The Riverhead Town Anti-Bias Task Force plans to host a public meeting on Sept. 30, as it seeks to add new members and ramp up activity after a string of robberies targeting Hispanic and Latino immigrants.
Riverhead Town Board members said in July that they wanted to add new members to the task force and ask it to meet regularly after police estimated more than a dozen immigrants were victims of robberies in the town this and last year.
Louise Wilkinson, who has chaired the task force in the past, said it last met in April and has suffered from sparse attendance and a lack of interest in recent years.
“It just kind of dribbed and drabbed,” she said. “There was nothing hot in the town so attendance began to slide off.”
The Sept. 30 meeting is scheduled at 7 p.m. at Town Hall. Wilkinson said she will seek volunteers who want to serve on the task force, which she hopes to expand to 12 active members from about four. The volunteers will be subject to approval by the town board.
The meeting will feature a screening of the 1995 documentary “The Shadow of Hate: A History of Intolerance in America.”
Rabbi Steven Moss, chairman of the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission, will also speak about the role of anti-bias task forces in the county’s 10 towns.
“This is very important because it sends out a very clear message to all the residents of the town that the town cares about the quality of life for every person living there,” he said.
— WILL JAMES
Trustee OKs rules for bamboo plants
Amityville joined a host of Long Island municipalities restricting bamboo with a 5-0 village trustee vote this week on a new regulation.
The law, which will go into effect after a six-month grace period for residents, will carry fines of up to $1,000 for bamboo owners who let the hardy plant spread onto a neighbor’s or village property.
Violators will get a 10-day notice before any fine is assessed, and they can avoid it by installing a barrier to curtail the bamboo’s spread or by removing the trespassing shoots.
Bamboo that grows onto village property can be removed by the village, with costs billed to the plant owner.
“This is an aggressive plant, and it was starting to concern us as a village,” said trustee Kevin Smith, who introduced the bill. “It does take over trees, takes over shrubs, takes over lawns.”
Many Long Islanders use bamboo as a fast-growing privacy screen in their yards. Not all types expand rapidly enough to be a threat, but types known as running bamboo — among the hardiest and fastest-growing — can also be the hardest to control.
— NICHOLAS SPANGLER
Fair to have vendors, music, petting zoo
A street fair will be held in a portion of the Village of Westbury’s business district on Saturday.
The Business Improvement District is a sponsor of the fair and fall festival, to be held between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on a cut of Post Avenue.
The day features vendors, pony rides, musical entertainers, and a petting zoo.
For more information, visit www.WestburyBID.org.
— SCOTT EIDLER
Memorial for fallen FDNY paramedic
Hempstead Town officials plan to join in the unveiling of “Paramedic Rudy Havelka Lane” at 11 a.m. Sunday, honoring a fallen New York City paramedic who died of an illness attributed to his work at Ground Zero after 9/11.
Supervisor Kate Murray, Councilman Gary Hudes, Town Clerk Nasrin Ahmad and Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin are expected to join Havelka’s family, friends and colleagues.
The commemorative sign dedicating Birch Lane, a Hempstead Town roadway, to the paramedic will be placed at Birch Lane and North Bellmore Road.
Havelka lived in Levittown nearly 40 years, in the East Meadow Fire District, where he was a former captain.
Besides being a paramedic with the FDNY and senior paramedic instructor at the FDNY E.M.S. Academy, he was also a chief instructor at the Nassau County Fire Academy.
“Thirteen years after 9/11, when our country was beginning to heal, the emotional wounds have been reopened as thousands of first responders and recovery workers have now developed illnesses related to their service at Ground Zero and nearby sites,” Murray said. “Rudy Havelka is emblematic of [that] ongoing pain and anguish.”
Havelka was 72 when he died of mesothelioma on July 9, 2013.
He is survived by his wife, Pat, his children Rudy and Debbi, and five grandchildren.
— SID CASSESE
Police force gets $39G federal grant
Hempstead Village has received $39,147 in federal grants to purchase surveillance equipment and aid the Hempstead Village Police Department.
The Department of Justice funding was announced Tuesday by Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. Village officials said the funding will support the police department’s mobile command unit for patrols.
Funding was secured through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program, which funds communities for crime prevention and intervention.
— JOHN ASBURY
LED streetlight fixtures approved
The Hempstead Village board has approved plans to spend $1.3 million to install more than 2,700 LED streetlight fixtures on local streets starting next month.
The Best LED Group in Hauppauge is furnishing light fixtures, which will be installed by Plainview-based Welsbach Electric Corp. of Long Island. The streetlights are expected to save the village more than $275,000 in electricity costs once the project is completed in December.
After installation, the 30-foot-tall streetlights will turn on at full power at dusk and remain lit until sunrise.
Village Mayor Wayne Hall said in a statement that the streetlights will help deter crime, in conjunction with a $400,000 ShotSpotter camera system in the village.
— JOHN ASBURY
Outdoor recreation expo set for Captree
The annual marine and outdoor recreation expo will be held Sunday at Captree State Park Boat Basin from noon to 4:30 p.m., rain or shine.
The expo, hosted by Assemb. Joseph Saladino (R-Massapequa), is free to the public.
Exhibits include solar energy, environmental protection and conservation, green technology and renewable energy.
Children can get their faces painted, and other activities include fly-fishing and surf-casting lessons, camping demonstrations, fly-tying lessons, and information on boating and water safety.
Live music will include Saladino playing drums in a southern blues and rock band, and Gary Setzer, brother of Brian Setzer of the Stray Cats. Free light refreshments will be available.
The park has an $8 parking fee. For more information, call Saladino’s office at 516-541-4627.
— SOPHIA CHANG
Senior, veteran tax exemptions adjusted
Babylon Village trustees this week broadened the property tax exemptions available for some seniors and veterans.
Seniors earning $21,601 or less annually will be eligible for a 50 percent exemption on the value of their property. The exemptions decrease on a sliding scale to 5 percent for those earning up to $30,000, the income cutoff for the program.
Mayor Ralph Scordino said earlier this summer that trustees were motivated by the plight of needy seniors, telling Newsday, “When you have medical expenses and everything else, it tears right into you.”
Tax savings for veterans will go up to about $105 for those who served in combat and $64 for noncombat veterans for 2015. In 2014, the savings were about $75 and $45, respectively. The exact amounts fluctuate with property values and the tax rate.
For 2014, Babylon Village granted 33 senior exemptions, forgoing $11,425 in property tax revenue. The village granted 225 veterans exemptions under the program, forgoing $14,891 in tax revenue.
Trustees approved the new exemptions Tuesday night by a 5-0 vote.
They also banned use of machinery by commercial builders and landscapers outside the hours of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Previously, the law had only applied to residential contractors.
— NICHOLAS SPANGLER