Authors Posts by Erika Karp

Erika Karp

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It was a beautiful day in Mount Sinai on Sunday, as more than 35 boats of all sizes were blessed by Rev. Jerry Nedelka at the Mount Sinai Yacht Club’s 11th annual Blessing of the Fleet.

Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point), Yacht Club Trustee Bill Dick and other members of the club joined Nedelka to wish the boats a safe journey.

 

Tony Taddonio allegedly attempted to rob two banks within 15 minutes. Mugshot from SCPD

“If at first you don’t succeed, try again” must have been the mantra for the men accused of attempting to rob two gas stations within 15 minutes on June 6.

The Suffolk County Police Department said in a statement that 27-year-olds Tony Taddonio, of Medford, and Michael Iovino, of Islip, were arrested and charged with second-degree attempted robbery and second-degree robbery for their alleged spree on Saturday night in Coram.

Taddonio allegedly entered a Sunoco gas station on Route 112 at approximately 6 p.m., armed with what appeared to be a handgun, and attempted to hold up the clerk. However, after the clerk grabbed a stick kept behind the counter, Taddonio fled to a 2003 Acura allegedly driven by Iovino.

Michael Iovino allegedly attempted to rob two banks within 15 minutes. Mugshot from SCPD
Michael Iovino allegedly attempted to rob two banks within 15 minutes. Mugshot from SCPD

Fifteen minutes later, police said, the men tried their luck a second time. Taddonio allegedly entered a Mobil gas station on Middle Country Road, held up the clerk and fled with approximately $350.

A 6th Precinct officer, Francesco Saracino, was searching the area for the suspects, when he stopped the duo on Route 112 at about 6:50 p.m.

Police said cash and a BB gun were recovered.

The men were arraigned in First District Court in Central Islip on June 7. According to online court records, Taddonio was released on $20,000 bond bail and Iovino was released on $30,000 bond bail.

Attorneys for Taddonio and Iovino could not immediately be reached for comment.

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Runners pounded the pavement of North Country Road in Miller Place on Sunday for the 19th annual Joe Keany 5K Run/Walk.

The race honors the late Joe Keany, a 1986 Miller Place High School graduate who excelled at cross country and track. Keany was a member of the school’s 1984 county championship cross country team, and received All-County honors in the sport and All-Conference honors in track.

More than 250 people completed the five-kilometer race and another 105 completed a one-mile fun run.

 

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Journey benefits cancer research, education and treatment

Kevin Rooney is ready to take on a 150-mile bike ride for cancer research. Photo from CRI
Kevin Rooney is ready to take on a 150-mile bike ride for cancer research. Photo from CRI

This weekend’s 150-mile journey through Westchester, from Yonkers to Pound Ridge, isn’t Kevin Rooney’s first lengthy bike ride, but this one is definitely personal.

Rooney, 53, has so far raised more than $3,200 for the Cancer Research Institute’s inaugural New York Ride to Conquer Cancer, in which he is participating in honor of his parents, George and Mary, and his father-in-law, Clifford, all of whom died from cancer. The Mount Sinai resident is also riding in honor of his wife Lynn’s aunt and a close family friend who have battled the disease, which affects more than 1 million people in the United States every year, according to the American Cancer Society.

“I’m thinking about them and doing what I can do to make things better for them,” Rooney said.

The nonprofit Cancer Research Institute will use the funds for research, treatment and education.

An avid cycler for more than 20 years, the ride is far from Rooney’s first. But the father of two kids — Kathryn, 11, and Colin, 10 — has a busy schedule that leaves not as much time to race as he once did. In order to prepare for the June 6 to June 7 expedition, Rooney said he has been riding about three times a week. He typically gets up at 4 a.m. and works out for about an hour on a training bicycle, and tries to go out on weekends for a 50- to 60-mile ride.

“I just wanted to do something to the best of my athletic ability,” Rooney said.

Kevin Rooney with his wife, Lynn, and their children, Colin and Kathryn. Photo from CRI
Kevin Rooney with his wife, Lynn, and their children, Colin and Kathryn. Photo from CRI

He said cycling enables him to work through stress and acts as a meditation ritual.

Lynn Rooney said her husband’s motivation and commitment to the cause is “very encouraging,” and “something that I admire.”

Kevin Rooney was at first a little concerned about asking people to donate money, but as the donations started pouring in, he realized just how many people the disease affects.

“It touches people,” he said. “You find out how prevalent [the disease is].”

While his family won’t watch from the race sidelines, as Colin — an athlete like his dad — has a soccer match Rooney didn’t want him to miss, the father will have some guidance along the way. He said the pictures of those who inspired him are printed on his race number and will be tagging along for the ride.

For more information visit, www.ridetovictory.org.

Suffolk Stop Bullying music video contest winners announced

A Mount Sinai Middle School student will share his original anti-bullying song with hundreds of people at Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker’s concert series this summer.

Jameson Wessels, a Mount Sinai eighth-grader, was named the winner of Anker’s (D-Mount Sinai) bullying awareness music video contest on Monday. Jameson and his friend Katie Gudzik created the anti-bullying video featuring the song — called “Why?” — that will be posted on the Suffolk Stop Bullying website.

First-place winner Jameson Wessels, left, poses with second-place winner Isabela Neves. Photo by Erika Karp
First-place winner Jameson Wessels, left, poses with second-place winner Isabela Neves. Photo by Erika Karp

The site, which launched last year, provides information and resources about bullying and anti-bullying efforts. Jameson also received a $500 prize from the North Shore Youth Council.

The video showcases music written and performed by Jameson and stars Katie as a victim of cyberbullying. Savannah Moore, another student, wrote the song’s lyrics.

Jameson said he hopes the music video will show others how sad bullying can make someone feel.

“I’ve been bullied in my life and I think that it’s wrong,” he said. “It happens more often than you think.”

Fellow Mount Sinai student Isabela Neves won second place for her original song, while teachers Sommer and Margie Marchand, of Marchand’s School of Dance in Miller Place, won third place for their dancers’ performance of Colbie Caillat’s “Try.”

Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker announces the winners of an anti-bullying music video contest on Monday. Photo by Erika Karp
Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker announces the winners of an anti-bullying music video contest on Monday. Photo by Erika Karp

Mike DelGuidice, lead singer of Big Shot, a Billy Joel tribute band; Anthony Mingoia, drummer of pop punk band Patent Pending; and Danny “Enjetic” Rivera, of the Asking Myself Association, an anti-bullying organization, judged the entries.

“There are so many ways to get a message across and I think one of the most important ways is through creative music, and that is why we chose this type of forum,” Anker said.

DelGuidice, a Miller Place native, said bullying affected his life and now, as a father, he sees how bullying still affects kids.

“[I] just thought we could all gather together as a community and actually put a stop to it and do our best to keep our eyes on it,” DelGuidice said.

Jameson, who has been bullied, said bullying is in every community and parents and administrators can’t push the issue aside. He added that other students must take a stand and not be just a bystander when they witness bullying, which can be a hard thing to do.

“I think I’ve gotten better at it as I’ve gotten older, but it is still something many people struggle with, including me,” he said.

Suffolk County Police Department to examine feasibility

Legislator Tom Muratore, center. File photo by Rachel Shapiro

Following in the footsteps of municipalities across the nation, the Suffolk County Legislature has agreed to explore creating safe spots where residents could conduct private sales transactions like those from websites like Craigslist.

County Legislator Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma) introduced legislation that would direct the Suffolk County Police Department to study the feasibility of creating the safe spots. The Legislature adopted the bill on May 12, and the findings will be reported to the Legislature within 120 days.

“Technology is changing the way people are doing business,” Muratore said in a phone interview.

The former Suffolk County police officer said he drafted the resolution after hearing about a number of violent crimes committed against people who posted or responded to advertisements on Craigslist.

In January, police charged a man who allegedly killed a Georgia couple looking to buy a vintage car, news reports said. In March, a Colorado woman allegedly stabbed and removed the fetus of a woman who was seven months pregnant and had gone to the suspect’s home in response to an ad.

While the national incidents referenced in the legislation are particularly vicious, there are some cases of misconduct closer to home.

Nearly two months ago, Suffolk County police arrested and charged a 24-year-old Medford man with fourth-degree grand larceny after he allegedly stole a quad from a Centereach resident who had posted the vehicle for sale on Craigslist. Police said the suspect responded to the ad and drove off with quad.

Suffolk County wouldn’t be the first to create such spots. The safe havens — sometimes at police departments or in monitored precinct parking lots — have been set up in Columbia, Mo., Hartford, Conn., and in numerous Georgia towns, to name a few.

“If they can do it, why can’t a major police department do something like that,” Muratore said.

The legislator said precinct parking lots, which could be monitored by closed-circuit cameras, would be good locations for the spots, as there are seven precincts spread across the county, plus the department’s headquarters in Yaphank. The study will also examine any equipment and personnel costs associated with establishing the locations, he said.

According to Craigslist’s website, the majority of users are “trustworthy” and “well-intentioned” and the incidence of violent crimes is “extremely low.”

Craigslist offers some guidelines when meeting someone for the first time. The site said meetings should take place in a public place as opposed to a private home; users should take precautions when selling expensive items; tell someone where they are going; and consider having someone accompany them. In addition, it encourages people to make high-value exchanges at a local police station.

SCPD Deputy Chief Kevin Fallon said Tuesday that the department could not comment at this point, but would communicate findings once a report is complete.

Young horseshoe crabs at West Meadow Beach, Stony Brook. File photo

Local fishermen came out to Brookhaven Town Hall last Thursday to let officials know they oppose Supervisor Ed Romaine’s push to limit horseshoe crab harvesting.

Earlier that week, Romaine (R) announced he and the town board would consider urging the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which regulates the industry, to ban horseshoe crab harvesting within 500 feet of town-owned property in an effort to protect the crab population and allow them a safe place to mate.

Romaine moved to table the idea after hearing the baymen’s concerns.

The 450-million-year-old species are used for bait and in the biomedical and pharmaceutical industries, as their blue blood is used to detect bacterial contamination in products. At a May 19 press conference, officials said if the crab population shrinks, other species — like those that eat the crabs’ eggs — could be negatively affected.

Stony Brook’s West Meadow Beach and Mount Sinai Harbor already have harvesting plans in place, and a ban would broaden the restriction area.

However, the fishermen said the restriction was not based on any facts and the horseshoe crab population is not declining. In addition, they said further regulation would affect their livelihoods.

Ron Bellucci Jr., of Sound Beach, said horseshoe crab harvesting is a vital part of his income. He added that he knows the crabs are important to the larger ecosystem, which he is a part of as well.

“I’m just a man, but I’m a vital part of the food chain and I think I’m at the top,” he said.

According to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, a partnership between East Coast states to protect fisheries, a 2013 assessment of the horsecrab population showed a decrease in the New York and New England regions, while crabs have increased in the southern states — North Carolina through Florida — and remained stable from New Jersey through coastal Virginia.

David Klopfenstein, of the North Shore Baymen’s Association, urged the board to speak with the DEC before supporting a ban. He said there was a lot of misinformation regarding a very complex issue that is already being controlled.

“It’s also the most well-managed fisheries that we have up and down the East Coast,” he said.

The DEC did not immediately comment on the issue.

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Sound Beach residents observed Memorial Day and remembered the men and women lost at war on Monday. The Sound Beach Civic Association led a service at the Sound Beach Veterans Memorial Park in honor of their neighbors — William Binder, World War II; Stewart Carroll, World War II; Joseph DeGrennaro, Vietnam; Bruce Kerndl, Vietnam; Charles Prchal, Vietnam; Kerry Hein, Desert Storm; and Peter Hahn, Iraq — who died in the line of duty. Veterans and those still serving were also honored.

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Middle Country Road in Centereach was decked out in red, white and blue on Sunday in honor of Memorial Day. Hundreds watched the vintage cars, marching bands, bagpipers, motorcycles, scouts and military and fire trucks at the hamlet’s Memorial Day parade, which was organized by the Centereach Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4927.

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Mike Riggio, center, speaks to his new fellow school board trustees following Tuesday’s election. Photo by Erika Karp

Full-day kindergarten is officially coming to the Mount Sinai Union Free School District, as residents approved a $56.7 million budget for the 2015-16 school year.

Under the spending plan, the district will expand its current half-day kindergarten program to full — a move backed by many parents as well as the teachers’ union. The budget also maintains class sizes, offerings and extracurricular activities, and brings the Columbia University’s Teachers College Writing Project — which provides writing curriculum and professional development for teachers — to grades kindergarten through fifth.

The budget passed with 1,241 yes votes to 316 votes against.

Superintendent Gordon Brosdal, who joined the district last summer, called the support “outstanding,” and expressed satisfaction that Mount Sinai would no longer be one of the few districts on Long Island left without full day kindergarten.

“To have that margin means to me the community supported the budget,” he said on Tuesday after the vote.
A resident with an average assessed home value of $3,500 will see an annual tax increase of $156.

Throughout the past few months, school board trustees and officials have urged residents to show up and vote. The district has had a relatively low voter turnout over the years, and Brosdal previously stated that elected officials do take notice. Compared to last year, 40 more residents cast a ballot in the budget vote.

“I think, to a degree, voters did hear our plea and came out,” Trustee Ed Law said.

The budget wasn’t the only item residents voted on. They also approved a proposition for library services at either the Comsewogue Public Library or Port Jefferson Free Library, and re-elected incumbent board trustee, Lynn Capobianco, to a second term, and newcomer Mike Riggio with 678 votes and 993 votes, respectively.

Candidates John DeBlasio and Joanne Rentz missed election.

Despite his loss on Tuesday, DeBlasio, a 54-year-old attorney, said he was happy the budget passed. Rentz, a 51-year-old brand manager, was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday. In a Facebook post Tuesday night, she thanked her supporters and said she hopes for great things in Mount Sinai.

Riggio, a 42-year-old retired New York City Police Department commander in the department’s counterterrorism unit, touted his security background and budgeting experience during his campaign. He said on Tuesday evening that he wanted to thank everyone who voted and that win or lose, the experience was “cool.”

“I think people like how I was honest,” he said.

Capobianco, a 65-year-old retired Mount Sinai school librarian, said she was grateful for the community’s support and excitement about full-kindergarten, now a reality.

“I am thrilled that our program is now a full k-12 program,” she said. “… It has been a long time coming.