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Port Jefferson

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Port Jeff senior guard John Sheils looks for the rebound in a home game against Center Moriches Feb. 10. Bill Landon photo

Port Jeff clung to a one-point lead with 0:42 seconds left in regulation but two late game fouls by Center Moriches sent the Royals to the charity stripe where they put the game away 52-47 for the league VII win Feb. 10.

Conor Daily the sophomore led the way for the Royals draining four three-pointers and a pair of field goals for 16 points. Senior John Sheils netted 12 points on the night and Luke Dickhuth banked 8. The win lifts Port Jefferson to 10-8 in league for their final regular season game.

Photo by Julianne Mosher

Last weekend’s festival was really n(ice).

After a snowstorm caused the original date of the 3rd annual Port Jefferson Ice Festival to be moved, hundreds visited the village to risk the cold and enjoy the season.

Originally scheduled for Jan. 29 and 30, the festival was moved to Feb. 5 and 6 after nearly 2-feet of snow rocked the North Shore.

But despite the lack of snow this week, the event was still a winter wonderland with freezing temperatures.

Sponsored by the Port Jefferson Business Improvement District, the festival had everything: ice carvings done by Richard Daly, New York’s only certified master ice carver; characters from “Frozen”; horse-drawn carriage rides; and a mac ‘n’ cheese crawl. 

Cheesy pasta connoisseurs were able to buy tickets beforehand for the crawl, which consisted of nearly a dozen village restaurants that sampled off all different types of macaroni and cheese dishes. Shops like Barito, PJ Lobster House, Prohibition and P.J. Harbor Club showcased their own variations of comfort food — from spicy queso sauces to Gouda-baked goodness.

Stock photo

Over the course of the last year, North Shore residents have gotten relaxed or forgetful when it comes to locking their car doors. 

For example, Fred Leute, chief of Port Jefferson’s code enforcement, said that over the past month, village code has been receiving calls about people rummaging through open vehicles.

He said that right now, thanks to Ring camera footage, they have seen three separate people on camera trying to open car doors. 

“They’re looking for loose change or cash,” he said. “They’re checking for open doors — not even looking inside.”

Leute said this can be prevented.

“Lock your doors,” he said. “Double check.”

And while the village experienced these incidents over the last few weeks, he said that this problem isn’t confined to just one area. 

“We’re aware of what’s going on,” Leute said. “It’s happening all over.”

A spokesperson from the Suffolk County Police Department said several North Shore hamlets have reported thefts from motor vehicles. These numbers cannot verify if a car was unlocked or not.

From January 2021 until this Jan. 22, there have been 111 reported thefts from a motor vehicle in Old Field, Poquott, Port Jefferson, Rocky Point, Selden, Setauket and Stony Brook.

Old Field and Poquott had the least amount, with just two each in the fall, while Selden experienced 46 thefts — the most happening in July, August and December of last year. 

Port Jefferson reported 10, 13 for Rocky Point, 17 for Setauket and 21 for Stony Brook.

These numbers also do not include thefts of parts from the vehicle like tires or catalytic converters. 

But along with small thefts from inside easy-to-reach cars, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said during a recent press conference that eight cars were stolen across Suffolk County in one week — Dec. 19 through Dec. 23.

“Many victims of vehicle theft not only leave their cars unlocked, but they leave key fobs in plain sight, either on the passenger seat, the driver’s seat or in the cup holder,” Bellone said during the Dec. 23 Hauppauge press event. “This allows car thieves to easily enter the vehicle and take off.”

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With messages of tolerance and acceptance, the Port Jefferson Middle School’s upcoming stage production will certainly be one to remember. 

The Drama Club will present “Honk! JR.” based on Hans Christian Andersen’s beloved classic, “The Ugly Duckling.”

The musical adaptation of the 1843 story features lyrics by Anthony Drewe and music by George Stiles. Music teacher Christine Creighton serves as the club’s adviser.

Showtimes are Friday, Feb. 4, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 5, at 2 p.m. at the Earl L. Vandermeulen High School auditorium. 

Admission to the performance is available for a suggested donation of $5 per ticket or $20 per family. Tickets are available at the door on performance dates.

Masks are required for all performances. Tickets are limited for these two performances due to social distancing guidelines in the high school auditorium.

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Amy Whitman looks for the rebound for the Royals at home against Greenport/Southold. Bill Landon

It was a battle for the top spot for Royals of Port Jefferson (5-0) and the Greenport Porters (7-0) in league VII play Monday, Jan. 31 night where the Royals took the early lead and never looked back in the 55-38 win. 

It was Abigail Rolfe the senior who battled in the paint all game long drawing foul after foul, making the Porters pay at the free throw line hitting 12 out of 12. 

Lola Idir did what she’s done all season hitting four triples, three field goals and three from the line for a team high 21 points. Rolfe banked 18 points and Annie Maier netted 10. The Royals retake the court Feb. 4 with a road game against Mattituck. Game time is 5:45 p.m. 

Photos by Bill Landon 

The Drowned Meadow House was once home to a family of Culper Spies during the Revolutionary War making it a local historical structure. Photo by Julianne Mosher

The Village of Port Jefferson is looking to turn the Drowned Meadow House into a museum.

Located on the corner of West Broadway and Barnum Avenue, the small, gray-colored structure is a piece of Port Jefferson history that many say needs to be recognized.

“This building is a surviving Revolutionary War structure, and we feel that alone is absolutely fabulous,” said Georgette Grier-Key, historian and consultant to the project, during the Jan. 18 Board of Trustees meeting. “But we also cannot negate the fact that the historical landscape, and the cultural resources of the village is very unique and rare.”

Grier-Key went on to speak about the history of the Roe family, along with the other Roe structures and places in the village that had a significant impact on American history — particularly the American Revolution.

The Revolutionary War-era Roe House, now known as the Drowned Meadow House, was originally constructed circa 1760. Phillips Roe, a member of the Culper Spy Ring, was known to have lived there. 

During the virtual presentation, the historian broke down what the plan is to make the house an official museum, along with a 501(c)(3) nonprofit certification.

“The reason that museums are important is because they are incorporated under education law,” she said. “So, we are an extension of the education system, we have that charge, and it allows us to do things very differently.”

Mayor Margot Garant noted that the cottage is the sister building to the current chamber of commerce building. Brothers Nathaniel and Phillips Roe owned the properties in the 18th century.

With the help of village historian, the late Robert Sisler, both structures were saved as they were known to be special. Eventually, in 2013, a letter was found that verified the brothers were in fact part of the Culper Spy Ring — a local network of spies active during the Revolutionary War organized by Major Benjamin Tallmadge and Gen. George Washington during the British occupation of New York City.

“That letter, known as the ‘Letter of Significance’ comments about the brothers Roe, and how the spy ring intelligence is coming directly from them,” Garant said. “The letter confirms the village’s history and bring us front and center to Washington’s Culper Spy Ring.”

Grier-Key added that people have come from all over the world to look at these letters.

“As we continue to move the building forward in a fashion that is self-contained, and proves it can handle itself as a museum, we foresee a strong educational future,” Grier-Key said.

She added that over the years, the community locally and at large have accepted the building and love it. Collections have been compiled, too, of what Phillips Roe’s life would have looked like during that time, thanks to dozens of donations of various valuable artifacts. 

Showcases of what clothing looked like, thanks to the late Nan Guzzetta and her collection, would be another exhibit the museum would host.

Mark Sternberg, another local historian working on the project, disclosed that many documents and further proof that the brothers were instrumental in the spy ring, and the war, have been discovered as recently as this summer and would be part of the first exhibit at the museum.

“We’re continuing to uncover documents to put the structure in the middle of the George Washington’s Spy Ring,” said historian Chris Ryon. “Now everybody knows Port Jefferson as a shipbuilding community, but it’s more than that — it’s a nation building community.”

Grier-Key added that the plan to gain museum distinction of the cottage is a continuous five-year plan. 

“2026 is a very important year for us and for our country, that we have the 250th anniversary celebration of the American Revolution,” she said, adding that the museum could help bring business Down Port by shopping and eating after a visit.

The presentation was read to the village board to start a plan to help get the museum designation, as it has to go to the New York State Board of Regents to get a charter and become a museum. 

Although the cottage hasn’t been sitting vacant all this time and has been transformed during the holiday season, it transforms into Santa’s Workshop as part of the Dickens Festival, the building would have to be dedicated to a year-round basis of having archival exhibits and interactive learning programs.

And the next step is for Grier-Key to send out a proposal to start the charter process. 

“As Port Jefferson village continues to modernize, being able to retain — and not only retain but celebrate our history and put that at the forefront,” said trustee Rebecca Kassay. “This is one that we feel very strongly about not letting change, only in the sense that we’re inviting this great team and inviting more people to learn and engage in the origin of this village as in reference to the Revolutionary time period.”

A sign outside Infant Jesus Church in Port Jefferson welcoming pro-life activists this week. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Catholic parishioners across Long Island who support the pro-life movement rallied this week to support of the March for Life held in Washington, D.C.

According to Infant Jesus R.C. Church parishioner Kevin Crowley, in the past Catholic parishes in both counties have usually sent busloads of protesters to the nation’s capital every year, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic they had to bring the rally closer to home.

On Friday, Jan. 21 — the day of the D.C. event — Crowley said that nearly 90 people gathered inside the Port Jefferson church to participate in a three-part event: an early Mass, the rally which featured three different speakers and, then to finish, the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Crowley said that because the pandemic has made it impossible to send buses to the March for Life in Washington, D.C., this Friday, Jan. 21, the Diocese of Rockville Centre is sponsoring parish activities. These activities are intended to show support for the March for Life which will take place simultaneously in Washington — its 49th year.

Along with St. Louis de Montfort R.C. Church in Sound Beach and the Joan of Arc Council of the Knights of Columbus in Port Jeff, those who would typically be with the thousands down in Washington stayed local. The plan originally was for gatherers to rally on the front lawn of the church, just below the Sacred Heart statue, but Friday’s freezing conditions moved the group indoors.

The March for Life is an annual march to the Supreme Court of the United States that began in 1974 — a year after the landmark abortion decision in Roe v. Wade. This year’s theme in Washington was called “equality begins in the womb.”

This comes as the Supreme Court looks to reconsider the Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) decisions that had written the right to abortion in the federal constitution.

According to Crowley, who is a retired Suffolk County First District Court judge, the State of New York has already codified a nine-month abortion right into state law and will be considering adding an assisted suicide law during the coming legislative session.

Pro-life activists are hopeful that Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which was argued before the Supreme Court in December, will overturn or weaken Roe v. Wade. The decision on the consequential abortion case is expected by this summer.

Crowley added in the past more than five dozen people would take a bus to participate in the big rally, often having to deny people for lack of seats. The last time the group was able to attend was January 2020 — right before the coronavirus hit us locally.

The 2021 rally was canceled as it was in the heart of the pandemic, and 2022 looked hopeful. But Crowley said that because of the omicron variant, it was better to play it safe, but to also express their support that all human life — especially that of an unborn, the aged, the poor, the differently abled and the terminally ill — starts from conception to natural death, and that services should be available to women in situations that were unplanned or not ideal.

“We’re looking to the future,” Crowley said. “The positive things to help women in crisis pregnancies — not just during, but after.”

Comsewogue senior Hayden Morris Gray drives the lane in a league IV home game against West Babylon Jan 22. Bill Landon photo

It was a battle right to the final buzzer at Comsewogue high school when the Warriors hosted West Babylon in a game separated by less than three points in the final minutes of play. 

Comsewogue trailed by one with :05.3 seconds left in regulation, but the clock wouldn’t wait as the Warriors fell 59-57 in the league IV matchup Jan. 22. 

Senior Hayden Morris Gray topped the scoring chart for Comsewogue draining 5 treys a field goal and a free throw for 18 points. 

Colin Strohm had 3 triples and a pair of field goals for 13 and teammate Matt Walsh banked 11. The loss drops the Warriors to 3-5 in league 7-6 overall.

Photos by Bill Landon 

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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. 

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Applications for the community garden raised bed lottery are available now until Jan. 31. Photo from Rebecca Kassy

After a successful first year, the Beach Street Community Garden in Port Jefferson is gearing up for its 2022 season. 

Trustee Rebecca Kassay, who spearheaded the concept last year, said that applications are currently open through Jan. 31 to obtain a raised bed at the plot.

“The raised garden boxes at the Beach Street Community Garden are ideal for first-time gardeners and seasoned gardeners alike,” she said in a statement. “The garden regularly hosts educational programming. Community gardens are a great way to grow food, meet your neighbors, and connect with the land.”

Claire Gearns, age 10, is one of those first-time gardeners who has taken advantage of the community garden with her father, Rich.

“It’s fun to do and it’s a new hobby for me and if you didn’t get to try it, you should definitely try it out,” she said. 

“As new gardeners we had so much fun growing our own vegetables and can’t wait to get our fingers in the soil again,” Rich added.

Right now, there are 20 raised beds available for rent and will be processed through a lottery. Community members who were the first group in the 2021 garden said that it was a great experience that brought everyone together.

Photo from Rebecca Kassay

“The highlight of this past year for me was participating in the Beach Street Community Garden,” said Isobel Breheny. “My family and I grew so many fresh vegetables that we were able to share some with others. I made new friends and had so much fun! It was relaxing and a great stress reliever to tend the vegetables each week. And in addition, I went to workshops to learn how to grow better vegetables for next year.”

Shannon Handley added that she, her husband and their two children also took a plot this past summer.

“We were able to walk with our dog to our plot every morning to check on and harvest our zucchini and cucamelon,” she said. “It was an amazing experience and helped us to foster a love of vegetables, gardening, and community in our kids. We are so excited for the 2022 season!”

The garden, located in a previously vacant lot that was once a playground, became a sustainable haven in 2021 when nearly two-dozen volunteers cleared the space out and assembled 24 raised beds to plant all different types of fruits, veggies and herbs.

“I live in a condominium community and really don’t have the space for a garden,” said Gwen Gnadt. “This gave me the option for a garden. I was able to plant so many things and had quite an abundant crop.”

Christine O’Reilly added that the community garden was and is a great way to learn from others.

“There were varying levels of expertise amongst the gardeners, so there was a great opportunity for information and vegetable sharing,” she said. 

For those who are interested in applying for this year’s raised bed lottery, they can visit portjeff.com/communitygarden, download and complete the lottery form, and mail or drop off the completed form to Port Jefferson Village Hall by Jan. 31.

Raised bed lottery winners will be notified via email by Feb. 15.

Individual or family use raised beds are available for rent for $40 per bed for residents or $75 per bed for non-residents annually with four communal herb/flower beds for registered gardeners. All beds have timed drip irrigation and are surrounded by deer fencing. 

Four of the raised beds have higher sides for gardeners with different abilities.