Featured Story
03/10/17 6:00am
03/10/2017 6:00 AM

To say Chris North maintains a busy schedule would be an understatement.

The 22-year-old Greenport resident is a member of Southold’s Anti-Bias Task Force and recently joined the town’s Democratic committee. He also attends Suffolk County Community College, where he was elected in June to serve as student trustee, a position held by just one person in the county each year.


Featured Story
10/24/16 6:00am
10/24/2016 6:00 AM


In an election cycle where the size of one candidate’s hands and the pantsuits of the other are discussed as frequently — if not more — than issues facing the country, it can be difficult for people to figure out what to prioritize when it comes to casting their vote.


11/23/14 12:17pm
11/23/2014 12:17 PM
SCCC, Thankgiving, Culinary Arts School in Riverhead

Culinary students Stacey Green (left) and Chadrick Brittan carving up turkeys at last year’s event. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

Suffolk County Community College’s Culinary Arts Institute wants to make it a bit easier for community members to enjoy their Thanksgiving — especially those who don’t foresee cooking as an option.

Forty students and chefs from the college’s Culinary Arts program are offering up their skills next week to provide meals for long-term patients and homebound seniors across the East End.


11/10/14 11:30am
11/10/2014 11:30 AM
Baggies of Hollywood-branded heroin seized by the East End Drugs Task Force during an investigation into a Riverhead drug ring. (Credit: Paul Squire file)

Baggies of Hollywood-branded heroin seized by the East End Drugs Task Force during an investigation into a Riverhead drug ring. (Credit: Paul Squire file)

Tuition and books will be cheaper over the next three years at Suffolk County Community College for students looking to study drug and alcohol counseling.

SCCC recently received nearly $850,000 from the federal government to go toward its Chemical Dependence Counseling program, which “prepares students for employment or advancement in the field of chemical dependency counseling.” (more…)

03/04/14 1:20pm
03/04/2014 1:20 PM
Entrance to the Eastern Campus of the Suffolk County Community College. (Credit: Gayle Sheridan)

Entrance to the Eastern Campus of the Suffolk County Community College. (Credit: Gayle Sheridan)

While the Suffolk County Legislature has been considering increasing the age for everyone throughout the county to purchase tobacco — from age 19 to 21 — another measure could ban smoking completely in a few areas around Suffolk: the community college campuses.

The proposal comes neatly two years after the State University of New York’s trustees voted to ban smoking on all state college campuses, a measure that is still waiting for state legislative approval in order to be enforced.

Because the fact that Suffolk County Community College isn’t regulated by the SUNY trustee board, college officials said that county approval of the measure would bring a smoke-free campus — actually, all three campuses — to the 26,000 students at the schools.

Ben Zwirn, director of legislative affairs at SCCC, said last week that SCCC would be the biggest college campus in the state to ban smoking entirely on its grounds should the measure pass.

Mr. Zwirn cited secondhand smoke as a health issue to those not smoking on campus, in addition to litter. He added that in an online survey of the student body, over 70 percent of respondents — over 2,800 people — were in favor of the regulation.

The move to ban smoking on campus comes on the heels of Legislator William Spencer’s effort to raise the age to buy tobacco products entirely throughout Suffolk. That proposal was subject to a public hearing last month, and will be debated again on Tuesday afternoon at the legislature’s general meeting.

He is expected to sponsor the legislation on Tuesday banning smoking on campus. After that, the measure would need committee approval, be subject to a public hearing, require approval from the entire legislative body, and need a signature from Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.

Dr. Spencer (D-Centerport) said last week that “We’re looking to create a healthy, smoke-free environment within the the college’s jurisdiction. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to try that.”

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12/29/12 5:00pm
12/29/2012 5:00 PM

SUFFOLK COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE PHOTO | The proposed pool and fitness center at Suffolk County Community College’s eastern campus would be similar to this one at the Brentwood campus.

Suffolk County Community College’s proposed “Health and Wellness Center” at the Eastern Campus in Northampton, a project that would include an indoor swimming pool, will need to get an exemption from the state’s Central Pine Barrens Commission before it can move forward.

The Eastern Campus, which was built in 1977, is located within the core of the Central Pine Barrens, an area where the state’s 1993 Pine Barrens Protection Act places strict limits on new development.

But the college argues that the health and wellness center was part of a 1973 college master plan for the Eastern Campus, and that many other components of that plan have been allowed to be built by the Pine Barrens Commission.

The fitness center project, which would be similar to what the college has at its Brentwood campus, would include an eight lane indoor swimming pool, fitness center, meeting space and nursing laboratory, according to George Gatta, an executive vice president at the college.

The fitness center would include a strength training room, aerobic room, gymnasium, classroom space, office space, locker rooms and lobby, according to the county.

The Suffok County Legislature has included $17.75 million for the project in its capital budget.

The college plans to make the fitness center and pool opened for use by the general public when not being used by the college. At Brentwood, the fitness center and pool have more than 1,440 members, who pay a membership fee, and the pool is also used by local high schools and swim clubs that rent it for meets, according to Mary Lou Araneo, the college’s vice president for institutional advancement.

Mr. Gatta argued at a Dec. 21 meeting of the Pine Barrens Commission that the college’s 1973 master plan for the Eastern Campus included six buildings that the Pine Barrens Commission has allowed to be built on the campus since 1995, including the 40,000 square foot Montauk Learning Resource Center, which was formally opened last year.

In order to get an exemption to build in the Pine Barrens Core, a development must qualify as “non-development” under the guidelines of the 1993 law.

One category that the Pine Barrens law does not define as “development” is “public improvements undertaken for the health, safety and welfare of the public.”

The college is arguing that the health and fitness center falls under that category.

In 1995, the college submitted its 1993 master plan for the Eastern Campus, which included the health and wellness center in a “phase two,” and which included the Montaukett building in Phase One, to the Pine Barrens Commission.

The commission, on Jan. 3, 1995, ruled that Phase One of the master plan “constitutes non-development” under the Pine Barrens Act, but it made no mention of phase two or three of the college master plan.

“We never got an explanation why phase two and three were not included,” said Louis Petrizzo, the college’s general counsel.

“The college continued to inform the commission of its plans to implement the remaining elements of the 1973-76 and 1993 master plans, as well as the 2001 master plan update,” Mr. Gatta said. They sent letters to the commission in 2005 and 2006 and have received no response or explanation why the second and third phases of their master plan didn’t receive approval.

He said the college, “receiving no response to either communication, moved forward with the planning and contraction of the Learning Resource Center and continued to plan for the implementation of the Health and Wellness Center.”

The Pine Barrens Commission is made up of the supervisors of Riverhead, Southampton and Brookhaven towns, along with one representative each from Suffolk County and New York State.

“We’ve already passed judgment that this is non-development,” said Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter, alluding to the 1995 Pine Barrens ruling.

John Milazzo, the attorney for the commission, reminded him that the master plan was in three phases, and only the first one received commission approval in 1995.

“So, if the first phase was non-development, couldn’t we just pass a resolution at the next meeting saying this is non-development too?” Mr. Walter asked.

Richard Amper, the executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society (which is not part of the pine barrens commission, although Mr. Amper was instrumental in developing the Pine Barrens Act), pointed that there were amendments to the Pine Barrens Act in 2005, and that there may be different criteria now than there was in 1995.

Mr. Milazzo concurred. He also said that the presentation at the Dec. 21 meeting was just for informational purposes, and that there is currently no formal application before the commission for the college’s plans, so they couldn’t approve them yet.

Mr. Amper later criticized commissioner members during a hearing that same day on Kent Animal Shelter’s proposal for a new shelter building at its River Road location, which needs an exception to build in the Pine Barrens core.

During that hearing, Mr. Walter praised Kent, saying they are “our defacto municipal shelter” and handle 50 percent of the dog needs for the town.

Mr. Amper said that “Kent’s providing a great public service is entirely irrelevant to the application.”

He said he’s been complaining lately that the commission members are judging applications based on whether they are a good use or provide a public service, rather then whether they meet the criteria set forth of the Pine Barrens legislation.

“Even if it were a place to honor saints, that doesn’t mean it qualifies for a hardship exemption,” Mr. Amper said.

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08/31/11 1:13pm
08/31/2011 1:13 PM
Suffolk Community College Culinary School

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Kellyann Zito, 25, of Riverhead, in the Baker's Workshop kitchen earlier this summer. She was working on a 'Baking and Pastries Certificate' to improve her skills for her job at 'Sweet Jenni's Bakery' in Center Moriches.

It could be crusty loaves of semolina one week and slices of apple-pecan layer cake the next — and after that, a variety of hand-decorated sugar cookies.

Those are among baked goods that could pop up on the shelves of The Baker’s Workshop on East Main Street in Riverhead, depending on what culinary arts students at Suffolk County Community College are learning that week.

The bakery, set to open Tuesday is a transformation of the former Baker’s Workshop Café and Bistro. It will be a bakery only and will be run almost entirely by students.

Students previously contributed cooking to the café, but now they’ll take the reins on all aspects of food preparation and management.

“This will give them a good opportunity to see what it’s like working at a bakery,” said Christina DeLustro, professor and manager of The Baker’s Workshop.

Dave Bergen, associate dean of the culinary arts and hospitality center, said portions of the former café’s operations were curriculum-driven, but school officials wanted to focus on baking only, infusing education into every aspect.

That means no more sandwiches or burgers. But it does mean sweets — and lots of them.

The bakery won’t have a regular menu, as offerings will coincide with a changing curriculum. But treats likely to make appearances include scones, muffins, cupcakes, mousses, cakes and puff pastries.

Each culinary arts student must complete an internship, and working at the bakery will fill that requirement, Ms. DeLustro said. In addition to gaining management and customer service experience, students will learn a variety of baking techniques, including glazing, decorating, folding, creaming and mixing.

“We want to make sure they’re capable of making cookies, cakes and other staples in the industry,” Ms. DeLustro said.

Prices have not yet been set, but Ms. DeLustro said they’ll be comparable to those of other area bakeries. The bakery will operate as a nonprofit, as did the former café, and she expects it to break even.

The shop will offer much more than scones and muffins during October and November. That’s when students will serve “fine dining” dinners and lunches offering multiple courses that connected to the curriculum. But college officials say they don’t see The Baker’s Workshop as competition for other downtown eateries, since it won’t offer hot food most of the time.

“We think it’s going to be well-received by other eating establishments in downtown Riverhead,” Ms. DeLustro said.

The Baker’s Workshop will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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08/16/11 5:52am
08/16/2011 5:52 AM

COURTESY PHOTO | Edward Stever, a former postal service employee who didn't write a thing until he was 30, was recently appointed Suffolk County Poet Laureate.

Edward Stever has published two collections of poetry. He has written and performed in dozens of plays, many of which he also directed. He has won a number of prestigious awards and recognitions for his writing.

And the Rocky Point resident never wrote a thing until he was 30 years old.

“I was kind of a late bloomer,” said Mr. Stever, a one-time postal worker, who later became a poet and professor.

Now Mr. Stever, 56, has been appointed Suffolk County Poet Laureate, a two-year position that began June 1 and may require him to write poems for government occasions.

Poet Laureate wasn’t something Mr. Stever, who dreamed when he was little of becoming a police officer, planned to tack on to his résumé. He realized he had a gift when he enrolled in his first college course, a writing class, at Suffolk County Community College and his professor told him he was the best in the class.

Now he calls writing “something I have to do.”

Each morning, he’ll read poems from other writers, gaining inspiration and becoming mesmerized with the rhythm of the words.

“It gets you in the right mood,” he said.

And then he’ll write.

Many of his poems contain an element of humor, a mechanism for him to reach a wide audience who can find something in his lines to relate to.

He says he’s inspired by his college professors and by acclaimed poets Charles Simic and William Stafford. Mr. Stafford once told Mr. Stever that his writing allowed him to get on a “deeper wavelength,” a compliment that overcame Mr. Stever.

For his first endeavor as Poet Laureate, Mr. Stever, an adjunct professor of English at SCCC’s Eastern Campus, is currently selecting works from Suffolk County poets which to be performed by actors.

“It’s an attempt to bring poems to a wide audience in a palatable form,” he explained. He strives to “get poetry out there in a way people have not seen it.”

Mr. Stever, who is married and has three daughters, said he was especially pleased to receive the title since he was nominated by former Poet Laureate Tammy Nuzzo-Morgan.

“It’s a great honor,” he said. “I’m extremely flattered and extremely happy.”

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07/18/11 9:23am
07/18/2011 9:23 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Suffolk County Community College nursing students Carol Markland of Manorville (left) Krystle Murnane of West Babylon (center) and Gerard Connolly perform on a patient mannequin.

A nursing shortage on the East End has spurred Suffolk County Community College to launch a licensed practical nursing program at its downtown Riverhead center.

“It has been a long journey,” said program director Doreen Biondolillo. At the same time, she admits that gaining accreditation is usually a much longer process and she’s pleased that the SCCC program has been 100 percent recommended.

The college accepts 30 students into its 11-month program each year — 10 from St. Catherine of Siena Nursing Home in Smithtown and 20 general applicants. The students from St. Catherine’s are nurses’ assistants whose $4,026 tuition is paid by the institution in return for their commitment to serve there for three years after graduation.

This year’s students were selected from among 256 applicants based on grades and recommendations, Ms. Biondolillo said.

“The students are so responsible and the professors are so respectful that there’s a mutual admiration between them,” said Mary Feder, director of college relations and publications.

Students learn about the history of nursing and are steeped in the responsibility they are assuming in learning to properly dispense medications and administer fundamental patient care. They practice in the school lab and receive on-site clinical training at various institutions.

“It’s really a struggle,” Ms. Biondolillo said of the rigors of the program and the challenge of juggling jobs, family life and studies.

“You find a balance if you want it enough,” said 28-year-old Krystle Murnane of West Babylon. She still works at St. Catherine’s as a certified nurse’s assistant while raising a 6-year-old daughter and pursuing full-time studies.

“It’s a great opportunity to better myself,” Ms. Murnane said. “I enjoy taking care of people.”

It’s worth sacrificing other activities, according to Carol Markand of Manorville, 42, because nursing enables you to have “an impact on the ill.” It’s why she abandoned her industrial engineering degree to pursue nursing, she said.

“Health is a really big burden on society and it’s very rewarding to look in patients’ eyes and see you’re having a great impact,” Ms. Markand said. “Everybody complains about society, but we are doing the right thing to have an impact. Learning is power.”

While her children are grown, she still has to balance her studies with a full-time job at Island Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Holtsville. She also does private duty nursing in the few free hours she can find in her busy week.

For Gerard Connolly, 29, of Babylon, leaving work as a chef to become a CNA at St. Catherine’s was a real transition. While his former job was high stress, he said, “If you overcook a steak, you just make another one.” Medical errors can have far more serious consequences, he said.

While learning about Florence Nightingale, the English nurse considered to have been a pioneer in the field, Mr. Connolly said he wondered what she’d make of the advances in technology and procedures today.

“But human needs have never changed,” he said.

As a man in what has often been seen as a woman’s field, Mr. Connolly said some patients assume he’s a doctor or plans to be one. But older patients with whom he works simply accept that he’s a nurse.

Despite the program’s rigors of the program, Ms. Biondolillo said there haven’t been any dropouts. She recalls one program participant who was “petrified” the first time she went out to do a clinical assignment with a real patient.

By the time she completed her studies, however, patients were asking for her, Ms. Biondolillo said.

Before taking over the program, Ms. Biondolillo was a nurse for 40 years. She now describes her job as nursing educator as that of a “facilitator,” charged with guiding students.

“These people come with a thirst for knowledge,” she said. “You need to instill your love of nursing and the art and science of nursing. We want them to be the best nurses they can be.”

While Mr. Connolly said he misses the income from a second job and the time he doesn’t have with his wife and child because of his studies, “It’s the only way I’m not going to have to be working two jobs for the rest of my life.”

“This is like a baby I have here that’s growing up and I’m so proud of it,” Ms. Biondolillo said of the program.

An application is pending in Albany to enable SCCC to expand the program to accept more students in the future, she said.

Beyond that, the next step will be to develop “a seamless transition” that would educate practical nurses and put them on track to earn credentials as registered nurses.

But a tight economy will likely keep that from galloping forward immediately, Ms. Biondolillo said.

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