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East Setauket

File Photo

Suffolk County police arrested six people March 30 for selling alcohol to minors at businesses located within Brookhaven Town in the 6th Precinct.

Police said they conducted several stings in response to community complaints, and 6th Precinct Crime Section officers conducted an investigation into the sale of alcohol to minors during which 17 businesses were checked for compliance with the law.

The following people were arrested and charged with unlawfully dealing with a minor:

  • German Estevez-Rodriguez, 40, of East Setauket, employed at Upper Main Street Deli, located at 1600 Main Street in Port Jefferson
  • Joseph Ragan, 18, of Coram, employed at Speedway Gas Station, located at 1445 Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station
  • Isaiah Tyler, 19, of Coram, employed at Speedway Gas Station located at 1956 Route 112 in Coram
  • Nurettin Keski, 45, of Brentwood, employed by Valero Gas Station,located at 1274 Middle Country Road in Selden
  • Buenaventura Benitez, 45, of Smithtown, employed at NY Food & Drinks, Inc. located at 2505 Middle Country Road in Centereach
  • Ervin Rhames, 21, of East Patchogue, employed at Speedway Gas Station, located at 501 Route 112, Port Jefferson Station

Eleven establishments within the 6th Precinct complied and refused to sell alcohol to minors.

All six people arrested were issued field appearance tickets and are scheduled to appear at first district court in Central Islip May 28.

Benner’s Farm shared the sweetness of late spring with its annual Strawberry Fair June 9 and 10. Attendees enjoyed old-fashioned games, live music and strawberry treats, including chocolate-covered ones. Children took turns learning how to make ice cream, visited with Benner’s animals and enjoyed the farm’s big swing.

File photo.

Suffolk County police 4th Squad detectives are investigating a crash that critically injured a motorcyclist in St. James March 5 at approximately 11:30 p.m.

Steven Perrone was operating a 2006 Suzuki motorcycle eastbound on Route 25A, just west of Acorn Road, when the motorcycle left the roadway and crashed into a guardrail.

Perrone, 34, of East Setauket was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital where he is in critical condition. The motorcycle was impounded for a safety check.

The investigation is continuing. Detectives are asking anyone with information about the crash to call 631-854-8452.

Günther Lützen. Photo from Lisa Viscovich

By Fred Lützen

Günther Lützen, former Long Island delicatessen owner and entrepreneur, of Plano, Texas, formerly of East Northport and Coram, died peacefully Jan. 27 at the age of 85.

Günther is survived by his wife Ingrid Lützen of Cape Canaveral, Florida, and their five children and ten grandchildren: Harold Lützen of Taylor, Michigan and his wife Jennifer and their children Sabrina and Thomas; Fred Lützen of Manlius, New York and his wife Nicole and their children Frederick and Riley; Lisa Viscovich of Glen Cove and her husband Gregory and their children Calvin and Emery; Linda Francis of Cutchogue and her children Julia and Samuel and her husband Donald; Stefanie Summers of Celina, Texas and her husband Daniel and their children Günther and Tanner; and by his brother Volkert Lützen of the City of Wyk, Island of Föhr, Germany; and his sister, Christa Storm, of Kayhude, Germany. He is preceded in death by his father Friedrich Christian Lützen, his mother Christina Dorothena [Freiberg], his brother Friedrich [“Freddy” or “Fiete”] Lützen and his brother Werner Lützen.

Günther was born May 21, 1932, in Wyk on the Island of Föhr, Germany. He has always loved flowers, plants and vegetation, so as a teenager in Germany he studied botany and received a certification in botany at the age of 19.

He moved to the United States in 1951. He then began his German delicatessen career and his American Dream. After working relentlessly toward his goals, he became a delicatessen and business owner within a few years, and then married Ingrid by the late 1960s, and they started a family together. Günther and Ingrid worked hard in the delicatessen business for years and raised five very proud children.

One of his longer tenures was owning the Se-Port Delicatessen in East Setauket, which he owned for two separate stints through the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.  The Village Times published an article in the 1980s about Günther and his hard work ethic that focused on his success with the Se-Port deli, and the devotion and discipline required of him to operate such a business so successfully. Günther and the  deli received a “4 Pickle Rating” award (out of a possible four) from the paper, which was the only “4” rating amongst all of the local North Shore delis that were reviewed. He still had the award with him in Texas when he passed away.

Günther and Ingrid are examples of how hard work pays off. Günther truly lived the America Dream, and his family is extremely proud of his accomplishments. Günther was a man of integrity, a gentleman, and a kind, loving, and devoted father and grandfather. Opa will be missed.

A post-cremation visitation and memorial service is scheduled for Feb. 17 at O.B. Davis Funeral Home, 4839 Nesconset Hwy., Port Jefferson Station. Visitation will be from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m., and the ceremony will be at 1:30 p.m. followed by additional visitation ending at 3:30 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Children’s Cancer & Blood Foundation. The family would like to thank The Legacy at Willow Bend in Plano and their caregivers, the Vitas hospice caregivers and the caregivers at The Bristal at East Northport assisted living for their efforts and dedication.

Many living around Setauket Harbor for years have complained about waterfowl hunters who they feel practice their sport too close to homes and residents enjoying the area. Photo from End Duck Hunting in Setauket Harbor

Residents in the vicinity of Setauket Harbor are crying “fowl” when it comes to the shooting of ducks and geese on the waterway and are hoping to change local hunting laws.

Early in December, a post on the Facebook page Three Village Parents generated a lot of buzz. Many residents near Setauket Harbor reported seeing hunters and hearing shotguns in the area. One resident commented that she had seen pellet holes in her window, while another said she changes her jogging route during hunting season, which runs until Jan. 28 for ducks and Feb. 26 for geese.

Waterfowl hunting is legal in the state. According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the agency promotes it as both a recreational sport and wildlife management tool. Those wishing to hunt waterfowl can do so during open seasons as long as they possess a valid hunting license, migratory bird stamp and Harvest Information Program number. Despite the laws, local residents aren’t happy with the early morning noises and feel the nearby hunting is a threat to their safety.

Tami Robitsek said she was sitting in her car the morning of Nov. 15 at Shore Road beach in East Setauket when she heard a loud gunshot and noticed two men in camouflage with shotguns hiding in the reeds on the beach. Robitsek said she felt it posed a dangerous situation as she witnessed several people walking and running along the road, a school bus filled with children, a man working on his boat moored off the shore and an elderly woman crying just off the road after hearing the shots.

Hunters spotted by a resident on View Road. Photo from End Duck Hunting in Setauket Harbor

“After this jarring experience, I am committed to working to end duck hunting in Setauket Harbor,” Robitsek said.

The East Setauket resident is rallying her neighbors and recently created the Facebook group, End Duck Hunting in Setauket Harbor, which has gained 70 members. She said community people have expressed support for a no-discharge ordinance in Setauket due to safety concerns and have discovered that neighboring Village of Poquott already has a no-discharge ordinance, which prevents the discharging of firearms outside official duties.

“Given the historical significance of this waterway, the delicate ecosystem, waterfowl nesting, dense population on all sides of the harbor and so on, it is clear to me that Setauket Harbor and its area residents deserve to be protected from hunting of all kinds,” Robitsek said.

Animal rescue and activist Joanne Tamburro, who has worked with Guardians of Rescue, an organization dedicated to rescuing abused animals, has offered her support to organize residents and approach local elected officials to initiate the no-discharge order. The 20-year Setauket resident said while residents have complained in the past, their concerns have fallen on deaf ears.

“I’m against hunting, but I don’t preach,” Tamburro said. “However, if you want to hunt, not by me. I don’t want to see it, I don’t want to be a part of it and don’t try to convince me that it helps the environment.”

As an animal activist, Tamburro is concerned for the birds, too.

“What about these poor animals that are getting shot, and they’re walking around with a broken wing,” she said.

Chris Spies, a hunter from Holbrook who works in Stony Brook, said he has had negative interactions in the past with residents.

“I understand that people are upset getting woken up early, I completely understand,” he said. “However, I also get up early in the morning with an expectation to go out and enjoy myself in my pursuit of a lawful activity and not be accosted in the field with people cursing me out, taking photographs of me, videotaping me, banging pots and pans and calling the police on me multiple times.”

He said some residents don’t mind though and even come out to talk to him.

“It is clear to me that Setauket Harbor and its area residents deserve to be protected from hunting of all kinds.”

— Tami Robitsek

Spies said residents should be aware that while standard hunting laws state that shooting must be done 500 feet from an occupied residence, that rule is suspended while waterfowl hunting. According to the DEC’s website, it is lawful to discharge a shotgun over water within 500 feet of a dwelling, public structure or person as long as no buildings or people are in the line of discharge.

The hunter said residents should know that duck hunters don’t use bullets but shot shells, which shoot many BBs in a shot string for more effective hunting while not posing safety risks beyond 70 yards or so.

“Shooting a single projectile at a flying bird would be very ineffective at harvesting them, as well as dangerous further down range,” he said.

He also has a few tips for his fellow sportsmen. Spies said before hunters head out, they should visit gis3.suffolkcountyny.gov/gisviewer to view a county map that shows property lines and ownership to ensure that they are not trespassing.

While out shooting, Spies suggests that when seeing others, hunters should stop shooting, put down their guns and take off their hats. He said they should let their decoys work in their favor and wait until the ducks are in an effective range, typically under 30 yards, which would avoid unnecessary shots. He suggests one shot per bird or less as random shooting annoys nearby residents and scares the birds.

“I’m a big proponent of hunters being ethical and part of the ethics of hunting is not taking indiscriminate shots,” he said.

Robitsek and Tamburro said while they face a difficult road in fighting the state law that allows hunting, they are prepared for the battle with plans to solicit the help of local lawmakers and stage protests if necessary.

“It’s ridiculous to allow any type of hunting in and around this area, with the amount of homes we have here,” Tamburro said.

Three Village residents were treated to a local holiday favorite Dec. 10 as the Three Village Holiday Electric Parade traveled down the streets of East Setauket. The parade kicked off at 5 p.m. with a variety of vehicles and floats adorned with lights that added a festive feel to the chilly night. Presented by the Three Village Kiwanis Club, the event featured floats from students from the Three Village Central School District and the participation of Scout troops and various businesses and organizations from the area, including Shine Dance Studios and North Shore Jewish Center. Cheerleaders, pep squad members, athletes and Stony Brook University mascot Wolfie also participated. After the parade, families gathered at the Kiwanis Park next to Se-Port Deli for the chance to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, who arrived in a train replica decorated with colorful lights.

The Three Village Historical Society hosted its annual Candlelight House Tours Dec. 1 and 2, Visions of East Setauket: Then and Now. The Friday night event ended with a reception at St. James R.C. Church’s parish center, which is home to a presepio, a tableau of life in Bethlehem at the time of Christ’s birth, assembled by Rev. Gerald Cestare.

This year the tour provided participants the opportunity to step inside homes that are of local historical importance or sit on property that is considered as such in East Setauket and Poquott. Each of the homes were dressed up for either Christmas or Hanukkah by local decorators and included both indoor and outdoor holiday accents.

Candlelight House Tour decorators were Allison Butera, Donna Howard, Nancy Munch, Susan Malkan, Lynn Sabatelle, North Suffolk Garden Club and Open House Country Flowers & Interiors.

The interior of Messiah Lutheran Church is decorated for Christmas and the congregation’s upcoming 60th anniversary. Photo from Messiah Lutheran Church

Churches represent a significant part of the history of the Three Village area, and in December, an East Setauket church will celebrate a historic milestone.

The Messiah Lutheran Church has been part of the community for 60 years, the first service being held Dec. 22, 1957, with 58 people in attendance. The congregation began as a mission of the Atlantic District of the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod.

For the first eight years, the congregation gathered at a hall inside VFW Post 3054 on Jones Street in East Setauket, according to a Jan. 20, 2003, Village Times Herald article written by the church’s first pastor the Rev. Henry Koepchen and Franklin Neal.

A goal of the congregation was to be near Stony Brook University. In the early 1960s, Ward Melville made 10 acres of land available to churches along Nicolls Road at $2,000 an acre. Originally, the congregation reserved land across from the school’s entrance, but when Nick Pastis offered seven and a half acres on Pond Path, his parcel was chosen instead. The construction of the building began in 1964, and a church dedication was held Palm Sunday 1966.

Messiah Lutheran Church celebrates 60 years in the Three Village community. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Town of Brookhaven Historian Barbara Russell said the location is considered the center of the historic community in the East Setauket-South Setauket area. Farmland once stretched from Bennetts Road south along Sheep Pasture Road and Pond Path to north Centereach. The area included a church on Bennetts Road, a school at the intersection of Sheep Pasture Road and Pond Path, a cider mill and the Hawkins family cemetery on the south side of the present church.

According to the article, the A-frame design of the structure is symbolic of a tent to remind worshippers that they are pilgrims on a journey. The building was designed by Robert Clothier and was created with laminated wood rafters measuring 78 feet long.

The first stage of construction included plans for a seating capacity of 306 at the center, 60 in the balcony and a wing with seven Sunday school classrooms that would accommodate 300 students, according to an article in the Nov. 22, 1963, edition of The Three Village Herald. The estimated cost of construction was $200,000.

In the 60 years of the Messiah Lutheran Church, the pastors have been long-standing. Founding pastor Koepchen remained until his retirement in September 1996. The Rev. Alfred Hofler has served as pastoral assistant since 1977, and the current pastor, the Rev. Charles Bell, was installed March 6, 1997.

In addition to offering Sunday services, the church opened a preschool in September 1997 for 3- and 4-year-olds. In 2013, a full-day New York State licensed day care program was launched.

Messiah Lutheran Church, located at 465 Pond Path, holds worship services every Sunday morning at 8:15, 9:30 and 11 a.m. A 60th-anniversary worship service is scheduled for Dec. 3 at 10 a.m. with guest preacher the Rev. Dr. John Nunes, president of Concordia College in Bronxville. For more information visit www.messiahny.com.

Youthire.org provides an easy way for Stony Brook University students to find odd jobs in the surrounding areas. Photo from Thomas Cerna

An established job resource website will now enable young adults in the Three Villages to make some extra cash, proving the adage “There’s an app for that” to be eminently true.

More than three years ago, Thomas Cerna created Youthire America to provide more opportunities for young people between 16 and 26 years old to earn cash while gaining work experience. The entrepreneur set up the website www.youthire.org where Sea Cliff, Glen Head, Glenwood Landing and Glen Cove students could connect with homeowners and business owners. Now the nonprofit organization is extending the same opportunities to Stony Brook University students and residents in the surrounding areas.

“It’s a really great way to connect kids with adults in the neighborhood, and they’re making money doing odd jobs,” Cerna said.

Although a mobile app doesn’t yet exist, the website serves as a hub offering work opportunities in four separate categories — internships, volunteer projects, traditional employment and odd jobs.

Cerna said he got the idea to partner with the university when he noticed a homeowner from Setauket posted a request. He reached out to the poster and discovered they were informed about the site by Joanna Durso, senior career counselor with the university’s career center, who lives near Cerna and was familiar with Youthire.

Brian and Travis Danoski clean out a shed after finding the odd job on www.youthire.org. Photo from Thomas Cerna

Durso said the site makes it easier for the career center to help residents who need help, especially since the school is unable to promote jobs that need to be done inside private homes on its website.

“In addition to offering SBU students another source of job listings, Youthire is helpful for us when we hear from local residents who want to hire students for household work, baby-sitting, and so on,” Durso said.

Students set up profiles on the site and are notified by email when jobs within five miles are posted. If a student is interested in a task, the homeowner receives an email and can check the student’s profile page, which includes a photograph, narrative and past work history, before contacting them.
Everyone using the site goes through a background check and screening for misdemeanors and felonies.

Cerna said he decided to start the nonprofit after
remembering the odd jobs he worked while growing up in Mamaroneck. His high school had a career services center where students could sign up for odd jobs.

The founder said he believes working at a young age
creates personal responsibility and a good work ethic, and in a society where drug use has skyrocketed, he said he feels it can keep kids out of trouble.

“It’s something that could steer a kid in the right direction for a kid going in the wrong direction,” Cerna said.

Kevin McDonagh, of Glen Head, said he used Youthire to clean out his shed. He said with his own children in college, he needed help with the big job and remembered making signs for Cerna at the sign shop where he works.

“It was a really satisfying experience,” McDonagh said. “They came in, they did the job. Not only did the job, but they were proactive in the work. I didn’t have to direct them every step of the way.”

One of the students who worked on his shed was Brian Danoski. The senior at Stony Brook University, who is studying to be an entrepreneur, said he discovered the site on his own a few years ago.

“It’s building my experience and desire for learning new things,” Danoski said.

The college student said he likes that the site easily connects him with those who need help and allows flexibility, especially with the demands of his class schedule. He said the site is also perfect for high schoolers.

“[Cerna’s] really passionate about it,” Danoski said. “That’s why it’s going to succeed because he wants the youth to get out there and do more and learn about the world.”

For more information, visit www.youthire.org.

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Independent filmmaker Tara Langton at her 1991 graduation from Ward Melville High School. Photo from Tara Langton

While many Long Islanders move away from home to pursue their dreams, one East Setauket native is returning to share her story.

On Oct. 27, Tara Langton, a Los Angeles-based writer and film producer, will meet with Ward Melville High School film students in teacher Stephanie DiLorenzo’s classes. During her visit, the 1991 Ward Melville graduate will discuss the ins and outs of independent filmmaking, show outtakes from her short films and answer students’ questions.

Langton during the filming of a short based on her children’s book ‘Travis Tinley and the Spirit of #22.’ Photo from Tara Langton

While she was a student at the high school, Langton said she took a film class called World of Cinema, and also participated in an acting class at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson when she was in 10th grade. Langton said she left Long Island for Los Angeles 20 years ago to pursue her dream of becoming a filmmaker. The road has been a long and tough one, but even with the tight budgets of independent filmmaking, it’s a journey she said she enjoys.

“I want to teach the students that you can make a film with virtually no budget if you have a dedicated cast and crew willing to put their heart and soul into the project,” she said. “Independent filmmaking is rarely glamorous but is truly a labor of love.”

Langton said another thing she would like to convey to the students is the importance of taking any role in filmmaking and learning from it. She said she gained a great deal of knowledge while she was a production assistant with a small acting part in the 2010 movie “Mineville” with Paul Sorvino and William Sadler. She said she asked tons of questions of those on the set while working on the film.

In 2017 she wrote and produced “Finding Anissa Jones” which was accepted into the Stella Adler Academy Short + Sweet Film Festival in Hollywood. In 2018, she plans to film “A Shortstop Away,” about a 14-year-old boy who shared a love of baseball with his father, who died from cancer. The full-length film is based on a children’s book and short film she wrote, “Travis Tinley and the Spirit of #22.” She said the story begins in Durango, Colorado, and the main character’s adventures take him to Long Island where he accepts a posthumous award for his deceased father.

Langton said in the story Travis begins to feel lost without his father, and it demonstrates that even when bad things happen to someone, there is still good in life.

“I try to write stuff that comes out of my heart, stuff that I would relate to when I was younger, and try to motivate kids to be good people.”

— Tara Langton

“I try to write stuff that comes out of my heart, stuff that I would relate to when I was younger, and try to motivate kids to be good people,” she said.

Langton said she would love to film part of the movie in the Three Village area. While interior shots will be done either in California or Pennsylvania, she said she hopes she can film some scenes at locations such as Ward Melville High School and Danfords in Port Jefferson. She said she is also hoping to find a local resident who would allow filming at their home.

The filmmaker hopes to cast a few local actors. Currently, former child actress Rachel Lindsay Greenbush, who is known for her role as Carrie Ingalls on the television show “Little House on the Prairie,” is signed to play one of the supporting characters in the film.

When it comes to her trip home, Langton, who visits Long Island twice a year to see friends, said she is looking forward to walking the halls of Ward Melville once again.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to come back to the Three Village area and share my film experience with the students and faculty at my alma mater,” she said.