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The Northport Public Library. File photo from library

It’s budget season for libraries across Huntington Town, and they’re looking to keep costs low.

The Northport-East Northport Public Library has proposed an overall lower budget, but with a slight increase in the tax levy. The total budget is an approximate $160,000 decrease from last year’s; however, the board is proposing to collect $21,000 more in taxes than the year before.

Among the reasons for this is the fact that the library had $165,000 in unrestricted fund appropriation for last year’s budget, but not this year. Compared to revenues collected last year, the library expects to collect about $181,000 less.

The biggest costs for this year’s budget include employee salaries, health insurance, books and electronic resources.

Northport-East Northport 30-year-resident Margaret Hartough is running for re-election as library trustee. She is currently the head of the teen services department at the Half Hollow Hills Community Library.

“The Northport-East Northport Public Library has always been a special place for me and my family,” she said in a statement. “My children spent many hours at the library, and benefited from all the great resources and wonderful programs. I believe the library is truly the heart of the community and strong libraries build strong communities.”

Over at Huntington Public Library, the board of trustees has proposed a 0 percent increase for the budget; asking residents to approve the same approximate $8.8 million budget as last year.

The Harborfields Public Library. File photo
The Harborfields Public Library. File photo

Compared to the 2015-16 budget, building renovation costs are less than half of last year’s, with a difference of about $540,000. This contributes to the 0 percent overall increase. Costs are also going down by 80 percent for printing supplies and 100 percent for bibliographic utility, which is a service that provides record keeping.

Library trustee incumbent Charles Rosner is running unopposed for re-election. He first joined the board in 2011. Rosner received an MBA from Harvard Business School and before retiring in 2002 was a CEO at Gemcoware in Hauppauge.

Harborfields Public Library is following suit with Huntington and proposing a 0 percent increase for its 2016-17 budget, with a $4.8 million overall total. Most of the library’s costs mirror last year’s numbers, with the biggest difference in retirement and health insurance. Retirement costs decreased by $83,000, and health insurance costs increased by $50,000.

Centerport resident David Clemens is running for a seat in the Harborfields Public Library board of trustees. He previously served as a trustee for the Huntington Historical Society and the Greenlawn-Centerport Historical Association. Clemens is currently a trustee of the Suffolk County Historical Society and chairman of the library committee there.

Finishing out the Huntington area is Cold Spring Harbor Library, with a proposed budget of about $2 million and an overall 0 percent increase. By far the biggest item on the budget is salaries for employees, which comes in at just over $1 million.

According to the library’s website, highlights of the budget include supporting vital programs like free e-books and homework help.

Residents can cast their votes on Tuesday, April 5, at their respective libraries.

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Above, Chris McCrary is running for a spot on the Comsewogue library board. His opponent, Richard Evans, did not provide a photo to the library. File photo

Comsewogue and Port Jefferson readers will vote on their libraries’ budgets on April 5, as well as one board trustee.

Ali Gordon, the library board president in Comsewogue who also serves on the school board, is not running for another term and two candidates are vying for the library seat she will vacate at the end of June, following a seven-year stint on that board.

Richard Evans, 50, is running for the five-year seat because, “I would like to be of service to my community,” according to a candidate profile on the Comsewogue library website. He listed his occupation as a special agent with the U.S. Secret Service, saying that role has given him experience interacting with the public.

In addition, he said, “My experience as a computer forensic examiner gives me insight and growth of electronic media and its uses.”

He has lived in the district since 2011, and is an assistant coach with the Terryville Soccer Club.

Chris McCrary, 49, on the other hand, is running because, “Comsewogue Public Library has been a huge part of my life since I joined the summer reading club in 1971.”

According to his own candidate profile, the longtime resident and high school biology teacher wants to share his passion for reading and show kids “the tremendous resource they have in our own backyard.”

McCrary’s name may be familiar to some voters — in addition to coaching soccer and lacrosse in the area over the years, he has run a couple of times for the Comsewogue school board, albeit unsuccessfully.

Comsewogue budget

As residents vote for a trustee, they will also be asked to cast ballots for a proposed $5.4 million budget.

While that number represents a decrease from last year’s budget total, taxes would go up slightly, mainly because the library would pull less money from its reserves to fund the budget. According to a library brochure, the district is asking to collect 1 percent more in taxes in 2016-17 — a number significantly less than its state-mandated levy cap of 1.48 percent would allow.

If the budget passes, residents would pay almost $0.13 more for every $100 of their homes’ assessed values.

The library plans to spend more on its materials and programs next year and less on staffing and mandated expenses.

According to library Director Debbie Engelhardt, both library visits and overall circulation of library materials has increased since last year.

Port Jefferson budget

Over in Port Jefferson, the library is proposing a nearly $4.2 million budget, which also represents a decrease from the current year’s spending plan. In this library’s case, however, taxes would remain about the same in 2016-17.

According to a library brochure, Port Jefferson has seen savings from retirements. In addition, “a reasonable conclusion of collective bargaining negotiations also helps keep costs in line.”

One budget line that would increase is in programs, which would go up almost $18,000, while costs for books, audio and visual materials and periodicals would all decrease. The brochure said further movement toward cheaper digital formats has contributed to that shift.

If the budget is approved, each resident would pay about $12.54 for every $100 of a home’s assessed value.

Voting at the Comsewogue library on Terryville Road in Port Jefferson Station will take place on Tuesday from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Polls will be open at the Port Jefferson library on Thompson Street from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Erika Swyler will be the featured author at the local author panel. Photo by BJ Enright

By Melissa Arnold

It’s pretty common to hear a creative soul say wistfully, “Someday, I’m going to write my book.” If this sounds familiar, an event this weekend might give you the motivation you’re looking for.

The Port Jefferson Free Library invites writers of all kinds to join them on Sunday, April 3, for a discussion and meet and­ greet featuring five local authors.

The panel, titled “Writing: The Process Within” will explore all aspects of writing, from brainstorming to publishing and everything in between.

This is the first time in several years the library has hosted a panel like this, and librarian Salvatore J. Filosa hopes it will have wide appeal to the area’s budding community of writers.

“We have a local author collection comprised of people who have visited over the years, and it’s definitely growing. There are so many aspiring writers and people who appreciate writing nearby, and even a number of writing groups throughout the county,” Filosa said.

There is a wide range of experience among the panel’s five authors — some work day jobs while others write full time; some are traditionally published while others pursued self­-publishing; and they all have their own unique regimens and writing style.

Included on the panel are Stony Brook University creative writing professor Kevin Clouther; award­-winning children’s book writer Thomas Whaley; journalist, playwright and author Joe Beck; non­fiction writer, novelist and history buff Ralph Brady; and novelist Erika Swyler.

Swyler, who now lives in Sound Beach, has earned national attention over the past year with the debut of her first novel, “The Book of Speculation.” Set in a fictional Long Island town, the book follows a young librarian who is sent a mysterious book that holds ominous, magical secrets about his troubled family’s past and future.

“The Book of Speculation” was featured as part of Barnes & Noble’s Discover program, and it was also named one of the best books of 2015 by both Amazon.com and Buzzfeed.

“It’s all very surreal,” Swyler said of the experience in a recent interview. “When you write a novel, you feel like it’s just going to sit in a drawer and only be read by your mom or your spouse. Knowing the book has gone so far is amazing.”

As a child, Swyler’s parents encouraged their children to explore both the arts and sciences equally. Growing up, Erika was an enthusiastic reader who frequented the Port Jefferson Free Library.

Her journey to becoming a novelist was a winding one. ­­Swyler attended theater school and spent several years acting and writing scripts. Eventually, she said, those ideas became too big for the stage, which led her to pursue short stories and novels. Later, she was contacted by an agent who discovered one of her short stories online. The novel was published nearly a decade after that.

“Read as much as you can and write as much as you can,” urges Swyler. “There’s never going to be a moment where you think, ‘Oh, this is perfect!’ The important thing is to get the idea down on paper.”

The author panel will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 3, at the Port Jefferson Free Library, 100 Thompson Street. Light refreshments will be provided. The event is free but registration is requested by calling 631-473-0022 or visit www.portjefflibrary.org.

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Emma S. Clark Memorial Library. File photo by Michael Ruiz

Put it in the books: Emma S. Clark Memorial Library has announced the winners for the Helen Stein Shack picture book award, a contest which showcases the young writing and artistic talent in the Three Village Community.

The grand prize for grades seven through nine went to “Good Night, Judy,” by Katie Zhao. Honorable mention went to “Rainbow,” by Nicole Freeley.

The grand prize for grades 10 through 12 went to “Sal the Sock,” by Michelle Pacala. Honorable mention went to “Honu,” by Samantha White.

“Good Night, Judy,” by Katie is a story with a familiar subject that many young children and their parents can relate to — a girl’s fear of the dark and the noises in her home at night.

“Sal the Sock,” by Pacala is a fun, colorful book whose story is told in a sing song, rhyming tone about a sock who loses his friends in the laundry.

Winning authors will be recognized at a private awards ceremony at Emma Clark Library on April 17, 2016, at 2 p.m. At the reception, a $500 scholarship will be awarded to both grand-prize winners, and bound books for all winning entries will be presented and added to the library’s Local Focus Collection.

In addition, an e-book will be created and made available for all winning entries. Light refreshments will be served at the reception, and desserts are once again being generously donated by The Bite Size Bake Shop, a local Three Village business.

All contest entrants will receive a certificate of participation at the awards ceremony. They will also be given the opportunity, on another date, to record a video reading their book for Community Service credit.

After the awards, at 3 p.m. on April 17, there will be a special story time of the grand prize-winning books. All Three Village residents may register on the library’s website, www.emmaclark.org, for this unique opportunity — to hear the newest winners read their books for the first time — beginning April 1.

The Helen Stein Shack book contest called for teens in grades seven through 12 who live in the Three Village Central School District to create a children’s picture book. Each entry could be the work of a single author/illustrator or a collaborative effort.

The contest was divided into two grade categories, grades 7 through 9 and grades 10 through 12, with one grand prize winner from each group, as well as an honorable mention winner from each category.

This award is given in memory of Helen Stein Shack by her family. As a teacher, Mrs. Shack was committed to the education of children and she especially loved literature written for them.

She was a frequent visitor to the library where, even in retirement, she kept current with the latest children’s books.

At least year’s awards ceremony, Sherry Cleary, daughter of the late Helen Stein Shack, told the audience that the teens who enter this contest “demonstrate empathy, creativity, intellect and a tenacity. This looks sweet, but it is really hard work.”

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File photo by Michael Ruiz

Let creativity shine at Emma Clark Library’s first ever Bookmark Contest.

The challenge — open to all children living in the Three Village Central School District in grades kindergarten through sixth — is to create an original bookmark.  The winning entries will be printed and distributed at the library throughout the year. Winners may see their artwork in the hands of their friends, and they can be proud that their creations encourage Three Villagers to read.

To pick up an official entry form and bookmark template, kids may stop by the Children’s Reference Desk or download the form at www.kids.emmaclark.org.  The entry deadline is March 31.

Winners will be chosen in three categories — K to second grade, third and fourth and fifth and sixth grades — and announced on May 2 to kick off Children’s Book Week, a national annual celebration and the longest running national literacy initiative in the country, first established in 1919.  Join the contest and be a part of a nationwide celebration of reading.

If you have any questions, please email kids@emmaclark.org or call 631-941-4080, ext. 123. The library is located at 120 Main Street, Setauket.

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The Smithtown Library. File photo by Rachel Shapiro

Join the Smithtown Library for its bus trip to the Philadelphia Flower Show on Monday, March 7.

This year’s theme, Explore America, honors the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and the century’s most scenic landscapes and historic sites.

The Philadelphia Flower Show is the longest-running and largest indoor flower show in the world. Visitors will be treated to fabulous design and events including live entertainment, culinary demonstrations, gardening how-to workshops and lectures by experts.

A staff member will greet everybody in the Kings Park branch parking lot to board the bus at 6:45 a.m. The branch is located at 1 Church St.

Attendees can enjoy lunch at the flower show or visit Reading Terminal Market located across the street.

The bus will depart the flower show at approximately 4:30 p.m. to return home.

Registration is required. The nonrefundable fee for this program is $79 per person, which includes all expenses and gratuities. For more information, please call 631-360-2480, ext. 235.

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The waterfront revitalization program hearing is scheduled for Feb. 24 at the Kings Park branch of the Smithtown Library. File photo by Rachel Shapiro

The Town of Smithtown has its sights set on the waterfront.

With a date set for Feb. 24, Smithtown announced it would be sponsoring the first of several public workshops in which the town will seek community input on the development of a revised local waterfront revitalization program. It has been nearly 26 years since the town adopted its last program, and the issues have changed — so the public will have a chance to weigh in at a workshop on Feb. 24 at the Kings Park branch of the Smithtown Library at 6:30 p.m.

In a statement, the town Planning Department said the existing revitalization program has served as a guide for Smithtown for more than 25 years in helping establish objectives, programs and standards to promote the beneficial use of coastal resources.

“Many changes have occurred in understanding coastal issues and management, in government laws and programs addressing coastal management, and in the conditions and circumstances affecting Smithtown’s coastal resources and uses,” the Planning Department said in the statement. “While the general directions established by the current LWRP are sound, after more than 25 years a complete rewrite of the LWRP is taking place to reflect these changes.”

The town said that Charles McCaffrey, an expert in state coastal management programs, policies and laws, will be consulting the town after making it through a competitive bidding process for such consultation. McCaffrey said he would be drafting each section of the new program for the town, which will be reviewed by elected officials in Smithtown, and met with community input. The process will include updating and re-structuring the existing plan to address changes in the overall pattern of development in the coastal area, the condition of the natural resources of the coast, current and future public use and access to the coast, and the needs of users that depend on a coastal location.

The draft plan will also identify federal and state actions necessary to advance the town’s program.

This first public workshop will focus specifically on identifying the issues of concern to the community and review the work done to date on updating the boundary of the waterfront area and the developed coast section of the plan. All interested parties are encouraged to attend.

The Kings Park branch of the Smithtown Library is located at 1 Church St. in Kings Park.

‘Coffee Pot Sunset,’ Orient Point Lighthouse. Photo by Jerry McGrath

By Rita J. Egan

Photographer Jerry McGrath has a keen eye when it comes to capturing the beauty of wildlife and landscapes, and through the end of February, nature lovers can enjoy his work at the North Shore Public Library in Shoreham. The exhibit will include approximately 20 images — the majority taken right here on Long Island with a couple from his trips to Alaska — printed on canvas from the Wading River resident’s collection.

‘All in the Family,’ a mother fox with her kits on Fire Island. Photo by Jerry McGrath
‘All in the Family,’ a mother fox with her kits on Fire Island. Photo by Jerry McGrath

The library’s art coordinator Hildegard Kroeger said a few years ago when the library displayed McGrath’s photos, they were well received. She said library patrons will enjoy the new exhibit with stunning photos that capture the impressive wingspans of birds or the eye color of the creatures. “He captures them in a very artistic way, and it may open up the eyes of people to look at things differently,” Kroeger said.

McGrath said becoming involved in photography opened up a whole new world for him. A former fifth-grade teacher at Wading River Elementary School for 30 years, the educator’s love of the art form developed slowly over the decades. He said he bought his first 35mm camera in 1968 while stationed in Vietnam. At the time, it was to simply record his experiences there. He never imagined the purchase would one day lead to the passion it has become for him the past five or six years as well as a small source of income.

McGrath said when he prepares for an exhibit he sees the images coming out of the printer, and he becomes energized knowing that he was part of creating the work and just wants to share it with others, and it can be difficult to choose his favorites to display.

“I just love when the picture comes out of the printer, and I see how that final product looks. And when it looks really sharp and crisp, just the right subject, it’s just something that I get a charge out of. I don’t know what it is,” he said.

‘Metropolis,’ winter town of Elfin Cove, Alaska. Photo by Jerry McGrath
‘Metropolis,’ winter town of Elfin Cove, Alaska. Photo by Jerry McGrath

An avid fisherman, McGrath was inspired to become more involved in photography after a fishing trip to Alaska that led to winning a photo contest. The photographer, who is also a former licensed charter boat captain and conducts a fishing course through the Suffolk County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation, has been visiting Alaska for fishing trips annually for over 15 years.

A few years ago during one trip, he caught a halibut that weighed over 200 pounds. McGrath asked his friend Mike to take a photo of him with his catch, while he held the tail of the fish and sat down with his feet stretched out next to the head of the halibut to give perspective of just how big it was. When he returned home, he entered the picture in a fishing photo contest sponsored by Alaska Airlines and won. With this win, he thought about how he coordinated the photo and started thinking that he may have a knack for capturing a moment.

Winning two round-trip tickets to wherever the airline traveled, he and his wife Cathie decided to take a trip to Hawaii. McGrath said he felt that not any camera would do for such a scenic vacation so he purchased his first DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera. The photographer said he found it easier to use than previous manual exposure cameras that he owned, as well as an inexpensive way to take photos, and he began taking more.

‘Wings,’ a great egret in Baiting Hollow. Photo by Jerry McGrath
‘Wings,’ a great egret in Baiting Hollow. Photo by Jerry McGrath

He said places such as Hawaii and Alaska are beautiful spots to take stunning photos. “You can’t take a bad picture of the sun creeping behind the mountains at sunset at 11 o’clock at night up in Elfin Cove, Alaska. It’s just spectacular,” McGrath said.

However, while he has taken gorgeous photos on vacations, the Long Islander said his favorite spots to take photos are close to home. He said he loves going to the Wading River Marsh Preserve where he easily finds birds by the water or even deer in the woods to photograph.

He added that his own backyard is a great place to take photos, especially of birds such as cardinals, blue jays and mourning doves. McGrath said he never paid much attention to birds, but once he started photographing them he started reading up on the different types and now can identify many of them.

“It opened a whole new world for me,” McGrath said.

A tender photo of a mother fox and her cubs that will be on display at the library was taken on Fire Island. According to McGrath, many of his wildlife photos are possible not only due to a good deal of patience while waiting for the perfect shot, but also by using a 300mm lens and 2x extender, which enables him to get great shots even when he is relatively far away from the subject. He now has a collection of three DSLR cameras, and from time to time, he will use a monopod to remain steady.

‘Fishing Duck,’ a female hooded merganser at the Wading River Duck Pond. Photo by Jerry McGrath
‘Fishing Duck,’ a female hooded merganser at the Wading River Duck Pond. Photo by Jerry McGrath

Visitors to the library exhibit who are interested in purchasing prints will be able to do so directly from McGrath. The photographer said after his first exhibit at the North Shore Public Library a few years ago, he displayed his work at the former Grind Cafe in Wading River and realized people wanted to buy his photos. He said he was amazed when during the two months of the café exhibit he sold 14 or 15 pieces that started at $150 or more. While the sales encouraged him to try to sell more of his photos, he said, “I just love taking the pictures. I would take the pictures whether I was getting paid or not.”

The North Shore Public Library, 250 Route 25A, Shoreham, will present McGrath’s exhibit through Feb. 27. An artist reception, hosted by the Friends of the Library, will be held to meet the photographer on Feb. 7 from 2:30 to 4 p.m. For more information, visit www.northshorepubliclibrary.org or call 631-929-4488. To view McGrath’s work, visit www.facebook.com/CapturedMcgraphicsPhotosByJerryMcgrath.

Port Jefferson Free Library's children's section is bursting with books. Photo by Heidi Sutton

A library board president was unseated on Wednesday, in an election that will also fill the board for the first time in a while.

Two incumbents and two newcomers were gunning for three positions as Port Jefferson Free Library trustees this week, at a time when the library is working on plans to expand its facilities.

The library announced on its website that Trustee Susan Prechtl-Loper was re-elected to the board with 129 votes and newcomers Carl Siegel — who once served on the board in the late 1990s — and Joel Rosenthal were elected with 135 votes and 126 votes, respectively.

President Laura Hill Timpanaro lost her re-election bid, garnering only 77 votes, according to Tom Donlon, the interim library director.

Being the top two vote-getters, Siegel and Prechtl-Loper won five-year terms on the board, while third-place winner Rosenthal won a two-year stint that became available after former Trustee Harriet Martin vacated her spot on the board with the time still left on her term.

The library has recently acquired two properties adjacent to its corner building at Thompson and East Main streets in downtown Port Jefferson — a residential property on Thompson and a business on East Main — and is working on developing those properties to help satisfy the library’s parking and general needs.

Three trustee seats up for election next Wednesday

The upcoming budget vote is at the library on Thompson Street. File photo

By Giselle Barkley

Port Jefferson Free Library will soon have a full board of trustees for the first time in a while, after an election on Jan. 13 in which four candidates are running for three seats.

Residents can meet the group at the library on Monday, at 7 p.m., including incumbents Laura Hill Timpanaro and Susan Prechtl-Loper with newcomers Carl Siegel and Joel Rosenthal.

Susan Prechtl-Loper is running for the Port Jefferson library’s board of trustees. Photo from the candidate
Susan Prechtl-Loper is running for the Port Jefferson library’s board of trustees. Photo from the candidate

The two candidates who win the most votes will secure seats with five-year terms and the third-place finisher will win a seat that carries a two-year term.

The shorter term is available after former Trustee Harriet Martin vacated her seat on the board, leaving a couple of years left on her term.

Hill Timpanaro, the current board president, has been a trustee for the past five years and is seeking re-election. She heads the library’s planning and building committee and has worked on several projects, including securing grants and modernizing the library to keep up with changes in technology.

“The library is moving into a time of change, not only for PJFL but for the libraries in general,” Hill Timpanaro said in an email. “As technology continues to change patrons’ needs we have the opportunity to create a community cornerstone that suits a diverse clientele and becomes [an] anchor for the community.”

Laura Hill Timpanaro is running for the Port Jefferson library’s board of trustees. Photo from the candidate
Laura Hill Timpanaro is running for the Port Jefferson library’s board of trustees. Photo from the candidate

Hill Timpanaro has lived in Port Jefferson for 15 years. Outside the library, she’s also helped secure funds to build a garden at the Port Jefferson elementary school.

She hopes to continue her work on expanding the library in a new term, especially now that the library has acquired two adjacent properties — a residence on Thompson Street and a business on East Main Street.

Fellow incumbent Prechtl-Loper, the board’s financial officer and a member since 2013, is also seeking re-election, with the goal of further improving the library and its services.

She said the biggest accomplishment for the trustees since she first joined was when the library purchased the Scented Cottage Garden property on East Main Street in May, to help satisfy the library’s parking and general needs.

For Prechtl-Loper, a village resident for more than 20 years and a library member for more than 50, the institution is like home.

Carl Siegel is running for the Port Jefferson library’s board of trustees. Photo from Valerie Schwarz
Carl Siegel is running for the Port Jefferson library’s board of trustees. Photo from Valerie Schwarz

“I grew up in the library,” she said. “I have really fond memories there.”

Siegel, like the incumbents, is no stranger to the board of trustees. He served from 1994 to 1999 and is hoping to return this year.

During Siegel’s previous tenure, he helped establish the children’s library and an adult reading room, among several other projects. Now that building plans are underway to address a parking shortage and add a room to host live performances, Siegel wants to help execute those projects.

He was an English teacher at the Port Jefferson high school for 23 years before retiring in 1992. Since then, he’s been active in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Stony Brook University, which offers a variety of courses to its older students. He served as its president in 1997.

For Rosenthal, whose has lived in Port Jefferson Village for 50 years, the election is a new phase. While he’s never been a trustee, Rosenthal is aware of the library’s plans for expansion and would like to work with fellow trustees on the projects.

Joel Rosenthal is running for the Port Jefferson library’s board of trustees. Photo from Valerie Schwarz
Joel Rosenthal is running for the Port Jefferson library’s board of trustees. Photo from Valerie Schwarz

“With the tremendous changes in technology, [the trustees] should make some informed decisions about the library,” he said in an interview.

Rosenthal is a distinguished professor emeritus of history at Stony Brook University. He was also previously the chair of the history department and took on other administrative roles before partially retiring from the university.

Although Rosenthal said he would prefer the two-year seat to a five-year seat, he would “take what I can get.”

Voting is at the library on Wednesday, Jan. 13, between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m.