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Port Jefferson Free Library

The Port Jefferson Civic Association meets inside the Port Jefferson Free Library on April 8. Photo by Samantha Rutt

By Samantha Rutt

At the Monday, April 8, Port Jefferson civic meeting, residents congregated to tackle one of the community’s most pressing issues: the fate of the Port Jefferson power plant. As the world pivots toward renewable energy and sustainable practices, the discussion revolved around embracing new energy sources while addressing the environmental and financial concerns associated with the current plant.

Xena Ugrinsky, a member of the Village of Port Jefferson Budget and Finance Committee, urged the need for a collective community conversation stating, “Everything is in motion. All we can do is ensure that we’re a part of the conversation and do our best to guide them to the right decisions.”

The conversation highlighted two essential work streams: Exploring new energy possibilities and navigating the political landscape in order to best incorporate the voice of the civic and community more broadly. Residents recognized the political sensitivity surrounding the issue and emphasized the importance of engaging local leaders to facilitate meaningful dialogue and action.

Ugrinsky and other affiliates have organized a committee to gather thoughts, concerns and invite further conversation on this issue.

“This is kind of a second run at this problem,” Ugrinsky remarked about the formation of the committee. “We’re going to do a bunch of research and we’re going to engage all the stakeholders. We’re not solutioning — we’re trying to gather the data, create a common conversation about what’s going to happen to the power plant and ensure that Port Jeff village has a voice in that conversation.”

“We’ve got the right people on board and we’re gathering more people. If you know of anybody who has either the background or the willingness to roll up their sleeves and participate let me know and we’ll get them engaged,” Ugrinsky said of the committee. “Our charter is to explore forward-looking and innovative possibilities for the future of the power plant, be a catalyst for positive change, while fostering a transparent and inclusive decision-making process.”

During the previous civic meeting, on March 11, Bob Nicols, a resident, shed light on the financial implications, emphasizing the need for strategic decision-making. With potential tax increases looming, residents expressed concerns about the economic impact on the community and the desirability of living in Port Jefferson.

As discussions delved deeper, the focus shifted toward finding productive solutions that align with the community’s values. In conversation, residents explored the possibility of repurposing the existing infrastructure to support new energy endeavors, such as hydrogen or battery storage, thereby maintaining the plant’s value to the community.

The urgency of the matter was brought to light by the recognition that delaying action could lead to missed opportunities and increased financial burdens. As Ugrinsky remarked, “If we don’t do this now, 20 years from now, tons of places will have done it, and we’ll think, ‘You should have done something about that when you had the opportunity.’”

The meeting also served as a platform to address broader community concerns, such as waste collection costs and upcoming events like the village’s first Arbor Day celebration. 

The Arbor Day event will take place on Wednesday, April 24, at 5 p.m. in the parking lot behind Old Fields, Billie’s and The Pie where county Legislator Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) and Suffolk County Executive Ed Romaine (R) will hold ceremonial plantings of two trees.

Looking ahead, the path forward for Port Jefferson’s power plant remains uncertain, but the commitment to engagement and collaboration remains. At the next meeting, the civic plans to invite candidates for the Port Jefferson school board. 

“The next meeting will be May 13 and we hope that we will be able to invite the school board candidates to come and present their platforms, and have a discussion about their vision for their role,” said civic President Ana Hozyainova.

By Kevin Redding

“There’s nothing like stories on a windy night when folks have found a warm place in a cold world.”

— Stephen King, “The Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole”

As the air gets chilly, and the season drifts from spooky toward snowy, there’s no better way to spend the long stretch of time indoors than slipping into comfy clothes, pouring yourself a hot drink, and curling up with a good book. We asked eight local librarians about their favorite novels and new recommendations to ensure you’ll be enthralled, entertained, and enriched in the coming months.

 

Lorena Doherty

 

Lorena Doherty

North Shore Public Library, Shoreham

What is your favorite book and why?

That’s a hard one because you have a favorite book in every period of your life. One of my favorites is an international book called “The Murmur of Bees” by Sofia Segovia and translated by Simon Bruni. It’s a book about love, family saga, history, healing, bees, Valencia oranges, a special boy, and really the ties that bind us as human beings. It was charming, delicious, and had a huge impact on me because of her ability to weave this brilliant story as a window into her culture. And the translation into English was done very well. Simon Bruni did not lose its essence or lyricism.

What is a new book that you would recommend and why?

“Flags of the Bayou,” a standalone historical fiction book by James Lee Burke. This is his 42nd book. What I love about him is that he writes from the landscape in which he lives, which is New Iberia, Louisiana. If you are new to this book and you’ve never read him, it is I think the best book he’s ever written and I felt that two-thirds of the way through. This is a work of historical fiction that is centered in the timeline of events near the end of the Civil Area in the area of New Iberia, the Bayou Teche, and the Mississippi River, where the North is waging and winning battle against the Confederates. It’s a unique window into the culture of plantations, social castes, freed men and women, those who live in servitude. There’s abolitionists and mixed cultures in that area. And in the midst of all the cruelty and chaos of the war, it’s also a love story. The characters are so fleshed out and the reader is carried away with the nuances of changing allegiances and how they choose to live with the possibility of their own deaths. He grounds you in there and there’s a huge level of the spiritual connection to the greater world. And if you love language and appreciate a writer who writes prose, he’s the kind of writer where I find myself going back and reading a sentence over and over again, like “Wow!” It’s a damn good read.

Jeff Walden

Jeff Walden

Emma S. Clark Memorial Library, Setauket

What is your favorite book and why?

Yeah, it’s an old classic but it’s my favorite book and I just reread it recently again. It’s “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien. For me, it’s just a great adventure story. It’s got dragons, hobbits, dwarves and elves, treasure, adventure. It doesn’t get old, it never ages to me. It’s a book I can read and enjoy just as much the fifth time as I did the first time. Tolkien  was just a great storyteller and for that genre, he was really the first to create that whole other world that you can immerse yourself in very easily. It’s the ring, it’s Gollum, there’s just so many amazing parts to it. It’s just a fun story to read over and over again. I was just reading an original book review by C.S. Lewis [“The Chronicles of Narnia”], Tolkien’s contemporary, and even he predicted in 1937 that it was going to be a book that was going to be read over and over again. It came out to be, for me, true.

What is a new book that you would recommend and why?

I have one I’m reading right now, “The Armor of Light” by Ken Follett. It’s the fifth installment in his Kingbridge series. He’s another great storyteller with good, deep characters that you really get to know. It does mention some of the other books because it’s set in Kingsbridge, this fictional town in England over the course of hundreds of years…I think they’re up to the French Revolution in the late 1700s…but it has totally different characters. There’s creative license with it but he does incorporate a lot of historical facts about the time period in the books. And I think you can still read this new one if you haven’t read the other ones and it might interest you in going back and reading the other ones. It does help to have a little bit of the background but I think they can stand on their own.

Jenna Ely

Jenna Ely

Comsewogue Public Library, Port Jefferson Station

What is your favorite book and why?

One of my favorites is “True Believer” by Nicholas Sparks and it’s actually what made me want to become a librarian. I worked in a different industry before this and worked in television, and I would read this book just as a way to escape while on my commute. The main character in this book is a librarian and while I was reading it, I was like, “Oh my gosh, that sounds like a dream job. Why did I never think of becoming a librarian?” and then I ended up going to library school and pursuing this career. So that book was really monumental and influential for me in that way. And it’s Nicholas Sparks, so it’s a great love story.

And then if I had to pick my favorite book of all time, it would be “Beartown” by Fredrik Backman, who blows me away with all of his books. I’ve read all of them and he just continues to outdo himself. “Beartown” was the first book in a trilogy and in it you’re introduced to this hockey town and the obsession with sports and teams and the impact that it has on the community as a whole. And there’s a tragedy and the town has to choose sides. A lot of people’s hearts are broken, someone is killed, and it’s really dramatic. I feel like the winter is a really good time to dive into it. All the books in that series are so worth the read.

What is a new book that you would recommend and why?

So this is a new book that I think is just phenomenal. It’s called “Remarkably Bright Creatures” by Shelby Van Pelt. It is actually her debut novel, so it was incredible that someone’s first novel really took off and was so astounding. I actually loved it so much that I wrote a mini review of it on Goodreads. I was so moved by it. The characters, the stories…it hooked me from the first page and I devoured it in like 48 hours. It was so good I couldn’t put it down. There’s so much heart in these characters and there’s so much love, you really root for them. They’re flawed and they might do something that aggravates you but almost like how your family or friends might do. Not a protagonist where you’re like “Oh my God I hate this person, why are they doing this?” but more like “I feel for you and want you to find happiness!” And one of the narrators is a giant Pacific red octopus, which is really cool and I felt like I got to learn so much.

Donna Brown

Donna Brown

Northport-East Northport Public Library, Northport and East Northport

What is your favorite book and why?

That’s a pretty easy one for me to answer. I am a Teen Librarian right now but I do read a lot of adult fiction, nonfiction, everything…I used to run the Adult Book Club, so I definitely have a broad range of reading. But for me, my favorite book of all time is “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton. The movie came out in 1983, I was 10 years old and my mom would not let me see it but I read the book and it changed my life and the way I think forever. It is, I think, one of the best books of all time. I think it transcends. It’s a story about teenagers struggling to fit in, fighting, and bad incidents…but at the end of the day, all of them are pretty good kids and that’s one of my favorite things about that book. I can hand it to a teenager or an adult now and I overwhelmingly get such a great response. Most people want to meet a celebrity or a professional athlete, but it’s my dream to meet S.E. Hinton!

What is a new book that you would recommend and why?

My most recent one, which I’d recommend to anyone who likes to read realistic fiction with a little bit of imagination in it, is “Remarkably Bright Creatures.” It’s one of the only books that has made me sob in recent years because of what a beautiful story it is. It is the story of an octopus and the octopus’ caregiver in a marina in the Pacific Northwest. It is such a beautiful story that teaches you about humanity and mankind and how much every single person has worth in this world and makes a contribution in some way or another, even though a lot of the time people don’t see that. I run a book group and it overwhelmingly touched the hearts and minds of every single person.

Anne McNulty

Anne McNulty

Port Jefferson Free Library, Port Jefferson

What is your favorite book and why?

My favorite book has been my favorite book since 2013 when it came out…it is “Ancillary Justice” by Ann Leckie. It’s a sci-fi space opera novel and it won the Hugo and the Nebula awards. It is absolutely amazing. It’s just one of the most unique books I’ve ever read. I’m a really big fan of sci-fi and space operas, so I really love the kind of alien worlds they can make with them, and Ann Leckie did such a great job building the worlds and societies in her book. And she also did interesting things with playing with pronouns. So, in her book, everyone uses she/her pronouns, even if they’re not technically women. It’s very, very interesting and I love it. I love Tolkien so much and have read all of his books.  

What is a new book that you would recommend and why?

So it is Halloween time and I do love horror as well. I’m actually in the middle of this book “Never Whistle at Night: An Indigenous Dark Fiction Anthology.” It’s an anthology of short stories, which is nice if you don’t have time to sit and  read a whole book. All the stories are written by Native American authors and it’s really good so far. It’s horror so it’s perfect for the season and the stories I’ve read so far have been really creepy. I also love all Stephen Graham Jones’ books, especially “My Heart is a Chainsaw,” one of my favorite horror books.

Jennifer Zwolak

Jennifer Zwolak

Comsewogue Public Library, Port Jefferson Station

What is your favorite book and why?

I would say my favorite book in recent years has been “The Maid” by Nita Prose. It’s been popular but it’s very interesting for anyone who likes murder mysteries but ones that aren’t too graphic. The main character has a very unique perspective, which I enjoyed a lot. I’m actually rereading “The Maid” right now because I enjoyed it so much. I would recommend cozy mysteries when you really want to get that fall-winter feeling. 

What is a new book that you would recommend and why?

I would recommend reading “Lessons in Chemistry” by Bonnie Garmus. It’s about a female scientist in the 1950s and all the struggles she goes through. Again, another unique perspective that gives a different type of person a voice. There’s a lot of science and a lot of feminism in it.

Erin Schaarschmidt

Erin Schaarschmidt

Port Jefferson Free Library, Port Jefferson

What is your favorite book and why?

“High Achiever: The Incredible True Story of One Addict’s Double Life” by Tiffany Jenkins, a nonfiction book about a woman who overcame a drug addiction. And she was married to a police officer so she had a double life. I love nonfiction and to read how she was able to hide from the police officer who she’s married to and all that was just amazing and then they all found out she was a drug addict and she went to rehab. And then something I read around this time every year is…I’m a huge Edgar Allan Poe fan so I always do his collected stories, like “The Raven,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and “The Cask of Amontillado.” I re-read them every year just because it’s the spooky time of year and it’s very nostalgic. 

What is a new book that you would recommend and why?

I just finished reading “The Daddy Diaries: The Year I Grew Up” by Andy Cohen. I really like nonfiction and it was a fun read about his family because you don’t usually hear about his kids and stuff like that.

Connor McCormack

Connor McCormack

Northport-East Northport Public Library, Northport and East Northport

What is your favorite book and why?

It’s like choosing your favorite kid, but probably “The Left Hand of Darkness” by Ursula K. Le Guin in terms of fiction. It’s really well written. Ursula Le Guin is one of the most prolific sci-fi writers from the 60s and 70s, and this one is considered her best work. It’s just really unique world-building and explores a lot about human condition, psychology, gender roles…just explores a lot of themes in a really well-done way. And for nonfiction, I read a lot of military history such as “The Guns of August” by Barbara W. Tuchman, and “Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland” by Patrick Radden Keefe. Those are probably my two favorite nonfiction books. 

What is a new book that you would recommend and why?

For a favorite one I’d say “Sea of Tranquility” by Emily St. John Mandel and then “Memory Police” by Yōko Ogawa. And then for nonfiction, there’s this book called “Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia” by Christina Thompson that I think I’ve recommended to everyone in my family at this point. It’s all about how the Polynesian culture spread across the Pacific Ocean — how they traveled between the islands, what their navigation methods were, the myths that they told, just like a whole view of their culture, and how it spread. 

A special thanks to all of the librarians who took part in this article.
Happy reading!

— Photos by Heidi Sutton

 

PJCA president Ana Hozyainova, center. Photo by Raymond Janis

The general meeting of the Port Jefferson Civic Association on April 12 was briefly delayed due to a lack of chairs as over three dozen people filled the Meeting Room at the Port Jefferson Free Library.

The body approached an array of local issues, from the East Beach bluff to flooding to green space preservation, among others. With village elections along the horizon and plenty of business on the local agenda, the civic has quickly emerged as a forum for the many interests and stakeholders of the community.

East Beach bluff

Former Village of Port Jefferson Mayor Mike Lee made a presentation on historical and environmental developments at East Beach, which has eroded considerably in recent years, now endangering the Port Jefferson Country Club restaurant and catering facility from falling off the cliff.

During his administration, Lee said an engineer had advised him that a problem with the jetty system at Mount Sinai Harbor was contributing to the erosion, placing village officials in a difficult bind.

“The village was aware of [the jetty problem], but it’s not our property that we can work on,” Lee said. “We don’t have anything to do with the inlet,” which the Town of Brookhaven maintains.

Given how coastal erosion spans across municipal boundaries, Lee suggested bluff stabilization would not yield a long-term resolution. “Stabilizing, it’s going to be a never-ending battle,” the former mayor said.

Ray Calabrese, a former Brookhaven Town councilman and Port Jefferson Planning Board member, conveyed to the body engineering advice he received in the 1970s.

“Leave that bluff alone,” he said. “Nature is doing its thing. It’s replenishing that beach. Frustrate it, and you lose the beach.” He concluded, “Don’t build near bluffs.”

Civic president Ana Hozyainova noted that among other reasons, PJCA was formed to offer residents a louder voice in decision-making over the bluff.

“One of the animating reasons why we got together as a civic association was the bluff and the fact that we didn’t have a vote and a public discussion about what needs to be done with it,” she said.

Flooding

Lee also touched upon ongoing flooding concerns within Port Jefferson, which was originally called Drowned Meadow due to the phenomenon. Though stormwater infrastructure installed decades ago may have been satisfactory for its time, Lee said, the flood load has increased considerably, aggravating these historic challenges.

“We have an inadequate stormwater system,” he said. “When it was built, it was adequate for then, but we have just too much to deal with. It just floods and backs up, and the bad part about it is that it invades the sanitary system.”

PJCA member Michael Mart expressed alarm over the long-term prospects of the Port Jefferson Fire Department’s fire station on Maple Place, which in a recent climate resilience meeting was noted for heightened risk of flooding. [For more on this village meeting, see story, “As Port Jeff braces for heightened flooding,” The Port Times Record, April 13.]

“My question is this: Does the fire department or the village have the right of eminent domain for properties that we desperately need?” Mart said. “If we do have that, aren’t we obligated for the long run to pursue that as far as we can?”

Land use

Much discussion centered on potential code changes to protect trees, preserve open space and limit clearing of woodlands. With a village public hearing scheduled for May 1 on the future development of the Maryhaven property, the body discussed whether new development is environmentally optimal.

Civic vice president Holly Fils-Aime tied the issues of flooding and land development, stating that additional paved surfaces could exacerbate concerns over stormwater runoff.

“Everybody is seeing the flooding — the roads become rivers — and it actually ends up in the harbor,” Fils-Aime said. “None of this is really filtered in any way, and the more development we have obviously adds more stress on all of these systems.”

Citing a 2016 report from the New York State Comptroller’s Office, the vice president added that preserving existing green spaces and creating new ones serves a wide array of fruitful purposes.

The report mentions open spaces can protect water quality, protect biodiversity and promote outdoor recreation, among other public benefits.

“My real worry is that the more development we have, the less our village is going to be viable in terms of drinking water,” Fils-Aime said.

PJCA will meet next on Wednesday, May 10, at 7 p.m. in the Port Jefferson Free Library. Candidates for village offices have been invited to present to the body.

Top row, from left to right: Coach Venus Chavez, Nate Hart, Connor Blistany, Sophia Villagracia, Anna Polyansky, Teen Mentor Kai Kubik, Teen Mentor Jacob Huwer. Bottom row: Gideon Cesare, Brian Hyrycz, Scott Disbrow, Coach Khan DeRenzo and Teen Mentor Yushan Pan. Not pictured due to illness: Kenan Caliskan. Photo courtesy Sal Filosa

The Port Jefferson Library’s Lego Robotics team advanced to the Long Island Championship round of the SBPLI FIRST Robotics League, which will take place on Sunday, March 5, at Hicksville High School. 

The team came in fifth place and won an award for their robot design at the qualifiers held at Huntington High School on Saturday, Feb. 4.

Librarians Khan DeRenzo and Venus Chavez have coached the team with help from teen mentors Jacob Huwer, Kai Kubik and Yushan Pan.

The Village of Port Jefferson reignited a time-honored tradition last weekend during its 26th annual Charles Dickens Festival.

Hundreds of community members, visitors, business groups and local organizations participated in the festivities from Friday, Dec. 2, to Sunday, Dec. 4. 

The show went on despite hard rains and gusting winds throughout the morning and early afternoon Saturday. Mayor Margot Garant, decked out in traditional Dickensian garb, commented on the turnout in the face of these conditions. 

“To me, it just shows how important this festival is to not just this community but kids coming from St. James and beyond who are coming to see Santa,” she said. “It’s just magic, and rain or shine we’re going to be doing Dickens.”

Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden concurred with this positive outlook, regarding the festival as another means for community-building. “It’s heartwarming to see everybody still supporting this festival,” she said. 

Trustee Stan Loucks commented on the uniqueness of the opportunities afforded through the festival and the steady growth of the events over its nearly three decades in existence.

“It’s grown every single year, and it’s just the most festive time of the year,” he said, adding, “I love the whole atmosphere, the village center. It’s a very special place, and I look forward to this every year.”

The program across all three days was loaded with special events featuring the various elements that formulate this distinct village’s character. The heart of Port Jeff was on full display, from its downtown business sector to its local history, public institutions and more.

At the Bayles Boat Shop, local shipbuilders showcased their ongoing work to construct a 25-foot whaleboat honoring the village’s Revolutionary War heritage. 

John Janicek, treasurer of the boat shop’s nonprofit arm, the Long Island Seaport and Eco Center, detailed how the whaleboat ties together various threads of Port Jeff’s historical roots.

“It not only ties in the historical aspect that Caleb Brewster performed here during the Revolutionary War and [the role] Port Jefferson played, but it also ties in our shipbuilding aspect, too,” Janicek said. “We’re getting a lot of support from the village on this. They see this as something the whole village can get their arms around and embrace, similar to the Dickens Festival.”

Over at the Drowned Meadow Cottage on the corner of West Broadway and Barnum, local historians greeted visitors with guided tours detailing Port Jefferson’s strategic position during the Revolutionary War. They shared stories of local patriots whose involvement in the Culper Spy Ring helped advance the cause of American independence.

Village historian Chris Ryon discussed how the Dickens Festival offers a platform to promote local history to residents and visitors alike.

“We take the people from Dickens and tell them how Port Jefferson was involved in the Culper Spy Ring,” he said. “It’s another group of people that we can bring in.”

Mark Sternberg, Culper Spy Ring historian at the Drowned Meadow Cottage, offered a unique take on Dickens. He remarked upon the intersection of the Dickensian and Revolutionary periods and how people today can relive tradition and rehear the lore of the past.

He said, referring to the American spies, “A lot of these people survived into the 1800s, and the stories of the American Revolution were told during the 1800s. For us to tell stories about the American Revolution as part of the Dickens Festival, it’s what they would have done.”

The historian added, “It’s keeping with the tradition of telling a story about the founding of our nation, even in later periods. Now Charles Dickens may not have talked about it because he was British, but here in America during the Victorian era, we would have.”

Along with stories of the past, the village exhibited the musical talents of local students. At the Port Jefferson Free Library, the Edna Louise Spear Elementary School chamber orchestra delivered moving string performances, filling the library with festive tunes.

Their music teacher, Christian Neubert, summarized this Dickens custom. “For a number of years now, we’ve been coming to perform here at the library during the Dickens Festival,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to get our students out for a performance and to get the community involved with our music program.”

Jessica Schmettan, superintendent of schools for Port Jefferson School District, was among the dozens of audience members at the library. She expressed pride in seeing the students perform before their fellow community members.

“It’s just amazing that our students can be performing in the village in which they live,” she said, adding that the festival “gives them a different avenue to perform in, not just the auditorium or the classroom but in front of a real audience.”

At Suffolk Lodge No. 60 on Main Street, the oldest Masonic lodge on Long Island, brothers treated guests to magic shows and a dance festival. Downstairs, they served freshly baked cookies and hot chocolate.

Chris Connolly, master of the lodge, said the lodge dates back to the late 18th century. He expressed delight at seeing this historic organization maintain an active community presence through Dickens.

“Being a part of the community is a big part of who we are and helping others,” Connolly said.

Jason Intardonato, senior deacon of Suffolk Lodge No. 60, discussed Dickens as a means of strengthening local connections and a time for selflessness.

“The Dickens Festival provides us with an extraordinary opportunity to interact with our neighbors here and with the community in Port Jefferson and to allow them into our space, entertain them for a while during the holidays, and give back,” he said.

Farther along Main, Jeffrey Sanzel’s annual production of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” at Theatre Three is an active reminder of the historical background to the Dickens Festival.

The festival also provided a platform for some to communicate their message on a larger stage. For the second month in a row, protesters from the farmworkers union Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW gathered outside the Pindar wine shop in yet another call of action to negotiate a contract. The dispute is part of more than a year of negotiations between the union and Pindar Vineyards, the wine store’s parent company. 

John Durso, president of Local 338, joined the picketers on Main Street during the festival. “We knew that today was the Dickens Festival,” he said. “We knew that there would be a lot more people around, so we decided to … bring attention to the fact that these workers, like everybody else, are entitled to the same dignity and respect that all workers should have.”

Coordinating the annual festival is a monumental task for the village and the various stakeholders involved in its planning. Kevin Wood, the village’s director of economic development, parking administrator and communications committee head, thanked the sponsors who supported the festival and commented on the event’s success despite the inclement weather conditions.

“Because this has been [going on for] 26 years, people understand that this is one of the most unique events on Long Island, so they’re going to fight the rain to be here,” Wood said. “To support the production and the infrastructure, there are so many volunteers but there are also so many people staffing to make it work.”

Snaden concluded by offering how the Dickens Festival advances some of the village’s highest aims. She said the community uncovers its sense of place through an event such as this.

“It really goes to the sense of community that we all have,” she said. “All the work that goes into this festival and how everybody comes together, it’s a beautiful thing to see.”

Registration is now open! The Port Jefferson Free Library, 100 Thompson St., Port Jefferson hosts an Author Panel featuring Sarah Beth Durst, Catherine Asaro and Kelley Skovron on Wednesday, Dec. 14 at 7 p.m.  

Join them for an evening filled with mystery, interstellar fantasy, misfit animals, and a ghost with a vengeance. Hear from these award-winning authors about their newly published novels, writing process, behind the scenes info, and more in this panel-style event. 

Moderated by Salvatore J. Filosa, Head of Technical Services and Marketing & Outreach Librarian,  newly released titles to be discussed include: The Jigsaw Assassin, 2022,  published by Baen Books, by Catherine Asaro (perfect for adult readers); The Shelterlings, 2022, published by Clarion Books of Harper Collins, by Sarah Beth Durst (perfect for kids); and The Ghost of Drowned Meadow, 2022, published by Scholastic, by Kelley Skovron (perfect for kids). 

The event is open to all. To register, call 631-473-0022 or visit portjefflibrary.org/authors.

The Homegrown String Band

The Port Jefferson Free Library, 100 Thompson St., Port Jefferson presents The Homegrown String Band in concert Sunday, Nov. 6 at 2 p.m.

The Homegrown String Band™ celebrates the American tradition of families making music together. This family band’s repertoire includes a healthy portion of early country music classics by the likes of The Carter Family and Delmore Brothers, along with a tasty sprinkling of original material inspired by the rural American string band and folk traditions of the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries. Comprised of husband and wife plus daughter, this dynamic trio adds their own musical DNA to an American tradition, taking you on a musical journey from ancient ballads of the British Isles to blues and bluegrass of the twentieth century.

The family has been performing together for twenty-five years, playing such venues as The National Theatre in Washington DC to the Festival of American Music in Branson Missouri.

Open to all. Pre-registration is necessary to keep the music flowing. Sign up at portjefflibrary.org, or call 631-473-0022 to reserve a seat.

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Photo by Julianne Mosher

The Port Jefferson Free Library has been named as one of America’s star libraries for 2021, according to the Library Journal. 

Recently announced, the Journal stated, “This is the 14th year in which LJ has scored U.S. public libraries on the LJ index of public library service and awarded star library ratings.”

“Because of the unavoidable delay in data collection and analysis, that means this year’s star libraries once again represent not our current pandemic realities, but a sort of pre-pandemic time capsule,” the release noted.

While the ratings come from before the coronavirus, the award is still noteworthy.

“They represent a useful point of comparison,” the release continued. “We’ve interviewed library directors to learn how the pandemic has changed things since these numbers were collected.”

PJFL director Tom Donlon said that last year, in 2020, the library was rated at a four, so the 2021 five-star rating is certainly a win.

“We couldn’t have done it without our staff,” he said. “They were able to pivot quickly from in-person to virtual, along with our great base — our patrons who support us.”

Donlon said he and the rest of the library staff feel “fantastic” about the rating.

“We’re so grateful,” he said. 

He added that the library is continuing to offer exciting programs for residents of all ages. Masks are still required inside the library at all times to help keep staff and the community safe. 

“We’re here to support our community in any way we can,” he said. 

The Port Jefferson Free Library, 100 Thompson St., Port Jefferson invites the community to view its latest art exhibit in the Meeting Room titled Celebration of Art/Coming Out of the Pandemic by artist Joseph Rotella through the month of December. The exhibit will feature landscape and floral narratives which were all created during the pandemic. For more information, call 631-473-0022.

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Port Jefferson Free Library. File photo by Kyle Barr

The Port Jefferson Free Library Board of Trustees recently announced that one seat is due to expire. 

Trustee Jennifer Schaefer’s term expires January 2022 and she will not be seeking re-election. One petition has been filed by Carl Siegel who will be running unopposed.

Carl Siegel. Photo from Port Jefferson Free Library

Siegel served two five-year terms on the board of the Port Jefferson Free Library from 1994-1999, and again in 2016-2021. He was involved in multiple projects and initiatives including the creation of the Children’s Library and the Adult Reading Room. 

He states that experience gave him a strong understanding of the building development, its fiscal requirements and challenges, and he gained a solid understanding of the village population’s needs and priorities. 

Siegel is a retired English teacher who was employed at Port Jefferson High School for 23 years and taught dozens of literature courses over the past several years in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Stony Brook University. 

The Port Jefferson Free Library’s annual meeting and election will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 12 from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. 

Voters must be of at least 18 years of age, a resident of the Port Jefferson School District and a member of the PJFL Association with a library card in good standing