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Briana Bonfiglio

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Briana Bonfiglio is the Digital Editor of Long Island Press.

LI Crisis Center Taking Calls, Educating About Mental Health For 50 Years

crisis center
Courtesy Long Island Crisis Center

For the past 50 years, the Long Island Crisis Center (LICC) has provided an invaluable resource to Long Islanders suffering mental health crises: a 24/7 suicide prevention hotline.

While it started as a single hotline in 1971, the crisis intervention center has expanded in the five decades since. The Bellmore-based organization now takes calls from seven different hotlines assisting individuals in crisis or contemplating suicide. It also has online and mobile chat services for people in crisis, which is available weeknights from 7 to 11 p.m., and a host of community programs that educate people about mental health and suicide prevention.

“Anybody can call our hotline anytime, day or night, any day of the year, and talk to a trained counselor,” says Assistant Director Katie Stoll. “Counselors are trained to listen, be nonjudgmental, and to support and empower the person on the other end of the phone to come to their own decisions.”

LICC’s volunteer counselors get six months of intensive training before taking calls. Since LICC offers a short-term crisis response service, counselors often refer people to long-term counseling, rehabilitation, group therapy, housing, or other assistance, by searching a database of hundreds of facilities available to Long Islanders in need.

Aside from immediate support, LICC combats suicide with its community mental health education and Pride for Youth division. 

In the past, LICC volunteers would teach mental health lessons at schools; however, since the coronavirus pandemic, LICC has presented all its programming via Zoom and Google Meets. There are several different lessons, including Managing Emotions, Cyberbullying, and Let’s Talk Mental Health. 

“We are prepared to present our programs virtually or in person,” Stoll says.

However, another program, Suicide Prevention in Adolescents, has been discontinued until counselors can see students in person. 

“We like to do it in person in case a student is triggered by anything we say and needs support immediately after,” Stoll says.

Since 1993, LICC’s Pride for Youth has offered resources for young members of the LGBTQ+ community, including counseling for youth and their parents, support groups, HIV testing, and community education. These programs help improve mental health for the LGBTQ+ population, which has suicide rates up to three times higher than heterosexual youth.

LICC will hold its annual fundraiser, Making Moves for Suicide Prevention, from Sept. 17-19. The virtual run, walk, and cycling event will use the racing app JustMove to log miles and raise funds for LICC’s lifesaving work. For more information, visit longislandcrisiscenter.org.

For those in need of support, the Long Island Crisis Center’s 24/7 hotline is 516-679-1111.

Where is Gabby Petito? Blue Point Woman’s Disappearance a Nationwide Mystery

gabby petito
Gabby Petito and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie. (YouTube)

Gabby Petito, a 22-year-old Blue Point native, set out on a cross-country trip with her fiance this summer, documenting the journey in what she called the start of their nomadic “van life” together — but she hasn’t been heard from since.  

She posted online about how the couple converted her 2012 white Ford transit van into their home on the road as they stopped at national parks across several Western states starting in June. That is, until her family last heard from her in late August and filed a missing person’s report with the Suffolk County Police Department on Sept. 11.

“I love the van,” she said in an eight-minute video detailing their trip that was posted to YouTube three weeks ago. The video stood in stark contrast to another that police in Utah released on Thursday of an August roadside encounter with Petito tearfully describing a dispute she had on the trip with her fiance, Brian Laundrie, who since been named a person of interest in her disappearance after he returned home on Sept. 1 to North Port, Fla. without her. 

Petito had billed herself online as a new recruit to the 140,000 Americans living in vehicles estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau, a lifestyle popularized by the 2020 film Nomadland that won an Oscar for best picture. 

But now, Laundrie has refused to speak with investigators about Petito’s whereabouts, frusterating North Port Police in Florida, who became the primary agency handling the investigation, with Suffolk police offering assistance and the FBI also joining the search.

“As a father, I can imagine the pain and suffering Gabby’s family is going through,” North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison said in a statement. “We are pleading with anyone, including Brian, to share information with us on her whereabouts in the past few weeks.”

He added that Laundrie’s withholding of information is “hindering this investigation” and that “the answers will eventually come out.”

According to Facebook, Petito attended Bayport-Blue Point High School, while police said that she most recently lived with Laundrie and his parents in North Port, Fla. In an Instagram post from July 2020, Laundrie wrote “Till death do us part or until I wake up, I’m so happy the answer was yes, Love you hunny.” 

Petito’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, of Blue Point, said her last telephone call with Petito was on Aug. 25, when it was believed that Petito was at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming with Laundrie.

Her van, adorned with bumber stickers that include a flowery silhouette of Long Island and another from Bunger surf shop in Sayville, has since been confiscated and processed for evidence by police. Petito and Laundrie documented what was meant to be just the “beginning of our van life journey” on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.

Their YouTube video shows Gabby running on a beach, eating sushi, sitting on swings with Laundrie at a park, making yogurt at a campsite, and braving rainy weather in a tent, where they said they were camping in Utah in July.

“So me and Brian just got up, got ready, made the bed in the tent, set up,” she says, talking to the camera in the video, which was posted on Aug. 19. “I think our plan for the day is to just hang out here in the tent…” The camera then pans to Laundrie who is outside the tent. “Some morning yoga,” Petito says.

Petito’s most recent social media post was on Instagram: a photo of her holding a crocheted pumpkin in front of a black, white, and orange mural. “Happy Halloween,” she wrote.

Since then, her family has not heard from her. It seems the couple had planned to keep a travel blog documenting their trip and offering travel advice. 

“Follow our van life journey for some awesome van life ideas, tips, hacks, camping spots, and so many beautiful places to travel!” reads the description of the YouTube video. In that description, they also explain that they’d decided on “living nomadically” and “wanted to downsize our lives and travel full time.”

The video also gave a tour of the back of the van — a small bed taking up most of the space, adorned with fake plants, books on a back shelf, and photos.

But the video of the hour-long Aug. 12 roadside encounter with police in Utah, in which the two were questioned separately, painted a less rosey picture, although it did not result in charges against either of them. In the footage, Petito and Laundrie described a quarrel that they said occasionally became mildly physical to Moab, Utah, police who stopped their van after receiving a complaint about a domestic disturbance.

Petito’s disappearance and Laundrie’s refusal to discuss it have developed into a nationwide mystery that police say they are working day and night to solve. At a news conference on Thursday, North Port Police Chief Todd Garrison said the Utah video was unlikely to help investigators.

“Yes, they had a disturbance, yes, it was captured on a body camera – their interaction with law enforcement  but beyond that, I don’t know what it has to do with the disappearance,” Garrison said.

Although attention has focused on Laundrie, Garrison said police are treating the disappearance as a missing person case.

“Two people went on a trip, one person returned, and that person that returned isn’t providing us any information,” he said. Investigators were sifting through a large amount of information for clues, he added.

Laundrie’s attorney, Steven Bertolino, defended his client’s silence in a statement on Wednesday, saying anything he said could be used against him, “regardless of whether my client had anything to do with Ms. Petito’s disappearance.”

Garrison and Gabby’s father, Joe Petito, appealed to anyone with information about her whereabouts to come forward. The Petito’s family attoreny, Richard Stafford, issue astatement calling on the Laundrie family to start cooperating.

“We beleive you know the location where Brian left Gabby,” the statement reads. “We beg you to tell us … All we want is Gabby to come home. Please help us make that happen.”

In the Moab video, an often upset Petito blamed their dispute in part on her obsessive compulsive disorder, while Laundrie told officers “we just had a little disagreement there.”

Petito said she had hit Laundrie in the arm, and Laundrie said he had put his hand on her face to push her away.

The encounter ended with officers telling the couple that they would be placed in separate lodging for the night.

“I want you guys to stay away from each other,” an officer tells Petito. “From what you told me, what he told me, you guys have a bunch of little things that are building and building.”

A national hotline is accepting tips for anyone to come forward with information on Petito’s location: 1-800-CALLFBI (225-5324).

-With Reuters and Timothy Bolger

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Post-Ida Disaster Recovery Centers Open in New Hyde Park, Mount Sinai

disaster recovery
People wait in line to meet with FEMA officials in Coney Island, New York, November 2, 2012. (REUTERS/Brendan McDermid)

Those seeking federal assistance to help with damages caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida can now contact or visit two disaster recovery centers (DRCs) on Long Island, Gov. Kathy Hochul and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced on Wednesday.

There is one DRC office open in Nassau and one in Suffolk. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. The locations are:

  • Michael J. Tully Park Physical Activity Center, 1801 Evergreen Ave., New Hyde Park

  • Rose Caracappa Senior Center, 739 NY-25A, Mount Sinai

“Homeowners, renters and business owners on Long Island who were victims of flooding and storm-related damages can now visit these sites in-person and access numerous resources at the state and federal level to help them recover and rebuild,” Hochul said. “I am grateful for the support of FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell and her team on the ground who continue to work with the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to get these critical Disaster Recovery Centers open and begin the recovery process for survivors.”

Residents can meet face-to-face with FEMA staffers and representatives of other federal and state agencies at these offices. Residents are encouraged to apply for FEMA assistance before visiting a DRC but may also apply at a DRC.

In addition to the Long Island locations, New York has opened the following DRCs:

  • Medgar Evers College – 231 Crown Street, Brooklyn

  • Queens College, Student Union – 152-45 Melbourne Ave, Flushing

  • Hostos Community College – 450 Grand Concourse, E. Building C, Bronx

  • Grinton I. Will Library – 1500 Central Park Ave, Yonkers

  • Mamaroneck Village Court Clerk – 169 Mount Pleasant Ave, Mamaroneck

  • College of Staten Island, Gymnasium Building R1 – 2800 Victory Blvd., Staten Island

To apply for FEMA help, visit DisasterAssistance.gov, use the FEMA mobile app, or call 800-621-3362. Operators are on duty seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Multilingual operators are available.

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4 Whiskeys Worth Knowing For The Perfect-tasting Cocktails

whiskeys
Gentleman Jack Sour

If you’re having company over and want to impress guests with your cocktail-making skills, it will be easier than you think with one of these four must-have whiskeys.

Brown-Forman, a Louisville, K.Y.-based distiller best known for its famous whiskey dating back to the late 1800s, has a portfolio of the spirit called Whiskey Worth Knowing. Each of the four whiskey brands has its own unique history, distilling process, and flavor.

The whiskeys are Jack Daniel’s Gentleman Jack, Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select, Old Forester’s 86 Proof, and Woodford Reserve’s No.1 Super-Premium Bourbon. Read on to learn which cocktails they fit best with so you can “wow” the crowd with both your delicious drinks and impressive knowledge of whiskey history.

Gentleman Jack

Jack Daniel’s emerged in the late 1800s, around the same time as Brown-Forman, in Lynchburg, Tenn. Brown-Forman acquired Jack Daniel’s in 1956, and the world-famous whiskey is still made entirely at the same location.

Over the decades, Jack Daniel’s has adapted to the changing taste buds of its consumers. In the 1980s, “people were looking for more approachable flavors,” says brand ambassador ET Tecosky. And so Gentleman Jack was born.

“If you’re a new whiskey drinker but you’re used to drinking clear spirits or wine, the Gentleman Jack is a great way to be introduced into the drink,” Tecosky says.

Gentleman Jack makes for a balanced, tasteful whiskey sour with just the right amount of whiskey, citrus, and sweet flavors — “no one flavor outshines the other,” Tecosky says.

Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select

About 10 years later, whiskey drinkers began looking for more flavor again, and Jack Daniel’s made the Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select.

This whiskey is bigger, bolder, and goes through a slightly different aging and distilling process. Because it’s a single barrel, barrels are not mixed as they normally are for blending, meaning that each one will be a little bit different. Jack Daniel’s also places these barrels at the top of the barrel house to age, meaning more heat and expansion in the wood, and more depth of flavor. 

As such, Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select is best appreciated on its own — neat or on the rocks — since every barrel is unique.

Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Neat

Old Forester 86 Proof

Old Forester is Brown-Forman’s flagship whiskey maker. Its founder, George Garvin Brown, was the first to ever sell bourbon in a bottle. He also began mixing barrels for a blended flavor at a time when other Kentucky distillers only made single barrels.

“He had this big idea that would revolutionize the bourbon industry and change the way this spirit was sold,” says James Joseph, Old Forester’s brand ambassador.

During World War II, many whiskey distillers stopped production, and therefore, consumers’ palettes softened. So Old Forester launched Old Forester 86 Proof, a whiskey that has now stood the test of time, Joseph says.

Old Forester 86 Proof mixes perfectly for an old-fashioned. In fact, it is rumored that the very first old-fashioned was made at a saloon down the block from Old Forester’s distillery in Louisville.

Woodford Reserve Bourbon

Now this is an impressive whiskey; it has an exact balance of each flavor found in the spirit — fruity/floral, sweet aromatic, spice, grain, and oak/woodgrain. 

Woodford Reserve, which opened in Woodford County, K.Y. in 1996, manufactures its own barrels and therefore has greater control over the taste of its whiskeys. “We’re able to make that wood and get flavors other distillers can’t get,” says Elizabeth McCall, assistant master distiller.

The No. 1 super-premium bourbon has a high rye content, making it perfect for one classical cocktail: the Manhattan. Just mix the whiskey, vermouth, and bitters, and enjoy. Yet since Woodford Reserve Bourbon is so versatile, this bourbon can really make any great drink even greater.

“It’s a bartender’s swiss army knife,” says McCall. “It works across all areas, and we did that on purpose. If you have a Woodford Reserve on hand, you can make whatever a guest requests.”

Woodford Reserve Manhattan

For more food and drink coverage, visit longislandpress.com/category/food-drink.

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Northwell Nurses Choir Headed to Finals of America’s Got Talent

northwell nurses choir
Northwell Health Nurse Choir on America's Got Talent "Semi Finals 2" (Photo by Trae Patton/NBC)

The Northwell Health Nurses Choir is one of 10 acts going through to the final round of NBC’s America’s Got Talent (AGT) next week.

The 18 singers are all nurses in the Northwell Health system, including several on Long Island. Though they work at many different hospitals on the Island and New York City, they came together to sing in 2020 to support their fellow nurses during the pandemic, forming a special bond that brought them to the AGT stage in California.

“I don’t think any of us thought we’d get this far,” Winnie Mele, a choir member and director of perioptical services at Plainview Hospital, told the Press. “We’ve already won because we got our message out — that we are nurses and no matter what is going on in this world, we will always be here for you and your families. Everything else now is icing [on the cake].”

Northwell Health Nurse Choir on America’s Got Talent “Semi Finals 2” (Photo by Trae Patton/NBC)

Mele said she and the other nurse-singers were running on high energy Thursday morning after the results show Wednesday night revealed they would be participating in the finals. Rehearsal was about to start, and they were preparing their final song, which like their previous songs would convey the theme of lifting each other up through adversity. 

The close-knit choir shares plenty of solemn moments together, recalling the height of the pandemic when they worked long hours, watched Covid patients die without loved ones by their side, and shifted roles to keep up with the influx of patients, for example.

“Every time we sing, all of that comes back,” Mele says. “We have these team meetings where we talk about where we’re at [mentally and emotionally]. We tell our stories and talk about the different things we did and different things we saw. There are a lot of tears but I think it’s very healthy.”

Mele noted that the choir members have been traveling back and forth from California to New York to compete on AGT and have received strong support from Northwell. “They have been behind us in everything,” she says. “We’re extremely grateful.”

The Northwell Health Nurses Choir will perform live on the AGT finale on Sept. 14, 8 p.m. EST on NBC. The results show is live the next evening.

For more entertainment coverage, visit longislandpress.com/category/entertainment

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Suffolk IT Supervisor Arrested for Allegedly Mining Bitcoin at County Offices

bitcoin
Getty Images

A Suffolk County information technology supervisor has been arrested for allegedly mining Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies from county offices, costing Suffolk thousands of dollars in electric bills, Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini announced on Wednesday.

Christopher Naples, 42, of Mattituck, was charged with public corruption, third-degree grand larceny, computer trespass, and official misconduct. Naples has been employed by Suffolk County since 2000, and he is currently the assistant manager of information technology operations for the Suffolk County Clerk’s Office.

“Mining cryptocurrency requires an enormous amount of resources, and miners have to navigate how to cover all of those electricity and cooling costs,” Sini said. “This defendant found a way to do it; unfortunately, it was on the backs of taxpayers. We will not allow county employees, who are already on the public’s payroll, to steal taxpayer money or illegally use government resources for their own personal gain.”

The district attorney’s public integrity bureau investigation revealed that Naples has allegedly been using county electricity and internet access to run a mining operation for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies out of the County Center in Riverhead at least since February 2021.

Investigators executed search warrants at the County Center on Aug. 19, resulting in the seizure of 46 cryptocurrency mining devices. The devices were found hidden in six rooms throughout the building in various spaces, including underneath removable floorboards, on top of or inside server racks, and inside an unused electrical wall panel.

“One of these rooms housed critically important computer servers, secure data storage systems, and communications equipment for the entire county government, and when investigators entered the room, an alarm was going off that indicated the temperature was too high,” Sini said. “Within hours of the devices being shut down, the temperature in the room dropped 20 degrees. 

“So not only was this operation being paid for with thousands of dollars of taxpayer money, but it also put the county’s infrastructure at risk,” Sini continued. “The defendant also had to bypass the county’s internet security protocols in order to get these devices online, which could have potentially jeopardized the security of the county’s network.”

Investigators also determined that at least 10 running machines cost the county more than $6,000, according to an audit of the building’s energy bills; however, the investigation into the associated costs of additional devices is ongoing. The devices are each estimated to cost $4,200 per month in electricity, the district attorney’s office said.

Naples was arraigned on Wednesday in Southampton Town Justice Court before Justice Barbara Wilson and was released. He is being represented by Attorney William Keahon and is due back in court on Sept. 16.

Naples faces a maximum sentence of five to 15 years in prison if convicted of the top count.

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Recovery Underway After Ida Floods Parts of Long Island

ida
Gov. Kathy Hochul holds news conference in Great Neck. (Courtesy Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul)

Damage assessment and recovery are underway on Long Island after Tropical Depression Ida, the overnight storm that produced record inches of rainfall in parts of the North Shore on Wednesday night into early Thursday morning.

About three inches of rain fell in a one-hour timeframe — and five inches total — on the North Shore, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said during a Thursday morning news conference. The North Shore saw the most rain and flooding, while the South Shore saw significantly less, local officials said.

“That is the most amount of rain in one hour since records have been kept,” she said. “We have many residents now dealing with the aftermath.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul visited the Village of Great Neck early Thursday afternoon while Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) crews worked to get the Long Island Rail Road’s Port Washington line running again. Both the Port Washington and Oyster Bay LIRR lines were impacted by the flooding but were expected to be operating again by Thursday afternoon.

“There was an unbelievable amount of rainfall in an incredibly short amount of time,” Hochul said. “It was literally Niagara Falls here — that’s what the staircase looked like here.”

Hochul sought to assure hard-hit communities, including business owners and homeowners whose properties flooded, that President Joe Biden would commit emergency federal funds to help with the damage. She signed a request for a federal emergency declaration for 14 counties, including Nassau and Suffolk, for damage from the remnants of Ida, which several days earlier hit the Gulf Coast as a hurricane.

Overnight, first responders rescued people and recovered vehicles from waters in both Nassau and Suffolk counties. Curran said that the county’s emergency service units recovered 20 cars, responded to 25 roadway accidents, and rescued one resident from a vehicle in Sea Cliff and another from a home in Great Neck. Other municipalities had rescue crews working overnight, as well.

Power was out for thousands of customers during the storm, but was quickly restored for most by Thursday afternoon, local officials reported.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone also reported that 12 residents needed to be evacuated from their homes, were safely taken to Huntington Fire Department, and later, brought to a hotel for shelter during the storm.

“We took a number of calls that overflowed from Nassau County and calls from the city, which is extraordinarily rare. I’ve never seen that, where we were taking 911 calls from NYC residents,” Bellone said. “It speaks to the devastation of this storm and how quickly it came in and how it surprised people. 

“Fortunately we did not receive the brunt of this storm but this really was a devastating storm in many ways that people were not prepared for and did not expect,” he said. “We are still assessing the property damage.”

In Brooklyn and Queens, 13 people have been confirmed dead from flooding as a result of Ida.

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Fall Festivals on Long Island 2021

fall festivals
Getty Images

Autumn is rapidly approaching, and that means it’s time for fall festivals.

Whether you go all in and participate in an apple pie-baking contest, or simply walk around, feeling the crunch of leaves under your feet and the cool breeze on your cheeks, these large events will put you right in the autumn spirit.

So let the fall fun begin — here are 13 festivals in September and October on Long Island.

LONG ISLAND FAIR AT OLD BETHPAGE RESTORATION

The Long Island Fair has celebrated the region’s agriculture for 179 years by exhibiting local produce and livestock and holding exhibitor competitions. This long-standing tradition also offers fun for the whole family. Old Bethpage Village Restoration, 1303 Round Swamp Rd., Old Bethpage. $10-$20. lifair.org 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 3-5.

FINK’S FARM FALL FESTIVAL

Watch out for this festival’s corn cannon and pumpkin slingshot. The farm is getting creative with loads of attractions, including character appearances, a human hamster wheel, live music, animals, pony rides, and pumpkin picking. Fink’s Country Farm, 6242 Middle Country Rd., Wading River. Price TBD. finksfarm.com 10 a.m. weekends Sept. 11-Oct. 31.

FIDDLE AND FOLK FESTIVAL

How about a day of live music at Benner’s Farm? Dozens of musicians will perform on various outdoor stages at this 9th annual festival. There will also be kids’ play areas at the event. Benner’s Farm, 56 Gnarled Hollow Rd., East Setauket. Advance tickets $10-$22. fiddleandfolk.com Noon-8 p.m. Sept. 12.

EAST END MARITIME FESTIVAL

This seaside affair offers a weekend packed with activities, including a Saturday morning parade, sailing tours, kayaking races, a treasure chest game and story time for kids, snapper and chowder contests, music and dancing, a beer cruise, and more at various locations along the Greenport waterfront. Front Street, between 3rd and Main Street, Greenport. eastendseaport.org 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 18-19.

THE DEES’ ANNUAL FALL FESTIVAL

Dees’ Nursery & Florist will have farm animals, pony rides, a spooky walk, pumpkin picking and painting, and more. Dee’s Nursery, 69 Atlantic Ave., Oceanside. $8.99 per person up to 6 people, then $1 per person. deesnursery.com 11 a.m.-5 p.m. weekends Sept. 18-Oct. 30.

WHITE POST FARMS FALL FESTIVAL

Enjoy admission to White Post Farms, plus pumpkin picking and painting, dog shows, puppet shows, magic shows, sing-a-long hayrides, petting zoos, and more. White Post Farms, 250 Old Country Rd., Melville. $32.95 per person. whitepostfarms.com 10 a.m.-6 p.m. weekends Sept. 18-Oct. 3 & 9 a.m.-6 p.m. weekends Oct. 9-24. Gates close at 4 p.m.

LONGWOOD FAIR AND APPLE PIE CONTEST

Head to the Longwood Estate for historical reenactments and demonstrations, kids’ activities, craft vendors, house tours, and more. In addition, Preservation Long Island will host its apple pie-baking contest at the fair. Longwood Estate, Longwood Road and Smith Rd., Ridge. $5 per person. brookhavenny.gov and preservationlongisland.org/apple-pie-contest 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 25-26.

Getty Images

TOWN OF BABYLON FALL FESTIVAL

The Town of Babylon’s annual fall festival will have a pumpkin patch, inflatable rides, a hay ride, and more. Phelps Lane Park, 151 Phelps Lane, North Babylon. Free to all residents. townofbabylon.com Noon-3 p.m. Oct. 2.

LONG ISLAND FALL FESTIVAL

A world-class carnival with three stages of live entertainment, 300 vendors, and a beer and wine pavilion graces Huntington. Heckscher Park, NY-25A & Prime Ave., Huntington. Free admission. biz.huntingtonchamber.com 5-10 p.m. Oct. 8, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Oct. 9-10 & 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 11.

RIVERHEAD COUNTRY FAIR

Enjoy live music, craft vendors, and more at the Riverhead Country Fair. Free admission. See website for driving directions and exact location: riverheadcountryfair.com 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 10.

BABYLON VILLAGE HARVEST FEST

The Babylon Village Chamber of Commerce hosts fun fall activities throughout the village. Visit the website for more information: babylonchamber.com Oct. 16-17.

MORICHES CHAMBER FALL FAIR

This street fair will feature food, vendors, competitions, prizes, and more. Main Street, Center Moriches. Free to attend. moricheschamber.org 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 17.

FRIENDS OF ROCK HALL COUNTRY FAIR

Join the Rock Hall Museum and Town of Hempstead for their 35th Annual Country Fair. There will be live entertainment, colonial historians, a pumpkin patch, make-your-own-scarecrow crafts, craft and food vendors, an animal farm, pony rides, and more. The museum will be open to visitors. Free to attend. All proceeds benefit Friends of the Rock Hall Museum. 199 Broadway, Lawrence. friendsofrockhall.org 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 23-24.

For more guides about things to do on Long Island, visit longislandpress.com/category/everything-long-island.

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Port Washington Parents Launch Effort to Find Cure for Rare Brain Disorder

rare brain disorder
Eli Reich. (Photo courtesy Believe in a Cure)

Two-year-old Eli Reich was born with FOXG1 syndrome, an extremely rare and debilitating brain disorder that causes severe cognitive impairment and high risk for dangerous seizures. But his parents, Ilissa and Scott Reich, of Port Washington, did not take the gut-wrenching news lying down. Instead, they’re fighting to find a cure for the currently incurable condition.

On Eli’s second birthday in April, the family announced the launch of their nonprofit organization, Believe in a Cure, which helps fund important scientific research toward finding a cure for FOXG1 syndrome.

“The worst news that we received is that there’s no treatment for FOXG1 Syndrome,” Scott says. “No clinical trials, very minimal research. ‘No hope’ was what we were told.”

Doctors project Eli will not be able to walk, talk, or feed himself, among other things. He is one of only about 700 children to be diagnosed with FOXG1 syndrome worldwide. 

The FOXG1 gene creates proteins that are vital for many basic human functions. For people with FOXG1 syndrome, the gene does not produce enough protein, resulting in symptoms such as visual impairment, uncontrolled movements, sleep disorder, seizures, extreme and unprovoked irritability, acid reflux, excruciating constipation, and more. Eli therefore has more than 20 appointments per week, such as physical, occupational, feeding, visual, and other therapies, not including doctors’ appointments, the family says.

Believe in a Cure is fundraising for research across the globe and is already partnering on projects with several research institutions, including Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Broad Institute. According to Scott, the findings of the research would not only benefit those who share Eli’s rare condition, but also people with Alzheimer’s disease, autism, schizophrenia, and other conditions because they also have links to the FOXG1 gene.

“This is something that can truly help so many people around the world and help pave the next generation of science for those who come after us,” Scott says.

For more information, visit webelieveinacure.org.

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Vaccination Efforts Continue on LI Amid Rise of Delta Variant

delta variant
Arlene Ramirez, RN, director, patient care, ED, Long Island Jewish Valley Stream, receives the Moderna coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at Northwell Health's Long Island Jewish Valley Stream hospital. ( REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)

Nassau and Suffolk are among the counties with the highest Covid-19 vaccination rates in New York, but with the Delta variant spreading, Long Island’s vaccination efforts are not over yet.

Over the weekend, Suffolk County hit 80 percent of adults who have received at least one dose of the vaccine. And almost two weeks ago, Nassau County surpassed 85 percent of residents 18 and older who have received at least one shot.

“The science is clear,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said in a statement. “The Covid-19 vaccine saves lives and is the best tool we have to end this pandemic once and for all.”

“Nassau County has led the way in vaccinations since day one,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said in her statement. “If you haven’t rolled up your sleeve yet, now is the time.”

Though vaccine rates are rising, so are Covid infection rates due to the prevalence of the highly transmissible Delta variant. As of Aug. 29, Long Island’s infection rate was 4.35 percent on a 7-day average, up from 2.3 percent a month earlier on July 29 and .4 percent a month before that on June 29, according to New York State data.

In response, elected officials and health leaders have been continuing efforts to get as many residents vaccinated as possible. On Long Island, eight people died of Covid — four in Nassau and four in Suffolk — on Saturday alone, out of 27 total New Yorkers who died of the virus that day. While it is still possible to contract the virus when vaccinated, the Covid-19 vaccine prevents serious illness or death from Covid.

“As the Delta variant makes its way through communities across the country, it’s crucial we keep doing everything we can to keep each other safe from the Covid virus,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement. “Wear a mask and, if you haven’t already, get your vaccine as soon as you can. The vaccine is the best way to protect yourselves and your loved ones.”

In Suffolk, Bellone encouraged residents 12 and older who have not yet been vaccinated to stop by the H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge on Thursday, Sept. 2 from 9 a.m. to noon to get their shots.

In Nassau, Town of Hempstead and Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital have partnered to bring a mobile vaccination unit to various locations. This week, the “vaxmobile” will be in Wantagh, Uniondale, and Bethpage. The county has partnered with businesses to get workers vaccinated, as well as schools to vaccinate students returning to the classroom. Vaccines are widely available at pharmacies, medical offices, and remaining state vaccination sites, as well.

For more coronavirus coverage, visit longislandpress.com/coronavirus.

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