Top 17 Long Island Stories of 2017

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Clockwise from left: The Barnum & Bailey Circus held its last show at Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders are moving to Elmont, Suffolk DA Tom Spota was indicted, LI native John Phippen was killed in the nation’s deadliest shooting by a lone gunman, LI’s Bill O’Reilly was fired for sexual misconduct, and the Nassau Coliseum re-opened.

17. Long Island Press Sold, Relaunched
We’ll start with the news most local to this newsroom. In April, Schneps Communications acquired the Press from Morey Publishing. We relaunched as a monthly in September. And our publisher who led the effort, John Kominicki, sadly passed in December.

16. Russian Spy Ship Eyes LI
Reactions varied when a Russian spy ship was spotted off the coast of LI in February. Some were scared, others said it’s routine. President Trump demurred when asked what he’d do about it.

15. LI’s Fallen FDNY Firefighter
Thousands of firefighters lined the streets of Bethpage to pay tribute to FDNY veteran William Tolley, a 42-year-old married father of one who plunged to his death in April battling a fire in a five-story building in Queens.

14. First Casino Opens on LI
Despite the odds favoring NIMBYs, the Island got its first casino when Jake’s 58 debuted in Islandia in March. Of course, a lawsuit still cast a dark cloud over its future, but for now, the money keeps flowing and the slots keep rolling.

13: Nassau Coliseum Back in Action
Nearly two years after the “Old Barn” shuttered its doors, the refurbished 13,900-seat arena officially reopened to the public on April 5 in the most-Long Island way possible: with a Billy Joel concert.

12: Hempstead Town Councilman Ambrosino Arrested
The list of indicted elected officials on LI grew again in March when Hempstead Town Councilman Edward Ambrosino was arrested and charged with tax evasion in what federal authorities said was a scheme to divert legal fees to his bank account.

11. Localities Graded ‘C’ in First-ever LI Transparency Report Card
We’re not just touting our own story, we swear. This unprecedented, in-depth report on LI municipalities’ responsiveness to public record requests sparked reforms in agencies that scored poorly.

10. First Cop on Scene of Pulse Shooting from LI
Orlando Police Det. Adam Gruler, the first member of law enforcement to exchange fire with the Pulse nightclub shooter a year ago in June, is a Long Island native, the Press exclusively reported on the anniversary.

9. Circus Put Out to Pasture at Coliseum
The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus ended its 146-run with its final set of shows at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in May — a blow to the thousands of families that loved the show but a celebration for its animal-loving detractors.

8. O’Reilly Out at Fox
Bill O’Reilly, a Levittown native who lives in Manhasset, was the top-rated host on the top-rated cable news network, Fox News Channel, until he was fired in April following reports that he paid five accusers a total of $13 million in settlements related to sexual harassment allegations.

7. Nassau Legis. Solages Charged With Assault
Usually it’s public corruption lawmakers are busted for, but Nassau Legis. Carrié Solages (D-Elmont) was arrested for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend in June. Despite the charges still pending, he was re-elected in November.

6. Long Island Rail Road’s Summer of Hell
LIRR riders took buses and ferries into Manhattan amid two months of train service disruptions caused by Amtrak emergency repair work at Penn Station in what was dubbed the “Summer of Hell.”

5. War on MS-13
The ultra-violent street gang blamed for a quadruple murder in Central Islip this year, among other local slayings, prompted visits by U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions and President Donald Trump, who both vowed to crack down on MS-13.

4. LI Man Among 58 killed in LV
John Phippen, a 56-year-old Long Island native, was among 58 killed when a gunman opened fire this fall at a Las Vegas music festival, leaving more than 500 wounded before the shooter committed suicide in the deadliest mass shooting by a lone gunman in US history.

3. Islanders Skating Home
In arguably the best news that could ever happen for local hockey fans, officials announced in December that the NY Islanders won their bid to build a new arena in Elmont. It’s not a return to the coliseum, but they’re coming home to LI.

2. Suffolk DA Spota Indicted
Suffolk District Attorney Tom Spota resigned this fall after he and his top public corruption prosecutor were indicted in October on federal charges of trying to help the ex-police chief of cover up the beating of a handcuffed suspect.

1. Laura Curran Breaks Nassau’s Glass Ceiling
Women made history in the November elections when Laura Curran became the first female Nassau County Executive, Laura Gillen unseated Republican Hempstead Supervisor Anthony Santino to become that town’s first Democratic supervisor in over a century and Laura Jens-Smith was the first woman elected Riverhead town supervisor.

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