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Sachem Public Library

Photo from TOB

Donation is part of Town’s “Greening Brookhaven” Program

On Monday, April 29, Town Councilman Neil Manzella (right) and Town Clerk Kevin LaValle (left) arranged for a truckload of free compost to be delivered to the Sachem Public Library’s “Inside Out” garden.

Located directly across from the library’s main entrance, the garden features an area for large performances and programs, as well as smaller quiet locations where residents can enjoy a children’s story hour, appreciate the beauty of nature, or take a leisurely stroll.

Also pictured are Sachem Public Library Director, Neely McCahey (second from left) and Sachem Public Library Facilities Manager, Anthony Bliss.

For more information about the Sachem Public Library and the “Inside Out Garden,” go to www.SachemLibrary.org. For more information about the Town’s Free Compost and Mulch giveaway, go to www.BrookhavenNY.gov or call 631-451-TOWN (8696).

Stock photo

Save the date! Sachem Public Library, 150 Holbrook Road, Holbrook hosts a Job Fair sponsored by the Suffolk County One-Stop Employment Center on Tuesday, Feb. 28 from 10 a.m. to noon. Representatives from Amazon, American Regent, Biocogent, LLC, NYS Solar, East/West Industries, Well Life Network, New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, Winters Bros Waste Systems and more will be on hand to discuss job opportunities. Bring your resume and dress for success. Call 631-585-5844 for more information.

Sachem Public Library, 150 Holbrook Road, Holbrook will host a Suffolk County One-Stop Employment Center Job Fair on Wednesday, April 17 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Representatives from AFLAC, Allstate, Amneal Pharmaceuticals, Arrow Security, CIRCOR, DiCarlo Food Service, East End Disabilities, East/West Industries, Express Employment Professionals, Family First Home Companions, HEAP, Home Care Solutions, Home Depot, Home Instead Senior Care, HW Staffing, Integrity Home Care, Jefferson’s Ferry, LI State Veterans Home, Liberty Moving & Storage, Life’s WORC, Luitpold Pharmaceuticals, Marcum Search, NY Life Insurance, NYS Troopers, Options for Community Living, Precious Lambs Childcare, Rockwell Collins, SCOPE, SCWA, Splish Splash, Suffolk County Civil Service, Supreme Screw Products, SYSCO, Titan Global, Triangle Building Products, Walmart, Well Life Network and Windowrama are scheduled to attend.

All are welcome and no registration is required. Bring copies of your resume and dress to impress! Call 631-588-5024.

Sachem Public Library’s new outdoor nature classroom will feature a cascading water table similar to the one depicted above. Stock photo

By Sabrina Petroski

For several weeks now, visitors to Sachem Public Library in Holbrook have noticed a flurry of activity outside of the children’s wing. Now the state-of-the-art award-winning library is finally ready to unveil its latest offering, Discovery Grove, with an official ribbon cutting ceremony on July 27.

The new outdoor nature classroom will be a place for children from birth through sixth grade to experience the great outdoors in a safe environment. The fenced-in area will be open year round during daylight hours for the community to enjoy. 

The Dig In area at Sachem Public Library in its final stages. Photo from Sachem Public Library

According to the head of Children’s Services, Amy Johnston, she and her colleague Lisa Stevens came up with the idea in response to the movement by author Richard Louv called No Child Left Inside. Louv coined the term Nature Deficit Disorder, stating that the younger generations spend too much time indoors on electronic devices and lack a connection with the outside world. 

Both Johnston and Stevens felt a duty to their community to help more children get “down and dirty” while exploring the beauty of nature and the world around them.

“We both have a passion for getting children outside,” said Johnston in a recent phone interview. “We grew up being outside all the time, and we’ve noticed that kids are not going outside as much.” 

Discovery Grove will feature an area with a cascading water table, a digging area, an art area, large building blocks, sticks and logs, a stage where kids can use outdoor musical instruments to put on shows, as well as a community garden. 

According to Neely McCahey, the library director, the board of trustees is hoping this will be a way for the library to extend the services it offers the community. 

There will be programs available exclusively in the grove, including one titled Dig In. Facilitated by Stevens, 4- and 5-year olds will receive nature experience through art, movement and free play, which will lay a foundation for environmental literacy for the children of the Sachem district.

“We hope to show children that it’s okay to get wet and we will have boots and rain ponchos on hand for kids to use during inclement weather,” said Johnston. “It’s okay to be slightly uncomfortable being cold,” she explained, adding, “these are all learning moments that children aren’t often exposed to.”

McCahey agreed, saying, “We want parents to let [their children] experience things, to fall down, bump their knees, and get dirty. I think parents nowadays think dirt is not good, but kids need to get their hands in the dirt and take some calculated risks. Safe risks like climbing and jumping are good things,” she said. “I hope Discovery Grove will be a place where parents feel comfortable letting their children run free.”

The community is invited to the ribbon cutting on Friday, July 27, from 4 to 6 p.m. with a rain date of Aug. 3. The event will be attended by elected officials, chamber of commerce members, civic groups, the board of trustees and other library colleagues who have made donations to the creation of Discovery Grove.

“We are excited to bring this to our patrons as another extension of what we do here at the library,” said Johnston. “We’re not just books anymore, we are a community center where parents and children can come and experience all different things. We will be working closely with parents and caregivers, encouraging them to embrace new ideas and behaviors while experiencing Discovery Grove with their children. It is here for them, created for them, and we hope that they will take full advantage of this opportunity to explore and grow together!”

Sachem Public Library is located at 150 Holbrook Road in Holbrook. For more information, visit www.sachemlibrary.org or call 631-588-5024. 

A swan lands in Lake Ronkonkoma. Photo by Artie Weingartner

By Melissa Arnold

Artie Weingartner

For as long as Artie Weingartner has taken photos, his focus has always been on others.

Weingartner, who lives in Lake Ronkonkoma, is a fixture at local high school sporting events. He has faithfully chronicled the work of the Lake Ronkonkoma Historical Society and is the official photographer for the Lake Ronkonkoma Improvement Group.

Now, for the month of July, the focus is on him as Sachem Public Library presents an exhibit featuring a wide array of Weingartner’s photos in a collection titled Scenes of Lake Ronkonkoma.

It’s an odd feeling for 58-year-old Weingartner, who admits it took a serious push from friends and loved ones to move forward with the exhibit. But nothing makes him happier than bringing joy to the people who see his photos.

“I like seeing people’s reactions to pictures and hearing their feedback — it really makes me feel good, and it makes me want to do it more. I love the rush of satisfaction that comes with it. I guess you could say I’m addicted to it,” he laughed.

Lake Ronkonkoma on a fall day

While photography has piqued his interest for decades, it took a long time for Weingartner to really find his niche. His father bought him his first camera, a simple Kodak, when he was just 9 years old. But he admitted feeling frustrated over the process of shooting a roll of film, waiting to have it developed, and then discovering that many of the photos were duds. “I didn’t have the patience for [traditional photography],” he said. “Not being able to see what the result was right away was hard for me.”

When digital photography emerged in the early 2000s, Weingartner was thrilled. Finally, he had the instant gratification of seeing each photo, with no wasted film and the option to delete ones he didn’t like with the push of a button. His love for photography was rekindled, and he hasn’t looked back. 

He began casually taking photos of his kids’ sports matches, plays and concerts. Word spread quickly about his natural talent. “Parents stopped bringing their cameras around and my pictures were used more and more. It became a lot of work, but a lot of fun,” Weingartner said.

A swan lands in Lake Ronkonkoma. Photo by Artie Weingartner

Now that his children are grown, the photographer is focusing more on chronicling the history of Lake Ronkonkoma. On a frigid day in January of 2016, he was invited by Lake Ronkonkoma Historical Society member Matt Balkam to photograph the historic Fitz-Greene Hallock Homestead on Pond Road. The 14-room home was built in 1888 and contains all of the original furnishings of the Hallock family. In 2006, the Lake Ronkonkoma Historical Society took over the care of the home, and it is now the only historic home in the community that remains open for tours and other public programming.

That experience would lead Weingartner to become regularly involved with the historical society and the Lake Ronkonkoma Improvement Group.

In 2016, News12 contacted Evelyn Vollgraff, the president of the historical society, about filming in the area for a show covering historic places on Long Island. When reporter Danielle Campbell arrived at Long Island’s largest freshwater lake with Vollgraff, she was horrified to see how neglected and filthy the body of water was.

Fog encompasses Lake Ronkonkoma

Campbell, Vollgraff and several others put the word out on social media that they wanted to work on beautifying the area. The response was beyond anything Vollgraff anticipated. “We never asked for help. We just did it,” she recalled. “People got interested — legislators, councilmen. At the first meeting, 90 people were there asking what they could do and how they could help. The community came together in an amazing way. We have joined together as groups of friends that wanted to help our community. But now many of them are a part of the historical society as well, and most importantly, they’re my friends.”

In early 2017, the group held its first cleanup of the lake. Weingartner was there that day, too. They have since removed more than 300 tons of trash from the lake, and turned an old bookstore destroyed by fire into the historic Larry’s Landing, a popular hangout named for the bookstore’s late owner, Larry Holzapfel.

“Artie showed up with a camera at one of the cleanups and just started taking pictures — that’s just who he is,” Vollgraff said. “You have to record history. I can’t save every house in Ronkonkoma, but with Artie taking pictures, the history lives on forever.”

The community has also expressed its gratitude for Artie’s work through Facebook, where he frequently posts his photos on the Lake Ronkonkoma Improvement Group and Sachem Sports pages.

“People were coming out of the woodwork from Florida or South Carolina who lived there 30 years ago to say how much it meant to them to see pictures of the place they grew up,” Weingartner said. “When I first moved to Long Island from Queens in 1970, we used to swim in the lake, but over a few years it got so dirty that we didn’t swim there anymore. Before that, people used to come out from Manhattan just to spend time at the lake. It’s always been an important, historic part of this community.”

While the exhibit is named Scenes of Lake Ronkonkoma, Weingartner said it encompasses a range of subjects, including sports and landscapes from other parts of Long Island, including Port Jefferson and Belle Terre. More than 75 framed 8-by-10 prints are on display. His favorite photo features Lake Ronkonkoma at sunset, with two birds and sunlight streaming down to the shore. All the photos were taken with a Nikon D600.

The photography show also includes guest contributions from photographers Richard Cornell and Richard Yezdanian.“This exhibit will be interesting to people in our area because [the lake and other scenes] are literally in our backyard,” said Anne Marie Tognella who works in programming and public relations at Sachem Public Library. “It captures many of the scenes that we see and appreciate every day with natural and historic value.”

Sachem Public Library, 150 Holbrook Road, Holbrook will present Scenes of Lake Ronkonkoma in its art gallery on the lower level through the month of July. Join them for an artist reception on Saturday, July 21 at 2 p.m. For more information, call 631-588-5024.

GIVING BACK: Sachem Public Library, 150 Holbrook Road, Holbrook will host a Volunteer Fair on Saturday, March 31 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Over 20 organizations will be in attendance including:

All About Pets Rescue

Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Initiative at Parker Jewish Institute

Art Without Walls


Canine Companions for Independence

Cradle of Aviation Museum

EAC Chance to Advance

Family and Children’s Association

Family Service League Long Term Care Ombudsman Program

Federation of Organizations/ Senior Companion Program

Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society

Friends of Sachem Library

Girl Scouts of Suffolk County

Great Strides LI

Holtsville Fire Department

Kids Need More

Literacy Suffolk, Inc.

Long Island Maritime Museum

Mercy Haven Inc.

New York Blood Center

Parker Jewish Institute

Rebuilding Together Long Island

Retired Senior Volunteer Program – RSVP Suffolk

Ronkonkoma Fire Department

Sachem Community Youth Services

Save-A-Pet Animal Rescue

SeniorNet at FSL, L.I.

… and more.

There is a volunteer opportunity for every type of interest. Adults and older teens welcome to attend this free event. No registration required. Call 631-588-5024 for more information.

Leif Cocks with an orangutan
Plans visit to Sachem and Cold Spring Harbor libraries

The Nature Conservancy is co-sponsoring an event along with The Orangutan Project to help educate citizens and raise awareness of the plight of threatened orangutans at two public events this month — Sachem Public Library in Holbrook on Monday, Jan. 22, and Cold Spring Harbor Library on Tuesday, Jan. 23. Both events will be held at 7 p.m.

The program will be presented by Leif Cocks, founder and president of the international charity, The Orangutan Project, who has worked for more than three decades to save humanity’s “orange cousins” from extinction. Cocks will share the fascinating inside story of his personal journey with these creatures who captivated his heart and mind and ultimately formed his life’s work, a recently published book titled “Orangutans, My Cousins, My Friends.”

Part personal history, part philosophical discussion, part scientific case for conservation, and a call to action for all who wish to help save the orangutan, this talk will inspire, inform and touch hearts.

“Orangutans share 97 percent of our DNA — they are one of our closest living relatives,” explained Nancy Kelley, director of The Nature Conservancy on Long Island. “More than 85 percent of the world’s orangutans live in Borneo (in Indonesia and Malaysia) where they require large tracts of healthy forest for survival. Unfortunately, industrial timber, mining and the rapidly growing oil palm industry are destroying the orangutan’s forest faster than anywhere else on earth, and the orangutan’s very existence is at risk. Among other efforts, The Nature Conservancy has a dedicated team of forest guardians and is hard at work to protect the orangutan and its forest forever,” she said.

Adult orangutans are frequently killed as the forest is cleared and any infants that survive usually end up in captivity as illegal pets. Although Bornean orangutans are currently listed as Critically Endangered with approximately 55,000 remaining, it is estimated more than 5,000 are killed each year.

“Starting with my time at a zoo, I found myself so intrigued by the primates, I would spend my lunchtimes in the orangutan enclosures, eating my lunch with them. I felt no fear when I was with them, just a calm sense of awe and appreciation. Over the years, I was no longer able to see the orangutans, or any of the great apes, as being other or different to me and had come to the conclusion that they were not only sentient beings but persons in the true sense of the word,” said Cocks. “My recently published book is infused with inspiring and at times challenging stories of the many orangutans I’ve worked with over the years.”

In his book, the author recounts powerful stories including getting a giant diabetic alpha male to willingly allow him to undertake daily blood tests and insulin injections; sleeping with an injured orangutan to nurse her back to full health; witnessing births of newborn orangutans and the privilege of holding them just days after birth; to the orangutan with an uncanny obsession with fellow redhead, Nicole Kidman.

Cocks will discuss his memoir of his experiences in Borneo working with this critically endangered species and hopes to inspire, inform and touch hearts, whether one is an animal lover, environmentalist or simply looking to be enlightened and maybe even change the way one sees and acts in the world. A book signing will follow. This program is free and open to all but registration is requested by calling 631-588-5024 (Sachem) or 631-692-6820 (CSH).

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They say the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. Find opportunities to give back to your community at a Volunteer Fair hosted by Sachem Public Library, 150 Holbrook Road, Holbrook on March 25 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Adults and teens age 16 and over are welcome to meet representatives from over 20 local organizations including American Red Cross, Art Without Walls, Canine Companions for Independence, Coastal Steward, Family Service League, Friends of Sachem Public Library, Girl Scouts of Suffolk County, Girls, Inc. of Long Island, Great Strides Long Island, Habitat for Humanity, Hands Across Long Island, Inc., L.I. Against Domestic Violence, LGBT Network, Literacy Suffolk, Long Island Head Start, Make the Road NY, Mentor New York, Mercy Haven, New York Giving Doll, New York Blood Center, Rebuilding Together Long Island, Sachem Community Youth Services, Save-A-Pet Animal Rescue, SeniorNet, Sierra Club L.I., Students Taking Action for Tomorrow’s Environment, The Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society and Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge.

This event is free and no registration is required. Call 631-588-5024 for more information.

Lake Ronkonkoma. File photo by Rachel Shapiro

The Lake Ronkonkoma Improvement Group will present a program about the revitalization of the lake at Sachem Public Library, 150 Holbrook Road, Holbrook on Saturday, March 18 at 2 p.m. The program will include slides of the history of Lake Ronkonkoma provided by the Lake Ronkonkoma Historical Society and feature guest speakers County Executive Steve Bellone (D), Councilman Neil Foley (R-Blue Point) and Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden). All are welcome to attend this free event. For more information or to register, call 631-588-5024.