Times of Middle Country

Damaged doors and windows
A Village Green Drive resident in Port Jefferson Station reported the door of their 2014 Hyundai had been dented at some point between 3 p.m. on June 3 and 11 a.m. on June 4.
Two cars and an apartment on Linden Place in Port Jefferson were damaged between 5 p.m. on June 6 and 7 p.m. on June 7. According to police, the apartment’s resident reported that the vehicles’ windows were smashed and the inside of the apartment was damaged.
A BB gun pellet damaged a window at a Granada Circle home in Mount Sinai on June 7 between 5:15 and 6:15 p.m.

Taken times two
A William Street resident in Port Jefferson Station reported that cash was stolen from their unlocked 2014 Cadillac sometime around 2:35 a.m. on June 3.
A Corvette Road residence in Selden was burglarized on June 4 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Police said the suspect entered through an unlocked rear door and took jewelry, cash and electronics.

Going through withdrawals
After stealing a pocketbook from a shopper at Stop & Shop on Pond Path in Centereach on June 3, a suspect then used the credit cards to make purchases.
A Wolfhollow Road resident in Centereach reported on June 3 that their debit card had been used to make unauthorized withdrawals.

Welts on West Broadway
A female was injured after a verbal dispute at Schafer’s in Port Jefferson became physical in the early morning of June 7. According to police, the woman had welts on her forehead after being punched and was transported to a local hospital.

Tempestuous relationship
A mother and her son’s friend got into a verbal argument on June 6 on Tempest Road in Selden.

Do not enter
A 22-year-old Bellport man was arrested in Mount Sinai on June 6 and charged with third-degree criminal trespass after he entered the backyard of a Savanna Circle home without permission on June 5.

Working for tips
A 26-year-old Centereach woman was arrested in Mount Sinai on June 5 and charged with petit larceny after she took a tip jar from Tropical Smoothie Café on May 29.

Locked and loaded
Police arrested a 43-year-old Rocky Point man on June 3 shortly after 8 p.m. after they discovered the suspect in possession of cocaine and a loaded Glock, among other weapons. He was charged with multiple related counts, including second-degree criminal possession of a loaded firearm.

Crash-and-dasher sought
Suffolk County police are seeking the public’s help in identifying and locating a woman who may have left the scene of an accident last month. Police said on May 31, at about 9:30 a.m., a woman driving a tan or beige-colored four-door sedan sideswiped a white Toyota at the Shop Rite located at 71 College Road in Selden. The suspect’s vehicle may have damage to the right front-end fender. Suffolk County Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest. Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.

Speedy DWI
A 29-year-old man from Dix Hills was arrested in Stony Brook on May 5, at 1:30 a.m., and charged with driving while intoxicated. Police said the man was driving a 2007 gray Lexus and was observed speeding on County Road 97 at Shirley Kenny Drive in Stony Brook.

Clothing grab
A 30 year-old female from Sayville was arrested on June 1 in Setauket-East Setauket and charged with petit larceny. Police said she stole clothing from Kohl’s on Nesconset Highway at 8:12 p.m. She was arrested at the scene.

Wrong side of the tracks
Someone drove onto the lawn of Crossroads Church on Pembrook Drive in Stony Brook and left tire tracks between June 5 at 5 p.m. and June 6 at 10 a.m.

Basement burglary
Someone broke into the basement window of a home on Bennett Lane in Stony Brook and took a phone, cash and credit cards sometime between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. on June 5.

Cheat sheet
Someone took two sheet sets and returned them for credit at Kohl’s on Nesconset Highway in Setauket-East Setauket sometime between May 20 and June 6.

Lost and found
A man lost his wallet at Kohl’s in Setauket-East Setauket and someone stole it and used his credit card sometime between May 18 and May 19.

Bag grabber sought
Suffolk County police are seeking the public’s help in identifying and locating a man who broke a car window and stole a bag in Hauppauge last month.
Police said a man broke the passenger front window of a blue Toyota Rav-4 and stole a Coach handbag from within the vehicle on May 5, between the hours of 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
The suspect appears to be a light-skinned Hispanic male, five feet and seven inches tall, in his 20s, with a medium build. The suspect was wearing a baseball hat and had his right arm in a sling.
Suffolk County Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest. Anyone with information about this crime is asked to call anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.

Credit compromised
Suffolk County police arrested a 37-year-old man from Holbrook on June 6 and charged him with fourth-degree grand larceny of credit cards. Police said he stole credit cards from a Holbrook woman on June 4 at 8:30 p.m. He was arrested at the 4th precinct at 9:45 a.m.

Rude awakening
Suffolk County police arrested a 28-year-old undomiciled man in Smithtown and charged him with third-degree criminal trespass of enclosed property. Police said he entered a building on Maple Avenue in Smithtown on June 5 and found the man sleeping in a storage room. Police also said there was a sign on the door that cautioned no trespassing. He was arrested that day at 12:20 a.m.

Cu later
Police arrested a 24-year-old man from Ronkonkoma on June 3 and charged him with third-degree burglary. Police said the man broke into a residence on Pleasure Avenue in Lake Ronkonkoma, between April 28 and May 2, and stole copper piping. He was arrested at the 4th Precinct at 2:35 p.m.

Bike-jacked
Someone stole a BMX bicycle from a parking lot on West Main Street in Smithtown on June 7, between noon and 2 p.m. There are no arrests.

Laser gazer
A driver complained to police that someone in another car was pointing a green laser at him, causing him visual distress. The incident happened in Smithtown, eastbound on Route 25A, on June 5. The driver was traveling in a 2007 Infiniti and the suspect was a male with a female passenger.

Two heads are better than one
A man told police he was head-butted by someone at Napper Tandy’s Irish Pub on East Main Street in Smithtown on June 3. The victim said he required medical attention and stitches. The incident happened at around 11 p.m.

Donation box looted
Someone took money from the poor box at St. Patrick’s Church on East Main Street on June 2, sometime between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. There are no arrests.

Knocked out
Police arrested an 18-year-old man from Huntington Station in Huntington on June 6 and charged him with assault with intent to cause physical injury with a weapon. Police said he smashed a bottle over somebody’s head at about 12:30 a.m. The victim had to receive stitches at Huntington Hospital. The man was arrested at 5 a.m. that day.

Teen punched
A 44-year-old man from Huntington was arrested in Huntington on June 6 and charged with acting in a manner injurious to a child below the age of 17. Police said the man punched a 14-year-old boy in the face multiple times. The incident happened on the street on Wall Street in Huntington on May 23 at 9:05 p.m. The man was arrested on West Neck Road at Gerard Street at about 11:19 a.m.

No ‘scrips, no problem
Police arrested a 39-year-old Huntington man in Huntington on June 5 and charged him with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. Police said the man possessed prescription medication without a prescription, and he was arrested in front of West Shore Road in Huntington at 5:09 p.m.

In your face
A 23-year-old man from Huntington Station was arrested in Huntington on June 3 and charged with third-degree assault with intent to cause physical injury. Police said the man punched another man in the face, and the other individual required medical treatment. The incident took place at Ohara Place in Halesite on May 9 at 1:40 a.m., and the man was arrested at the 2nd precinct at 4:45 p.m.

Missing computer
A Knollwood Road resident in Halesite reported to police his computer disappeared from his home. He used an app to locate it and tracked the device to Brentwood. The man said he doesn’t know how it got there. The incident occurred sometime between 8 p.m. on June 4 and 11 p.m. on June 5.

Gone in a click
Someone stole a woman’s bag containing a camera, lenses, a tripod, batteries and charger sometime between 9 p.m. and midnight on June 5 on New York Avenue in Huntington. The woman left the equipment on a party bus, and when she returned to the bus, the bag was gone.

Power punch
Someone punched a man in the face on New York Avenue on June 6 at 2:35 a.m., causing him to fall back and hit his head. The man had to go to Huntington Hospital for medial treatment.

Rings taken
Someone stole two diamond rings from a home on Woodbury Road in Cold Spring Harbor sometime between June 1 and June 4. There are no arrests.

An x-ray device is used at a press conference to show how inspectors will monitor potentially harmful toxins in children’s products across Long Island retail stores. File photo by Barbara Donlon

Suffolk County is not playing games when it comes to toxic toys.

Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) saw one of her latest proposals receive unanimous approval last week when the Suffolk County Legislature approved measures that would ban the sale of any toys containing potentially dangerous toxins. The Toxin Free Toys Act zeroes in on six toxins most commonly found in toys marketed to children and will forever ban them once the legislation gets County Executive Steve Bellone’s signature.

Hahn said the initiative came as a response to a recent report issued by the New York League of Conservation Voters and Clean and Healthy New York that found several children’s products containing carcinogenic components on the shelves of Long Island stores. Most specifically, the legislation targeted dangerous materials that are linked to cancer, cognitive impairments, hyperactivity and genetic disorders in children, Hahn said.

“As a mother, I am outraged that children’s toys contain these toxic chemicals that can cause cancer, learning and developmental disabilities and respiratory, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal disorders,” Hahn said. “By passing this law today, we are acting proactively to protect our children’s health.”

Under the proposal, new children’s products sold in Suffolk County would need to contain less than specified limits in parts per million of the six following components: antimony, arsenic, cadmium, cobalt, lead and mercury. The legislation pegged the county’s Department of Health Services to head up the operation by notifying retailers by the beginning of 2016 that inspectors would be conducting random checks for toys and other children’s products containing toxic content using an x-ray fluorescence analyzer.

Clean and Healthy New York released the “Toxic Toys on Long Island” report back in December, which surveyed various retail spots like Target, Party City, Walmart, The Children’s Place, Macy’s, Ocean State Job Lot and Dollar Tree to find that some products contained potentially harmful materials. The report found more than 4,600 children’s products and toys contained at least one of 49 hazardous chemicals.

Kathleen A. Curtis, executive director of Clean and Healthy New York, was one of several health and safety advocates to applaud the proposal as an appropriate response to December’s report.

“In the absence of a strong state or federal law to regulate toxic chemicals in children’s products, it is both laudable and appropriate for Suffolk County to take action to protect its most precious and vulnerable residents,” she said. “Hopefully, this action will create a tipping point for New York State to follow suit. Otherwise, more localities will step up and follow Suffolk’s lead.”

Marcia Bystryn, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters, has also been at the forefront of the statewide push to limit the kinds of toxins children could be exposed to through their toys. While the state still waits for its own comprehensive response to toxic toy legislation, Bystryn applauded Suffolk for taking the lead.

“Toxic chemicals have no place in children’s toys, and they should not be on store shelves for sale,” Bystryn said. “I applaud bill sponsor Kara Hahn and the Suffolk County Legislature for sending a clear message to parents that they deserve the right to know what dangers are lurking in the products they bring home.”

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.

Councilman Neil Foley, left, and Supervisor Ed Romaine stand by the jetty where a Selden man allegedly crashed his boat and then fled the scene. Photo by Alex Petroski

By Alex Petroski

Town and county officials aren’t taking boating safety lightly, and are urging residents to take precautions while out on the water this summer.

Boating safety was the topic of discussion at a press conference held at the Sandspit Marina in Patchogue Thursday, following a hit-and-run incident on May 24.  Mark Tricarico, 31, of Selden, was arrested and charged with leaving the scene of a boating accident involving injury, according to a Suffolk County Police department press release.

Tricarico allegedly crashed a 23-foot boat into the west jetty at the entrance of the Patchogue River on the night of the 24th. One passenger was treated for minor injuries. Tricarico could not be reached for comment.

“If everyone follows safe boating procedures, most accidents can be prevented,” Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said on Thursday, just yards away from the site of the incident.

June and July are typically the busiest boating months of the year on Long Island, and Romaine along with Suffolk County Police Marine Bureau Deputy Inspector Ed Vitale urged boaters to be aware of boating laws in the hopes of avoiding a repeat of the events of May 24.

From left, Assistant Deputy County Executive Tim Sini; Police Marine Bureau Deputy Inspector Ed Vitale; Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine; and Brookhaven Councilman Neil Foley at a press conference on boating safety. Photo by Alex Petroski
From left, Assistant Deputy County Executive Tim Sini; Police Marine Bureau Deputy Inspector Ed Vitale; Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine; and Brookhaven Councilman Neil Foley at a press conference on boating safety. Photo by Alex Petroski

Romaine and Vitale also reiterated some general boating safety precautions, like avoiding alcohol while operating a boat, being aware of weather forecasts and following paths set by buoys.

“Stay in the navigable channels,” Romaine said. “Understand what the buoys are for.”

Operating boats while intoxicated was a point everyone touched on.

“You don’t see it that often until you see a boat up on the rocks,” Jesse Mentzel, a bay constable, said in a one on one interview.  “It happens, and they could hit another boat just as easily.”

Assistant Deputy County Executive Tim Sini attended the press conference on behalf of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D).

“We want to make one thing clear—boating while intoxicated will not be tolerated in Suffolk County,” Sini said.

Sini added that there would be checkpoints and patrols to monitor the waterways and ensure that everyone remains safe this summer.

Some additional safety precautions suggested by Romaine and Vitale included a boating course approved by the U.S. Coast Guard as well as a swiming and first-aid course, operating at safe speeds, and designating an assistant skipper in case you are injured or otherwise unable to assume command of the vessel.

“The water can be a very hostile environment,” Vitale said.  “It’s a beautiful looking place and it is truly, but it can be very hostile to people.  You have to pay attention.  You have to be aware of the weather.  You have to be aware of the currents.  This is something that every now and then people get out on the water and they just don’t get it.”

To the left, to the left
A 24-year-old woman from Farmingville was arrested in Smithtown on May 28 and charged with driving while intoxicated, with a previous conviction within 10 years. Police said the woman was driving a 2013 Toyota Rav 4 and was making a left turn onto Main Street in Smithtown, which a road sign prohibited.

Lights out
A 24-year-old East Northport woman was arrested on May 28 in Smithtown and charged with driving while intoxicated. Police said the woman was driving a 2006 Nissan westbound on Route 25A in Smithtown at 2:25 a.m. Cops found her intoxicated after pulling her over because her lights were off.

Drunk driver caught
A 56-year-old woman from St. James was arrested by police in Smithtown on May 30 and charged with driving while intoxicated, operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 of 1 percent. Police said that the woman was driving a 2001 Buick Century at the corner of Route 25A and Edgewood Avenue in Smithtown at about 12:26 a.m. and sideswiped two vehicles.

Nesconset harassment
Police arrested a 39-year-old man from Nesconset on May 27 and charged him with second-degree aggravated harassment, race/religion. Police said the man directed racial slurs at a female victim on the corner of Southern Boulevard and Route 347 in Nesconset at 1:35 p.m.

Church money stolen
Someone took money from the donation boxes at the St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church on East Main Street in Smithtown sometime between May 28 and May 29.

Washed out
Two drivers in two separate cars made off with free car washes at Don’s Hand Car Wash on Nesconset Highway in Nesconset on May 27 between 1:30 and 6:30 p.m. There are no arrests.

Broken window
Someone broke the passenger side window of a 2000 Dodge Intrepid parked on Thompson Street in Kings Park. The incident occurred sometime between 5:15 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. on May 29.

Grill, lights snatched
Someone removed a grill and tail lights from a 2010 Jeep Wrangler located at Certified Headquarters on Middle Country Road in Saint James. The incident was reported to police on May 28 and it occurred sometime on May 22.

Pretty in pink
An unknown man dressed in black pants, a black jacket, one black glove on his left hand and a pink mask covering his head entered a Terryville Road gas station in Port Jefferson Station, stole cash from the register and fled on foot on June 1. Police are still investigating the early morning incident.

Credit score
A 49-year-old man was arrested and charged with fourth-degree grand larceny on May 27 after he stole a wallet containing several credit cards from a 2013 Ford that was parked in the Three Roads Plaza in Port Jefferson Station.

I’ll have the punch
An unknown suspect reportedly approached a man standing in front of a Main Street bar in Port Jefferson and hit him on May 31. The victim was taken to John T. Mather Memorial Hospital for treatment. There have been no arrests.

Ticketed off
A Port Jefferson village code enforcement officer reported that while trying to write a parking ticket on May 26, the recipient decided to leave the scene instead of waiting for the ticket. As the individual pulled away, the officer had to step away to avoid being hit.

Butting heads
A 37-year-old Wading River man was arrested for assault on May 30 after a confrontation between him and another man in Miller Place escalated, moving from inside a Route 25A restaurant to the parking lot. The defendant head-butted the other man.

Falling flat
A Gully Landing Road resident in Miller Place reported that an unknown person had punctured a rear tire of their 2012 Honda Accord on May 29.

Shots fired
Woodhull Landing Road residents in Sound Beach reported that they believed a person had used a BB gun to damage car windows and doors at some point between May 28 and May 29.

Easy entry
Jewelry and a laptop were stolen from a Hawkins Road residence in Centereach on May 30. The suspect supposedly entered through an unlocked back door.

Trailer trashed
A fire rescue education trailer parked at the Middle Country Public Library in Centereach was vandalized on May 30. According to police, graffiti was drawn on the side of the trailer.

Vacancy
A vacant home on Noel Drive in Centereach was burglarized on May 27. An unknown individual entered the home, which had recently suffered a fire, through a basement window and took two TVs, an iPad and video game consoles.

Crash and dash
Police arrested a 32-year-old Stony Brook man on May 29 in Stony Brook and charged him with aggravated driving while intoxicated, with a child in the car. Police said the man was driving a 2015 Nissan Altima southbound on Stony Brook Road and was involved in a motor vehicle crash with his 18-month-old son in the car. The man crashed into a fence, and he also crashed into a 2004 Toyota Rav 4 at about 12:14 p.m. Police also charged him with two counts of leaving the scene of an accident. The man was arrested later that day at his home on Stony Brook Road.

Shoplifter caught
Police arrested a 26-year-old man from South Setauket on May 30 and charged him with petit larceny. Police said the man stole a chainsaw and an air compressor accessory set from the Smithhaven Mall on May 14 at 4:12 p.m. Police said he was arrested in Lake Grove.

Hot outfit snatched
Someone stole jewelry and a tank top from Kohl’s on Nesconset Highway in Setauket-East Setauket on May 30 at 9:43 p.m. There are no arrests.

A crying shame
Someone took assorted baby items from Walmart on Nesconset Highway in Setauket-East Setauket sometime between 7 and 8 p.m. on May 29. There are no arrests.

Jewelry lifted
Someone stole jewelry from a home on William Penn Drive in Setauket-East Setauket sometime between May 26 at 4 p.m. and May 27 at 10 a.m. There are no arrests.

Credit card mystery
A female complainant from Hawkins Road in Stony Brook told police someone made two unauthorized purchases through her credit card. The incident occurred sometime on May 24 and police received the report on May 29.

Dave Calone has had his eye on the 1st Congressional District representative since the election last November, and he has already seen enough.

Challenger Dave Calone wants to unseat Congressman Lee Zeldin. Photo from Maria Hoffman
Challenger Dave Calone wants to unseat Congressman Lee Zeldin. Photo from Maria Hoffman

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) unseated six-term Democrat Tim Bishop by a wide margin — 54 percent of the vote to 45 percent — but Calone, a Setauket native and Port Jefferson high school graduate, said the new congressman’s voting record has motivated him to throw his hat into the ring.

“He’s out of step with Long Island and what we need to do to grow this economy,” said Calone, who works as CEO of Jove Equity Partners LLC, a venture capital firm that helps start and build technology companies. “I was disappointed to see Tim lose because I thought he had done a good job. When I saw the [floor] votes Zeldin was taking, I felt it was very partisan voting.”

Government tracking website OpenCongress reported Zeldin has voted along party lines 94 percent of the time since taking office in January. Of those votes, Calone said he took issue with Zeldin’s positions in favor of Republican budget plans that cut Homeland Security funding, and he disagreed with the congressman’s remarks referring to President Barack Obama as a monarch.

Jennifer DiSiena, a spokeswoman for Zeldin, said with 17 months until the next election, the congressman would be focusing his efforts on improving the lives of the middle class and not engaging in politics.

“Congressman Zeldin has been working across party lines since day one,” she said in a statement. “He has been recognized as the top Freshman Republican likely to co-sponsor legislation with members of the opposite party. He has also broken from party lines on critical votes to protect working class residents of Long Island. While people make false accusations regarding the congressman, Lee Zeldin is working tirelessly for the residents of Long Island. These people can continue to throw mud and lies about the congressman, but the residents of the First [Congressional] District are smarter than that.”

Calone is director of six privately held companies throughout the country and has helped organize the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the U.S. House of Representatives, advocating federal policies that promote job creation through the development of startups and other small businesses.

In that role, he helped launch Startup Day Across America, an event to connect federal officials with early-stage companies in their region. He also founded the Long Island Emerging Technologies Fund, which provides funding to six early-stage companies based on technology developed at Long Island’s research institutions.

Congressman Lee Zeldin. File photo
Congressman Lee Zeldin. File photo

Calone said his hands-on experience helping Long Island businesses thrive was a driving force behind his decision to challenge Zeldin, and he hoped to apply his experience working to keep his hometown attractive, and retain residents living there.

“What I want to bring is someone who helped start and grow businesses across Long Island,” he said. “This area was a great place to grow up and a lot of my classmates have already left and don’t come back. We need to be a leader in the economy of New York and worldwide.”

Since 2008, Calone has worked as chairman of the Suffolk County Planning Commission. He also helped initiate the county’s first comprehensive plan effort in nearly 40 years.

On the local level, Calone has already garnered support from various political leaders and community activists. His campaign committee is headed by Virginia Capon, president of the Three Village Democratic Club, and he has received early support from Tony Parlatore, chair of the Brookhaven Town Democratic Committee.

“Dave Calone has never run for office before, but he is a lifelong supporter of Democratic values,” Parlatore said. “His father was an engineer and local chamber of commerce leader and his mother was an elementary school teacher here in our community. He is well respected in our region for his work to cut government red tape and enact policies that support job growth. He also has been a leader in protecting Suffolk County’s natural environment by fighting to protect our waters and has been nationally recognized for creating policies that promote renewable energy usage across Long Island.”

As a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Department of Justice Honors Program, Calone worked on prosecuting cases involving international economic crime and terrorism — efforts for which he was named a recipient of the 2003 Attorney General’s Award.

Calone is an honors graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School. He lives with his wife Kate, a Presbyterian minister, and their three children.

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Middle Country's Denzel Williams sprints to the finish line during a meet earlier this season. File photo by Bill Landon

By Clayton Collier

Middle Country track standout Denzel Williams had an admirable performance at the divisional meets at Comsewogue this past weekend, taking second and third in the 200- and 100-meter events, respectively.
Most students would be thrilled to have finished with such marks, but Williams considered it a bad day at the office.

“I’m not really satisfied,” he said. “I definitely think I could have gotten first. It was just an off day and hopefully, come state qualifiers, I think I can and I should place first in my events. Definitely in the 200.”

The All-League junior will head to state qualifiers at Port Jefferson High School this upcoming weekend, looking to make a comeback from his divisional results. Williams finished the 100 in 10.9 seconds, and the 200 in 22.2.

Joining him at the qualifiers will be fellow junior Middle Country track and field athlete Chris Weiner, who will compete in the pole vault.

Middle Country track coach George Royce said he believes that Weiner, who did not place at the divisional meet, will bounce back at state qualifiers, as he said the wind gave him a little trouble. As for Williams, Royce says he hopes to see his star athlete build on his divisional times.

“I think he’s going to do even better this weekend, once we fine tune a couple things,” Royce said. “The sprint races all depend on how they feel that day.”

Denzel Williams competes in the long jump for Middle Country. File photo by Bill Landon
Denzel Williams competes in the long jump for Middle Country. File photo by Bill Landon

For Williams, a key to success is having a short memory, something that, as a three-sport athlete, he has had ample opportunity to develop.

In the fall Williams is a running back and safety on the football team, in the winter he’s a combo guard for basketball, and in the spring he sprints.

Williams said track is particularly beneficial, as it helps him stay fit year-round.

“It keeps me in shape for all my sports,” he said. “It only helps you get better. It won’t hurt you. You get faster; stronger.”

Among all three of his coaches — Royce, head football coach Joseph Piccinnini and head basketball coach Anthony Agostino — one theme was consistent in describing Williams: a hard worker.

“He’s probably the best all-around athlete I’ve ever coached in terms of speed and jumping ability,” Agostino said. “He’s a tremendous leader. He works hard and he’s admired by his peers and faculty. He’s the real deal.”

Williams said the most difficult part about being a three-sport athlete is balancing school work.

“It’s difficult, but you’ve got to maintain,” he said. “It’s a lot of late-night studying, but that’s the price you pay. It’s worth it in the end.”

Though Royce said there have been some occasional scheduling conflicts, he feels it is important for young athletes to play multiple sports.

“Nowadays a lot of coaches think that kids should be playing their sport all year round, but I disagree,” he said. “I think most good athletes can do three sports. It’s beneficial for them, too.”

Although early, Williams said he is leaning toward football in college, but said track is a possibility as well. He has been looked at by a number of local programs, including the University of Massachusetts, Lowell; Stony Brook University and Fordham University.

Piccinnini said one of Williams’ most valuable tools is his speed, and it doesn’t just help him in track, but also on the gridiron.

“He’s got that closing speed and that breakaway speed needed,” he said. “That’s a great thing to have, and he has it.”

Williams will see what happens in the remaining year. In the meantime, he has his hands full finishing up track season before getting ready for football. Royce is confident that Williams will be successful in whatever he chooses.

“He’s determined,” Royce said. “He’s gifted with tremendous speed and jumping abilities. The sky’s the limit with how far he’s going to go.”

Melissa Acevedo mugshot from SCPD

Police say a health worker stole jewelry from a woman she was caring for in Middle Country last month.

The Suffolk County Police Department arrested Selden resident Melissa Acevedo on Tuesday, charging her with third-degree grand larceny in connection with the theft.

Acevedo, 27, had been caring for the 74-year-old Coram woman and alleged victim at her home between May 1 and May 9, when the elderly woman says numerous pieces of jewelry were stolen, according to police. The jewelry was valued at more than $3,000.

Attorney information for the suspect was not immediately available. She was scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday.

Detectives began investigating on May 9 after the patient reported the missing jewelry.

County Executive Steve Bellone cites increased savings for taxpayers

Steve Bellone, Barry Paul and John Kennedy, Jr. spotted at a recent press event. Photo from Suffolk County

The merger of the offices of Suffolk County treasurer and the Suffolk County comptroller is being moved up by two years — a move Executive Steve Bellone’s office claims will save taxpayers even more money than originally anticipated.

The treasurer’s office will be folded into the comptroller’s office on Jan. 1, 2016 instead of a planned 2018 deadline, and the groundwork for the transition has already begun, with changes in the treasurer’s office implemented as early as January this year.

A whopping 62 percent of Suffolk County voters overwhelmingly supported a referendum to combine the two offices in a vote , and ever since then, plans have been put into action to complete the merger.

Merging the departments is expected to save taxpayers more than $3 million, according to Bellone’s office in a statement. Moving the merger up by two years saves more money because the county can eliminate positions sooner. Also, implementing new human resources software will allow the county to realize more savings.

The merger includes abolishing the treasurer’s position, as well as two deputy treasurer positions. Five positions have already been eliminated from the treasurer’s office. These positions included staff members who had retired or left the office and were not replaced, since the positions were deemed no longer necessary. 

Interim Treasurer Barry Paul has been spearheading the merger, and it is the main reason he was brought into the position. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone nominated Paul to the post when previous Treasurer Angie Carpenter was named Islip Town supervisor and left the office in early January of this year.

Bellone has worked with Paul and Comptroller John M. Kennedy Jr., whose two offices will become one. However, at first, Kennedy was not in favor of the merger. During Kennedy’s campaign for comptroller last year, he strongly opposed the referendum and the merger.

“I had concerns with the separation of functions and the new oversight of the two offices,” Kennedy said. Once he was elected into office and realized the public’s support for the move at the polls, Kennedy said he altered his point of view.

“I try to be guided by the will of my constituents, and they wanted to see consolidation so I am now on board,” Kennedy said.

Originally the merger was scheduled to be complete in January 2018, since Carpenter’s term as treasurer was from 2015 to 2017. Once Carpenter stepped down, there was an opportunity to bring on Paul and speed up the process.

Previously, Paul was a Bellone staffer, and once he finishes overseeing the merger of the treasurer’s office with the comptroller’s office, he will return to his post there. For Paul, the treasurer appointment was always a short-term assignment.

“All existing personnel from the treasurer’s office will go under Kennedy, and Kennedy has really embraced that,” Suffolk County Deputy County Executive Jon Schneider, who has worked on the merger as well, said in a phone interview. “This merger will save taxpayers money, while delivering better services.”

Another place that the treasurer’s office has been able to save money is with regards to a backlog of providing tax refunds. As of May 14, the backlog tax refunds were reduced by a third, coming down to 7,810, whereas over a month before, the number of backlog tax refunds was 11,830, according to Bellone’s office.

The backlog is expected to be completely eliminated by July, and will save the taxpayers more than a million dollars in reduced interests costs annually.

The new merged office will also host Munis software in the county’s IT system, which will save another $150,000 to $200,000 dollars. Munis is an integrated enterprise resource planning system that manages all core functions, including financials, human resources, citizen services and revenues.

In a statement, Paul said he has been following Bellone’s mandate to make the treasurer’s office as efficient as possible, and is confident in this timeline and the work his office has been doing to save taxpayer dollars.

New York native to start on July 6

MaryEllen Elia succeeds John B. King Jr. as the state’s next education commissioner. Photo from state education department
MaryEllen Elia succeeds John B. King Jr. as the state’s next education commissioner. Photo from state education department

MaryEllen Elia, a former Florida superintendent, will succeed John B. King Jr., as New York’s next education commissioner and local education leaders across the North Shore are anxiously waiting to see if she’ll pass the test.

The New York State Board of Regents formed a seven-member search committee in January to find a replacement for King, who announced he was leaving his seat after accepting a federal senior advisor position to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

For a decade, Elia served as the superintendent of Hillsborough County, Florida, and was named state Superintendent of the Year in 2015. She is credited with much success in Hillsborough, as her district won $100 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help develop a teacher evaluation system that used student standardized test scores as a key factor.

The system, Empowering Effective Teachers, received national praise from Duncan and the American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, who stated in a press release the system provides extensive support for teachers and pay structure incentivizes teachers to take on more challenging positions.

Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said in a press release that Elia has a remarkable record of working collaboratively with parents, students and teachers to get things done, which was crucial to make sure the implementation of the Common Core Learning Standards went smoothly for students and teachers in Florida.

Elia is delighted to return back to New York, and said in a press release that she is happy to work on behalf of the children. She still considers herself a teacher at heart, and believes that a good teacher is also a good listener.

The New York native had her first teaching job in Sweet Home Central School District in Amherst, N.Y., where she taught social studies for 16 years. In 1986, when her family moved to Florida, she became a reading teacher for three years and then held various administrative positions in the district until her departure.

During Elia’s 10-year tenure as superintendent of Hillsborough, students have received national recognition for their achievement. Fourth and eighth grade students earned high reading scores than any of the other 22 districts that participated in the 2013 Trial Urban District Assessment.

All of Hillsborough districts public high schools placed on the Washington Post’s list of “America’s Most Challenging High Schools” in 2012 and 2013.

Former state education Commissioner John B. King Jr. at a community forum. File photo by Erika Karp
Former state education Commissioner John B. King Jr. at a community forum. File photo by Erika Karp

King stepped down last December amidst much controversy, specifically for his methods of implementing the highly controversial Common Core in New York.

Superintendents, politicians and members of the community all found problems with King’s techniques, feeling that the Common Core was rushed into the schools and not given enough time for teachers and students to understand it. Another fault was his background, which lacked any teaching jobs. King was a co-founder of Roxbury Prep, a charter middle school in Massachusetts.

“I was the first to call for his resignation, he developed a hostile approach and seemed oblivious to his role,” New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) said.

Englebright said he hopes Elia will provide a fresh look at the system, and that she’ll bring her background as both a teacher and an administrator to the schools of New York.

One thing is for sure; Elia has her work cut out for her.

“I think she has a monumental task ahead of her, “ Timothy Eagen, Kings Park’s superintendent said. “On Long Island, about 50 percent of students in grades three through eight refused to take the assessments this past year. There is a lot of work to be done.”

Middle Country school district Superintendent Roberta Gerold felt there wasn’t a collaborative culture surrounding the application of the Common Core under King’s tenure.

“There needs to be a responsible conversation, and I don’t think we had that with King, he was reluctant to slow down,” said Gerold, who also serves as president of the Suffolk County School Superintendents Association.

Fellow superintendent, Joe Rella, of Comsewogue, said he is desperate for a more collaborative and ongoing conversation.

“This reform dialogue needs to stop, he said. “We need time to examine what has happened. I am optimistic on Elia’s hiring until further notice.”

The superintendent’s prayers may just be answered, as Elia stated that her first item of business as commissioner will be listening to the members of the community, parents, teachers, students and administrators.

Johanna Testa, vice president of the Miller Place Board of Education, said while she is 100 percent happy to see a new commissioner, who has experience teaching in New York, she still has some concerns over Elia’s track record of student test scores being tied to teacher evaluations.

“I’m just not convinced she’s the right person for the job,” Testa said.

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