Continuing with tradition, here are the Syosset-Jericho Tribune's top stories of 2008, 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 or send comments to the Syosset-Jericho Tribune at 132 East Second Street, Mineola, NY 11501.

To start off the year, four Jericho students were named Intel semi-finalists. William Holtz, Ahmed Rab, Sana Raoof and Bowei (Sharon) Ji, all seniors at Jericho High School, were named as four of the 300 Semifinalists in the 67th Intel Science Talent Search. The Semifinalists of the 67th Intel Science Talent Search were chosen from among 1602 entrants representing 504 high schools in 45 states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and two overseas schools. Each of the 300 Semifinalists, as well as their schools, will receive awards of $1,000 for this honor.

It was also announced that the Jericho School District was ranked 20th on Newsweek's list of the top public schools. Public schools are ranked according to a ratio devised by Jay Mathews, which is the number of Advanced Placement, Intl. Baccalaureate and/or Cambridge tests taken by all students at a school in 2007 divided by the number of graduating seniors.

Elvina Yau, an eighth-grader at Jericho Middle School, was among the orthographers who spell correctly, from public, private and religious day schools of all faiths across Long Island who recently competed in the Long Island semifinals of the annual Scripps Howard News Service Spelling Bee.

In June, Dr. Ben Ciuffo, the Assistant Superintendent for Educational Operations and Human Resources of the Jericho Public Schools, was honored as the Margo O'Connor Advocate of the Year Award at the Stand for Children celebration.

The Advocate of the Year Award is an honorary award in memory of Margo O'Connor, a child advocate who passed away in September 1997 at 81 years of age. Margaret (Margo) O'Connor was a former elementary school principal in Freeport, active in Nassau County Association for the Education of Young Children, Child Care Council Board Member, coordinator of the 1996 Stand for Children bus trip to Washington, D.C., and a member of the Nassau County Stand for Children Coalition.

Co-valedictorians Adam Fields, Alexandra Hay, Sana Raoof and Jared Solomon along with salutatorian Ryan Price were the top five graduates of 2008. The students addressed their classmates at graduation. In June, each of the 321 Jericho High School seniors received diplomas.

The 2008-2009 school year started on the right note when Jericho High School juniors Pooja Rambhia and David Zheng were named Regional Finalists in the prestigious Siemens Science Competition. Finalists are guaranteed at least $1,000 for participating in one of six regional judgings.

The administration, faculty, parents and students all look forward to a successful 2009.

Five seniors from Syosset High School were chosen as Semifinalists in the prestigious National Intel Science Talent Search. There are only 300 semifinalists selected out from the national "Senior Class" in the competition for what has come to be known as the "Junior Nobel Prize." The semifinalists were Shirin Bajaj, William Doyle, Melissa Garuthara, Paul Kim, and Nancy Shen.

Iris Kao, a senior, was named a semi-finalist in the prestigious Siemens Competition. Iris worked on a biology research project under the direction of Dr. Charles N. Serhan at Harvard Medical School entitled, "Novel Lipid Mediators Resolvin D1 (RvD1) and Resolvin E1 (RvE1) Promote Wound Closure in Human Airway Epithelial Cells and Planarians." Iris conducted her research at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts this past summer.

The Syosset Teachers Association, along with the students, participated in Habitat for Humanity and helped build a house in Bay Shore through the program.

Syosset's graduating class last year received over $21 million in academic scholarships, which is the highest achieved by any Syosset class, and 95 percent of the Class of 2008 went off to college in the fall.

Everyone associated with the school district is looking forward to a succcessful 2009.

Jericho School District voters passed the proposed 2008-2009 budget with 652 yes votes and 433 no votes. The Jericho Public Library also passed.

The Syosset School District's budget passed with 2,186 voting in favor and 1,441 voting against it. The Syosset Library budget also passed.

Jennifer Zwilling, a student in the Jericho School District, was named one of New York's top two youth volunteers for 2008 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism

William Doyle, a senior at Syosset High School, earned a Long Island Arts Alliance (LIAA) Scholar-Artist Award for his exceptional work in the fine arts department.

Josephine Costa, former co-owner of La Viola Restaurant in Syosset, was named a Woman of Distinction. She is an active member of the community and has worked tirelessly to help those less fortunate and has been involved in numerous charitable organizations within the Town of Oyster Bay. For the past 15 years, she has generously hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for over 400 underprivileged residents at the restaurant and has delivered another 150 meals to residents who are homebound.

In June, people were lining up at 4:30 a.m. at Syosset's Borders Bookstore to get a chance to chat with Rachel Ray and have a copy of her newest cookbook, Yum-o! The Family Cookbook, autographed and personalized. Ray arrived to eager fans at 3 p.m. and stayed until all 1,200 people had their books signed.

John Delin, a 1960 graduate of Syosset High School wrote and compiled Syosset People and Places. The book, which was published by Arcadia Publishing, recounts Syosset's rich history using photographs and memorabilia from past and present residents.

In May, Nicholas J. Bartilucci celebrated 40 years as a commissioner of the Jericho Water District. Bartilucci, former president and current chairman of the board of Dvirka and Bartilucci Consulting Engineers, in Woodbury, and chairman of the board of Water Commissioners of the Jericho Water District, was honored with a celebration on May 16. Bartilucci's professional experience spans 50 years in civil and environmental engineering.

The MTA Long Island Rail Road held a meeting to present alternative safety measures at Syosset train station. The curve at the Syosset station presents unique safety challenges according to the Long Island Rail Road. The westbound track produces platform gaps over 10 inches at door locations on cars located in the center of the train.

The Long Island Rail Road has worked hard over the past year to mitigate the gap at Syosset Station including the use of 24 closed-circuit TV cameras (12 on each platform) with monitors at three locations on the westbound platform and three on the eastbound platform to assist train crews in locating all passengers using the curved platform section; the use of special platform conductors during heavy-travel times to assist boarding and disembarking passengers; the installation of gap signage and platform stenciling; and station and train announcements.

Commuters had trouble getting to the railroad station in Hicksville when the parking garage, which was located on Newbridge Road and Duffy Avenue, was closed in June because of cracked structural support T-beam.

Engineering and environmental consultants retained by the Town of Oyster Bay announced that a parking garage - similar in size to the one demolished over the summer - would be the best bet. Additionally, they propose for it to be constructed in the same location the previous garage stood for nearly 40 years. A final decision by the town has not yet been made.

Both the Syosset and Jericho Fire Departments remained active in 2008 keeping residents safe.

In June, the Syosset Fire Department responded to a call to save a young drowning victim. Although he was saved, the child's nanny was not as fortunate - and died trying to save his life.

Both departments were very active participants in many local events and look forward to their volunteer work in 2009.

The start of a very long process began this year when meetings were held to discuss the possibility of the Sound Link Tunnel, which is a proposed 16-mile triple-bore tunnel going underground at the existing northern terminus of the Seaford Oyster Bay Expressway in Syosset and reappearing in Rye, NY, and would be privately funded. If constructed, this would be the longest motor tunnel in the world.

No taxpayer dollars would be used to fund the $8 billion to $10 billion project, according to the developer Vincent Polimeni. Tax-free bonds would be employed and investors around the world would have the option of purchasing them as they do for any significant infrastructure project. The bonds would be paid off by the vehicular drivers who would pay as much as $30 to use the tunnel, with that price rising or falling depending on congestion pricing strategies employed in concert with transportation officials throughout the region.

With an anticipated opening in the year 2025, this proposal is in the very early stage of planning and we are confident will continuously be mentioned in the year in review stories.

Although there are too many to name individually, Syosset and Jericho have some talented athletes and the parents and community enjoyed cheering for the in 2008. Keep up the good work in 2009!

Democratic candidate Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States with 349 Electoral Votes and also won Nassau County with 316,523 voting for the president-elect and 272,765 Nassau County residents voting for Republican candidate John McCain, who finished the night with 147 Electoral votes. Obama is the first person of African-American heritage elected president of the United States.

The local elections saw no surprises - all of the incumbents were re-elected. Residents approved Proposal Number 2, which will abolish the county board of assessors and replace the county-wide elected chair of the board of assessors with an assessor who would be appointed by the county executive, subject to the confirmation by the county legislature, for a term of three years and who would be required to meet standards of educational and professional experience. Residents voted 89,963 in favor to 78,438 against this referendum.

There were high hopes for Eliot Spitzer when he became the 54th governor in New York State history, but his political career came to an end in March when he resigned after being connected to a prostitution ring. Lieutenant Governor David Paterson was sworn in on March 17 as governor.

Muttontown residents Mehender Sabhnani and his wife Varsha Sabhnani, who were arrested in May 2007 on charges of keeping two Indonesian women as slaves in their Muttontown home, were found guilty on all 12 counts in December including forced labor and harboring aliens.

Judge Arthur Spatt ordered Varsha Sabhnani to jail and decided that Mehender Sabhnani could return to house arrest until their sentencing. In July, Varsha Sabhnani was sentenced to serve 11 years in prison and was fined $25,000. Her husband was sentenced to 3 years and 4 months in prison.

Residents for a More Beautiful Syosset celebrated their 10th anniversary and has grown from seven people to over 400 families, advocating for Syosset beautification, pedestrian and vehicular safety, and downtown revitalization thanks to many dedicated people. They had a very active 2008 advocating for residents of Syosset and the surrounding communities.

The Syosset Chamber of Commerce treated residents to a successful street fair and holiday lighting event in 2008. They were also very active with meetings and events.

The Syosset Rotary Club kept a high profile in 2008 holding many meetings to help local residents, including one on Internet safety.

All of the civic organizations, including the Birchwood Civic Association and the Brookville Safety Association, have worked hard to keep the communities flourishing.

The Cerro Wire case deserves a "year in review" story all to itself after the decade-plus battle rages on.

To re-cap 2008's happenings, in June, New York State Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Spinner ordered the Town of Oyster Bay to issue a special use permit to the Taubman Company to build a 750,000 square foot mall on the property. The Taubman Company was ordered to submit a site plan for the 750,000 square foot mall as the previous plan that was submitted to the town was for an 860,000 square foot mall.

The town and the interveners appealed the decision.

In November, the coalition group leading the fight against the proposed mall said that the developer had discrepancies in the size of the proposed mall.

Although there has been a great deal of "he said she said" and back and forth banter, the case is still currently in the hands of the Supreme Court of the State of New York Appellate Division: Second Judicial Department.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the paper in 2008 especially our regular columnists Stanley Greenberg and Michael Givant. We, at the Syosset-Jericho Tribune, wish you all a happy and healthy 2009. Logo
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