Letter’s Long Distance Travels
John Thomson III was on a trip with friends in Abaco, Bahamas when he decided to throw a message in a bottle into the ocean, a tradition from when he was a kid on his parents’ boat. What he was not expecting was for someone to find it. Twice.
“In March, I was on a charter with friends in the Bahamas. We sailed South in the ocean and the idea popped into my head to launch a message in a bottle,” said Thomson. He made up a note, had the crew sign it, and put it in a bottle along with his business card. He had done this numerous times as a kid and never had one returned.
On June 20, Patrick Callan came into Thomson’s store saying that his daughter, Melissa C. Donaldson, found the message in a bottle walking on the beach near her home in Jupiter, FL. She recognized Thomson’s name because her father knows Thomson’s family from Manhasset.
“The odds of someone finding my bottle and then the odds of being from the same home town and actually knowing each other is astounding,” said Thomson. “Someone else found the bottle walking on the beach in the Bahamas. On March 30, Elizabeth Handwerker was picking up debris on the beach when she came across my bottle. She added her own note and then she and her husband dropped it off their boat off on the coast of Florida. The odds of a message in a bottle being found twice is astonishing.”
Port Washington News
Access To Grand Central Madison And The LIRR
This year marked the opening of The East Side Access Project, in which Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) riders gained access to Grand Central Madison. The East Side Access was a $12 billion project, which marked the first expansion of the LIRR in more than 100 years. Riders on the LIRR gained direct access to the east side of Manhattan, easing overcrowding in and around Penn Station.
On Monday, Feb. 27, a milestone event made Long Island history as the 5:08 a.m. train from Port Washington rolled out of the station as the first train to take commuters to the new Grand Central Madison terminal of the LIRR. History buffs and members of the Cow Neck Historical Peninsula Society (CNHPS) joined residents on the inaugural train run at 5:08 a.m.
While history was made, all commuters had to adjust their schedules for their morning and evening commutes. In July, the LIRR announced plans to eliminate express trains from the Port Washington Line, affecting commuters in Manhasset, Great Neck, Plandome and Port Washington. Local officials and the LIRR heard the concerns from the community and in September the LIRR abandoned the plans to eliminate the express trains.
There continues to be complaints from the community regarding the constant schedule changes. The LIRR is still working to try to get the train schedules up to par with the communities’ requests.
A Roslyn Landmark Comes Back To Life
On July 26, The Roslyn Landmark Society joined with local dignitaries, including Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Jen DeSena, Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, Roslyn Mayor John Durkin, and Town Councilman Peter Zuckerman to celebrate the conclusion of Phase I of the Roslyn Grist Mill Restoration Project.
They marked the achievement of all cribbing and steel support beams being removed, as the Mill was lowered onto its new foundation, supported by its restored historic timber frame.
The Grist Mill, originally known as the Robeson-Williams Mill, is the oldest commercial structure in the Village of Roslyn. Historians claim that it is one of the few surviving Dutch colonial commercial frame buildings in the U.S. In 1986, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Durkin hailed the Grist Mill of standing with the Ellen E. Ward Clock Tower as the village’s two great representative structures.
The Grist Mill’s renovation, he added, would serve to “keep our village connected to the past and connected to the future.”
Timber framers and the construction crew returned to the Roslyn Grist Mill in November and completed the installation of the timber frame and began work on the roof rafters. And early in December, the Roslyn Grist Mill site was winterized. A new front entrance was built and the roof rafters are ready to be installed in the Spring 2024.
Great Neck Record
Attorney General Letitia James Visits Great Neck
On Friday, Jan. 13, Temple Beth-El of Great Neck hosted its annual Shabbat Service honoring the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. Each year on the Friday of Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, Temple Beth-El hosts a special Shabbat Service with a keynote speaker to honor MLK Jr. for his involvement in the civil rights moment and commemorate his visit to the Temple in 1967. This year’s keynote speaker was New York State’s Attorney General, Letitia James.
With public expressions of racism, antisemitism, and anti-Asian bias increasing across America, the special service gathering was held not only to honor MLK and his work but inspired hope, strength, community and respect among everyone in attendance.
Attorney General James delivered a powerful and eloquent speech that energized the crowd.
James listed examples of progress throughout our nation in the forms of government action and leadership that have broken social norms and made America a more inclusive and welcoming place for all.
“I’m hopeful that love, acceptance and inclusion will always push out hate and darkness,” said James. “I’m hopeful because of people like all of you. I am seeing that spark that ignites the fires of change that have always simmered but have never fully flamed throughout our nation’s history. We have individuals to empower, communities to strengthen children, to educate the ceilings, to crack, all a tall task. It all can be accomplished when we work together and invest in each other.”
Tragedy Strikes Farmingdale
Joy and excitement quickly turned to shock and despair on Thursday, September 21, as a bus containing members of the Farmingdale High School band camp careened down an embankment. Of the 44 passengers on board, dozens were severely injured, and five were in critical condition. Two lives were lost in the accident; 43- year-old Gina Pellettiere, and 77-year-old Beatrice Ferrari. Pellettiere was a beloved teacher at the school, known as “Ms. P.” to her students. She was also a single mother of a two-year-old. Ferrari, helping chaperone the trip, was a retired teacher and has been described as “a shining light in Farmingdale.”
Following the accident, schools across Long Island donned green and joined together to raise funds and support. Social media was abundant with the hashtags #DalerForADay and #DalerStrong, as students past and present recalled their Farmingdale experiences. “I haven’t found the words to eloquently speak about Farmingdale’s loss,” wrote Luna D’Andrilli on Facebook. “It’s enormous. Having been a member of the music dept. for six years I can however attest to the powerful community and know they will be strong for each other and for our schools, students and music teachers.”
Nassau Illustrated News
Casino Proposals For Nassau Coliseum
This year, casino proposals have been all the rage in New York State, including in Nassau County. The Las Vegas Sands Corporation made headlines throughout 2023 with its plans to develop a casino, entertainment venue, and hotel and spa facilities at the current site of the Nassau Hub, pending approval from the state. In the spring and summer, County Executive Bruce Blakeman voiced his support for the project, and the 99-year lease he approved with Sands received support from a majority of Nassau legislators. In the meantime, Sands has engaged and invested in an ongoing public information and community outreach campaign, hosting numerous sports-themed clinics and events for kids, among other things.
Not everyone in Nassau County has shown their support for the proposed casino, of course. Voices in Garden City and Westbury leadership have been among those to push back, as has Hofstra University, which successfully sued to have the 99-year lease invalidated (at least temporarily) on the grounds that the public was not duly informed about the process along the way. Opponents of the plan have also argued that the proposed development would increase environmental hazards, such as pollution, in neighboring areas. At present, the County seems committed to moving forward.
Syosset Jericho Tribune
Woodbury Nursing Home Faces Lawsuit, Benefit Cuts
Over the year, Cold Spring Hills Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, located in Woodbury, has come under scrutiny.
In December, 2022, New York State Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against the nursing home for fraud and mismanagement that led to under-staffing, which ultimately resulted in neglect and harm. The lawsuit alleges that the nursing home owners diverted $22.6 million in Medicaid and Medicare funds from resident care through a fraudulent network of companies used to conceal profit-taking.
From Aug. 4 to 14, Cold Spring Hills Center for Nursing & Rehabilitation picketed outside the nursing home in response to the potential loss of their benefits after management failed to pay into the workers’ health benefits fund. The date employees risked losing their benefits was postponed as management made partial payments into the funds.
The petition, by New York Commissioner of Health James V. McDonald and James, alleged that after the proceeding against the nursing home began, the respondent stopped paying the National Benefit Fund of union 1199SEIU, which provides specific medical, dental, disability and other related benefits. The petition also stated that as of Sept. 8, the facility owes more than $5 million to the fund and must make monthly payments ranging between $920,000 and $1.1 million.
Glen Cove Oyster Bay Record Pilot
Streets Dedicated To Honorable Residents
On Aug. 4, Sheppard Street in Glen Head, which resident Joseph Paolillo called home for 21 years along with his wife, Josephine, and his three sons, was dedicated towards his memory. Sadly, in 2019, Paolillo passed away from 9/11-related cancer contracted in the aftermath of the search and recovery efforts at the World Trade Center. Paolillo had been searching for the remains of his brother John, an FDNY Battalion Chief, as well as other Americans. Members of the NYPD and officials from the Town of Oyster Bay and Nassau County gathered with Paolillo’s family, friends and neighbors for a street dedication.
On Oct. 19, Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino and members of the Town Board joined with the Oyster Bay-East Norwich School District and hundreds of residents in dedicating ‘Billy Joel Way’ to legendary musician and environmental advocate Billy Joel. The sixth-grade advanced band from James Vernon School performed for the music icon.
Late last year, legislators, members of the Marie Colvin Memorial Foundation, Syosset High School student Sabrina Guo and the sister of the late war reporter Marie Colvin, Cat Colvin, gathered with fellow community members in downtown Oyster Bay for a street renaming ceremony. Marie Colvin, raised in Oyster Bay, reported from the front lines of war zones. On Feb. 22, 2012, she was killed by Syrian rocket fire at the makeshift media center where she and several other journalists were staying.