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The

TIMES of SMITHTOWN

F O R T S A LO N G A • K I N G S PA R K • S M I T H TO W N • N E S C O N S E T • S T J A M E S • H E A D O F T H E H A R B O R • N I S S E Q U O G U E • H A U P PA U G E • C O M M A C K Vol. 32, No. 51

February 13, 2020

$1.00

Septic Tax Woes

Comptroller Kennedy said IRS agrees that homeowners installing innovative septic systems should receive 1099

A6

Love My Pet Special Feature

Also: ‘1917’ reviewed, Highlights from TBR News Media’s Readers’ Choice reception

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SPACE RESERVED FOR SUBSCRIBER ADDRESS

Elementary school children take on philanthropy — A3

DONNA DEEDY

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FEBRUARY 13, 2020 • TIMES OF SMITHTOWN • PAGE A3

Movers and Shakers

Smithtown Elementary Students Start a MUVEment BY RITA J. EGAN RITA@TBRNEWSMEDIA.COM

With a love for helping others, two sets of sisters are hoping to inspire others to do the same — while still in elementary school. On the first day of February, Giuliana and Ella Capobianco, along with Grace and Moira Bartsch, led more than 30 of their friends in assembling goody bags for the nonprofit Birthday Wishes, which works to make parties for homeless children a little brighter. The event was a project of MUVE Long Island, a group created by the four elementary students. During an interview at the Capobiancos’ St. James home Feb. 8, the girls had 300 bags in boxes ready to be picked up and delivered. Some bags contained crayons for young ones while others had toiletries for teens. “MUVE helps get more of our friends or anybody involved,” Giuliana said. Giuliana and Grace, both 10 years old, are fifth graders at Dogwood Elementary School and had decided to start MUVE Long Island a few months ago. Their sisters Moira, 9, who also goes to Dogwood, and Ella, 7, who attends Mills Pond Elementary School, said

More than 30 Smithtown Central School District students gathered to stuff goody bags with MUVE Long Island Feb. 1. The goody bags were donated to the nonprofit Birthday Wishes to be used for brithday parties for homeless children. Photo from MUVE Long Island

they were happy to get involved too. “We always loved volunteering and wanted to do it more frequently,” Grace said. The girls said the acronym MUVE stands for medically challenged, underprivileged, veterans and elderly for the first groups they helped. “Those are some of the people we help but we help anyone,” Giuliana said.

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The girls said philanthropy has been a part of their lives even before MUVE. Giuliana said her sister Ella has Prader-Willi syndrome, and the family has been involved in fundraisers to find a cure for PWS. The spectrum disorder has symptoms that vary in severity and occurrence among individuals. Giuliana and Ella said they also have a great-grandmother in a nursing

home whom they visit often. Grace said she has an uncle with autism and epilepsy and a great-uncle that she visits in a vets home. Moved by those in the vets and nursing homes, last holiday season the girls led their friends in caroling at both facilities. The girls said they enjoyed visiting the residents with their friends. “It’s really good to see their reaction when they get whatever we’re giving,” Giuliana said. A few months earlier, the girls traveled to a soup kitchen in Brentwood with their school’s Peanut Butter Gang to hand out Halloween costumes where they only wished they had more to bring. “They were so excited that they couldn’t even choose,” Grace said. “It was kind of sad too because some people wanted different costumes, but they weren’t their size, or we didn’t have them.” Some of the next things on their lists, the girls said, is to make dog and cat toys for local shelters and to plan an event to help those who are vision impaired and another for those with epilepsy. The MUVE founders said their friends and the Smithtown Central School District have been helpful in their mission, and members MUVE Continued on A5

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PAGE A4 • TIMES OF SMITHTOWN • FEBRUARY 13, 2020

Holocaust Survivor Irving Roth to Share His Story at Village Chabad

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Local residents are invited to the Village Chabad Center for Jewish Life & Learning in East Setauket Feb. 23 to hear the firsthand account of Irving Roth, 90, who survived Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps. Readers of TBR News Media can also receive discounted tickets to the event when ordered Feb. 13 through 16. “Irving Roth is a true survivor,” said Rabbi Motti Grossbaum of the Village Chabad. “Not only did he physically survive the terrors of WWII, but he lived on with his heart and hope intact. Roth’s presentation is sure to be moving, inspiring and educational for all who attend.” Roth was just 10 years old when Nazi Germany invaded his native country of Czechoslovakia. He suffered through the horrific conditions of Auschwitz and Buchenwald and miraculously survived, emigrating to the United States in 1947. During the first time he returned to Auschwitz in 1998, Roth realized the importance of sharing his story with today’s generation. He has since devoted all his efforts to educating young and old about the perils of antiSemitism and prejudice.

The evening is catered to all ages and will include a question and answer session following the main presentation. “It is an honor for us to host Mr. Roth, and we are so fortunate that he has agreed to come to the Three Village area to share his riveting story,” said Grossbaum. “I encourage everyone who can — young and old — to come hear this remarkable person tell his incredible story of courage, faith, and survival.” Due to limited space, advance ticket purchase is highly recommended and can be purchased at www.myvillagechabad.com. Tickets fees are $20 for advance tickets and $15 for students. A VIP option is also available that includes a reception with Roth, an autographed book and premium seating. Roth will also have copies of his book on sale. TBR News Media readers can enter code TBR2020 when ordering tickets Feb. 13 to 16 to get a discounted $10 ticket. Call 631-585-0521 or visit www. myvillagechabad.com for more information. The center is located at 360 Nicolls Road, East Setauket. The event begins at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

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FEBRUARY 13, 2020 • TIMES OF SMITHTOWN • PAGE A5

MUVE

Continued from A3 of their cheer group at Gravity Cheer in Holtsville have also shown interest in participating in future events. A few teachers at Dogwood have even shared a video the girls have created about MUVE with several of the classes. Dogwood Elementary School Principal Renee Carpenter said in an email she is proud of the students. “At Dogwood, we spend a lot of our efforts on teaching students to be leaders,” she said. “Many of our clubs such as Leadership Club and Peanut Butter Gang all have students engaged in community service projects. These particular girls were inspired to do more. To make an even bigger difference in the lives of others and they took action.” The principal said MUVE is inspiring more students to help others. “Because of their initiative to take action,

more and more students are jumping on board to help MUVE with their efforts. Students are realizing that they can make a difference.” Carpenter said while working on something like MUVE young people learn life skills such as problem solving, collaboration, planning and organizational skills. She said it also helps to increase self-esteem and create a connection with the community. “MUVE is making a positive, lasting impact on those in our community and all of us at Dogwood are proud of this,” she said. When it comes to organizing something as big as a philanthropy group and its events, the girls said they spread the word by telling all their friends about their next activity using social media. Grace said they will have business cards to hand out soon too. Dana Capobianco, Giuliana and Ella’s mother, said while she and Grace and Moira’s mom Bernadette Bartsch help to facilitate some things, for example, getting in touch with the veterans hospital, the girls quickly take over. The MUVE initiative hasn’t surprised

From left, Giuliana and Ella Capobianco and Moira and Grace Bartsch are the founders of MUVE Long Island. Photo by Rita J. Egan

either of them. Bartsch said whenever the families were involved in philanthropy, they would bring the girls and their friends along. “They would be so involved, and we saw how happy they were in these situations,” the mom said. “So, we kept going.” Capobianco agreed.

“The coolest part to me is seeing how confident the girls are,” she said. “I don’t think they can necessarily articulate how it makes them feel.” The girls said people looking for more information about MUVE Long Island can find them on Facebook and Instagram (muvelongisland).

LEGALS

To Place A Legal Notice

Email: legals@tbrnewsmedia.com

NOTICE OF FINDING OF NO SIGNIFICANT IMPACT; FINAL FLOODPLAIN NOTICE; AND NOTICE OF INTENT TO REQUEST RELEASE OF FUNDS

Middle Country Rd Town of Smithtown, Suffolk County, NY PROJECT EST. COST: $40,000

February 13, 2020

PROJECT NAME: Home Improvement Program PROJECT PURPOSE: Housing Rehabilitation PROJECT LOCATION(s): Throughout the Town of Smithtown, Suffolk County, NY PROJECT EST. COST: $15,000

COUNTY OF SUFFOLK, COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PO BOX 6100 HAUPPAUGE, NY 11720 631-853-5705 These Notices shall satisfy three separate but related procedural requirements. REQUEST FOR RELEASE OF FUNDS On or about March 16, 2020 the County of Suffolk will submit a request to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the release of Community Development Block Grant funds under Title I of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1974 (P.L. 95-128), and Title I of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1977 (P.L. 95-128) as amended, to undertake the multi and singleyear project(s) known as: PROJECT NAME: Senior Citizen Home Chore Program PROJECT PURPOSE: Assist with minor home repair PROJECT LOCATION(s): 420

PROJECT NAME: Removal of Architectural Barriers PROJECT PURPOSE: Handicapped accessibility PROJECT LOCATION(s): Callahan’s Beach Park, Kings Park and Smithtown Recreation Department, Smithtown Town of Smithtown, Suffolk County, NY PROJECT EST. COST: $150,009

FINAL DECISION TO LOCATE IN BASE FLOODPLAIN AREA The proposed actions may be located in a base floodplain area. Factors considered in making the determination included: alternatives of relocating the projects outside the base floodplain areas, mitigating impacts, and taking no action. Fac-

tors regarding damage to natural environments and litigation were also considered.

weekdays 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.

The actions will conform to applicable State and local floodplain standards. National Flood Insurance Program criteria for the proposed actions will be adhered to. Harm to the floodplain will be minimized through a policy of restoration and preservation of natural conditions. The actions affirm natural or beneficial floodplain actions as follows: 1) Project activities will not adversely modify or destroy floodplain areas; 2) P u b l i c amenities will be enhanced and maintained at minor risk and exposure to flood hazard.

Any individual, group, or agency disagreeing with this determination or wishing to comment on the project may submit written comments to the Suffolk County Community Development Office. All comments received by March 16, 2020 will be considered by the County of Suffolk prior to submission of a request for release of funds. Comments should specify which Notice they are addressing.

FINDING OF NO SIGNIFICANT IMPACT The County of Suffolk has determined that the projects will have no significant impact on the human environment. Therefore, an Environmental Impact Statement under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 is not required. Additional project information is contained in the Environmental Review Records (ERR) on file at The Community Development Office, H. Lee Dennison Bldg., 100 Veterans Memorial Highway, Hauppauge, NY 11788 and may be examined or copied

PUBLIC COMMENTS

RELEASE OF FUNDS The County of Suffolk certifies to HUD that Jason Smagin in his capacity as Director of Real Estate consents to accept the jurisdiction of the Federal Courts if an action is brought to enforce responsibilities in relation to the environmental review process and that these responsibilities have been satisfied. HUD’s acceptance of the certification satisfies its responsibilities under NEPA and allows the County of Suffolk to use Program funds. OBJECTIONS TO RELEASE OF FUNDS HUD will accept objections to its release of funds and the County of Suffolk certification for a period of fifteen days following the antici-

pated submission date or its actual receipt of the request (whichever is later) only if it is on one of the following bases: (a) the certification was not executed by the Certifying Officer of the County of Suffolk; (b) the County of Suffolk has omitted a step or failed to make a decision or finding required by HUD regulations at 24 CFR Part 58; (c) the grant recipient has incurred costs not authorized by 24 CFR Part 58 before approval of a release of funds by HUD; or (d) another Federal agency acting pursuant to 40 CFR Part 1504 has submitted a written finding that the project is unsatisfactory from the standpoint of environmental quality. Objections must be prepared and submitted in accordance with the required procedures (24 CFR Part 58) and shall be addressed to HUD at HUD Area Office, 26 Federal Plaza, New York, NY 10278. Potential objectors should contact HUD to verify the actual last day of the objection period. Dennis Cohen Chief Deputy County Executive Suffolk County 343_021320 1x ts SMITHTOWN FIRE DISTRICT NOTICE OF ADOPTION OF RESOLUTION SUBJECT TO PERMISSIVE

REFERENDUM NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN, that the Board of Fire Commissioners of the Smithtown Fire District, in the Town of Smithtown, Suffolk County, New York, at a meeting thereof, held on the 3rd day of February, 2020, duly adopted, subject to permissive referendum, a Resolution, an abstract of which is as follows: The Resolution authorizes the purchase of a 2020 Ford Utility Interceptor Vehicle with all necessary equipment at a maximum estimated total cost of $50,000.00, and the expenditure for such purpose of not more than $50,000.00 from monies now in the equipment capital reserve fund of the Smithtown Fire District heretofore previously established for apparatus and equipment. Dated: Smithtown, New York February 6, 2020 BY ORDER OF THE BOARD OF FIRE COMMISSIONERS OF THE SMITHTOWN FIRE DISTRICT IN THE TOWN OF SMITHTOWN, SUFFOLK COUNTY, NEW YORK THOMAS A. BUFFA DISTRICT SECRETARY 351 2/13 1x ts


PAGE A6 • TIMES OF SMITHTOWN • FEBRUARY 13, 2020

County Suffolk Residents Required to Pay Taxes on Septic Grants, IRS Says BY DAVID LUCES DLUCES@TBRNEWSMEDIA.COM After nearly a year of waiting, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service has ruled that Suffolk County homeowners should pay federal taxes on county grants that were used to upgrade septic systems. In a Jan. 15 letter from the IRS, the agency said the grants count as taxable income, regardless of whether homeowners received payments or not. The determination comes after Suffolk County Comptroller John Kennedy Jr. (R) requested a private letter ruling on whether the grants should be counted as gross income. Beginning last year, Kennedy’s office sent 1099 forms to program participants, despite a legal opinion by the county’s tax counsel that advised that the tax forms go to the companies that received the funds, not the homeowners. At the time, the comptroller’s decision led to controversy and political fighting with Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D). The executive’s administration has cited the prototype denitrifying septic systems as a key piece of fighting nitrogen overload in coastal waters. Kennedy and Bellone ran against each other for county executive later that year. Kennedy said at a Feb.11 press conference that the ruling has upheld their approach to issue tax forms from the very beginning. “They [the Bellone administration] have chosen to simply claim that I’ve made an effort to politicize this issue,” the comptroller said. He added that while his decision may “not be popular,” Kennedy blamed the tax issue on how the septic program was set up. “There may be ways to modify this program but it’s not up to me, it’s up to them,” he said. “We’ll continue to do the job we’re supposed to do.” Peter Scully, deputy county executive, who heads the county’s water quality programs as

Above, Suffolk Comptroller John Kennedy Jr. hosted a press conference at the comptroller’s office Feb. 11 saying the IRS has agreed with him about taxing recipients of septic system grants; below, an example of the prototype septic system at Strong’s Neck resident Tom O’Dwyer’s home; right, Steve Bellone said in a statement that the comptroller is politicizing the septic program. Above photo by David Luces; below file photo by Tom O’Dwyer; right file photo by Rita J. Egan.

the titular water czar, said Kennedy continues to simply play politics with the septic program. “This program is too important; we are going to find a solution — this will be a temporary disruption,” he said. “The fact that the comptroller is essentially celebrating the ruling speaks volumes about his motives.” Scully noted that since the comptroller’s initial decision last year, they have altered application documents to make clear to applicants that the grants they were applying for could be subject to income tax. While some individuals have decided not to move forward with the program, homeowners are still applying for grants. In January alone 111 homeowners signed up, Scully added. Since the program’s inception in 2017, the county has disbursed 293 grants and expended $3 million. In addition, the county received $10

million in state funding for the septic system program. The Bellone administration has said there are about 360,000 outdated and environmentally harmful septic tanks and leaching systems installed in a majority of homes across the county. Nitrogen pollution has caused harmful algae blooms and can negatively affect harbors and marshes that make areas more susceptible to storm surges as well. In a statement, Bellone continued to call Kennedy’s decision political. “The comptroller’s actions have been contrary to the intent of the Suffolk County Drinking Water Protection Program, the legal opinion by the county’s tax counsel, and longstanding practices used by similar programs in Maryland and other municipal jurisdictions,” Bellone said. “He chose to politicize water quality and decimate a program that has been praised by environmental, labor, and business leaders alike. ... In the meantime, our water quality program is running full steam ahead.” The deputy executive said their main focus is protecting homeowners as they may now be exposed to new tax liability. They are also prepared to challenge the IRS ruling. Tom O’Dwyer, a Strong’s Neck resident and engineer, has enthusiastically installed one of these systems at his own home. He said while he was aware that the grants could be potentially taxable, he and others had been “optimistic” that they wouldn’t be required to pay taxes on the grants. “We got the 1099 in the mail the other day,” he said.

“I have a lot of friends who also upgraded, nobody really expected this to happen ... this is a blow to everyone.” Despite the ruling, O’Dwyer still believes that he made the right choice in upgrading and thinks the septic program is still a good cost-effective option. He plans on talking to his tax adviser to discuss what his options are moving forward. The Strong’s Neck resident also acknowledged that the ruling could end up hurting the momentum of the program. “I think it could affect homeowners who want to voluntarily upgrade their system,” O’Dwyer said. “With the increased tax liability, they’ll have to pay more out of pocket and some might think it’s not worth it.” The county executive’s office has plans to work with federal representatives to reverse the IRS decision. They have already had discussions with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) and U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY3), Scully said. Suozzi has already sent a letter to IRS Commisioner Charles Rettig, saying he strongly opposes the decision and that it undermines the program’s mission.


FEBRUARY 13, 2020 • TIMES OF SMITHTOWN • PAGE A7

Village

County Tables Bill to Analyze Route 25A in St. James, Stony Brook BY RITA J. EGAN RITA@TBRNEWSMEDIA.COM

Residents speak for and against a resolution to study a section of Route 25A in the Stony Brook and St. James area at the Feb. 11 general meeting of the Suffolk County Legislature. Natalie Weinstein, of Celebrate St. James, left, opposes a study, while Cindy Smith, right, of United Communities Against Gyrodyne Development, is in favor. Screen captures from Suffolk County video

their 75 acres and there will be a 200-foot buffer of trees and shrubs. The property is already partially developed with rental space. Hauppauge-based lawyer Timothy Shea criticized the resolution and said larger projects in Yaphank and Ronkonkoma have not undergone the same scrutiny from the county as the Gyrodyne project. The lawyer said when representing the developers of Stony Brook Square, which is being completed across from the train station on Route 25A, he faced similar opposition. “The resolution here is designed to wrest control of the Gyrodyne process from the Town of Smithtown,” he said. “The catalyst is the Stony Brook community. They are a very well educated, well-organized community.” Natalie Weinstein, president of Celebrate St. James, said the sewage plant on the property would help with the revitalization of Lake Avenue. She said there have been a number of government and private studies that have been conducted regarding the roadway, adding the

proposed Route 25A analysis would be a waste of money which could be better spent on a traffic circle at Stony Brook Road or to hire experts in street light timing. Speaking of Gyrodyne’s plans to include a buffer, Weinstein said, “The plan is actually a beautiful use of space from a design point of view.” Cindy Smith, who heads up United Communities Against Gyrodyne Development, spoke in favor of the corridor study that she hopes will take a cohesive look at both sides of the road. She said in 2017 the county’s Planning Commission’s superficial review for the Gyrodyne proposal allowed the project to move forward without a traffic study. “If they had actually done their homework back then they would know that 25A is already over capacity and the major north-south road, which is Stony Brook Road, is over capacity by 60 percent,” Smith said. George Hoffman, 2nd vice president of the Three Village Civic Association, also spoke

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One county committee’s hope to analyze the impact of development along a local road has been dashed for the time being. At its Feb. 11 general meeting, the Suffolk County Legislature tabled a resolution to study a segment of road in the vicinity of the Smithtown and Brookhaven border. The resolution, introduced by county Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), would allow the county to analyze the Route 25A corridor in St. James and Stony Brook to determine the regional impacts associated with proposed and planned development projects in this area. It would also identify vacant and preserved parcels as well as existing zoning, amongst other criteria. The county’s Economic Development, Planning & Housing Committee recently passed the resolution, 5-1, with only county Legislator Robert Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) voting against it. In the vicinity, the proposed development of Gyrodyne, also known as Flowerfield, which would include a hotel, assisted living, offices and sewage treatment plant, has drawn criticism from residents and elected officials in both Smithtown and Brookhaven. While the property sits in Smithtown, many have expressed concerns that additional traffic will impact Stony Brook, and the sewage treatment plant would have a repercussions on local waterways. Other properties with proposed and rumored development have also been cited as concerns. Trotta, before the Feb. 11 general meeting, said he voted “no” in the committee because while he would like to see preservation of open spaces in the area, he said there is not much the county can do. In the case of Gyrodyne, the property is already zoned for light industrial use. “I don’t disagree with the bill, but I’m a realist,” he said. Trotta, as well as opposers of the resolution who commented at the Feb. 11 meeting, said Gyrodyne will only be developing 25 acres of

in favor of the bill and said there needs to be a balance between smart development and preservation. “I think it would be helpful to planners,” he said. “It’s not to stop Gyrodyne. It’s just to get a good picture of what’s going on there, and that information will help planners in Smithtown and in Brookhaven make the right choices for the community.” In a phone interview Feb. 12, Hahn said she was disappointed that the resolution was tabled. She said when it comes to Gyrodyne she disagrees that the 200-foot buffer would be beneficial. She said it will not block the view of what they want to build. Hahn added that the study is not only about Gyrodyne but also proposed and rumored projects. She added when heading east on the 25A corridor, the familiar locations around Gyrodyne and BB & GG Farm in St. James make you feel like “you’re home.” “It’s so bucolic,” she said. “It’s beautiful. It holds a special place in my heart. Just the sense of place it establishes with those open vistas. I would just hate to lose that because it’s on both sides of 25A.” She said she is concerned that there hasn’t been an adequate traffic study or consideration of a regional sewage plant, adding the amount of nitrogen that travels into the Long Island Sound has to be looked at carefully. Hahn indicated she is not opposed to revitalization in St. James, but she said there needs to be a longer discussion of a sewage treatment plant and to look at a central location that would be more beneficial to other areas in Smithtown. “I think there’s a bigger plan that should happen for that so that we’re not talking piecemeal with just one downtown getting what they want,” she said. “There could be something on a larger scale that would benefit multiple communities, multiple business districts and protect our water.” The resolution will be on the agenda for the county Legislature’s March 3 general meeting which will be held in Riverhead.

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PAGE A8 • TIMES OF SMITHTOWN • FEBRUARY 13, 2020

Community News

School News

St. Catherine of Siena

Mills Pond Elementary School

On Feb. 7, St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center staff members in Smithtown wore red to celebrate National Wear Red Day. Photo from Catholic Health Services

Smithtown Photo from Smithtown Central School District

Happy New Year

Fourth-graders in Annette Lopez’s class at Mills Pond Elementary School celebrated Chinese New Year Jan. 31. One student in the class shared a PowerPoint presentation in Chinese, which he then explained to the class in English. He also spoke to the

students about the meaning behind the Chinese traditions that are followed during Chinese New Year, such as red envelopes with yen inside. The student’s parent brought in decorations for the classroom as well as dumplings and noodles for the students to try with chopsticks.

Smithtown High School West Lawrence Liquori, Kathleen Albrecht, Armand DeRose, Thomas D. McCarthy and Jack Hessel sworn in as members of Smithtown’s Conservation Advisory Board. Photo from Conservation Advisory Board

New Conservation Board Members Sworn In The Town of Smithtown welcomed two new members of the Conservation Advisory Board Jan. 29. Kathleen Albrecht and Thomas McCarthy were sworn in as new members, in addition to the current board members Armand DeRose, A. Lawrence Liquori and Jack Hessel. DeRose will serve as chairman of the board, and Liquori will act as vicechairman. The two have each served on the board for more than 30 years. Albrecht has been a resident of the Town of Smithtown for more than 36 years. In addition to her position on the conservation board, she is also a member of the board of trustees for the Smithtown Historical Society. Albrecht’s two children both

graduated from Smithtown High School West. She was inspired to join the conservation board because of her desire to get more involved in the community. “I am looking forward to studying the issues, working with the Town of Smithtown Director of Environment & Waterways David Barnes and his professional staff, as well as the other four members of the Town of Smithtown Conservation Board.” Albrecht said. McCarthy has been a Smithtown resident for more than 23 years. He is an avid supporter of downtown revitalization efforts. In addition to his philanthropic efforts in the arts with organizations like Celebrate

St. James, he is also dedicated to supporting our first responders. A lover of all creatures, domestic and wild, McCarthy enjoys spending time with his family and his beautiful rescue dogs. “I’m looking forward to conducting research on our precious marshlands, swamps and wetlands as well as improving upon our current log of open areas within the Town,” McCarthy said. “Smithtown has a proud reputation of trailblazing in the field of alternative energy. We’ve been deemed Tree City USA for over 33 years in a row! So naturally, I’m aware I have some big shoes to fill, but I’m honored and thrilled to build upon our exceptional reputation.”

Photo from Smithtown Central School District

Painting Fun

The Function Academic Secondary Transition, commonly known as FAST, students at Smithtown High School West are hard at work creating a mural outside

their classroom. During a two-week period, the students worked alongside art teacher Christopher Lauto and took turns painting different areas of the wall.


FEBRUARY 13, 2020 • TIMES OF SMITHTOWN • PAGE A9

Sports

tbrnewsmedia.com Goforto more sports photos

Kings Park Rocky Point

Kingsmen Crush Eagles, 77-27 BY BILL LANDON DESK@TBRNEWSMEDIA.COM It was a must win for the Rocky Point boys basketball team in order to make postseason play, but Kings Park had other ideas, defeating the Eagles in the final game of the regular season, 77-27, Feb. 5. Kings Park co-captain Jack Garside topped the scoring chart for the Kingsmen with six field goals, four triples and seven free throws for a team high of 31 points. Nicholas Svolos followed with 12 while Jon Borkowski banked 10. Gavin Davanzo led the way for the Eagles

with 18 points and teammate Will Platt netted 7 in the League V season finale. The win lifts Kings Park to 15-1 in its division, 18-2 overall, and it looks to carry the momentum into the opening round of the playoffs Feb. 12. Results were not available at press time. Photos starting clockwise above left: Rocky Point’s Matt Caggiano battles in the paint as Kings Park junior Svolos defends; Kings Park sophomore guard Borkowski lays up for two; Garside hits from long distance; Matthew Wolf lays up for two.

— Photos by Bill Landon

77 27


PAGE A10 • TIMES OF SMITHTOWN • FEBRUARY 13, 2020

From Cold Spring Harbor to Wading River – TBR NEWS MEDIA • Six Papers...Plus Our Website...One Price

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¡¤¹ȶ¹Sq/ ¹¤FFS ¬F/¹Ã&#x17E;/'Ã&#x20AC; ¹~¤ Part-time position at Town of Brookhaven Safety Town Facility. 26 hours/week; flexible. Must be available to work occasional nights/ weekends. Provide traffic safety instruction for elementary-school field trips and teen driver safety programs. NYS driverâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s license required. Salary varies by experience.

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PAGE A12 • TIMES OF SMITHTOWN • FEBRUARY 13, 2020

SERV ICES Clean-Ups LET STEVE DO IT Clean-ups, yards, basements, whole house, painting, tree work, local moving and anything else. Totally overwhelmed? Call Steve @ 631-745-2598, leave message.

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FEBRUARY 13, 2020 • TIMES OF SMITHTOWN • PAGE A17

R E A L ESTATE Houses For Sale

Commercial Property/ Yard Space PUBLISHERS’ NOTICE All real estate advertised herein is subject to the Federal Fair Housing Act, which makes it illegal to advertise “any preference, limitation, or discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin, or intention to make any such preference, limitation, or discrimination.” We will not knowingly accept any advertising for real estate which is in violation of the law. All persons are hereby informed that all dwellings advertised are available on an equal opportunity basis.

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PAGE A18 • TIMES OF SMITHTOWN • FEBRUARY 13, 2020

Editorial

Letters to the Editor

This year’s census could be one of the most consequential for Long Island in many decades. It could very well have impact us for the next 10 years and we at TBR News Media know now is not the time to throw away this year’s questionnaire once it gets to our door. By several accounts, New York is set to lose one or two congressional seats. Long Island especially could be hit hard. Much has been said about Long Island’s loss of population. The Empire Center for Public Policy, a nonprofit Albany-based think tank, released a report in December that New York has lost nearly 1.4 million residents from migration to other states since 2010. School districts continue to show drops in enrollment, due to parents either leaving the Island or from adults waiting longer to have children. Just how important is the census? Government on all levels prioritizes road work, school aid, grants and so many other operations based solely on the size and strength of a local population. If we complain about sections of state roads like Route 25A never getting paved, population very much plays a major role in those decision makings. April 1 is the reference day for the census, but this year is the first-time residents will be able to reply to the questionnaire over the phone or online. It’s too early to tell how efficient such a first-time government website will be, but hopes are for nothing like a repeat of the shaky rollout of HealthCare.gov back in 2013. Still, New York State has put major efforts behind galvanizing for the census. The state plans to make $20 million available out of a total of $60 million to go toward engagement efforts in local municipalities. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced another $10 million was earmarked in this year’s proposed budget for census efforts. Suffolk County has put its own initiatives forward with a committee gathering several local groups to help galvanize for the census. Every one of Suffolk’s outgoing emails now contains a pledge to take this year’s census. There is evidence that the people most needed to be counted, the people who would benefit most from being accurately counted, have previously declined to fill in the questionnaires. The website, www.censushardtocountmaps2020.us, shows districts in every part of the U.S. that have had less than optimal counts in the previous census. Despite most of the North Shore showing a count of above 73 percent, there are areas of Port Jefferson, Rocky Point and Sound Beach that had a count of 70 to 73 percent. There are large areas of Huntington Station that show a count of 60 to 65 percent count. A large section of Selden, north of Middle Country Road along Route 112, also shows a relatively low response rate. In these areas with high minority populations, those counts could mean the difference between local schools getting the support they need or not. Recent efforts by the feds under President Donald Trump (R) to put a citizenship question on the census were defeated last year. The Washington Post and The New York Times uncovered evidence such efforts were intended to dampen Democratic voting areas. While the courts have put the squash to such a plan, there is still the lingering notion the census will be used to bite down on undocumented families. All officials say this will not be the case, and whatever we may feel about people coming into the country illegally, the government knowing such people exist will only benefit the state as a whole.

While walking along the seashore the other day, I was thinking to myself about the many forms that the word “art” may take on. Whether it be a painter’s creation, a writer’s creation, a musician’s creation, a dancer’s creation, the creation generally is viewed and described as an art form. I was thinking that the communication of words between two people or a group of people may also be viewed as an art form, if viewed from the same perspective. When I observe as an individual trained and licensed in mental health, administration and leadership, I am deeply dismayed at the state of affairs some of our elected officials are displaying with regards to what I call the art form of communication. Whatever happened to respect, kindness, caring, compassion, tolerance, acceptance, understanding, listening, etc. The motivation of the communication seems to be loaded with one-up on one another, loaded with the desire to hurt one another and ultimately resulting in

We Need a Good Count Looking at Communication as an Art Form

Letters … We welcome your letters. They should be no longer than 400 words and may be edited for length, libel, style and good taste. We do not publish anonymous letters. Please include a phone number and address for confirmation. Email letters to kyle@tbrnewsmedia.com or mail them to The Times of Smithtown, P.O. Box 707, Setauket, NY 11733.

We the People getting hurt. This model of communication seems to have become the norm as opposed to understanding, respect, caring and being of the mindset to construct a meaningful dialogue to benefit and provide a model for all concerned. Each of us individually possess the ability to develop an awareness of not accepting or tolerating what we see as a subhuman standard of hurtful communication by our elected officials. Whatever happened to the wellknown intervention called conflict resolution, a process of resolving dispute or disagreement to reconcile opposing arguments in a manner that promotes and protects the human rights of all parties concerned? Other interventions for conflict resolution, like negotiation, mediation, may be utilized and expected by We the People. What happened to meaningful and productive communication with dignity, seemingly replaced with nastiness? We may have allowed ourselves to

forget skills, or never took the time to train ourselves to build skills on how to conduct ourselves regarding creating productive and meaningful dialogue and communication. The concept, for example, of interweaving ideas and insights, the sharing to build a cooperative creative product between people to be shared with others, can be a beautiful process. The ability to have powerful dialogue is part of our social DNA, many of us may have forgotten how in our busy, multitasking, Twitter, soundbite lives. In conclusion, let us not give up the power we possess to demand and insist on a standard of communication that is a reflection of an art form, visibly laden with respect, care, compassion, dignity, understanding, tolerance, acceptance, etc. In the words of a respectful American music group. The Whispers, in their 1979 song, hopefully, “And the Beat Goes On.” Paul Feinberg South Setauket

A Call for a 50-State Election in 2020 Many Americans are outraged that for the second time in five [national] elections, the presidential candidate who won the popular vote [in 2016] lost the election. The winner-take-all Electoral College system gives less populated states as much as four times the voting power of more populated states. This anti-democratic outcome compels candidates to compete only in a handful of swing states, and effectively ignore voters in every other state in the union. Just four states are likely to decide the outcome of

the 2020 presidential race — Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Florida. Studies indicate a candidate could get only 23 percent of the popular vote and still win in the Electoral College. This potential tyranny of a minority should change, so that voters in all 50 states have a say in choosing our president. Here is how to do it: States, when awarding their electoral votes, should appoint electors based on the percentage of votes each candidate received. This distribution of electoral

votes would create a 50-state election, without having to amend the constitution. Not only would it ensure that the person who actually got more votes wins the presidency, but it would also require candidates to spend time, just as vigorously, engaging with voters in all 50 states, instead of a handful of swing states. For information on how to make your voice heard go to www. nationalpopularvote.com. Jerry Reynolds Coram

The Real Origin of the Port Jeff Peace Pole

A letter last week [“Punitive PJ Fine Is Example of Double Standard”] misstated the origin of the newly installed Peace Pole at Rocketship Park in Port Jefferson village. The Peace Pole and plaque alongside of it were originally suggested, designed and fully funded by members of Building Bridges in Brookhaven. Our group was founded in the aftermath of the 2015 shooting that left nine people dead inside the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in

Charleston, South Carolina. The plaque identifies the pole as “one of more than 250,000 that have been placed in more than 200 countries as part of the Peace Pole Project begun in 1955 in Japan.” Similar poles are located on the grounds of parks, schools, churches, hospitals, cemeteries, businesses and other locations. All of them simply state, in various languages, this universal wish: “May Peace Prevail on Earth”. It is worth noting that separately

from our efforts, a joint project recently begun in Suffolk County has a goal of “planting” an additional 100 peace poles across Long Island in 2020 co-sponsored by local Rotary clubs and Pax Christi groups from Roman Catholic churches. We are grateful to Port Jefferson Village for providing the location and installation of the pole. Tom Lyon, Co-founder Building Bridges in Brookhaven Mount Sinai

The opinions of columnists and letter writers are their own. They do not speak for the newspaper.


FEBRUARY 13, 2020 • TIMES OF SMITHTOWN • PAGE A19

Opinion

20 Years Later and Still Learning from My Wife

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wenty years ago this week, my wife and I got married. Over the course of the next two decades, we have gone through numerous changes and challenges together, providing a united front for our children, hosting relatives during birthday parties and celebrating landmark occasions. As I think about the many roles we’ve played in each other’s lives I D. None am grateful for my of the above wife, the teacher. In addition to BY DANIEL DUNAIEF taking time to help educate our children, she has also been an extraordinary

educator for me. Starting with something easy, she taught me to relax. Before I met her, I felt the need to move, almost all the time. Sitting on a beach, a bed or a rock at the top of the mountain seemed like a waste of time. Over the years, taking a moment to soak in the sun, to observe the trees and birds around us, or to talk and laugh about the events of the day have become increasingly enjoyable ways to spend time and connect. While my wife has taught me the fine art of relaxing, she has also demonstrated an incredible work ethic, balancing between the needs of our family and the demands of her job. She finds time to respond to work emails, to read work material and to answer important calls, all while supporting our children at everything from sports scrimmages to concerts to graduations. Neither of us is particularly fond of shopping. She has, however, demonstrated how to speedshop in a store. She has a gift not only for finding what she or any member of our family

needs — a black shirt for a coming concert, a white dress for a party or specific socks that are cool enough for school — but also doing it in the most efficient manner, enabling the four of us to race back to the car and on to other activities. She has also taught me how to laugh. Of course I laughed before I met her, but the laughter wasn’t as frequent and it didn’t continue to help cement my relationship to someone as well as it does with my wife. The absurd surrounds us, if you know what to look for and how to find it. Of course, I don’t necessarily cherish every lesson the same way. You see, my wife is a cat person, a trait she shares with her mother and siblings. When my wife was pregnant and during the months when she breastfed, I learned the fine art of scooping cat litter and, once a week, changing the pan. I learned how to do this unpleasant but necessary maintenance task as quickly as possible, leaving me with only a slight scent of cat litter on my clothes. Our young

children enjoyed watching me expectorate for a full minute after the process ended. She also taught me the sheer joy of walking the Earth with someone. Before I met her, I was an avid walker, trekking up and down West Meadow Beach, walking around neighborhoods in Manhattan and crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. Ever since then, we have covered thousands of miles in all types of terrain as we share our observations of everything from nature to the events of the day or week. Walking together in stride, I have felt a part of something larger and more meaningful than my own existence. Ultimately, however, my wife taught me how to turn my dreams into a reality. When I was 13, I read about the Galapagos Islands. When I heard about how all the marine and island life ignores people, I knew I had to visit. Spurred on by my wife, we planned this journey, which in 2013 far exceeded my lofty expectations, just as each year does with the woman I married two decades ago.

In California, the News Desert Recedes

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his is a happy tale about a lifesaving rescue that particularly pleases me. It must also have pleased The New York Times since the paper gave it a full-page spread under the National news banner this past Monday. The hero is an unlikely 71-year-old retired computer programmer and labor economist named Carl Butz. A fourth-generation Californian, he was aware, like the some 300 other residents of Downieville in the mountainous northern countryside, that the local newspaper, the state’s Between oldest weekly, was folding with the you and me retirement of its BY LEAH S. DUNAIEF publisher. We know that newspapers across America have been dying, especially in rural areas, and this Sierra County town, like a

movie set preserved from the Old West days, was about to become the latest “news desert.” Downieville’s weekly, The Mountain Messenger, was founded in 1853 and was as constant a fixture over the years as a Thursday is in every week. Mark Twain wrote several articles for the paper that were “a few unremarkable stories,” according to the Messenger’s former publisher, Don Russell, who had run the paper for nearly 30 years and read Twain’s stories on microfilm before he sold it to Butz. “They were awful. They were just local stories, as I recall, written by a guy with a hangover.” Twain was reportedly hiding out there from the law, or so the legend goes. Then one night Butz, a recent widower, was watching “Citizen Kane” on cable, and had an epiphany. “I can do that,” he decided. He made a deal quickly with Russell, who was a good friend, to pay in the “four figures,” plus assuming some of the paper’s debts, and he never looked at the books. Russell told him he was “a romantic idealist and a nut case,” because the paper was a losing proposition “and someone who would want it would be crazy.” So why did he do it?

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In a letter to the readers of the first edition, Butz explained. “Simply put, the horrible thought of this venerable institution folding up and vanishing after 166 years of continuous operation was simply more than I could bear.” The newspaper was “something we need in order to know ourselves.” The rest of the residents felt the same way, apparently, and the editor of an online news site in town said, “It was devastating for everybody that we were going to lose The Mountain Messenger.” The paper’s publishing software, Butz learned, was from the mid-1990s. There was no website, no social media platform. The only other employee, Jill Tahija, has been with the paper 11 years and takes to work her small black-and-white dog, Ladybug. Tahija’s business card reads, “She who does the work.” The paper relies mostly on legal notices, from the county and other government offices, which bring in about $50,000 for the bulk of its revenue, has about 700 subscribers throughout the county and a print run of 2,400. “I’m not going to lose a million dollars but I know I’m going to have to subsidize some of it,” the new owner said. “My daughter is already aware that

EDITOR AND PUBLISHER Leah S. Dunaief GENERAL MANAGER Johness Kuisel MANAGING EDITOR Kyle Barr EDITOR Rita J. Egan

LEISURE EDITOR Heidi Sutton ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Kathryn Mandracchia ART AND PRODUCTION DIRECTOR Beth Heller Mason

her inheritance is shrinking.” Butz’s first edition was filled with the usual complement of local news stories: a supervisor’s meeting, wildfire prevention, the upcoming census and a local poetry competition. Russell, meanwhile, was on vacation with his wife, driving his RV up the coast — probably his first time off in three decades. Downieville has become a popular destination as an old Gold Rush town at a fork of the Yuba River in distant western Sierra County. It has a corner saloon, one-lane bridges over the river, and the newspaper is located in a second-story office above a beauty salon on Main Street and next to the fire department, whose sign on the door reads, “Oldest volunteer fire department west of the Mississippi.” Gold mining and sawmills were once the economic engine. Now it relies on mountain biking and fly fishing. And the paper is a repository of the county’s history, with its vast archives. Carl Butz has become to the The Mountain Messenger what Jeff Bezos is to the The Washington Post: A savior who cares who we were and where we are going. I understand him.

INTERNET STRATEGY DIRECTOR Rob Alfano CLASSIFIEDS DIRECTOR Ellen Segal BUSINESS MANAGER Sandi Gross

CREDIT MANAGER Diane Wattecamps CIRCULATION MANAGER Courtney Biondo


PAGE A20 • TIMES OF SMITHTOWN • FEBRUARY 13, 2020

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