This year has been an eventful one for Syosset, Jericho and its surrounding communities. But even through tragedies that struck the communities, such as deadly DWIs and lawsuits against longstanding institutions, residents continued to stick together. It was also a year of firsts, such as the first Lunar New Year Celebration and the return of SY-CON.
Here are the Syosset Jericho Tribune’s picks of stories that have stuck out from this year.
The Tribune looks forward to continuing to cover your amazing communities in 2024.
Camp Jacobson Fights To Return
David Levy, the board president of Sid Jacobson Jewish Community Center, and David Black, the executive director of Sid Jacobson JCC, sent out a letter to families that enjoy the center’s Camp Jacobson day camp on a 14.27 acre property in Brookville, stating that the camp would not be open for the summer of 2023 because the Village of Brookville filed a motion with the Supreme Court of New York to force the cease of operations on the property.
Parents were devastated.
John M. Chase, the attorney for the Village of Brookville, stated that the village’s zoning board of appeals found that the summer camp use of the subject property was not permitted by the village’s zoning ordinance or by any conditional use.
Attorney Michael H. Sahn, who is representing JCC, requested a cross motion, a legal pleading or document filed in opposition to a motion filed by a moving party, in November 2022, with the Nassau County Supreme Court.
The village announced in its fall newsletter, The Voice of the Village, that the matter was resolved by the Court of Appeals and that the summer camp was closed “for good.”
Long Island University bought the property.
Local Couples Share Their Love Stories
For Valentine’s Day, the Syosset Jericho Tribune reached out to The Bristal Assisted Living at Jericho and the Seniors of Syosset program from Mid Island Y JCC looking for some longtime lovebirds who would be willing to share their love story. Luckily, three couples were willing to share their story.
Shelley and Howard Malter, married for over 67 years, met at a movie theater in Brownsville, NY. Shelley and Howard married while Howard was still in college, and they had their first child in time for his college graduation. After college, Shelly worked in the cardiologist office of Mt. Sinai Hospital and Howard was in the footwear business. They eventually moved to Syosset where they lived for 18 years. After raising their family, they ended up buying a house in Amagansett and before they moved into The Bristal they lived in East Hampton. Their love has remained constant over the years.
Bobbie and Bob Weller, married for over 66 years, met because Bob worked as an associate for Bobbie’s dentist. They went on fun dates and got engaged at a bar mitzvah. Bobbie was a teacher in Plainedge for six months until she landed a teaching job in New York City, and she taught in Manhattan on the edge of Chinatown. She would take the subway to work every day from Brooklyn and worked in Bob’s dental office at night a couple of days a week. They had three children and seven grandchildren. Before moving to The Bristal, they lived in their home in Woodmere for 64 years.
Carolyn and Joel Seiff, married for about 66 years, met while attending high school in Brooklyn. Joel studied phys-ed in college, and became a phys-ed teacher when he graduated, until the U.S. Army called. He served on the National Guard. After the National Guard, Joel went on to join a business that produced women’s nightwear for 39 years. When he retired, boredom set in and he started looking for something to do. In 1998, he began working for a greeting card company, and 25 years later he’s still working for them.
Carolyn did theater in the evening and worked in an office. When her company moved out of state, Carolyn emailed an actor friend, which led the friend to introducing Carolyn to his manager and she made herself a new career acting in off-Broadway shows, the television show Gotham and other movies and shows. She’s also done over 75 commercials. Carolyn is a member of the Screen Actors Guild.
Frozen The Musical Comes To Jericho High School
Jericho High School was chosen by the National Educational Theater Association as one of the prestigious schools to participate in ‘The United States of Frozen – Love is an Open-door’ competition, and they performed the production of Frozen the Musical from March 9 to 12.
On June 26, Lauren A. Marchand graced the stage at Broadway’s Minskoff Theatre, winning the 2023 Jimmy Award for Best Performance by an Actress along with $25,000 towards furthering her education. She performed “Let it Go” on Good Morning America on Nov. 27.
Lunar New Year Celebration In Syosset
The Syosset Long Island Rail Road station on the morning of March 18 was the scene of a massive celebration as the first Lunar New Year Float Parade and Asian Food Festival was kicking off. The Alliance of Urban United Development and Inclusion had organized the event, and it was sponsored by ABI Health Care.
Remembering Sabrina Navaretta
Sabrina Navaretta, a graduate of Syosset High School from Woodbury, was known for her smile.
Sabrina was attending Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics at the University of Delaware. Earning a scholarship at the university, Sabrina, already licensed, had a goal of working in real estate at Homes By Mara upon graduating.
Tragically, she died in a car accident near the campus on April 28 at just 19 years old.
But even in her short 19 years, Sabrina made a huge impact on the people around her, including in her work volunteering as an advocate for kids with autism and with dog rescue groups and environmental clean-ups on local beaches.
Sabrina’s parents, John and Mara, with their children Nicolle and Andrew, established the Sabrina Navaretta Scholarship Fund to give high school graduating seniors who are in need of financial assistance the ability to achieve their goals.
Andrew Fazzolari was the first recipient of the scholarship award.
On Nov. 25, the Navaretta family held a High School Hockey Night fundraiser at the Bethpage Hockey Rink.
Roslyn Teens Die In Jericho DWI
On May 3 at 10:21 P.M. on North Broadway in Jericho, a 2019 Dodge Ram operated by a male, Amandeep Singh,34, was traveling southbound in the northbound lanes of North Broadway and collided with a 2019 Alfa Romeo 4-door sedan occupied by four male juveniles. As a result of the collision, two male juveniles, both 14, suffered fatal injuries and were pronounced at scene. They were both from Roslyn, and their names were Drew Hassenbein and Ethan Falkowitz. The two additional males, ages 16 and 17, were taken to a local hospital and admitted for internal injuries but were listed in stable condition. After the initial collision, the Dodge Ram then additionally struck a 2023 Volvo, occupied by a 49-year-old female and her 16-year-old male passenger. They were treated at scene for minor injuries and released. The driver of the 2019 Dodge Ram, defendant Amandeep Singh, 34, of Roslyn, was arrested and transported to a local hospital for minor injuries. Defendant Singh was charged with aggravated vehicular homicide, vehicular manslaughter in the first degree, manslaughter in the second degree, leaving the scene of an auto accident with a fatality, driving while intoxicated and two counts of assault in the second degree.
He has since pleaded not guilty.
Eighteen Faculty Members Retire From Jericho
At a Jericho Union Free School District Board of Education meeting on June 8, it was announced that 18 teachers are retiring.
The retiring teachers included: Gail Bodnar, Carolyn Clarke, Kathleen Crean, Domenico DiClemente, Cathy Ferris, Marcia Frank, Tracy Gilet, Barry Grossman, Mary Jo Moriarty, Jacqueline O’Neill, Debra Passafuime, Beth Pisano, Peggy Rudis, Claudia Siebenhuener, April Song, Barbara Spahn-Rudof, Kathleen Stannish and Marie Swierkowski.
Inspector General Resigns From Town Of Oyster Bay
The Town of Oyster Bay’s Inspector General Brian Noone resigned on June 20 after the Nassau County District Attorney launched an investigation into his practices.
The Syosset Jericho Tribune learned that in March, Noone had recommended a $2 million contract for services, but the Town Board did not pass it because of a suspicion that Noone had a conflict of interest. The Ethics Board investigated the matter and found that Noone did not violate town code. But the town provided information to Nassau County District Attorney prosecutors, who are conducting their own investigation into Noone.
Noone wrote in his resignation letter that he has served the town “faithfully and without conflict of self-interest.” He said he’d sooner walk away than detract from the mission of the Office of the Inspector General and have his integrity questioned.
Syosset Parents Killed In DWI Crash
On Aug. 12, according to the Nassau County Police Department, Sotirios Spanos, 32, of Syosset, was traveling eastbound on Northern Boulevard in the vicinity of Moores Hill Road in Laurel Hollow when he crossed over the yellow divider and collided with a Ferrari Convertible traveling westbound, driven by Ismenia and Odalis Urena, both 37 of Syosset. Ismenia, the passenger of the car, was pronounced dead at the scene by a Nassau County Police Medic. Odalis was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead by hospital staff. Spanos was charged with aggravated vehicular homicide, two counts of manslaughter in the second degree, two counts of assault in the second degree, driving while intoxicated and reckless driving.
Ismenia and Odalis Urena were a married couple and the parents of two young girls. Ismenia was a life coach and authored the book Al Desnudo. Odalis, CBS News reported, owned a construction company. Bagel Master in Syosset held a fundraiser to support the two children left behind in this tragedy.
The popular event SY-CON, came back in full swing on Sept. 9.
SY-CON is the Syosset Public Library’s biennial pop culture convention, featuring vendors selling art inspired by popular anime or comic book characters; food such as Ikedo Ramen and Mr. Softee; as well as activities like a meet & greet with the Star Wars Empire Saber Guild, fan fiction writing workshop, cosplay contests, table top gaming from Game Master Games and the Extreme Video Game Truck parked outside.
The event was so popular that it was hard to find parking, and inside, people of all ages were dressed in cosplay, as they took photos, shopped from the vendors and participated in the many activities.
Woodbury Church Sued
Kristian Chestnut, an attorney from Florida, filed a lawsuit in 2021 after the passing of the Child Victim’s Act, which extended the statute of limitations for a survivor of child sexual abuse in criminal and civil cases. Chestnut filed the suit against the United Methodist Church of Woodbury, the United Methodist Church and its various divisions.
Chestnut was allegedly abused by Russell Hullstrung, the son of former pastor Robert Hullstrung from 1983 to 1986, when he was about three to seven years old. His brothers Scott and Gregory Chestnut, who were also allegedly abused by Hullstrug, according to Newsday, each signed $60,000 settlements with the church in 2017.
2023 Election Results
This year’s election was intense.
On Oct. 31, Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan and Jon Kaiman, Deputy County Executive of Suffolk, who was running to be the next Town of North Hempstead Supervisor, held a press conference outside of Mid-Island Y JCC in Plainview. They stood beside a wall constructed to display missing fliers of the over 200 hostages that were kidnapped by Hamas in Israel on Oct. 7, to address campaigning materials paid for by the Nassau County Republican Committee that were described as antisemitic. Lafazan, an incumbent, ran against challenger Samantha Goetz in the 18th district. And Kaiman was challenging incumbent Jennifer DeSena. Both Lafazan and Kaiman lost the election to their opponents.
The Nassau County Republican Committee denied that the campaigning materials were antisemitic.
At a more local level, Town of Oyster Bay council candidate Ravin Chetram stated that Oyster Bay Democratic Committee campaign signs were being ripped down all over town. The Town of Oyster Bay Republican candidates, including Supervisor Joseph Saladino and council members Steven L. Labriola, Laura L. Maier and Vicki A. Walsh were re-elected.
Nassau County Legislator Arnold Drucker was re-elected.
Syosset Community Comes Together For The Holiday Lighting Spectacular
By madison kane
Despite the chilly, rainy weather on Sunday, Dec. 4, the holiday spirit shone brightly at the Syosset-Woodbury Chamber of Commerce’s 25th annual Holiday Lighting Spectacular. The event lit up hearts and smiles, proving that not even a drizzle could dampen the festive cheer. With many talented acts, the community truly ‘sleighed’ the holiday celebrations.
The night began with a beautiful performance of the National Anthem by Dylan Linde. Following that came a speech from Chamber President Russell Green, introducing the performances and opening up the beautiful ceremony. President Green reflected on the significance of the longstanding tradition and shared why the event holds such a special place in his and the community’s hearts. “I am proud that our organization was able to continue it this year despite the potential weather interruption,” Green remarked, highlighting the resilience and dedication behind this cherished event.
District 16 Legislator Arnold Drucker, was introduced and brought on stage to say a few words. “This time of year always brings out the optimism in me for hope and peace and love and kindness despite all the turmoil that’s going on in the world around us,” Drucker said.
Due to the weather, a few performances were canceled, including dances from the North Shore Performing Arts Center, the band from the iSchool of Music, comments on the season from Rabbi Jaimee Shalhevet and the Syosset VFW Post 6394. While the event had a handful of cancellations, the Holiday Lighting Spectacular has never been rescheduled for weather, and this year was not going to be the first time they did it.
“I know that all of the youth groups practice many hours and eagerly want to appear on stage and participate in the Holiday Lighting in front of the community and their families. The safety of all the performers was paramount in our choice to proceed, and I think that decision was the right one,” Green said.
Performers from the H.B Thompson Middle School Choir beautifully sang Christmas classics like “True Colors” and “Once Upon a December.” Following the choir was a performance of “Sleigh Ride” by Katie Purdy. Upon the beautifully sung song, the Children’s Orchestra Society stunned the crowd with a phenomenal presentation. Shanligh Meehan belted out “Ave Maria,” and then the iSchool Of Music and Art- Holiday Choir performed “Silver Bells” and “Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah.” To close out the amazing night, Dylan Linde, once again, captivated the crowd by singing her rendition of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” As she hit the final note, Santa made a grand entrance on a fire truck as if he heard his cue from the North Pole. The tree, standing tall in the heart of downtown Syosset, illuminated the night and reflected the joyous spirit of the season.
—Madison Kane is a student at Jericho High School