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Islip councilwoman fields 'reporter' questions on Sandy, but not Billy Joel

Trish Bergin Weichbrodt, a Republican, is an Islip

Trish Bergin Weichbrodt, a Republican, is an Islip Town councilwoman. (Jan. 29, 2013) Credit: Randee Daddona

Islip Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt on Tuesday morning stood behind a lectern at Islip Town Hall and answered questions from “reporters” about superstorm Sandy:

“How many homes in Islip were damaged by superstorm Sandy?”

“Do you think LIPA did a sufficient job?”

But it wasn’t a typical back-and-forth between the press and a public official. The questioners were high school students, who participated in a mock news conference designed to give the students a taste of what it’s like to be a reporter.

Bergin Weichbrodt, who worked as a television news journalist before being elected to the town board and who previously dated singer Billy Joel, told the students she had one caveat.

“You’re not allowed to ask me about Billy Joel,” she quipped, a remark that drew blank stares from the 27 juniors and seniors from Bayport-Blue Point, Brentwood and Sayville high schools — perhaps too young to recall the past relationship.

Bergin Weichbrodt said the students will file reports based on the news conference and a winner will be selected based on writing ability, accuracy and fairness. The 300-word story will be published in a local paper.

Brittany Holloway, 18, a senior at Brentwood High School and the editor of the student newspaper, said the event was “eye-opening.”

“I think I learned a lot,” said Holloway, who said she wants to study journalism in college.

Jaclyn Neuman, 18, a senior at Bayport-Blue Point who asked Bergin Weichbrodt about plans for Fire Island and how the town would prepare for a future storm, said it was “really helpful and a great experience.”

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