Port Washington Chamber of Commerce co-President Warren Schein began the June meeting and welcomed six new members: Dr. Scott Rex and Laura Carroll, a family medical practice located at 620 Port Washington Blvd.; Port Washington Superintendent of Schools Dr. Geoffrey N. Gordon; PW Tree and Landscape and John Gaudiuso, located at 11 Pleasant Ave.; Castle Repair & Maintenance and Donna Dyrstad, a home improvement business located at 7A Irma Ave.; The Candy Store on Main Street and Stephanie Endelson, located at 41A Main St. and Madison Transportation and Julie Madison, a taxi and transportation company located at 4 Haven Ave.
Updating the chamber's technology training initiative, Debbie Greco said she and Mitch Schwartz met with Superintendent of Schools Dr. Geoff Gordon and Regina Farinaccio, who runs the Continuing Education Program, regarding the school district's plans to offer technology training for local businesses. Dr. Gordon said The New York Times listed the top 20 spending districts on Long Island, and Port Washington was not on the list. Port's cost per pupil is lower than the surrounding school districts. The Port Washington school district graduates 96 percent of its students in four years. The new initiative to offer local businesses technology training will not add any cost to the district. Farinaccio said the Continuing Education Program could send assistance to local businesses by having teachers and students go to the business or there could be an intern program which would have either volunteers or low salaried interns. There could also be training sessions run in the evening hours. A suggestion was made to have a call-in Help Desk that will be manned at certain hours. Greco said they are asking for suggestions on what services businesses are looking for: software training, setting up email, etc.
Heidi Gottlieb and Ken Magida expressed an interest in learning about Excel Spreadsheets. Schwartz said they are asking chamber members to let them know what their needs are - whether they have a specific technology problem they need to solve or need a quick course in a certain area. Greco said if there are other needs that develop in the future, business owners should contact the chamber office.
The guest speaker for the meeting was Rosemary Mascali of Transit Solutions. She said the MTA has Federal funds to improve air quality in our area by expanding the use of mass transit. Mascali said more use of mass transit will help reduce global warming, reduce use of foreign oil and get lower paid workers into Nassau County. The mass transit options in our area include the 11 lines of the LIRR and the 54 lines of Long Island Bus. The buses serve 100,000 people daily in 100 communities. In Port Washington, the LIRR goes to Penn Station but also is used by passengers in Queens, Great Neck and Manhasset. The N23 bus goes from Manorhaven to Mineola. Detailed information is available online at MTA.info.
Mascali said that many Nassau companies are not aware that there is a pre-tax commuter benefit program for employees. Workers can put up to $105 per month tax free into an account for transportation costs. The company does not have to pay payroll taxes on this money. Another feature is for parking - an additional $215 per month can be set aside for parking costs. The LIRR offers an unlimited ticket for intra-Island travel. You can purchase a monthly unlimited pass for $66 that allows for one zone travel east or west. Buses accept Metro cards and free transfers. Businesses are encouraged to put mass transit directions on their websites.
In other business, Phyllis Joseph read the slate of proposed officers for 2007-2008. This included: Warren Schein and Richard Strautman, co-presidents; Phyllis Joseph, 1st vice president; Charles A. Schnier, D.C., 2nd vice president; Debbie Greco, 3rd vice president; Mitch Schwartz, secretary and Leslie Ann Jacobi, treasurer. Marilyn Howland made a motion to approve the entire slate. Anne Arter seconded the motion and the officers were approved unanimously.
Reporting on HarborFest, Schein said this year's was a great event. It was made possible by the work of many volunteers on all the committees. The Model Boat Regatta had over 100 kids participating. Carl Lalena and Jerry Rudnick ran the Kiwanis Friday Dinner on the dock. Rudnick said 180 people attended. Lalena said everyone loved Warren's swing band. Rudnick said the band made the evening successful.
Schein said the only HarborFest problem was that the Saturday night cruise had to be cancelled due to rough water. On Sunday, everyone did their job and things went very smoothly, he said, adding that the kids in the Talent Show were terrific and drew large crowds. Debbie Greco said there were 65 kids in the Talent Show, plus a kindergarten class sang The Star Spangled Banner and her son Evan's Cub Scout group said the Pledge of Allegiance. The Parent Resource Center ran the Fun Park games for the first time and did a great job. Garfield said Wendy Collett co-chaired the Craft Fair for the first time, and she and Richard Strautman did a wonderful job. Next year HarborFest will be June 1.
Updating Try Port First, 2007-2008 Schein said the newest edition of this guide to Port is out and is the best one yet. Many other chambers have contacted Port's to find out how they did it, he noted. Bobbie Polay said it was distributed to all homes on May 17. She thanked Mitch Schwartz for picking up the extra copies from Mineola, and anyone who wants a supply can get them at the chamber office. She thanked everyone who supported the project and noted that this edition was expanded to 100 pages to accommodate all the advertisers.
Schein advised that the chamber is not having the Octoberfest this year. They are looking for proposals for new projects or events. Greco said the mid-Main Street merchants have met three times and they have a lot of enthusiasm. They are thinking of ideas for promoting that area. Marilyn Howland said Chamber co-President Richard Strautman was very helpful to this group.
Schein thanked the TONH's Dept. of Highways and Tom Tiernan, for hanging the chamber's American flags on the Main Street lampposts. He also thanked the volunteers who helped hand out flags at the Memorial Day Parade: Anne and Michael Arter, Laura Carroll, Ayhan Hassan, Marilyn Howland, Phyllis, Adam and Joel Joseph, Louis, Henry and Kalman Kraham, Mary Ann Luczak, Alice Melzer, Scott Rex, Mitch Schwartz, Richard Strautman, Ken and Jamie Tuch.
Schein thanked the volunteers who distributed the HarborFest Shopping Bags and posters: Elaine Abramson, Anne Arter, Brenda Garfield, Bob Howard, Marilyn Howland, Carl Lalena, Mary Ann Luczak, Bhaskar Mukherjee, Jerry Rudnick and Edna Turner.