed by individuals in Ukraine, whether they have been displaced by the attacks or are fighting for their freedom.

Despite the short duration – due to logistical factors – of the supply drive, Bontempi’s office experienced overwhelming support for the effort.  In addition to other Suffolk County legislative offices participating in a similar fashion, various levels of government assisted with their own drives, as did numerous faith-based organizations and many others near and far.  The participation of generous donors to the numerous drives that materialized was so great that many partners in the undertaking called off collections earlier than anticipated due to exceeding storage capacity.

“We were absolutely overwhelmed, but not surprised, by the willingness of the residents to help out the people of Ukraine.  Despite what we learn from the media, there is still a tremendous amount of good in the world.  If we continue to stand up for freedom for all, good will triumph over evil,” said Bontempi.

Although some drives for supplies have been suspended, there remains a possibility of future rounds, should the conflict in Ukraine be a protracted one.  Bontempi’s office will certainly step up and inform the residents of future opportunities to assist if and when they are set in motion.

“From the bottom of my heart, I thank all those who have participated in this inspiring show of support,” added Bontempi.

Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr., at podium, announces the addition of tactile defensive equipment from the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department to donations already collected for Ukrainians. Photo by Raymond Janis

Leaders gathered for a second straight week outside of the office of Dr. David Buchin, director of bariatric surgery at Huntington Hospital and coordinator of the Long Island Ukraine Emergency Response Drive, to announce a new round of donations to the Ukrainian war front.

Serge Sklyarenko, of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, has recently emerged as a visible figure of Ukrainian solidarity on Long Island. Photo by Raymond Janis

Buchin and his wife, Helene, launched the supply drive last week. Helene Buchin recounted her husband’s flight from Uzbekistan, a former Soviet bloc nation, when he was very young. Having experienced Russian belligerence firsthand, the Buchins consider humanitarian aid to Ukraine as a family priority. 

“My husband is an American immigrant who fled Russia when he was 2 years old,” she said. “This cause is very much in our hearts.”

Along with the thousands of pieces of essential supplies already donated, this week’s donation included tactical defensive equipment from the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr. (D) announced that his office will donate nearly 450 bulletproof vests to protect the Ukrainian people in their armed struggle against the Russian invasion.

“We stand with the people of Ukraine and want to help in any way that we can,” Toulon said. “I’m proud to announce that the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office has been able to step up and provide materials that can help keep them safe.”

College Hunks Hauling Junk and Moving also joined the initiative. College Hunks representatives announced that the company would repurpose its moving trucks to transport the donated materials to a New York City processing facility. From there, they will be sent to New Jersey and finally Poland, where they will be distributed to the Ukrainians. 

Ted Panebianco, local co-owner of the College Hunks franchise, thanked the people of Long Island. He believes Long Islanders have once again demonstrated that they can answer the call whenever suffering people are in need.

“Every time there is a chance to go out and help people, the Long Island community comes out in a big way and donates generously,” he said. “At College Hunks Hauling Junk and Moving, our purpose is to move the world. We are honored and grateful to have this opportunity to do it in probably the biggest way we ever have.”

Serge Sklyarenko, of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, has recently emerged as a visible figure of Ukrainian solidarity on Long Island. With a Ukrainian flag draped around his neck, he said the flag reflects his love of country and his close attachment to the cause of Ukrainian resistance.

“It feels like I have a piece of Ukraine right next to me, that it’s close to my heart,” Sklyarenko said, adding, “I have a lot of family in Ukraine in many different cities. They have gone through rough times, going in and out of bomb shelters. Some of my friends are on the front lines, some without any military experience.”

While the faces surrounding him may change from week to week, Sklyarenko’s message remains firm and unaltered. He warns that the Ukrainian crisis points to the repetition of a dangerous historical precedent, a foreshadowing of all-out global conflict. 

“In 1939 Hitler attacked Poland, he did not stop,” he said. “I feel that Putin is doing something similar. I don’t think he’s going to stop.”

Sklyarenko said the Biden administration must adopt a tougher posture toward Russia, a foreign policy which includes a no-fly zone over Ukrainian airspace and the complete prohibition on the import of Russian oil.

Elected officials and community members, above, stand by a table of donations. Photo by Raymond Janis

By Raymond Janis

Last week, Long Island leaders and community members met in Huntington to announce the Long Island-Ukrainian Emergency Response Drive, a collection to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.

Dr. David Buchin, right, and U. S. Rep. Tom Suozzi. Photo by Raymond Janis

The gathering was held outside the offices of Dr. David Buchin, director of bariatric surgery at Huntington Hospital, and Suffolk County Legislator Stephanie Bontempi (R-Centerport), vice chair of the Committee on Health, who both share a business address. Buchin, an immigrant from the former Soviet bloc nation Uzbekistan, says donation drives such as these will help to alleviate the sufferings of Ukrainians.

“The horrors in the Ukraine, I mean we all see it,” Buchin said. “It breaks my heart like it does for all of us. We must do something to help them all. The hospitals are full, their supplies are low, so we’ve created this Long Island-Ukrainian Emergency Response Drive. We’re calling on everyone to help, anything that can help the Ukrainian people, like blankets, sleeping bags, medical supplies and first aid.”

Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY3) was present for the announcement. He applauded the altruism of ordinary Americans doing their part to support Ukraine. He also emphasized the dangers of factionalism amid so much uncertainty abroad.

“Taking action like this to give people an opportunity to make a contribution is a great way to feel that we’re doing something, but we’ve all got to do more,” he said. “We have to hold together. We have to keep Democrats and Republicans holding together. We have to follow the old idea that partisanship stops at the water’s edge. We have to all hold together like we are today.”

Bontempi described growing up in Sweden, a country now endangered by the war. She fears the conflict may spill over into Swedish territory and asked for immediate support.

“My family, I speak to them every day, is very frightened,” Bontempi said. “We need to all be very, very concerned about what this madman [Russian President Vladimir Putin] is doing. I urge everyone to please talk to friends, neighbors [to] donate items. It needs to happen now — not in a week, now. People need help right now.”

Town of Huntington officials praised this public expression of solidarity and humanitarian assistance for the people of Ukraine. Town Councilman Sal Ferro (R) said he believes that Americans and Ukrainians are united under a common purpose, likening this local initiative with the cause of the Ukrainian resistance.

“Every little bit that we do can make a difference,” he said. “We can show the human side, why we live in a free country, why we live in a democracy. That’s what they’re fighting for in Ukraine: to stay free.”

Huntington Town Clerk Andy Raia (R) discussed his own Ukrainian roots. He said his relatives chose to remain in Ukraine to support the war effort and encouraged Long Islanders to do the same.

“The time to act is now,” Raia said. “It was really yesterday, but we need to do more to ensure that Europe stays stable, that democracies around the world are allowed to flourish. This is just a small token of what we need to do to ensure that the fight continues in Ukraine.”

For those seeking to donate, the Long Island-Ukrainian Emergency Response Drive is establishing repositories throughout the Island. Buchin’s and Bontempi’s offices, located at 224 Wall St in Huntington, collected items until the end of the day March 4, and the donations were delivered to the H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge.

Pictured: Ken Kutner (standing left) of the Suffolk County Office of Emergency Management; Legislator Stephanie Bontempi (standing center) and Legislator Rob Trotta (standing right) during the presentation’s opening remarks.

Legislators Stephanie Bontempi (Centerport) and Rob Trotta (Fort Salonga) recently held an emergency preparedness program that was open to the community at the Northport Public Library.  The training was led by Ken Kutner of the Suffolk County Office of Emergency Management.  Kutner has an extensive background in the field, most notably via his decades of service in the East Northport Fire Department in addition to his work with the County.

Some of the topics covered were the weather outlook for the region in 2022, putting together basic preparedness lists for homes and automobiles, ways to stay informed during emergencies and how to volunteer with emergency organizations.  Some people in attendance were unaware of what it takes to be prepared for a variety of potential emergencies.  Similarly, others were happy to learn that so many free resources are available to stay informed, such as handy emergency-related cell phone apps.

“This training is really a must for everybody, even for those who think they are already sufficiently prepared for what life throws our way.  I was surprised to learn that I need to take some steps to improve my family’s ability to be ready and have more peace of mind.  It’s never too early to get these things in order,” said Bontempi.  “If someone has not attended a program like this, seeking one out in the near future is highly recommended,” added Bontempi.

Those who are interested in learning more about the resources and opportunities mentioned above should visit: https://suffolkcountyny.gov/Departments/FRES.