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Port Jefferson Station

Community members and elected officials during the Pearl Harbor Remembrance Ceremony in Port Jefferson Dec. 4. Photo from Kara Hahn

People gathered in Port Jefferson early Sunday morning to remember and pay tribute to the fallen on the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. 

On Dec. 4, members from American Legion Wilson Ritch Post 432 of Port Jefferson Station joined elected officials including village trustee Bruce Miller, state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) and Town of Brookhaven Councilman Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) nearly eight decades to the date of one of the worst terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.

Each year on or around the anniversary of the day, ceremonies are held across the United States to honor all those who lost their lives when the U.S. Naval Base in Pearl Harbor was attacked on Dec. 7, 1941. 

More than 3,500 Americans lost their lives or were wounded on that solemn day.

At the monuments for all American wars, wreaths were laid by American Legion Posts 1941, 417, Setauket VFW Post 3054 and the Ward Melville H.S. Patriot League Club.

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Nick Wolber surroundedd by friends at the first Support The Kid Founder’s Event fundraiser before he passed away from cancer. Photo from Anna Wolber

Before Nicholas Wolber passed away, he had a major goal — to create a nonprofit that would help children and their families who are experiencing the stresses of cancer. 

Wolber was diagnosed with Synovial Sarcoma — a rare form of soft tissue childhood cancer — in December 2005 at the age of 22. 

After going through chemotherapy and radiation he lived his life for almost five years cancer free, unfortunately returning in his chest with a fatal diagnosis. 

But according to his mother, Anna, Nick knew he wanted to create an organization that would help the children he met while staying at Cohen’s Children’s Hospital. 

“He was always in the children’s ward,” she said. “He was the big brother and loved the kids there.”

Anna said that before he died, he raised money, planned and got everything together to establish “Support The Kid,” a completely volunteer-based nonprofit where money goes directly to families in need. 

“He wanted the money to go directly to the families,” she said. “They can use it for travel or whatever is not covered by insurance … We know what they’re going through.”

Wolber passed surrounded by loved ones in 2011 at the age of 28, but luckily was able to see the organization come to fruition officially in 2010.

The first year, they hosted what would become an annual fundraiser where people could gather, eat, drink and buy raffle tickets for different baskets. 

“He was there at the first one,” Anna said. “It was good — He got to see it and he knew everything was going to be okay.”

The 11th annual Support The Kid Founder’s Event fundraiser will be held this week on Thursday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. People are welcomed at Miller’s Ale House in Lake Grove to raise funds and help those suffering from cancer. 

According to Support The Kid, since its inception, the nonprofit has donated over $700,000 to more than 180 children across the country. Originally founded here in Port Jefferson Station, they now have teams in New York, California, Oklahoma and Texas spreading the word. 

Thursday’s event will be the first fundraiser in-person for the group since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Anna said that she knows her son is looking down smiling at what his family has accomplished in his name for others. 

“I think he’s very happy,” she said. 

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Students working in Jackie’s Garden at Comsewogue High School over the summer. Photo by Andrew Harris

As students and staff came back into Comsewogue High School this year, they were greeted by hundreds of beautiful sunflowers flourishing in the courtyard garden. 

The difficult work of maintaining the garden over the summer rested on the shoulders of only two students who did the hard work so that their fellow students can come back to the beginning of a joyful year.

While watching these students working so hard over the summer, Marge Piercy’s poem comes to my mind. 

In a verse of “To Be of Use” she writes about how much she admires those that go out and do the work — and not just talk about it, said Jennifer Quinn, superintendent of schools.

“I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart, who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience, who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward, who do what has to be done, again and again. I want to be with people who submerge in the task, who go into the fields to harvest and work in a row and pass the bags along, who are not parlor generals and field deserters.”      

This type of student is typical of the Comsewouge community. Quinn said that in addition to outstanding academics, many of them participate in extracurricular activities and hold down jobs over the summer and when school is in session.

No sooner were the words out of my mouth than these students who stepped up to the plate and got to work. 

Students working in Jackie’s Garden at Comsewogue High School over the summer. Photo by Andrew Harris

“They went above and beyond what was asked of them, and even tended to another garden in the courtyard as well,” said Andrew Harris, a teacher at Comsewogue. “Keep in mind that they do this on their vacation and go very early as they also have full-time job responsibilities. It’s hot, dirty, and sometimes there is nobody around to give them the accolades or words of encouragement, but that’s not what they do it for.”

Harris said he hopes to encourage more students to have this giving attitude. 

“In the long run, I know they will reap the benefits of their positive proactive work,” he added.

The garden, “Jackie’s Garden,” has become a “magical place around the district,” according to Harris. 

“Each year a new miracle happens here,” he said. 

Since I don’t have a green thumb, perhaps the miracle is that I am the one who oversees this fabulous food and flower garden — I’ve never tried growing anything. But in all seriousness, and I know people find it hard to believe, but every year since we started our garden, these miracles continue to happen. 

Harris added that, “amazingly, this year hundreds of sunflowers started popping up. The weird thing is, we did not plant even one single seed. Keep in mind, that sunflowers are not perennials, and need to be seeded each spring; so yeah, you can consider that very, very, unique.”

This year in April I started to see a little something pop up. I thought maybe a seed or two was left over from last season, somehow got buried, and they were starting to grow. I planned on doing our normal seeding with my classes in mid-May, however, by then several hundred magically started appearing! I really can’t explain how that happened and I was at a loss for words.

Harris also mentioned the sudden influx of butterflies attracted to the garden the previous year. Dr. Rella told us that sunflowers and butterflies were Jackie’s favorites. I was going to buy something called a butterfly bush which will attract them. I looked outside one day and realized I didn’t need to buy one. There was a sudden influx of new butterflies everywhere. That and other crazy things have happened around this garden. The garden has Jackie’s Comsewogue jersey overlooking it. 

The year before that, Chris Friedl, the landscaper, planted two seeds to honor Joe and Jackie under the trellis. The same day hundreds of other seeds were also planted to honor our graduating seniors. Those two seeds popped up in under three days — which never happens. The other ones started to come up in about 7-10 days, which is the normal length of time for sunflower seeds to appear. So, yeah, now I believe in miracles.

“On behalf of the staff at CHS, we are so grateful for the time that Alyssa and Ashley spent beautifying our courtyard,” said Principal Mike Mosca. “Outdoor spaces are even more important than ever as we continue to navigate the challenges, we face due to COVID. Alyssa and Ashley’s efforts will give our students and staff a beautiful place to go for some fresh air.”  

When asked why they did what they did, the students communicated that nothing would please them more than having their fellow students enter the building and not only be greeted with friendly faces but an array of hundreds of sunflowers smiling at them as they go about their day.

Piercy’s poem ends like this and is fitting for the students who put in the hard work, “The people I love the best jump into work headfirst without dallying in the shallows and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight. They seem to become natives of that element.”

Arianna Morturano is a graduate of Comsewogue High School. She is currently a student at St. John’s and work sin the district. Andrew Harris is a special needs teacher at the Comsewogue school district. Triple C stands for Comsewogue Culture Club.

Stock photo

Retired Mount Sinai school nurse Lynn Freitag Jordan’s love for her community didn’t come to an end with her passing. Lynn passed away unexpectedly on Nov. 3, 2021 at the age of 80.

Lynn Jordan

Lynn married the love of her life, G. Douglas Jordan, on Sept. 16, 1961 after receiving special permission from Bellevue School of Nursing at New York University. She then completed her nursing degree in 1962. 

She and Doug initially made their home in Port Jefferson Station, where their daughter Phyllis was born. In 1975 they moved to Mount Sinai, welcoming daughters Katherine and Elizabeth into their lives. 

Lynn was a consummate community volunteer who worked tirelessly throughout her life to make the lives of the young people in her community better. She served on local PTSA, Suffolk County Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, was a founding member of the Mount Sinai Friends of the Arts, and later served on the Mount Sinai School Board. 

It is through her three daughters, her granddaughter, Emily, her sister Cynthia Freitag, and all those whose lives she impacted over decades of service to her community that she will live on. 

Visitations will be at the Branch Funeral Home, located at 551 NY-25A in Miller Place, NY 11764 on Monday, Nov. 15 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Services will begin at 7 p.m. 

In lieu of flowers, Lynn’s family would like to ask for donations to be made to Hope House Ministries. Donations can be made online at hhm.org/donate-online.

Vincent Pelliccio with Acting Commissioner Stuart Cameron in 2019. Photo from SCPD

The Suffolk County Police Department is mourning the loss of an active officer, Vincent Pelliccio, who died in a motor vehicle crash Nov. 8.

The 30-year-old was off-duty and driving his 2021 Jeep northbound on Nicolls Road, near West Road, in Selden when his vehicle left the roadway and crashed in the median. He was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital where he was pronounced dead. 

Pelliccio was a 3rd Precinct officer and a member of the department since December 2014. A 2011 graduate of Connetquot High School, he started his professional career as a teacher, but decided to pursue his dream and follow in his retired NYPD detective father’s footsteps. 

Upon graduating the police academy, he was assigned to the 3rd Precinct as a uniformed patrol officer and became a plain clothes officer in the 3rd Precinct Gang Task Force in March 2019. Pelliccio also served his fellow law enforcement officers as a Police Benevolent Association delegate.

In 2019, Pelliccio was awarded the Theodore Roosevelt Award, which recognizes members of service who have overcome serious injury, disease or disability and have returned to work, for overcoming his battle with testicular cancer. 

Photo from SCPD

Diagnosed in September 2017 at age 26, he went through both radiation and chemotherapy treatments, fighting to get back to health to return to work. According to the SCPD, even when he was too sick to report for duty, he was constantly in contact with his colleagues and friends at the SCPD, expressing his desire to help and return to his sector in Central Islip. He returned to full duty in March 2018.

 “Officer Pelliccio was a dedicated member of the 3rd Precinct who overcame personal adversity to continue serving the people of Suffolk County,” Inspector John Rowan said. “His perseverance and unwavering commitment to his calling as a police officer is inspirational. Vinny will be missed but not forgotten by this command.”

In addition to a departmental recognition, Pelliccio was named Cop of the Month in April 2020 with Police Officer Anthony Devincenzo for the arrest of a violent gang member and drug dealer in September 2019. 

While monitoring a known drug and gang location in North Bay Shore, the officers witnessed the gang member in front of a business and found marijuana on the sidewalk near where he was. Upon approaching the subject, he fled officers into a hair salon with multiple civilians. During a violent struggle, Pelliccio deployed his Taser and the subject was taken into custody, where he was found to be in possession of multiple weapons and narcotics.

“Vinny was an extremely dedicated young man who loved being a police officer and was always eager to perform and excel in his law enforcement duties,” Sergeant Philip Dluginski said. “He fully embraced the police culture and loved spending time with his blue family both during and outside of work. He will be sorely missed by all his friends and co-workers, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and fiancée at this time.”

County Executive Steve Bellone (D) expressed his sympathy for the SCPD’s loss. 

“I had the pleasure of meeting Officer Pelliccio when he was honored for his outstanding work in keeping our communities safe,” he said. “An exemplary law enforcement professional and relentless fighter who returned to work full duty after winning a battle with cancer, Officer Pelliccio’s tragic passing has shaken our entire police family.”

Pelliccio, who resided in Port Jefferson Station at the time of his death, is survived by his parents, Tony and Angela, his sister, Niki, and his fiancée, Danielle Trotta. 

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The Hotel Echo was located immediately north of the LIRR tracks; Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

For some of the residents of Comsewogue, now Port Jefferson Station, getting the mail once meant traveling from three to five miles to the post office in downtown Port Jefferson.

Tired of the inconvenience, a group of Comsewogue’s citizens petitioned the government in 1888 to establish a post office within their community.

The Echo Building on the west side of Main Street housed the Charles A. Squires Real Estate Agency, Port Jefferson Echo newspaper and Port Jefferson Station Post Office. Photo by Arthur S. Greene; Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

The Postmaster General responded that so many places in the State ended in “ogue” that to avoid confusion Comsewogue would have to be renamed if a post office was to be considered for the area.

The name Comsewogue and its many variants was an Algonkian term meaning “a walking place,” had appeared in Brookhaven Town records as early as 1805 and was rich in etymology and history.  

Nevertheless, the petitioners acquiesced and submitted several names as Comsewogue’s replacement: South Port Jefferson, Port Jefferson South, Maple Hill, Enterprise, Cedar Grove, and Jefferson Heights. Each was rejected, either for being too common or too long.

In the next round of proposals, William I. Wyckoff suggested Echo, the same name as a famous racehorse once owned by Comsewogue’s Nathaniel Dickerson. Echo — only four letters long — was accepted by the postal authorities and Charles A. Squires appointed as the office’s first postmaster.

A native of Good Ground (Hampton Bays), Squires had begun work as the depot agent at the Port Jefferson Railroad Station in 1886 and soon earned a reputation in Comsewogue for his competence and geniality.

Under Squires’ able leadership, the Echo Post Office opened in a building on the west side of today’s Main Street (Route 25A), immediately north of the LIRR tracks.  

Charles A. Squires, the “father of Port Jefferson Station.” Photo by Arthur S. Greene; Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

Squires also championed his bailiwick in the Port Jefferson Echo, a newspaper that he had founded with G. Frederick Hallock in 1892. The “Republican journal” helped establish the uniqueness of Echo and operated out of the same building as the Echo Post Office.

Following A. Jay Tefft’s purchase of the Echo in 1899, Squires devoted his considerable energies to buying and selling real estate, developing several subdivisions in the area including Belle Croft, Norton Park, Fairview Place, and Bergen Estates.

In 1904, Echo’s post office and newspaper, along with Squires’ Real Estate Agency, resettled a few steps north on Main Street in the new Echo Building. Hugo Kreitzberg then transformed the unoccupied property resulting from the move into the Hotel Echo.

The Echo Post Office was renamed the Port Jefferson Station Post Office in 1910. Squires had led a popular petition drive in support of the change and later became known as the “father of Port Jefferson Station.”

Key among the reasons for the switch, it was argued that Echo was a “meaningless place name” and that the presence of the Port Jefferson Railroad Station best defined the area.

After being called home for 22 years, Echo just faded away.

Kenneth Brady has served as the Port Jefferson Village Historian and president of the Port Jefferson Conservancy, as s well as on the boards of the Suffolk County Historical Society, Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council and Port Jefferson Historical Society. He is a longtime resident of Port Jefferson.

Photo by Julianne Mosher

On Saturday, Oct. 23, the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce teamed up with local health care providers for their 12th annual Health and Wellness Fest. 

According to Barbara Ransome, director of operations with the chamber, the fair is usually held at Port Jefferson High School — but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was moved to a new venue, The Meadow Club, located at 1147 Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station. 

“We’re very happy to have the event after not having it for one year,” she added. “The new venue is working out great and it could be a new tradition for us.”

The purpose of the Port Jeff Health and Wellness Fest is to promote good health to all in the local areas of Port Jefferson by providing important information for all of one’s health and wellness needs. 

Ransome said that over 50 vendors participated this year, including Stony Brook Medicine, Catholic Health, Northwell Health, New York Cancer & Blood Specialists and other chamber partners.  

Stony Brook University students with Music and Medicine performed songs for visitors throughout the event. 

“I’m very pleased,” she said. 

Little ones who came with family members were able to trick-or-treat out of cars and received other goodies from the vendors, some who were in costume. 

Kings Park senior quarterback Jonathan Borkowski #10 plows his way into the endzone for the score in a Div III road game against Comsewogue Oct 23. Bill Landon photo

The Kingsmen of Kings Park raided Warrior nation and put a damper on Comsewogue’s homecoming football game Oct 23 where the Warriors struggled to find traction. Kings Park quarterback Jonathon Borkowski punched in for the score on a keeper in the final minute of the opening quarter and followed it up four minutes later with 10-yard touchdown run to put his team out front 14-0.

On Comsewogue’s ensuing possession Kings Park cornerback Kyle Weeks stepped in front of Brady Shannon’s shovel pass for a pick six that covered 41 yards. Kings Park senior Mert Duman whose foot was perfect on the day made it 21-0 at the half. Jonathan Borkowski’s 10-yard run found the endzone midway through the 3rd quarter for the 28-0 lead. Kings Park senior Nick Laviano broke free for a 60-yard run early in the 4th for a 35-0 advantage. Shannon the senior quarterback would avoid the shutout in the closing minutes with an 11-yard run for the score and with Josh Carrolls kick concluded the game for your 35-7 final.

The win lifts Kings Park to 5-1 in Div-III while the loss drops the Warriors to 2-5. Comsewogue concludes their 2021 campaign when they retake the field Oct 29 hosting Hills West. Kings Park is also back in action on Oct 29 with a road game against East Islip. Kickoff for both games is 6 p.m.

All photos by Bill Landon 

Pixabay photo

Port Jefferson-based Hope Children’s Fund is holding it’s 17th Annual 5K Kenya/ USA Bi-Continental Walk/Run on Oct. 16, starting at 10 a.m.

This fundraising event is being held on the Port Jefferson end of the Port Jefferson Station/Setauket Greenway Trail. 

People in Kenya will be starting at the same time — only seven time zones away. 

Founded by Port Jefferson resident Larry Hohler and his Kenyan former student Joe Kirima, HCF was incorporated in 2005, in response to the AIDS-pandemic then raging in Kenya. 

Eighteen AIDS-affected preteens were taken off the streets in Meru when the orphanage first opened  in February  2005.  

Most of the original residents are now free- standing young adults, and 87 youngsters are coming up behind them. The money generated by this fundraiser helps to pay for their food, clothing, shelter and school fees.

Until now, the Kenyans won 16 of the 17 times that the competition has been held.

The entree fee is $30, but  larger donations are welcome. Participants can also compete virtually,  at a time and place of one’s choosing, between Oct. 16 and Oct. 23. 

For more information, call Larry Hohler at 631-473-1662, or check out their website hopechildrensfund.org.

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Pictured in 1911 during Old Home Week, Griswold’s Garage was built of Unit Brick and located on the west side of Port Jefferson’s Main Street. Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

Incorporated in 1910, the Unit Brick and Tile Company was located on Hallock Avenue, just south of the LIRR tracks, in today’s Port Jefferson Station.

Employing 20 workers on an 11-acre site, the plant manufactured standard brick, roofing and flooring tile, and hollow block, but was best known for producing Unit brick.

Made from sand, gravel and cement, Unit brick had a distinctive U-shape and could be finished in a variety of shades thus eliminating the need for interior painting.

According to its boosters, Unit brick was 33-66% cheaper than common brick, impervious to dampness and as strong as conventional building materials. 

Fanning’s Garage, West Broadway, Port Jefferson, and Chris Henningsen’s residence, Hallock Avenue, Port Jefferson Station, were among the first buildings in the area to be constructed of Unit brick. It was later used in building projects in Belle Terre, St. James, Patchogue, Old Field, Smithtown and Wading River.

Unit brick was also shipped by schooner, such as the Emma Southard, to destinations in New York as varied as Hastings-on-Hudson, Staten Island and Lloyd Neck.

To popularize Unit brick, the company exhibited its signature product in a store on Port Jefferson’s East Main Street. The showroom opened in August 1911 during Old Home Week, an event that brought thousands of visitors to the village.

The Unit Brick and Tile Company was situated on Hallock Avenue, just south of the LIRR tracks, in today’s Port Jefferson Station. Photo by Arthur S. Greene; Photo from the Kenneth C. Brady Digital Archive

In addition, the corporation was promoted by members of the Port Jefferson Business Men’s Association, especially Jacob S. Dreyer, publisher of the Port Jefferson Times, and advertised in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and Port Jefferson Echo. In August 1912, newspapermen from the Long Island Press Association toured Unit Brick’s factory.

The company received glowing testimonials from customers such as Belle Terre’s William Wadsworth who wrote in 1913 that Unit brick was “the best all-around building material on the market.”

Prominent Port Jefferson lawyer Thomas J. Ritch, Jr. and physician Luther H. Chambers, both of whom served on Unit Brick’s Board of Directors, lent their respected names to the venture.

Unit Brick enjoyed a meteoric rise marked by encouraging sales and good publicity, but much like a shooting star soon burned out, several factors contributing to the corporation’s early demise.

Unit Brick faced competition from another local startup, the Dyett Sand-Lime Brick Company on the west side of Port Jefferson Harbor, as well as from the established Port Jefferson Cement Block Company on High Street. 

Court proceedings followed allegations that Unit brick was an inferior product and being delivered “damp.” 

The company expanded too rapidly, opening subsidiaries in Connecticut and Rhode Island, where demand for its goods was not as strong as anticipated. 

Perhaps most important, the building trades had a long tradition of using red clay brick and simply balked at trying a new product.

After Unit Brick dissolved in 1917, a receiver was appointed. The corporation’s machinery and equipment were sold at public auction in 1918 and bought by the Port Jefferson Junk Company for $2,150. In 1920, Unit Brick’s former property in Port Jefferson Station was purchased by the LIRR which built a yard for its locomotives and cars on the acreage.

Kenneth Brady has served as the Port Jefferson Village Historian and president of the Port Jefferson Conservancy, as well as on the boards of the Suffolk County Historical Society, Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council and Port Jefferson Historical Society. He is a longtime resident of Port Jefferson.