LIMBA Hosts East End Supervisors’ Roundtable on October 6

Elected Officials Will Discuss the Latest Issues Affecting Their Towns

LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) has announced that it will present an East End Supervisors’ Roundtable on Thursday, October 6 at the Southampton Inn, located at 91 Hill Street in Southampton. Featured speakers will include Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar, Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell, Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman and Shelter Island Town Supervisor Gerry Siller. The roundtable event is sponsored by Gershow Recycling.

The elected officials will discuss the latest developments in their respective towns, as well as trends affecting the east end of Long Island, such as affordable housing, tourism, the environment, water quality and economic development.

Ms. Aguiar, a former sergeant detective with the NYPD Counterterrorism Division, is the first Latina to be elected Riverhead Town Supervisor. Mr. Schneiderman was first elected Southampton Town Supervisor in 2015 and again in 2019, and previously served as Suffolk County Legislator. Mr. Russell spent 15 years as Town Assessor before being first elected as Southold Town Supervisor in 2005. Mr. Siller first served as Supervisor from 1998 to 2001 and was re-elected in 2019 and again in 2021.

“This will be a very informative session for all those who attend,” said Ernie Fazio, Chairman, LIMBA. “Our guests will address the issues that affect not only their constituents, but Long Island at large, considering the East End’s importance as an economic engine to the region’s environment and sustainability. We will also open the floor to our attendees, who may have questions of their own about what is going on in the East End.”

Lunch starts at noon, followed by the panel discussion at 12:30 p.m. Tickets are $45 for LIMBA members, $65 for non-members. Tickets are available at the door for $75 each, and tickets for tables of eight can be purchased for $440.

For more information about upcoming LIMBA programs, visit https://limba.net/.

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About LIMBA

Since 1968, LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) has been Long Island’s catalyst for economic investment and improvement, sponsoring lively breakfast forums featuring Long Island business activists and government officials. Its mission is to promote and address issues that affect the quality of life on Long Island. For more information, call (631) 757-1698 or visit www.limba.net.

Anti-Defamation League NY/NJ Director Scott Richman Discusses Rise of Antisemitism at LIMBA

On May 20, Scott Richman, Director of the New York/New Jersey region of ADL (the Anti-Defamation League), was the guest speaker at a virtual LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) meeting. During the presentation, he spoke about the growing number of antisemitic incidents.

Mr. Richman said there is a “very disturbing trend.” According to the ADL’s annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, the number of antisemitic acts has risen in the past eight years nationwide, from 751 to 2,717. New York State had the most, with 416 incidents. “That comes more than one incident every single day just in New York,” he said, adding that the regions with the highest rates of antisemitism in the state are Long Island, New York City, Westchester and Rockland Counties.

He also pointed out that Hasidic Jews have been targeted. According to Mr. Richman, there were 88 assaults nationwide, 51 of which occurred in New York State. He broke down the numbers within the state even further, showing that 48 of the 51 assaults happened in New York City. Of those 48 assaults, 34 took place in Brooklyn.

One of the short-term reasons for the rise in these incidents, Mr. Richman said, was the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas in May. As a result, the number of antisemitic acts went up 148% when comparing May 2020 to May 2021. “Put simply, the Jewish people in this country were blamed for the War in Israel,” he said. Another reason was the “stressful environment” after the COVID lockdown and concerns about the economy, prompting people to look for a scapegoat, he said.

There were also long-term reasons, according to Mr. Richman, the main one being social media. He pointed out that those on social media will share hateful ideas with each other and will recruit others to join their groups. He noted that Payton Gendron, who murdered 10 Black people at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York back in May, was “radicalized” by social media.

“Social media is an enormous driver of hate, but it could also be an enormous force for good,” he said. The problem with social media, he said, is that it is not regulated. There is no liability for what is posted. The mainstream social media companies have put in place policies to help curb this, but it is not enough and not enforced well enough. Then, there are sites, such as Telegram, Gab and Discord, which have no content moderation policies.

Mr. Richman also said that society has become more polarized. “We live in a very divided time,” he said. “People take sides, which makes it very hard to control hate.”

Lastly, he pointed out that there has been a general emboldening of extremists on both the left and the right. For example, the ADL has been keeping track of white supremacist propaganda. In 2017, when the ADL started tracking such acts by white supremacists, there were 20 such incidents in New York State. In five years, those instances of white supremacist propaganda in New York State grew tenfold.

The ADL has monitored right-wing groups such as The Proud Boys, whom Mr. Richman said are the subject of a civil lawsuit related to their alleged role in the January 6th insurrection. ADL is serving as co-counsel on that lawsuit. They also follow left left-wing groups such as Antifa and the Nation of Islam.

Prior to joining the ADL, Mr. Richman was the Regional Director of the American Jewish Committee for Westchester (NY) and Fairfield (CT) Counties. In that role, he was responsible for directing the day-to-day operations of this top regional office dedicated to advocacy on key issues impacting the American Jewish community.

In addition, he spent 10 years at the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, where he assisted in the rebirth of Jewish life in the former Soviet Union. He also served as the Founding Director of Dor Chadash, a nonprofit startup which engaged young professionals in the New York area. Originally from Jericho, he is currently a resident of Westchester.

For more information about upcoming LIMBA programs, visit https://limba.net/.

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About LIMBA

Since 1968, LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) has been Long Island’s catalyst for economic investment and improvement, sponsoring lively breakfast forums featuring Long Island business activists and government officials. Its mission is to promote and address issues that affect the quality of life on Long Island. For more information, call (631) 757-1698 or visit www.limba.net.

Frank Boulton Discusses the Formation of the Long Island Ducks and the Atlantic League at LIMBA

Frank Boulton (second from right), Founder/CEO/Owner, Long Island Ducks, was the guest speaker at the LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) meeting at Fairfield Properties Ballpark, home of the Ducks, on May 6. Also pictured (left to right): Al Vitters and Ken Nevor, Board Members, and Ernie Fazio, Chairman, LIMBA; and James Gaughran, New York State Senator.

On May 6, Frank Boulton, Founder/CEO/Owner, Long Island Ducks, was the guest speaker at the LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) meeting at Fairfield Properties Ballpark in Central Islip. During the presentation, he talked about the formation of the Ducks and the league in which it plays, the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.

Before becoming involved as a baseball team owner, he worked for the financial firms Smith Barney and UBS Securities. In the mid-1980s, he bought the New York Yankees’ minor-league Class-A team in Prince William County, Va., and the Class-AA Albany Colonie Yankees.

During the Major League Baseball strike in 1994, he went down to Homestead, Florida to look at some prospects. “I came up with the idea of a boutique league with 200 of the best unsigned players,” Mr. Boulton said. “That’s how the Atlantic League came about.”

In 1993, Bud Harrelson, who played and managed with the New York Mets, teamed up with Mr. Boulton to form the Wilmington Blue Rocks. Then, from 1997 to 2000, the duo worked tirelessly to bring the Long Island Ducks to life.

Since its formation, the team has won nine divisional titles and been in the playoffs for 15 of the last 17 years. This year’s 27-man roster consists of eleven former MLB players and eight other players with AAA experience. Mr. Boulton said he wants to keep the Ducks as a local team, with local players on the roster. “If they are from Long Island, they’ll get the call,” he said.

One of the disadvantages of owning a minor league baseball team, Mr. Boulton said, is that the roster can change in an instant when a major-league team wants to buy a player’s contract. This past season, eleven Ducks players had their contracts purchased. He said it could happen the night of a game, and the starting pitcher could get the call.

The team plays 132 games in 2022 over 150 days; 66 of them are home games. The ballpark seats 6,002 people, with 20 luxury boxes, a picnic area that can hold up to 300 people, a party deck and a restaurant that seats 125 people. Since its inception, the team has welcomed nearly 8.5 million people to its games, many of whom are repeat fans. Funding for the stadium came from $22.5 million in federal funds, $14.5 million from the Empire State Development Corporation, $5 million from Suffolk County and $3.5 million from Mr. Boulton himself.

Mr. Boulton added that the revenue generated by the Ducks comes from ticket sales (single-game, season and mini-game packages), food and beverage sales. He said that group ticket sales are “a big part of our business.” Further, the Ducks are the only team in the Atlantic League that doesn’t charge its patrons for parking.

In addition to serving as the team’s Founder, CEO and Owner, Mr. Boulton is Chairman of the QuackerJack Foundation, the charitable arm of the Ducks. He is a member of the Suffolk County Sports Hall of Fame, the Bay Shore High School Hall of Fame, and the Long Island Business Hall of Fame. He has received numerous honors from many business and nonprofit organizations. He is a graduate of Villanova University and a resident of Brightwaters.

For more information about upcoming LIMBA programs, visit https://limba.net.

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About LIMBA

Since 1968, LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) has been Long Island’s catalyst for economic investment and improvement, sponsoring lively breakfast forums featuring Long Island business activists and government officials. Its mission is to promote and address issues that affect the quality of life on Long Island. For more information, call (631) 757-1698 or visit www.limba.net.

LIMBA Members Tour Caithness Long Island Energy Center Power Plant in Yaphank

On April 1, Ross Ain, President of Caithness Long Island, LLC, and Bill Wareham, Plant Manager, Siemens Energy, which manages the Caithness Long Island Energy Center, hosted a presentation and guided tour of the state-of-the-art natural gas-fired power plant. During the presentation, they took turns discussing the plant’s technology upgrades, efficiency and emissions.

Tim German (center), Operations Manager, Siemens, guides a group of LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) members through a tour of the Caithness Long Island Energy Center power plant in Yaphank on April 1. The tour followed a presentation by Ross Ain, President of Caithness Long Island, LLC, and Bill Wareham, Plant Manager, Siemens Energy, Inc.

In 2003, the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) issued a Request for Proposal to provide power for its customers. Two years later, Caithness was chosen. Construction of the 350-megawatt plant began in 2007 and came online in 2009.

“Thanks to advances in power generation, we are able to produce more energy with fewer greenhouse gas emissions than a comparable plant utilizing outdated technology,” Mr. Ain said.

Caithness currently has a 20-year agreement with LIPA to provide energy to its customers. “We guarantee availability and efficiency,” Mr. Ain said, adding that, between 2009 and 2021, LIPA customers saved $426 million in fuel and other costs. Further, Caithness reduced CO2 emissions by 440,000 tons a year — a reduction of 36%.

The Yaphank plant generates 21% of the electricity on Long Island. The plant features an air-cooled condenser that uses less than 20 gallons of water per minute — far less than what other power plants on Long Island use. “That is because we are the most efficient, cleanest plant and we operate around the clock since it is the most efficient plant of its kind on Long Island,” Mr. Ain said. “We also have an excellent environmental record, operating well below strict permit limits. We are also very safety-conscious; we have never had an accident.”

The new gas turbines are very fast, Mr. Wareham said, in that they can start up and provide full power within half an hour. The plant is operationally flexible and can run on natural gas or distillate fuel oil.

The plant currently has a roster of 19 full-time employees. It is set 100 feet above sea level, adding a high level of storm protection against flooding, according to Mr. Ain. There is also a large buffer zone that separates Caithness from the residential areas which are approximately one-half mile away. “There are no wetlands here and there are no parks, rivers or endangered species on the premises,” he said.

In addition, Mr. Ain said, Caithness gives back to the community. Each year, the power producer gives out $25,000 in scholarships to students from Patchogue-Medford, Bellport and Longwood High Schools, and supports several community-based groups, including the Boys and Girls Club.

After the presentation, LIMBA members took a tour of the facility.

For more information about upcoming LIMBA programs, visit https://limba.net/.

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* Photo is attached.

About LIMBA
Since 1968, LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) has been Long Island’s catalyst for economic investment and improvement, sponsoring lively breakfast forums featuring Long Island business activists and government officials. Its mission is to promote and address issues that affect the quality of life on Long Island. For more information, call (631) 757-1698 or visit www.limba.net.

Eastern Suffolk BOCES Chief Operating Officer Julie Lutz, Ph.D. Discusses the Changes to Public Education on Long Island at LIMBA

On March 11, Julie Lutz, Ph.D., Chief Operating Officer, Eastern Suffolk BOCES, spoke at LIMBA’s (Long Island Metro Business Action) virtual meeting on the topic “Public Education on Long Island: Shifting Demographics, Costs & Outcomes. Why It Matters?”

During her presentation, Dr. Lutz described the shifts in Long Island schools over the past decade. While school districts such as Central Islip, Riverhead, Brentwood and Wyandanch have seen increases in enrollment, the number of students enrolled in Suffolk County public schools overall dropped 12.1%, according to Dr. Lutz.

Between the 2012-13 and 2020-21 school years, the number of children considered to be “economically disadvantaged” was up 27.4%. “Even wealthier school districts fell into this,” she said, adding that Long Island school districts saw a 27.2% bump in economically disadvantaged students, compared to a 6.1% increase throughout the rest of the state.

In addition, there has been “a growing number of English Language Learners” (ELL) in Suffolk’s schools, Dr. Lutz said. In fact, the number of ELL students increased 66.6% from 2010-11 to 2020-21. As of October 2020, there were 42,163 ELLs on Long Island, which is 18.2% of the state’s total ELL population (including New York City). For students with disabilities, the number in Suffolk rose 7.3%, compared to 6.8% on Long Island, 6.0% in Nassau and 3.7% for the rest of the state.

In explaining the differences between wealthy and poor school districts, Dr. Lutz said that 61.4% of Suffolk students attend a district of below average wealth. Among ESBOCES districts, that figure is 69.4%, and it is 45.5% among Western Suffolk BOCES districts. In addition, 1.1% of students experienced homelessness at some point during the school year, compared to 0.9% for the rest of the state (excluding New York City and Long Island).

Dr. Lutz also pointed out that the least wealthy districts on Long Island are majority-minority; 67.7% are Hispanic and 20.7% are Black. The wealthiest districts, meanwhile, are 54.6% white, 22.2% are Hispanic and only 3.5% Black.

Dr. Lutz said that “parents come to Long Island for the educational quality.” During her presentation, she pointed out that, in 2020, the graduation rate was 91.5% on Long Island, compared to Suffolk County (90.3%), the rest of the state (87.5%) and New York State outside of New York City (88.7%). Furthermore, of the Long Island students who graduate, 86% go on to college.

Long Island school districts graduate a high percentage of students with Advanced Regents diplomas — 58.4%, compared to the rest of the state at 38.9%, according to Dr. Lutz. “If Long Island were its own state,” she said, “we would be number one in the nation in the number of 2022 Regeneron Science Talent Search semifinalists with 49.” That would be greater than California (45) and the rest of New York (44).

Eighty to 90 percent of the students in ESBOCES’ career and technical training programs go on to higher education. “This dispels the myth that students in our schools don’t go to college,” Dr. Lutz said. “These students are getting trained [in the trades] and are able to get job offers [after graduation]. There is sometimes a hurdle students need to jump over to get into the BOCES program, but these programs keep giving students a leg up.”

The problem is that Long Island is short changed when it comes to school aid from Albany. “The share of state aid to Long Island is 12.5%, but we educate 15.8% of the state’s children,” Dr. Lutz said. “Long Island needs its fair share of state aid. More money is coming from our pockets. Not only do we get less, but the purchasing power [of the state aid money] is also less.”

According to Dr. Lutz, over two-thirds of the schools’ revenues on Long Island are funded by property taxes. “As a result, we see many families moving to other parts of the country that are more affordable,” Dr. Lutz said.

For more information about upcoming LIMBA programs, visit https://limba.net.

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About LIMBA
Since 1968, LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) has been Long Island’s catalyst for economic investment and improvement, sponsoring lively breakfast forums featuring Long Island business activists and government officials. Its mission is to promote and address issues that affect the quality of life on Long Island. For more information, call (631) 757-1698 or visit www.limba.net.

Award-Winning Broadcast Journalist Waldo Cabrera Discusses “Black History from an Afro-Caribbean Standpoint” at LIMBA

On February 25, Waldo Cabrera, an award-winning broadcast journalist, spoke at LIMBA’s (Long Island Metro Business Action) virtual meeting on the topic “Black History from an Afro-Caribbean Standpoint.”

During his presentation, Mr. Cabrera explained that the first documented slave revolt in the “New World” happened on December 26, 1521 in Hispaniola (now broken into two countries: the Dominican Republic and Haiti). A group of African slaves who worked in the sugar plantations owned by Diego Columbus, son of the explorer Christopher Columbus, revolted. They tried to prove “they would not be submissive” and used violence and force during the uprising, Mr. Cabrera said. However, “it was not a good end for them,” he said, when Columbus ordered the military to end the revolt.

Last year, Mr. Cabrera worked with a group of students at City College of New York to bring the story to life. For the film, titled Visualizing Resistance, he spent six months with the students documenting the project, from planning to the final presentation. They also reviewed original documents from the Dominican Studies Institute to learn more about what really happened during the 1521 revolt.

By mid-December, the students completed their project. On the 500th anniversary of the revolt on December 26, 2021, the college issued a press release announcing the film’s completion. During his presentation, Mr. Cabrera showed the film to the LIMBA members.

“The students were more proud to be part of [the project], because they didn’t look at it as a race-centered project,” Mr. Cabrera said. “They were given a task to create a living document. … They knew they had to deliver on it.”

Mr. Cabrera also discussed a second slave revolt, this one having a more positive result. In 1791, African slaves in Haiti revolted against their masters, and “Haiti paid a dear price for that,” Mr. Cabrera said. This included the burning of the crops and battling French soldiers. In 1825, France recognized Haitian independence, but asked Haiti for 100 million Francs in reparations (equivalent to $21 billion today). According to Mr. Cabrera, it was the largest slave revolt since Spartacus’ unsuccessful efforts against the Roman republic in 1900 B.C.

When asked what Black History Month meant to him, Mr. Cabrera replied, “Society tells you what color you are. To me, it’s a matter of reflection. It’s a matter of educating yourself on who you are and where you’re from. I like to focus on the positive aspects of where you come from. Others may understand Black History Month from an American standpoint; I understand it from an Afro-Caribbean standpoint. I seek voices from different angles.”

Mr. Cabrera is the Executive Producer of The National Video Journalists Network (NVJN). He has won an Emmy® award and numerous Long Island Folio and Press Club of Long Island Awards.

For more information about upcoming LIMBA programs, visit https://limba.net/.

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About LIMBA

Since 1968, LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) has been Long Island’s catalyst for economic investment and improvement, sponsoring lively breakfast forums featuring Long Island business activists and government officials. Its mission is to promote and address issues that affect the quality of life on Long Island. For more information, call (631) 757-1698 or visit www.limba.net.

NYS Assemblyman Fred Thiele Calls to Restructure LIPA as a Public Power Company at LIMBA

On February 4, New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele spoke at LIMBA’s (Long Island Metro Business Action) virtual meeting in which he called for the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) to be restructured as a public power company.

During his presentation, the assemblyman described how he voted against the LIPA Reform Act of 2013, which, he said, was supposed to revamp electric operations on Long Island in order to improve customer service, enhance emergency response and preparation, reduce the cost of LIPA’s debt and ensure safe and adequate service. Mr. Thiele voted against it because it lacked transparency, accountability and oversight. “It was the best ‘no’ vote I ever cast,” he said.

He explained that the current structure acts as a “three-legged stool”: PSEG LI, which is a third-party manager that runs the utilities on a day-to-day basis; LIPA, a nonpublic utility which contracts with other privately run utilities; and the Department of Public Services of Long Island (DPS LI), whose only function is to provide recommendations to PSEG. “There is a lack of transparency,” he said of this operation, adding that PSEG is “the least regulated and has the least oversight.”

He said National Grid — which is responsible for operating and maintaining LIPA’s electrical grid under a management services agreement with the power authority — was “a failure” during Superstorm Sandy, considering that Long Islanders pay the highest utility rates in the nation and get little to no return on investment. “They overpromised and underdelivered,” he said. “Their customers haven’t gotten what they paid for.” On what he described as a dismal response by PSEG LI to Hurricane Isaias, he said, “There were problems with communication and customer response times; these were problems that needed to be addressed.”

The assemblyman advanced the idea of making LIPA a publicly run utility. He pointed out that public utilities are “financially feasible” and more reliable than privately operated ones. Citing an options study that LIPA conducted after Hurricane Isaias, Mr. Thiele said that public utilities can help customers save $65-$75 million a year on their energy bills. In fact, he and New York State Senator James Gaughran introduced a bill that would make LIPA go public. The bill currently has 12 co-sponsors in the Assembly — nine Democrats and three Republicans — and 90% of those who publicly commented on the bill were in favor of it.

Under the proposed legislation, there would be a Legislative Commission on the Future of LIPA, an eight-member group that would report to the state Legislature what would be needed to restructure LIPA as a publicly owned power authority by the end of 2025. The Commission would also establish an Advisory Committee comprised of stakeholders in the fields of labor, business, government, education, higher learning and social justice; consumer and civic organizations; and local Native American tribes.

The problem with LIPA, Mr. Thiele said, is that, historically, the governor’s office, which is based in Albany, controls the utility and the trustees are appointed by the governor, the speaker of the Assembly and the state Senate majority leader — none of whom are from Long Island. He said he and Senator Gaughran hope to meet with Governor Kathy Hochul soon and have this bill included in the state’s proposed 2022-2023 budget.

Mr. Thiele is currently serving his 13th term in the New York State Assembly. During that time, he authored legislation which created the Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund (CPF) Act. Under the Act, the five East End towns on Long Island established dedicated funds for land preservation and water quality protection, with the money coming from the 2% real estate transfer tax. Since its enactment 20 years ago, the CPF has generated more than $1.7 billion and has resulted in the preservation of more than 10,000 acres of environmentally sensitive land. Mr. Thiele is Chairman of the Local Governments Committee and serves as a Member of the Rules Committee, Environmental Conservation Committee, Oversight, Analysis and Investigation Committee and Transportation Committee.

For more information about upcoming LIMBA programs, visit https://limba.net/.

 

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About LIMBA

Since 1968, LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) has been Long Island’s catalyst for economic investment and improvement, sponsoring lively breakfast forums featuring Long Island business activists and government officials. Its mission is to promote and address issues that affect the quality of life on Long Island. For more information, call (631) 757-1698 or visit www.limba.net.

Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. Gregson Pigott Discusses County’s Handling of Opioid Crisis and COVID-19 Pandemic at LIMBA

On January 21, Dr. Gregson Pigott, Suffolk County Health Commissioner, spoke at LIMBA’s (Long Island Metro Business Action) virtual meeting.

During his presentation, Dr. Pigott described how Suffolk County was prepared to handle the opioid crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. He also talked about his start in the agency, where he operated a community health program for persons of color and later served as Medical Director for Suffolk County Emergency Medical Services, overseeing the county’s emergency medical technicians.

“They are a very underappreciated group,” he said of the emergency medical personnel. “When you call to complain about a heart problem or a lung problem, the EMTs are always there. That is why I always try to give our emergency medical people the recognition they deserve.”

One of the issues his department had to deal with was the opioid crisis. When people were experiencing chronic pain, Dr. Pigott said, the doctors wrote prescriptions for these painkillers, not aware of their addictive qualities. After these opioids were pulled off the market, many people resorted to illegal drugs for their pain.

Dr. Pigott said there are medications to overcome drug addiction, such as methadone, which, he said, will help addicts in their recovery. One of his prior positions was as a Physician at a local methadone program in Huntington. “It’s not always about detox or staying sober,” he said. “Rather, it’s about needing medications to help you with your recovery.” When asked how long someone must be on methadone before they have fully recovered, he said, in his experience, the person’s age is the best predictor of maintaining sobriety without medication. He noted that those under the age of 30 may have an easier time managing the withdrawal that comes from tapering down the medication than older addicts.

The next topic turned to the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 8, 2020, the first COVID case was confirmed in Greenport. Dr. Pigott said the infected person was a local resident who did not travel and was not in contact with a lot of people.

The number of COVID cases in Suffolk quickly rose to 1,658 on April 10, 2020. Dr. Pigott said the pandemic put a strain on the local healthcare system. “Hospitals were overcrowded and overflowing with people who were seriously ill,” he said. “There was a lack of ventilators. We also couldn’t perform colonoscopies, lung scans and elective procedures.”

He also said the situation was worse at the local nursing homes. According to Dr. Pigott, there were approximately 4,100 Suffolk County residents who died as a result of COVID, of which there were 742 COVID confirmed deaths and 267 COVID presumed deaths at nursing homes, according to the New York State Department of Health. Funeral homes were overwhelmed, as they had to rent refrigeration trucks to store the bodies. “We lost a lot of people to COVID in 2020,” he said. “This was a situation we never want to see happen again.”

By the summer of 2020, the numbers started to go down, only to go up again in the fall, Dr. Pigott said. He said the surge in infections came during holidays, such as Halloween, Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. The peak number was 863 on January 19, 2021. At the time, Americans were urged to get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. “These have been very effective,” he said of the vaccines. “We saw a significant reduction in hospitalizations, especially among seniors.” He added that the number of seniors over the age of 65 who were hospitalized went down by two-thirds after they were vaccinated.

Dr. Pigott said the two best ways to protect oneself against omicron or other strains of COVID are to get vaccinated and wear a mask. He recommended the N95 masks because they are the most effective against the virus, whereas neck gaiters, bandanas and cloth masks do not offer the same protection.

On January 3, the positivity rate in Suffolk hit a record high of 28.1%. On January 18, the positivity rate fell by half to 13.9%. Dr. Pigott noted the downward trend in positive cases, but added, “We’re not out of the woods yet.”

Dr. Pigott is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and is a Clinical Assistant Professor in Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University. He is a graduate of Brown University, Brown University Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health. He completed his residency in Internal Medicine at Cambridge Hospital in 1997.

For more information about upcoming LIMBA programs, visit https://limba.net.

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About LIMBA

Since 1968, LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) has been Long Island’s catalyst for economic investment and improvement, sponsoring lively breakfast forums featuring Long Island business activists and government officials. Its mission is to promote and address issues that affect the quality of life on Long Island. For more information, call (631) 757-1698 or visit www.limba.net.

New York & Atlantic Railway’s Chuck Samul Discusses “The Benefits of Rail Freight” at LIMBA

On January 7, Chuck Samul, Director of Sales and Marketing, New York & Atlantic Railway (NYAR), spoke at LIMBA’s (Long Island Metro Business Action) virtual meeting on the topic “The Benefits of Rail Freight.”

During his presentation, Mr. Samul described how, in 1997, NYAR entered into an agreement with the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) to operate freight trains on LIRR lines throughout Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk. The railroad operates seven daily trains Monday through Friday — three during daylight hours and four at night. Three trains are operated on weekends, one during daylight and two at night.

Mr. Samul said that the NYAR line has three support yards (Pine Aire in Suffolk County, Blissville in Long Island City and Bay Ridge in Brooklyn), five commercial terminals (Long Island City Freight Terminal, Hicksville Yard, Grand Avenue Transload facility, Brookhaven Rail Terminal and Calverton Industrial Park) and three branch lines which are for freight only (Bay Ridge, Lower Montauk and Bushwick).

NYAR provides freight rail service in Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island. Currently, they provide service to approximately 85 customers. According to Mr. Samul, half of the volume is inbound traffic, comprised of lumber, building materials, rolled paper, food and beverage products, bulk plastics and track material for major Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), LIRR and New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA) projects. Long Island exports recyclable material such as scrap iron and steel used in steelmaking, glass cullet used in producing new glass beverage containers, municipal solid waste, construction and demolition debris and retired passenger equipment from the LIRR.

Currently, NYAR employs 49 people full-time, with approximately half of them members of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, according to Mr. Samul. He went on to say that the rail freight system boosts the local economy, adding that one rail freight job supports nine other jobs in the U.S. economy, according to the American Association of Railroads.

In addition to providing safe and economical transportation of goods vital to their customers, another benefit is the reduced impact on the environment. Using rail to transport freight reduces congestion and traffic and wear and tear on streets, highways, bridges and tunnels. One rail car takes four, heavy, long-haul trucks off the road. Rail moves one ton of freight over 400 miles on one gallon of fuel. Mr. Samul also said that NYAR has retrofitted locomotives with anti-idling equipment that saved 200,000 gallons of fuel per year from pre-2013 levels.

Mr. Samul also explained some of the infrastructure projects NYAR is participating in, including the implementation of a Positive Train Control system — mandated by the federal government and as part of its 2016 agreement with the LIRR — to prevent collisions or derailments. Another project involved the reconstruction of facilities at Fresh Pond Yard. Reducing the track curvature of the East Wye Leg results in improved safety performance through a reduction of lateral forces. Additional benefits are reduced wear and tear on the rail cars, and reduced ongoing maintenance requirements. A positive benefit to all in the neighborhood is reduction in noise from rail operations.

Mr. Samul joined NYAR in July 2014 as Manager of Marketing Projects and was appointed Director, Sales and Marketing in 2018. He began his railroad career in 1978 with Conrail as a produce inspector at the Hunts Point Terminal Market. He held positions in a variety of departments there, including risk management, claims and industrial development, eventually ending up at the corporate headquarters in Philadelphia, working in marketing, real estate and line sales. At Norfolk Southern, he worked in the real estate department and served as Liaison for all property transactions in New York, New Jersey and Detroit.

For more information about upcoming LIMBA programs, visit https://limba.net/.

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About LIMBA

Since 1968, LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) has been Long Island’s catalyst for economic investment and improvement, sponsoring lively breakfast forums featuring Long Island business activists and government officials. Its mission is to promote and address issues that affect the quality of life on Long Island. For more information, call (631) 757-1698 or visit www.limba.net.

NYS Assemblyman Steve Englebright Discusses “Environmental Consideration” at LIMBA

Steve Englebright (center), New York State Assemblyman, was the guest speaker at the LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) meeting at TopGolf in Holtsville on December 3, 2021. Also pictured (left to right): Maureen Early, Senior Community Affairs Specialist, Covanta; Matty Aracich, President, Building & Construction Trades Council and Board Member, LIMBA; Ernie Fazio, Chairman, LIMBA; John C. Tsunis, Chief Executive Officer, Holiday Inn Express Stony Brook; Robert W. Doyle Jr., Principal, Lewis Johns Avallone Aviles, LLP; and Ken Nevor, Member, LIMBA.

On December 3, 2021, Steve Englebright, New York State Assemblyman, spoke at LIMBA’s (Long Island Metro Business Action) meeting on the topic “Environmental Consideration.” This meeting was held at TopGolf in Holtsville.

The assemblyman covered a number of topics during his presentation and answered questions from the audience. He explained that he was a co-sponsor of a bill to have state residents vote on a proposal to incorporate the Environmental Rights Act into the New York State Constitution. The bill was signed into law and voted on in the general election in November 2021. The proposal passed by a 70%-30% margin; the Act will provide New York residents “the rights to clean air, clean water, and a healthful environment.” “I’m very pleased that it passed,” the assemblyman said, adding that sister states such as Pennsylvania and Montana already have such amendments on the books. “It’s very significant.”

He also discussed the passage of New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) two years ago, which called for leading environmental experts and agency heads to draft a plan for the state on environmental conservation. A draft of the plan is expected to be released soon. “As a state, we are becoming a part of the national and global marketplace to reduce greenhouse gases,” he said.

Mr. Englebright talked about what he saw were disturbing trends in the environment, such as melting ice caps and heavier-than-expected rainfall on the East Coast, while the West Coast has had none. He said he foresees eroding seashores, adding, “it’s not a far possibility” and the hundred-year storms “are now coming every two to three years.” In Colorado, for the first time, the state has not had snow in early December. “We definitely need to confront this,” he said.

He noted that September 2, 2021 was a significant day because he remembered leaving Albany and seeing the Saw Mill River Parkway flooded out. When he drove through the Bronx, “there were cars upside down,” he said.

Climate change just doesn’t affect the environment, Mr. Englebright said, it also affects business productivity, the economy and the way we live. He said pollutants in the air pose a threat to our pulmonary and cardiovascular systems and the quality of our drinking water can also affect our health. To reverse the trend, the state must look to decarbonization, which can only be achieved by converting to renewable energy.

The discussion turned to the use of alternative energy sources and getting away from fossil fuels. This included the proposal to electrify the Port Jefferson LIRR line. “Why do we still have diesel engines in Suffolk County?” Mr. Englebright asked. He also noted that the MTA put in an order for 50 new diesel engines with a 50-year life span in 2019 which “contradicted the purposes and goals of the climate bill,” meaning the CLCPA. The MTA since rescinded the order.

Electrification of the trains will help the local economy become more prosperous, the assemblyman said. In addition, the use of alternative energy such as solar can help increase the values of homes and businesses.

At the end of his presentation, he urged local business groups to meet with him and learn how they can help push for greener practices in the building and construction of homes and businesses. “The environment is either going to be our salvation,” he said, “or it’s going to be a problem.”

Mr. Englebright has served in the Assembly since 1992. He authored New York State’s first solar and wind net-metering laws and successfully pushed for the expansion of solar net-metering to include all utility customer classes. In February 2015, he was appointed Chair of the Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation. His priorities include advancing policy and budgetary initiatives to improve the quality of our air and waters, open space preservation, recycling and sustainability and ramping up our effort on the state level to reduce greenhouse gases and combat the impacts of climate change, including sea level rise, ocean acidification and future extreme weather events.

For more information about upcoming LIMBA programs, visit https://limba.net/.

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* Photo is attached.

About LIMBA

Since 1968, LIMBA (Long Island Metro Business Action) has been Long Island’s catalyst for economic investment and improvement, sponsoring lively breakfast forums featuring Long Island business activists and government officials. Its mission is to promote and address issues that affect the quality of life on Long Island. For more information, call (631) 757-1698 or visit www.limba.net

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