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April 2014
Gianni Cerri, At 84, an Artist, Musician,
and Avid Tennis Player

Gianni Cerri

Giovanni Cerri, Gianni, or better yet “Johnny” to his friends, moved permanently to Bellport about three years ago from his home in Milan, Italy. Now at 84 years young, and in Gianni’s case we do mean young, he is an artist, musician, and avid tennis player.

When we first visited Gianni’s home, we were taken by his unique architectural pieces which depict places he has known both in Italy and here in the United States. These large pieces, some three or more feet in height, demonstrate Gianni’s skill as an artist and at the same time his sense of whimsy.

Click Here to read about Gianni and enjoy his artwork


March 2014
South Country School District Ranks Among Nation’s Top Communities For Music Education



The NAMM Foundation recognized South Country Central School District for its outstanding commitment to music education with a Best Communities for Music Education (BCME) designation. South Country joins 376 districts across the country to receive the prestigious distinction in 2014.

In its 15th year, Best Communities for Music Education affirms school districts that have demonstrated exceptional efforts toward maintaining music education as part of the schools’ core curriculum.

The BCME survey requires districts to answer detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program and community music-making programs. Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Institute for Educational Research and Public Service of Lawrence, Kansas, an affiliate of the University of Kansas.

As South Country finalizes its 2014–2015 budget, the announcement of this year’s Best Communities for Music Education designation brings attention to the importance of keeping music education part of the school’s core education and music’s vital role in student success in school.

The Best Communities for Music Education program plays an important part of the NAMM Foundation’s efforts to make music education part of the core curriculum assuring that the benefits of music making are available to every child. Numerous studies have demonstrated that learning to play music can boost academic and social skills, lower disciplinary action and keep kids in schools.

The South Country Music Department provides a high quality music education for all district students through many classroom and performance ensembles. Over 1800 students grades 3 through 12 participate in our performance ensembles while many others benefit from our extensive classroom experiences and rigorous music theory program.

The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit organization supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its nearly 9,000 members around the world with the mission of advancing active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving and public service programs from the international music products industry.

Hennessey Calls for $20 Mil to Build Roadways for All Users; Pushes Bill to Deter Hit and Run, Stiffen Penalties


Assemblyman Edward Hennessey was joined by federal, state, and local officials; Eric Alexander of Vision Long Island; Ryan Lynch of Tri-State Transportation Campaign; and leaders of bicyclist and running groups from across Long Island and NYS (Jim Nostrom-Long Island Bicyclists and Runners for Safety; Daniel Flanzig-New York Bicycling Coalition; Mike Polansky-Greater LI Running Club) to call on Governor Cuomo to dedicate $20 million more annually in the budget to ensure pedestrian bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects to protect vulnerable users.

Furthermore, Hennessey, who also requested funding for other similar projects in the 3rd AD and Suffolk, called on the NYS DOT to aggressively consider NYS Complete Streets Policy in the planning and design of road projects in order to integrate all users of our roadways, to enhance communities, and keep people safe.

“Hit and run driving is an epidemic on Long Island and throughout the state. My bill A7315 introduced last year is a common sense approach to stiffen penalties and de-incentivize drivers from hitting a pedestrian, a jogger, or another motorist and fleeing the scene without stopping and calling for aid,” said Assemblyman Hennessey.

“If we want to make our roads safer, more user-friendly for everyone, more integrated with our communities, then we need stiffer laws but also better, smarter infrastructure. This is where the necessary funding and the commitment of our NYS DOT to implement the funding become imperative to follow through on the Complete Streets Policy,” said Assemblyman Hennessey.

February 2014
Police Train For The Worst, The “Active Shooter Drill”

On Saturday, February 22, 2014, the Suffolk County Police Department, and in particular the 5th Precinct, held a drill to simulate their response to an "Active Shooter" as if there were an armed person or persons shooting at people in a heavily populated area such as a school, movie theater, or shopping mall. The drill was designed to help our Police prepare for a day we all hope will never come. Last year, the Police Department ran twelve of these special drills.

Click Here to read all about it and see photos taken at the Drill

Suffolk County Is The First Municipality On The East Coast To Implement The PulsePoint Smartphone App Program

Pulse Point

The PulsePoint Mobile Smartphone “App” alerts CPR-trained bystanders that someone nearby is having a sudden cardiac arrest and may need CPR. Citizens who are CPR trained, can download the App via the Apple Store or Android Market and indicate that they are willing to assist if needed.

When a 911 call is received by Suffolk Fire Rescue and Emergency Services reporting someone unconscious, unresponsive and likely needing CPR in a public place, FRES will dispatch emergency resources as they normally do but in addition, software running at PulsePoint will send an alert to nearby CPR trained citizens who have registered with PulsePoint to be able to assist with CPR. The App directs these citizen rescuers with a live map to the nearest Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) so that CPR can begin immediately. This application will assist in improving Sudden Cardiac Survival rates by empowering citizens to be able to help and respond.

Legislator Browning Appoints Alison Neumann to the Suffolk County Women’s Advisory Commission

Alison Neumann

The Third Legislative District has a new representative on the Suffolk County Women’s Advisory Commission. Legislator Kate Browning recently appointed Alison Neumann of Bellport Village to the commission and attended her swearing in on Tuesday, February 11, 2014. The Commission suggests programs, advises the Office of Women Services on policy and advocates for the betterment of the women of Suffolk County.

“Alison has been a strong advocate for her community, and I know she will be a valuable asset to the commission and women across Suffolk County,” stated Legislator Browning. “I wish her the best of luck and look forward to working with her to meet the commission’s goals.”

Alison Neumann grew up in Bellport where she still lives today and is a retired insurance administrator. She served as Bellport Village Trustee from 2010-2012, and has worked as a volunteer for years on the annual Bellport Clipper Classic 5K Run in Bellport Village.

Hennessey Bill Would Abolish Onerous Gap Elimination Adjustment Cut To School Funding This Year


Assemblyman Edward Hennessey has introduced legislation that would eliminate the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) rate for 2014-15 and thereafter and provide school districts with the full amount of aid generated by all existing budget funding formulas (A.8720).

“I want to thank Assemblyman Englebright, who is prime co-sponsor of this bill, for joining me in this effort. The school districts here in Brookhaven are diverse in their needs,” Assemblyman Hennessey said. “This year alone, the districts I represent are losing out on $51.7 million in school aid because of the Gap Elimination Adjustment. This is entirely unacceptable. In addition to giving the schools their fair share, this legislation would also help undo the burden of high property taxes.

- Longwood -$7.9 million
- Middle Country -$9.6 million
- Patchogue Medford -$7.1 million
- Sachem -$16.4 million
- South Country -$5 million
- William Floyd -$5.7 million

“At the height of the economic collapse in 2009, our state faced a devastating $10 billion dollar deficit and the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) helped to repair our budgetary stability,” said co-sponsor Assemblyman Englebright. “Over the last 3 years, the GEA has reduced state aid to Long Island School Districts by almost $1 billion. Schools have done their part to return our state to economic health. By eliminating the GEA, this important measure will now help our schools regain budgetary stability.”

The GEA was introduced in New York State in 2009-10 under the name of the Deficit Reduction Assessment to partially reduce the state's $10 billion budget deficit. Over the past three years however the GEA has been used to reduce state aid to school districts. In doing so, the GEA has unfairly burdened school districts and taxpayers throughout the state, increasing the dependence on local property taxes and taxpayers to fund our schools, Hennessey concluded.

Pictured: Assemblymen Steve Englebright (left) and Edward Hennessey at Longwood Central School District Regional Forum. AM Hennessey announced his GEA bill at this forum. AM Englebright is prime co-sponsor.

Hennessey Supports Unions/Residents Demanding Verizon Bring FIOS to Brookhaven Town


Assemblyman Hennessey joined union members and fellow elected officials from Local, County, and State government to call on Verizon to bring FIOS to Brookhaven Town.

“Brookhaven Town Hall was filled to capacity with residents and unions, all demanding that Verizon build out FIOS in Brookhaven Town. I was proud to stand with them. Bringing FIOS to the town means jobs, service to residents at competitive prices, and economic development,” said Assemblyman Hennessey.

Pictured left to right are Assemblyman Edward Hennessey, Michael Gendron, CWA Local 1108; Patrick Guidice, IBEW 1049; and Donald Dunn, CWA Local 1108.

January 2014
South Country Community Leadership Network, SCCLN, Is Formed

South Country Community Leadership Network

A new organization has been formed to explore a community based intervention approach to deal with at-risk individuals in the community and to promote a stronger and safer community. Just some of the groups and organizations that attended a recent meeting of this new organization included:

• Bellport Beach Property Owners Association
• Bellport Fire Department
• Bellport Methodist Church
• Bellport Youth Football/Mirimar Property Owners Association
• BHEP Alliance
• Boys & Girls Club
• Brookhaven Free Library
• Brookhaven Hospital
• Brookhaven Village Association
• Greater Bellport Coalition
• The Journey Church
• Mt. Zion Baptist Church
• Outreach
• Parent/Community Resident
• Post Morrow Foundation
• South Bay Sailing Foundation/Bellport Village
• South Country Ambulance
• South Country Community Conference
• South Country Community Land Trust
• South Country CSD Board of Education
• South Country School District
• South Country Soccer
• Suffolk County Department of Labor
• Suffolk County Police Department
• Town of Brookhaven Youth Bureau
• VFW Post 8300

Some of the topics discussed included Transportation for Youth Sports, a Directory of Community Services, Suffolk County Department of Labor Programs, Community Outreach Program, Mother’s Club, Calendar of Events, Food Drive, Toy Drive, and Coat Drive, Youth Athletic Scholarships, South Country Athletic Foundation, a meeting of the SCPD and School District with at-risk students, Anger Management, and a Civic Engagement Workshop.

SCCLN meetings are open to community group/organization leaders in the South Country area. For more information please contact Dr. Giani at 631-730-1501.

Old South Haven Church Concert A Huge Success

Old South Haven Church Concert

Back in September of 2013, The Old South Haven Presbyterian Church hosted a concert that was huge success. It featured Nancy Loesch, Soprano; Leslie Valentine, Mezzo-Soprano, Christopher Reames, Tenor; Michael Douglas Jones, Bass; and Daniel Ragone, Artistic Director and Accompanist.

The program was such a success that this past weekend, on Saturday, January 11th, there was an encore performance entitled, “Songs That We Like To Sing” featuring the same performers.

These concerts are just the beginning of what The Old South Haven Presbyterian Church has planned for the coming months. We’ll be sure to let you know as soon as the dates and performances are announced. Don’t miss them!

Click here for more photos from the concert.