The following is a list of top stories, compiled by the editor, which occurred throughout 2008. The stories are in the order of which they appeared in the paper. Full stories can be obtained by logging onto www.antonnews.com and clicking on Farmingdale Observer archives. Due to space constraints, not all stories from 2008 appear in this Year in Review.
County Police recently reported that Susan Deturris, 52, of Farmingdale, was traveling northbound on Dec. 31 at 9:30 p.m. on Carmans Road/Block Terrace in her 1997 Ford Taurus when she struck a male victim, Michael Nicosia, 14, also of Farmingdale, on his bicycle.
Officials of the Farmingdale School District confirm that the district is continuing with its lawsuit against former architects and contractors involved with the infrastructure repairs, renovations and new construction at Woodward Parkway Elementary School and Howitt Middle School. The lawsuit is seeking monetary compensation for water, moisture and leak problems being caused by poor design and workmanship.
The majority of the Jan. 7 meeting's attention then focused on the Merritts Road subdivision located behind Farmingdale Plaza. Ten, two-story, one-family homes are proposed in a cul-de-sac with an entrance/exit opening onto Merritts Road.
As sales manager for the Oheka Castle in Huntington, Farmingdale resident Rick Bellando offers many things to brides and grooms planning their wedding. But never before had he offered to donate his kidney. That is until he met Matt Fulgieri.
County and the Town of Oyster Bay have held preliminary discussions regarding the transfer of some county parks and roadways to the town. Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto is excited about the possibility and said that transferring some of these parks and roadways would greatly benefit County, the Town of Oyster Bay and its residents. According to Venditto, town government is better situated to oversee areas such as parks, roads and beaches, while county government is better suited for the administration of such areas as the police department and social services.
Louise Cohen, 53, of Farmingdale said the greatest gift a stranger could give a family that has lost a child in war is assurance that their child is appreciated and remembered for his or her ultimate sacrifice. Cohen creates memorial embroideries from her Farmingdale home, each bearing a photo and name of a local soldier who has died in battle. The embroideries are framed and either hand-delivered or mailed to the deceased's family.
Nassau County Legislator Dave Mejias and the Law Squad recently joined Farmingdale High School Principal Glen Zakian, school officials, parents and eager prom-goers for the school's annual pre-prom meetings. The meetings were aimed at educating parents and students on how to have a safe and fun prom experience.
South Farmingdale Water Commissioners John Hirt, Ralph Atoria and Kurt Ludwig settled a lawsuit by agreeing to repay the Water District $333.33 each toward the cost of a recent newsletter which was published just before the Dec. 11 water commissioner's election. The settlement, which also named the South Farmingdale Water District as a respondent, stipulates that "the district agrees it will not profile any commissioner up for election in its newsletter for a 60-day period prior to the district's annual election."
The threat of bad weather on Saturday, March 1 didn't stop over 1,500 taxpayers from voicing their opposition to Governor Spitzer's cuts to Long Island school districts. At an Education and Taxpayer Rally at Allen Park in Farmingdale, hundreds of taxpayers, educators, students and business and labor leaders partnered with Senator Kemp Hannon to call upon Governor Spitzer to restore the funding he cut to Long Island schools in his proposed education budget.
Farmingdale High School wrestlers Luke Alber, Thomas Jackson and Justin Esposito earned All-County honors at the Nassau County Wrestling Championships held at Hofstra University on Feb. 23-24. Sophomore Luke Alber and junior Thomas Jackson placed third in their weight class and senior Justin Esposito place fourth in his weight class. Each of these students has dedicated the past several months to an intensive training program to achieve these honors.
Green Leaf Party mayoral candidate George "Butch" Starkie defeated both current Mayor George Graf and challenger John Garry Jr. in the March 18 village election. Ralph Ekstrand, a Farmingdale Family party candidate, and William Barrett, a Green Leaf Party candidate, each nabbed a trustee spot, earning 782 and 768 votes, respectively. Starkie added that he will recommend to the new board that they consider his running mate Cheryl Parisi to fill his trustee position.
The sixth annual Farmingdale Community Summit Council event entitled Farmingdale: A Community of Opportunity, took place March 28 in the Farmingdale High School gym. The event offers a forum for residents, local groups and organizations within the communities of the Farmingdale Union Free School District to interact about their duties and accomplishments, as well as spread word about upcoming events.
The Farmingdale Dalers Lacrosse team defeated La Costa Canyon from California last week 10-3 to give Coach Bob Hartranft his 600th career win with the Dalers . Coach Hartranft is the third coach in the national boys' high school lacrosse history to reach this mark.
Frederic DeFeis has brought live theater to Long Island for over 57 years. He is the founder, producer, and director of Arena Players Repertory Theatre in East Farmingdale and has established some of the first serious theater on Long Island with his Arena Players.
On Tuesday, April 22, the Farmingdale Village Board of Trustees unanimously adopted the fiscal year 2009 budget. According to Village Administrator Dave Smollett, the newly adopted 2009 budget includes appropriations of $5,665,544. This represents a 2.24 percent tax increase over last year's $5,656,667 budget. "The average homeowner in Farmingdale pays about $1,200 per year in village taxes," Smollett explained. "This increase would equate to about $27 per homeowner." Taxes per $100 of net assessed value of a home are $18.25, as opposed to $17.85 in fiscal year 2008.
Senator Kemp Hannon secured the funding necessary to install new security cameras at the Farmingdale LIRR station. Senator Hannon obtained funding for the closed circuit cameras last year, and installation was completed this spring. If a crime is committed at the station, police will now be able to review the feed to find the perpetrators responsible.
Residents voted to pass the Farmingdale Public Schools budget at recent elections held on Tuesday, May 20 at Howitt Middle School. The proposed budget adopted by the Farmingdale Board of Education was $138,592,359 for the 2008/09 school year, which represents a 1.31 percent expenditure increase over the previous year's budget. This represents a tax levy increase of 3.53 percent over last year. Residents voted in favor of the budget in a 1,999 yes to a 1,248 no vote.
Voters chose from three candidates to serve two three-year terms on the Farmingdale Board of Education. Incumbent Steve Wilson was challenged by John E. Capobianco and William Meilink. Wilson and Capobianco received the highest number of votes. Their three-year terms begin in July.
On May 15, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Concerned Citizens Association of Farmingdale co-hosted a public information session for the Liberty Industrial Superfund Site in Farmingdale. About 100 residents attended with the main focus being on the cleanup which will soon be under way at Pond A. EPA Project Manager Lorenzo Thantu gave a presentation on the ongoing EPA and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation investigation into the site, the implementation of long-term comprehensive remedial actions, the status of remedial action activities and the Pond A Sediments Remedial Action.
Republic Airport in East Farmingdale recently received a $1.1 million grant for runway safety design. The grant, which is part discretionary funds and part entitlement funds, was secured by Senator Charles Schumer and Congressman Steve Israel. This safety area project involves the design and engineering of EMAS (engineered material arresting system) located at both ends of runway 14-32. EMAS absorbs the energy of an aircraft if it were to leave the paved surface of the runway.
Kurt Ludwig abruptly resigned as South Farmingdale Water Commissioner last week, following a term marked by both controversy and accomplishment. Gary Brosnan, outgoing chief of the North Massapequa Fire Department, will replace Ludwig as commissioner for the South Farmingdale district.
The Lady Dalers Lacrosse team took on the Northport Tigers last Sunday June 8 for the Long Island Class A Championship game at Stony Brook, but the game was cancelled due to a severe storm. So, they were supposed to play Monday, but that was cancelled due to the heat. Tuesday was cancelled due to the heat, so the Dalers and Tigers finally took the field on Wednesday. Melissa Maier passed to Candace Rossi who scored with 1:27 left to give the Lady Dalers their third straight Class A Long Island Championship.
Concerned residents questioned Nassau County's upcoming project proposal for the Massapequa Preserve at a meeting held at the Farmingdale Public Library June 18. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a project to clean up part of the site, residents are voicing concern about the underage alcohol consumption within the area and the Town of Oyster Bay is looking to gain ownership of parts of the Preserve, where jurisdiction currently is divided between the town, the state and the county.
Exasperation exuded from the standing-room only Town of Oyster Bay Board Room on June 24, as Farmingdale residents weighed in one final time on the potential Stop & Shop construction on the northwest corner of the Liberty Site. The heavily scrutinized Liberty Site is a United States Environmental Protection Agency Superfund property that the Town of Oyster Bay made a priority to improve several years ago. Opponents of the Stop & Shop construction countered that such a project would endanger the character of the community, that there are more productive alternative projects for the site, such as housing, office space, or a cultural center that the town has not yet explored, and that traffic and safety concerns have not yet been settled.
Bartone Properties LLC recently unveiled a redevelopment project for the Village of Farmingdale.The proposal, officially submitted to the village in April, will create 196 residential condominiums and provide 17,000 square feet of new retail space at 120 Secatogue Avenue.
Hempstead Turnpike Israel Community Center recently closed its doors after 60 years of service to the Levittown community and is merging with the Farmingdale Wantagh Jewish Center due to the financial difficulties of supporting a temple that has a diminishing amount of members. About 15 to 20 years ago, the Israel Community Center had 400 families attending services on a daily basis and now their membership has dwindled to only 15 members.
Shy and skinny, a young Anthony Pagnotta silently shooting hoops at Woodward Parkway Elementary School years back would seem to be an unlikely future crime fighter on the streets of New York City. Or a likely opponent against the ferociously outspoken 300-pound American Gladiator television stars. After competing in six different events against the gladiators, Pagnotta was ahead of his opponent 9 to 6 in points going into the final challenge known as "The Eliminator." His opponent ended up beating Pagnotta by just a few seconds.
The Farmingdale Community Land Trust, a nonprofit organization in the works, recently filed with the state to provide affordable housing to the Farmingdale School District and East Farmingdale residents. The FCLT has plans to create permanent affordable housing for younger and older residents, develop commercial businesses in the downtown district involving a Transit Oriented component and build a community center that will make Farmingdale an intergenerational community.
The park is located west of Staples Street, at the end of Elm Avenue. It was dedicated in honor of Captain Kathy Mazza in September 2003 and features a heart-shaped commemorative garden with a monument dedicated to Captain Mazza on the north side of the park. The names of Captain Mazza's fellow Port Authority officers who perished on September 11 are also engraved on the bricks of the walkway leading to the monument. However, the maintenance of the park has become a source of concern for local residents. There are complaints that the park has been vandalized and that the upkeep of the park has been neglected. This has been particularly upsetting to Captain Mazza's parents.
During the Aug. 4 meeting, the Farmingdale Board approved to increase the cap from $10,000 to $13,500 for a homeowner's funding for the Residential Rehabilitation Program. This program provides the low-income family homeowners with the funding from community block grant money to renovate their homes. For any low-income homeowners who need renovations, there is still $50,000 left in this program's budget, and they should fill out the application at the Village Hall to see if they qualify for these home improvements. Renovations under this grant are determined individually by case and may vary from each situation.
Earlier this week, Senators Charles E. Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton announced nearly $4 million in Department of Transportation (DOT) funding for Republic Airport. The DOT grant of $3,958,816 will support runway safety improvements at the airport, specifically allotted to install an engineered materials arrestor system, which is a bed of lightweight, crushable concrete built at the end of a runway. "These concrete blocks will slow a plane down if it should happen to go off of the runway," said Michael Geiger, Republic Airport director.
The 4th annual Main Street Mile is continuing a Labor Day tradition in Farmingdale growing every year. Once again, this event was presented by Bob Cook, owner of the Runners Edge on Main Street in Farmingdale, who was race co-director along with Mark Leff of Cisco Systems. There were 310 participants in the race, including 42 from Farmingdale.
The Farmingdale Community Summit Council held their 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony last week at the monuments at the Farmingdale Public Library. The Ceremony included presentation of the colors by the South Farmingdale Fire Department, a reading from their Chaplain Jim Keating, remarks from Library Director and Summit board member Debbie Podolski, Summit Remembers Committee Chairman Mark Wetzel, songs from the Howitt Select Chorus under the direction of Danielle Tucker and Taps by Joe DeAngelis, music teacher at Northside, and Matt DeMasi, music teacher at Albany Avenue.
With the Champions Tour at Eisenhower Park recently, many golfers - pros and locals alike - are looking to June 2009 when the U.S. Open again visits historical Bethpage State Park. Craig Currier, head golf superintendent of the park, works with the USGA years in advance, planning revised landscaping, aligning volunteers, and seeing how to maximize the millions of dollars donated by the USGA for renovations to Bethpage State Park.
At a recent press conference Nassau County Police released details of an alleged incident that occurred in the locker room at Farmingdale High School on Thursday, Oct. 2. According to Det. Sgt. Anthony Repalone of the Nassau County Police Public Information Office, approximately 60 varsity football players were changing in the boys' locker room after practice to watch game footage. "At that point, one of the football players had a broom," Repalone said. "With that broom he was going around poking some of the other football players in the buttocks. The handle was being poked at several football players in that locker room."
At the Oct. 6 Farmingdale Village Board meeting, the board voted to reinstitute water rates from 2004, effective with the October billing period. "We are in a situation where we are in the red in our water department," Mayor Starkie explained. "This is an enterprise fund and by law there can't be a deficit." After agreeing to pay over $70,000 in tax certioraris, the board said they were seeking ways to reduce future ones. Mayor Starkie said he was looking into having the village reassessed.
The Farmingdale School District recently received the final report from the State Comptroller's Office following an audit of its financial and internal control procedures. Upon review of the comptroller's findings, it is clear that the district has maintained a high level of professionalism and ethics in its financial and business practices. Many of the comptroller's recommendations were in areas where the district had, prior to the audit, recognized a weakness and remedied the issue.
Over 140 years ago 13 young men from Farmingdale enlisted in the United States Army. They fought in many battles such as Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and in Sherman's March to the Sea. Some were wounded, one was taken as a prisoner of war and two died during the war. Troop 261, with the support of the Farmingdale-Bethpage Historical Society, is working on a project to make sure their memory is not forgotten. The project is the Eagle Scout project of Patrick Looney of Troop 261. An Eagle Scout project is a community service project run by a Life Scout and carried out by members of the troop. This particular project consists of three phases.
According to Det./Lt. Kevin Smith of the Nassau County Police Department's Public Information Office, the Medical Examiner's Office has confirmed that a body found in North Hills last week is that of Leah Walsh, 29, of Bethpage. Walsh is the victim of a homicide, police stated. Police also stated that her husband, William Walsh, 29, also of Bethpage, is in police custody at the Nassau County Jail and is being charged with her murder.
College officials unveiled the latest addition to the Athletic Department's improvement in facilities for students at a ribbon-cutting ceremony earlier this month: a synthetic-turf lacrosse/soccer field surrounded by an eight-lane outdoor track is the new home to both men's and women's teams. The surface of Rams Field is FieldTurf, one of the leading synthetic surfaces in use by professional and major college teams across the country, and the same surface installed at the College's lighted baseball stadium.
While the weather outside was frightful, that didn't stop Mayor Butch Starkie, Legislator Dave Mejias and Farmingdale Chamber President Debbie Podolski from encouraging residents to shop their local Main Street during the holidays this year. During a walking tour down Main Street, Podolski said, "There is so much here within walking distance. They can mail their Christmas cards at the post office, they can take a stroll down Main Street, go to a paint store, have lunch, go the Variety Store. While doing everyday errands, incorporate shopping for the holidays on Main Street."
Village resident Frank Gatto inquired about the road refinishing project. The road improvement project began in 2001 with the Trudden administration and was halted halfway through completion due to lack of funds. According to Ralph Ekstrand, it would cost the village over $16 million to complete the village roads. Over six miles of road need to be completed at a cost of $2 million per mile, Trustee Cheryl Parisi added. Gatto said his taxes were already doubled when the project first began, only his road wasn't refinished. Weitzman: Water Districts Could Operate for Years Without New Revenue Nassau County Comptroller Howard Weitzman recently released a report on the 19 commissioner-run water districts in Nassau. Water districts collect user charges and property taxes. At 2007 operating costs, Bethpage, Oyster Bay, South Farmingdale and Albertson all have over two years' worth of property tax collections in the bank, the comptroller reported. "South Farmingdale has $3.3 million in excess funds and could go up to 10 months without collecting revenue without interruption in services for their residents," Weitzman elaborated. According to the SFWD, funds are never accrued in the water district without design or purpose. The press release states that their undesignated, unreserved funds are actually $1.6 million. "The majority of the difference is already spoken for existing projects, or is earmarked for capital improvement projects that will be implemented in the near future," a SFWD release continued. Friends of Massapequa Preserve Marks 8th Anniversary Recently, the Friends of the Massapequa Preserve held a meeting to recognize the organization's eighth anniversary and to inform its members and local residents of what will be taking place in the preserve. For the past eight years, Richard Schary, president of Friends of Massapequa Preserve, and the members of the organization have been working to protect the Massapequa Preserve as a perpetual preserve while trying to address serious issues that had arisen. Looking back, Schary feels that much has been accomplished, although more work lies ahead. American Legion Offering Blue Star Banners to Farmingdale Families The Farmingdale American Legion Post 449 is now offering the Blue Star Service Banner to any Farmingdale family that has a son or daughter serving in the military. A Blue Star Service Banner displayed in the window of a home is an American tradition. The banner lets others know that someone from their home is proudly serving in the U.S. Armed Forces and can be displayed during wartime or peace time.