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HUNTINGTON2014 spending plan gets board approval

The Town of Huntington has approved its spending plan for next year by adopting operating and capital budgets for 2014.

The adopted $185.2 million 2014 operating budget calls for a net zero increase across the town's 14 taxing funds. But there will be hikes in two of the top three funds. The general fund will see an increase of 3.6 percent, and there will be a 1.7 percent rise for the Consolidated Refuse Fund.

The Highway Fund will see a decrease of 4.65 percent.

The budget calls for no reduction in services or layoffs; and raises will go only to those under a collective bargaining unit contract.

Spending is up 2.2 percent, but the amount to be raised by taxes stays at the same level as last year -- $109,686,705.

"We spent a lot of time putting this budget together; we got a lot of input and obviously the board thought it was fine and thought it was the proper budget for this next fiscal year," said Town Supervisor Frank Petrone, also the town's chief financial officer. "The two people who voted against it did not offer any amendments, so I don't know where their concerns are."

Both budgets were adopted 3-2, with Mark Cuthbertson and Susan Berland voting yes and Mark Mayoka and Gene Cook opposing the plans.

Cook cited discrepancies in the costs allotted for outside attorney fees and to settle various lawsuits against the town.

"I just didn't believe the numbers and I couldn't vote for something I didn't believe in," Cook said.

The $8.8 million capital budget was also approved 3-2. The capital budget includes building a boathouse at Centerport Beach; $350,000 is earmarked for that expenditure.

LONG ISLANDDouble rainbow left onlookers in awe

Nichole McKinney was working Thursday at Grand Prix Subaru in Hicksville when she, like many others in the area, saw it: A huge double rainbow crossing Long Island.

"I saw it around 4:30 p.m. from my desk and ran right outside after that and was snapping pictures trying to get both of them," she said in a Facebook message.

Bill Goodman, forecaster at the National Weather Service in Upton, said rainbows commonly occur when the sun is low in the sky -- early in the morning or late in the day -- after the sun emerges following a rainstorm.

And it rained Thursday pretty much everywhere on Long Island.

Word of the rainbow quickly spread as people were awed by the sight.

"I was baby-sitting three kids when my mother called me up and told me to go outside and look at the rainbow," said Diana Gelsomino, 24, from East Meadow. "I was so amazed by it I told the kids to run outside to look at it. Then the little boy ran and told his little neighbor to look at it. So there was five of us staring at the sky in amazement."

MONTAUKHoliday lights going up on Lighthouse

For the next week, the biggest structure on the East End will have a work crew from Huntington going up and down, stringing holiday lights that will be turned on during a big community party on Thanksgiving weekend.

"It's 110 feet, 6 inches tall. It's unique," said Tricia Woods, the site manager of the Montauk Lighthouse.

There has been a community lighting of the lighthouse every year since 2008, and about 3,000 white lights will be hung by Looks Great Services. The cost is being paid by the Montauk Historical Society and the Lighthouse Museum Committee as a gift.

Woods said between 2,500 and 3,000 people show up for the lighting ceremony, which will be Nov. 30 between 4:30 and 7 p.m., or rescheduled to Dec. 7 if the weather is bad.

Admission and parking for the event is free, although the museum will be closed during the event.

The lights will be turned on by George Biondo, a Montauk attorney who has long been active in community affairs, and will remain on until Jan. 1

The Lighthouse Committee plans to hold another free community event Dec. 1 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., a Christmas at the Lighthouse program with pony rides, face painting for children, hot chocolate and cookies and a visit from Santa.

LONG BEACH$8,500 grant for veterans services

Long Beach has received an $8,529 state grant to provide services to veterans who live in the city.

The grant was provided by the state Office of General Services on behalf of the state Division of Veterans Affairs, according to documents filed at city hall.

The Long Beach city council voted to allow City manager Jack Schnirman to accept the grant on Wednesday night at its regular council meeting.

The $8,529 grant -- which was designated by the state for "aid to localities" -- will be used to "provide services to veterans," city documents indicate.

The city will be able to use the money in the current 2013-14 budget year, city documents show. The current fiscal year began July 1 and runs until June 30.

The city has appropriated the money into its "veterans services" fund, according to city records.

MINEOLAPublic hearing on gas station Wednesday

The Village of Mineola will continue an October public hearing for a proposed 24-hour gas station with a convenience store.

The village will hear residents on the application from Garden City-based Bolla Management Corp., on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Mineola Village Hall, 155 Washington Ave. The proposed site is on vacant land, at 449 Jericho Tpke. in Mineola.

The Oct. 9 public hearing lasted nearly four hours, drawing criticism from residents. Some feared that adding the station and a convenience store would increase traffic and noise in the community.

According to the developer's application, the plans "would not alter the essential character of the neighborhood." Gasoline service stations must add convenience stores to thrive, the application reads, given increased regulations and shrinking profit margins industrywide.

BABYLONWork orders revised for new spray park

The Town of Babylon has approved changing work orders for construction of a spray park in Geiger Lake Park.

The spray park opened in the summer, the first phase of a long-term overhaul of the 23.4 acre Geiger Lake Park, which sits in Wyandanch and Deer Park. The work is part of Wyandanch Rising, the town's $500 million public-private initiative to revitalize the hamlet's downtown. Plans for other areas of the park include basketball courts, a carousel, conservatory and botanical garden.

The 14,400-square-foot spray park and amenities cost more than $10 million, with the town using $1 million from a state grant, $1 million from a federal community development loan and bonding for $8 million.

Eldor Contracting of Holbrook had an increase of $65,000, bringing their contract total to nearly $434,000. Norberto Construction of Medford saw its contract increase by nearly $75,000 to $2.5 million. Stalco Construction of Islandia had a nearly $15,000 decrease to its contract, bringing it to $3 million. Advanced Conservation Systems of Lindenhurst saw a decrease of $36,000 to set its contract at $258,000.

The town board approved the changes at a meeting last week. Supervisor Richard Schaffer abstained from votes on the changes. Schaffer, an attorney, said he works with the Plumbing Contractors Association, an umbrella group for Plumbers Local Union 200 companies, some of whom performed the work.

ISLIP3 drop-off sites for holiday toy drive

Islip is collecting toys for a holiday gift drive for the town's needy children.

Councilman John Cochrane Jr. is working with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves Toys for Tots program to collect toys at three drop-off sites in the town.

The locations are: the town's Youth Bureau at Town Hall West, 401 Main St., Room 312, Islip; Cochrane's office in Town Hall at 655 Main St., Islip; and the Disabled Services Office at Brookwood Hall, 50 Irish Lane, East Islip.

The new, unwrapped toys will be collected through Dec. 4. The toy drive also accepts monetary donations at

toysfortots.org.

"Considering tough economic times, more and more families have less to spend during the holiday season," Cochrane said in a news release. "We are proud to support the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Program, which greatly depends on the support and generosity of the local community and residents."

SEA CLIFFWorld's largest marshmallow mosaic

Towering over the crowd, Andy Gertler's marshmallow mosaic was finally completed after eight hours of building in Manhattan's Times Square on Wednesday night.

Gertler, a professional sculptor from Sea Cliff who has mastered pumpkin carving, sand and ice sculpting, was among the New Yorkers given a chance to break a Guinness World Record.

Using 14,400 marshmallows, Gertler set the record for the world's largest marshmallow mosaic -- a 100-square-foot depiction of "Good Morning America" weatherman Sam Champion.

"Something could've gone wrong, but I knew we'd get it. We pulled it off," said Gertler, 54, who had help from five artists. "I was confident I'd break it from the help I received."

To celebrate truTV's season premiere of "Guinness World Records Unleashed," which aired Thursday night, the network and Guinness World Records gave Gertler and other New Yorkers an opportunity to set new world records in Times Square on Wednesday.

"Guinness World Records Unleashed" adjudicator Stuart Claxton ensured official recognition of any records broken during the day, according to truTV's website, adding that other attempted challenges included "Most Seated Free Throws in One Minute," "Fastest 20-Meter Butt Scoot" and "Fastest Time Building a 20-Shot Glass Pyramid."

Thursday morning, Gertler and "Good Morning America" host Josh Elliott surprised Champion by revealing the record-setting portrait.

"Oh, he loved it," Gertler said. "I mean, he started eating it during the segment."

The record was never attempted before, but Gertler said Guinness gave him guidelines of how big it had to be -- 80 square feet, so he made it 100 square feet.

"I walked away from this experience like with everything else in life; you have to be prepared and know what you're going in there to do," he said. "I was confident all the way through. I had good people working on it with me, and it went off flawlessly."

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