The following is a list of top stories, compiled by the editor, which occurred throughout 2006. 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 the Levittown Tribune archives.
Tom Suozzi continued his tenure as Nassau County Executive on Jan. 1, 2006, when he was sworn in for his second term. Amid speculation that Suozzi will eventually announce a run for governor, the Democrat spent New Year's Day at home in Glen Cove addressing the crowd who gathered at the Robert C. Finley Middle School.
In a Jan. 4 ceremony at Town Hall, the Hempstead Town supervisor, clerk and three council members were inducted into office.
Republican incumbents Supervisor Kate Murray, clerk Mark Bonilla and council members Gary Hudes (6th Councilmanic District), Anthony Santino (4th Councilmanic District) and Democratic Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby (1st Councilmanic District) were sworn in by the person of their choice.
An audit of Nassau County's 8th Police Precinct by Nassau County Comptroller Howard Weitzman has found that, even after previous audits highlighted the problem, too many police officers are still assigned to clerical positions rather than patrol duties. The report also found high levels of overtime, extensive use of obsolete technology and the underutilization of 68 crossing guards.
A special meeting was called by the Levittown Board of Education on Jan. 25, in addition to the previously scheduled planning session for that night, at Levittown Memorial Education Center. The only item on the night's agenda was to settle the long existing decision over the Volunteer Firefighter and Volunteer Ambulance Worker Exemption. The board approved the proposal by a slim margin of 4-3.
As listed, the proposal said, "Resolved, that the Levittown Board of Education take into consideration and adopt the Volunteer Firefighter and Volunteer Ambulance Worker Exemption as indicated in Section 466-c of the Real Property Tax Law passed in July 2005, thereby providing a 10 percent exemption from school district taxes to those eligible taxpayers as indicated in the aforementioned law."
The State Assembly recently reached an agreement on new, stronger protections from sex offenders. The new law, signed into law by Governor Pataki shortly thereafter, lengthens the amount of time sex offenders remain on the State's Sex Offender Registry.
The legislation now requires Level 2 sex offenders to remain on the registry for life, but they may petition judges for removal from the list after 30 years. In addition, Level 1 offenders will have to register for 20 years, which is twice the time required under the old statute. Level 3, the highest risk sex offenders, will continue to have to register for life.
On Tuesday, Feb. 7, Kevin Covais belted out a version of Josh Gorban's You Raise Me Up that impressed American Idol judges so much they gave him the thumbs up onto the next round, narrowing the candidate pool to 48 contestants.
The following week he did it again. The Island Trees High School junior is now in the top 24 contestants on Fox's hit television show, American Idol.
Covais left Levittown for Hollywood on Feb. 10 to appear on last week's show. However, during his television debut on Feb. 7, he was at Island Trees High School being sworn into the National Honor Society.
The Levittown School District and Board of Education has decided to investigate two major athletic proposals on the grounds of Levittown Memorial Education Center. While the district is handling Field of Dreams and the Pool Complex as two separate entities, the board's sentiment regarding the two remains the same - they are committed to not putting the tax burden of this project or maintenance on Levittown residents.
Field of Dreams, the first phase, would consist of a turf field with permanent markings for football, soccer and lacrosse use, a new track with markings for track use, lights for nighttime use, bleacher seating for 1,500 and a field house with bathrooms, lockers, a concession stand and public bathrooms.
Phase II of the Field of Dreams would include new softball and baseball fields, located directly behind the LMEC gymnasium.
Phase III would be installing a pool where the tennis courts currently are. Long Island Swim Association, along with attorneys and architects, attended a Jan. 27 board meeting to further explain their proposal to build a swimming complex, complete with a prefabricated Olympic-size pool in the back of LMEC. The pool, 50 meters long by 26 yards wide, would not have any diving sections. The complex would also include a weight room, study rooms and a 20'X50' training pool. Their proposition includes leasing an acre of land from the school district.
The plan is for all three phases not to be a tax burden for Levittown residents. Levittown Schools Athletic Director J. Keith Snyder would seek corporate sponsorships, alumni donations, town, state and federal grants.
It was with great enthusiasm and support, albeit little surprise, that Nassau County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi stood before a crowd of more than 1,200 supporters on Saturday morning in front of the Glen Cove house where his grandparents lived to announce that yes, he is declaring his candidacy for governor of New York State.
Suozzi reminded New Yorkers that they pay the highest local taxes in the United States, 72 percent above the national average and stated that the only way to stop New Yorkers from getting shortchanged is "to change the culture of Albany. We must reform our government and fix our broken system," he stated. Suozzi said he has found that every inroad made in improving Nassau County government leads to Albany and that he cannot do his best for Nassau County, or any county in the state, without being in Albany.
There are two candidates ran for one position on the Levittown Public Library board of trustees. This five-year trustee position has been vacated by Dennis Conway. The library budget vote and trustee election was held Tuesday, April 4 in the Levittown Library Community Room. The candidates were Stewart McKinney and Richard Santer Jr.
The Levittown Library Board of Trustees gathered for their monthly regular board meeting on March 1, as well as their second open budget meeting. In front of a sparse crowd at the Library's Community Room, the proposed 2006-2007 budget was discussed, following a presentation on what architectural changes might be on tap.
Phase 1 is the current plan for this year, which looks to undertake part of that master plan, and would require only the existing money available in the budget.
Trustee Dr. Jacklyn Nogan explained that the raise in taxes would only be about $26 per household per year over the next three years, for a total of $78 during that time period.
The $5,564,517 2006-2007 budget represents a $708,822 increase over the previous year. The total annual average library tax per household is $326.36. If both the budget and Proposition No. 3 passes, the estimated average library tax would be $342.03 per household.
A performance on the nationally broadcast The Today Show, the key to Nassau County and a day declared in his honor. This was a day in the life of Levittown resident and American Idol finalist Kevin Covais who is back home from Hollywood.
At the rally outside the county executive building on March 30, Nassau County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi presented Covais with the first-ever key to Nassau County and declared March 31 "Kevin Covais Day" in the county.
On Tuesday, April 4, residents voted to pass the 2006-2007 Levittown Public Library budget, however defeated Proposition No. 3, which included a $1.2 million capital improvement project.
The budget vote tally was 205 yes votes to 180 no votes, while Proposition No. 3 was defeated 214 no votes to 137 yes votes.
Richard Santer, Jr. defeated opponent Stewart McKinney, 226 votes to 129 votes. There were also 14 write-in votes for Michael Radamo.
The public corporation that runs Nassau County's only public hospital is "effectively out of cash" and will require additional county subsidies in order to pay its bills, Nassau Comptroller Howard Weitzman said last week as he released his monthly analysis of the Nassau Health Care Corporation's cash balances.
The new report, which reviews cash-on-hand as of April 14, finds that the hospital corporation's cash and "cash equivalents" have fallen from $12.9 million in March to only $3.6 million in April. Working capital decreased to $2 million, a critically low level for an agency with an annual budget of approximately $490 million.
The Levittown and Island Trees budget votes and trustee elections were held on May 16 at various local schools.
The Levittown Board of Education adopted the proposed budget of $157.5 million for the 2006-07 school year, representing a 3.9 percent increase over last year's budget. The tax levy increase over 2006-07 is 3.96 percent. Levittown residents passed this budget in a 2,205 to 2,010 vote. Current Levittown Board of Education President James Moran and Trustee Michael D. Moriarity ran unopposed for re-election.
The results were reported by District Clerk Marie Hughes and are as follows: James Moran - 2,711 votes and Michael D. Moriarity - 2,633 votes.
The Island Trees Board of Education unanimously adopted the proposed $49,511,234 in expenditures, representing a 6.5 percent increase over last year's budget. This was compared to a $46,490,359 budget for the 2005-06 school year. The revised tax levy represents a 3.5 percent increase as opposed to the 4.75 percent that was originally advertised. Residents passed this budget in a 761 to 350 vote.
Residents also elected newcomers Joseph Buda and Christine Holt to the board. Current trustees Charles Bambino and Kenneth Fazio did not seek reelection.
On Tuesday, June 6, Island Trees residents will vote on the public library's proposed budget. This year the vote will be anticlimatic. The proposed library budget has an increase of just $680, which amounts to an increase of only 0.07 percent.
In 2005-06, significant improvements were made to the library. The lighting was improved, there was an expansion of the large-print book collection and there is a new periodical display. Additionally, much was done for the children's room of the library. The room was extensively updated and more educational software was added.
The Reverend Dr. Joseph Cusack, who has become the new pastor of the Levittown Community Church, was installed as chaplain of the Levittown Fire Department on Tuesday, May 16. Pastor Joe, as he likes to be called, enjoys his new home in Levittown and is also part of the 60th anniversary committee. Pastor Joe was also installed as reverend of the Levittown Community Church on Sunday, May 21. The pastor and his wife Beverly welcome all newcomers to visit and attend services at the Community Church. For more information call 735-6550.
In a 200-47 vote voters overwhelmingly approved the Island Trees Library budget, which represented an increase of just $680. The increase, which amounts to a 0.07 percent increase, was possible due to the combined efforts of the current board and library's new director Frank McKenna.
In that election, Victoria Andrews challenged current board member Sonia Meyer for her seat on the board. Andrews defeated Meyer in a 170-86 vote. Property Tax Relief Topic of Republican Assembly Roundtable
New York State Assemblyman Rob Walker (R-Hicksville, 15th District) along with members of the Nassau County Assembly Republican delegation held a roundtable discussion May 19 that touched upon what had become an extremely popular issue these days - property tax relief for Long Island residents. The Assembly Republican Steering Committee sponsored the event, which took place at the Farmingdale Public Library and is part of a series of roundtable events being held throughout New York State.
Levittown resident Kyle Sabo, 26, a history teacher at a Division Avenue High School arrested on rape charges June 22, 2005 was sentenced by a Nassau County judge on June 9.
According to Eric Phillips, a spokesperson for Nassau County District Attorney's office, the defendant was given no plea bargain and plead guilty to four class E felonies including Criminal Sexual Act, Sodomy, Rape and Endangering the Welfare of a child. His sentence included six months incarceration and 10 years probation. Sabo must also register as a sex offender and orders of protection will be issued for the complainants.
Legislator Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) filed recently a new local law which will regulate, strengthen penalties and empower law enforcement to seize and impound off-road vehicles, motor scooters and all-terrain vehicles.
The new law named The Mark Sattler Law is in memory of Mark Sattler, 12, of Levittown who died of massive internal injuries after an upstate ATV crash on April 29, 2005.
The law would make it illegal to operate off-road vehicles on Nassau County property and other publicly owned property such as shopping center parking lots, school yards and public parks. In addition, the law strengthens penalties for the improper use of these vehicles by increasing fines for violations of existing restrictions, and imposes new fines for the new restrictions. It also empowers law enforcement to seize and impound these vehicles when used in violation of the law.
Homicide Squad Detectives of the Nassau County Police Department reported the details of a serious accident occurring in Levittown at 1:27 a.m. on Saturday, June 24.
According to detectives, Robert Cruz, 19, of Levittown was operating a 2000 Chevrolet Tahoe northbound on Wantagh Avenue when, for an unknown reason, he lost control of the vehicle and struck a utility pole at Red Maple Drive West. The passenger in the front seat of the vehicle, Tia Mabanta, 18, of Levittown, was taken to NUMC and admitted in serious condition. Another passenger sitting in the rear of the vehicle, Kevin Pabon, 19, of Levittown, was treated and released at the scene for minor injuries.
The Levittown Board of Education got together for their first meeting of the summer on Wednesday, July 5 at Levittown Memorial Education Center. There were no presentations of any sort by students or faculty, as is the norm during the school year, but two rather large pieces of business were attended to during the evening.
The board held its organizational meeting to declare who would be filling which positions for the 2006-07 school year. Most notably, former Secretary Gina Interdonato will take over as board president. Also, John Garvey will be the new vice president, while Roseanne Gullans will take over as secretary.
To keep the process transparent for county residents and Nassau legislators, three hearings were held on the proposed HUB this month, more specifically, chosen bidder Lighthouse Development Group, LLC's vision to revamp the 77-acre Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum site into a first class sports and entertainment facility.
Because the Lighthouse Group controls the 73 acres surrounding the site, there are also plans for a retail corridor of sorts, to include a five-star hotel, shops, sports-related entertainment, a restaurant and more, housing (20 percent of which will be next generation) and a $55 million HUB bus-trolley system to serve the Coliseum and immediate surrounding area, of which the Lighthouse Group would operate at its cost.
Lacrosse alumni from Island Trees High School decided that just getting back together and playing against each other was not going to be good enough. Instead they decided that they could use their annual event as a way of helping others. Players, parents, community members and local businesses donated raffle prizes, time, and money to help out an Island Trees family who had tragically lost their father.
After several decades of hard work, dedication and service to the Levittown School District, Vera Mingovits and Robert Davis are ready to step down.
Salk Middle School Principal Vera Mingovits and Assistant Superintendent Robert Davis are retiring, but will not soon forget their experiences and the children they worked with.
David Hunt of Levittown decided to meet a friend at Jones Beach West End as it was rumored that some striped bass were "working bait" along the surf.
Fishing was slow but the surf seemed better for a couple of boogie boarders who were sloshing around at water's edge. Keeping an eye on them, the fisherman continued their quest for bass. A few minutes later Hunt saw one of the boys flailing his arms and acting as if he were in trouble.
Hunt cast his surf rod over the head of the distraught man. Hunt didn't know if he had hooked him or the man was just holding on, but he had him. Hunt slowly walked the beach with the man in tow, easing him out of the rip tide. When the timing was right he backed up the beach slowly towing the man into the wash where he could stand.
The monthly Levittown Board of Education meeting on Aug. 9 was not your normal ho-hum summer meeting. Hundreds of Levittown residents were on hand to either dispute or speak in favor of the potential construction of the pool complex at Levittown Memorial Education Center.
Many attendees voiced strong opposition regarding the idea. Some carried signs and donned T-shirts that read "You're a Fool if You Vote for This Pool" and "If You Build it, We Won't Come."
When 10-year-old Christopher Bradley saw the Aug. 4 article in the Levittown Tribune about Tia Mabanta, an 18-year-old Levittown girl who was seriously injured in a car accident, he wanted to help out.
Due to his selfless efforts and the generosity of his community, Christopher raised $236, which he later sent to the Tia Mabanta Relief Fund.
Christopher decided to host a lemonade stand in an effort to raise money for the Mabanta family.
After several months of analysis and detailed public review of the offer by Long Island Swimming, Ltd., to install a pool on school district property in exchange for providing the school district with free use of the facility, the school district and Long Island Swimming, Ltd., mutually concluded that the several outstanding questions regarding the pool are unlikely to be answered in any finite manner. Accordingly, the Levittown Board of Education does not intend to pursue the issue any longer. Any further analysis and/or committee review of questions relating to the pool has been canceled.
Flanked by more than 100 pieces of Town property that have been vandalized by graffiti during the month of August, Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray and Councilman Gary Hudes joined with the Levittown School District, Chamber of Commerce and 8th Precinct to step up efforts to eradicate such vandalism.
The Levittown Kiwanis Club hosted its 57th Annual Installation Dinner at Bedell's at West Wind on Oct. 28. The officers installed for the 2006-2007 year are President Peter Ray, Vice President Susie Trenkle, Treasurer Gail Cummo, Secretary Lisa-Jean Santer and Immediate Past President Gary Crozier.
The board of directors are Ken Auer, Mauro Cassano, Sue Hahn, Fred Interdonato, Tom Mawn, Jackie Nogan, Gloria Olsen, Kevin Regan and Peter Ryan.
The Yours, Ours, Mine Community Center, Inc. (YOM) in Levittown could not certify that some members of its child-care staff were approved by the state to work with children, according to an audit of the community center, Nassau County Comptroller Howard Weitzman said recently. The audit, which covered the period from January 2003 through June 2005, also revealed lax financial and administrative controls that contributed to the center overcharging the county for day-care services, Comptroller Weitzman said.
YOM President and CEO James Edmondson countered these charges stating, "It was a misunderstanding and has all been since taken care of. Mrs. Evans from New York State Office of Children and Family Services came yesterday and went through every file here and everything is straight," he added.
Edmondson continued to say that the records of the four employees in question were resubmitted once copies were obtained from the state.
On Oct. 14, the library held a day of celebration to commemorate its 55th anniversary. Many celebratory activities took place and special guests were on hand to celebrate the anniversary. Many Levittown residents came for the chance to gain an appreciation of the library's past while recognizing just how many resources it presently offers the community.
At a ceremony held on Nov. 13, the Island Trees School District reaffirmed the name "Memorial" in the Island Trees Middle School name.
The Island Trees Board of Education President Peter Ray said the board voted to reaffirm the name of the school because it was the right thing to do.
LI Studies Institute Exhibits 9/11 Remembrances at Hofstra University
In the days following September 11, the Long Island Studies Institute at Hofstra University began collecting materials that reflected the Long Island response to the tragedy.
They collected emails that people sent to their friends and loved ones to let them know they were alive. They collected the emergency responders' gear and newspapers' biographical essays of those who had died and the accounts of those who escaped. Any shred of evidence that portrayed how the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center affected the people of Long Island was compiled into the exhibit, The September 11th Project: Voiceless in the Presence of Realities.
Residents headed for the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 7 - Election Day 2006 - to vote for their candidates of choice.
There were no major upsets with all incumbents being re-elected. With Governor George Pataki announcing that he will not run for re-election and current Attorney General Eliot Spitzer running for governor - the two seats were open. Democrats had a major victory in statewide elections with Eliot Spitzer winning the gubernatorial race defeating Republican candidate John Faso and Democrat Andrew Cuomo defeating Republican Jeanine Pirro in the race for attorney general.
Democrat incumbent Hillary Rodham Clinton was re-elected to the United States Senate defeating Republican candidate John Spencer.
In the race for New York State Comptroller, despite his recent controversy, incumbent Democrat Alan Hevisi defeated Republican challenger Christopher Callaghan.
In the races for US Congress, the 3rd Congressional District Republican incumbent Peter King defeated Democrat challenger David Mejias receiving 76,488 votes to 61,228 for Mejias.
In the New York State Senate races, the 6th District, Republican incumbent Kemp Hannon defeated Democratic challenger Casilda Roper-Simpson with Hannon receiving 40,042 votes to Roper-Simpson's 28,661.
In the New York State Assembly races, Republican incumbent David McDonough defeated Democratic opponent Donald Birnbaum 20,005 votes to 15,173 votes.
In Nassau County, residents overwhelmingly passed Proposition 1 by a vote of 116,176 to 34,342. The proposition, which follows a $50-million bond approved in 2004, will add approximately $16 per year to the average county property tax bill for the next 20 years.
When Hempstead Town Councilman Gary Hudes heard about a recent hardship experienced by the Repetto family of Levittown, he sprung into action.
Ziggy Repetto's son, Ziggy, Jr. was swimming at Jones Beach this summer when a rogue wave twisted his body the wrong way, leaving him with a broken neck and paralyzed throughout most of his body.
He approached Murphy Construction of Oceanside, who donates their time to complete a home improvement project each year around the holidays. The group already had a project for this season, but agreed to help out the Repetto family additionally.
Current Levittown Fire Commissioner Joel Bearman edged out his running mates in Tuesday's election. According to Levittown Fire District Secretary Tom Brennan, Bearman received 409 votes, Andrew Booth received 394 votes and Joseph Lupa received 106 votes. He will serve another five-year term.
Two candidates, Jay Cohen and John Gillen, ran unopposed for two Wantagh Fire Commissioner positions. Cohen's term is for one year and replaces the position vacated by Carol Johnston, while Gillen's term is for five years.
Incoming officers of the Levittown Community Council were installed recently by Town of Hempstead Councilman Gary Hudes at the annual holiday party at Ground Round.
President Gary Fisch of Wantagh, along with Corresponding Secretary Mary Voulgaris of Levittown, took the oath of office installing them as officers for the term of 2006 to 2007. Incoming First Vice President Mauro Cassano of Levittown will be sworn in at the January meeting of the council.