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The Year in Review: 2010

Continuing with tradition, here are the Syosset-Jericho Tribune’s top stories of 2010, as selected by the editor. They are listed here in no particular order. Due to space constraints, not all information can be included in this list. We encourage residents to write or e-mail in their top stories of the year. E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or send comments to the Syosset-Jericho Tribune at 132 East Second Street, Mineola, NY 11501.
Nassau, MTA Battle Over Bus Service
Cuts in bus service were a big topic in Nassau this year. First, in June, the MTA made service cuts to Able Ride, a program that provides bus service to the disabled. A few months later, the MTA threatened to discontinue Long Island Bus service entirely, leaving the county in the position of negotiating with the MTA or privatizing the system. It is still unclear at this time what steps, if any, the county will take to maintain bus service for residents.
With the MTA payroll tax also a very popular target of criticism locally during the past election season this fall, it appears that the MTA and Long Island officials have been increasingly at odds; residents who depend on the buses to get to work, school and play can only hope for a thaw in the icy relations between the two in 2011.

Mangano Ends County Guarantee
County Executive Edward P. Mangano’s 2011 budget included many controversial items, including a new sewer fee for tax-exempt entities. However, the item that really concerned many Nassau residents was the removal of Nassau’s “guarantee” on tax certioraris, or the refunds given back to taxpayers after they win a grievance determining that their property was assessed incorrectly. While the Mangano administration contends that the county guarantee was bankrupting Nassau, and is no longer feasible given the county’s precarious financial shape, critics see the issue differently.
While many school board trustees and personnel throughout Nassau County contend that giving schools the assessment responsibility is unfair, given that schools are not responsible for property assessments, Mangano’s administration has claimed that school budgets have plenty of fat that can be trimmed. It remains to be seen how the eradication of the county guarantee will affect school budgets going forward.
Jackson Avenue Continues Down Long Road to Recovery
Things looked bleak for the bumpy and accident-prone Jackson Avenue earlier this year when, after nine months of planning, federal authorities refused to offer stimulus funds to Nassau County for the long-awaited road improvement project. However, rather than leave the project in political limbo, the county and the Town of Oyster Bay teamed up to get the job done- largely thanks to the efforts of Legislator Judy Jacobs, who initiated the process by going to Town Supervisor John Venditto in the hopes of cooperating to find a solution. County Executive Ed Mangano and Congressman Steve Israel were also instrumental in finding the funds to fix the troubled stretch of road.
In short, the town opted to step in to fill the void left by revoked stimulus money, and split the cost of the project with the county. However, while local residents applauded seeing different levels of government work together for the greater good, the improvements-once estimated to be completed well before the end of 2010- have yet to happen.
Once the town took responsibility for the road, town officials decided to have it built to town standards, which are based on lower traffic estimates and therefore require less asphalt. While the call for less asphalt will likely result in the project being significantly cheaper than the $6 million that was originally estimated, drawing up the new plans took time. Now, with the plans done and the project out for bidding, residents are cautiously optimistic to see the improvements completed in early 2011.
Everyone’s Favorite Open Space Story (Cerro Wire)
Not much went on in the epic battle between developer the Taubman Company and local residents over whether or not to turn the former Cerro Wire site in Syosset into a mall for most of 2010, however, things started to heat up toward the end of the year.
After the State Court of Appeals made a final “no mall here” decision in the summer of 2009, Taubman was put in the position of either abandoning the project, or starting the application process over from the beginning with a new proposal, which would require the completion of new environmental studies. While Taubman representatives had been quiet throughout the year, recent statements by Mitchell Pally of Weber Law Group (which represents Taubman) to the Nassau County Planning Commission in November made it seem as though Taubman is indeed gearing up for the next round.
Local civic groups, including the Cerro Wire Coalition (which has proposed its own “smart growth” plan for the site) have stated that they are prepared to keep fighting the mall as long as Taubman continues to push for it, meaning that 2011 will likely be an eventful year as far as the former wire factory site is concerned. As has been the case for over a decade, the story is still developing.
Landscaping Truck Drag-Races, Kills Jericho Resident
A fatal auto accident on Jericho Turnpike at Eileen Way in Syosset on Sunday, Nov. 28 left Myron Jacobs of Jericho dead and his wife, Lucille Jacobs, in critical condition. While there were unfortunately many car accidents over the course of the year, this particular accident made headlines due to the fact that the driver, Evarardo Nieto of the Bronx, was not only found to be inebriated, but a witness said he had been seen drag-racing another vehicle in a landscaping truck.
TOB Opens New Turf Field for  Young Athletes

While technically located in Syosset, the turf field that opened this fall at 300 Robbins Lane is primarily meant for Jericho children, who had lacked their own facilities for a long time. Young athletes, from very small children to varsity soccer players, flocked to the Sept. 25 dedication, along with representatives from the Jericho Athletic Association (JAA), Birchwood Civic Association (BCA), and the entire Jericho High School Marching Band.
During his speech, Town Supervisor John Venditto said that the new park sent a message about what the community wants for Jericho and the Town of Oyster Bay, and that the park is the best example of what can happen when residents care about the community. “This park is evidence that you can’t find a nicer place to live or raise a family,” Venditto said.
Venditto’s talk of sending a message was not only symbolic; the field, and the large amount of children who now play on it, will have to be taken into account in environmental studies for any future major construction projects in the area, such as any development on the old Cerro Wire site (see above), which is just down the road from the field on Robbins Lane.

Syosset High School Principal Retires

As per usual, Syosset High School had a very successful year in 2010, complete with the usual slate of academic, athletic and artistic honors for students and faculty alike. However, it was somewhat bittersweet as well, since it marked the end of Jorge E. Schneider’s 22-year tenure as principal of Syosset High School.
Currently, Dr. Giovanni Durante is acting principal of the school.

Jericho High School Celebrates 50th Commencement

On Sunday, June 27, the Jericho High School Class of 2010 and their families came together in celebration of the school’s 50th annual commencement. In addition to marking a significant milestone, this particular graduation featured an address from a record-breaking seven valedictorians:
Rohitvarma Basavaraju, Mubarrat Nuvid Bhuiyan, Jeremy Feinstein, Pragya Kakani, Yvette Leung, Brandon Li and April Xiong. The co-valedictorians performed a skit together at the event entitled “2010: A Jericho Odyssey.”

Parents Seek to Have Sex Offenders Kept Further Away From Jericho Schools

A hot topic at Jericho Board of Education Meetings this year was the prospect of several sex offenders living in Jericho motels near Cantiague Elementary School, and the efforts of parents, as well as the East and West Birchwood Civic Associations, to keep them away from their children. While the law states that sex offenders must live at least 1,000 feet away from schools, Cantiague Elementary is 1,400 feet away from one of the motels, and a neighborhood park where children from the school play is only 500 feet away, according to concerned parents.
On Nov. 15, a meeting was held between residents and a representative of Minority Leader Diane Yatauro on this issue. Yatauro has filed several amendments concerning local sex offenders in order to alleviate these residents’ concerns, however they have not been incorporated into the existing laws yet.

Jericho, Syosset High Schools Both Place on Annual Newsweek List

On Newsweek’s annual “America’s Best High Schools” list, Jericho High School came in #32 in the nation, as well as second in the state, while Syosset High School came in over a hundred ranks behind at #142. Newsweek’s list takes the total number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or Cambridge (AICE) tests given at a school each year and divides that by the number of seniors graduating in May or June.
Despite the gap in their rankings, administrators from both schools shared many of the same concerns about the ultimate value of the list, and the logical soundness of judging a high school by any one criterion.
According to Newsweek, only the top six percent of high schools in the nation make the list every year.

A Changing of the Guard at Syosset Library

This year also saw the retirement of Syosset Library Director Judith Lockman, who had been a part of the library since 2001. From the approval of funds for the new building in 2003 to the opening of the new library in January, 2007, Lockman oversaw the major library reconstruction project that resulted in the new-and-improved facility; it is partially thanks to her that the library now has a theater, a café and plenty of delicious coffee available.
Former assistant director Karen Liebman took over as director on Aug. 1.
There were other changes at Syosset; the library held its first-ever Adult Summer Reading Program this year.

Community Church of Syosset Celebrates 150th Anniversary

In the summer of 1860, five Syosset residents met and agreed to establish Syosset’s first church, originally called the Free Church. In 2010, the church began a year-long celebration of its 150th anniversary.
The Sesquicentennial Celebration began on Saturday, Sept. 18 with the kick-off event: an 1860 country fair. Later in the year, they celebrated the anniversary of the original building, and held an organ concert of Civil War period music.
The celebration continues into 2011, with several events planned for spring. The final event will be a banquet, open to all, at the Fox Hollow Restaurant on June 30, the 150th anniversary of the formal dedication of the original church building.

Paul Gordon Remembered

While all those in the community that we have lost in 2010 will be deeply missed, the sudden death of Paul Gordon in a September car accident made headlines in 2010 due to how well the former Syosset High School physics teacher (and C.W. Post Science Education teacher) was known throughout the community. A group of 800 people, made up of individuals from all spheres of the greater Syosset-Jericho community, attended Gordon’s funeral at Gutterman’s Funeral Home.
Gordon is survived by his wife Fran; his brother Alan, a retired teacher in East Meadow; his sister Susan, a practicing attorney in Manhattan, and of course, thousands of students who took far more than just the laws of physics away from his classes. He was 65.

Jericho Jayhawks Achieve Undefeated Season

Some of the biggest sports news in town concerned the Jericho JV Football team, the Jayhawks, who dominated the competition this fall with an undefeated season: the defense allowed an average of only 18 points per game, and the offense averaged approximately 31 points per game.
This achievement would have been impressive at any time, but considering the fact that it was uncertain earlier this year whether there would in fact be a JV football team to compete this season, the team’s stellar performance is especially notable. Jericho football fans have good reason to be excited for next year.

Syosset Girls Tennis Team Wins LI Championship

The Syosset Girls Varsity Tennis Team defeated Half Hollow Hills West at Smithtown East High School by a score of 6-1 to clinch their second consecutive Long Island Championship. The varsity team defeated Half Hollow Hills West by the same score, 6-1, in 2009 for the Long Island Championship. The Syosset team also defeated Garden City High School, 5-2 to win the Nassau County Team Championship.
The championship team had a record of 11-1 during the regular season with its only loss to Garden City by a score of 4-3. The girls will aim to win their third straight Long Island Championship in 2011.

Local Runners Score at GLIRC Events

Plenty of local runners posted good times at many Greater Long Island Running Club (GLIRC) events last year. However, few placed in the top three in their age group as often as Bert Jablon of Syosset, who was recently honored as the club’s Champion in the 80-84 age group. Jablon has won one of the annual GLIRC Age Group Awards for the past eleven years in a row.
Other local runners who placed well in many GLIRC runs over the course of the year were Pamela Lee, Kim Solomine and Linna Tang of Syosset, and Amanda Wolfer of Woodbury.

Sweets Come to  Syosset-Jericho

It was a great year for anyone with a sweet tooth, since two shops catering to the sweeter side of life opened in the area during 2010. Taste, a custom cake shop run by Old Brookville native and pastry chef Corina Elgart, now famous for her appearance on the show Cake Boss: Next Great Baker on TLC, opened in downtown Syosset in July. The shop offers custom cakes as well as cupcakes and cake-pops for customers who just want a taste.
In the fall, a new branch of the Manhattan-based frozen yogurt chain 16 Handles opened its doors on Jericho Turnpike, right near Kohls and Home Depot in Jericho. The shop offers a make-it-yourself frozen yogurt bar, with a wide variety of flavors and toppings.
If your definition of “sweets” includes a good bottle of wine, the area was fortunate enough to receive new venues in that arena as well: both Woodbury Wine Cellar in Woodbury and Fine Wines and Spirits in Syosset opened their doors in 2010.