Saturday, November 29, 2008

NYRA Honors Great Horse and Great Cause

New York Racing Association COO Hal Handel (right) presents NYRA’s check for $5,000 to Exceller Fund board members photographer Barbara Livingston and writer Steve Haskin while Exceller Fund founding member Joel Einhorn and his wife Jeannie look on, before the running of yesterday’s fourth race, named for Exceller, a horse best known for his victory over two Triple Crown winners, Seattle Slew and Affirmed, in the 1978 Jockey Club Gold Cup. Nineteen years after than landmark victory Exceller died tragically in an overseas slaughterhouse. In his memory, the Exceller Fund was created to “provide a future beyond the finishline” for thoroughbred racehorses. For more information on the Exceller Fund, log-on to

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Elmont Clean Up Day

The Elmont Coalition for Sustainable Development, the Elmont Community Coalition, the Chamber of Commerce, the New York Racing Association, Gateway Youth Outreach and Legislator John Ciotti all coordinated the event, which was supported by a grant from the State Bank of Long Island.

Volunteers included local lawmakers, NYRA employees, high school students, civic association members, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and people from the community.

“I’m excited to see the little guys,” said Kate Murray, Town of Hempstead supervisor, referring to the children who took part. “It’s important to instill a sense of pride [in them]. Elmont is such a fabulous community. I like the idea of Elmont rising to greater heights.”

The group gathered at the Marquee Tent near Gate 5 at Belmont Park. “We want to make a statement to the community at large, to the businesses and Nassau County that Elmont is a great place to be,” said Lyle Sclair, program coordinator for Sustainable Long Island.

The town, the county, the State Bank of Long Island and Home Depot supplied the trash bags, shovels, gloves and other supplies to clean up the highway. NYRA hosted breakfast at the Marquee Tent, where volunteers received complimentary T-shirts.

The participants were divided into teams and bused to six locations along Hempstead Turnpike.

“It’s about the community, people coming together to do the right thing,” Ciotti said.

“In addition to cleaning,” said Lorraine Ferrigno, vice president of the Elmont Board of Education, “we have a sense of camaraderie and pride in our town and each other.”

Pat Nicolosi, president of the Elmont East End Civic Association, said the event was a good kickoff for economic development in Elmont. “I’m ecstatic that we’re doing this,” Nicolosi said. “[It’s great to see] Elmont, Belmont and NYRA becoming neighbors. We want NYRA to succeed economically to create jobs.”

Gov. David Paterson has recently put out a call for proposals for the redevelopment of the Belmont Park neighborhood. “This is a new day dawning for Elmont, and it’s long overdue,” Nicolosi said.
“I think it’s terrific,” said Hempstead Town Councilman Edward Ambrosino. “It shows the people of Elmont that NYRA and Elmont are a team.”

Chamber of Commerce leaders also participated in the cleanup. “What’s going on today is a central component of what the Chamber of Commerce is all about,” said its president, Chris Rosado.
“We try to keep the town clean,” said Paul Sapienza, a former chamber president. “We work with Gateway Youth Outreach and hire high school students to clean up during the summer. This is a great program. There has been a lot of attention drawn to Belmont, with Sen. Dean Skelos and Assemblyman Tom Alfano bringing in money for redevelopment.”

Angie DiMarco said she volunteered simply because she lives in Elmont. “Hopefully businesses will catch on and keep it up,” DiMarco said. “I love living here. It’s a nice, diversified town. I just want to keep it a little cleaner.”
For the kids, the purpose was simple. “I’m cleaning up to make the town look nice,” said 8-year-Anthony Maffea, a third-grader at Covert Avenue School.

“The town needs to be better and cleaner and look presentable for all the people that come to visit,” said Shaniece Walker, 15, a 10th-grader at New Hyde Park Memorial High School.

“One day the Earth will get very dirty,” said Nicholas Khan, 9, a fourth-grader at Gotham Avenue School. “I don’t want that to happen, so I’m cleaning up.

Senior citizens were also part of the team. “I’m a part of Elmont and we need a change,” said resident Clement Byfield, 82. “I’m a part of the change.”

Many of the organizers and participants said they hope the cleanup will become an annual event.