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Alcohol

A free alcohol testing kit comes with one urination cup and test strip. Photo from Suffolk County Sheriff's Office

A new Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department program is looking to keep kids safe this prom and graduation season, while creating a way for parents to more easily open a dialogue with kids about underage drinking and drugs.

“We just want everyone to be prepared,” Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr. said. “It’s a celebratory moment for people graduating high school and moving on, and they feel a little empowered.”

On May 22 the sheriff’s office announced it is passing out free alcohol and drug testing kits.

“This is not supposed to be a punishment, and I don’t believe that was ever the purpose. It’s important to show kids that they can have fun without being high or drinking.”

— Janene Gentile

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the leading cause of death for people in the United States between the ages of 15 and 24 is motor vehicle crashes. In Suffolk County, the leading causes of motor vehicle crashes are driving while ability impaired by alcohol or dugs and reckless or distracted driving.

The test kits include standard urine test that contains a single cup and stick that changes color depending on the presence of alcohol.

“We want parents to ask tough questions and [have] tough discussions early on so that they don’t get the knock on the door by a police officer telling them that their child is in the hospital or telling them that their child was driving while intoxicated,” Toulon said. “We would rather let them take care of their children so that law enforcement does not [have to] get involved.”

The North Shore Youth Council already offers these kits. Executive Director Janene Gentile said she doesn’t see the kits as a punitive measure, but as a way for parents to more easily talk about the topic with their children.

“Drinking is cultural in our society, but it’s an adult choice and not a young person’s choice,” she said.
“This is not supposed to be a punishment, and I don’t believe that was ever the purpose. It’s important to show kids that they can have fun without being high or drinking.”

Local schools have long tried to curb drug and alcohol use at prom while still trying to ensure graduating classes celebrate the final days before graduation.

Frank Pugliese said in his first year as principal of Shoreham-Wading River High School, he hopes his students can enjoy prom while staying safe.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime moment, but please be responsible in your actions so you do not harm yourself or anyone else.”

— Errol Toulon Jr.

“We strongly advise all students to always make appropriate decisions,” Pugliese said in an email. “With that being said, we have great students. The vast majority make smart choices regardless of the policies in place, and we trust that they will continue to do so on prom night.”

Smithtown High School West participates in the county District Attorney’s Office new Choices and Consequences program that shows the dangers of reckless and drunk driving. Members of the DA’s office will be in the high school June 18.

In a letter to students, Smithtown West High School Principal John Coady said anyone caught drinking during prom will be suspended and kicked out. Prom tickets will not be refunded, and the student may be barred from the graduation ceremony.

Fifty alcohol and 25 drug testing kits were sent out to numerous schools to kick off the program. The kits are also available free at each Suffolk County legislator’s office and will remain offered through the North Shore Youth Council.

Each alcohol testing kit costs .74 cents while drug testing kits are $1.50. The $5,000 program is being paid for with asset forfeiture funds.

“I would like for all of them to enjoy the moment,” Toulon said of seniors attending prom and graduation. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime moment, but please be responsible in your actions so you do not harm yourself or anyone else.”

File photo by Victoria Espinoza

Suffolk County police have arrested five people after conducting inspections within the 4th Precinct April 14.

In response to recent complaints throughout the 4th Precinct, Crime Section officers conducted investigations into the sale of e-liquid nicotine and alcohol to minors at 17 businesses, utilizing underage agents.

The following individuals were arrested and issued Field Appearance Tickets:

  • Shah Asif, 44, of Bay Shore, at Shell gas station at 642 Motor Parkway in Brentwood was charged with one count of second-degree unlawfully dealing.
  • James Flone, 54, of Smithtown, at The Smoke Shop at 403 Smithtown Blvd. in Nesconset was charged with one count of second-degree unlawfully dealing and one count of first-degree unlawfully dealing.
  • Mohammes Khan, of Flushing, Queens, 58 , at Aroma Smoke Shop at 6 East Main Street in Smithtown, was charged with two counts of second-degree unlawfully dealing.
  • Wenwen Liu, 33, of East Meadow, at Smithtown Wines and Spirits at 67 Route 111 in Smithtown, was charged with two counts of first-degree unlawfully dealing.
  • Giovanni Galeano, 26, of Central Islip, at Krypton Smoke Shop at 260 Smithtown Blvd. in Nesconset was charged with two counts of second-degree unlawfully dealing.

The following businesses complied and refused the sale of e-liquid nicotine and/or alcohol to minors:

  • 7-Eleven at 2045 Jericho Turnpike in Commack
  • 7-Eleven at 362 Veterans Highway in Commerce
  • BP gas station at 2840 Pond Road in Ronkonkoma
  • BP gas station at 402 Rosevale Ave. in Ronkonkoma
  • Bullseye Wholesale Beverage at 395A Middle Country Road in Smithtown
  • Citgo Mini Mart at 440 Hawkins Ave. in Ronkonkoma
  • Cloud Vape and Smoke at 55 NY-111 in Smithtown
  • One Stop Deli Inc. at 408 Rosevale Ave. in Ronkonkoma
  • Exxon at 323 Jericho Turnpike in Smithtown
  • Shell gas station at 444 Commack Road in Commack
  • Shell gas station at 560 Middle Country Road in Smithtown
  • Suffolk Vape & Smoke at 165A Terry Road in Nesconset

All defendants are scheduled for arraignment June 18 at First District Court in Central Islip.

File photo

Suffolk County Police have arrested two people as a result of a month long investigation at businesses located within the 4th Precinct. Fourth Precinct Crime Section officers conducted an investigation into the sale of alcohol to minors during which nine businesses were checked for compliance with the law in Commack, Smithtown, Kings Park and East Northport, according to police.

The following clerks were arrested and charged with first-degree unlawfully dealing with a minor after they sold alcohol to a minor.

  • Thomas Watson, 22, of Northport, employed at Speedway gas station, located at 152 East Northport Road, Kings Park
  • A 16 year-old male juvenile, employed at BP gas station located at 94 Pulaski Road, Kings Park.

The following establishments were in compliance:

  • Shell gas station, located at 700 Commack Road, Commack
  • BP gas station, located at 621 Commack Road, Commack
  • Citgo gas station, located at 100 Crooked Hill Road, Commack
  • Speedway gas station, located at 2104 Jericho Turnpike, Commack
  • Speedway gas station, located at 38 Indian Head Road, Kings Park
  • Mobil gas station, located at 819 W. Jericho Turnpike, Smithtown
  • BP gas station, located at 1007 W. Jericho Turnpike, Smithtown

Watson and the juvenile were issued Field Appearance Tickets and are scheduled to appear in First District Court in Central Islip Jan. 2, 2018. The State Liquor Authority is conducting a follow up investigation.

File photo.

Suffolk County Police arrested a man for driving while ability impaired by alcohol and drugs after he was rescued from his burning vehicle in Rocky Point April 12.

Corey Tierney was driving a 2003 Hyundai Sonata northbound on County Road 21, about one mile south of Route 25A, when he lost control of his vehicle, which crashed into a wooded area and caught fire. Passing motorists, Claudio Gil and Margaret Ward, pulled an unconscious Tierney from the vehicle.

Rocky Point Fire Department Rescue responded and administered Narcan to Tierney, 21, of Mount Sinai, who regained consciousness and was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries and charged with driving while ability impaired by alcohol and drugs.

Gil, 30, of Mount Sinai, and Ward, 51, of Rocky Point, were not injured.

File photo

Suffolk County Police arrested two people Saturday, Feb. 25 during New York State Liquor Authority inspections at Town of Huntington businesses.

Officers from the 2nd Precinct Crime Section, Community Support Unit, and Gang Team conducted an underage alcohol and tobacco check at nine businesses in Huntington. Some of the businesses were chosen in response to community complaints and others were randomly selected.

Yousef Macer, 22, employed by Superstar Beverage, located on Walt Whitman Road in Melville, was charged with first-degree unlawfully dealing with a child and New York State Alcoholic Beverage Control Law 65.1-sale of alcohol to a person under 21.

Hakan Ekren, 48, employed by Sunoco Gas, located on Broad Hollow Road in Melville, was charged with second-degree unlawfully dealing with a child for selling a tobacco product to a minor.

The above subjects were issued field appearance tickets and are scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip at a later date.

The following businesses complied with the New York State law and refused the sale of alcohol/tobacco to a minor:

  • 110 Convenience Store, located at 213 Walt Whitman Road in Huntington Station
  • BP Gas Station, located at 231 Walt Whitman Road in Huntington Station
  • Citgo Gas Station, located at 475 Walt Whitman Road in Huntington Station
  • Gulf Gas Station, located at 743 Walt Whitman Road in Melville
  • P and P Deli, located at 139 West Hills Road in Huntington Station
  • Citgo Gas Station, located at 1811 New York Ave. in Huntington Station
  • Valencia Tavern, located at 236 Wall St. in Huntington

Young members of the Northport-East Northport Community Drug and Alcohol Task Force smile with their flag as they prepare to walk in a parade. Photo from Anthony Ferrandino

By Victoria Espinoza

The Northport-East Northport Community Drug and Alcohol Task Force received more than half a million dollars in a grant from the federal government to help further educate the youth in the community about the dangers of substance and alcohol abuse.

Anthony Ferrandino, co-chair of the task force, said the group has had their eyes on the Drug Free Communities grant for five years, and applied last year, so he was “ecstatic” to finally receive it.

The grant is part of the Drug Free Communities Support Program, a White House project that works to reduce youth substance use by promoting communitywide participation and evidence-based practices.

“The prescription drug abuse crisis on Long Island is symptomatic of the larger opioid epidemic that New York State and the entire country is facing, and we need to fight back now.” — Chuck Schumer

Ferrandino said the federal grant is extremely competitive, which makes him even prouder the task force was selected to receive it.

“I was so happy,” he said in a phone interview. “This is something I know Northport will benefit from.”

The task force worked with the Central Nassau Guidance & Counseling Services, a not-for-profit behavioral health safetynet organization, to help apply for, win and administer the funds. The task force will receive $125,000 per year for the next five years.

The not-for-profit will provide both administrative oversight in the future, as well as clinical and subject matter expertise on substance-use prevention and treatment.

Jeffrey Friedman, CEO of Central Nassau, and a Northport resident, said the grant helps ensure students will have a plethora of resources to help them deal with the increase in substance abuse throughout Suffolk County.

“This funding from the federal government infuses urgently needed financial resources to one of the strongest grassroots movements on Long Island — to save the lives of youth who are using drugs and alcohol, starting at very young ages,” he said in an email. “Even as heroin and prescription opioids are destroying L.I. families at unprecedented rates, this community-focused grant provides a new opportunity to break the cycle of abuse and ‘business as usual’ — and to spark community-level change.”

The federal grant enables the hiring of a full-time task force coalition leader, and supports a range of coordinated practices and evidence-supported activities aimed at prevention. The programs include parent-education, social media initiatives, pharmacist/youth collaboration and stricter law enforcement practices.

Ferrandino said the task force is currently interviewing candidates for the coalition leader position, and they want someone who can communicate and educate the community, run multiple subcommittees and manage the emotional aspects of the growing drug problem.

The co-chair said that when applying for the grant, the task force wanted to use the money to focus on two specific problems; underage drinking and prescription drug abuse.

New York legislators are proud of the progress the Northport-East Northport Community Drug and Alcohol Task Force has made.

“The prescription drug abuse crisis on Long Island is symptomatic of the larger opioid epidemic that New York State and the entire country is facing, and we need to fight back now,” U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) said in a statement. “These grant recipients have been on the front lines of combatting the disturbing drug abuse uptick among our Long Island youth and this investment will provide them with the resources they need to continue their lifesaving work.”

The task force was first created in 2006, and has designed programs to reach out to students in the Northport/East Northport community, including sponsoring a film premiere this year about drug abuse recovery, organizing Narcan training sessions, and more.

Suffolk County has statistically been one of the greatest areas of concern in New York for heroin and opioid deaths in recent years, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini said the county has had more than 100 opioid-related overdoses for several consecutive years.

The issue is not just in New York. According to the CDC, from 2005 to 2014, drug overdose deaths have risen by 144 percent to 2,300 deaths in New York, and 58 percent to 47,055 deaths in the nation.

Residents flooded the Rocky Point High School auditorium on Tuesday for a night of education on drugs and a chance to see what drug use is like in the district.

John Venza, vice president of Adolescent Services for Outreach, a New York-based organization that encourages community residents to seek help for substance abuse, and Suffolk County Senior Drug Abuse Educator Stephanie Sloan tackled drug education in the nearly two-hour forum.

Gateway drugs, drug use causes, the evolution of these substances and how parents and students alike can navigate through life without using drugs were among the topics discussed. The forum was also an opportunity to see results from the New York State-issued 2014-15 survey regarding youth development. Rocky Point was one of 10 school districts that took the survey, which examined drug use and prevalence in the district.

“Let’s face it, teenage years are tough enough to begin with, but then you have all this stuff added on — I wouldn’t want to go through [adolescence] again [now],” said Amy Agnesini, forum organizer and athletic director for Rocky Point.

Although drug use in Rocky Point’s seventh and eighth-graders falls below state average for alcohol and energy drinks — the most common substances used by this age group — the survey revealed the use of these two drugs in addition to chewing tobacco or using marijuana, cigarettes and pain relievers, among a few other drugs, increased in high school.

Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) was among the speakers in attendance. Bonner announced her piece of legislation to ban hookah lounges, vape and smoke shops within 1,000 feet of various locations, including schools, non-degree granting schools, like a ballet or karate studio, religious facilities, hospitals and other areas. She added that there will be a public hearing on the ban proposal in the near future.

“This is a war — we are in the trenches as parents, as educators, as members of the community — we’re the ones battling,” said Rocky Point Superintendent of Schools Michael Ring. “The battle isn’t necessarily in the streets, the way a lot of people think it is … it’s in your living room.”

According to Venza, technology isn’t the only thing that’s evolved; drugs have as well. People can now use devices like vape pens to smoke different forms of marijuana, including a dab, a waxy substance with high concentrations of THC. Between 14 and 24-years-old is the worst time to smoke marijuana in a person’s life, Venza said during the forum. The potency of drugs, including marijuana, has also increased over the decades.

“Unlike 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago where you needed a needle, you no longer need a needle because [of the purity of the drugs],” Venza said about heroin needles. People can now sniff the drug and get high, which makes trying the drug less daunting, Venza added.

Outreach’s Vice President of Adolescent Services John Venza educates adults and children about drugs during a forum at Rocky Point High School. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Outreach’s Vice President of Adolescent Services John Venza educates adults and children about drugs during a forum at Rocky Point High School. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Hope House Ministries’ Opioid Overdose Prevention Program’s Clinical Director Dr. Jennifer Serrentino said 120 people die from drug overdose daily. Last year, there were around 100 fatal heroin overdoses in Suffolk County alone.

Although one resident voiced her concerns that the forum would give students more ideas on how and where to use drugs, the speakers and parents, like Sound Beach resident Sharon Ferraro, think knowledge is power.

“If you were at a party or at a friend’s house and you see that paraphernalia, that’s your trigger to get out,” Ferraro said to her daughter Molly Searight, after the resident posed the question.

Ferraro said she is very involved with her children, but that’s not the case for every family. She said some parents are busy and don’t always spend quality time with their children. Although Ferraro’s daughter Molly hasn’t seen students using drugs on campus, beyond electronic cigarettes or vape pens in the bathroom, she said she hears of drug use from peers. After the event, Molly said she’s more aware of the effects of alcohol on youth.

Residents and speakers alike, including the councilwoman, were not only pleased with the event’s turnout, but also the large volume of residents who were in attendance.

“I was so proud of the community that I live in, that it was standing room only,” Bonner said. “People [are] finally recognizing that you can’t bury your heads in the sand. Community forums like this one are integral to combatting this [drug use issue].”

File photo

The Suffolk County Police Department arrested the owner of a Stony Brook market over the weekend for allegedly having an employee younger than 18 years old sell alcohol to a minor, authorities said.

Cops combed through several North Shore businesses across East Setauket and Port Jefferson Saturday night before they collared Sein Sein Win, 49, of Stony Brook, who owns the University Asian Market at 1099 Rt. 25A in Stony Brook. Police said she employed a clerk who sold alcohol to a minor and issued her a field appearance ticket.

The business owner was scheduled to appear in court on May 12, authorities said.

Other establishments police inspected that were ultimately in compliance with the law included the BP gas station at 728 Rt. 25A in East Setauket; Shell gas station, located at 195 Route 25A, East Setauket; Port Jefferson Village Grocery, located at 328 Main St. Port Jefferson; 76 gas station, located at 200 Patchogue Rd. Port Jefferson;  Kool Mart, located at 600 Hallock Rd. Port Jefferson Station; Speedway gas station, located at 501 Route 112, Port Jefferson Station; Speedy Mart, located at 1034 Route 112, Port Jefferson Station and the Speedway gas station, located at 1445 Route 112, Port Jefferson Station.

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Rye whiskey has flavors of caramel, ginger, spices, pepper and slight bitterness (rye bread) with hints of cinnamon, cloves, damp earth, grass, herbs, and nutmeg. Stock photo

“Tell me what brand of whiskey that [Gen. Ulysses S.] Grant drinks. I would like to send a barrel of it to my other generals.”
— President Abraham Lincoln

By Bob Lipinski

Rye, an American whiskey, was the favorite of President George Washington. In 1797, Washington constructed a large whiskey distillery adjacent to his gristmill on the banks of Dogue Creek in Fairfax County, Virginia. The enterprise became the most successful whiskey distillery in early America, producing 11,000 gallons of rye whiskey in 1799, worth the then-substantial sum of $7,500. James Anderson, a Scotsman, supervised the distillery.

Rye whiskey was first distilled in 1750 in Pennsylvania by local farmers who blended it with corn. Rye’s domination was short-lived because in 1783 bourbon whiskey was made and became the whiskey of choice of middle America.

Additionally, rye, along with bourbon whiskey, was affected by Prohibition. This was followed by soldiers returning from World War II who had developed a taste for Irish and Scotch whiskies. Production of rye whisky had almost vanished altogether from its Mid-Atlantic homeland by the 1980s. A handful of modern rye whiskies are currently being made by bourbon distilleries, mostly in Kentucky.

Rye whiskey is made from a fermented mash of grain containing at least 51 percent rye; the remainder of the grain mixture generally consists of barley, corn, oats and wheat. Although technically rye whiskey can contain 100 percent rye, few distillers exceed 90 percent.

It can be distilled at no higher than 160 proof. It must be stored at no less than 80 proof and not more than 125 proof in new, charred oak barrels ranging in capacity from 50 to 66 gallons.

“Straight rye whiskey” must be aged a minimum of two years. If it is released prior to the fourth year of aging, it must be stated on the label. In addition, no alcohol, caramel coloring or flavoring can be added.

It is produced in many states in the United States (most notably Kentucky), in addition to Canada, Germany, Russia, other Slavic countries and the Netherlands.

During the 1950s and 1960s when ordering a highball or Presbyterian cocktail at a bar, people incorrectly referred to Seagram’s 7-Crown, Canadian Club Whisky and Seagram’s V.O. as “rye whiskey.” Rye is an ingredient in Canadian whisky and American-made blended whiskey, but during that era, it never reached a minimum of 51 percent to be labeled “rye whiskey.”

Some brands of “American” rye whiskey are Bulleit, Classic Cask, George Dickel, George Washington’s, Hirsch, Hudson Manhattan Rye, Jim Beam, Knob Creek, Michter’s, Old Overholt, Old Potrero, Redemption, Rittenhouse, Russell’s Reserve, Sazerac, Templeton, Van Winkle Family Reserve, Wild Turkey and Willett.

Rye whiskey has flavors of caramel, ginger, spices, pepper and slight bitterness (rye bread) with hints of cinnamon, cloves, damp earth, grass, herbs and nutmeg.

Some recommended cocktails using rye whiskey are Manhattan, whiskey & club soda, highball, Presbyterian, sours, old-fashioned, and the Sazerac Cocktail.

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com or boblipinski2009@hotmail.com.

Rich and Carolyn Mora are keeping their Setauket-based wine shop thriving. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Mora’s Fine Wine & Spirits just gets better with age.

The small Setauket business owned by Rich Mora and his wife Carolyn, has served liquors to local communities for more than two-and-a-half decades. The business’s online presence also allows it to serve communities at the national level.

Rich Mora purchased the property from previous owner Robert Eikov in 1989 hoping to pursue his love of wine. Eikov and his wife Blanche ran a butcher shop out of the store for several years before they turned it into a liquor store around 1965.

Eikov used to butcher and sell meat in the main part of the building where Rich Mora sells his wine.

Eikov and his wife built the store after they got married and lived in an apartment behind the store.

“I always had a good palate. I’m good at judging wine and picking good wine [so] I wanted to be in the business,” Rich Mora said. “I decided I wanted to work for myself.”

Rich Mora was a science teacher in the area before he bought the business. He said the wine business was blossoming around the time he acquired the business.

Carolyn Mora became involved with the business after the duo met in 1999. She said she loves being involved in the business not only because she loves wine and spirits but also because she like providing her clients with good quality liquors.

While the Moras have a variety of wines from all around the world, the pair can’t purchase a large quantity of liquors like bigger stores.

“We try to be very … selective of what we purchase for the store so that people know when they come in here, they’re going to get something different,” Carolyn Mora said.

For Port Jefferson resident Damen Reschke, the variety of wines and spirits is one of the store’s best attributes, saying that the Moras’ selection beats those found in bigger liquor stores on the island.

Every Saturday between 3 and 6 p.m., residents can sample various wines at the liquor store’s weekly wine tastings. The tastings are one of Rich Mora’s several programs or events residents can attend.

Setauket residents Louis and Loretta Gray have gone to Mora’s wine tastings for the past 10 years. They said they enjoy learning where and how various wines were created and other facts they pick up at the tastings.

“It’s very personable,” Loretta Gray said. “You get to know all the individuals who represent the companies, and we like to support our local businesses.”

Elaine Learnard and her wife Ann-Marie Scheidt have purchased Mora’s wine for several years. According to Learnard, the pair typically buys wine at the tasting “because we’re being exposed to something we both don’t know about.” She added that when it comes to wine recommendations, Mora never fails to suggest something good.

In 2009, Rich Mora went the extra mile when he helped Learnard and her wife when they got married. He arranged the wines and helped store the wines to keep them cold for the summer wedding.

“The leader sets the tone. He’s a very, very nice person; therefore all the people who work for him are very nice,” Learnard said.

Despite the store’s small size, residents can choose from the more than 900 facings of liquor on display. Residents can pick up three bottles of wine for $10.99 or empty their wallets for the Moras’ most expensive bottle of liquor, priced at $14,000.

While a bigger establishment would give the Moras more room to expand their business, they are content with their small business.

“I wouldn’t mind if we stay small physically and grew big on the Internet,” Carolyn Mora said. “ I would love to see the store be known as the best little wine store in the world.”

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