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Suffolk Marathon opens as vets wait for 2015 race funds

The third annual Suffolk County Marathon is open for registration, County Executive Steve Bellone announced on March 6, 2017, in Hauppauge. Profits from the marathon, scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 29, go to veterans groups, and the 2016 Suffolk event raised $140,000, he said, although the county has not begun the process of distributing the money to the veterans groups. Also eight nonprofit veterans groups have not received money they had been promised from the 2015 race, he said. (Credit: Newsday / Chuck Fadely)

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced Monday that the third annual Suffolk County Marathon is open for registration, but later acknowledged that eight veterans groups have not received money promised to them from the 2015 race.

Eighteen months after the marathon, $86,100 — a little more than half of the $160,000 profits — have been disbursed to 11 of the 19 veterans groups, county officials said.

The county said it is holding onto the remainder of the profits until the groups comply with county contracting rules.

“There are some that have not submitted the paperwork yet,” Bellone said Monday after a news conference at the county’s H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge.

Bellone organized the inaugural marathon to be run in September 2015, with profits going to veterans groups.

This year’s marathon is scheduled for Oct. 29, and, like previous years, profits will be given to veterans groups.

But Fred Miller, chairman of the Suffolk County American Legion’s post-traumatic stress disorder committee, said his group is still waiting for the county to send the $4,000 it promised from the 2015 race. The only check Miller got from the county was a ceremonial one — a giant cardboard check — presented to him at a March 24, 2016 news conference in Hauppauge.

“My bank refuses to take it,” Miller joked Monday.

About 20 veterans nationwide commit suicide each day, Miller said, and the $4,000 was supposed to help with peer-to-peer suicide prevention efforts in Suffolk County.

In order to receive the money, the county wants the Suffolk County American Legion to provide a copy of its 501c3 document to prove that the organization is a charitable agency. The document, Miller said, was issued in 1920.

“I don’t have it,” Miller said.

Thomas Ronayne,the county’s director of Veterans Service Agency, charged with disbursing the funds, said Miller could obtain a copy of the certificate from the Internal Revenue Service, the New York State Department of State or from the group’s headquarters.

“Unfortunately, I don’t have the ability to decide who I can exempt from that regulation,” Ronayne said.

Of the eight groups that still had not received the money, Ronayne said one had been approved to receive $23,600. But the county has not cut the check.

He said the remaining seven groups still need to submit their paperwork, including the 501c3 documents and proof that they have $2 million worth of general liability insurance. He said the groups could also ask the county for waivers for those requirements.

Meanwhile, Bellone announced Monday that the 2016 Suffolk Marathon raised $140,000 in profits, but the county has not begun the process of distributing the funds to veterans groups.

“Following the race, there are lots of expenses that have to be determined,” Bellone said.

The 2016 Suffolk Marathon raised $20,000 less than the 2015 race, Bellone said, due largely to the fact that it was held close to another race.

But Michael Polansky, president of the Greater Long Island Running Club, one of the race’s organizers, said the 2016 Suffolk Marathon raised roughly about the same amount of money as in 2015, but organizers had to pay more in police overtime costs.

“I believe the police costs were higher, considerably higher,” said Polansky.

Proceeds from the 2016 Suffolk Marathon and future races will be distributed by the Recreation and Economic Development Corp. of Suffolk County, created to operate the Marathon. Applications for funds from the 2016 marathon are expected to be released next week, Bellone said.


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