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Those of us along the North Shore and particularly in Setauket, who routinely live with tales of the local spies, might be especially interested in the life of Doris Sharrar Bohrer. One of the few female spies for the Allies during World War II, she died earlier this month at the age of 93 and was not publicly recognized for her extraordinary work until this century.

A Class of 1940 graduate of Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland, she applied to take the civil service exam and was for whatever reason assigned to the Office of Strategic Services, forerunner to the CIA. There, after typing for a year, she was sent to photo reconnaissance school, where she learned to interpret aerial maps and photographs. Few women in the OSS rose beyond the typing pool. A posting in Egypt followed, where she would make 3-D balsa-wood relief maps from the aerial photos that helped prepare the Allied troops for the invasions of Sicily and then of the rest of Italy. Soon she was moved to Bari on Italy’s Adriatic coast, advising where to drop and to pick up OSS agents from behind enemy lines.

In examining aerial photos, she was able to see closed cattle cars with passengers heading east, and her group located the Nazi concentration camps. However, she told The Washington Post in 2011, “we were too late” in finding the concentration camps. “We kept wondering where the trains were going.”

During the war, she packed a Browning pistol in a shoulder holster but was denied the right to carry a hand grenade as a female Yugoslav partisan co-worker could do. In fact, some of her male counterparts were condescending and even outright hostile to women intelligence agents, calling them “the girls.” These included her superior officer who denied her the grenade. So she had an engineer friend fashion a dummy grenade that she carried into the mess hall where some of the other agents were having lunch. When her superior officer reached across to grab it away, she picked it up and smashed it against the table.

The boys scattered “out the windows,” she told Ann Curry of NBC News many years later. “They just disappeared. And I sat there and ate my salad.”

After the war, Bohrer was assigned to Germany, where she spied on the Soviet Union. She interviewed German scientists who had been detained by the Soviets in order to find out for the CIA as much as possible about the state of Soviet science. This was during the lengthy Cold War.

Bohrer retired from the CIA in 1979 as deputy chief of counterintelligence, training U.S. officers on tactics of foreign espionage operatives. In effect, she spied on the spies. She married Charles Bohrer after World War II and after retirement became a residential real-estate sales agent in the 1980s and ’90s in the Old Town section of Alexandria, Virginia. She also bred and raised poodles, some of which won ribbons and prizes. Her husband retired as director of the CIA medical office.

In 2013 two high-ranking CIA women directors thanked Bohrer and Betty McIntosh, another CIA operative, at the Langley, Virginia, headquarters for their service.

Bohrer’s work had remained secret until The Washington Post discovered in 2011 that she and McIntosh, the author of two books, lived at the same retirement home in northern Virginia; McIntosh had carried out propaganda work in China. Both women had not known each other during the war but had become good friends. Bohrer, whose husband died in 2007 after they were married 61 years, is survived by her son and his two grandchildren. McIntosh died in 2015 at age 100.

Bohrer had wanted to learn to fly to defend the U.S. after the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack. She never did take up aviation but found looking at aerial photographs “an interesting way to look at the world. It was almost as good as flying,” she told The Washington Post. Like the Setauket spies, Bohrer and McIntosh went unheralded for many years but their stories are now told to the world at large.

The new trail will move from Port Jefferson Station to Wading River, passing through where old Miller Place railroad tracks used to be. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Every project has its perks, and in the case of one large North Shore endeavor, the possibilities are endless.

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), along with other local officials, recently announced a 2018 completion year for the Port Jefferson Station to Wading River Rails to Trails project  — that has been more than 30 years in the making. With the plan, which involves paving a bike path where old railways existed to be used for cyclists, potential is everywhere.

While the project will provide a safe space for biking enthusiasts, skateboarders, roller-bladers and even those just looking to take a scenic stroll, there is also a huge chance for economic growth, with the path connecting so many Town of Brookhaven hamlets. Bikers, hikers and anyone in-between could stop at kiosks along the path to grab a bottle of water or an ice cream cone, or groups may stop in any hamlet along their travels to grab dinner or go shopping. The trail could also be a way to connect locals, and tourists too, to local beaches, museums and other landmarks.

It’s also just a great opportunity to explore the wonders of the North Shore. The plan helps preserve even more open space while stringing together breathtaking views that tend to get lost in all of the development on Long Island.

Further, the trails should serve as inspiration for cars to be left at home occasionally, which can only have a positive impact on the environment around us.

This project is attractive on multiple levels and across multiple layers of government. We applaud officials for being able to work together and across party lines to achieve a common goal with so many benefits.

Congressman Lee Zeldin, joined by Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini, health professionals, community groups, parents, expresses his support for the package of bills coming to the House floor this week. File photo from Jennifer DiSiena

Major change may be coming to the North Shore, as a drug abuse bill is set to land on U.S. President Barack Obama’s (D) desk this week.

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) is a co-sponsor of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016, which plans to spend $8.3 billion to help combat widespread drug addiction, especially addiction to heroin, on Long Island.

“As addiction and overdose deaths continue to climb, tearing families apart, it is essential that the President sign CARA into law to start delivering help to those suffering,”
— Lee Zeldin

CARA passed through the House of Representatives last week with a bipartisan vote of 407 to 5, and the Senate this week with a bipartisan vote 92 to 2.

Zeldin, who is a member of The Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic, said he has been a proud supporter of this bill for more than a year now, and is happy to see Congress backing it.

“With both House and Senate passage of CARA, a bill that I proudly cosponsor, we are now only one step away from this bill being signed into law,” Zeldin said in a statement. “78 people [lose] their life every day as a result of an opioid or heroin overdose. Last year — on Long Island alone — 442 people died of a heroin or opiate overdose, up from 403 overdose deaths the year before. As addiction and overdose deaths continue to climb, tearing apart families and communities, it is essential that the President sign CARA into law to start delivering help to those suffering.”

The specifics of CARA include $80 million in funding to help prevent and treat addiction on a local level through community-based education, prevention, treatment and recovery programs; $160 million for the expansion of medication-assisted treatment options; and $103 million to establish a community-based competitive grant program to address and treat the problems of heroin and opioid addiction and abuse. Additional funding will help supply po lice forces and emergency medical responders with higher quantities of naloxone, known more commonly as Narcan, a medication that is proven to reverse an opioid overdose.

Another part of CARA’s funding focuses on pain management and prescription.

According to the bill, the Department of Health and Human Services is required to assemble a Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force, which will review, modify, and update the best practices for pain management and prescribing pain medication, and examine and identify the need for, development, and availability of medical alternatives to opioids.

The grant aspect of CARA is connected to the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968. CARA is set to amend that bill to authorize the Department of Justice to award grants to state, local and tribal governments to provide opioid-abuse services, including enhancing collaboration between criminal justice and substance abuse agencies; developing, implementing and expanding programs to prevent, treat, or respond to opioid abuse; training first responders to administer opioid overdose reversal drugs; and investigating unlawful opioid distribution activities.

The North Shore is not immune to the heroin crisis. According to a New York State Opioid Poisoning, Overdose and Prevention Report from 2015, Suffolk County has the highest heroin-related overdose fatalities of any county in New York.

Zeldin has co-sponsored several other bills in the House on this issue.

“While there is not just one piece of legislation that will solve this crisis, we must always continue our fight to provide our local communities with the resources necessary to help stop and prevent drug abuse through treatment, enforcement, and education,” he said.

A group of kids decked out in Pokémon attire as they search for Pokémon in town. Photo from Benjamin Harris

By Rebecca Anzel 

The latest trend sweeping the nation is a throwback from the 1990s with a modern-technology twist: a augmented reality Pokémon game played on smartphones, and residents of Huntington are not immune. Hundreds of kids, teenagers and adults alike took to the streets this week to interact in this new game.

This latest offering from Pokémon evolved the franchise beyond the original cards, television show and video games. Pokémon GO allows players to create an avatar, called a trainer, and walk around their neighborhoods catching various Pokémon. Players can battle one another and get free in-game items from locations chosen by the game.

“Seeing all these people in my town is so new and great, especially when we can all bond over the same thing,”
— Gerard Anthony

The game is getting people of all ages out of their houses and into their neighborhoods. The only way to catch Pokémon is to walk around searching for them, and players have been posting on social media about how far they have traveled around their neighborhood.

One 22-year-old Greenlawn resident said she saw more than 50 kids hunting for Pokémon at parks in Northport and Huntington in one afternoon.

Megan McLafferty introduced the game to two kids she babysits because she thought, “it would be a fun activity to do outside with the kids — and they loved it.”

She said the kids really enjoyed searching different spots for Pokémon.

“I like that it gets you outside, it gets you moving, and it gets you to interact with other people,” she said in an interview. “It seemed like a lot of people were in big groups together [searching for Pokémon].”

Gerard Anthony, an 18-year-old Northport resident agreed that Pokémon GO is a great game to play in groups.

“Seeing all these people in my town is so new and great, especially when we can all bond over the same thing,” Anthony said in an interview. “I am able to go into Northport by myself and meet a new group of people each day.”

The only way to catch Pokémon is to walk around searching for them, and similarly, the only way to get a refill of free in-game item, like pokéballs is to go to Pokéstops.

One of those stops is the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library in East Setauket. Director Ted Gutmann said once he discovered this, he had to try it. “I caught a few in my office,” he said. “So they’re here!”

The library is busy this time of year because of its summer reading program, but Gutmann said being a Pokéstop is attracting more visitors than usual.

A man captures a Pokemon. Photo by Victoria Espinoza
A man captures a Pokemon. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

“The hope is, once they get in here, they’ll stop and read a book or attend one of our programs,” he said.

Gutman added that the library had tried its hand at augmented reality a while ago, implementing the technology in its newsletter. It abandoned the effort because it was not getting enough use at the time, but now that Pokémon GO is increasing the popularity of augmented reality, he said the library may revisit the project.

“There are lots of opportunities to use the technology beyond the game,” he said.

Port Jefferson’s Main Street is also a huge attraction for players. With a multitude of Pokéstops and gyms, the promise of Port Jefferson tempted Chris Aguilar, 23, to travel from Riverhead two days in a row.

Aguilar said there were so many people in the streets on the first night he was in the area, July 13, that mobs of trainers were crossing the streets. They did not begin to clear out until about 2:30 a.m.

“This game is bringing people together in an unprecedented way,” he said. “It’s like an age gap doesn’t exist between players,” who can speak to each other on almost an equal level about the game and trade tips.

Other local hotspots to catch Pokémon include Heritage Park  in Mount Sinai and Sylvan Ave. Park in Miller Place.

Just two days after the game’s release, players were spending an average of 43 minutes and 23 seconds per day playing Pokémon GO, a higher rate than popular apps including Instagram, Snapchat and Whatsapp.

According to SimilarWeb, an information technology company that tracks web analytics, Pokémon GO has so many daily active users that it is projected to soon have more users than Twitter.

But some people are concerned about the safety risks associated with Pokémon GO.

Pedestrians are now wandering around towns, with their eyes faced down at their smartphones. Law enforcement agencies, institutions of higher education and public transportation systems have spoken of the dangers of walking around consumed by a smartphone.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) held a press conference Tuesday to remind residents to exercise caution while playing.

“The safety and well-being of our residents, especially children, is our highest priority,” he said in a statement.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini echoed his sentiments at the event.

“There have also been accounts of people using the application while driving,” Sini said. “We are encouraging not just parents, but all users, to practice caution to avoid injury to self and others.”

Stony Brook University also contributed to the conversation, reminding students to watch where they are walking while playing.

Mark Szkolnicki, a student of the university, said that he is always careful.

“I grew up in a bad area, so the whole mugging-for-phones thing has been something that I’ve been cautious of forever,” he said. “But I worry for the youth because it’s a cool concept and it could really grow, but those kinds of obstacles really put a downer on the whole gaming community.”

Stony Brook Office for Marine Sciences Secretary Christina Fink agreed. She said it is important to keep in mind that if players are going hunting for Pokémon at night, they should go with at least one other person.

Reporting contributed by Victoria Espinoza.

The lawns of Heritage Park in Mount Sinai played host to nearly 100 hot rods old and new on a sun-splashed, windy Sunday morning. A Ford Starliner from the 1950s and brand new Chevrolet Camaros, along with just about everything in-between, shared the green grass underneath blue skies on display at the Heritage Park Car Show.

North Shore residents young and old circulated the park to admire the vintage cars inside and out, with most even showing a peak at what’s under the hood. Live music, food, vendors and raffles accompanied the cool rides.

Ad in the Port Jefferson Echo: Jan. 13, 1927, page 2. Photo from Beverly Tyler

By Beverly C. Tyler

Athena Hall, now known as Theatre Three on Main Street in Port Jefferson, was a community hall from 1874, when it was built, until it was remodeled into the Port Jefferson Theatre in 1928 with raked seating for 473.

Until then, it was an open flat-floor area above Griswold’s machine shop, where vaudeville and minstrel shows, magic lantern shows, automobile shows, local plays and other events were held which usually included music and entertainment, and by the early 1900s, “moving pictures” as well.

Ad in the Port Jefferson Echo: Jan. 13, 1927, page 2. Photo from Beverly Tyler
Ad in the Port Jefferson Echo: Jan. 13, 1927, page 2. Photo from Beverly Tyler

Athena Hall was also used for the high school graduations, as a meeting house, election headquarters, dance hall, roller skating ring and by various organizations such as the Port Jefferson fire department which held a benefit show in 1927, featuring a one-act play, a movie and the Port Jefferson High School orchestra. Earlier the same year, Bridgeport radio station WICC held a two-night show featuring Charlie Cole and His Famous Radio Singing Orchestra, with music for dancing every night from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. There were even musical and Charleston dance contests during the auto show in January 1927.

About this same year, 12-year-old Blanche Carlton was asked to play the piano before the film that day and to accompany her close friend Veronica “Ronnie” Matfeld who would be singing. Blanche (Carlton) Tyler Davis is my mom and she told me this story over tea one day just recently.

Mom said, “I believe it was all arranged by Charlie Ruggles who got the director to run the skits at the theater before the movie. I think the director’s name was John. Ronnie was going to sing and I would play the piano. I could hear the tunes so I didn’t need the music and I could pick out other tunes. For the last piece Ronnie sang “Ave Maria” and when she reached the higher notes I was supposed to be at the top notes on the piano and then when Ronnie reached the highest note I was to reach for the notes beyond the piano and fall off the stool onto the stage — and I did.” That was the end of the skit. My mom Blanche and Veronica went off the back of the stage and the movie started.

Ruggles came to live in East Setauket in 1926 and purchased a property at 16 Old Coach Road. He maintained this East Coast residence until 1942.

Ruggles was probably best known for his performances as a character actor in films such as “Bringing Up Baby” (1938) with stars Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. In this crazy, hectic comedy film he played Maj. Applegate, a big-game hunter. Ruggles appeared in about 100 feature films over a more-than 50-year career.

He began on the stage and became well known for his work in radio and television.

Ruggle’s career included Long Island at the Players-Lasky studio (later to become Paramount Pictures), based in Astoria, where he made four silent films in 1915. His comedic talents also extended to his personal relationships and he made many friends, some famous in their own right, as detailed in the Brooklyn Daily Star for May 13, 1927.

“Due to the cordial relations existing between Charles Ruggles, popular comedian of ‘Queen High,’ at the Ambassador Theater, and Lieutenant Commander Byrd, Clarence Chamberlain, Bert Acosta and other famous airmen, the actor has erected a huge searchlight on his estate near East Setauket, L. I., to guide the flyers in their aerial navigation during the night hours.”

Ruggles didn’t spend a lot of time on Long Island. After all, he couldn’t be here and make all those films and be on the stage in New York as well as in radio and television. However, in a story headlined “Movie Star at East Setauket,” as detailed in the Mid-Island Mail, Oct. 1, 1936, he did come here often: “Charles Ruggles of the movies flew from the coast last week to spend several days at his home in East Setauket. The well-known comedian is a frequent visitor here.” Ruggles was also here enough to be included in the 1930 census for East Setauket along with his future wife Marion La Barba.

Many other vaudeville, minstrel and Broadway actors came to this area with its pleasant villages and picturesque harbors. Getting out of the noise and smells of the city was one reason to come to places like Port Jefferson and Setauket and the presence of local theaters, dance halls and entertainment venues just added to the appeal.

Beverly Tyler is Three Village Historical Society historian and author of books available from the Three Village Historical Society.

Tracey Budd poses for a photo with her son Kevin Norris, who died of a heroin overdose in 2012. Photo from Tracey Budd

Tracey Budd’s son died of a heroin overdose in September 2012.

One year later, Budd, of Rocky Point, was asked to speak at the North Shore Youth Council. Since then, she’s ended up on a public service announcement, “Not My Child,” that’s shown in high schools and middle schools along the North Shore, aiding her in becoming an advocate for drug abuse prevention and rehabilitation. She also teamed up with another mother, Debbie Longo, of Miller Place, and the two have become advocates for prevention and rehabilitation along the North Shore.

It is because of their hard work and dedication to this issue on Long Island that they are 2015 Times Beacon Record Newspapers People of the Year.

“I made the decision not to be ashamed of how he passed away,” Budd said about her son. “Just from speaking that one time at North Shore Youth Council, it was so very healing for me, and so many things have come from that and taken me in a direction that I never thought I’d be in, but it seems like it’s my calling.”

Janene Gentile, a drug and alcohol counselor and executive director of the North Shore Youth Council, helped work on that PSA.

“It was very powerful,” she said. “It was walking her through her grief. She has a lot of courage.”

Budd, who is also a member of Families in Support of Treatment, pulled together as much information as she could, and this past October created a Facebook page — North Shore Drug Awareness Advocates — pooling together families from Rocky Point, Miller Place, Mount Sinai and Shoreham-Wading River to spread the word about the rising concern over dangerous drugs, like heroin, growing in popularity across the Island.

“It just seemed that so many people were inboxing me and asking me for help,” she said. “I created the page so we could have a centralized area where we share information, and organize meetings where the group could all meet up. I also organized meetings once a month so we could to teach people about advocacy.”

Having a 12-year-old daughter, Cristina Dimou attended the meetings to begin to gather information on the issue. About one week ago, someone Dimou knows suffered an unexpected overdose, she said. She immediately reached out to Budd asking for guidance.

Debbie Longo speaks at a Dan’s Foundation for Recovery event. Photo from Facebook
Debbie Longo speaks at a Dan’s Foundation for Recovery event. Photo from Facebook

“She gave me three phone numbers telling me who to call for what and even gave me websites of rehabilitation centers,” Dimou said about Budd. “She checks up on me every day, asking me if I’m okay and what’s going on. I don’t know her personally, but she had a sense of urgency and a willingness to help. I think that speaks volumes.”

Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) said with Budd’s outspokenness and Longo’s long-standing knowledge of the issue, they’ll be successful in their efforts.

“These women put their energy, their anger, their frustration, their sorrow into something that is helpful to the community,” she said. “I think they’re going to do amazing work.”

Longo has been involved in advocacy across the Island for the last five years, after her son suffered an overdose 10 years ago. Since then, her son has recovered, and currently lives in Del Ray, Florida as a director of marketing for a rehabilitation center called Insight to Recovery.

She said she found sending her son out of state helped him recover, because once he was done with his treatment, he wasn’t going back to seeing the same people he knew when he was using.

But she too has been involved in outreach and drug abuse prevention, aside from being to co-administrator of Budd’s Facebook page.

“I get a call just about every day from a parent saying they have a kid that’s addicted and they don’t know what to do,” she said. “We’re losing kids left and right. We’re losing a generation, is what we’re losing.”

Longo is a part of a 501(c)3 not-for-profit program, Steered Straight, which spreads prevention in schools. Recovered addict Michael DeLeon leads the program.

“You can hear a pin drop in the auditorium, that’s how dynamic of a speaker he is,” she said. “I can’t tell you how many kids come up to us at the end of the program and say, ‘I have a problem.’”

Longo was the chapter coordinator for New York State for a website called The Addict’s Mom, and is currently the head of Before the Petals Fall, Magnolia Addiction Support’s New York chapter. She is a 12-step yoga teacher to recovering addicts, and does post-traumatic stress disorder programs to help those dealing with grief.

After leaving nursing to go into medical marketing for hospitals, Longo said she thought she’d know where to turn when she found out her son was an addict, but said she really didn’t know what to do.

“There was such a bad stigma about addiction that you didn’t want to talk about it — you kind of suffered in silence,” she said. “If I was a nurse and had these contacts and didn’t know what to do, the average mother may have no idea. I’m trying to open the community up to what we have here on the North Shore.”

Tracey Budd holds a picture of her son, Kevin Norris, at a Walk for Hope event. Photo from Tracey Budd
Tracey Budd holds a picture of her son, Kevin Norris, at a Walk for Hope event. Photo from Tracey Budd

Longo has helped mothers like Sheila “Terry” Littler, of Rocky Point, whose son is a second-time recovering heroin addict. Currently, he is three months sober.

Knowing about treatment and where to get help, because it was something that started for her 13 years ago, Littler reached out to Longo for mental support.

“It was nice to have somebody else that’s gone through it to talk to, to know you’re not alone,” Littler said. “But at the same time, it’s sad that I’m not alone.”

When her son relapsed after being four and a half years sober, she reached out to Budd.

“It takes a lot of guts to come out in the open and do this and help people,” she said. “There are a lot of hurting people out there.”

She recently reached out to Longo about a friend of her son, who is a drug user, and the two were calling each other back and forth to find ways to overcome addiction.

“She cared to take the time to help me,” she said. “She spent a whole day doing that with me — that’s dedication right there.”

With the contacts Longo’s made with support centers and prevention agencies and Budd’s relationship with the county after creating the PSA, the two are teaming up to use their resources to form a coalition based on the Facebook page. It was also have the same name.

It’s in its early stages, but the hope is to help spread awareness about prevention through schools. As part of a coalition, Budd said, you can also apply for grants, which she hopes will help fund the spread of their advocacy.

“I felt Tracey was on the same path that I was on,” Longo said. “She is as tenacious as I am in what we’re trying to do.”

Longo said that she and Budd are trying to be vigilantes and have started Narcan training classes, like ones they’ve previously hosted in Miller Place and East Setauket, to continue to help fight the Island’s drug addiction problem. Narcan is a medication that stops opioid overdoses.

“I think together we’re a good team,” Budd said. “To me, you have a choice. You can either dig your head in the sand and be embarrassed that your child is an addict, or you can be proactive and say, ‘Enough of this, let’s help each other.’ When you speak to another parent that’s going through it, there’s a bond that you automatically create. In a way, I feel like my son is right there with me, helping these families. It’s very important to me, and I’m never going to stop doing it.”

From left, Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright, Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn, state Assemblyman Steve Englebright and state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie pose for a photo with historical documents. Photo by Giselle Barkley

He is not only the first African-American Speaker of the New York State Assembly, but also the first speaker to visit various districts on Long Island, as far as one long-standing North Shore lawmaker can remember.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) visited Setauket on Oct. 20, and met with residents and North Shore government officials, including Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket); Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station); and state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket).

“This happens about once every … well, it never has happened,” Englebright joked. “It’s pretty amazing.”

While touring the area was on Heastie’s agenda, his visit was also about getting better acquainted with the needs and concerns of residents in areas like Setauket, he said.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie stands in front of Patriots Rock. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie stands in front of Patriots Rock. Photo by Giselle Barkley

“When members get up and speak in conference, when they talk about what’s important to them or where they want us to concentrate or try to do things in the budget … [visiting the districts gives] me a better idea of what they’re speaking about,” Heastie said in an interview.

Heastie was elected Speaker of the NYS Assembly on Feb. 3. Since his election, Heastie has tackled a variety of issues including education, homelessness, financial stability for families and minimum wage, among other areas of concern.

The speaker also has ties to the greater North Shore community, as he graduated from Stony Brook University in 1990 with a degree in science. State Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) was recently named the Senate majority leader, making the North Shore’s presence strong in the state Legislature.

Although Heastie had limited time to mingle, Englebright guided Heastie around various areas in Setauket, touring the community’s coveted Greenway  Trail, and introducing him to the history of the region and the role it played in the birth of the United States, starting with Patriot’s Rock in Setauket, where the famous Battle of Setauket was fought.

Officials from Stony Brook University library were on hand to deliver the speaker a copy of a famous letter George Washington signed at West Point during the Revolutionary War.

“I used to teach political science and American history,” Heastie said. “So I’m kind of a history buff. It’s just something that was a little different than other parts of the tour, so this was nice — particularly with it being so close to the college that I graduated from.”

After learning about Long Island’s link to the Culper Spy Ring, dating back to the Revolutionary War era, the speaker stopped at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, followed by a visit to Gallery North in Setauket.

Throughout the visit, Englebright and other North Shore leaders used their time with the speaker to reiterate some of the region’s most pressing issues, including preservation and environmental sustainability. Englebright also reaffirmed Heastie’s desire to tour the districts as a means of helping those he represents and serves as speaker.

“He’s very interested in visiting the various districts and learning of what his members are working on,” Englebright said. “I’m one of his senior members, and I’m very grateful he wants to come out and see what are the things I’m really focused on in the district.”

Andrew Polan serves on Three Village Chamber of Commerce as well as the North Shore Jewish Center, where he was recently sworn in as the newest president. Photo from David Woods

Andrew Polan has had a busy year.

The North Shore native was recently re-elected to serve another term as president of Three Village Chamber of Commerce. Over the summer, he was appointed the next president of the North Shore Jewish Center over the summer, and was sworn in in late September. Polan has been a tireless servant to the North Shore for more than the past decade and those close to him said they were happy to have him at the helm.

“Andy speaks softly, acts quietly, and gets things done,” said David Woods, executive director for Three Village Chamber of Commerce.

Polan has held many positions at the North Shore Jewish Center, including a trustee on the board for 12 years, building chair, treasurer and executive vice president. He has been a congregant there for 15 years.

Projects he has worked on include a brick engraving fundraiser, where members of the congregation could buy a brick in memory of a loved one.

Charlie Lefkowitz, chamber vice president, who, aside from working with Polan in the chamber also worked with him in the Jewish Center, helped with a recent brick dedication ceremony. He said Polan did a really nice job creating a beautiful front entrance, and that Polan is “really a unique individual.”

“This was meant to deepen community ties, and keep us all together,” Polan said of the project.

Lefkowitz also spoke of the work Polan has done to improve the annual beach barbecue held at West Meadow Beach. Lefkowitz said it started with approximately 150 attendees and has grown into more than 600 guests.

“People love to come and enjoy the camaraderie. It takes a great deal of planning; it’s really the chamber’s signature event,” said Lefkowitz.

And Polan is really all about the camaraderie, he said. He considers himself a community-based individual, and believes in the importance of people stepping up to the plate to further the quality of the community.

“I really just don’t know how to keep my hand down,” Polan said about why he volunteers for so many different organizations.

One of Polan’s favorite chamber events, and the newest one, just started this year, is the Shop Local event. Polan believes this event helps enhance the local community.

“It truly ties the students and local businesses of Three Village together, and highlights the importance of keeping money in the community,” Polan said.

Polan has been an optician for more than 30 years, and is part of a family of opticians. He was the vice president of the New York State Society for Opticians less than a decade ago. He has owned Stony Brook Vision World since it opened 17 years ago.

Former board president Robert Brown worked with Polan for many years when Polan was just a trustee on the board. One project Brown thought Polan handled very successfully was the creation of a new welcome sign located on the northeast corner of Nicolls Road and Route 347.

“It makes a pleasant intro to the community, blending both the town, the university, and the university hospital together. Polan has always proven to be a stable, thoughtful individual that knows how to get things done in a quiet way,” said Brown.

Rabbi Aaron Benson, the rabbi of the North Shore Jewish Center, is optimistic about Polan’s future with the center.

“I think he will be able to bring a great sense of community, he has a good head on his shoulders. He will make a good president because he’s the type of businessman who is always looking to try and help people. He will open up new opportunities and help us grow together,” Benson said.

File photo.

A driver was seriously injured in Huntington Station early Friday morning when he hit a utility pole.

The Suffolk County Police Department said the man had been driving south on New York Avenue in a 1991 Mazda SUV at about 2:20 a.m. when his car left the road and hit the pole, just north of Schwab Road.

The man was brought to Huntington Hospital with serious injuries, then transferred to North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset.

Police identified the victim as 50-year-old West Babylon resident Giovanni Saccente.

Detectives from the SCPD’s 2nd Squad are investigating the case, and the Mazda was impounded for a safety check.

Anyone with information about the crash is asked to call detectives at 631-854-8252 or to call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 800-220-TIPS.

Story last updated on Friday, Aug. 28, at 1:15 p.m.