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Stories That Made Headlines in 2009

Continuing with tradition, here are the Plainview-Old Bethpage Herald’s top stories of 2009, as selected by the editor. They are listed here in no particular order. Due to space constraints, not all information can be included in this list. We encourage residents to write or e-mail in their top stories of the year. E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or send comments to the Plainview-Old Bethpage Herald at 132 East Second Street, Mineola, NY 11501.

Concerned Citizens Continue Advocating for Community and Environment

The Concerned Citizens of the Plainview-Old Bethpage Community, Inc., were very busy in 2009 looking out for local residents.

The Concerned Citizens were very happy to see fruits of their labors from prior years coming to fruition in 2009. Portions of their 2006 Nassau County Environmental Bond Proposals for Park Improvements at the Old Bethpage Village Restoration were included in the final list of County recommendations. Construction of ADA Restrooms, a Green Dog Park, Heating and Ventilation Systems, Electrical Upgrades, Siding Repair and Road Resurfacing within the Village were approved. On Oct. 1st, there was a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the opening of the County’s sixth Dog Park located near the entrance to the Village Restoration. They await further proposed improvements.

This year also saw sought- after improvements to Spagnoli Road’s reflective signage and road striping, and storm water drainage repairs in Old Bethpage. More road improvements are being pursued for 2010.

President Carol Meschkow continues her role on the Board of the New York Vapor Intrusion Alliance starting the new year off as one of the speakers at the US-EPA’s National Forum on Vapor Intrusion, and held a local Forum with the NY State DEC regarding its vapor intrusion work plan and remediation at the Plainview Industrial Park.

The Concerned Citizen’s Neighbor-to-Neighbor Watch Program continues to grow and values their relationship with friends at the Water District and Nassau County Police Dept. The organization is part of many regional coalitions and keeps abreast of state, county and local matters in their efforts to advocate for preservation of open space, as well as many other campaigns ranging from issues concerning protection of the aquifers, Republic Airport, Green Energy, Parks Improvements, and other quality of life issues.

Kids Helping Kids Helps Again

In January, the group started the year off by donating coats via its Making a Warmth of Difference Program and continued its success throughout the year. They are an instrumental part of the Town of Oyster Bay’s Kids of Distinction Program, which honors local kids for their successes and hard work. Keep up the good work!

Plainview Water District Remains Active in 2009

Richard Tobin was named superintendent of the Plainview Water District. Richard replaces former superintendent Michael Gelé, who has accepted a position as assistant superintendent of the Water District. Later in the year, Tobin was also appointed chairman of the Long Island Water Conference.

The board started its year with Kevin Langberg being selected as chairman, Commissioner Joel Kessler selected as treasurer and Commissioner Edward Shulroff as secretary.

The water district remained active honoring its annual poster winners and keeping the community updated through announcements, press releases and meetings. The Water District also made a pledge not to raise rates in 2009.

During the annual election, newcomer Andy Bader defeated incumbent Kevin Langberg to become commissioner of the Plainview Water District’s board. The district looks forward to serving residents in 2010.

Plainview Fire Department Responded to Many Calls

The Plainview Water District remained very active in 2009 responding to many residential and commercial calls and keeping residents safe. The department did suffer two major losses in 2009 with the passing of ex-Chief Ed Ocker and Mark Allan Koehler.

The department looks forward to protecting the residents in 2010.

POB School District Keeps Busy

The year started strong as Katherine Zhu and Andrew Brickman, both seniors at Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School, were named Intel Semifinalists in the Intel Science Talent Search 2009, a program of the Society for Science and the Public.

In March, the SBPLI FIRST Robotics Competition was held at Hofstra University. The POBJFK POBOTS had a very successful season. At the competition, the team was awarded the Website Design Award, and was also a regional finalist. The team also won the Regional Chairman’s Award.

During budget season, the POB School District had the lowest percent increase in 15 years. Residents approved the budget and Evy Rothman was re-elected and Amy Pierno was elected to serve on Plainview-Old Bethpage’s board of education.

The DECA team once again saw many successes in 2009 and looks forward to continuing that trend this year.

Lara Fourman was the valedictorian for the 2008-2009 school year and has been named Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School valedictorian. Samantha McKenna was named salutatorian.

The new Long Island Artifacts Museum at Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK High School opened in 2009. The museum, created by Nick Ventimiglia, a social studies teacher at the school, was made possible by a grant from the Long Island Index for the development of a program that engages Long Island students in learning more about the region. The museum will be utilized by students in the Plainview-Old Bethpage district and will be available, by appointment, to school groups from other districts.

After 31 years of service to the Plainview-Old Bethpage School District, its children and community, Dr. Gloria Bennardo retired. The principal of Old Bethpage has concluded her service with the school district.

Dr. Edward Metzendorf, principal of Plainview-Old Bethpage Middle School, has retired after 24 years of service to the Plainview-Old Bethpage School District. Dr. Metzendorf is revered by his colleagues, providing structure and stability to the Middle School.

Lacey Reimer spent her summer vacation volunteering in Ghana through a program called Cross Cultural Solutions.

The Plainview Old-Bethpage School District welcomed a new assistant superintendent for curriculum to the 2009-10 school year. Jill M. Gierash, formerly of the Sachem Central School District, joins the district with 15 years of experience in the education field.

Local Residents Continue Greatness

Sandi Ellen Vanderpool, a resident of Plainview and a teacher in the Plainview-Old Bethpage, John F. Kennedy High School was honored as the Health Education Teacher of the Year by the New York State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (NYS AHPERD), a statewide, not-for-profit membership service organization whose membership consists of K-16 professionals and future professionals.

Debbie Bernstein from Plainview was named a Distinguished Woman in Education. For more than 20 years, Debbie Bernstein provided inspirational voluntary leadership to the Plainview-Old Bethpage School system.

Children’s author C.P. Siebenhuener, of Plainview, released a new book entitled, But What If I Don’t Understand? Published by Tate Publishing and Enterprises, which introduces readers to a little girl who learns the very important lessons of honesty, communication, and self-confidence.

Harriet Blatt was honored for her volunteer work with the Plainview-Old Bethpage Neighborhood Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (POB NNORC), a non-sectarian program of the Mid-Island Y Jewish Community Center, offering assistance to seniors (60+ years old) in Plainview and Old Bethpage in their homes. The event was dubbed “I’m Just Wild About Harriet,” and was not a retirement party.

Michael Rainer, a resident of Plainview, rescued a man during a riptide on Aug. 2 at Nickerson Beach.

Three high school students again helped plan the fundraising event Stand-Up For a Cause. All proceeds from the event benefited the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island.

Dr. Mario Macaluso published his seventh book, which is entitled Sicilian Myths and Legends, which was written for Sicilian descendants living all over the world.

Jill Dorfman, professionally known as Jill Martin and a graduate of POBJFK High School, had a successful 2009 and released her book Fashion for Dummies.

Art Dryce, a POBJFKHS graduate, took home an Emmy Award at the 2009 Suncoast Chapter of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences event.

POB Community Embraces The Li Tobacco Action Coalition

2009 was a banner year for the Tobacco Action Coalition and the local community. Starting early in the fall, the Coalition’s Nassau coordinator-Carol Meschkow introduced her colleagues from Tobacco Free Schools to the POB District-wide Health Committee. Since then they have not only partnered with the Tobacco-Free Schools, but has become an integral player in the Coalition’s initiatives toward a comprehensive approach to achieving a tobacco-free community by changing the social norms associated with tobacco use.

At the Coalition’s “Celebrating Tobacco Control Champions Recognition Luncheon”, Ms. Meschkow, a local resident, was extremely proud and grateful for the vigor of the champions within Plainview-Old Bethpage and the Town of Oyster Bay.

State Assemblyman Rob Walker was recognized for his outstanding dedication to promoting smoke-free communities, Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Venditto was recognized for his foresight in bringing Carol Meschkow’s proposal to designate a special day called “Wear White for Clean Fresh Air” to create awareness across the Town to the danger of tobacco usage to fruition.

Nine local organizations were honored for their work in supporting the Coalition’s initiatives; the Community Center of Plainview-Old Bethpage, POB-District-wide Health Advisory Committee, Plainview-Bethpage Lions Club, POB Public Library, ORT of America, Friends of the POB Library, POB-PTA Council, POB-NORC, and the POB-Senior Club.

Also, the Coalition applauds the POB Library and the Plainview Water District who were the first local library and water purveyor to go above and beyond on behalf of their employees and patron’s health to protect them from the dangers of second-hand smoke by adopting Entryway Smoking Bans this year.

The Tobacco Action Coalition couldn’t accomplish their mission without such remarkable community foresight and support.

Plainview-Old Bethpage Public Library Has Star Year

The Plainview-Old Bethpage Public Library had a great 2009 acting as a hub for the community offering events and programs throughout the year.

The library got a new look last year. Upon entering, residents are now greeted with an information desk and a circulation desk. Other aesthetic renovations were made as well. Assemblyman Charles Lavine was instrumental in obtaining funds for the renovations.

The Library Journal identified star libraries throughout the United States and the Plainview-Old Bethpage Library was included on that list and received five stars.

The library dedicated a garden to Bea Shacknow, a former employee who passed away in 2008. She was well-loved and respected at the library and devoted a great deal of time to the children in the community and was also a master gardener.

Friends of the Library Remains Active

The Friends of the Library sponsored many events and coordinated many gatherings in 2009. The library relies on the generosity of volunteers as well as employees to keep their operation running properly. The Friends of the Library has over 150 members all taking advantage of the tax-deductible annual fee of $5 per person or $10 for a family membership.

Recounts Help Republicans in 2009

Republican Joseph G. Pinto was appointed by the six-member board on February 3 to fill a vacancy left by Councilman Angelo A. Delligatti, who became a district court judge in January.

After many recounts, Republican Ed Mangano was declared the winner for the office of Nassau County Executive over incumbent Tom Suozzi.

After another recount, Republican challenger George Maragos defeated incumbent Democratic Howard Weitzman for the office of Nassau County Comptroller.

Incumbent Kathleen Rice was re-elected to her second four-year term as Nassau County District Attorney. Republican Maureen O’Connell was re-elected to her second, four-year term as Nassau County Clerk.

The Democrats lost their majority in the Legislature to the Republicans. Locally, Democrat Judy Jacobs was re-elected to her legislative seats. In another re-count Dave Mejias lost his bid for re-election to Republican Joe Belesi who was elected to represent the 14th legislative district.

On the town level, Republicans won all open seats in the Town of Oyster Bay races, which include supervisor, three council seats and town clerk.

Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, Councilpeople Chris Coschignano, Elizabeth Faughnan and Joseph Pinto were all re-elected as was incumbent clerk Steve Labriola.

The U.S. Open Comes to the Area

In June, some celebrities kicked off the US Open festivities when they competed in the US Open Challenge. Golf Digest hosted a U.S. Open Challenge on June 12 that featured former NBA star Michael Jordan, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and performer Justin Timberlake with contest winner Larry Giebelhausen rounding out the foursome.

After a rainsoaked weekend, 29-year-old Lucas Glover took the trophy after finishing 4 under par. Local residents were excited to host the event on Bethpage’s Black Course and cheer on the golfers.

H1N1 Scare Hits NY

Vaccinations were made available to help combat the H1N1 virus, commonly known as Swine Flu. Also, local officials, health professionals and the American Red Cross offered important tips for people who are sick or are taking care of someone with the flu. Someone at Mattlin Middle School was diagnosed with swine flue in May. The child was absent from school for the seven-day period of contagiousness and was then able to return to school. The virus was well-contained through the vaccinations and education about the illness.

POB Chamber of Commerce Remains Active

The Plainview Old Bethpage Chamber of Commerce held many exciting events in 2009. The year started with a networking lunch where POBCOC board members Marianne Plummer, Don Ingram, Gary Epstein, Ilene Somer, Bryan Trugman, Elan Wurtzel, Sheila Maiman, Marcia Finkelstein and Francesca Carlow welcomed many new faces and encouraged everyone to get involved with this growing network of people.

Gary Epstein, CPA, was recently honored at the Nassau County Chambers of Commerce affair as the Plainview Old-Bethpage Chamber of Commerce Small-Business Person of the Year.

The chamber also held its first holiday bake-off party, which was a great success.

In addition to the community events, the chamber remained active in promoting local businesses during a tough economy and encouraging people to shop locally.

Carbon Monoxide Leak at Plainview Restaurant

In November, 2nd Precinct officers responded to a call for multiple people passing out inside Ayhan’s Shish Kebab Restaurant, which is located at 379 South Oyster Bay Road in Plainview and within Syosset’s Fire District.

The restaurant was immediately evacuated and National Grid and the Nassau County Department of Health also responded and the gas was shut off. According to fire officials, the source of the leak was a blocked flue.

JCC Continues to Serve Residents

The Mid Island Y JCC had another successful year offering local residents a gathering place to hear informative speakers, children a place to play, enlightening events and classes and a solid foundation for Jewish traditions. The JCC looks forward to another successful 2010.