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Friday
Oct212011

Smithtown’s Angels -Christina Alcure, Christine Fitzgerald (Center), Kristy Jaegar

By Nancy Vallarella

 “In a time lacking truth and certainty and filled with anguish and despair, no women should be shamefaced in attempting to give back to the world through her work a portion of its lost heart.” Louise Bogan passed away February 4, 1970. She was the fourth poet Laureate honored by the Library of Congress in 1947. 

Kristy Jaegar, Christine Fitzgerald and Chistina Alcure

Many decades have passed but Louise Bogan could have very well been writing about three remarkable Smithtown residents. All three are mothers.  All three have a professional background. All three were united by their compassion for a fatally ill 5-year-old girl. That girl, Kaylee Rivers, was a neighbor to Christine Fitzgerald, a girl scout in Christina Alcure’s troop and a classmate to the son of Kristy Jaeger.  When Kaylee was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma in the spring of 2008, these women pooled their resources to aid Kaylee and the Rivers family both financially and emotionally and formed the Smithtown Children’s Foundation (SCF).

In the three years since the foundation was formed, other Smithtown families have encountered the battle of disease, endured the recovery from injury or the loss of loved ones and have had the Smithtown Children’s Foundation there to support them. In addition to the support they have given to Smithtown families, the SCF has established scholarship funds which are awarded to seniors from Smithtown High Schools East and West. They have also organized a number of memorial running events within the Smithtown community.

These three women, in three short years, have helped to heal, touch and comfort strangers in our own back yard. Unlike the angels we read about or those who are portrayed in movies as strangers who appear out of nowhere, give assistance and disappear as mysteriously as they arrive, Christine Fitzgerald, Christina Alcure and Kristy Jaeger are familiar faces, long term Smithtown residents, and mere mortals.

Three is the number representing supreme balance and support however; greatness can be achieved in numbers.

The Smithtown Children’s Foundation is reaching out and looking for help from businesses that can lend financial support, products, services or may be looking for community exposure at events.  Civic organizations such as the Girl and Boy Scouts of America, Junior Honor Society candidates or Confirmation candidates who are looking to fulfill community service needs.  Individuals who just want to help a neighbor, pay their good fortune forward or take ownership in their community can contact the SCF at: 631-624-2466 or e-mail: fitzyBBCF@optonline.net.

On Thursday, October 27th, the Smithtown Children’s Foundation is proud to be one of three honorees at the 6th Annual Taste of Smithtown sponsored by the Senior Resources of Long Island. The event is hosted and held at Mercedes Benz of Smithtown, 630 Middle Country Road, Saint James from 6pm -9pm.  Gourmet goodies, east end wine and seasonal microbrew will be served from more than 28 local culinary businesses attending. Tickets are $25.00 and can be purchased at the door with check or cash.

Monday
Oct172011

Op-Ed - Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy

Op-Ed

Legislature Should Adopt My Tough Balanced Budget That Brings Recurring Savings

By Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy

Over the past eight years, I have made the tough decisions effectuating over a hundred million dollars in recurring savings that helped bring about eight consecutive years without a general fund tax increase.  We saved millions by putting our health plan out to competitive bid, civilianizing the police department, replacing highly paid officers with lower paid sheriffs on the highways, requiring the use of generic rather than brand name drugs and shrinking the size of government by approximately 500 employees.  My budgets were balanced, received the highest bond rating in our county’s history, and still our roads were plowed, our parks remained open and our bus routes were actually expanded.   

Over the past several years, we’ve had crushing state mandates, including a doubling of our pension costs and the opening of a new mandated jail, which has made this 2012 budget the toughest of my tenure. Notwithstanding these state mandates and the sluggish economy, the budget still is balanced and once again holds the line on taxes. 

Legislators have claimed that it’s the toughest budget they’ve faced.  They are correct.  They are going to have to bite the bullet and demand, as I have, that employees pick up a share of their health care costs.  Yes, the budget is tough but it’s certainly not unbalanced.

At a recent meeting, some legislators derided my budget saying that layoffs in the public sector would actually hurt the economy.  By that inane logic why don’t we just double the number of county employees and watch the economy grow.  Quite to the contrary, the public sector is too big.  Recoveries come about from private sector jobs.

Requesting that county employees contribute to their health care is not only the fair thing to do for our taxpayers, it also provides savings year after year.  Rather than holding the unions’ feet to the fire and pressuring them to provide these concessions in lieu of the 450 layoffs that would otherwise come about, legislators are promoting one one-shot after another that not only will put the county’s finances in peril, but also sends a message to the unions that there is no need to negotiate because the legislature will bail them out with a quick fix. 

When tobacco revenues were securitized five years ago, they were spread out over five years to provide recurring savings and to wean the county off of this money.  The proposed use of the remaining $33 million tobacco revenues in one year will provide relief in 2012, but will leave the incoming county executive with a nightmare in 2013 when those monies are no longer available.  The same logic applies to using one shots for selling our tax liens, and worse yet, selling the county office buildings and leasing them back from the new owner.  These type of irresponsible recommendations should be rejected out of hand.  Equally alarming is the call by some legislators to empty our remaining $60 million reserve fund as a one shot to fund recurring expenses.  Those reserves are needed for natural disaster emergencies such as Hurricane Irene, as well as maintaining our historically high bond rating. 

Ironically, had the executive branch adopted these easy fixes, legislators would have unquestionably blamed the county executive for taking the easy way out and setting up the new county executive to fail once these one-shots were exhausted.  I rejected these irresponsible measures and instead balanced the budget with the recurring savings including the requirement that county employees contribute to their health care costs.  If they do not, layoffs would ensue.  Either way, we would see savings year after year, a major advantage for an incoming executive.

On the one hand the legislature does not want any recurring savings, yet they call for recurring savings.  The legislature claims that they don’t want one-shots, yet all of their proposals to change the executive budget have been just that – one-shots. 

Sooner or later, the tough decisions will have to be made.  Delaying the inevitable will either lead to large tax hikes or the type of instability other counties are facing, but Suffolk has been able to avoid.

Thursday
Oct132011

"Turning Suffolk County Into Solar County" Steve Levy

“It is good for our environment, good for national security, good for our local economy, and good for local taxpayers.” County Executive Steve Levy 

 

County Exec. Steve Levy, Gordian Raacke (Renewable Energy Long Island, and LIPA CEO Michael D. HerveyAt a press conference today, held at the Dennison building, County Executive Steve Levy introduced the nearly completed solar carports that have been raised on the south side of the Dennison property. The project uses thousands of solar panels in the construction of 10 carport buildings. The solar panels will connect to the electric grid and generate electricity that is clean and renewable.  

The work being done on the Dennison site is being subcontracted to a Holtsville-based company, Eldor Electrical Construction & Maintenance, which anticipates some 150 jobs to be generated through multiple county solar carport project sites going forward. The work at the Dennison site includes an innovative parking design that will allow for snow plowing, regular maintenance and overhead cover for commuters’ vehicles.

“Seeing is believing, and this is an exciting example of progressive collaboration involving county government, the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) and the private sector,” said Levy. “We are taking what was once merely a concept and are turning it into a reality that produces jobs and long-lasting benefits for our society.”

Levy pointed out that Suffolk’s solar initiative uses zero taxpayer dollars and carries no financial risk to the county. In addition to the work at the Dennison location, the multi-pronged initiative will feature solar-module build outs at several locations countywide. Under the agreement, Suffolk is generating income by leasing the land to enXco, which is generating clean, renewable power and selling it to LIPA.

 

Wednesday
Oct122011

Doctors Ask New York to Study Health Impacts Before Allowing Fracking


by Nicholas Kusnetz ProPublica, Oct. 6, 2011, 1:24 p.m.

          

Medical professionals and environmentalists sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo saying the state should study the health effects of gas drilling before allowing more of it (Photo by Nathaniel Brooks-Pool/Getty Images)

A group of doctors, nurses and environmentalists is calling on New York officials to study the health risks of gas drilling before allowing hydraulic fracturing in the state.

In a letter sent Wednesday to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the group said New York’s plan for regulating fracking ignores growing evidence that gas drilling harms public health. The group asked the state to assess disease rates in potential drilling areas to establish a baseline, identify specific risks from drilling and propose steps to mitigate those risks.

 

Emily DeSantis, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said state officials had taken health effects into consideration in drafting the new regulations for high-volume fracking that were released last week.

“Because New York has developed the most rigorous requirements in the nation to protect the public health and the environment,” she wrote in an email, “a comparison of health impacts in other states is inappropriate.”

New York put a hold on fracking three years ago, just as drilling into the Marcellus Shale formation was taking off in neighboring Pennsylvania. As ProPublica has reported, intense gas drilling in Pennsylvania and elsewhere has been accompanied by mounting complaints about health problems around drilling sites. Neither states nor the federal government currently track or study such reports systematically, however.

On Monday, Pennsylvania’s Gov. Tom Corbett proposed a fee on drilling that would provide the state health department $1 million to $2 million a year to compile and investigate health complaints. The move followed a proposal from the state’s secretary of public health to create the nation’s first drilling-related health registry.

The New York letter, which was signed by more than 250 health professionals and environmental groups, called for the state to conduct a health impact assessment similar to one started last year in a western Colorado community.

In the initial draft of the Colorado study, researchers concluded that new drilling in the area would likely affect residents’ health, but it came under criticism from drillers, and county officials ended the work before a final draft was released.

Bernard Goldstein, professor emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Public Health, has criticized officials in Pennsylvania for approving new drilling without adequately studying public health in drilling areas. While he didn’t sign the New York letter, Goldstein said he supports the group’s demands, adding that New York should learn from Pennsylvania’s experience and properly assess health risks before drilling begins.

“To me, the idea of rushing ahead basically refutes all we’ve learned in environmental health science over the last 40 years,” he said.

 

Wednesday
Oct122011

2011 SMITHTOWN LIBRARY BUDGET PASSES NEW TRUSTEE ELECTED

A total of 1577 ballots were cast in the Smithtown Library Budget vote. The budget passed by 343 votes. 960 people voted in favor and 617 people voting in opposition to the budget. 

Trustee Election: incumbent Monteleone retains his seat receiving 1140 votes.  Otis Thornhill will be the newest trustee garnering 988 votes. Rosalind Palazzolo received 707 votes.

 

2011 SMITHTOWN LIBRARY BUDGET VOTE AND TRUSTEE ELECTION

10/11/11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOCATION

TRUSTEE CANDIDATES

BUDGET PROPOSITION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thornhill

Monteleone

Palazzolo

TOTAL

YES

NO

TOTAL

COM Machines

175

201

148

524

203

90

293

COM Paper

12

19

9

40

16

4

20

COM Absentee

11

19

18

48

13

11

24

   COM TOTAL

198

239

175

612

232

105

337

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KP Machines

121

139

95

355

84

127

211

KP Paper

41

57

44

142

60

25

85

KP Absentee

27

27

15

69

27

14

41

   KP TOTAL

189

223

154

566

171

166

337

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NESC Machines

224

267

78

569

229

73

302

NESC Paper

3

5

2

10

5

2

7

NESC Absentee

18

25

8

51

21

6

27

   NESC TOTAL

245

297

88

630

255

81

336

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SM Machines

286

300

239

825

231

221

452

SM Paper

18

23

24

65

16

26

42

SM Absentee

52

58

27

137

55

18

73

   SM TOTAL

356

381

290

1027

302

265

567

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GRAND TOTAL

988

1140

707

2835

960

617

1577