Monthly Archives: October 2015

The fourth day was a charm for the Heritage Trust Center’s carnival. After three days of wet and windy weather, residents of Miller Place, Mount Sinai and neighboring communities finally gathered at Heritage Park to enjoy the fourth and final day of the center’s seventh annual carnival on Sunday, Oct. 4.

Children and adults alike enjoyed rides like Pharaoh’s Fury, Tornado, the Swinger and others, and could choose between savory foods and sweet surprises like zeppole and deep fried Oreos, Greek food and Philly cheesesteak sandwiches. Those who stayed into the evening hours were also treated to fireworks, which were pushed from Friday to Sunday.

File photo

Local politicians and Huntington Town residents have successfully lobbied the state Department of Transportation to halt construction of a rest stop on exit 51 of the Long Island Expressway.

Individuals were up in arms over the proposal, and lawmakers expressed their dissatisfaction about the plans. Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills) said it’s an unacceptable location for a rest stop and said the rest stop itself is unnecessary.

“It backs a residential area,” Stern said in a phone interview. “Unlike other rest stops or centers, where they carry on commercial activity, on the LIE, here all the exits are about a mile apart. There is an ample supply of restaurants, shopping centers and restrooms at every exit, so there is no need for a separate rest stop at this location.”

Stern said the plan calls for featuring the state’s Taste NY program, designed to promote New York’s agriculture vendors. This particular Taste NY would serve as a gateway for Long Island wine country out east, according to Stern.

“This exit is a long way from being a gateway to the East End,” Stern said about why this exit choice doesn’t make sense to promote Taste NY.

According to Stern, Suffolk County has made an offer to work with New York State to create a Taste NY location off exit 67 in Yaphank, which Stern said is a more appropriate location.

Gary Holmes, director of communications for the state’s Department of Transportation, said no work is currently being done at exit 51.

“The commissioner has held several productive meetings with local and state officials on Long Island, and while no decisions have been made about the rest stop at exit 51, we look forward to continued conversations about the health and safety of all users of the LIE,” Holmes said in an email. “LIE motorists deserve a safe place to rest and we’ll keep working on the best way to do that.”

Town Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) said the rest stop should not be added, and that she started fighting plans for it 15 years ago.

“I led the charge against this rest stop when I was vice president of the House Beautiful Dix Hills Civic Association,” Berland said in a phone interview. “I have always been opposed to this.”

She also said the Taste NY aspect is inappropriate, and that the state should not be selling alcohol on an expressway: “The last thing you want to do is give people the opportunity to get alcohol there.”

Berland said the rest stop is too close to a residential community, and the construction the state’s done so far was done without permission. She said residents are already being impacted by the sound of the LIE because brush berms have been removed.

Assemblyman Chad A. Lupinacci (R-Huntington Station) agreed that the rest stop is disruptive to residential life near exit 51.

“The location is poor because of the noise and the secondary effects it will have to the area and the residents,” Lupinacci said in a phone interview. “I am totally against it.”

Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) agreed with his colleagues that the rest stop should not go up, and that the voices of Huntington are not being heard.

“It doesn’t sound like the Town of Huntington was involved in this decision,” Spencer said in a phone interview. “I always think coordination and communication with the community is key.”

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By Joe Galotti

The Smithtown East football team’s defense gave an admirable effort in the school’s homecoming game Saturday afternoon, but in the end could not do enough to help the Bulls earn their first victory of the season. Visiting Copiague scored only once in regulation, but still came away with a 14-8 win, thanks to an overtime rushing touchdown by junior quarterback Ronald James.

“From top to finish it was the best game we’ve played all year long,” Smithtown East head coach Chris Denton said. “The result was tough — having to end the game like that, especially on homecoming, but our defense played a great game.”

Even with wet and windy weather conditions, Smithtown East was able to draw a large crowd of students and parents for the school’s homecoming festivities, but on the field, the Bulls did not give their fans much to cheer about in the first half, as the team’s offense struggled to move the ball up field. Both defenses were sharp through the first two quarters though, resulting in a scoreless game at the half.

The contest’s first points came 4:11 into the third quarter, when Eagles junior running back J’Quan Brown delivered a 7-yard rushing touchdown. James then connected on a pass to junior tight end Tyrone Browne on the ensuing two-point conversion attempt, to give Copiague an 8-0 advantage.

Smithtown East provided a quick response to the Eagles strike. With 6:01 remaining in the third, sophomore running back Lauden Hendricks broke a 70-yard touchdown run, giving his team a much needed spark. The sophomore was able to find a hole on a rush up the middle of the field, and once he found an opening, used his speed to race into the end zone.

“It was a trap right call,” Hendricks said. “It was a perfect blocking scheme and a perfect block that got me up to the second level. Then I just had to run it.”

Denton was not surprised by Hendricks’ highlight-worthy run, and said that his team has seen that level of play from him before.

“Lauden is a fantastic athlete,” Denton said. “Once he gets hot, he gets really hot. And then we just let him run the ball.”

The Bulls tied the game at 8-8 when junior quarterback Anthony Voelker found sophomore wide receiver Andrew Durland in the end zone for the two-point conversion.

After the two quick scores, the game returned to being a defensive struggle. The Eagles threatened to score in the final minute of regulation, but Smithtown East’s defense held strong, forcing overtime.

In the extra period, each team was given a chance to start a drive at their opponent’s 20-yard line. The Bulls got possession first, and nearly punched the ball into the end zone, but were denied when Copiage senior linebacker Dylan Dixon forced a Smithtown East fumble just shy of the goal line. The Eagles recovered the loose ball.

On the fifth play of Copaige’s ensuing drive, James faked to his running back and ran three yards to the outside for the game-winning touchdown.

While the Bulls defense was unable to avoid a frustrating defeat, Hendricks still was pleased with the unit’s effort.

“I think our defense played as good as we have all year,” he said. “There were just certain moments where we gave up the big play, and were just in bad situations.”

Smithtown East will look for better results in the second half of their 2015 campaign, beginning this Saturday, when the Bulls travel to Half Hollow Hills East for their opponent’s homecoming at 1:30 p.m.

Miller Place superintendent Marianne Higuera speaks during the Sept. 30 board of education meeting regarding the cancellation of this year's pep rally. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Miller Place students and parents alike were very disappointed with the administrations decision to cancel this year’s high school pep rally.

“I am aware some students misbehaved,” Louann Cronin, a Miller Place resident, said, “but they should suffer, not our student athletes. I am here on behalf of the good, hardworking students, and I don’t think it’s fair.”

Approximately 30 students and parents gathered at the Sept. 30 board meeting, all upset with this decision that they felt they were not a part of at all.

“This does not feel like a community decision,” Steve Delurey, another Miller Place resident, said.

Superintendent Marianne Higuera stood by the decision.

“It’s gotten progressively worse in the last three years,” Higuera said. “We added extra chaperones last year in order to reduce peer mistreatment, but many students last year made poor choices. When I can’t guarantee the health and safety of 1,000 kids at an event I can’t agree to have that event. That is why this is not a community discussion, because you are not responsible for those kids. But I am.”

Miller Place student Sabrina Luisa speaks during the Sept. 30 board of education meeting about her feelings on the board canceling this year's pep rally. Photo by Victoria Espinoza
Miller Place student Sabrina Luisa speaks during the Sept. 30 board of education meeting about her feelings on the board canceling this year’s pep rally. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

While members of the board seem divided, they stood behind the executive decision.

“I am sorry to see pep rally go,” Johanna Testa, president of the board, said. “But I support the decision. It wasn’t a quick decision.”

Trustee Lisa Reitan said she tried to work with the board to find alternatives, since she personally does not agree with the decision.

“As a parent I don’t agree, but I support the choice because of the concerns” Reitan said. “But we have tried to be your voice.”

Trustee Noelle Dunlop said she felt last year’s pep rally was scary for parents whose children could’ve ended up at the hospital that night.

Rumors had circulated that some students had been drinking and using drugs at the rally last year.

Parents questioned if there were ways to ensure that kids knew before the pep rally that if they misbehaved during it there would be guaranteed punishments.

“Could you say to the student body, ‘If you make a bad decision, then you won’t be going to prom?’ That way they know ahead of time their behavior won’t be allowed,” Cronin said.

Miller Place high school senior Sabrina Luisa said she and her peers are very upset with the decision.

“A handful of students shouldn’t determine the fate of all students,” Luisa said. “Why do their actions dictate how the entire school should be run?”

A petition has been posted on I-Petitions. It currently has 870 signatures and more than 160 comments, all asking that the board and high school principal Kevin Slavin reconsider their decision.

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By Bill Landon

Although Mother Nature smiled on Port Jefferson Saturday morning during the school’s homecoming day parade, the same could not be said for the football game that followed two hours later. Despite the cold and drizzling rain as gusts of wind spoiled the kicking game for both teams, the Royals (2-2) were able to still show Wyandanch what they’re made of, reigning over the visiting team, 34-8, for a sweet homecoming victory.

Port Jefferson struck first in the Division IV matchup when senior fullback Garret Hiz punched into the end zone for a touchdown eight minutes into the game. Although the ensuing two-point conversion attempt failed, the Royals found themselves with an early lead.

“We came out and gave it everything,” Hiz said. “It was rainy, cold and the field was a mess. It was hard to run out there, but we held our own and we got the win.”

In a game riddled with turnovers, Port Jefferson was on the move again thanks to a fumble recovery by junior outside linebacker John Knapp, which set up the next score. After a long run by Hiz to the 3-yard line, senior quarterback Nick Caltagirone finished the drive. The quarterback also helped score on the 2-point conversion attempt, to help the Royals extend their lead to 14-0 with five minutes left in the half.

Caltagirone and sophomore Jack Collins shared the quarterback duties all afternoon, and like Hiz, Collins was also happy with his team’s performance.

“I thought we played well — our backs just powered through their defense,” Collins said. “The ball was tough to handle, there’s a lot of mud out there and the grass is a lot slipperier than turf.”

Wyandanch coughed the ball up again, and this time, it was the junior linebacker Brian Mark on the recovery as the wind gusted and the rain intensified.

The possession did not lead to another score, but Royals opened the second half looking to put the game away.

Caltagirone got the call on the opening drive, and capped it off by diving into the end zone to make it a three-score game. With a failed conversion attempt, Port Jefferson settled for a 20-0 lead.

The senior quarterback said his team had several miscues, but grew stronger as the game wore on.

“Honestly, I thought we played a little bit sloppy, but overall we kicked it in, especially in the second half,” Caltagirone said. “The conditions were rough, it was a dogfight, it was slick — everybody’s slipping all over the place — but other than that, it was a good game.”

Wyandanch couldn’t get any traction, and turned the ball over yet again. This time, junior linebacker Eddie Park recovered the ball to set up the Royals’ next score.

In the closing minute of the third, with the ball at midfield, Port Jefferson senior running back Michael DiCalogero went to work. When the handoff up the middle went nowhere, DiCalogero bounced it outside and went the distance down the right sideline as he scampered into the end zone. The Royals lost traction, and again failed to convert on the two-point play, as they surged ahead 26-0.

“We wanted to play a clean game — as clean of a game with the elements you have here — but the conditions are definitely more suited for our style of play,” Port Jefferson head coach Andrew Cosci said. “We came out in the second half looking to finish the game, so I was proud of the guys for playing hard the whole game and not letting up.”

Two minutes into the final quarter, the Warriors scored when Christian Flowers bulled his way up the middle, broke free from tacklers and found the end zone. Flowers finished it with two more points, as his team trailed 26-8.

With five minutes left, Caltagirone found the end zone for his third touchdown of the afternoon.

Cosci said it has been a frustrating start to the season, after opening with a win to drop two big losses, 23-8 and 34-6, and he looked for Caltagirone to have the kind of game he did.

“This is the first time we’ve seen him play the way he’s capable of playing, and he can carry a team when he plays like that,” Cosci said.

DiCalogero put the icing on the homecoming cake with the two-point conversion, to put the 34-8 victory into the record books.

The Royals will have their hands full on Saturday when they host undefeated Shoreham-Wading River. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.

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A hockey player was revived from a cardiac arrest on Monday after an off-duty police officer and good Samaritans stepped in.

According to the Suffolk County Police Department, the 49-year-old victim went into cardiac arrest and collapsed while playing hockey at the Sports Arena on Middle Country Road in St. James shortly after midnight. The off-duty cop, Steven Turner, who was also playing hockey and works in the SCPD’s Highway Patrol, and several others performed CPR and administered two shocks from the facility’s defibrillator. The collapsed man regained a pulse and started to breathe on his own again following the shocks.

Police said the rescued man was in stable condition at Stony Brook University Hospital.

File photo.

Police are investigating a man’s death after an incident at a bar on Saturday night.

The Suffolk County Police Department said 7th Precinct officers responded to the Rocky Point Ale House on Broadway at about 10 p.m. that night after a 911 call regarding a disturbance there. The officers found a 42-year-old man, Michael Murphy, experiencing a medical event at the location.

Murphy, a Rocky Point resident, was pronounced dead at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson at 11:24 p.m., police said.

It was unclear whether Murphy’s medical event was linked to the reported disturbance at the bar.

Detectives from the SCPD’s Homicide Squad are investigating the incident.

File photo

A Sound Beach man was killed on his own street on Saturday, after his pickup truck left the roadway and crashed.

The Suffolk County Police Department said 49-year-old Richard Cambria was driving his 2011 Dodge south on Islip Drive shortly before noon that day. He left the street and hit a telephone pole, then struck a retaining wall.

Cambria was pronounced dead at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson, police said. There were no other cars involved in the crash.

Police impounded the pickup truck for a safety check.

Detectives from the SCPD’s 7th Squad are investigating the incident. Anyone with information is asked to call them at 631-852-8752.

Alexander Thomas mugshot from SCPD

A hospitalized suspect facing criminal possession and harassment charges allegedly attacked a cop and fled police custody on Friday afternoon, remaining on the lam for an hour before a canine officer found him.

According to the Suffolk County Police Department, 1st Precinct officers had used a Taser while arresting suspect Alexander Thomas in North Amityville the previous night on several charges, including criminal possession of a loaded weapon, harassment, resisting arrest and criminal possession of stolen property. Officers brought Thomas, a 25-year-old Huntington resident, to Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip for treatment, at which point the suspect complained of chest pains.

At noon on Friday, police said, Thomas assaulted an officer at the hospital and fled on foot, before a Canine Unit officer and his dog found the defendant an hour later. Police added second-degree escape and second-degree assault to the defendant’s charges.

Attorney information for Thomas was not immediately available.

Both the allegedly assaulted officer and Thomas were treated at the hospital for minor injuries after the capture and were released, police said.

Penny just recently got adopted after more than a year at Little Shelter Animal Rescue & Adoption Center in Huntington. Photo from Arleen Leone

Huntington residents will have spaying, neutering, and adoption fees for pit bulls waived from Oct. 1 until Oct. 31 in recognition of National Pit Bull Awareness month.

Arleen Leone, the special programs manager of Little Shelter Animal Rescue & Adoption Center in Huntington, believes that every day should be pit bull awareness day.

“They are gentle, sweet loving dogs,” Leone said in a phone interview. “There is a huge need for education, and on a daily basis we try to bring awareness to these dogs.”

Leone said that Little Shelter has many different education programs. In one program, Leone said the shelter staff travel to approximately 100 schools a year and try to educate kids on how to handle themselves around different dogs. They also discuss the importance of spaying and neutering.

“They think they are pocket poodles,” Leone said of pit bulls. “All they want is love and affection.”

According to Leone, pit bulls were originally bred to be family dogs, however over the course of time, people began to breed them as fighting dogs. This “ruined the breed” and it’s why there is a need for much education about the animals. The shelter said they had a pit bull named Penny who took more than a year to get adopted because “she looked like something she was not.”

Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) offered town board resolutions at the Sept. 16 Huntington Town Board meeting to waive the fees at the town animal shelter on Deposit Road in recognition of the month.

“Anytime we can help lower the amount of animals we have housed in shelter, regardless of the breed, is a good thing,” Berland said in a phone interview. 

Berland said that it is important to be smart about what kind of animal you chose to adopt and what type of household you’re bringing it into.

Although Berland does not own any pit bulls, some of her friends do, and she said they are “totally friendly and adorable.”

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