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Huntington

Huntington High School. File Photo

A coach bus transporting dozens of Huntington area students home from a spring break trip smashed into an Southern State Parkway overpass late Sunday night, seriously injuring two 17-year-old girls.

New York State Police said at 9:08 p.m. April 8 officers responded to a one-vehicle crash involving a 2000 Prevost coach bus traveling eastbound on the Southern State Parkway that had crashed into the exit 18 Eagle Avenue overpass in the Town of Hempstead. There were 43 students and chaperones onboard returning from a trip to eastern Europe.

“We were informed shortly [after the crash] that several individuals who were injured in the accident were members of the Huntington High School community,” read a statement from Huntington Superintendent James Polansky posted on the district’s website. “While injuries apparently ranged in severity, preliminary reports indicate that all have been treated and released, or remain under treatment. Our thoughts and prayers remain with all families involved.”

State police identified the driver of the coach bus as Troy Gaston, 43, of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, who was working for Journey Bus Line. Police said Gaston had used a non-commercial GPS device to determine the best route from John F. Kennedy International Airport to Walt Whitman Mall in Huntington was via the Belt and Southern State parkways.

Gaston has a valid Pennsylvania commercial vehicle driver’s license. He was cooperative at the scene, according to police, where he was evaluated by a state police drug recognition expert for any sign of alcohol or drug use. The driver voluntarily offered a blood sample which came back with no trace of alcohol use and a drug evaluation is still pending, police said.

“This was an avoidable accident,” said U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) during a press conference.

Schumer said in 2012 he held a press conference at the same overpass where the accident occurred calling for improved safety standards including the use of commercial GPS systems to warn truck and bus drivers about the clearance heights of bridges.

In 2013, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and agency with a primary mission to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries, sent notification to all truckers and transportation companies about these commercial GPS systems.

“This driver should have never been using the Southern State,” Schumer said. “And the GPS equipment was available to tell him.”

While installation of these commercial GPS systems was recommended by the federal agency, it is not mandated by law, according to Schumer. The senator said he would look into legislation to requiree the systems be used and drivers be properly trained to prevent future accidents.

The National Transportation Safety Board was also notified of the accident, according to police, but it did not meet their response criteria. It will be monitoring the ongoing investigation.

The Southern State Parkway was closed until 7 a.m. April 9 to allow state police to attempt to reconstruct the accident and determine its cause. Police said they still need to verify the route the bus traveled using forensic evidence and conducting passenger interviews.

Anyone who may have witnessed the crash is asked to contact the state police at 631-756-3300.

Voters have the opportunity to ask questions of candidates Janet Smitelli and Steve Stern at April 11 event

Republican Party candidate Janet Smitelli, and Democrat Party candidate Steve Stern. File photos

Huntington residents are invited to come meet the candidates competing for Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci’s former state assembly seat.

The League of Women Voters of Huntington has scheduled a Meet the Candidates Night for April 11 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the South Huntington Public Library. Democrat Steve Stern, who previously represented the 16th District in the Suffolk County Legislature, will be running against Republican Party candidate Janet Smitelli in the April 24 special election.

Smitelli is a civil litigator who has lived in Huntington for more than 20 years. A member of the Republican committee for more than 10 years, she is active locally with the Boy Scouts and has served as an assistant Scoutmaster.

Stern left the county Legislature Dec. 31, term limited from office after 12 years representing the 16th District. He sat on the Suffolk County Veterans and Seniors Committee and previously touted his
accomplishments to include the Housing Our Homeless Heroes initiative, a package of bills that aimed to end veteran homelessness in Suffolk, and the creation of the Silver Alert system designed to locate missing senior citizens.

Any attendee who wants to ask a question of the candidates may submit it in writing on cards that will be supplied at the event. For more information, contact Colette Knuth at cstewardknuth@gmail.com.

Prior to the Meet the Candidates Night, the League of Women Voters will hold its first Take Action Workshop starting at 5 p.m. The workshop will offer a hands-on experience and expert advice in assisting citizens to register to vote and answering any questions regarding voting. Seating is limited, but registration is open to anyone who is interested.

Those interested can register by visiting the South Huntington Public Library’s website at www.shpl.info under the “Programs” tab or by calling 631-549-4411.

Two men are wanted by Suffolk County police for allegedly assaulting a man in Huntington. Photo from SCPD

Suffolk County Crime Stoppers and 2nd Precinct Crime Section officers are seeking the public’s help to identify and locate two men who allegedly assaulted another man in Huntington this month.

A man was allegedly assaulted in front of of Nag’s Head Ale House, located at 396 New York Ave., March 18 at 1 a.m. The alleged suspects are described as white, in their 20s. One suspect was said to be approximately 5 feet, 9 inches tall with brown hair. The other suspect was approximately 6 feet tall with blonde hair.

Suffolk County Crime Stoppers offers a cash reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest. Anyone with information about the incident can contact Suffolk County Crime Stoppers to submit an anonymous tip by calling 1-800-220-TIPS (8477), texting “SCPD” and your message to “CRIMES” (274637) or by sending an email at www.tipsubmit.com. All calls, text messages and emails will be kept confidential.

 

By Karen Forman

Hundreds of students, parents, grandparents and politicians rallied outside Huntington Town Hall this Saturday to honor the lives of the Parkland school shooting victims and call for the implementation of stricter gun control measures.

The March for Our Lives Long Island held March 24, founded by 16-year-old Huntington students Avalon Fenster and Sara Frawley, was one of the more than 800 rallies that sprung up across the country as part of the national movement started by survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

“In the short term, we want to honor the lives lost in Parkland and all the school shootings since Columbine,” Fenster said. “In the long term, we want to get youth more civically involved, collaborating with elected officials to create legislation that makes our lives a priority.”

“We want to live in a country where children can go to school and not fear that they won’t come home.”
— Julia Fenster

The event was kicked off with a performance by Dan Krochmal, an Australian-born singer now residing in New York City, who wrote a song in support of the movement titled “Pride Before the Fall.” Featured speakers included student organizers, local politicians and family members of the Parkland shooting victims.

“We want to live in a country where children can go to school and not fear that they won’t come home,” said Julia Fenster, Avalon’s mom, and the founding chairperson of March for Our Lives Long Island. “Where parents saying goodbye to their children in the morning don’t fear it is the final goodbye. Where teachers only need to worry about teaching and not about being a human shield.”

Melissa Beigel, the sister of Dix Hills native Scott Beigel, spoke at the rally. Beigel was a geography teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who was shot and killed while attempting to lock his classroom door to protect students.

Avalon Fenster publicly called for politicians to pass stricter gun control legislation in the wake of the shootings. The student organizer acknowledged that U.S. citizens are entitled the right to bear arms but highlighted that there is a significant difference between colonial-era rifles and assault rifles.

“People forget that the 2nd Amendment was created in colonial times when they used a rifle that only shot about two bullets in three minutes,” she said. “Now we have automatic weapons that can shoot 140 rounds in three minutes. We are not trying to abridge people’s rights, but we do think that human life should take priority over material ownership and convenience of that ownership.”

“All you students, your voices count. Fight for change.”
— Paul Guttenberg

Rally organizers took turns reading the names of all the people who have been killed in a mass shooting since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. This somber act caused a quiet hush to sweep over those gathered.

Former U.S. Rep Steve Israel (D-Huntington), who left office in January 2017, spoke about the voting behavior of elected officials he witnessed while in office.

“I spent 16 years watching people in Congress voting no for laws that would have kept us safe,” Israel said. “Each time I kept thinking that this time would be different, but they kept voting no. They didn’t want to let down their [National Rifle Association] voters.”

Among the signs carried by rally participants included “NRA profits are bathed in the blood of our children.” Israel has written a 320-page book titled “Big Guns,” a comical novel about the firearms industry and Washington politics, which is currently scheduled to be published in April.

“If adult politicians can’t keep you safe, you vote against them,” he said, to which the crowd responded with “vote them out.” “Change is coming and you are our change. We are going to make the world safe again.”

Commack resident Paul Guttenberg, uncle of slain 14-year-old Parkland student Jaime Guttenberg, took to the stage to publicly address a crowd for the first time.

“All the students who died in these mass shootings had their voices robbed from them. Now we have to be their voices.”
— Max Robins

“She will never get to go to college, get married or have children of her own because of assault rifles,” he said. “Mass shooting can happen in any town in this country. We have to stop gun violence in this country and ban assault rifles.”

Guttenberg encouraged those students at the rally to use the rally’s momentum to keep pushing for stricter gun legislation.

“All you students, your voices count,” he said. “Fight for change.”

Isabelle Kaufman, a 16-year-old student at Half Hollow Hills East, echoed his sentiments as she spoke to those gathered about the need to hold the federal government and elected officials accountable.

“All of this happened because of a 19-year-old who couldn’t be trusted to purchase alcohol, but he was allowed to purchase an assault rifle,” she said. “Students should go to school in fear of taking a test, not in fear of their lives.”

The crowd, moved by the speeches, took up the chant of “No more silence. No more violence.”

Max Robins, a member of the March for Our Lives Long Island group, concluded the two-hour rally with a motivating speech and call to action.

“All the students who died in these mass shootings had their voices robbed from them,” Robins said. “Now we have to be their voices. And we are the voice that will not be silenced. We will not be forgotten.”

Event will be held in Huntington Town Hall's parking lot March 24 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Huntington Town Hall. File photo by Rohma Abbas

The organizers of the Huntington’s school shooting protest have announced a change of location after storms blanketed the area in more than a foot of snow.

The March for Our Lives Long Island event scheduled for March 24 at Heckscher Park will be relocating across the street to Huntington Town Hall, according to student organizers. The event’s website read: “due to the severe winter storm and resulting bad grand conditions expected on Saturday the location of the event has changed.”

Huntington Town spokeswoman Lauren Lembo said town officials had safety concerns regarding the use of Heckscher Park for the rally, due to large number of people attending, multiple entrances to the park and potentially muddy fields. By comparison, there are only two entrances to the town parking lot on Irwin and Jackson streets.

“The town supports the First Amendment rights of the students to assemble and speak their minds on this national matter,” she said on behalf of town officials.

The student organizers have filed the proper paperwork and received permits to host the rally on town property, according to Lembo.

The Huntington event is being held in conjunction with the Washington, D.C., march to show solidarity with the Parkland, Florida, shooting survivors and “demand that our lawmakers make gun reform a top priority to end this cycle of gun violence in our schools and our communities at large,” the organizers’ website reads. It will feature students speakers and local residents who lost loved ones in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

Participants and those following the events are promoting use of the hashtag #NeverAgain. As of March 22, the event’s Facebook page shows more than 900 individuals are stating they will attend.

Are you attending Huntington’s March For Our Lives March 24? Tweet us @TBRNewsMedia with your thoughts and photos. 

Freshman midfield Jack Krisch. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

With a new head coach comes a new goal for the Huntington boys lacrosse team: take two more wins.

Senior attack Colby Martin. Photo by Bill Landon

Last year, the Blue Devils finished with a 6-10 record, with three of those losses coming from one-goal games. The last time Huntington made the postseason was 2013, losing to Miller Place by a single score in the first round. If the team can win just two more games than last season, the Blue Devils will end the five-year playoff drought.

“We need more structure — more discipline by implementing a system that guys buy into and that works, that makes the guys like lacrosse,” head coach Julian Watts said. “We’re changing the culture, not the tradition, but changing the way we prepare them for games, making sure they’re confident, putting them in the right spots, and hopefully, they can execute.”

Leading the charge will be senior goalkeeper Sam Bergman, a three-year starter who began every game between the pipes last year.

“There so much more room for growth,” the coach said. “And we’ll continue to grow — there’s no limit to how good we can get. We’ve got to continue to push each other, maintaining that chemistry on and off the field. It’ll come down to us playing to the very last minute of [every] game.”

According to Watts, who played at St. Anthony’s before competing for Hofstra University, this season is about more than athleticism and stick skills.

Junior midfielder Jordan McCoy. Photo by Bill Landon

“[I want a system that] makes them want to come to practice,” he said. “But along with structure and discipline, there are consequences. We have great coaches instilling a good work ethic along with hard work and paying attention to details. [If they] don’t cut corners that will bring success both on the field and off it — it’s all of the little things that count.”

He said he sees the younger athletes pushing the older ones to show them what they’re made of, and the elders setting the standard for how practice should go. They’re all bringing the energy, according to Watts, including senior defensive midfielder Mike Abbondandelo and sophomore Jack Stewart, who will lead the team with Bergman.

“We lost three games last year by one goal, and in each it came down to miscommunication on the field,” Stewart said. “But this year, we’ve got great team chemistry and a much better vibe. We’re all on the same page.”

Senior midfielder Mikey Abbondandelo. Photo by Bill Landon

Even though there’s more of a mental focus, Watts said the riding and clearing need to become second nature for his team so that it’s poised under pressure and in control, as to not make wild or out-of-bounds throw.

“We just want them to make the high-percentage passes,” said the coach. “If we can do that efficiently and consistently, that’s a recipe for success.”

Senior defender Anthony McDonald said his team’s roster is deeper this year than it has been in the past, and with a high number of returning players he said he’s excited to see where the Blue Devils can take themselves this season.

“I think we have a lot more experience on the field this year,” McDonald said. “Practice has been good, and we’re only getting better. We’re working hard, we’re pushing each other, and I see a lot of camaraderie and chemistry out there.”

Huntington will scrimmage once more before opening the season with a nonleague game at Kings Park  March 24. The first faceoff is scheduled for noon.

 

Thousands lined the streets of Huntington to show off their Irish pride at the town’s 84th annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. The nearly two-hour parade featured performances by pipe and drum corps, including New York Police Department’s The Emerald Society, and local high school marching bands. The parade was led by grand marshal Andrew Brady,  former president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in Huntington and parade co-chair for several years.

A scene from the Huntington St. Patrick's Day Parade last year. File photo by Victoria Espinoza

The 84th annual Huntington St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be held March 11. The Suffolk County police department’s 2nd Precinct is advising motorists of road closures in Huntington between 12:45 and 4:30 p.m.

Route 110 will be closed from the Long Island Railroad station north to Main Street. Main Street will be closed between Spring Road and Lawrence Hill Road. Pulaski Road should be used as a detour for eastbound and westbound traffic. On-street parking will be prohibited after 4 a.m. on Route 110 and Main Street.  Motorists are advised to use alternate routes.

In addition to regulating traffic, the police department will be enforcing town ordinances and state laws regarding the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages.

Town of Huntington snow plows. Photo by Victoria Espinoza.

Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) assured residents that town employees are ready on standby to react to whatever Mother Nature has in store.

Huntington’s Highway Department has 16,000 cubic yards of salt and sand set aside in its yards to be spread on its more than 800 miles of roadway, according to the supervisor. The town has are 129 pieces of snow removal equipment and has called in approximately 150 additional contractors who will start lining up Tuesday night.

“They are on call and will usually come in about an hour and a half prior to when the storm is anticipated to to get equipment ready, plows ready and load the trucks,” Lupinacci said.

The National Weather Service is predicting snow is likely to begin after 4 a.m. March 7 totaling approximately one inch, according to its website. There’s a possibility drivers could see a sloppy commute as snow mixes with sleet and rain, with total of 2 to 4 inches on the ground before turning back to snow after 10 p.m. Wednesday.

The supervisor said town officials are keeping a close eye on potential flooding in the North Shore villages. Weather forecasters are calling for the 2:50 a.m. high tide to be 1 to 2 feet above normal, according to Lupinacci, with wind gusts of more than 40 miles per hour.

“We will be in touch with our village mayors along the northern coastal areas, particularly Lloyd Harbor and Asharoken, to make sure there is no flooding,” he said.

Residents are strongly encouraged to move their cars off the streets to aid in snow removal. In addition, the superintendent asked those who shovel to throw snow into their yards where possible, rather than the street to allow cleanup to progress as quickly as possible.

Huntington officials will be posting updates throughout the storm on town website at www.huntingtonny.gov. Residents with emergencies or cleanup complaints can call 631-499-0444.

PSEG Long Island is also taking steps to prepare for the nor’easter.

“PSEG Long Island personnel worked tirelessly to restore power to all customers’ affected by the severe storm last weekend and are ready to respond again for the impending nor’easter,” said John O’Connell, vice president of Transmission and Distribution at PSEG Long Island. “Our workforce is performing system checks and logistics checks to ensure the availability of critical materials, fuel and other supplies.”

To report an electrical outage and receive status updates Text OUT to PSEGLI (773454) or to report an outage online visit www.psegliny.com.

A public hearing on the Creekside by the Harbor II apartment's plans will be held Feb. 15 at 7 p.m

Valencia Tavern in Huntington. Image from Google Maps

As Huntington residents rally against demolition of a local watering hole for mixed-use development, they were surprised to learn of a second set of plans.

Elizabeth Turney, owner of Huntington’s Valencia Tavern, stepped forward at the Feb. 6 Huntington Town board meeting to ask residents to stop protesting plans for the future mixed-use development of the site for retail with 24 apartments overhead.

“It’s wonderful so many people love the Valencia and have great memories there, I have great memories there too,” Turney said. “I now have the opportunity to get out of the bar business and focus on my health and family.”

If the petition is successful in stopping the sale of the property, I’m left with empty buildings as my tenants have already found new [premises], and I have no other offers.”
— Elizabeth Turney

The bar owner said she can no longer continue running Valencia Tavern as she is dealing with health issues, and neither of her children are able to take over the family-run business as originally planned. The building, she claims, is in need of costly repairs to remain in good standing — funds she doesn’t have.

Turney said the only offer she’s received to purchase the land is from developer, 236 VT Wall Street LLC, which submitted conceptual plans to demolish the tavern and construct a three-story building with 7,840-square-foot retail space and 24 apartments above. The developers seek to acquire more than 9,000 square feet of town-owned land along West Shore and Creek roads in Huntington.

An online petition titled “Save the Valencia Tavern,” that has received more than 375 signatures as of press time, was presented by Huntington resident Bob Suter to the Huntington Town Board Jan. 23 in an effort to save what he called one of the town’s most iconic taverns.

“If the petition is successful in stopping the sale of the property, I’m left with empty buildings as my tenants have already found new [premises], and I have no other offers,” Turney said Feb. 6. “Abandoned buildings, that’s not a good thing for the town either.”

Matt Suter, Bob’s son and a Huntington native, said that the petition signers are angry and frustrated with the direction of development in the town.

“This is an epidemic of apartments on one of Huntington’s most environmentally sensitive areas and it must be stopped.”
—Matt Suter

“This petition reflects mounting opposition among your constituents against another real estate deal to replace another corner of Huntington’s heritage with a mixed-use monstrosity no one wants,” he said.

He also pointed to plans submitted by Creekside by the Harbor Phase II LLC to construct an 18-apartment complex on Creek Road in Halesite, approximately 500 feet down the road from the Valencia Tavern.

A public hearing on the Creekside plans will be held before Huntington Zoning Board of Appeals Feb. 15 for a zoning change from residential to garden apartment special district and for parking relief.

Matt Suter asked town officials to also consider that both Valencia Tavern and the Creek Road property border the town’s Mill Dam Park, environmentally sensitive wetlands that are both protected and prone to flooding.

“This is an epidemic of apartments on one of Huntington’s most environmentally sensitive areas and it must be stopped,” Matt Suter said.

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