At Northrop, first come wounded vets, then jobs
Talk about postwar job creation . . .
While on patrol with his Army unit in Afghanistan, Jonathan Clay was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, leaving him with serious head injuries and a broken back.
Deborah DeCicco served in Iraq during the first Persian Gulf war, breathing in the toxic fumes from oil wells Iraqi troops set on fire. DeCicco later developed breast cancer, which she said is attributable to the fumes.
All three had trouble finding civilian jobs in the current economy but are now employed at Northrop Grumman Corp. in Bethpage under a unique program - Operation Impact - that first seeks out injured vets and then finds them jobs at the company.
"It's a reverse process," said Northrop Grumman human resources manager Ada Palatnik. "We find the people and then we create the jobs."
Clay, 29, of Plainview, DeCicco, 47, of Oceanside, and Fleming, 25, of Massapequa, all work in technical or managerial jobs on a company project to build an unmanned Navy spy plane. In all, Northrop has hired 52 injured vets at its facilities around the country in the last few years.
Northrop Grumman spokesman Tom Henson said the program is just beginning. "We're just ramping up," Henson said.
Test driving a hydrogen car
When Bari Wien is asked at Dartmouth College this fall what she did during her summer vacation, the 21-year-old from Woodmere can say she drove a car, but not just any car.
She was one of a dozen people in the state -- and the only one on Long Island -- to participate in a recent General Motors program driving a Chevrolet Equinox hydrogen car, which uses fuel cells to make electricity from oxygen in the air and hydrogen stored onboard. Wien was working at an Island Park-based solar energy company, EmPower, when she heard about the GM program and signed up.
Wien got the Equinox for two weeks. GM began the program in 2007.
"It was a pretty smooth ride," said Wien, an environmental science student. The only problem, she said, was having to drive to a refueling station, and the only one in the immediate area is at Kennedy Airport.
The car's range between refueling is 180 to 200 miles. Wien, who decided early on to go into environmental science, is "kind of" optimistic the United States has a green future. But it depends, she said, how much energy she and her generation put into going green.
Sweatin' to the '80s
Remember the '80s - U2, Bon Jovi, movies such as "Back to the Future" and TV commercials like Wendy's "Where's the Beef?"
Eric Casaburi remembers all of that, with relish!
Casaburi, who describes himself as a "serial entrepreneur," plans to open at least three gyms on Long Island - called RetroFitness - with 1980s themes. Casaburi, a 35-year-old college dropout, has opened more than 50 such gyms, mostly on the East Coast, in the past few years. Virtually all are franchised out.
"I was a child of the '80s," Casaburi said the other day. "I was so enamored of it. It was such a great time of my life."
Not all of us liked Pac-Man, or competitive hair teasing or "Knight Rider." But for those who did, RetroFitness gyms will offer black-and-white-checkered floors, movies like "Home Alone" in a theater-style workout room, and of course, Bon Jovi. Casaburi plans to open 12,000- to 15,000-square-foot gyms in Deer Park, Farmingdale and Dix Hills, all by the end of this year.
There are loads of gyms on Long Island already, but Casa-buri said he likes the competition, and he warns other gyms to watch out: "We are like the Target to the retail world," he said.