The Power of Nursing: Diana’s Story

For an audio project in one of my journalism classes, I created a podcast. It had to go along with the theme of “power.” Listen below.


Diana Siegel (Photo credit: Diana Siegel)

Diana Siegel, a 2014 graduate of Binghamton University, began her career as a nurse just eight months ago. Diana works the night shift, 7 p.m to 7 a.m., at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset. The difficulties that nurses face everyday, and the strengths that they possess to care for the sickest of the sick, are overwhelmingly under acknowledged and under appreciated. Diana shares her story as a new nurse in one of the most difficult rooms of a hospital, the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Long Island performer goes viral in France and U.S.

Originally from Times of Huntington, TBR News Media

April 10, 2015

By Julianne Cuba

Peaches Rodriguez, a break dancing pioneer, stand-up comedian and East Northport resident who broke into stardom after her role in the 1984 film, “Beat Street,” is the unlikely doppelgänger of a well-known French politician.

Comedian and dancer Peaches Rodriguez, above, is enjoying a new level of intercontinental fame, thanks to her resemblance to French politician Marine Le Pen. Photo from Peaches Rodriguez
Comic and dancer Peaches Rodriguez, above, is enjoying a new level of fame, thanks to her resemblance to French politician Marine Le Pen. Photo from Rodriguez

After a break dancing competition in Queens last month, Abdel Karim, who is a hip-hop choreographer and a friend of a friend of Rodriguez on Facebook, created a video meme of Rodriguez break dancing with the suggestion that it was actually Marine Le Pen, the popular nationalistic politician, dancing just after local elections in France.

Because of its extreme absurdity, the video went viral in France, with nearly 300,000 views on Facebook. That video, along with a second video of Rodriguez and a few other break-dancers, also went viral in the United States, with more than 100,000 hits.

“It’s always good to get exposure no matter how you get it,” Rodriguez said in a phone interview this week. “You can’t control something that goes viral. And you have to take it as it comes. It’s almost so random you just have to roll with it and enjoy it as it happens … the views are continuing to go up.”

It’s as if there was a video of a Hillary Clinton look-alike break dancing after an election, Rodriguez suggested for comparison — because that’s exactly what happened, she said.

Read the full article here. 

Brookhaven highway gets extra state funds

Originally from Village Beacon Record, TBR News Media

April 8, 2015

By Julianne Cuba

Following another devastating winter on Long Island, Brookhaven Town is receiving a little boost from the New York State Department of Transportation’s Extreme Winter Recovery fund for the year 2015-16, Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) has announced.

The Highway Department will receive more than $501,000, while last year it received more than $400,000 in recovery funds in order to improve Brookhaven’s infrastructure. Prior to 2014, the town had not received any additional funding  for road damage.

“I want to thank the Long Island delegation for working with me on securing this desperately-needed funding for Brookhaven,” Losquadro said in a press release. “The past two winters have been historically harsh and wreaked havoc on town roadways. The more funding we receive, the more roads we can pave.”

Part of Pleasant Drive in East Setauket needs to be repaired as of Tuesday. Photo by Elana Glowatz
Part of Pleasant Drive in East Setauket needs to be repaired as of Tuesday. Photo by Elana Glowatz

In a phone interview, Losquadro said he is continuing to look for other sources of revenue from all levels of government in order to offset the cost to local taxpayers, whether in grants or funding from the federal government.

Read the full article here.

Bellone focuses on Connect Long Island, water quality

Originally from Village Beacon Record, TBR News Media

March 30, 2015

By Julianne Cuba

At his fourth State of the County address, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone began by ensuring the county government and public that he has never been more optimistic about the current state of the region and its future.

At the William H. Rogers Legislative Building in Hauppauge on March 26, Bellone (D) also took time commending the county legislature for successfully and efficiently reducing government by more than 10 percent — an initiative that will save Suffolk County taxpayers more than $100 million a year. The county executive announced that when he took office three years ago, the unemployment rate for Suffolk County stood at 8.2 percent. As of the end of 2014, it stands at 4.2 percent.

However, Bellone continued, “I’m not here to talk about where we are today. I am much more interested in talking about where we are going and what the future could look like.” In order to combat what Bellone said he considers the fundamental issue of our time — a two-decade trend of losing young, qualified and educated people to other regions of the county — he pointed to the county’s economic development plan, Connect Long Island.

Read the full article here.

Long Island high school freshman educates others about Tourette’s

Originally from Times of Huntington, TBR News Media

March 19, 2015 |

By Julianne Cuba

A Northport teen will be standing on the steps of Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C., this month to speak with lawmakers about Tourette’s syndrome.

Jack Muise, 14, is a ninth-grader at Northport High School. At the age of 10, Jack was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome, a neurological disorder characterized by repetitive, stereotyped, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Sponsored through the national Tourette Syndrome Association, Jack was selected as a youth ambassador — a title that will give him the opportunity to attend a two-day training in Arlington, Va., with 39 other 13- to 17-year-olds, from March 23 to 25, to learn how to educate peers about the disorder.

Jack, who says he is very excited about the training, learned about the program through his Tourette’s syndrome support group, which generally meets once a month from September through June in Old Brookville in Nassau County.

The youth ambassador program originated from Jack’s own support group — the national group’s Long Island chapter. Jennifer Zwilling, now 24, who also has Tourette’s syndrome, started the training program in 2008.

“The goal of this exciting program is to educate children all over the country about TS, a widely misunderstood disorder,” Zwilling said in a press release. “We are following the motto ‘think globally, act locally.’ Understanding and tolerance are the program’s goals.”

Since 2008, the youth ambassador program has completed more than 1,000 activities, including presentations, interviews and training sessions and, through its combined efforts, has reached over 5.5 million people.

Following the training, all of the youth ambassadors, Jack included, will meet with their respective local representatives on the steps of Capitol Hill on March 25.

Jack will be meeting with U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), New York’s 3rd Congressional District representative, to advocate for support for the neurological disorder, he said.

“I think people don’t understand, for me personally, it’s when I say inappropriate things that I can’t control and people think I’m weird,” Jack said. “I just want to be able to explain what it is and make them aware and hopefully make them better people in general.”

After returning to Long Island, Jack, along with the three other Long Island youth ambassadors, will visit schools throughout Nassau and Suffolk County to educate children about the disorder.

Jack, who joined his support group three years ago, said that prior to joining, he never really knew or understood what the disorder was.

“Jack’s been through a lot,” Jack’s mom, Stephanie Muise said. “He’s had a lot of challenges, even just today. He’s really focused on training and how to talk to people about Tourette’s and hoping to raise awareness. He really wants people to understand him.”

Jack said that in his free time he likes to solve Rubix’s Cube and do card tricks. He also sings and is learning to play the piano.

“Over the years I’ve heard great stories about the training in D.C. and presentations the other kids have made,” Jack said in a press release. “I’m really excited that it’s my turn. It will be great to be able to share my story and educate others about a very misunderstood disorder.”

Original member of Huntington police force dies

Originally from the Times of Huntington, TBR News Media

February 18, 2015 |

East Northport man was also a firefighter and veteran

By Julianne Cuba

East Northport firefighter, veteran and retired police officer Salvatore “Sam” Macedonio Sr., a former member of what was once the Town of Huntington Police Department, died from complications with lung cancer earlier this month. He was 87.

Macedonio, survived by his wife, Elaine, and his children, Gary Macedonio, Mark J. Macedonio, Lisa M. Macedonio Olofson and Salvatore Macedonio Jr., had served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. Following his military service, Macedonio joined the Town of Huntington Police Department as a patrolman in 1954. When the department merged into the Suffolk County Police Department in 1960, Macedonio was one of its first members.

Mark Macedonio said his father was loved very much and he will be sorely missed.

“He knew everybody in the Town of Huntington and everybody knew him,” he said. “He was a very well-known fellow. From his early days growing up in Huntington until the very end, he was a very approachable, kind, person. He was a great listener and peacemaker.”

Macedonio retired from the 2nd Precinct of the Suffolk County Police Department as a senior patrolman in 1973.

Since his retirement from the police force, Macedonio had co-founded Vor-Mac Auto Collision Inc. in Greenlawn, which he co-owned with his wife for more than 20 years. During that time, he was also a volunteer firefighter at the East Northport Fire Department for more than 40 years; and he was active for more than 20 of those years.

Following in her father’s footsteps, Macedonio Olofson — along with her husband, Brian, and their two daughters, Katherine and Nicole — joined the East Northport Fire Department as volunteers.

Macedonio Olofson, an EMT and lieutenant of the rescue squad, is also a school nurse at the Norwood Avenue Elementary School in Northport.

“He always taught us to give back to the community and that’s what I’m doing,” she said. “I volunteer all my free time to give back to the community.”

As the middle child in a family of 13 children, family always came first to Macedonio, his daughter said.

Born in Locust Valley on March 11, 1927, Macedonio was forced to quit high school to work on his parent’s farm — Cedar Hill Farm in East Northport — in the midst of the Great Depression. Macedonio was able to receive his high school diploma following his military service.

Henry Johnson, an 86-year-old Huntington Station resident, had worked on the Town of Huntington Police Department the same years Macedonio did.

“I just about never worked with him, but he had a good reputation, he was a hard worker and he was a good police officer,” Johnson said.

As a patrolman, Macedonio led a very distinguished career, his daughter said; he had been issued many commendations, including for bravery, meritorious service and outstanding performance of duty, as well as two heroic life-saving events in the early 1960s, Olofson recalls.

“He was widely known to many Huntington Township residents as a result of his active life, service to the community, humility and great love of all people,” she said.

Former Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer sang Macedonio’s praises in an email statement, calling the East Northport man “a special kind of person” who was a “master of verbal judo” and could defuse volatile situations.

“He had no ego issues and brought a steadying and calm influence to his police duties,” Dormer said. “He loved the police department and when we would run into each other over the years, he would always bring up his days serving the people of Huntington Township and Suffolk County. He was so proud to be a cop.”

New group looks to acquire Mount Sinai peach farm site

Originally from Village Beacon Record, TBR News Media

March 04, 2015 |

Continuing care retirement community still in the works

By Julianne Cuba

After Amsterdam Continuing Care Health System filed for bankruptcy in July 2014, the plan for a Mount Sinai retirement community on the vacant property next to The Ranches on Route 25A came to a halt. But Wartburg, an adult day care and home health care group based in Mount Vernon, plans to finish the project.

At a March 2 Mount Sinai Civic Association meeting, Ryan Herchenroether, vice president of project development at Wartburg, announced that although there hasn’t been an official purchase of the land by his company, Wartburg is excited about the opportunity.

In the 1990s, a lawsuit settled between the Town of Brookhaven and the Mount Sinai Civic Association mandated that a portion of the Davis Peach Farm property, which now houses The Ranches, be developed as a continuing care retirement community. The civic filed the suit after the town approved a series of zone changes in the hamlet that led to housing development. The civic argued the developments — The Ranches and Hamlet Willow Creek Golf & Country Club — had too-high densities.

In the mid-2000s, Harbor Village was supposed to be built on the property, but the project was nixed in 2008 after the economy crashed.

Herchenroether said Wartburg would live within the stipulation settled.

“Anything that’s in the stipulation we want to honor,” Herchenroether said. “There may be some design modifications that we’d like to look at. Of course our first conversation if we want to modify the design would be with you folks.”

The CCRC will have a maximum of 326 total units, and a few other modifications are currently being discussed, including the potential for a tennis court, restaurants, an auditorium and opportunities for therapy, Herchenroether said.

In 2012, Amsterdam was allocated a $7 million Health Care Efficiency and Affordability Law for New Yorkers capital grant from the state to develop the site. According to Herchenroether, the state could review the grant and pass it along to Wartburg. If the department chooses to do that, he said, it would makes things a little easier.

The civic’s vice president and corresponding secretary, Brad Arrington, said the property was intended to be revenue generating.

“As a civic, one of our objectives is to maintain that consistent revenue stream as much as possible to help fund the schools,” he said.

Herchenroether said conversations about a future PILOT payment have yet to be discussed, but his group is open to them.

A member of the civic association, whose property happens to be located adjacent to the vacant land, said she would like Wartburg to consider sharing some of its facilities with the neighboring area.

Herchenroether said Wartburg is looking at 18 to 20 months for the CCRC to be completed once ground is broken. If all goes according to plan, the facility could open in 2020.

“Getting to that point is the bigger hurdle, as everybody here knows,” he said.

Financial sense pays off for Northport fifth-grader

Originally from Times of Huntington, TBR News Media

March 12, 2015 |

By Julianne Cuba

A Trinity Regional School fifth-grader is a whiz kid when it comes to trading and the financial markets.

On Feb. 25, Jack Nixon, of Northport, along with his computing teacher, Lauren LeMieux, were recognized after Jack placed third in the nation in the InvestWrite Competition, sponsored by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) Foundation and McGraw Hill Financial.

Since 1977, more than 15 million students have participated in the SIFMA Foundation’s Stock Market Game. The InvestWrite competition was launched in 2004, and it challenges students in grades four to 12 to learn and understand the stock market through real-world practices and education in the classroom.

This year, the InvestWrite competition had students write an essay to a friend and encourage the use of saving and investing money, rather than spending it. Beginning in 2013, McGraw Hill Financial has sponsored the program.

Out of about 2,500 fifth-graders, from all 50 states, Jack’s essay placed third.

After selling eggs produced by chickens in his backyard, Jack said he invested all the money he earned in a TD Ameritrade account.

Along with help from his mother, who works for a mutual funds company, and through his own personal financial experience, Jack says he was able to learn the ways of the markets.

I’m so happy for him, after I found out he won,” Jack’s mom, Diana Ferrone, said. “And then I read [his essay] and I was like ‘Wow, what he’s saying really comes from a child’s point of view but it’s so smart.’ He’s investing, and he’s not afraid of it.”

Jack said he had no idea he had won the competition until the surprise ceremony at his school on the morning of Feb. 25, featuring his mom.

“I was excited and then once I got up on the stage, she appeared for some reason and I’m like when did you get here?” Jack said of his mom. “I was completely surprised. I didn’t even know I could win that kind of level of competition.”

Jack’s computing teacher, LeMieux, said this is the first year her class participated in the competition, but after the results, she said she’ll definitely be doing it again.

“I feel this game gives them a real-world connection, with history and economics and learning how to write a great essay,” she said. “Learning to work in teams and things of that nature. They’re so excited about it. They realize how much they’re learning and having fun at the same time.”

SIFMA President Melanie Mortimer said that since the program’s inception, the country has seen increased standardized test scores, as well as an increased understanding of economics and personal finance.

“We believe that young people can and must learn personal finance as early in life as possible,” she said. “Because more and more, they are being introduced to financial decision making earlier in their lives … in education, it’s really critical for learning to be practical and fun.”

Jack, who is also a Boy Scout and a member of Huntington YMCA’s swim team, said he doesn’t want to go directly into trading as a career.

“I want to go into more hotel kind of management,” he said. “I think it’s called ‘Hotel Impossible’ — the show — I kind of liked it. I think it would be good for me.”

Miller Place alums return to stage

Originally from Village Beacon Record, TBR News Media

February 19, 2015 |

By Julianne Cuba

Nine years ago, Matthew Matura and Lauren Svoboda stood on the Miller Place High School stage together during one of Godspell’s most powerful scenes. Though nearly everything went comically wrong — according to Matura, the necklace Svoboda’s character was supposed to give to him got caught on a microphone and neither of them could get it loose — today, they stand on that same stage as directors of the school’s Drama Club.

This year, the club is putting on the musical, “Grease: School Version,” which is scheduled to open on Saturday, Feb. 28 at 8 p.m.

“We wanted to do a musical that would bring in as many people as we could possibly get, to meet the needs of each group … and just bring everyone together and get them really excited about it,” Svoboda said.

This year’s production marks Svoboda and Matura’s first production at the high school. From 1989 until last year, longtime music teacher David Kramer — who began working in Miller Place in 1975 — ran the club, and grew it into what it is today: a close-knit group of enthusiastic, motivated, and theater-loving students.

During his 39 years at Miller Place, Kramer directed everything from “Almost, Maine” to “RENT” to “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

In June 2014, Kramer retired from Miller Place and took a job at Mount Sinai High School as the director of their fall play. This spring, he is directing “Monty Python’s Spamalot.” The show will open on March 26.

Into Kramer’s legacy stepped Matura and Svoboda, as director and assistant director, respectively. On the side, Matura and Svoboda give private music lessons.

“I’m very excited that they have positions at Miller Place and I think that they’ll do a fantastic job in their roles as theater directors,” Kramer said. “They certainly have enough background from being in the program. They’re wonderful actors and passionate about theater.”

Matura graduated from Miller Place in 2006. He went on to receive his bachelor’s degree in music from Susquehanna University and his master’s degree in music from Stony Brook University.

In 2009, Svoboda graduated from the district and went on to study music at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music.

Though Matura and Svoboda overlapped in the drama program for just one year, they developed a friendship that brought them back to the stage where their theater careers began.

“It was always something that I wanted to do, no matter where it was, because of the incredible experience that I had here,” Svoboda said. “But coming back here and continuing on what I loved so much and what has had such an impact on me, it was the dream, it really was.”

The directors said they’re incredibly excited to see the show come together on opening night. As Miller Place alumni, their own pride for the show — and for all its actors and actresses — is that much greater.

“I’m excited to see the kids flourish, because going from the chorus room into the auditorium, their energy levels have spiked; and being on stage, knowing that people are actually going to be in the audience, will only make them that much better,” Matura said. “I’m just waiting to see the final product. I’m not nervous at all; these kids are great.”

Shannon Quinn, a science teacher, is also the musical’s choreographer.

Though she has been dancing since she was four years old, Quinn said, this is her first big choreographing project.

“The most exciting part of this experience has been working with students outside of the classroom doing something that I love to do,” Quinn said.

Miller Place High School’s Assistant Principal Joseph Zito said he knows the duo will put on a great show.

“It was good for us as a district to replace Mr. Kramer with two former students that knew the expectations and what was going into each performance,” Zito said. “We knew they would live up to those expectations and put in that same type of work.”

Matura said not much has changed in the club; the energy levels and enthusiasm have only grown. However, he did say the closeness of the group has definitely grown.

“We do a lot of family kind of exercises and it really has helped to get a great morale amongst the group,” he said. “They’re excited to come every single day, almost a little too much sometimes. We’re just one big, dramatic, happy family.”