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Dix Hills

Residents at the Town of Huntington's vigil for Dix Hills native Scott Beigel. Photo by Kevin Redding

Scott Beigel was a beloved teacher, coach and son, and on Feb. 14, he became a hometown hero.

The Florida school shooting hit close to home for Huntington residents, who joined together inside Town Hall March 14 for a candlelight vigil in honor of the Dix Hills native. Beigel died protecting students from danger as a geography teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Beigel, 35, who graduated from Half Hollow Hills East, was one of 17 killed during the tragedy. He was shot while attempting to lock his classroom door after holding it open for students fleeing from the gunman. Beigel had only been teaching at Parkland for six months, but also served as the high school’s cross-country coach.

“[Scott] was a hero not just on the day he died but every day of his life, to his students and the people whose lives he often helped,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said. “We have unfortunately seen these incidents happen far too many times … but I do truly believe that Scott’s death and what happened in Parkland is something that will change this country. His heroism will change our country and save many, many lives. That will be his legacy.”

Michael Schulman and Linda Beigel Schulman. Photo by Kevin Redding

During the ceremony, Beigel was remembered for his “goofball” sense of humor, selflessness and a true love for his job and the students he taught.

Prior to working in Florida, he was a camp counselor and division leader at Camp Starlight in Pennsylvania and a volunteer teacher for underprivileged children in South Africa.

Half Hollow Hills Superintendent Patrick Harrigan said in honor of Beigel, students at the local high schools have implemented a 17 acts of kindness initiative to improve the culture of their environment and make an effort to prevent another senseless tragedy from occurring.

“Scott was a new teacher, only six months into his tenure, and already making a difference every day for his students,” Harrigan said. “As an educator, it is my hope that Mr. Beigel’s lasting legacy is as a child advocate, a teacher, a coach and an inspiration to other teachers to always improve the lives of their students and the children in their communities.”

Looking up at a large photo of her son, Beigel’s mother Linda Beigel Schulman held back tears and said, “I love you Scott … you will forever be my inspiration and hero.”

She called to action the need for gun control legislation including universal background checks before purchasing a firearm; a ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines; and an increase in the minimum gun-buying age from 18 to 21. She also commended students who participated in the National School Walkout.

“We need action now and we will continue to be heard,” Beigel Schulman said. “When Scott was a child and came home from school, I worried about what kind of a day he would have; I did not worry about if he was going to come home from school.”

Beigel Schulman then turned to look upon a photograph of her son again.

“You may have died senselessly, but as I stand here today, I can honestly say not in vain,” she said. “It has been one month and I promise I will not stop until no child ever has to fear going to school, being with their friends at school and learning from their teachers [at school].”

A street sign that will rename Hart Place in honor of Dix Hills native Scott Beigel. Photo by Kevin Redding

Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) unveiled the new street sign renaming Hart Place, where Beigel grew up and where his parents still reside, to become Scott J. Beigel Way.

Tragedies such as Parkland, Lupinacci said, “especially touch home when you have someone that grew up here, went to the high school, went to many of the same stores we go to … We thought it very fitting for where he grew up and spent his formative years to be renamed in his honor.”

The supervisor said a proper ceremony for the street renaming will take place in the upcoming weeks.

“We just want Scott’s voice and legacy to live on — we don’t want him to ever be forgotten,” said Melissa Zech, Beigel’s sister. “I think he would be so proud and I know we’re so proud of him. ― He was so smart, quick-witted, caring and loving. These are things I wish I would’ve told him when he was here.”

Michael Schulman, Beigel’s father, also spoke of the honor.

“This took us all by surprise,” he said. “It’s a great acknowledgement of what this town meant to him, and what he meant to the town. Right now, the street sign is something that’s bittersweet, but, in the years to come, it’ll just be sweet. I just wish we didn’t have to have it.”

Huntington Town Board is expected to formally vote on renaming Hart Place in Beigel’s memory at its March 20 meeting. Lupinacci also said the new street sign would be put on public display for area residents to see.

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Suffolk County Police 4th Squad detectives are investigating a motor vehicle crash that seriously injured a woman in Smithtown early this morning, Dec. 14.

Cynthia Wilson was driving a 2007 Nissan Altima northbound on Terry Road when her vehicle struck a 2012 Honda Accord traveling eastbound on Jericho Turnpike at approximately 1 a.m. The collision caused the Nissan to crash into a building, located at 305 Jericho Turnpike.

Wilson, 22, of Brentwood, was transported by Smithtown Fire Department ambulance to Stony Brook University Hospital with serious, but non-life-threatening injuries. The driver of the Honda, Carol Katz, 55, of Dix Hills, was transported by Smithtown Fire Department ambulance to Stony Brook University Hospital with minor injuries.

The building was unoccupied at the time of the crash. The Smithtown building inspector was called to the scene to assess damage to the structure. Both vehicles were impounded for safety checks.

Detectives are asking anyone with information on this crash to call the 4th Squad at 631-854-8452.

A scene from last year’s Coltrane Day in Huntington. Photo from Ron Stein

By Victoria Espinoza

Huntington is set to get jazzy  this upcoming weekend with the third annual Coltrane Day — part of Huntington Summer Arts Festival’s Jazz Week.

The Coltrane Home in Dix Hills in conjunction with the Huntington Summer Arts Festival and the Huntington Arts Council is set to entertain hundreds of residents this Saturday, July 22 from 2 to 10:30 p.m. at Hecksher Park for an all day festival of live music and music workshops. The event is intended to be a celebration of the legacy of jazz legends John and Alice Coltrane, who lived in Dix Hills.

“This is a one of a kind event — there is nothing else like it,” Ron Stein, director of Coltrane Day said in a phone interview. “The people who attend this event absolutely love it.”

Stein said what makes this event so unique is that it’s more than just a day filled with musical performances, there are also music classes and workshops offered throughout the day for kids of all ages to practice their craft.

Classes range from music improvisation, song writing, vocal music, hip hop, electronic music, drum circles and more.

Stein said what really makes Coltrane Day shine is the community jam session.

“This brings young musicians on stage to play with professionals,” he said. “It’s my favorite part of the day because it creates such a feeling of camaraderie. To see the faces of these young kids when they walk on the stage and get to play with the pros is really special. It creates such a spirit of community — which is really the theme of the event.”

Stein said the community jam is also great for parents to get an opportunity to see their kids shine on stage in a very different setting.

This year the Kenny Garrett Quintet is headlining Coltrane Day. Kenny Garrett, a saxophonist, has played with the Duke Ellington Orchestra and has been nominated for six Grammy Awards. Long Island harpist Brandee Younger will be opening for the quintet.

All workshops are free and are about 45 minutes in length, but a $5 donation is recommended. Coltrane Day also offers a variety of foods, activities for kids, and art from local artists. Admission is free for children, and a $10 donation is suggested for adults.

For more information about Coltrane Day or the Coltrane Home in Dix Hills visit thecoltranehome.org or call 631-223-1361.

Defendants from Port Jeff, Mount Sinai, Coram, among those indicted

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In a plot that could have been lifted straight from the script of “The Wolf of Wall Street,” six North Shore residents were among 14 indicted in federal court in Brooklyn July 13 for their alleged roles in a $147 million stock manipulation scheme, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.

A press release regarding the indictment alleged the defendants defrauded investors by obtaining shares in five publicly traded companies from insiders at the companies for below-market prices, artificially drove up the prices of the shares, while “aggressively and repeatedly” calling and emailing victims to purchase shares — oftentimes senior citizens — and then sold their own shares between January 2014 and July 2017.

“Manipulating stock prices, as alleged in this case, to appear more attractive to investors, is a deliberate attempt at sabotaging fair market trading,” Assistant Director-in-Charge for the FBI’s New York field office William Sweeney Jr. said in a statement. Sweeney and acting U.S. Attorney Bridget Rohde read the indictments. “Manipulation, at its core, is a true act of deception, especially when the elderly are targeted. This scheme involved an incredible amount of money, more than $147 million. That’s no small change for even the savviest investor. As evidenced by our arrests today, we take these matters seriously, and will continue to pursue those who make victims out of unwitting participants in these schemes.”

Managers of My Street Research — a Melville based investment firm — Erik Matz, 44, of Mount Sinai and Ronald Hardy, 42, of Port Jefferson were among those indicted. They also engaged in a scheme to launder about $14.7 million in proceeds obtained as a result of the scheme, according to Rohde’s office. The government restrained Matz’s Mount Sinai home and seized bank accounts containing alleged criminally obtained money. The attorney representing Matz and Hardy did not respond to a request for comment. A phone message requesting comment from My Street Research was not returned.

Dennis Verderosa, 67, and Emin L. Cohen, 33, both of Coram, and McArthur Jean, 34, of Dix Hills were among those listed as “cold-callers” for the operation.

Cohen’s and Verderosa’s attorneys each declined to comment via email. Jean’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

Robert Gilbert, 51, of Cold Spring Harbor and owner of the investment firm Accredited Investor Preview was also among the 14 people indicted.

“We’re still studying the indictment, but Mr. Gilbert is mentioned substantively in only one paragraph,” Gilbert’s attorney Ira Sorkin said in a phone interview. “He has not been incarcerated, and there is no claim any of his assets have been frozen as is the case with some of the others. Until we have a chance to read further into the indictment we will have no further comment.”

The five companies whose stocks were pushed by the “pump-and-dump” scheme were National Waste Management Holdings, Inc., CES Synergies, Inc., Grilled Cheese Truck,  Hydrocarb Energy Corporation and Intelligent Content Enterprises, Inc.

Editor’s note: Anyone victimized by the alleged scheme can contact the writer of this story via email at alex@tbrnewspapers.com

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Suffolk County Police today arrested two men in Dix Hills following a pursuit on the Long Island Expressway early Friday morning, June 30.

Police said Highway Patrol Bureau Sergeant Peter Clancy observed the operator of a 2016 Nissan Sentra driving erratically west on the Long Island Expressway near exit 62 at approximately 2 a.m. Sgt. Clancy attempted to pull over the vehicle but the driver allegedly fled. The driver of the Sentra and an acquaintance, who was driving nearby in a Chevrolet began weaving through traffic. The drivers refused to stop for the Sgt. and Highway Patrol Bureau Officer Robert Scudellari deployed stop sticks which stopped the Chevrolet. The Nissan continued and Sgt. Clancy was able to bring the vehicle to a stop on the Long Island Expressway at Exit 52 in Dix Hills.

Highway Patrol Bureau charged the driver of the Nissan, Queens resident Robert Richards, 32, with reckless driving and third-degree fleeing an officer in a motor vehicle. Second Squad detectives charged the driver of the Chevrolet, Queens resident Donzel Raywhyte, 28, with three counts of first-degree possession of a forged instrument for possessing three forged out of state licenses. Highway Patrol Bureau charged Raywhyte with second-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and false personation.

Richards was held overnight at the 2nd Precinct and scheduled for arraignment at First District Court in Central Islip June 30. Raywhyte will be held overnight at the 2nd Precinct tonight and scheduled for arraignment July 1. No attorney information was immediately available.

Anthony Stack. Photo from SCPD

A Huntington man was arrested in connection with burglarizing more than half a dozen businesses this month.

Anthony Stack was allegedly caught on surveillance video captured on May 22 after he broke into Si Yuang Kitchen, located at 232 Wall Street in Huntington. A Second Squad detective reviewed still photos taken from surveillance video and identified the suspect as Stack.

Further investigations revealed that Stack was also responsible for burglarizing the following businesses:

  • Kerber’s Farms at 309 West Pulaski Road in Huntington May 12
  • Golden Express at 66 Broadhollow Road in Melville May 14
  • Golden River Chinese Kitchen at 340 East Jericho Turnpike in Huntington May 15
  • Yhum Yhum Chinese at 1200 East Jericho Turnpike in Dix Hills May 16
  • Country Hot Bagels at 361 Fort Salonga Road at Northport May 16
  • The Great Wall Chinese at 574 Larkfield Road in East Northport May 21

Second Squad detectives charged Stack, 57, with six counts of third-degree burglary and third-degree grand larceny. He is scheduled to be arraigned today at First District Court in Central Islip.

Former Huntington Councilwoman Tracey Edwards won the Democratic town supervisor primary. File photo by Kevin Redding

By Kevin Redding

Huntington Town Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) is determined to serve her community no matter what. After the lifelong Huntington resident was diagnosed with breast cancer in Jan. 2016 — the beginning of her second year on the board — she spent the better part of nine months in and out of the doctor’s office, undergoing chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries. Yet  she didn’t miss a single board meeting.

“I came in with my hat, I was bald, but I was there because the residents elected me to do a job — I’m efficient,” Edwards, who is now cancer-free, said with a smile.

That efficiency, along with a list of initiatives to better her community, has put the restless 55-year-old on track for town supervisor.

On Monday, May 1, Edwards sat down for an interview, at Panera Bread on Main Street in Huntington, to discuss her achievements so far on the town board, her upbringing, and campaign for supervisor. Born in Huntington Hospital and raised by a narcotics detective, her father, and a civil activist, her mother, Edwards married her high school sweetheart at 17. She and her husband live in Dix Hills and have three children, and two grandchildren.

Edwards was elected to the town board in 2014, after serving 10 years on the Elwood board of education. She previously served on the board of directors of the Long Island Association and worked for 37 years at Verizon, starting as an operator and climbing the ladder to regional president of network operations.

As councilwoman, Edwards worked alongside fellow councilwoman Susan Berland (D) to expand affordable housing legislation for millennials and first-time home buyers to more easily live downtown and has been a strong advocate for youth-oriented programs that tackle drug awareness, encouraging the town’s partnerships with its school districts and churches to confront Long Island’s heroin and opioid epidemic.

She led the rewriting of the town’s ethics code to make it more transparent for residents. “The residents are our customers and the more I can do to bring government to the people the better it is for a more open government,” she said. She and the board are currently working on a resolution to modify registrations for bow hunting, which has long been a safety concern among residents in Asharoken and Eaton’s Neck.

She also spearheaded the creation of the Huntington Opportunity Resource Center, a program that offers assistance with resume preparation, job searches, exploration of career options and access to job training for unemployed and underemployed residents, many of whom are veterans.

“Tracey has always made the veterans feel like we’re an important part of the community and she’s been a great supporter of us,” Bob Santo, commander of Greenlawn American Legion Post 1244, said in a phone interview. “She’s very honest and straightforward and immediately welcoming. Most recently, HORC organized a special veterans service day where dozens gather to welcome veterans and provide information and social services to them…it’s all due to her leadership.”

If elected supervisor, Edwards said she wants to complete revitalization efforts started in Huntington Station, which includes the construction of veteran’s housing, art space, stores, sidewalks and a parking garage, while working with law enforcement to stamp out crime.

“Huntington Station is the entrance into the village and we need to make sure there is a look and feel all the way down on New York Avenue,” she said. “I saw what Huntington Station used to be with businesses along New York Avenue that were thriving. Unfortunately, that turned into parking lots. Paved parking lots for commuter parking is not what our community is all about.”

She said she also wants to continue to hold the line on taxes under the town’s cap, building on the foundation of financial stability laid by current Supervisor Frank Petrone (D).

Moving forward, she hopes to expand the town’s environmental initiatives, focusing specifically on solar and sustainability. She’s a lead sponsor on the county’s Focused Clean Water resolution that bans formaldehyde in marine water tanks.

Alissa Taff, a civic leader in Melville, said although her group can’t endorse candidates, she appreciates Edwards’ support in voting against a recent proposal to build a HomeGoods on a vacant special groundwater protection area on Route 110. The vote wound up 3-2 in favor of the application, with Petrone and other board members giving the go-ahead.

“She voted not in line with her party but in line with what’s right for the community and the wishes of our civic association,” Taff said. “[In doing so], she showed great concern for the environment and what will become a very high traffic area, and protection of park land. We admire her for that.”

Edwards graduated from Elwood-John Glenn High School in 1978 at just 16, doubling up on the essential courses and eliminating the rest so she could more quickly begin her career — she initially had her heart set on joining the police force but her father steered her away from that idea. She quickly got a job at New York Telephone, which later became Verizon, and felt at home.

But she said she feels most at home helping the people of Huntington.

“When people call me and say ‘I hate to bother you with this…’ I’m very quick to tell them, ‘listen, I work for you…when you’re calling me, don’t apologize. That’s what I’m supposed to be doing, working on your behalf,’” she said. “This town is important to me and I want to make sure I do everything I can for it.”

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Suffolk County Police arrested a Dix Hills man for fatally shooting his girlfriend in Dix Hills Thursday night, April 14.

Police said Eric Bermudez confronted his girlfriend, Regina Flecha, on Burroughs Avenue, north of Kenmore Street, at approximately 7:30 p.m. and shot her multiple times. Bermudez then pulled Flecha into his vehicle and drove away from the scene. Two 3rd Precinct detectives observed Bermudez’s vehicle speeding on Fifth Avenue in Bay Shore and pulled over the vehicle when they discovered the victim. Bay Shore-Brightwaters Rescue Ambulance responded to the traffic stop and transported Flecha, 37 of Dix Hills, to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore where she died a short time later.

Homicide Squad detectives charged Bermudez, 36, of 10 Black Pine Court, with second-degree murder.

The front entrance of the new welcome center. Photo from Gov. Cuomo's office.

Despite original resistance from local officials, a rest stop is officially open for business on the Long Island Expressway in Dix Hills between exits 51 and 52 off the eastbound lanes.

The 15,200 square-foot Long Island Welcome Center features restrooms, a Taste NY food market and several information kiosks to inform travelers about local tourism spots. It’s the first rest stop of its kind on the Island.

Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills) and New York State Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci (R-Huntington Station) shared concerns last year with some of the details in the plan, including its proximity to residential areas, and the communication between local officials and the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).

But Stern said he is pleased with the compromises that were made to put residents’ fears at ease.

“I’ve spoken to many area residents who said trucks idling all day and night was an ongoing and unacceptable concern,” the county legislator said in a phone interview.

An aerial view of the new welcome center. Photo from Gov. Cuomo's office
An aerial view of the new welcome center. Photo from Gov. Cuomo’s office

According to a press release from the governor’s office, the residents have been heard. No tractor-trailer or bus parking is allowed at the welcome center, including the service road that supports the facility.

“This is an example of all levels of government working and coming together, which we can now see reflected in the final design of the welcome center,” Stern said. “This is a really important element that was encouraging to the residents.”

Trucks and buses have been redirected to recently renovated New York State Department of Transportation sites at exits 56 and 66.

Stern said the residents are still waiting to see the future of the rest stop and how it will be used, but they found the truck ban encouraging.

Lupinacci agreed the compromise with Dix Hills residents was a step in the right direction.

“I am pleased to learn that the New York State Department of Transportation has considered the concerns of local residents in the Dix Hills Area and compromised on the original plans of the Long Island Welcome Center,” he said in an email. “The welcome center, which has been drastically reduced in size from original blueprints and will not sell any alcoholic beverages, will offer local produce and regional goods to Long Island’s travelers. I will continue to listen to local stakeholders and welcome feedback from Dix Hills residents during the first few months of the welcome center’s operation.”

Cuomo said the welcome center is an important asset in encouraging tourism throughout New York.

“Tourism and agriculture are critical drivers of the Long Island economy and with the new welcome center, we are making smart investments to support these industries throughout the region,” he said in a statement. “With a Taste NY store to raise the profile of Long Island’s quality food and craft beverages, and interactive I Love NY kiosks to engage visitors and connect them with Long Island’s rich history and boundless recreational opportunities, this state-of-the-art center represents the very best that Long Island has to offer.”

A view of the kiosks available for visitors to use at the center. Photo from Gov. Cuomo's office
A view of the kiosks available for visitors to use at the center. Photo from Gov. Cuomo’s office

The Taste NY Market will showcase a broad selection of fresh breakfast and lunch items, including soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts using ingredients sourced from Long Island growers, along with grab-and-go snacks and specialty local items for sale.

The welcome center will also be home to an outdoor farmers market open on Saturdays and Sundays through the season that will provide locally grown and produced foods to visitors.

As for the touch-screen I Love NY kiosks, they provide travelers the opportunity to learn more about the Long Island tourism region. An interactive map provides suggested destinations based on users’ interests, allowing them to browse regional attractions from historical sites to local wineries, and create an itinerary which they can take with them via email.

A Department of Motor Vehicles self-service kiosk will also be available for use, making it the first time a kiosk will be permanently located outside of a DMV office. Customers will have the opportunity to renew their vehicle registrations quickly and efficiently, as well as conduct other DMV transactions without having to visit a local office.

Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) said the new welcome center will help Huntington’s economy continue to grow.

“From world-class food to pristine beaches and beautiful parks, Long Island has long been a top destination for tourists,” Petrone said in a statement. “This new welcome center will play an important role in growing our economy by showcasing many of Long Island’s products and natural beauty to the thousands of travelers on the Long Island Expressway every day.”

Raynard Dashiell was arrested for hitting a bicyclist with his car and fleeing the scene. Photo from SCPD

A Dix Hills man was arrested this past weekend after police said he hit a bicyclist while driving and then fled the scene.

Raynard Dashiell was driving a 2011 Honda Ridgeline west on Express Drive North in Dix Hills on Saturday, Sept. 10, when his vehicle hit a male bicyclist at 9:12 a.m. The bicyclist, 58, of Muttontown, was transported by Dix Hills Rescue to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore for treatment of serious injuries.

Dashiell, 54, fled the scene and his vehicle became disabled approximately a quarter mile west of the crash location where he was located by 2nd Precinct officers.

Second Squad detectives charged Dashiell, with leaving the scene of an accident with serious injury. He was held overnight at the 2nd Precinct and is scheduled to appear back at First District Court in Central Islip Sept. 16. His attorney could not be reached for comment.

The vehicle was impounded for a safety check and the investigation is continuing.

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