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Nassau County Legislature Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt Dies

Nassau County Legislature Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt died suddenly on the morning of Oct. 3. According to Ed Ward, spokesperson from the legislator’s office, Schmitt, 62, collapsed while in a budget meeting with Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano in the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building and was rushed to Winthrop Hospital. He died at 11:55 a.m.

“Nassau County has lost a dedicated public servant,” said Mangano in a statement. “My wife Linda and I lost a friend of over 20 years. Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt served the residents of Nassau County with great integrity and pride. I had the privilege of serving closely with Peter in the legislature since its creation in 1996, where he distinguished himself as an outspoken advocate for the residents of the 12th Legislative District.”

Schmitt is the only person to ever represent the 12th Legislative District, which encompasses Massapequa and Massapequa Park as well as portions of Seaford and North Massapequa. Local elected officials who have worked with Schmitt expressed shock and sadness at his sudden passing.

“Peter Schmitt was a great friend,” said Congressman Peter King, whose 3rd Congressional District currently includes all of the 12th Legislative District. “I’ve never known anyone who worked, or who fought harder, for his constituents than Peter Schmitt. He was politically incorrect at times, but always honest and always dedicated.”

“We all lost a great friend,” said Massapequa Park Mayor James Altadonna. “I’m going to miss Peter as a friend and Massapequa lost a wonderful advocate for all of us. I am deeply saddened by the loss.”

In addition to serving as legislator representing the 12th Legislative District, Schmitt had been deputy presiding officer, minority leader and since Republicans gained back control of the legislature in the 2009 elections, majority leader and presiding officer. As the leader of the Republicans in the legislature, Schmitt often sparred politically with his Democratic counterparts. However, officials from both sides of the aisle expressed sadness and respect for Schmitt.

“I’ve known this man 17 years,” said Legislator Judy Jacobs, who served as the presiding officer when Democrats held the majority, and Schmitt served as the minority leader. “I just can’t believe it. It’s a sad day. We may have been adversaries on the way we do things in the governmental sphere, but we were always friends on a personal level. My thoughts are with his family at this time.”

“Our entire caucus is shocked and saddened by the passing of Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt,” Kevan Abrahams, the Nassau County Legislature minority leader said in a statement. “He was an iconic leader of our legislature since its inception in 1995. Through his career spent in public service he has left an indelible mark on Nassau County. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Schmitt is survived by his wife Lois, a daughter, Samantha and a grandchild, of whom he often spoke proudly.

Despite Schmitt’s penchant for speaking candidly, Congressman King recalled a man whose private persona was different from his public image.

“Peter and Lois were inseparable,” said King about the relationship between Schmitt and his wife. “In fact, just two weeks ago I had my fundraiser. The two of them were there. They were the first to arrive and the last to leave. They sat quietly at a table. Here he was, one of the top two or three people in Nassau County and if you walked in the room, he was just sitting there, a regular guy.”

According to county sources, the Nassau County charter stipulates that a special election to fill the position of legislator from the 12th District must be held within 30 to 60 days. As the deputy presiding officer, Norma Gonsalves, will fulfill the duties and responsibilities of the presiding officer, but will not officially become the presiding officer unless confirmed by the legislature. With the legislature now split evenly between Republicans and Democrats, it is not known if that will happen. Gonsalves represents the 13th Legislative District, which encompasses East Meadow, Salisbury and North Merrick.

That split could also affect next year’s budget, as the legislature must approve the county budget by Oct. 31.  Because of Schmitt’s death, even if all nine Republican legislators approve it, at least one Democrat must also vote to approve it, in order to get the 10 votes needed to pass. If the budget is not approved, last year’s budget automatically goes into effect.

A wake will be held at Massapequa Funeral Home, south chapel, located at 4980 Merrick Road on Saturday, Oct. 6, and Sunday, Oct. 7 from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. The funeral will be on Monday, Oct. 8 at St. Rose of Lima Church on Merrick Road in Massapequa at 11 a.m.

News

City Stadium in Glen Cove was a mob scene of tiny egg hunters on Thursday, April 17, as at least 100 kids scoured the fields and claimed more than 8,000 eggs in less than three minutes. The annual egg hunt attracted kids from ages 3 to 10, most of whom were prepared with baskets, bags and buckets for storing the candy-filled plastic eggs. 

Zachary Gotterbarn, a member of Boy Scout Troop 72, is an extraordinary 9-year-old who recently exhibited maturity and courage beyond his years. While riding in a car with his mom, Zachary sprang into action to help his young cousin who was choking on a cookie. Without hesitation, Zachary quickly used the “finger sweep,” a technique he learned in Scouting, and dislodged the cookie blocking his cousin’s airway. Zachary saved his cousin’s life. During a recent City Council meeting, Mayor Reginald Spinello and the City Council commended Zachary for his heroic act. Glen Cove Volunteer EMS Chief Tom Kenary presented Zachary with an honorary EMS member pin and tee-shirt. Zachary is pictured with Mayor Spinello, the City Council, and his family. 



Sports

 It finally felt like lacrosse weather last Sunday for North Shore’s  PAL lacrosse teams.  Mike Gilliam’s fourth-grade Lady Vikings traveled to Manhasset.  Playing a strong lacrosse community like Manhasset is always a daunting task, but one which the Lady Vikings were clearly ready for.  North Shore won the game 6-2 with goals coming from 5 different players: Kate Gilliam (2), Ava Vaccaro, Christina Dade, Evelyn McCreery, and Nora Schatz.  

The Glen Cove “Two Knights” began their season last Sunday by traveling down to Wantagh for a tough test to start the season. After spending the winter indoors and the last several weeks outside practicing, the Knights were hungry for real-game action. This

Knights’ team has a great mix of experience and new talent that is sure to lead to continued excitement throughout the year. Starting the game in goal, first-year man Pandelis Tursi made several sparkling saves behind a tough defense led by Colby Burns. With the

Knights down 2-0 in the first, Jack Spoto, another first-year player, provided the offensive spark by tallying the Knights’ first goal of the year. Spoto was also among the team leaders in ground balls and provided hustle that kept the Knights competitive in this game.

Tursi continued to keep his team in the game in the second half while Travis Shea and Matteo Cameron contributed defensively in front of the goal. Rocco Rainone was the offensive leader and kept the Knights close throughout by recording five goals. In the end, it wasn’t enough and the Knights’ endured a tough loss, 9-6. Congratulations to Tursi, Spoto, Burns, Dylan Jenkins, Charlie Muth, Page Bennett, Daniel Salerno, Grayson Kopetic and Vincent Pascucci for great play in the first game of their careers. 


Calendar

 E-Waste Recycing - April 26

YMCA Healthy Kids - April 26

Glen Cove Library Luncheon - April 27


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
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