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Hempstead Settles In Former Shelter Volunteer Lawsuit

Animal advocacy group to campaign for shelter privatization

The road less traveled is definitely one that has been trodden for the last two years by Diane Madden, Lucille DeFina and Frances Lucivero-Pelletier. Whether or not the end is in sight remains to be seen, but an official ruling that came down may be a sign of things to come.

A lawsuit by the former Hempstead Animal Shelter volunteers came to a head on Tuesday, Jan. 9, when a settlement was reached in a federal district court in Central Islip. The Town of Hempstead offered a $150,000 settlement to the three women.

The animal lovers filed suit in December 2010 against Supervisor Kate Murray and seven employees, claiming their first amendment rights were violated after whistle blowing alleged animal abuse at the Wantagh facility. The shelter has been accused of financial mismanagement and has been investigated by top governmental administration, including Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice and New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

DiNapoli’s audit did not confirm any animal mistreatment, but did reveal that the town improperly accounted for and reported the shelter’s financial activities in “the town-outside-village fund, resulting in town-outside-village taxpayers being overcharged approximately $12.7 million over the last five years.” The audit also reported a $3.37 million decrease in the 2013 shelter budget. It operated on an $8.8 million tab in 2012.

According to the judgment, DeFina will be awarded $36,460, Madden will receive $36,456 while Lucivero-Pelletier will get $8,750. The town will also cover attorney fees of $68,334 paid to Steven A. Morelli.

Madden stated the money will go towards turning the advocacy group Hope for Hempstead Shelter into a nonprofit organization. The group plans to spearhead a campaign to privatize the shelter.

Hope for Hempstead was founded on Dec. 23, 2010. The group Facebook page has tallied more than 3,000 likes.

“We finally, after two years, have a reason to celebrate,” Madden said outside the Nassau County Supreme Court in Mineola. “We’re very happy, very excited.”

DeFina, who along with the other two advocates has been a fixture at community rallies, town board meetings and animal rights events. She called the judgment a huge development in the three-year battle.

“We stood firm and said ‘we have to deal with this,’ because if we didn’t, I don’t think we could have lived with ourselves,” DeFina stated. “This has restored my faith in the justice system. I’m am so thankful.”

Hempstead Communications Director Mike Deery reiterated reports of investigations by outside entities found no reported animal neglect.

“The township is satisfied that the settlement of a legal case involving the shelter indicates no wrongdoing on the part of the plaintiffs or the town,” Deery said in a statement. “Indeed, reviews of the shelter have found no mistreatment or neglect of animals. On the contrary, the Humane Society of the United States recently honored shelter officials for the superlative care they provided to animals who fell victim to Hurricane Sandy.”

Trial proceedings were expected to start on Feb. 6 prior to the settlement.

“This is a big day for these ladies, for the community of Hempstead,” Morelli said. “They stood toe-to-toe with the town. They fought through this lawsuit. They were ready to go to trial. They were ready to have the world hear what they had to say. This has been a long fight.”

News

Shake Shack, a burger restaurant giant which launched in New York City, is looking to establish its second Long Island location in New Hyde Park, reps told the New Hyde Park Illustrated News. The company opened its first Long Island spot in Westbury in November 2012.

 

“We’ve received such a warm welcome in Westbury,” said Edwin Bragg, Shake Shack’s marketing director. “We’ve had a lot of interest from Shake Shack fans in the many nearby villages and towns.” 

 

According to Bragg, the company makes an effort to ensure each new location is tailored to the community, taking “great care to build each Shack with custom architectural design, including forward-thinking structural elements and compelling eco-friendly design.” 

Twenty-three-year-old Victoria Inguanta of New Hyde Park has a unique approach to her artwork. The New Hyde Park Memorial High School and Marymount College graduate takes the human body and combines figurative and abstract work using just a pencil and her canvas.

 

“For instance I’ll take a classical rendering of a face and bring out a modern aspect of the art using lines and space in my composition,” said Inguanta. “To me, the combining of the two is a lot of fun.”


Sports

Tara Notrica is your typical 49-year-old mother of two. Along with her husband Barry, she is kept busy by her 14-year-old son Jared and 10-year-old daughter Samantha. One more thing: she has been battling Mast Cell disease in addition to other autoimmune diseases for the past eight years. Josh York, the CEO and founder of GYMGUYZ, an in-home personal training company, has been working closely with Notrica to help her cope with her disease.

 

“GYMGUYZ is all about the three C’s: convenient, creative and customizable workouts,” said York. “We come to the setting of your choice from homes, offices, churches, and bring our fully loaded van, which has 365 pieces of equipment,” he continued.

Nassau County Police Activity League Special Needs Unit hosted the recent Special Olympics New York Basketball Tournament held at Town of Oyster Bay Hicksville Athletic Center home of Nassau County PAL (NCPAL). Thirteen basketball teams, each with up to ten players, participated in the games. NCPAL-

Special Needs Unit Knights; NCPAL New Hyde Park Knights; SCO Owls; Commack Sharks; Long Island Lions: ACDS Thunderbolts, AHRC Starz and for the first time the Oakville Skywalkers, a Canadian team, competed on the court to demonstrate their skill and spirit of sportsmanship. After the games gold, silver and bronze medals and ribbons were awarded to each of the players.


Calendar

Back to School Night - September 10

Silver Sneaker Fitness - September 11

Beachfest - September 14


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