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Mayor Margot Garant

Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich, center, swears in Ira Costell, right, and Carolyn Sagliocca as president and vice president of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association. Photo by Raymond Janis

The newly reconfigured executive board of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association went straight to work Tuesday night during the body’s general meeting April 25.

Nearly six dozen people turned out as former civic president Ed Garboski and vice president Sal Pitti left their posts, transitioning leadership authority to Ira Costell and Carolyn Sagliocca, respectively. 

Village of Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant, former New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) and representatives of state Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) and Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) were all in attendance.

Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) officiated over a formal swearing-in ceremony for the newly elected civic officers. He thanked the departing civic leaders and congratulated their successors.

“There’s an energy in this community that we haven’t felt in years,” he said. “It’s a whole new optimism, and in large part, that’s because of the drive out of this civic organization.”

To Garboski and Pitti, the councilmember added, “You two are fantastic civic leaders, and I have every confidence that the new board will continue to focus and do the work that you’ve done.”

The newly reconfigured executive board of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association during a general meeting on Tuesday, April 25. Photo by Raymond Janis

Land use

Costell quickly got moving, announcing the creation of a land use committee headed by Sagliocca, which will monitor development and related land use activities within the hamlet.

Further expanding on this theme, Costell articulated his vision for overseeing the redevelopment of the area, narrowing his focus around the projected $100 million proposed investment into Jefferson Plaza, owned by Staller Associates.

“The Staller project is the keystone, if you will, about the entire development of our little hamlet,” he said.

Between the Jefferson Plaza proposal, several planned retirement communities throughout the hamlet and significant residential development in Upper Port, Costell described PJS/T as looking at challenges associated with population density.

“I think it’s incumbent upon us as an organization to register our desire and intention to seek new planning overall, to bring a traffic study and some of the impacts of all of these things cumulatively,” the civic president said. 

He added, “I’d like to go in front of the [Brookhaven] Town Board and express our concern that our little hamlet needs some attention, that we’ve gotten a whole lot of multifamily activity here that we welcome but want done in a fashion and manner that’s going to ameliorate the impacts on existing residents and invite new people in.”

Kornreich concurred with this assessment in part, stating that overdevelopment represents a danger to the quality of life in the area.

“I agree with you that overdevelopment is one of the gravest threats that we face in the destruction of the suburbs, both in respect to our way of life and from an environmental standpoint,” the councilmember said.

Town natural gas program

Kornreich informed the body on a cost-savings strategy for consumers of natural gas. 

Recently, the town launched its Community Choice Aggregation program, partnering with Manhattan-based Good Energy to deliver a fixed rate on natural gas at 69 cents per therm. [See story, “Community Choice Aggregation: Town of Brookhaven joins energy revolution,” March 9, TBR News Media website.]

The councilmember said ratepayers could potentially save hundreds of dollars per year by strategically opting in and out of the CCA program based on the gas price from National Grid.

“Essentially, you can opt in and out at any time as many times as you want for free,” he said.

To save money, he encouraged residents to closely monitor National Grid’s service rates, published at the beginning of every month. “When that price is lower than 69 cents, you stay on National Grid,” he said. “When it goes over, you switch over.”

Based on a model he had conducted for his bill measuring the CCA against the National Grid price, Kornreich projected he would have saved approximately $250 last year.

“This month, in the month of April, National Grid’s price is 35 cents a therm,” he said, adding, “It’s half the price of the CCA … so I’m opting out.”


A Suffolk County Police Department officer delivered a report on public safety, noting that the phenomenon of catalytic converter theft within the area remains ongoing. The 6th Precinct also observed a slight increase in petit larcenies from this time last year.

He remarked on the new speed cameras installed on the Long Island Expressway. [See story, “New York implements new work-zone enforcement program.”] . The officer reported that during testing, the cameras generated roughly 6,500 summons within a 45-minute window. 

“Please be careful when you get on the LIE,” he said, adding jokingly, “That’s not a county thing. That’s a state thing, so please don’t call us and complain.”

Comsewogue High School students Kylie and Max updated the civic on various developments within the school district. The Spanish Honor Society at the high school recently held a fundraiser to buy Progresso soup donated to the Pax Christi Hospitality Center in Port Jefferson.

Andrea Malchiodi, assistant director of Comsewogue Public Library, announced that the library is conducting a raffle for all cardholders as part of National Library Week. “We’re doing a huge raffle basket, so anybody who is a library card holder can go and put in a raffle to win this fun basket,” she said.

The library is also collecting pet food for a collection drive through Long Island Cares.

PJSTCA corresponding secretary, Charlie McAteer, reported that the town would be holding a Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, April 29, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Train Car Park in Port Jefferson Station.

McAteer also said that the Friends of the Greenway would conduct their next cleanup on Saturday, May 13, at 9 a.m. at the Port Jefferson Station trailhead. This cleanup will coincide with this year’s iteration of the Great Brookhaven Cleanup.

PJSTCA will meet again on Tuesday, May 23, at 7 p.m. at Comsewogue Public Library.

Boaters wave to the crowd at Harborfront Park during last year's Memorial Parade of Boats. Photo by Julianne Mosher/TBR News Media

It’s time once again to sail for a cure as the 13th annual Village Cup Regatta, a friendly competition between Mather Hospital and the Village of Port Jefferson, returns on Saturday, Sept. 10. 

Mayor Margot Garant, pictured with Regatta Ambassador Ralph Macchio, Mather Hospital Executive Director Kevin McGeachy and Stephanie McGeachy, accepted last year’s Village Cup on behalf of the Village of Port Jefferson.

Presented by the Port Jefferson Yacht Club, the Regatta raises funds for Mather’s Palliative Medicine Program and the Lustgarten Foundation, which funds pancreatic cancer research. Last year’s Regatta raised more than $104,000 — a record sum — which was divided between Mather Hospital and the Lustgarten Foundation. The event has raised more than $750,000 over the past 12 years.

The Regatta consists of Yacht Club-skippered sailboats divided into two teams representing Mather Hospital and the Village of Port Jefferson. Employees from the Hospital and Village help crew the boats, which race in one of three classes based on boat size.

The festivities begin in Harborfront Park, 101 East Broadway in Port Jefferson Village, at 10 a.m, where you can purchase shirts, commemorative hats, nautical bags and mugs. The Memorial Parade of Boats begins at 11 a.m. at the Port Jefferson Village dock. All sailboats participating in the Regatta will pass by the park dressed in banners and nautical flags on their way out to the Long Island Sound for the race which begins at 1 p.m.

Actor, director and local resident Ralph Macchio will once again serve as Village Cup Regatta Celebrity Ambassador for the event. Macchio has helped to publicize the important work of the two programs funded by the Regatta for the last ten years. Macchio’s wife, Phyllis, is a nurse practitioner in Mather’s Palliative Medicine Program.

Following the Regatta, a celebratory Skipper’s Reception and presentation of the Village Cup will take place  at 3:30 p.m. in a restored 1917 shipyard building that today serves as the Port Jefferson Village Center.

For more information and to purchase tickets to the reception ($50 per person includes food, wine, beer and raffles), please visit www.portjeffersonyachtclub.com or www.facebook.com/villagecupregatta. For further questions, call 631-512-1068.


Photo from Facebook/Kevin Wood
Event will feature canine aquatic competitions hosted by Dock Dogs

By Julianne Mosher

The Village of Port Jefferson is bringing a new meaning to the dog days of summer.

The Port Paws Dog Festival is gearing up for  this weekend and it’s going to be dog-gone fun.

Festival organizer Kevin Wood with his dog Brody. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Kevin Wood, economic development director for the village and chair of the event, said the event will bring not only lots of business to Port Jeff, but also is an excuse to show some friendly competition for one furry friend to another. “The Dock Dogs competition is open to everyone,” he said while standing next to his 18-month-old English creme retriever, Brody. 

The dogs go tail-to-tail in different exercises — the biggest being retrieving a lure fastest in a 30,000-gallon pool that will be set up at Joe Erland Field, on Caroline Avenue, near the new Barnum Avenue parking lot. 

Wood said he first saw the competition while visiting the East End of Long Island, and soon realized he needed to bring it Down Port. “Port Jefferson is a dog-loving town,” he said. 

The Wood family always had small, lap dogs who they loved — but when they adopted Brody, who loves the water, he thought it would be fun to see how he, and all the other local dogs, would do in a friendly competition. 

“No municipality has done this before,” Wood said. “I wanted to bring it to the next level and bring it to the village.”

Presented by King O’Rourke Auto Group, the three-day event starts on Friday, July 22 with a mini event for non-competitors — a trial event for dogs willing to give it a shot. Dog owners interested in signing up can do so that day for a $20 registration fee, with the event beginning at 5 p.m.

On Saturday, July 23 and Sunday, July 24, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., dogs from all over Long Island, and even some flying in internationally, will complete on who can jump the highest, swim the furthest and retrieve a toy in the pool the fastest after jumping and diving off of a dock, to be built on the field, and into the giant pool. 

The inaugural jump will be dedicated to Aida Ramonez, an 11-year-old Port Jefferson resident who passed away earlier this year. She was an avid animal lover who would have loved an event like this, Wood said. 

Throughout the show, Dock Dogs will present the Big Air Wave competition accompanied by an Extreme Vertical and Speed Retrieve competition for both competitors and spectators to enjoy. The Big Air competition features dogs running down a 40’ dock and diving into a pool of water after an object, in which they are electronically judged for the length of their jump. 

The Extreme Vertical competition is a “high jump” for the dogs as they each lunge to snag a “bumper” suspended in the air. With each grab, the height increases in two-inch increments until only one dog is crowned king. 

Rounding out the action is the newest form of competition known as Speed Retrieve — where the dogs are put on the clock to see how fast they can run down the dock, jump into the water, swim to the end of the pool and retrieve an object which is held by a modified extender arm.

The competitions are open to any and everyone. Teams are made up of one dog and one handler. Your canine must be six months or older to be eligible. Canines of any breed, size or shape are welcomed. Not only is the competition open to all types of canines, but also handlers above the age of seven are welcomed. There is even a “Youth Handler” class for those who are between the ages of seven to 14. 

But Wood said that the weekend-long event won’t just be for games — they decided to turn it into a full-blown festival with dozens of dog-centric vendors, rescues, trainers and some food trucks for their human companions. 

“This is the first time in a long time that something attractive will be at this field,” Wood said, noting that he first brought the idea to the village more than eight months ago before it was officially voted on. 

Mayor Margot Garant, who has a furry friend named Wyatt who will be in attendance, said that the village is excited to host this family event.

“Our dogs are integral members of our family and should be celebrated as such,” she said. “I can’t wait to see everyone there and to enjoy the comradery and competition.”

Tickets are $10 for entry, while children under 12 and dogs are free. Proceeds from the event will help fund the Port Jefferson Harbor Education and Arts Conservancy, with hope to bring new drinking fountains (for humans and dogs) to different locations around the village. 

Wood added that the event will be livestreamed on Facebook, and shuttle buses will be circling all of the parking lots to help bring people to the event. 

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit portpawsdogfest.com. 

Nan Guzzetta. Photo by John Griffin

By Tara Mae

The Port Jefferson Village Center’s second floor gallery unveiled its latest exhibit today, March 3. Titled Celebrating Women’s Suffrage and the Timeless Collection of Nan Guzzetta, it recognizes the determined advocacy of historical local suffragists and celebrates the life and legacy of Port Jefferson’s Antique Costume and Prop Rental proprietor Nancy Altman “Nan” Guzzetta, who passed away in 2021. The show runs through March 31. 

Fifteen costumed mannequins supplied by the estate of Nan Guzzetta and a comprehensive display on the suffrage movement by Town of Brookhaven Historian Barbara Russell are the focal points of the exhibit, which consists of textiles, photos, posters, and documents. It was conceptualized by Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant. 

‘The sky is now her limit’ by Elmer Andrews Bushnell. Image courtesy of loc.gov

“This serves a twofold purpose: celebrating Women’s History Month in March and honoring and memorializing the life work of Nan, a longtime resident,” said Mayor Garant. “Nan’s work has in particular helped this village for many decades, as she put her trademark costume design on many of our festivals including our traditional Dickens event. This exhibit gives us the ability to open up her displays to the general public with a special emphasis on the women’s suffragette movement.”

Established in 1977, Guzzetta’s shop on Main Street in Port Jefferson Village provided costumes and props for parties, weddings, historical re-enactments, museum exhibits, and other private and public events. The women’s suffrage display was her last project.

“Mom got the mannequins ready for another suffrage exhibit that then didn’t happen due to COVID. They were dressed in the parlor and throughout the house when she died; we preserved all those mannequins. They have been dressed that way for a long time, waiting to go on display,” said Nan’s son, Dave Guzzetta. 

Port Jefferson historian Chris Ryon reached out to Guzzetta’s family to request the use of the styled mannequins for the exhibit. Expertly draped, Guzzetta’s historical replicas add a dynamic element to the display, according to according to Sue Orifici, who is the Graphic, Archival, and Special Projects Coordinator for the Port Jefferson Village. “The show is in part a homage to her contributions to the community,” she said. 

Through her passion for her craft and history, Guzzetta sought to make sure the past, including the stories of suffragists, was not only remembered but alive. “She loved history and bringing it to life,” her daughter-in-law Lorraine said. 

A co-founder of the Port Jefferson Charles Dickens Festival, Nan collaborated with the Port Jefferson Village Center and local educational nonprofits such as the Port Jefferson Historical Society and the Three Village Historical Society, offering her expertise, insight, costumes, and accessories.

“Nan was a tremendous part of our annual Spirits Cemetery Tour, outfitting and designing each costume worn by actors for nearly 20 years,” said Director Mari Irizarry of Three Village Historical Society. “Nan will forever be remembered as a significant contributor toward the fostering of interest in local history and a fuller appreciation of the rich historical and cultural heritage of our community.” 

It was such a shared professional and personal investment in historical education and preservation that connected Guzzetta with Barbara Russell. Like many people involved in the suffrage exhibit, Russell worked with Guzzetta and personally experienced how the intersection of her interests formed her business and her support of the community. 

Annie Tinker

“I met Nan when she first started her business. She called Fran Child from the Port Jefferson Historical Society and suggested a fashion show using her costumes and models from the Society. I think it was circa 1978…I ended up modeling 19th ‘underclothes.’ Trust me, I was well covered up in cotton fabric. It was a really fun event and kicked off Nan’s new business,” said Russell.

Now, once again, Guzzetta and Russell’s efforts complement each other. The mannequins are the three-dimensional component to the pictures and documents that comprise the rest of the exhibit, specifically Russell’s traveling suffrage display, which explores the suffrage movement on a local, state, and national level.  

“One display is six panels on the centennial of women’s right to vote in 2017, organized by the New York State Library, New York State Archives and New York State Museum,” Russell said. “The other standing display is from the National Archives. The town has loaned both displays to the Port Jefferson Harbor Education and Arts Conservancy.” 

Individual local suffragists, such as Alva Vanderbilt Belmont and Annie Rensselaer Tinker, are highlighted in the exhibit. Belmont, a wealthy socialite who parlayed her social status and money into fighting for women’s suffrage, founded the Political Equality League and co-founded of the National Woman’s Party. She opened up her lavish Oakdale estate Idle Hour for fundraisers, networking, and strategizing. 

Tinker, a member of the Woman’s Political Union, who summered in Poquott, participated in meetings, rallies, marches, and theatrical benefits for women’s suffrage. She also established and trained a women’s cavalry.

These individual profiles and details enhance the human interest element that Guzzetta strove to embrace with her costuming, combining art and entertainment with learning. “She really loved the historical, the theatrical. She really wanted to be sure that everyone had fun. It was not enough to be appropriately dressed. She wanted people to have fun … people had to have fun,” her widower Charles said.

Guzzetta’s joy in sharing stories and making history more tangible were hallmarks of her business, one that Dave and Lorraine hope to continue. “There is a plan and we are in the middle of organizing… We are hoping there is a call for her work, that it is able to sustain itself,” Dave said. 

Celebrating Women’s Suffrage and the Timeless Collection of Nan Guzzetta will be on view on the second floor of the Port Jefferson Village Center, 101-A East Broadway, Port Jefferson through March 31. The Center is open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Join them for a reception on Sunday, March 6 from 2 to 4 p.m. For more information, please visit www.portjeff.com/gallery/ or call 631-802-2160. 

A ribbon cutting was given for Give Kids Hope on Sept. 23. Photo from PJCC

The Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting for Give Kids Hope, Inc. on Thursday, Sept. 23. The new thrift store, located at 1506 Main Street in Port Jefferson, is an endeavor by owner Melissa Paulson (center holding scissors) to bring more resources to people struggling within the community. 

The celebration was attended by Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant, Village Trustee Bruce Miller, Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden; members of the chamber including President Mary Jo Pipe, 1st President Stuart Vincent and Director Douglas Quattrock; friends and family.

Created as a nonprofit to help provides assistance to less fortunate children and families on LongIsland, the storefront features housewares, antiques, furniture, etcc. with a food pantry in the back of the store. 

“We are so thankful for the warm welcome we received from our village,” said Paulson. “[And a] huge thank you to my amazing volunteers who have donated countless days and hours to make our mission possible. The love and generosity we receive from our donors and supporters is incredible. We are truly blessed beyond words.”

The thrift store is currently open Mondays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, please call 631-538-5287.

Photo by Julianne Mosher

The North Shore of Long Island was hit hard when the aftermath of Tropical Depression Ida swept along the East Coast.

While the storm pummeled the Island Wednesday night, the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Suffolk County. Severe flooding headed down Main Street, E Broadway and the side streets of Port Jefferson, causing damage to local stores, the Port Jefferson Fire Department and Theatre Three.

Photo from PJFD

On Wednesday night the fire department responded to numerous water rescue emergencies, and multiple victims were rescued from their vehicles by its High Water unit. They were joined by the Terryville Fire Department and Mount Sinai Fire Department.

According to the PJFD, in some cases, civilians were found on the roof of their vehicles, or trapped within a floating vehicle. Additionally, a landslide took place on Dark Hallow Road, which left the road essentially impassable with nearly 4-feet of mud and debris.

As a result of the landslide, eight families were evacuated from their apartment building due to unstable conditions of the land.

While fire department volunteers made their ways out to help others, they, too, were victims of the storm. The firehouse on Maple Avenue suffered extensive flood damage.

“Our firefighters did an excellent job coordinating multiple rescues,” said Chief of Department Todd Stumpf. “We have a lot of cleanup ahead, but we are fully in service and able to respond to all emergencies.”

Photo from PJFD

He added that fortunately no injuries were reported during the storm.

Down the street, Theatre Three said they had more than three-and-a-half feet of water inside as of Wednesday morning.

Executive artistic director Jeffrey Sanzel said that the theatre has had its fair share of floods throughout the years, and even though they were more prepared for Ida than others in the past, it was still a hard hit.

“This will be two or three days of cleaning,” he said, “But we’ll get it done and you won’t know what happened.”

Water record-setting levels heading too close for comfort to the stage downstairs. Sanzel said water knocked over and carried one of the dumpsters outside, as well as damaged dozens of costumes, furniture and a beautiful, donated upright piano that is now ruined.

Other businesses like Ruvo and Lavender Fields had flood damage and are currently in the midst of cleaning up.

“Port Jeff was hit again with a flash flood of over 7’’ of torrential rainfall,” said Mayor Margot Garant. “While it hit hard, we remain resilient and continue our work with the state emergency office and state agencies on our flood remediation efforts.”

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Photo by Julianne Mosher

Shortly after the festivities of the Port Jefferson Fire Department Independence Day Parade, residents and visitors gathered near the front steps of Village Hall to watch the swearing in of Team Unity on July 5.

Village clerk Barbara Sakovich kicked off the oath of office by thanking the fire department for hosting the event. 

“Thank you to the Port Jefferson Fire Department for always putting on a fabulous parade and incredible display of patriotism,” she said. “And of course, we thank them for their service to the Village of Port Jefferson by keeping all of us safe.”

Sakovich welcomed the three incumbents and their families to the podium, thanking them for their work “for a common good.”

Photo by Julianne Mosher

Trustee Stanley Loucks was the first up. 

“Stan works tirelessly every day and is the perfectly liaison to the recreation department, as he has a passion for all things recreation, as well as to the Port Jefferson Country Club, which is our treasure here in the village,” Sakovich said. “He works around the clock for us, and he is always the first to volunteer to get the job done.”

Loucks thanked his wife, Peggy, for all of her support, and the community for allowing him to do this all again.

“It’s great to be back up here,” he said. “I want to thank everyone for the opportunity to continue to make this village better than it is now — that’s our goal. We have a lot of unfinished business to do, and I thank you again for allowing me to come back and stand here … and then after I stand here, go back to work.”

Trustee Kathianne Snaden won her second term last month due to her close work with the school district, parking committee, BID and as the commissioner of public safety. 

“She listens closely to our residents and works to bridge communication and cooperation within our community,” Sakovich said. 

With her husband and three daughters by her side, she was filled with gratitude to be standing at the podium.

“Thank you for the opportunity to be up here again and to serve all of you,” she said. “I often get asked, why do you do this thankless job? And to me it’s not thankless. This is the thanks. And this is why I do it — because of all of you. So, thank you for having me here yet again to serve you for two more years. It’s my honor and my pleasure.”

Photo by Julianne Mosher

Sakovich concluded the ceremony with Mayor Margot Garant, who now begins her seventh term. 

“I tell her all the time that she runs a small country,” she said. 

Emotionally taking the oath alongside her father and mother, former Mayor Jeanne Garant, she addressed the crowd with a smile.

Garant said she is now the longest running village mayor, officially surpassing former Mayor Harold Sheprow — who served 12 terms and sat in the crowd — while thanking her supporters for allowing her to do this once again.

“We’re family. We stick together. We work hard, and we support one another,” she said. “I want to thank my core supporters, many of who are lifelong friends, who’ve worked hard to support this administration, and who value, respect, and appreciate the work we do.”

Garant added she couldn’t do this without her team. 

“We are here to work for you to protect and preserve our quality of life,” she said. “And when making a decision, we will always do our best to make sure that decisions bring us closer together in unity, and make us a stronger community.”

Trustee Kathianne Snaden with her three daughters at the Unity Party victory party June 15. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Over the last few weeks of covering the Port Jefferson Village election, we’ve been fortunate enough to see things in person again. 

Restrictions have been lifted and people are vaccinated — the world is slowly getting back to normal. 

Last week, we attended the candidates’ debate at the Village Center. While sitting in the front row of the packed-out venue, we looked around at the people in the crowd. 

Sitting a few seats away were trustee Kathianne Snaden’s children — three girls, ages 11, 12 and 18.

As their mother debated, answering tough and controversial questions village residents asked, they looked at her with awe. That was their mom up there, taking the initiative to try and make a difference in their community. 

It was inspiring. Sure, we see strong women everywhere nowadays. There are doctors, lawyers, politicians, business owners, inventors — women do great things. But what we don’t always see is the impact this is leaving on our children. Young girls looking up to superstars who have multiple jobs — that include packing their lunches, driving them to school and doing their laundry. 

And it isn’t just that trustee. Candidate Suzanne Velazquez has a daughter who’s graduating high school. That’s another young person with an idol right in her own home. 

A few days later, the Unity Party held an election-result event at Saghar restaurant. Music was playing, food was being served and people danced together to celebrate another two years of the current administration. 

Mayor Margot Garant’s mother, Jeanne Garant, was there. She, too, was mayor of our village years ago, and during her acceptance speech, Margot thanked — and jokingly blamed  — her mom for her inspiration to become mayor. Now seven terms later, that family name is a staple in the village, and it all started with Jeanne putting her name on the ballot. 

What if Jeanne hadn’t run for mayor all those moons ago? Would Margot have decided to run? Maybe having that strong matriarch setting an example to her as a kid is what planted the seed in having her eventually try it out. 

Maybe Velazquez’s daughter will run one day. Maybe Snaden’s will, too.

But the fact that four out of five candidates this year were all women is spectacular and should be applauded. 

Above: Mayor Margot Garant with Timmy McNaulty, Brier Fox, Blake Wlischar and Grant Welischar pose for a picture while cleaning up the beach. Photos by Julianne Mosher

The community came together to make sure the Village of Port Jefferson’s shoreline is squeaky clean.

Hometown Hope, a local nonprofit made up of local residents who love, support and want to do good within the village, hosted its first annual beach cleanup event at all Port Jefferson-area beaches.

On Sunday, April 18, more than 200 volunteers, in conjunction with Sea Tow, Sheep Pasture Landscaping and Maggio Environmental, gathered (safely with masks) at the private beaches outlining Port Jeff. Starting at Centennial Beach, through Belle Terre Beach, McCallister Park, West Beach and East Beach, families and local groups gloved up to fill dozens of garbage bags on the warm and sunny day.

Diane Tafuro, a board member with Hometown Hope, said creating an event like this was a “no brainer.”

“We’re trying to get back to the community and keep our beaches clean,” she said. “Which is one of the best things about Port Jefferson village.”

Tafuro said this isn’t just a one-time thing the group plans to do. 

With the mission statement to provide and connect resources and support in times of need to all Port Jeff Village residents by promoting a movement of spreading kindness. Hometown Hope strives to uplift through wellness, resilience and compassionate understanding within the community.

The local Cub Scout troop took one section, while varsity athletes cleaned up East Beach. There, they found a large, heavy tire filled with sand. 

“This is exactly the type of thing why we love to live here,” Mayor Margot Garant said. “Our community comes together, and they teach their kids to start loving the place that they live … That’s why we call ourselves Port Jeff Strong.”

To find out more about Hometown Hope visit their website at hometownhopepj.org.

County Executive Steve Bellone, center, speaks at the April 20 press conference. Police Chief Stuart Cameron, left, and Suffolk County Police Department Commissioner Geraldine Hart were also in attendance. Photo from Suffolk County

In response to the 50 mass shootings that have occurred throughout the country in the last month, the Suffolk County Police Department is enabling supermarkets and big box retailers to connect to a camera system set up to provide the police with video access to schools.

Using a resource called SHARE, which stands for Sharing to Help Access Remote Entry, businesses can plug their closed-circuit systems to the police department’s Real-Time Crime Center. The connection, which will have no cost for businesses, is designed to provide critical, up-to-the-minute information to police in the event of an active shooter.

“We know from previous active shooter events that seconds matter,” said SCPD Commissioner Geraldine Hart at a press conference on Tuesday announcing the initiative at the Suffolk County Police Department Headquarters in Yaphank. “Seconds can save lives.”

The ability to see inside a building would give the police intelligence that they could pass along to first responding officers, providing a description and updated location of a person or people who had weapons.

“One of the things that keeps me up as county executive is the idea that we could have one of these shootings here in our county in Long Island,” said County Executive Steve Bellone (D) at the press conference. The SCPD, which has been “at the forefront of efforts to address the possibility of mass shootings is, once again, announcing a continuation of these efforts.”

The collaboration between these stores and the police could go a step further, giving the police access to electronic controls that would allow them to open electronic doors remotely for emergency responders, helping them get to victims sooner and giving them a chance to maneuver around a perpetrator.

“We value partnerships with the community,” Hart said. “The goal is to keep people safe.”

Since 2016, the Suffolk County Police Department has done 420 active shooter presentations. On May 2, the SCPD will hold an active shooter drill at a King Kullen in Middle Island, which is the first time the police will conduct such an exercise in a supermarket.

The SCPD has also held 67 stop the bleed training classes for residents, which teaches people to treat wounds and practice applying tourniquets.

The SCPD will have the “ability to see inside those stores if, God forbid, an active shooter situation arises,” Bellone said.

In 2019, Bellone, Hart and Police Chief Stuart Cameron announced the SHARE program at West Babylon high school, which gave police the ability to tap into closed circuit TVs at area schools.

“This is one of the best things we can do to help save lives in an active shooter situation,” Bellone said. “We’re going to do everything we can on a local level to deal with the possibility of mass shootings.”

Bellone called the number of mass shootings in the country, which exceeds one per day, “insane,” and urged Congress to adopt “common-sense gun safety measures.” Rather than wait for a provision that might solve or prevent all the problems, Bellone urged Congress to take action immediately to reduce the risk of events that rob families and the community of loved ones amid senseless violence.

The police would only access cameras in the event of an emergency or a potentially dangerous situation.

Last month, the Village of Port Jefferson — which has had cameras hooked up to the Suffolk County Real-Time Crime Center for over two years — was able to help police find and arrest Joseph Garcia of Port Jefferson Station for the alleged shooting of David Bliss Jr. on Main Street. 

“We were proud to partner with the Suffolk County Real-Time Crime Center a few years ago to take advantage of this program that keeps our streets safe,” said Mayor Margot Garant. “It’s proven to create a quick response and help reduce crime in our village.”

Businesses and Suffolk County residents can gather more information at: SCPDShield.org.

Additional reporting by Julianne Mosher