Sitting in the back of a metal dump truck near the shoreline of Long Island, during the brunt of Superstorm Sandy, was probably one of the most dangerous places anyone could be on the night of Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. Yet, that is exactly where Massapequa Park Mayor James Altadonna was that evening. The brutal winds were toppling trees and bringing down power lines, while water was filling the streets to a level of about five feet in height near the shore. Without regard for his own safety, the mayor along with Richard Muller, general highway supervisor for Massapequa, ventured out into the extremely perilous conditions in order to save residents trapped by the storms and in need of rescue.
Altadonna declined to speak about the events that evening saying only, “I was happy to be in a position where I could help.” However Muller spoke about those events and the story is one of heroic bravery. When we look back at 2012 and the many heroes who helped guide us through the storm, it certainly seems that the Massapequa Park mayor was one of the unsung heroes of that evening.
Nassau County Police are reporting the arrest of two Massapequa Park residents. According to the police, officers responded to a report of a female who had passed out. The police report that when officers arrived on the scene, they discovered a 19-year-old who was unconscious from heroin use. Nassau County AMT’s assigned to the call administered Narcan at the scene and transported her to an area hospital.
According to Nassau County Police, Bryan Luther, 18, and his brother Thomas Luther, 23, of Massapequa Park were arrested and charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance. Additionally, Bryan Luther is charged with criminal injection of a narcotic drug.
While discussions over the looming fiscal cliff were ongoing in Washington D.C., a group of local residents brought the debate to Massapequa Park. On the Wednesday before Christmas, protestors gathered outside U.S. Representative Peter King’s Park Boulevard office to call for an end to the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest portion of the population. The group, which called themselves A Strong Economy For All, also protested potential cuts to Medicare and Social Security.
“The holiday season is upon us and all we want is a fair tax plan,” said Charles Khan, one of the organizers of the protest. “There’s a lot of people that depend on Medicare and Social Security for their livelihood. We think it’s the right time to talk about cutting. One thing we learned from the past election is that we want middle class tax cuts but not tax cuts for millionaires.”
After serving in the New York State Assembly for six years, the 17th Assembly District will shift drastically beginning next year. Whereas the district previously went from the western Nassau border to East Meadow, it now extends from East Meadow to the eastern border of Nassau, including a huge portion of Massapequa. Tom McKevitt has represented the district since early in 2006 and will continue to do so with the new boundaries. So does he have any reservations about coming to a new area?
“The biggest thing I’m upset about is that All American is on the other side of Merrick Road,” he says with a chuckle as the popular Massapequa restaurant, which McKevitt brings his family to regularly, is just outside of his district’s boundaries.
The cost to Massapequa Park for the damage done by Superstorm Sandy is about $800,000. That is the figure that was discussed at a recent public work session of the Massapequa Village Board. According to Bob Macri, superintendent of public works, that figure includes replacing two village trucks that were severely damaged during the storm. Those trucks incurred so much damage that replacing those trucks with new ones is more cost efficient than trying to repair the damaged trucks. Other costs incurred due to the storm include lighting repairs, park cleanups, tree removal, overtime, and additional labor charges for village personnel to prepare the village prior to the arrival of the storm. Macri stated that he was hopeful that Massapequa Park would be in the first round of reimbursements from FEMA.
Currently, Colleran Park remains closed and is unusable due to the damage from the storm as well as the debris that still must be cleaned up. Mayor James Altadonna said that the village would likely be bonding for the money needed to reopen the park. He questioned the village attorney how soon bonding could be done and was told that February is a projected target date.
When the news broke about the terrible shooting in a Newtown, CT, elementary school, the reactions of most included sadness, outrage, terror and, most abundantly, heartbreak. Newtown is a suburban community, about 90 miles from Massapequa. It is similar to Massapequa in many ways. Amidst all the shock and horror, another terrifying thought came to many people – could it happen here?
“The safety of our kids and our staff is our number one concern and priority,” said Robert Schilling, executive director for assessment, student data and technology services with the Massapequa School District. “You try to do what you can to make the place as secure as you can within reasonable limits.”
Sorry Massapequa students, but you’re not going to have a week off in February. At the end of the last Massapequa School Board meeting, the board voted to accept Superintendent Charles Sulc’s recommendation and cancel the last four days of the February break. While Massapequa schools were originally scheduled to be closed from February 18-22, Sulc said that because of the six days of school closings that were necessitated by Hurricane Sandy and the nor’easter that followed, days of instruction had to be added back to the schedule, and schools will be open during that week, with the exception of February 18, which is Presidents’ Day.
“It’s not something that we want to do but it’s something that we have to do,” remarked Sulc.
Kim Dobres received a letter this summer from the Massapequa School District. When she opened it up and read it, she was quite alarmed. The letter informed her that her son, who would be beginning eighth grade at Berner Junior High School in August, was not eligible to be taken to and from school by district transportation. As a seventh grade student, Dobres says her son was originally denied district transportation, but upon speaking with someone at the district’s transportation office, she was told that her house was “pegged wrong,” and her son rode the bus throughout seventh grade. However, Dobres says that despite her multiple calls to district officials, she has not been able to get her son district transportation this year. Therefore, her son goes to school by walking a path between Unqua School and Berner Junior High that is directly behind a busy shopping center up where Staples, Dollar Tree and Waldbaum’s are located.
“I am not comfortable with that pass-through,” Dobres wrote in an email to the board of education.
Massapequa Park resident Dan Pearl, 40, has been selected to fill the vacancy on the Massapequa Park Village Board that was created with the passing of longtime trustee Harry Jacobson. Mayor James Altadonna has previously stated that the position was not immediately filled in order to pay respect to Jacobs and to honor his many contributions to the village. After waiting what the mayor believes is an appropriate amount of time, Pearl has been picked to be the fifth member of the village board.
“I’m very excited,” said Pearl when speaking about his appointment to the board. “I want to help the residents of the community and make the community better.”
Pearl and his wife, Alison, are the parents of three sons. Pearl has lived in Massapequa Park for 13 years. Previously, he lived in Massapequa, where he grew up. He is a graduate of Massapequa High School and Farmingdale State College. Currently, Pearl is the deputy commissioner for the Department of Environmental Resources with the Town of Oyster Bay. He has been in that position for four years and has worked for the town for 18 years. He believes that experience will help him with his new role as a trustee.
Sisters Molly and Cara Treble recently shined at the NYSPHSAA swimming and diving championships at Ithaca College. Molly placed first in the 500-yard freestyle to win the state championship with a time of 4 minutes and 52.27 seconds. In addition to setting a Massapequa record, she is automatically an All-American. In addition, Molly placed third in the 200-yard freestyle with All-American consideration. She finished this event with a time of 1 minute and 50.73 seconds.
“She’s a great kid and a very hard worker,” said her coach, Natalie Gallagher. “She’s very dedicated and is a very versatile swimmer. During the season, you could put her in any event and she does her best.”
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