Authors Posts by Elana Glowatz

Elana Glowatz

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Elana Glowatz is TBR's online editor and resident nerd. She very much loves her dog, Zoe the doodle.

File photo

A young man was seriously injured on Thursday night as a car slammed into him and three others on Jayne Boulevard.

The Suffolk County Police Department said 19-year-old Jonathon Caba suffered a serious head injury in the Port Jefferson Station crash, which happened close to 9:30 p.m. Both he and 22-year-old Yaviel Calderon, who had a leg injury, were treated at Stony Brook University Hospital while the two others — Jerry Vargas, 18, and Aneudi Dilone, 20 — refused medical attention.

All four victims are from Port Jefferson Station, police said, as is the driver.

According to police, a 22-year-old man was driving north on Jayne in a 2004 Mercedes Benz close to Erie Street when he hit the four pedestrians, who were allegedly walking partially in the road.

The driver had a panic attack and was treated at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital, police said.

Police impounded the Mercedes for a safety check and detectives from the SCPD’s 6th Squad are investigating the crash.

Port Jefferson Village is crafting its budget for next year. File photo by Elana Glowatz

Port Jefferson residents shook up the village court on Tuesday night, voting for a new justice to take over the bench.

Tara Higgins is the new village justice. Photo from the candidate
Tara Higgins is the new village justice. Photo from the candidate

In addition to re-electing Trustees Bruce D’Abramo and Bruce Miller, who were running unopposed, to their positions on the village board in this week’s election, voters chose attorney Tara Higgins to serve out the three years remaining on the term of former Justice Peter Graham, who died in office late last year shortly after being re-elected to his judgeship — and after more than 30 years of service.

Candidate Bill Glass had been appointed to serve in Graham’s place until an election could be held, but he lost his bid for re-election, with only 330 votes to Higgins’ 390 votes.

A third challenger, attorney Scott Zamek, garnered just 158 votes.

The defeat is a repeat for Glass, who also lost a try for the village bench against Graham in 2011.

Higgins, a 50-year-old East Setauket native, has lived in Port Jefferson for 18 years. Her connection to the village goes further back: the Tara Inn pub uptown, owned by her father, was named for her.

Tara Higgins: 390 votes
Bill Glass: 330 votes
Scott Zamek: 158 votes

A graduate of Seton Hall University School of Law, she works at Islandia-based Lewis Johs Avallone Aviles LLP, where she does municipal defense work and civil defense litigation.

The unopposed trustees, D’Abramo and Miller, secured their fourth and second terms, respectively.

Miller has listed his goals for a new term as pushing for the Port Jefferson power plant to be upgraded, to keep it a viable form of energy and property tax revenue; making the village more energy-efficient; and strengthening the power grid in Port Jefferson to better withstand storms. For his part, D’Abramo wants to revitalize the uptown area and improve the village’s infrastructure.

One man was killed and another injured when two cars collided in Rocky Point on Tuesday morning.

The Suffolk County Police Department said Sean Carpenter’s 2002 Subaru Outback, which had been heading south on County Road 21, crossed into northbound traffic and hit a 1991 Nissan Sentra shortly before 6 a.m., killing 55-year-old driver Jose Amaya, of Medford.

A physician assistant from the county medical examiner’s office pronounced the victim dead at the scene — which was about 1 mile north of Whiskey Road — while Carpenter, 25, was treated for non-life-threatening injuries at Stony Brook University Hospital.

Carpenter is also a Medford resident.

Police impounded both the Subaru and the Nissan for safety checks.

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

Stephen Harding photo from SCPD

A Setauket woman reported her homeless son missing last week and police are looking for the public’s help to find the man, who has special medical needs.

Stephen Nathaniel Harding, who goes by the nickname “Nat,” might be in the Selden or Farmingville areas, according to the Suffolk County Police Department. The mother has not heard from her son since May 22 and reported him missing on June 13.

The 29-year-old Harding has Type II diabetes and is addicted to heroin, police said. Authorities described the homeless man as white, 5 feet 5 inches tall with brown eyes and brown hair. He weighs about 200 pounds and has a scar on his forehead.

Anyone with information about Harding’s whereabouts is asked to call 911, or the 6th Squad detectives who are looking for him at 631-854-8652.

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By Elana Glowatz

Comsewogue and Port Jefferson high schools have named the students at the top of their classes.

Casey Nevins photo from the school district
Casey Nevins photo from the school district

Port Jefferson Station’s Casey Nevins is the valedictorian at Comsewogue High School, with a 100.90 GPA. She is headed to Lafayette College in the fall, though she is unsure of what field she will study. During her time at Comsewogue, she has participated in many clubs, as well as in theater, music and volunteering programs.

She is a member of the National Honor Society, English Honor Society, Science Research Club and Tapestry Women’s Choir, all while serving as treasurer of Drama Club, president of Bringing Unity Through Youth Club and director of Coffee House Charity Production.

“Balancing a myriad of activities along with a demanding academic curriculum is the essence of what Casey is about,” according to her guidance counselor, Brenda Bell. “Casey has a radiant smile and a heart of gold which she shares with her peers, teachers, and community.  She will undoubtedly bring her strong leadership, academic discipline and abundant values to all of her future endeavors.”

Eric Ranaldi photo from the school district
Eric Ranaldi photo from the school district

The Comsewogue salutatorian, Eric Ranaldi, is heading on to Baruch College to study economics. During his time in high school, he played saxophone in the music program and has participated in numerous clubs and societies, including National Honor Society, Jazz Band, Bringing Unity Through Youth Club, varsity tennis, French Honor Society, Pep Band and Tri-M Music Honor Society. Bell said he “has a distinct drive and allegiance to his studies coupled with a witty sense of humor that endears him to those around him. His friendly, global, open-minded, and analytical nature will lead him to great success in both his personal and professional life.”

Shannon Christ photo from the school district
Shannon Christ photo from the school district

Over in Port Jefferson, valedictorian Shannon Christ made her mark at Earl L. Vandermeulen High School with a 101.02 GPA. She was named an AP Scholar with Distinction, participated on the varsity cross country and varsity winter and spring track teams, and is on the executive board of the National Honor Society, an officer of the Tri-M Honor Society and a member of Science Olympiads. Outside of the school district, she has danced ballet, tap, jazz and point.

“She is an extraordinary student who gives her best effort in and out of the classroom each day,” the school district said.

In the fall, Christ will head to Fairfield University to study mathematics, with a minor in secondary education.

Marianna Spentzos photo from the school district
Marianna Spentzos photo from the school district

The salutatorian, Marianna Danae Spentzos, came in a close second with a 100.59 GPA and is also an AP Scholar with Distinction.

She is a member of the Interact Club, the Tri-M Honor Society and the National Honor Society, and an All-League athlete as the varsity volleyball captain in her senior year and a member of the varsity track and field team.

“She is an excellent student who has consistently earned top grades,” her district said.

Spentzos will study biology and marine science at the University of Miami.

File photo

A man was electrocuted while working in a tree on a residential street on Sunday.

According to the Suffolk County Police Department, victim Oscar Diaz, identified as a 39-year-old employee of GA Island Landscaping Corps and a Brentwood resident, was killed while working in a tree in a Commack home’s front yard around 10:30 a.m.

Police said Diaz came into contact with power lines at the Roberta Lane home and was electrocuted. A physician assistant from the Suffolk County medical examiner’s office pronounced him dead at the scene.

According to police, both the Commack Fire Department and utility PSEG Long Island also responded to the scene on Sunday.

SCPD Homicide Squad detectives are investigating the circumstances surrounding Diaz’s death, police said.

The Port Jefferson jitney stops on Arden Place near Mariners Way. Photo by Elana Glowatz

The village jitney is up and running again, shuttling residents and visitors through Port Jefferson on summer weekends. But in its third year, village officials may take things up a notch.

At a village board of trustees meeting last Monday, Trustee Larry LaPointe announced they had received a $12,600 grant from Suffolk County to build three small shelters for people waiting to hop on the jitney.

It is a matching grant, so the village will have to kick in as much money as it accepts from the county. That may be slightly lower than the total available, as the trustees approved a proposal from Freeport-based Columbia Equipment Company to build the three red shelters for $19,500 — meaning each municipality would kick in just shy of $10,000.

LaPointe described the shelters as aluminum squares measuring 5 feet by 7 feet — the ridership numbers don’t justify building big shelters, he said — without benches inside.

“Benches attract people who want to take a nap,” he said.

Port Jefferson officials often contend with loitering vagrants or drunken people. There are frequently homeless people sleeping on the few benches around the area.

While the village could choose to put in benches down the road, LaPointe noted that because the shelters are small, leaving out a bench would improve access to the shelters for people in wheelchairs.

The shelters would be installed at the three points along the jitney route: at its start uptown on the east side of Oakland Avenue, near the Long Island Rail Road station; on the north side of Arden Place close to East Main Street; and at the harborfront park off East Broadway.

Those shelters are going to be red so they match the color of the shuttle bus.

“The shelters will really brand it — red jitney, red shelter,” LaPointe said.

The bus service, which resumed on Memorial Day, will keep trucking until Labor Day. Fare is $2, but children under 12 can ride for free.

When the jitney first started running in summer 2014, the village board saw the shuttle as a way to connect the vibrant downtown and the struggling uptown areas.

“It’s a good way to start bridging the gap between upper and lower Port,” Mayor Margot Garant said at the time. “We’ve got to get people circulating back up and down.”

Port Jefferson Village parking committee chairman George Westbay had originally presented the concept as a year-round service to link uptown and downtown, given the village’s push to revitalize the upper Port area and with a new apartment complex going up on Texaco Avenue to bring in more residents. He also saw it being used by visitors who could take the LIRR to Port Jefferson and then use the bus to go to a waterfront festival, for instance, instead of using a car.

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Photo by Elana Glowatz

A longtime educator will lead the Port Jefferson school district as it searches for a permanent replacement for outgoing Superintendent Ken Bossert.

During its meeting on Tuesday night, the board of education hired Paul Casciano to serve as interim superintendent, a year after he retired as the head of the William Floyd school district on the South Shore.

Paul Casciano is Port Jefferson’s new interim superintendent. Photo from Casciano
Paul Casciano is Port Jefferson’s new interim superintendent. Photo from Casciano

“We felt that he had tremendous experience,” board President Kathleen Brennan said in a phone interview on Wednesday, referring to Casciano’s 41 years in education, from teacher to superintendent at William Floyd. “He certainly has a grasp on all levels of what it takes to run a district.”

The board hired Casciano to serve from July 1 through June 2017, during which time the board, while receiving input from staffers and other community members, will be searching for someone to work more long-term.

In a phone interview on Thursday, Casciano said although he had retired from being a superintendent, he continues to teach and work. With his wife working and his kids mostly grown, “I thought the conditions were right.”

The Stony Brook resident has education degrees from Central Connecticut State University, Southampton College, C.W. Post and New York University, according to his resume. He joined the William Floyd administration in 1982 as an assistant principal and slowly worked his way up to superintendent, a role in which he served from 2006 to 2015.

“They needed help so that they could select the best candidate to meet the needs of the school community,” Casciano said about meeting with Port Jefferson school board members to discuss the position. “It just seemed like we were all on the same page.”

He joked that Port Jefferson “made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.”

He does not want to use his time in Port Jefferson keeping things “status quo” and just sitting back and watching, he said. He is interested in “continuing to move the district forward even if it’s in the short-term.”

“How much I personally could accomplish? I’m not sure,” Casciano said, but he hopes the superintendent who succeeds him will keep moving forward.

On a personal note, Brennan called Casciano “a very nice guy — very down to Earth.”

Bossert announced his plan to leave Port Jefferson earlier this year and become the new superintendent in Elwood. He had been at the helm for five years, during which time there have been other changes in leadership throughout the district. Tom Meehan was brought in as the elementary school principal, first on an interim basis and then as the permanent leader, then Antonio Santana and Matthew Murphy were hired as principals of the middle school and high school, respectively, when those two buildings’ combined principal, longtime leader Roseann Cirnigliaro, retired.

Both Santana and Murphy have since moved on to other schools, with Robert Neidig replacing Santana and Christine Austen replacing Murphy.

“With the current leadership team in place, I know that the district is in very capable hands,” Bossert said in his farewell letter to the community.

Comsewogue’s Dan Colasanto slides into third base ahead of the ball in the Warriors’ extra-inning 6-5 loss to Bayport-Blue Point on May 23, which forces a decisive game three in the Class A playoffs. Photo by Bill Landon

By Elana Glowatz

A recent Comsewogue High School graduate was seriously injured on Thursday morning when he was hit by a car on Route 25A.

Comsewogue pitcher Dan Colasanto hurls a pitch from the mound in the Warriors’ 9-4 comeback win over Sayville Thursday. Photo by Bill Landon
Comsewogue pitcher Dan Colasanto hurls a pitch from the mound in the Warriors’ 9-4 comeback win over Sayville in 2015. Photo by Bill Landon

The Suffolk County Police Department said Dan Colasanto was in the roadway around 1 a.m., on a stretch near Westgate Drive in Mount Sinai, when an eastbound 2010 Honda hit him.

The 18-year-old pedestrian, a Port Jefferson Station resident, was treated for serious injuries at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson, police said. The driver, a 48-year-old Miller Place woman, was not hurt.

Colasanto graduated from Comsewogue in 2015. During his high school days, he was a star pitcher and third baseman on the baseball team, as well as a strong hitter.

He also played for the Warriors football team.

Detectives from the SCPD’s 6th Squad are investigating the crash and have impounded the Honda for a safety check.

Anyone with information is asked to call the detectives at 631-854-8652.

Sarah Strobel was found dead in Suffolk County park in 2013

Fernando Romualdo mugshot from SCPD

A young woman’s alleged murderer has been arrested in Suffolk County, more than two years after police found her dead body in a nature preserve, shocking her community.

The Suffolk County Police Department announced on Thursday that they had charged 28-year-old Fernando Romualdo with second-degree murder in the case of Sarah Strobel, whose lifeless body was found in the Froehlich Farm Nature Preserve in October 2013.

Attorney information for the suspect, a Huntington Station resident, was not immediately available on the New York State court system’s online database.

Romualdo was incarcerated at the Mohawk Correctional Facility in upstate Rome on an unrelated charge but is now being held without bail at the county jail in Riverhead. According to the New York State Department of Corrections’ inmate database, he was sentenced to three years for second-degree rape last year, with his earliest possible release date in March 2018.

The 23-year-old murder victim, herself a Huntington Station resident who lived just a few blocks away from the defendant, was discovered at the Huntington nature preserve, near West Rogues Path, shortly before 9 a.m. on Oct. 3, 2013. Police said that day that a person walking on a path in the park noticed the body of an adult female off to the side of the path and called police. Authorities later identified her as Strobel and deemed her death criminal in nature.

Above, a scene from a candlelight vigil where friends of 23-year-old Sarah Strobel gathered. Photo from Taylor Friedman
Above, a scene from a candlelight vigil where friends of 23-year-old Sarah Strobel gathered. Photo from Taylor Friedman

Shortly after she was found dead, a friend of Strobel’s said the walking path was a favorite hiking spot of the victim’s. That friend, Taylor Friedman, helped organize a candlelight vigil to pay tribute to the young woman, a 2008 Walt Whitman High School graduate in the South Huntington school district.

“Sarah was a free spirit and a wise soul,” Friedman said at the time. “She lived her life to the fullest and made the best of any situation whether it was bad or good.”

Strobel was also honored in July 2015, when Huntington Station residents came together to honor several youths who had been killed over the last few years and dedicated both trees and a memorial stone to those victims at Depot Road Park.

In addition to Strobel, the community remembered the lives of 18-year-old Maggie Rosales, who was found stabbed to death, lying on Lynch Street in October 2014, and 25-year-old Danny Carbajal, who was shot in the head outside his home in July 2014. While a Huntington Station man has been prosecuted for Rosales’ murder, Carbajal’s death remains unsolved.

The deaths spurred community efforts to make Huntington Station a safer place.

Friends, family and town officials gather to remember Maggie Rosales, Danny Carbajal and Sarah Strobel in Huntington Station on Thursday. Three trees were planted in their honor. Photo by Mary Beth Steenson Kraese
Friends, family and town officials gather to remember Maggie Rosales, Danny Carbajal and Sarah Strobel in Huntington Station on Thursday. Three trees were planted in their honor. Photo by Mary Beth Steenson Kraese

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