The leading news stories in Great Neck in 2017
Some of the most talked-about items in the past year have mirrored what’s been going on across the country.
The North Shore chapter of Indivisible and North Shore Action were organized by community members to protect the rights of women and minorities, as well as express concerns about a host of other issues in this new political environment. One high schooler even spoke out about her experiences with sexism at Great Neck North, and neighbors were outraged when three teens were robbed at knife point in Kings Point.
The community bonded together when residents became concerned about a meeting between the nine mayors of the Great Neck villages and Northwell Health to discuss the possibility of an ambulance agreement and the termination of Vigilant Fire Company. Mayor Pedram Bral assured the attendees at a packed town hall meeting on March 7 that no proposal was on the table. Still, residents were anxious about the effects a possible termination would create concerning the safety hazards of not having local, immediate responders.
A great deal of drama surrounded the Great Neck Public Schools Board of Trustees and bond votes. Ultimately, representatives from the underrepresented Persian and Asian communities were elected and the bond passed but, unfortunately, there was some divisiveness prior to the community uniting. Residents from across the peninsula spoke out about their support of our public schools, while some private school parents were against the bond because they felt that they were already paying their share.
Arrests for possession of drugs as well as deaths from overdoses were in the news, but the community responded by holding the informational seminar Not My Child to educate both parents and children so this epidemic will stop.
While many students received impressive awards, sadly, several teenage girls were reported missing. Fortunately, they all returned home safely and, apparently, several who relocated to Great Neck from other communities actually ran away to spend time with old friends.
Some stories were sparked by 2016 events, including advocacy from Jivanna Bennaeim whose husband, Oren, was struck by a hit-and-run driver at the corner of Middle Neck Road and Barstow Road last Sept. 30, and died six days later. Ever since, Jivanna has been campaigning for safer pedestrian laws to spare other families from such tragedies. In a Vision Long Island/LI Complete Streets Coalition gathering on July 7, she pleaded, “Something needs to change. The tragedies need to stop. Oren was an amazing husband and father. He served as a paratrooper in the Israeli Army for three years. And it still shocks me that this is how he died. I’m here for a call of action in Great Neck.”
When local OB/GYN Dr. Hetty Chung was in kidney failure and in need of a transplant, she reached out to the community and more than 150 people were tested to see if they were a match. Dr. Chung received a kidney transplant on March 8 and has continued her crusade for organ donation to help others.
Before Passover, longtime Great Neck resident Michael Weinstock developed a stack of his grandfather’s negatives from WWII, which the combat photographer had mailed home to his wife one by one in letters. Before these negatives were printed, no known pictures existed of a large Seder hosted by the U.S. Army for 2,700 soldiers and sailors on the tiny island of Guam. These images certainly gave the family another reason to celebrate.
The Village of Great Neck Board of Trustees voted to switch 832 street lamps from high-pressure sodium to LED (light-emitting diode) lamps on Aug. 1. At future board meetings, residents expressed concern that the new bulbs would be too bright and shared health studies about LEDs causing sleep problems and breast cancer. Their concerns were dismissed. As the year ends with the lights just having been installed, home owners are saying that they don’t need to turn on lights to do the dishes after dinner or before going to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Once all of the light shades are installed in 2018, perhaps we won’t be reading about the entrepreneurs who opened window treatment businesses.
Wishing all of our readers a happy, healthy and safe New Year, where we all work together so Great Neck continues to be great.
Read more of our special Year in Review coverage at www.longislandweekly.com.