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Commack

Photo from Whole Foods

BREAD BREAKING CEREMONY

Representatives from the Northeast Regional division of Whole Foods held an official bread breaking ceremony (their version of a ribbon cutting) for its new store in Commack on April 3. Located at 120 Veterans Memorial Highway, the new 45,000-square-foot store employs 200 full- and part-time team members and is open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

The Whole Foods in Lake Grove, above, will soon be joined by a second Suffolk County store. File photo

Suffolk County is getting a second Whole Foods Market. The new store, located at the site of the former King Kullen at 120 Veterans Memorial Highway in Commack will hold a grand opening on April 3 at 9 a.m. with complimentary coffee and breakfast pastries offered at 8 a.m. Reusable canvas shopping bags will be handed out to the first 200 customers.

The market will be the fourth Whole Foods location on Long Island. The others are in Jericho, Manhasset and Lake Grove.

“We’re eager to open our doors to the Commack community,” said store team leader Lorraine Barker in a statement. “We look forward to providing our customers with a variety of products to meet all of their needs, while also offering the highest quality service and providing a neighborhood gathering space.”

According to a press release, the new 45,000-square-foot store will offer fresh produce, full-service butcher and seafood departments; an in-house bakery; a hot and cold prepared foods section; coffee and juice bars; beer from local producers; and 142 bins of bulk scoop items. It will also feature a fast-casual eatery that will serve wine and locally brewed beer on tap.

Owned by online retail giant Amazon, the Commack store will employ a total of 200 full- and part-time team members. Following the grand opening, store hours will be 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. For more information, visit www.wholefoodsmarket.com.

Last year's grand prize winner in the pet category - “Old Blue Eyes” by Carolyn Ciarelli

Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Commack invites all amateur photographers, including students, to submit entries for its 26th Annual Photo Contest.

Winners of the unique contest have the distinct honor of not only receiving recognition and prizes for their work, but also the privilege of helping to enhance the lives of the 460 residents who call Gurwin “home,” as winning photographs are permanently displayed in the center’s renowned Tiffin Gallery and throughout the facility for the enjoyment of residents, staff and visitors.

Photographers may submit up to seven printed color or black-and-white 8×10 or 8×12 photographs for a fee of $5 per entry.  Entry forms are available for download online at www.gurwin.org/about/photo-contest or by calling 631-715-2568.  The deadline for submission is April 15.

Winners are selected and notified in May.  A reception at the Gurwin Center for winning photographers will be held in June where they will receive their cash prize, award certificate and/or crystal trophy.

By David Luces

Students, teachers and parents in Commack recently went bald for a cause.

For the 10th year running, members of the Commack School District and surrounding community gathered at the high school March 1 to shave their heads in support of childhood cancer research. Over 100 people participated to raise money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a not-for-profit whose goal is to raise funds to find cures for childhood cancer. 

In the past nine years the district has held the event, Commack has raised over $650,000. This year the district raised close to $45,000, with some teams donating well over $10,000. 

The annual event is organized by Commack High School teachers Lee Tunick, Bill Scaduto and Dan Revera. Since its inception, close to 1,000 people have shaved their heads in solidarity to those suffering childhood cancer. Hairdressing students from Eastern Suffolk BOCES donated their time to cut the participants hair.

The idea for the fundraiser came about through a cancer awareness club that Revera and Scaduto ran at the high school for quite some time. 

“Bill Scaduto and myself have been working in this building for 20 years,” said Revera. At that time St. Baldrick’s didn’t exist as we know it today. When we first found out about St. Baldrick’s, we would go to a school in Northport and a colleague of mine thought why don’t we host our own event here [at the high school].” 

Now with the event in its 10th year, Revera said it is great to see Commack School District students and community come out to support this.  

“One of the main influx of people [that come here] are the elementary students,” the high school teacher said. “Anything that we can do to generate [money] to help these kids who are going through this is great.” Revera added that the students that came to the event have shown bravery, have stood up for what’s right and are dedicated to a good cause. 

“That’s why we are here,” he said. “Just the thought of a family going through something like this and dealing with their child battling cancer — I can’t even imagine. If providing one day where we can support them and try to help however we can, it’s the least we can do.”

A woman takes part in the 9th annual Glen Ciano Blood Drive at the Commack Fire Department. Photo by David Luces

By David Luces

Hundreds lined up and waited to donate blood during the 9th annual Glen Ciano Blood Drive Feb. 9. The event, hosted by the Commack Fire Department and Suffolk County Police Department, is held in honor of a police officer and volunteer firefighter who died in the line of duty 10 years ago this month.

Suffolk County Police Officer Glen Ciano. File Photo.

Ciano, who served for more than 20 years as a police officer at the 2nd Precinct in Huntington, died while assisting another officer at a traffic stop Feb. 22, 2009. While at the intersection of Vanderbilt Motor Parkway and Commack Road in Commack, his vehicle was struck by a 2007 Dodge Magnum and burst into flames upon hitting a nearby telephone pole. Commack firefighters responded to the scene.

Ciano is survived by his wife, Sue, and two children, Samantha and Daniel.

“The Suffolk Police Department will never forget Glen and the dedicated service he provided to our communities,” Suffolk Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said. “Though I didn’t have the honor of working alongside Glen — I’ve heard stories about the type of officer he was and his presence is missed to this day.”

Since 2011, a total of 1,084 donations have been accepted in Ciano’s honor, according to the New York Blood Center. These pints of blood have helped save the lives of more than 3,000 people, Yadira Navarro, business development manager for the blood center, said.

Due to unstable winter temperatures, the flu season and other challenges, blood donations Saturday were vital as the NY Blood Center said it’s in the midst of an emergency blood appeal, according to Navarro. Before the blood drive, the center’s blood had only enough pints in the storage to get through three to four days of standard operations — a healthy blood supply level is about 6 to 7 days.

“You are honoring such a wonderful officer who really served his community and this is one way where we can be a hero and save lives,” Navarro said.

Every year it means a little more.”

— Sue Ciano

Patrick Fazio, commissioner of the Commack Fire Department, said there’s no better way to honor Ciano’s life than donating blood. Smithtown resident Brian Moore who was among the hundreds who showed up Saturday, said giving blood can help so many lives.

A total of 234 pints of blood were donated at this year’s event, exceeding last year’s number of donations at 222.

“Every year it means a little more,” said Ciano’s wife, Sue. “I see friends, family — I meet new people every year.”

Sue Ciano said she stays at the blood drive for the whole day, talking to as many people as she can, and says events like these means her husband won’t be forgotten.

Smithtown Town Hall. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

By David Luces

Smithtown residents, who have ever had ideas for what downtown Smithtown or Commack’s future should look like, have been asked to contribute their 2 cents or give two hours of their time.

The Town of Smithtown announced plans Feb. 5 to update its Comprehensive Master Plan and is looking for community input to define the vision of the town’s hamlets present and future. 

Residents will be able to participate through a series of public workshops, an interactive website, survey and public hearings. 

“I truly believe that every resident should have the chance to voice his or her vision for our community,” Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) said. “Creating a process where they will have the opportunity to help shape their hometown hamlet by design, is the very definition of the people’s government.”

“Creating a process where they will have the opportunity to help shape their hometown hamlet by design, is the very definition of the people’s government.”

—Ed Wehrheim

The topics covered by the town’s comprehensive plan will include: community plans for each hamlet, land use, transportation, parking, community facilities, sustainability and future capital improvements.  

The town has launched a new website with specific details that outline the project at www.PublicInput.com/Smithtown, where it will address frequently asked questions and will be posting updates moving forward. Community residents can choose to complete an extensive online survey providing feedback on what aspects are most important and what areas the town needs the most improvement. 

Community workshops for individual hamlets will start March 7; see complete list below. Residents are encouraged to attend the community workshops in their respective hamlets to give input toward the immediate and long-term approach for growth, development, protection and community enhancement. 

“No stone will be left unturned when it comes to planning the future of our township,” Councilman Tom McCarthy (R), liaison to the Planning Department said. “This comprehensive plan will serve as a guide, not just for us but for our children and grandchildren.”

The town anticipates the new Comprehensive Master Plan will be completed by the end of 2019. 

Community Workshops Date

● Smithtown: March 7, 7-9 p.m. at Smithtown senior center located at 420 Middle Country Road 

● Nesconset: March 12, 7-9 p.m. at Great Hollow Middle School, located at 150 Southern Blvd.

● Hauppauge: March 19, 7-9 p.m. at Pines Elementary School, located at 22 Holly Drive

● St. James: March 27, 7-9 p.m. at St. James Elementary School, 580 Lake Ave. 

● Commack: April 4, 7-9 p.m. at Commack High School’s art gallery, located at 1 Scholar Lane

● Kings Park: April 11, 7-9 p.m. at Kings Park High School, located at 200 Route 25A

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The Commack girls varsity volleyball team was proud to defend its title as Suffolk County’s Class AA champions Nov. 8. The Cougars tore apart Connetquot, 3-0, at county finals held at Suffolk County Community College’s Brentwood campus.

This is the second straight year that the Cougars have gone undefeated in Suffolk with an overall record of 13-0.  The Commack girls volleyball team competed against Long Beach vying for the Long Island Championship title Nov. 11 and came up short 2-3.

Hundreds of Commack residents came together to take pride in their community at the first Commack Day celebration in more than 30 years Saturday, Oct. 6, at Hoyt Farm Nature Preserve. 

The event was put together by two childhood friends, Jim Manikas, a Commack resident and local real estate agent, and Commack native Dean Spinato. It featured live musical performance, free food from area businesses, with a variety of vendor booths covering fitness to chocolate. 

“Thank you to everyone who attended and was a part of Commack Day,” read a post-event message on the website. “This event could not have been as successful at it was without your contributions. Your support means the world to us, so thank you.” 

A check of $3,000 from the proceeds of the event was presented as a donation to Commack Fire Department.

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Recent tragedies have shown just how good and inspired our community can be if everyone bands together behind a cause.

On Sept. 30 Boy Scouts from Troop 161, based in Shoreham, were hit by an alleged drunk driver while hiking in Manorville. While four young men suffered injuries, 12-year-old Andrew McMorris, a student at Shoreham-Wading River’s Albert G. Prodell Middle School, was pronounced dead the morning after he was hit.

The news quickly spread on social media, and the community rose rapidly to the occasion. Red ribbons still fly across Long Island from mailboxes, street signs and even entrances to Suffolk County parks. A GoFundMe to support the troop has already raised close to $19,000, and the wakes and funeral for the young man were packed by those wishing to pay respect.

We’ve seen this groundswell of community activism in other places in response to hard times elsewhere. On Sept. 25 Port Jefferson Village was inundated with water that in some places reached as high as 4 or 5 feet following intense rain. Port Jeff’s Theatre Three saw the worst of that damage, as the flooding destroyed props, costumes, play scripts, books and thousands of dollars in electrical equipment, not to mention structural damage to the old building. Yet again we saw the community step up to aid its local theater. Galvanized by news stories and online crowd funding campaigns, dozens of volunteers came to the theater to aid in the cleanup, and theater personnel reported it started receiving thousands of dollars in donations the morning right after the flood, which have continued.

The rise of online connectivity can prove a useful tool in times like these, yet still there is a pervading sense that the world is becoming more insular. With election season right on the horizon and with tensions rising, we kindly remind people it’s OK to be a good neighbor even in not-so-tragic times.

We in the news business know just how powerful and stimulating a community coming together can be. Yes, reporters are people too, and it’s hard not to be heartened, even in the face of mind-numbing tragedy, to drive to work every day with countless red ribbons lining both sides of the road like a landing strip.

Imagine if it didn’t take tragedy to excite such fervor in the local community. Two childhood friends in Commack have worked to bring Commack Day back to Hoyt Farm after a near-30-year absence. The lifelong friends and Commack natives James Manikas and Dean Spinato got the community involved by posting the idea to local Facebook groups, driving their support through connectivity.

There are so many issues that Long Island currently faces, from the threat of nitrogen in coastal waters, rising sea levels and a lack of affordable housing, yet we at TBR News Media watched how well the community can come together to get things done in times of need. It would be great to see the community come together more on an average day.

Recent tragedies have shown just how good and inspired our community can be if everyone bands together behind a cause.

On Sept. 30 Boy Scouts from Troop 161, based in Shoreham, were hit by an alleged drunk driver while hiking in Manorville. While four young men suffered injuries, 12-year-old Andrew McMorris, a student at Shoreham-Wading River’s Albert G. Prodell Middle School, was pronounced dead the morning after he was hit.

The news quickly spread on social media, and the community rose rapidly to the occasion. Red ribbons still fly across Long Island from mailboxes, street signs and even entrances to Suffolk County parks. A GoFundMe to support the troop has already raised close to $19,000, and the wakes and funeral for the young man were packed by those wishing to pay respect.

We’ve seen this groundswell of community activism in other places in response to hard times elsewhere. On Sept. 25 Port Jefferson Village was inundated with water that in some places reached as high as 4 or 5 feet following intense rain. Port Jeff’s Theatre Three saw the worst of that damage, as the flooding destroyed props, costumes, play scripts, books and thousands of dollars in electrical equipment, not to mention structural damage to the old building. Yet again we saw the community step up to aid its local theater. Galvanized by news stories and online crowd funding campaigns, dozens of volunteers came to the theater to aid in the cleanup, and theater personnel reported it started receiving thousands of dollars in donations the morning right after the flood, which have continued.

The rise of online connectivity can prove a useful tool in times like these, yet still there is a pervading sense that the world is becoming more insular. With election season right on the horizon and with tensions rising, we kindly remind people it’s OK to be a good neighbor even in not-so-tragic times.

We in the news business know just how powerful and stimulating a community coming together can be. Yes, reporters are people too, and it’s hard not to be heartened, even in the face of mind-numbing tragedy, to drive to work every day with countless red ribbons lining both sides of the road like a landing strip.

Imagine if it didn’t take tragedy to excite such fervor in the local community. Two childhood friends in Commack have worked to bring Commack Day back to Hoyt Farm after a near-30-year absence. The lifelong friends and Commack natives James Manikas and Dean Spinato got the community involved by posting the idea to local Facebook groups, driving their support through connectivity.

There are so many issues that Long Island currently faces, from the threat of nitrogen in coastal waters, rising sea levels and a lack of affordable housing, yet we at TBR News Media watched how well the community can come together to get things done in times of need. It would be great to see the community come together more on an average day.

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Hoyt Farm Nature Preserve in Commack. Photo from Facebook

Two childhood friends whose shared tie is a community they love are planning a celebration of what makes Commack unique.

The newly revived and first Commack Day will be held Oct. 6 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Hoyt Farm Nature Preserve off New Highway. Everyone’s invited, Commack resident or not, to help revive a tradition and bring it into the modern era.

James Manikas, a Commack resident and local real estate agent, said the idea of hosting a community festival first came up when he was reminiscing over high school memories with his friend, Commack native Dean Spinato.

There’s a Smithtown day, St. James day, a Nesconset day, Huntington fall festival, even Northport Cow Harbor Day, all of the surrounding towns have something like this.”

— James Manikas

“There’s a Smithtown day, St. James day, a Nesconset day, Huntington fall festival, even Northport Cow Harbor Day, all of the surrounding towns have something like this,” Manikas said. “Wouldn’t it be cool to shut down
Commack Road and have a big fair?”

The real estate agent said upon talking to older Commack residents, including his mother, he learned the community did once host an annualget together at Hoyt Nature Preserve, but the event hadn’t been held in close to 30 years.

“I think I may have attended it as a child,” he recalled.

Earlier this year, Manikas started posting videos and photos on Facebook suggesting a community celebration be revived. As his social media posts gained traction, Spinato, who works organizing marketing events, reached out to him offering to help.

I reached out to Jimmy and said, ‘I’m onboard,’” he said. “We’ve been friends since junior high, so let’s do this the right way. Let’s do a donation, give back and get the community involved.

The first idea of shutting down Commack Road to hold a street fair was met with several roadblocks.

“Commack has nothing because it’s split between Huntington and Smithtown,” Spinato said. “We’d have to go to both towns and see which road we would be able to shut down and get permits.”

They sought a special event permit from the Town of Smithtown to use Hoyt Farm Nature Preserve, harkening back to the past. A committee of lifelong “Commackians” was formed to begin assembling a lineup of entertainment, food and music.

When you find out someone is from Commack, you simply gravitate to them, it has that strong sense of community.”

— James Manikas

“When you find out someone is from Commack, you simply gravitate to them, it has that strong sense of community,” Manikas said. “I want people to see what a great town it is.”

The event will feature live music from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. including performances by 3 Dudes from Commack, Full Circle Live, Killing Time and 70’s Flashback. Several local and chain restaurants have agreed to donate food for the event, according to Manikas, which will be available for tasting.

“You’re allowed a table there to promote any kind of business,” he said. “We’d prefer it to be a Commack business first.”

A listing of all the businesses that have pledged to be involved can be found on the event’s website at www.commackday.com. Tickets are $10 in advance through eventbrite or $15 cash-only on the day of the event. A portion of the proceeds will be given to the Commack Fire Department.

“These people are here, protecting us and our community, who are strictly volunteer,” Manikas said. “I think the least we can do is give back to them.” 

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