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06/18/16 9:00am


Back in September, a group of state, county and local officials, along with some Suffolk Community College cheerleaders and their “Shark” mascot, gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony in front of a sign that read: “The Future Home of the Eastern Campus Health & Wellness Center.”  READ

05/07/14 3:00pm
05/07/2014 3:00 PM
Aspiring chef Danny Insogna, 18, of Southold took first place in this year's Long Island High School Culinary Competition, sponsored by Sysco. (Credit: Courtesy)

Aspiring chef Danny Insogna, 18, of Southold took first place in this year’s Long Island High School Culinary Competition, sponsored by Sysco. (Credit: Courtesy)

Aspiring chef Danny Insogna of Southold came back with a vengeance at this year’s Long Island High School Culinary Competition Tuesday afternoon — taking first place and a $4,000 Sysco sponsored scholarship to Suffolk County Community College’s culinary arts program.  (more…)

03/07/14 2:00pm
03/07/2014 2:00 PM
A fish monitoring training session will be held at Grangebel Park at 12:30 p.m. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

A fish monitoring training session will be held at Grangebel Park at 12:30 p.m. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

The Peconic Estuary Program will host a community water quality workshop Saturday, bringing local citizen and leaders together to discuss different types of projects underway in the communities.

Different efforts including beach cleanups, native plantings and invasive species removal, as well as a fish population monitoring effort in downtown Riverhead will each be discussed.  (more…)

07/19/13 8:00am
07/19/2013 8:00 AM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Michael Conlon, who is deaf and blind, received this portable braille display machine, called Braille Sense U2, in May to use inside the classroom.

If you wanted to find out about turtle doves, chances are your first move would be to search for information online. To experience how Michael Conlon learned about them last Thursday on his home computer, try closing your eyes and covering your ears.

Mr. Conlon, 30, of Manorville, is a deaf and blind student at Suffolk County Community College Eastern Campus. He was born without retinas and uses digital hearing aids because he’s been substantially deaf all his life.

To show how he recently learned how to surf the Internet, Mr. Conlon demonstrated a new machine he received two weeks earlier by Googling turtle doves.

“About 670,000 results,” Mr. Conlon said as he brushed his fingers across a refreshable braille display.

Mr. Conlon picked the first result, Wikipedia, but didn’t click on it with a mouse or touchpad: To make the selection, he navigated through the computer using Job Access with Speech technology, known as JAWS.

The software also read all of the text displayed on the screen to him aloud, syncing with his braille-display machine rapidly changing like a pinscreen toy.

“I’m already becoming comfortable using the program,” he said as the computer read him the Wikipedia entry about turtle doves. “I’m still learning how to use it. I like it because it allows me to hear what the computer is saying and it also allows me to read the braille display in case I don’t understand what the words are.”

In the past, his teachers had to send his handouts, quizzes and tests to a braille maker. Sometimes if they decided right before class to use certain material, Mr. Conlon was unable to access it.

His mother, Mary, said her son’s classmates from his anthropology course shared their notes with him because the professor didn’t use a textbook.

“It was all class notes,” she said about the course, which her son completed this past semester. “His hearing limits him, so there were people sending him notes. The kids are great.”

Two weeks before his finals, Mr. Conlon received a portable braille display machine to use inside the classroom. The Braille Sense U2 technology gives him instant access to Word documents and other forms of digital communication, including email, instant messages, calendars, spreadsheets and GPS.

The device enabled him to study material he wouldn’t ordinarily have had access to, because of the lag time in the braille process, from the notes his classmates took two days before the final.

Ms. Conlon, who has a background in accounting, and her husband, T. Michael, a retired Suffolk County prosecutor, said their son was only able to obtain the two new devices, which carry price tags in the thousands, through support from a Federal Communications Commission program that offers assistance to adults who are deaf-blind access to 21st century communications services. The program is called the National Deaf Blind Equipment Distribution Program, also known as iCanConnect.

Sue Ruzenski, who runs New York’s iCanConnect program through the Helen Keller National Center in Sands Point, said computer screen-reading software designed for the deaf-blind population was first developed in 1989 and the latest JAWS program costs around $1,000. Refreshable braille display devices can cost anywhere from $1,700 to more than $10,000, depending on its use and its size.

The newest version of the portable Braille Sense U2 device was released last July and costs about $5,600, she said.

Ms. Ruzenski said Mr. Conlon qualified for the iCanConnect program and received the new equipment at no charge because he met income guidelines.

“Mike is a shining example of why this program is so important,” she said. “Technology is enabling him to access a world of opportunity and connection with other people.”

There are approximately 2.1 million people across the country who are deaf-blind, Ms. Ruzenski said, many of them being senior citizens. She estimates between 75 to 100 deaf-blind people live on Long Island.

Ms. Conlon said she’s found it’s hard for blind-deaf people to make friends and believes the latest communication tools designed for their needs will open new doors for them.

Although getting used to the technology will take time, the Conlons said they’re grateful the program also provides training on how to use the devices.

“We’re looking forward to the future,” she said. “This is going to make life so much better.”

Mr. Conlon, who plays the piano and has fond memories of playing percussion instruments in a marching band, attended school in East Islip because the district there has a program for deaf-blind students. Although his passion is music, Mr. Conlon said he hasn’t decided which type of career he’ll pursue after finishing college next semester.

School has been challenging, he said, but he believes the new tools he’s been given will help him keep pace with his fellow classmates.

“Persevere is my favorite word,” he said.

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06/12/13 8:00am
06/12/2013 8:00 AM

Suffolk County Community College’s eastern campus will be home to a new $17 million health and sports facility, including an Olympic-sized indoor swimming pool, sooner than expected.

Construction on the roughly 49,000-square-foot facility for physical education and athletics courses will begin next year after funds were made available earlier than the expected start date in 2015, according to County Legislator Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk).

The health center will include two multi-purpose rooms, office space, a gymnasium, locker rooms, the pool, and strength training and aerobic rooms.

Half of the construction funding will be paid for by New York State, Mr. Schneiderman said, adding the facility will generate revenue for the college on weekends and evenings when used by outside groups for events.

The legislature’s Bipartisan Capital Budget Working Group, which Mr. Schneiderman chairs, pushed the construction funding up to 2014; the legislature approved the new funding plan at its June 4 meeting.

Construction is expected to finish in 2015.

“This facility will make our campus a complete campus like the two in western Suffolk,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “This facility will be a huge boost not only for the eastern campus of SCCC but for the entire East End community.”

Mr. Schneiderman said the center’s pool will be open to the public year-round.

“This will be the first public indoor swimming pool in the Town of Southampton and the need for a pool has been well documented for years,” said Legislator Schneiderman, adding the pool will “provide a safe place for our children to learn how to swim before they jump in the ocean.”

He also said local school districts can now set up swim teams and use the pool to train and compete.

05/08/13 1:00pm

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO |  Luke Gustafson, a Hampton Bays senior, prepares his prize-winning dish at Suffolk Community College’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Center.

The kitchen was heating up at Suffolk County Community College’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Center in Riverhead Tuesday afternoon, where four high school student chefs were competing for a $1,500 scholarship to the culinary program.

Hampton Bays High School senior Luke Gustafson, 18, cooked the prize-winning dish: sliced chicken breast in a tomato-mushroom sauce served with garlic mashed potatoes and sautéed French green beans.

To make it to the competition, he and the other aspiring chefs had to compete against culinary students from their own high schools. The winner from each participating school then moved on to the SCCC competition.

Now in its fifth year, the contest was created to support student learning and encourage promising students. It’s also a way to show off the culinary talent Long Island has to offer.

Similar to the Food Network’s cooking competition show “Chopped,” the students were given a mystery basket full of ingredients — and 90 minutes to turn them into a delectable dish.

College instructors kept a watchful eye on the students from start to finish, judging them on cooking techniques, use of ingredients, cleanliness, presentation, taste and creativity. The secret ingredients: chicken, potatoes and fresh green beans.

“They are the most common. If they can take these items and make something good out of them, they’ve accomplished the task,” said Richard Freilich, director of SCCC’s culinary arts program. “We don’t want to make it too difficult; we really just want to see their skill level.”

Other competitors were Daniel Insoyna, 17, a Southold High School junior; Ruben Bernacet, 19, a senior at Bellport High School; and Charles Alifano, 17, a senior at Floral Park Memorial High School.

Each student was accompanied by a culinary teacher from his high school, who came along for support.

Luke and Daniel are both enrolled in the Eastern Suffolk BOCES culinary program in Riverhead, spending 2 1/2 hours per day, five days a week learning different aspects of cooking.

“We’ve used all of the ingredients before,” said BOCES culinary teacher Tom Hashagen, a resident of Shelter Island. “We do a lot of instruction with chicken because it’s the cheapest thing to use. I told the kids it’s what they would probably have.”

Mr. Hashagen described Daniel, who took second place in the competition, as a quick learner. “He’s one of those kids that, once he comes in, you know he’s going to be good,” he said.

“Luke is sort of intense,” Mr. Hashagen continued. “He finds out what he needs to do and attacks it fairly well. He also shows some good leadership qualities we are trying to work on and foster.”

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03/15/13 2:32pm
03/15/2013 2:32 PM
Aquebogue man charged in Meadowbrook crash

GOOGLE MAPS | The fatal crash March 4 reportedly happened just south of the Southern State Parkway.

A 5o-year-old Aquebogue man involved in a double fatal crash in Nassau County earlier this month was re-arrested Monday and is facing upgraded charges after blood tests revealed he was impaired by drugs at the time of the crash, authorities said.



Robert Beodeker, who was initially charged with reckless driving and aggravated driving without a license after the March 4 Meadowbrook Parkway crash, had been free on $1,000 bail.

He is now facing aggravated vehicular manslaughter, two counts of second-degree vehicular manslaughter, two counts of criminally negligent homicide and driving while ability impaired by drugs, according to a criminal complaint.

He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

He was arraigned Friday in First District Court in Hempstead, where he pleaded not guilty to the new charges and was ordered held on $1 million bond or $500,000 cash bail, said a spokesman for Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice.

The complaint states his blood contained .17 percent of methamphetamine and .12 percent of amphetamine at the time of the crash.

Police said he consented to a blood test.

Mr. Beodeker’s lawyer, N. Richard Wool of Plainview, said prosecutors “had no lab report [at the arraignment] to show that he did anything wrong.”

“He’s a good guy,” Mr. Wool said in an interview. “Obviously, he’s been dean of students at Suffolk Community for 20 years. He’s a nice, respectful man who has never been arrested before in his life.”

Mr. Beodeker, an associate dean for student services at Suffolk County Community College, was heading south on the Meadowbrook about 12:40 p.m. in Roosevelt when he struck a disabled Nissan Maxima and two pedestrians that were tending to the sedan, police said.

The pedestrians, John Elder, 76, of Freeport and Edward Ross, 65, of North Bellmore died at the scene.

The victims were both in the Nissan before it broke down, according to a police report. They had stopped the car in the parkway’s hazard markings, police said.

State police said the car was pulled over on the right shoulder near where three southbound lanes merge to two.

Mr. Beodeker, who was driving a 2012 GMC pickup truck, “either didn’t observe or failed to see that the lanes were merging, and he struck the vehicle that was broken down and was being worked on by the two individuals that were killed,” a state police investigator told Newsday after the crash.

At his March 5 arraignment on the initial charges, he told the court he had taken Ambien and depression medication before the crash, according to a News12 report. He was released on bail after pleading not guilty.

Aside from his work at Suffolk’s Eastern Campus, Mr. Beodeker also teaches at Columbia University’s Teachers College and has been active for years in the North Fork’s performing arts community.

“The authorities continue to investigate this tragedy,” Mary Lou Araneo, a spokeswoman with Suffolk County Comomunity College, said Friday afternoon. “The college is monitoring the details as they emerge and we continue to assess the circumstances as they unfold.”

He is known locally as an actor, director and was a president of the North Fork Community Theatre group in Mattituck. He has also been involved with the Riverhead Faculty and Community Theatre group, which traditionally puts on a fall show at the high school.

He stepped down as North Fork Community Theatre president after the crash, theater officials said

“He’s very upset,” Mr. Wool said when asked about Mr. Beodeker’s state of mind. “Based on that fact that, whether there’s a criminal charge or no criminal charges he’s very upset that two people are not alive today. But this is all new to him. He’s never been arrested, never mind convicted.”

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01/12/13 10:00am
01/12/2013 10:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Ethan Crook (left), a culinary student and line cook at North Fork Table and Inn in Southold, with chef Stephan Bogardus.

Today’s college graduates are famously hard pressed to find a job during this historically sluggish economy.

Not so for Suffolk County Community College’s culinary school students and alumni.

Nearly 100 percent of the college’s culinary arts program graduates find work in the field, with many ending up in upscale commercial kitchens throughout the North Fork, said program director Richard Freilich.

“We don’t do placement, per se, but we do have connections with a lot of the local businesses looking to fill different types of positions,” Mr. Freilich said. “We try to find students that are best suited for those positions.”

He said the program’s job-placement successes are thanks in part to the internship program.

Students pursuing culinary degrees at SCCC are required to fulfill 200 internship hours with a restaurant, hotel or other business in the hospitality industry. These internships often turn into full-time positions, he said.

The Culinary Arts and Hospitality Center on Main Street in downtown Riverhead opened in 2008 with 135 students enrolled. The number has only grown since then, with 369 students in the fall class of 2012, said Mary Feder, director of college relations.

“There’s a great demand for our students, so we get calls all the time looking for experienced help,” said Mr. Freilich, noting that as part of internship work, baking students work at the college’s retail operation, The Baker’s Workshop, in the main culinary school.

“The input we get back from students is excellent,” Mr. Freilich said of the school’s hands-on approach to education. “They say had they not come here, they wouldn’t have gotten their job.”

Nobody knows that better than current student Courtney Rowehl. She got her job at the Plaza Café in Southampton by asking chef and owner Doug Gulij, who is one of her teachers, if she could do part of her internship at the well-known seafood restaurant.

“I’ve been there three years now,” Ms. Rowehl said, adding that being successful takes hard work and sacrifice, but the support of her teacher was important. “At Suffolk, there’s a core of teachers that know all the students by name, post jobs and will always push you to do harder internships. I wanted to do the fine dining thing, so I just went for it.”

And that’s exactly what culinary student Ethan Crook of Southold has been doing at North Fork Table & Inn since his internship began in July. He has since turned the apprentice role into a full-time position at the Southold four-star restaurant.

“Working here has definitely helped me progress as a cook in the sense of working more independently and confidently,” Mr. Crook said. “I try to do that as much as I can — to just go for it. I like Julia Childs’ quote, ‘In cooking you have to have a what-the-hell attitude.’ I feel like if you don’t just go for it, then you’re not going to learn how to do it. Sometimes Stephan will tell me that failure is when you learn.”

He’s talking about the restaurant’s rising young chef Stephan Bogardus, 24, of Southold, a former classmate of Mr. Crook’s at Mattituck High School.

Mr. Bogardus said he has enjoyed having students from different culinary schools intern at the restaurant in the past year, noting that Mr. Crook was the restaurant’s first intern.

“Having students from different schools, educations and abilities has helped me display what [executive chef] Gerry Hayden and [acclaimed pastry chef and co-owner] Claudia Fleming … have taught me, which is really what took me to the level I’m now able to achieve,” said Mr. Bogardus, who first joined the North Fork Table & Inn team after graduating in 2009 from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.

Though Mr. Crook, former cook at the Village Cheese Shop in Mattituck, wasn’t an entirely blank slate when he began his internship at North Fork Table & Inn, he said there was a steep learning curve associated with doing his first gig at a high-end restaurant.

“This is the most challenging thing I’ve ever done in my life,” said Mr. Crook, now a line-cook at the restaurant. “This is more than just a restaurant. It’s first and foremost a very passionate cooking kitchen. It’s very serious, but enjoyable; I really get a kick out it. I definitely see more types of food, greens and proteins than I think I would in a lot of places.”

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06/22/12 9:00am
06/22/2012 9:00 AM

COURTESY PHOTO | A new pool is coming to Suffolk Community College's East End campus, like the pool at Brentwood's Grant Campus.

While the Peconic YMCA appears to have finally found a location for its long-planned East End facility, complete with an Olympic-sized indoor pool, the group may also have found some competition.

Suffolk County Community College’s plan to build a fitness center at its Eastern Campus in Northampton, complete with an indoor pool, took a step forward recently, when the county Legislature voted to include the $17.75 million for the project in the county’s capital budget.

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

Fritz Trinklein, strategic planning director for YMCA of Long Island, wasn’t aware of the county’s plans for the Eastern Campus when contacted by The News-Review.

“That’s interesting,” he said.

“From the Y’s point of view, we have very sufficient demographic reach in eastern EPCAL, and the college proposal won’t have any significant impact on our plans,” he said. “But I am curious about the whole financial dynamic and how this is going to be funded, both from a construction point of view and an operational point of view. Generally, when you have these publicly funded activities, it’s expensive.

“The East Hampton facility operated on public money and was turned over to the Y about 10 years ago. It was a financial drain on the community before that,” he added.

The only indoor pool on the East End is at the YMCA’s East Hampton facility.

The college facility’s main purpose would be to provide space for physical education classes, which are a graduation requirement, though no space is currently available at the Eastern Campus, said county Legislator Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk).

But the facility will also be made available to community members, who would pay a membership fee to use it, he said.

“The Eastern Campus is actually a pretty good location,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “It can draw from a lot of places.”

Suffolk Community College already opens its pool and health club to the public at its Brentwood Campus, but the facility is only available to the public when not in use by the students.

“The primary mission is to supplement the educational programs at the college, the secondary mission is to supplement the operating expenses so they can keep tuition low,” Mr. Schneiderman said.

The capital budget is a planning document, he said. Inclusion in the capital budget doesn’t guarantee the facility will be built, although it can’t be built without first being in the capital budget, he said.

An East End pool is something that’s been talked about for years, including by Peconic YMCA, but has yet to materialize, Mr. Schneiderman said.

Half the funding for the college facility comes from a state grant, he said. The pool project has been in the works for several years, but was removed from the capital budget by both former county executive Steve Levy and County Executive Steve Bellone. In both cases, it was restored by the Legislature.

Peconic YMCA, meanwhile, has been searching for a site for more than 10 years, ultimately rejecting many possible locations because of public opposition or because the properties were tied in with private development proposals that didn’t happen.

Peconic YMCA currently plans to build its facility on land owned by Riverhead Town at the Enterprise Park at Calverton. The Town Board will hold a public hearing July 17 on its proposal to give the land to Peconic YMCA.

The annual fees for use of the facility at the college’s Brentwood campus are $250 for adult county residents, $200 for child residents, $60 for SCC students with nine or more credits, and $100 a year for SCC students with fewer than nine credits.

By contrast, the fees for annual adult memberships at existing YMCAs on Long Island, according to the Y website, range from $470 in East Hampton to $490 in Patchogue and Holtsville, $495 in Bay Shore, $644 in Huntington and $630 in Glen Cove.

Peconic YMCA’s proposed facility would be about 40,000 square feet and is estimated to cost about $8 million, most of which is being raised through private donations. It would include a pool, a strength training center, multi-purpose rooms, locker rooms and a community center.

Mr. Trinklein said about $1.5 million remains to be raised, and he thinks more donations will come once the town conveys the land to the YMCA.

Mr. Trinklein said the college facility could draw some people from the South Fork who might otherwise go to the EPCAL YMCA.

He also said he was surprised state and county governments would help fund a $17 million facility in tough economic times.

“If somebody else would build a pool that the college could use, we probably wouldn’t build one,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “But we’ve heard talk for a long time about people building an indoor pool on the East End and it still hasn’t happened.”

The planning and design for the college facility is already bonded for, he said.

“I think there’s a great likelihood it will happen and I think it is going to be good for the college and good for the community,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “I also think it will be good for the East End economy. They are trying to make the campus more like a conference center, and they see the pool as a big component of their plan.”

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