Players and professionals work with children with special needs
By Leah Chiappino
Sensory Solutions of Long Island, along with Middle Country Boys Lacrosse located in Port Jeff Station, sponsored their first All Inclusive Lacrosse Clinic, a program that pairs special needs children with an experienced player, July 30. The event was what the organization hopes to be the first of many, and is meant to not only teach lacrosse skills, but to build friendship and camaraderie.
In a statement, the Inclusive Lacrosse League said their mission was to create an inclusive environment “that grows friendships as well as encourages the acceptance of all children. We are hoping to build the foundation where children with disabilities can increase their confidence and social skills through lacrosse, as well as create lifelong memories and positive experiences for all involved.”
With more than fifty children and fifty volunteers, the field at James D. McNaughton Memorial Park in Centereach was split up into stations, one to teach ground ball, another to teach passing and two to teach shooting. Volunteers consisted of high school lacrosse players, coaches, professional players and even some younger kids that play regularly.
Jeff Reh, a two-time all-American Division I champion at Adelphi University and special education teacher, is president of the program. Having coached lacrosse, he partnered with Regina Giambone, one of four owners of Sensory Solutions, along with Michael Gargiulo, Larry Ryan, and Michelle Boschto, to launch the clinic. He has ideas to expand the program, which include possibly starting a league, or taking the children to Major League Lacrosse and Premier Lacrosse League games. He says the group received such a positive response, they had to cut down the capacity of participants.
“Once we know what to expect and how to run things, this will grow and grow,” he said
There are plans to start fundraising to help expand the program, for which the equipment was donated by Maverik Lacrosse.
The coach says the work is worth it because of the impact it will have on building relationships for the special needs population.
“The kids are going to really enjoy getting out of the house and meeting somebody,” he said. “Lacrosse is second. It’s really about the music and hanging out with their friends. They really just want to be part of something.”
Troy Reh, Jeff’s nephew and a player for the Chaos, a Premier Lacrosse League team, volunteered for the event.
“I’m excited to see their smiles on their faces, and how happy they are to be out here,“ he said.
Justin Reh, Troy’s twin and New York Lizards lacrosse team player, added, “These kids don’t get to do this every day and for us in our family to be able to give back is very special to us.”
Whitney Wolanski, a parent of one special needs child participating in the program, as well as another child who is volunteering, praised Giambone for her efforts.
“Regina is amazing, and I can’t say enough nice things about her,” she said. “My son would never get to experience this otherwise. It’s an incredible opportunity for not just the special needs population but for children who don’t have special needs, because if they’re not part of a JV team or varsity team, there aren’t a lot of opportunities for them to play either.”
Sensory Solutions of Long Island offers not only occupational, physical and speech therapy for the special needs population but also social groups, Zumba classes, art and music.
“It allows kids to have an outlet in a fun, safe space that is not overwhelming for them,” Gargiulo said.
Giambone added that the lacrosse clinic will help build bridges for the special needs community.
“It’s going to help integrate the community because a lot of these kids cannot play sports competitively, and this gives them an opportunity to connect with professional players and the varsity lacrosse team,” she said. “We want to teach awareness and empathy, and at the same time give the kids a good experience.”
Ryan explained that the clinic could begin a wider impact in order to help integrate the special needs population.
“I hope that those without special needs learn to interact with those who do have special needs and gain a little more understanding so when they see a classmate that’s struggling, they’re going to be more apt to help.”
By Leah Chiappino
At his kickoff fundraiser, Anthony Portesy, the Democrat who is challenging incumbent Dan Losquadro (R) for Town of Brookhaven highway superintendent, held up a piece of asphalt he found while campaigning on Holbrook Road, he said, to symbolize the condition of Brookhaven’s streets. Having run in 2017 for the same position, Portesy said he looks to bring changes to what he calls “an infrastructure crisis” in Brookhaven.
“Since 2017, I’ve knocked on between 15,000 and 20,000 doors and I hear the same thing from people,” he said. “They want more information and to know when the plow and paving trucks are coming. They call seven times to get a street light fixed, and it still hasn’t gotten fixed.”
A native of Selden, later living in Centereach and now living in Port Jefferson Station, Portesy said he’s running because when he was growing up the roads were “atrocious,” and not much has changed.
“The same potholes I went over as a kid, I go over now,” he said in his acceptance speech for the nomination.
“I’ve seen my friends leave,” he said. “No one is going to want to buy a house if the streets are prone to flooding, and are pothole ridden. Brookhaven is looking more like Detroit, and less and less like a middle-class Long Island hamlet.”
Portesy, who is running on the Democratic, Working Families and Libertarian tickets, currently practices employment and commercial litigation for small-to-midsize businesses, largely in federal court. He feels this prepares him well for the position. Specifically, while studying at the New York Law School in Manhattan, he interned for city Mayor Michael Bloomberg in the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services.
He claims that after reviewing the contracts for projects the Losquadro has executed since he began his tenure as highway superintendent in 2013, residents deserve better.
“We can do things like potentially lowering the bonding requirements so small businesses can bid on projects and save the taxpayer money,” he said.
Portesy claims Losquadro has wasted $18 million doing “surface level mill-and-fill road resurfacing projects,” which the challenger said only work for about 30 percent of the roads that are “crumbling less than a year after the paving projects are completed.”
“I could very easily spend my free time going to Greece or Italy, but I chose to be involved because I care.”
— Anthony Portesy
“Doing 2 1/2 inches of topcoat as opposed to 1 1/2 inches may be more expensive, but it can give us 25 to 30 years, as opposed to two or three,” Portesy said.
According to the highway superintendent’s office, the current backlog for town projects sits at around $80 million, compared to a $120 million backlog when Losquadro took office. The highway budget is expected to increase to$150 million over the next 10 years.
The challenger acknowledged there are issues with funding to pave properly. His solution is to work to increase funding through the Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program, a state program known as CHIPS that provides reimbursement to municipalities for highway-related capital projects, which he said will “take pressure off the local taxpayer.”
His main policy platform is his Brookhaven 2030 initiative, a series of changes he feels the township should complete within 10 years, much of which focuses on expanding information technology.
The first includes his “worst to first initiative,” a program he said would bring structural engineers in to evaluate the quality of every road, and rate them from the worst to the best. The town would then resurface them based on funding, and in order of highest priority, with rapid response to potholes near schools and main roads.
He also admitted that while day paving may be inconvenient, it is more expensive to do at night, and is not financially feasible to do neighborhood roads after dark. He added there will be a public list available online so people know exactly when their roads are being paved.
In addition, the Democratic challenger said he would post the contracts and bids publicly on an online database, so “the public can be informed of who is getting the contracts and why,” as opposed to “hiding behind a cloud of secrecy that the Highway Department has done for decades.”
In response to Losquadro’s claims that posting the contracts is illegal, Portesy said that they are unfounded.
“I am a lawyer who has done my research, and if Mr. Losquadro can point out to me a statute that says it is illegal, I would love to see it,” he said. “I haven’t found one state or town ordinance that says so.”
Another initiative, Portesy said, is known as STAR, or snow tracking and removal, includes installing GPS in snowplows that cannot be unplugged, so constituents can track the plows online, and gain an estimate of when the plows will arrive. He said he will ensure that all plows have a rubber bumper to ensure the roads are not torn up.
He pledges to do quality control inspections as well as bringing much of a work back to town employees, including hiring more workers and bringing back the “black top crews” — town workers who used to handle smaller projects.
Portesy said he was a longtime member of the UFCW Local 1500 supermarket union, and supports union labor. He called the highways workers “some of the hardest working guys in the business. They are out at 4 in the morning plowing the roads for ‘48 hours’ at a time, and don’t see their families. They earn every dime and deserve an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work.”
The final initiative is the tree removal interactive management, or TRIM initiative, which would create an interactive map of all drainage and recharge basins that have overgrown shrubbery.
“The same potholes I went over as a kid, I go over now.”
— Anthony Portesy
“No one does this if they don’t care about the community. This has affected my personal relationship, and my personal life. I could very easily spend my free time going to Greece or Italy, but I chose to be involved because I care,” Portesy said.
So far, he has a war chest in excess of $16,300. Losquadro has raised almost $400,000, according to the New York State Board of Elections. Portesy acknowledges Losquadro has more campaign contributions and name recognition, but also points out that increased political involvement regarding everything that is going on nationally could work in his favor.
“Regardless of how you feel about the president, which I take no qualms about and express no opinion on, local elections that people did not pay attention to before are now on the minds of the average Joe who did not pay attention before,” Portesy said. “It’s tough to beat an incumbent, but we can’t wait for an open seat.”
The article originally printed in TBR News Media papers said Portesy had worked in the highways department as a laborer. This has been corrected online to say he was a longtime member of a union.
A Centereach man who was announced missing earlier this month was found dead in his car July 25, police said.
Thomas Kelsey, 45, of Centereach was found by a passerby who saw a vehicle in a ravine off Route 231 in North Babylon, and then called 911, Suffolk County Police said. 3rdPrecinct detectives said they believe Kelsey was driving his 2015 GMC Yukon north on Route 231 in North Babylon when the car left the roadway, crossed the median and crashed into the ravine in West Islip. Kelsey was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police said the incident appears to be non-criminal.
Kelsey was last seen leaving Venetian Shores Park, located at 850 Venetian Boulevard in Lindenhurst July 7 at around 10 p.m. in his red 2015 GMC Yukon. He was reported missing by an acquaintance July 9 at 1:30 a.m.
Suffolk County Police arrested a Centereach man May 22 following a narcotics investigation. Police said the man was trying to sell drugs at a playground with his daughter beside him.
During the course of the investigation, detectives apprehended Chaleek Williams for possession and intent to sell crack cocaine on the playground at the Oxhead Road Elementary School, located at 144 Oxhead Road, allegedly with his two-year-old daughter present. Williams was also allegedly in possession of a quantity of MDMA. As he was being placed under arrest, police said Williams became combative and had to be restrained by officers.
Williams, 25, of Centereach, was charged with multiple counts of possessing a controlled substance with intent to sell, as well as dndangering the welfare of a child and resisting arrest.
Williams was overnight at the 3rd Precinct and is scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip May 23.
The child was released into the custody of family.
Suffolk County Police said Sunday they have arrested two alleged motorcycle gang members in connection with drugs and weapon charges during a traffic stop in Centereach April 6.
Police said a 6th Precinct police officer pulled over a vehicle, driven by Salvatore Manfredonia III, on Hawkins Road for failing to stop at a stop sign at around 8:45 p.m. Manfredonia was allegedly found to be in possession of Oxycodone. His passenger, John Balogh, was found in possession of a 9mm handgun. Police said Manfredonia is a member of the Satans Soldiers Motorcycle Club, and Balogh, a member of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, had just left the Hells Angels April Bash held on Lynbrook Street in Centereach.
Manfredonia, 35, of 15 Louise Drive in West Nyack, was arrested and charged with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance 7th Degree. Balogh, 58, of 1500 Parker Street 5B in the Bronx, was arrested and charged with criminal possession of a weapon 2nd degree, criminal possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of marijuana. Balogh was arraigned at the First District court in Central Islip April 7, and is next set to appear in court April 12. Police said Manfredonia will be arraigned on a later date.
By Bill Landon
Centereach trailed Comsewogue’s boys basketball team from the opening tip off and closed within 4 points late in the game, but the Warriors defense was up to the task, holding off the late surging Cougars for a 71-65 victory on the road Jan. 17.
Comsewogue junior Michael McGuire seemingly couldn’t miss from long range as the young man nailed seven triples and a free throw for a team high of 22 points. Teammate Milan Johnson netted a pair of treys, 4 field goals and 4 from the line putting up a total of 18; and teammate Liam Gray tacked on 17. Centereach junior forward Matt Robbert topped the scoring chart for the Cougars throwing down 9 field goals and netting 4 from the line.
With their third win in a row, Comsewogue improves to 5-3 in league and 7-5 overall. The Warriors continued their road tour against Deer Park Jan. 21 and were back on their home turf Jan. 23 hosting Bellport at 5:45 p.m. With the loss, Centereach dropped to 4-5 in league 7-5 overall, and were back in action at home Jan. 23.
By Bill Landon
Centereach boys basketball held off the charging Bulls of Smithtown East for a 50-45 victory, notching back-to-back wins on the road Jan. 3.
Matt Robbert had the hot hand for the Cougars, leading his team in scoring with 13 followed by Ryan DeCoursey who netted 11.
Smithtown East senior guard Marcin Termena banked three triples and a pair of field goals for the Bulls, leading the way with 13.
The win propels the Cougars to 2-3 in League III, 3-6 overall.
Two men were arrested in Centereach Jan. 2 after Suffolk County police officers witnessed a drug deal.
Fourth Precinct Crime Section Officers witnessed Anthony Corria and Steve Jameau allegedly making a drug transaction in a 2007 white Mercedes on Howell Avenue at approximately 2:15 p.m. The officers attempted to initiate a traffic stop at Middle Country Road in Lake Grove but Corria, who was the driver, fled. Corria intentionally struck the police vehicle that the officers were in at the intersection of Ginger Court and Whispering Pines Court in Centereach at approximately 2:26 p.m. Corria, and Jameau, who was the passenger, fled on foot. There were no injuries.
Corria was immediately arrested. Aviation Section, Canine Section and 6th Precinct Patrol Section officers assisted in searching for Jameau, who was caught hiding in a garage on Forrest Avenue in Centereach at approximately 3 p.m.
Fourth Squad detectives charged Corria, 33, of Shoreham, with criminal mischief 2nd degree, and two counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance 7th degree. Jameau, 34, of Centereach, was charged with two counts of sale of a controlled substance 3rd degree, criminal trespass 3rd degree, resisting arrest and had eight unrelated warrants.
The investigation is continuing.
Corria and Jameau are scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip on January 3.
A raccoon with his face cramped tight in a peanut butter jar wandered onto a Centereach homeowner’s property Oct. 29, but luckily a local rescue group managed to save its life.
The homeowner contacted Frankie Floridia, the president of Strong Island Animal Rescue League, a Sound Beach-based animal rescue group, concerned for the creature’s life. By the time the rescuer arrived, the animal had disappeared. He then set up thermal cameras and told the Centereach resident to call him again if he heard anything more. At 3 a.m. Oct. 30, the creature appeared again, and this time climbed a tall tree. Floridia took a catchpole up a 20-foot ladder to nab the raccoon before getting down on the ground and physically removing the jar as the raccoon squeaked in fear.
“It was a high adrenaline moment,” Floridia said. “He was so strong, and that’s to say I’m not a light guy, I’m 175 pounds, but I was pulling and pulling, and we both came off, and I hit the ground hard.”
After the animal had calmed down, he gave one last gracious look to his two rescuers before scampering off. The raccoon even came back the next night for cat food from the homeowner.
Floridia said that raccoons often get their faces stuck in jars as they look for food. He added that the raccoon in Centereach most likely had been stuck for close to 24 hours, and it most likely did not have much time to live if it remained in that state without being able to breathe, eat or drink.
“I don’t think he had much longer to go,” he said.