Superstorm Sandy a theme in local induction ceremonies

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The resilience and strength of heroes and victims of superstorm Sandy was a central theme during induction ceremonies Thursday for elected officials in Hempstead and Babylon towns.

"Hurricane Sandy was one of the saddest moments in our township's history for so many families, but at the same time, neighbors cared for one another like family, and helping hands and a loving embrace were in constant supply," said Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray, who was sworn in to her sixth term in office in front of more than 300 people at Hempstead Town Hall.

Senior Councilman Anthony J. Santino, Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, Councilman Gary Hudes and Town Clerk Nasrin Ahmad were also inducted during the ceremony.

Ahmad, a Republican, became the first South Asian elected to public office in the town by winning the clerk race in November. Ahmad was picked to run for the post after former clerk Mark Bonilla was convicted in July of official misconduct. Ahmad had been an administrative supervisor in the clerk's office for 15 years.

"Only in this country could this happen," said Ahmad, of Salisbury, a Muslim who was born in Uganda to parents who had left what is now Pakistan. "Ladies and gentlemen, the American dream is alive and well."

During the ceremony, Murray presented a distinguished service pin to Island Park Fire Department Chief Anthony D'Esposito, who led his crew of volunteers to rescue neighbors in their Sandy-slammed community. The event also featured a musical performance by "American Idol" semi-finalist and Merrick resident Robbie Rosen, who sang "God Bless the USA."

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Murray also unveiled the Malone-Mulhall Recreation Center at Camp ANCHOR in Lido Beach, set to open later this year at the special-needs children camp. The center is being named for three camp counselors who died in a car accident on their way to work July 15, 2010.

In Babylon, Supervisor Richard Schaffer was sworn in to his seventh term in office by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who promised help with town revitalization and storm protection programs the supervisor has championed.

In brief remarks, Schumer said progress was being made on Wyandanch Rising, the plan to redevelop that hamlet's troubled downtown, and pledged that plans for mitigation after superstorm Sandy "won't just affect the barrier island but all the people who are on the Great South Bay."

Schumer and Schaffer surveyed damage to the town after Sandy hit, and the senator interceded with federal officials to speed up approvals for a homeless veterans' housing project in North Amityville last year.

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