Tags Posts tagged with "Kings Park"

Kings Park

Three candidates vie for two open trustee seats on board of education May 15

Kings Park Superintendent Timothy Eagen. File Photo.

The Kings Park Central School district is asking residents to vote on a proposed $92 million budget that looks to include new course offerings and security projects.

The Kings Park school board of education has put forth a proposed budget to the tune of $92,168,700, which represents a 4.09 percent increase, or approximately $3.6 million more than the current year.

The tax levy, which is the amount of money a district needs to raise through property taxes to balance its budget, shows an increase of 2.73 percent from last year, which is below the New York State mandated tax levy cap.

“We were pretty strategic in the adds for next year’s budget,” Superintendent Timothy Eagen said. “I think this year’s budget has some real positive inclusions in it.”

The proposed budget features plans for increased security measures. These include $100,000 dedicated to the creation of security vestibules in the main entryways of all Kings Park school buildings.

I think this year’s budget has some real positive inclusions in it.”
– Timothy Eagan

“What a security vestibule would do is you would come in the first door, and you’d be in a vestibule, but you wouldn’t get clearance or get buzzed into the building until security scanned your license and confirmed your identity,” Eagen said. “Then you are buzzed through the second door.”

Along with additional security cameras, the school plans on having the teachers download an app to their phones called Rave Panic Button, which will enable them to have a direct line to police, fire and emergency medical at the push of a button.

“The whole idea is to shorten the time that emergency services need to get to the school,” the superintendent said.

Eagen said that the new budget maintains all current curriculum, classes, clubs and activities while adding new courses. If approved, the budget will allow funding for a new AP Capstone Research program, an exploratory course where students learn to do research in any number of fields and synthesize that research into research papers.

Other new courses include an American Sign Language elective for eighth-graders, new math programs, robotics, computer programming and coding.

Kings Park board of education

Kevin Johnston. Photo from Kings Park school district

Three people are currently running for two open seats on the Kings Park board of education. Candidates include incumbent trustee Kevin Johnston, incumbent and current board Vice President Diane Nally and newcomer candidate Darryl Valinchus.

Johnston is a 31-year Kings Park resident. He has spent a year on the board and is looking for a second. He said there is still work to do on school renovations, modernization, decreasing class sizes and school security.

“I would like to see the process through,” Johnston said. “I’m a big proponent of education. I would just like to continue in the direction Kings Park is going with education because year by year the number of students going on to secondary education has improved.”

Johnston is a retired educator from the school district where he spent 35 years as an English teacher and coach. His two children are graduates of Kings Park, and he currently works for State University of New York Oneonta as a supervisor of student-teachers. He believes his experience as teacher helps him as trustee, especially when it comes to aiding students and promoting programs for kids with special needs.

“Some of them still feel vulnerable and isolated, and we need to give them the help and attention they need and deserve,” Johnston said. “They need an advocate, and we want to make everyone feel a part of the school.

Nally is a 58-year resident of Kings Park, and she has had three children graduate from the school district. She has been on the school board for the past six years and she is looking to run for another term.


Diane Nally. File photo

“My three children are educators, my husband is an educator, so I believe education is really important to me and my family,” she said. “I believe it is a responsibility of all citizens to educate our children. That’s why I feel the job I am doing on the board is really important.”

Nally retired as director of religious education at St. Joseph’s School of Religion program in 2016, and now she spends most of her time baby-sitting her three grandchildren. She said two of the most important things she wants to tackle as member of the board are drug issues and the mental health of students, and that she wants to involve the community in that process.

“There’s been a lot of concern over emotional issues facing some of our children,” she said. “I think that is something that needs to be addressed.”

Valinchus is a 15-year Kings Park resident and is a retired sergeant of the New York Police Department’s intelligence bureau. He currently owns a business as an expert witness providing services to law enforcement agencies and prosecutors’ offices. He has also spent 10 years on the Kings Park Youth Athletic Association’s board. He said he is running to provide his expertise on
security to the district.

Darryl Valinchus. Photo from Kings Park school district

“I think my background in law enforcement will help us with one of the most pressing things right now … securing our students and our schools,” he said. “I feel that diversifying the backgrounds on the school board will help us come [up] with better solutions and better decisions.”

Valinchus said he doesn’t want to wait for the state to give funds before they add extra security to the school.

“There’s things we can do to secure our buildings, without offending people, without making it look like smoke and mirrors, without sending our security too far,” Valinchus said.

Valinchus has had two sons who graduated from the district, one in 2014 and the other in 2017.

Beyond security, Valinchus said he wishes to provide a financially responsible budget that addresses the community’s concerns.

“Education is a priority,” he said. “We need to make sure our students are prepared for college.”

The budget and board of education vote will take place May 15 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Kings Park High School rear gymnasium.

The Eagles' 5-2 victory helps them remain atop the League VI leaderboard

Rocky Point's Trey Miller attempts to steal third on Kings Park's Joe Tardino. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

The Eagles know that if Joe Grillo has the ball, they’re in good hands.

The starting pitcher tossed seven strikeouts over six innings, not allowing a run on five hits, and walked three in the Rocky Point baseball team’s 5-2 win over visiting Kings Park April 23.

Rocky Point’s Joe Grillo hurls a pitch from the mound. Photo by Bill Landon

The senior put in work on both sides of the ball. He also went 1-for-2 with an RBI and two walks to help the Eagles remain atop the League VI leaderboard. Rocky Point sits at 8-2, while Kings Park drops to 8-5 after the first of a three-game series.

“Joe just had good stuff — he was pitching [for] contact, his pitch count was down,” Rocky Point head coach Andrew Aschettino said. “We certainly didn’t play our best baseball game today, which makes the win that much more satisfying. We’re capable of playing a more complete game. We struggled to get the blow to put the game out of reach.”

Rocky Point peppered the scoreboard across the first four innings to take a 4-0 lead into the top of the fifth, with almost everyone in the lineup contributing to the score. Grillo got on base with a walk to start things off in the first, and was brought home on a single by senior third baseman Mike Gunning. Grillo hit an RBI-single before stealing second with two outs in the bottom of the second, with sophomore short stop Dillon Cassidy on third, and after senior center fielder Ryan Callahan drew a walk to load the bases, Gunning was also walked to bring home Cassidy for a 3-0 lead. The final out was made to strand the rest of Rocky Point’s runners. After a scoreless third, junior catcher Alexander Bonacci knocked a double that drove in Callahan after he stole second for a 4-0 cushion.

Though Kings Park junior starting pitcher John Dougherty struggled early, Grillo got into some trouble of his own after allowing a single and a walk. Kings Park senior Rich Kim, who hit the single, stole third after classmate Brett Harmon’s walk to put runners at the corners, and junior Andrew Bianco brought them home with a shot deep to right field to cut the lead in half, 4-2.

Kings Park’s Garrett Bower rips the cover off the ball. Photo by Bill Landon

In the top of the sixth, the Kingsmen once again had runners on the corners with one out, but Grillo was able to force a pair of routine infield grounders to end the inning.

Junior left fielder Trey Miller hit an RBI-single that brought home Gunning after he gunned his way to third following his double to give the game its final score. the Eagles ended the game on a double play in the top of the seventh.

“Trey [Miller] coming in and getting some ground balls helped shut the door,” Aschettino said. “And we were able to close it out on our second chance at a double play, so to end it the way we did was huge.”

Grillo said even when Kings Park made it a two-run game, and despite having to pitch his way out of trouble twice, he never thought his game was in jeopardy.

“I had faith in my fielders at all times, and my arm felt good today — I felt confident the whole time,” he said. “[But we have to work on] our situational at-bats, we have to do a lot more to make better contact and if we continue to have sound pitching we’ll be there.”

Rocky Point travels to Kings Park April 25 for game two, which has a 4 p.m. start. The final game of the series is slated for 4 p.m. back on the Eales’ turf April 26.

Clarence Beavers was the last surviving original member of the first all African-American parachute unit

A secluded Kings Park trail was dedicated to honor a Huntington veteran, who is remembered as “humble” and yet “a trailblazer” by his family and friends.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation unveiled a plaque April 20 dedicating the walking path of the Kings Park Unique Area off Meadow Road to Sgt. Clarence Beavers. He was the last surviving original member of the first class of African-American paratroopers from the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, known better as the Triple Nickles. He died Dec. 4, 2017. “This is a long overdue honor to someone who obviously was a great American and a hometown hero here in Suffolk County,” said Peter Scully, the county’s deputy executive.

During World War II, Beavers and his fellow paratroopers worked jointly with the U.S. military and United States Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service on Operation Firefly in 1945. Their mission, as smokejumpers, was to respond to any threat or fires caused by the Japanese incendiary bomb attacks on the nation’s western forests.

“My father would be honored, very honored. It was very important to him that the 555th [battalion] and what they did be remembered.”
– Charlotta Beavers

In the summer of 1945, the Triple Nickle paratroopers responded to 36 fires and made more than 1,200 jumps, according to Deidra McGee, the U.S. Forest Services’ liaison for the Triple Nickles. McGee said the unit also led the way in the racial desegregation of the military starting in 1948.

“As people come and enjoy this beautiful trail, they can think of Sgt. Beavers and what he worked so hard to protect for all of us, the beautiful forests of the United States, particularly the west coast,” said state Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick (R-St. James). “It’s an appropriate tribute.”

The Kings Park Unique Area is a 69-acre green space where residents can hike, bow hunt and go wildlife watching. The 0.3-mile trail dedicated to Beavers is handicapped accessible and features an interpretive kiosk that tells the story of the Triple Nickles. The site was chosen because it’s the closest state-owned woodlands to his home, according to DEC spokesman Bill Fonda.

“My father would be honored, very honored,” his daughter Charlotta Beavers said. “It was very important to him that the 555th [battalion] and what they did be remembered.”

Lelena Beavers said she and her husband, Clarence, moved to Huntington in the late 1980s, after he finished his military service, to raise their five daughters and son. He continued to work for the federal government in the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense working as a computer systems analyst and programmer.

“He was a man of faith, a man of courage, and a true leader in his community.”
– Rev. James Rea, Jr.

“Wherever he went, he would always get involved in the community,” his daughter Charlotta Beavers said.

Rev. James Rea,Jr., of Bethany Presbyterian Church in Huntington Station, recalled how Beavers played a pivotal role in helping the church after fire approximately 25 years ago when it was without a pastor.

“Clarence Beavers stepped up out of the ashes, not afraid of the fire or the smoke, and had the leadership that was necessary to have the church restored,” the pastor said. “He was a man of faith, a man of courage, and a true leader in his community.”

Beavers was also a member of the American Legion Greenlawn Post 1244, involved in the Wyandanch Reserve Officers’ Training Corps., and helped found the 555th Parachute Infantry Association, Inc. and traveled nationally speaking about the unit.

“We owe a great deal of gratitude to Mr. Beavers that those who served in a secret war, jumping into fires in near impossible conditions while fighting racism at every turn,” said Smithtown Councilwoman Lisa Inzerillo (R). “Everyone here tell his story, tell their story to everyone you meet, and let it be known that courage has no color

by -
0 652

Eagles pitcher Kevin Sambuco picks up third straight win

Hauppauge’s Ryan Mackey slides safely into second ahead of Kings Park Jayson Sanchez’s tag. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Hauppauge’s Kevin Sambuco is solid from the mound.

The starting pitcher gave up five hits and two walks and struck out four to lead Hauppauge past Kings Park, 7-2, at home April 9. The win was the third straight for Sambuco, who picked up “W”s in the first games of the Rocky Point and Westhampton Beach series. In an 11-2 victory over Westhampton to start the season, Sambuco tossed six strikeouts over five innings.

“I just make sure I feel like I’m ready to go no matter who I face 60 feet away — it’s really just confidence and trusting your pitches,” Sambuco said. “Solid defensive plays behind me in big moments helped us hold onto the lead and helped us get out cheap.”

Hauppauge (4-3) grabbed an early 4-0 lead off two runs in the first and scores in the second and third.

Sambuco said despite his win in game one against Rocky Point, losing the series gave the team motivation to make bigger moves against Kings Park.

“We played how we were supposed to play,” he said, adding he felt relaxed at the mound given the early advantage. “We scored one to two runs every inning.”

Kings Park (3-3) was held scoreless through three innings, but cut the lead in half in the fourth.

After a base hit by center fielder AJ Fenton, the senior stole second and was brought home with junior second baseman Jayson Sanchez’s sacrifice fly to right field. With one out, third basemen Joe Tardino worked the count and drew the walk looking to keep the Kingsmen alive. The junior took second base on a passed ball at home plate and senior left fielder Rich Kim ripped the ball through a gap to score Tardino, but that was as close as Kings Park would come.

“We’ll need more energy,” Sanchez said. “We were dead from the first inning. But it’s one game, we need to shake this off.”

Kings Park starting pitcher Derek Shreve found himself in trouble in the bottom of the fourth inning with runners in scoring position. He came close to loading the bases, but threw strikes over the plate when he had to. The junior pitched himself out of the jam, stranding both runners on base.

Kings Park threatened in the top of the fifth after catcher Garrett Bower led off with a single. With one out, junior first baseman Paul Gugliuzzo was patient at the plate and drew a walk that sent Sambuco into the dugout. But Hauppauge’s error-free defense sent the next two batters back where they came from to end the inning.

Kings Park helped Hauppauge extend its lead on a wild pitch in the bottom of the inning, and the Eagles tacked on two more insurance runs in the sixth.

Hauppauge’s Brett Boller and Ryan Mackey each had two hits, and Mackey and Jeremy Contreras each had two RBIs.

“We really can’t dwell on the past — we can’t do anything about this one — this game is over,” said Kim, adding he too thought his team lacked intensity. “We’ve got to work hard in practice tomorrow and focus on the next one.”

The two teams face off in Game 2 April 11 at Kings Park at 4 p.m. and wrap up the series April 12 at Hauppauge at 4 p.m.

Desirée Keegan contributed reporting

Rows of cheering friends and family lined Longfellow Drive in Kings Park Wednesday afternoon to welcome home a National Guard airman returning home from Iraq. Nobody was more excited to see him than his children.

Both Ella, 3, and Gavin Brucculeri, 2, screamed with delight when they saw their father, Master Sgt. Jimmy Brucculeri, pull up in the family’s Dodge Ram. Ella bounded over to her dad who immediately picked her up into his arms. Gavin walked down the driveway with tears in his eyes, completely overcome with emotion.

Suffolk County  police department members looking on cheered loudly in welcoming Brucculeri home. It was a surprise.

“It’s a great feeling, all of this, it’s a great feeling to be home.”

— Jimmy Brucculeri

“It’s a great feeling, all of this, it’s a great feeling to be home,” he said. ‘It’s good to see everybody come together.”

Brucculeri works as a Suffolk County police officer in addition to serving as a member of the 106th Air Rescue Wing of New York’s National Guard. In January, his unit was deployed into Iraq to assist Operation Inherent Resolve, a U.S led mission to combat ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

The 106th Air Rescue Unit lost four of its members March 15 when a H-60 Pave Helicopter crashed in Iraq during a mission for Operation Inherent Resolve. The U.S. Department of Defense has said the cause of the crash is still under investigation, but it but did not appear to be the result of enemy activity.

“It’s kind of somber, but half of my unit is still in Iraq,” Brucculeri said. “So until they get home and everyone gets home, it’s just waiting.”

Thousands of mourners traveled to King’s Park to attend funeral services for Commack airman Master Sgt. Christopher Raguso, a member of Brucculeri’s unit, who was killed in the line of duty when the helicopter crashed.

“Gavin’s birthday was yesterday, so it’s a very good birthday present to have him home.”

— Cathyrn Brucculeri

Brucculeri’s family was able to keep in contact with him while he was overseas, but said it was much better to have him home.

“We spoke daily over Facetime or texting, which was good, but it was still obviously hard,” said Cathryn, Brucculeri’s wife. “ The kids definitely felt it. Gavin’s birthday was yesterday, so it’s a very good birthday present to have him home.”

Ernie Kabelka was also there to welcome Brucculeri home.

“He’s a great neighbor, he’s a great friend. He does everything around here,” Kabelka said.

He recalled how during a major snowstorm he and Brucculeri were driving around town together, when they spotted a man whose car was stuck in the snow. Brucculeri pulled over and spent more than a half hour helping dig the man out, according to Kabelka.

“He didn’t think nothing of it, it’s just what he does,” the neighbor said.

Concetta Van Winckel, a friend of the family, helped to organize the homecoming posting messages on Facebook and social media.

“Everyone from the community really came out for this,” Van Winckel said. “It was beautiful. People were really great to come out, even in the rain.”

Pallets filled with donated water and soda at Kings Park Fire Department. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

By Sara-Megan Walsh

One sign of late Commack resident Christopher Raguso’s lasting impact on his community may be his ability to inspire hundreds of Kings Park residents and businesses to donate.

It’s what happens when one of our community is down, our community helps pick them up.”
— Tony Tanzi

Kings Park residents and area businesses donated supplies to help the Fire Department of the City of New York host funeral services for the U.S. airman and New York City and Commack firefighter March 31.

The FDNY reached out to the Kings Park Fire Department while planning for Raguso’s service, according to Kings Park Fire Chief John Gallo, requesting assistance to provide for the anticipated attendance between 3,000 and 15,000 mourners. It sought donations of bottled water, soda, food and paper goods to help feed the volunteer fighters and military personnel who would be attending the ceremony.

“As soon as we heard the terrible news, we were there to support them in whatever Commack or the Raguso family needed,” Gallo said.

 Kings Park Fire Department has provided this list of area businesses and organizations who donated or contributed to the funeral services held March 31:

Albrecht Viggiano Zureck & Company, P.C.
Ancient Order of Hibernians
Andersen’s Deli & Catering
Andrews Excavating Inc.
Bagel King
Boy Scout Troop 410
Ciro’s Italian Restaurants & Catering
Cookies & More
Duke’s K9 Spa
Edelweiss Delicatessen & Caterers
Emilio’s Italian Kitchen
EMF Gourmet Italian Market
The Fresh Market
G Weld Fabrication & Welding Inc.
Home Depot
Key Food
Kings Park Chiropractic
Kings Park Fire Department
Kings Park Hardware
Kings Park Moms
Knights of Columbus
KP Construction
La Scala Ristorante
Long Island Cares
Liberty Mutual
Manhattan Beer
Milano Fine Men’s Fashion
New Beginnings
NY Auto Giant
Plycon Transportation Group
Pizzaiolo Gourmet Eatery
Prime Wine & Liquor
111 Deli Catering
Sangria 71
Sterling National Bank
St. Catherine’s of Siena Medical Center
St. Johnland Nursing Center
Superior Ice Rink
Uncle Wallys Bake Shoppe

The request hit close to home for Kings Park firefighters. Raguso’s brother-in-law, Andrew DiChiara, is a volunteer with the fire department.

Gallo said he immediately reached out to neighboring fire departments in East Northport, Hauppauge, Nesconset, Nissequogue, Northport and St. James for help. As the estimates of those attending Raguso’s funeral increased, the fire chief said he called Tony Tanzi, president of Kings Park Chamber of Commerce, to see if local businesses would be willing to contribute. An email blast sent out to the chamber’s membership quickly went viral. Kings Park Moms group and the nonprofit organization Angels Without Faces reposted the message on their Facebook pages.

“The people in this community took it and ran with it,” Tanzi said. “That’s indicative of Kings Park as a whole. It’s what happens when one of our community is down, our community helps pick them up.”

Long before Kings Park firefighters had posted they would be accepting public donations at 7 p.m. March 30, their storage warehouse was already filled with pallets of bottled water. A steady stream of residents pulled up in minivans and SUVs to donate cases of soda, potato chips and Girl Scout cookies saying simply “for Raguso.” Tanzi said about 50 pallets of water and more than 60,000 disposable drinking cups were collected.

The sheer volume of supplies began to raise logistical issues of how to best move them to the funeral site. Kings Park Hardware sent over a forklift to help lift and maneuver pallets, according to Tanzi, while Plycon Transportation offered free use of their trucks to drop off the goods around town.

The fire department’s Main Street headquarters and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5796 hall on Church Street both opened their doors as rest stops during Raguso’s funeral. The FDNY also set up garbage pails filled with water bottles on ice for mourners along the funeral procession route.

“On behalf of the Kings Park Fire Department, I would personally like to extend my appreciation to all the residents of our community for their extremely generous and outstanding show of support,” said John Gallo, chief of the Kings Park Fire Department. “The Raguso family, Commack Fire Department and FDNY are all thankful to all of you who assisted in supporting Chris’ funeral. It is this outpouring of support that makes our community special and Kings Park a beautiful place to live. God bless America and God bless our military.”

by -
0 2138

The Kings Park community is pulling together to host a fundraiser to support one of their own who was diagnosed with cancer in December.

R.J.O. Intermediate school student Frank Loeffler III, 11, is fighting a battle with embryonal habdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer that most commonly occurs in children. It only accounts for 3 percent of pediatric cancers, with about 350 new cases diagnosed each year in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society.

Frank Loeffler Jr., young Frank’s father, remembers the exhausting and heartbreaking lead up to learning that his son had cancer.

Frank Loeffler III. Photo from YOU CARING

“It was just an ear infection, a virus we were thinking.” Loeffler said. “It was a shocker.”

His son had a pain in his ear, but it quickly became a numbness that went all the way down to his chin.

“We were blindsided, that’s the best word,” said Nicole Schweitzer, Frank’s cousin and the fundraiser’s organizer. “You don’t think an ear infection is going to turn into that.”

The middle schooler is currently undergoing a six-week treatment at ProCure Proton Therapy Center in Somerset, New Jersey, where he is in the process of receiving proton radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

“He’s hanging in there. He’s strong and brave, the kid’s my hero,” his father said.

The Loeffler family, friends and community members were quick to help lend their support. Chris Stillwell, Frank’s pack leader for Boy Scout Troop 539, helped to organize weekly meals for family members who spent so much time on the road visiting hospitals.

“The boys felt his absence right away, but the outpouring from the pack was overwhelming,” Stillwell said. “The boys, the moms and the dads wanted to do something, so [they]  set up a food train and delivered food to them once a week.”

Frank has continued to participate in the Boy Scout troop’s activities, even placing in the top four out of 50 contestants in the Pinewood Derby last month.

“We were blindsided, that’s the best word. You don’t think an ear infection is going to turn into that.”

— Nicole  Schweitzer

Loeffler said his son is doing well so far, and that the radiation has reduced the tumor by nearly half.

“He’s strong,” he said.

The Loeffler family hopes to raise $50,000 through donations. The money will go toward paying for Frank’s medical treatments and a portion of the money will also go toward Ronald McDonald House Charities and The Pediatric Cancer Foundation.

“When a child has cancer, the first thing people want to do is help, they want to help right away. ‘How can we get involved, can we do this or we do that,’ it blew up really quickly,” Schweitzer said. “Everybody knows my family so we’ve had a tremendous amount of support so far, and I’m mind-blown as to how many people have committed to coming to the fundraiser.”

Schweitzer said they have been advertising for about a month and more than 200 people have committed to come to the fundraiser so far.

They also contacted Joe Mango, the president of Kings Park nonprofit organization Angels Without Faces whose mission is to provide financial assistance to families and individuals going through hardship, to help promote the event. He said he expects the event to do well.

“This town is just a phenomenal fundraising town,” Mango said. “I’ve seen three fundraisers all go off in the same weekend and they’ve all been successful.”

The fundraiser will take place at Shanahan’s Bar and Grill at 515 Old Dock Road in Kings Park on Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. There is a $30 cash donation at the door. The family has also set up a page on www.YouCaring.com for people to donate. Those who wish to donate can search “Frank Loeffler” on YouCaring or go to www.angelswithoutfaces.com.

by -
0 4028

Thousands of mourners, firefighters, family and friends lined the streets of Kings Park Saturday morning to say their farewells and pay final respects to U.S. airman Master Sgt. Christopher Raguso, also a New York City and Commack firefighter.

“A hero is a person who is admired for their courage, for their outstanding achievements, for their noble qualities,” said Daniel Nigro, commissioner of the Fire Department of the City of New York. “Lieutenant Christopher Raguso was a hero in every sense of the word, and the way he lived his life.”

“Lieutenant Christopher Raguso was a hero in every sense of the word, and the way he lived his life.”
— Daniel Nigro

Firefighters standing up to five and six-men deep lined Raguso’s funeral processional route from Clayton’s Funeral Home to St. Joseph’s Church in Kings Park. The church and parish hall were both filled to capacity as the funeral service for Raguso got underway March 31. Thousands more stood outside watching a jumbotron simulcast of the service from the streets and nearby houses.

Raguso was one of seven members of New York’s 106th rescue unit killed in the line-of-duty March 15 when a H-60 Pave Hawk helicopter crashed while carrying out a mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, an American-led mission to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria, according to the United States Department of Defense. The DOD said the cause of the crash is under investigation, but did not appear to be the result of enemy activity.

“When men like Chris pass, we are forced to reflect on our own worthiness,” said Lieutenant Christopher Gorzynski of the FDNY. “Deep down, we know we will never measure up to the bar that he has set. Chris just gave us so much more than we gave him.”

Raguso had served deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan, East Africa and more recently, two answered domestic calls to action to help victims of hurricanes Harvey and Maria. In January 2018, he started his second tour in Iraq.

“He had promised everyone this would be his last time going to war — how prophetic,” said his father, John Raguso.

“Celebrities show off, heroes show up. Chris always showed up.
— Rev. Sean Gann

The father recalled his son’s passion and devotion to serving others in a 12-minute eulogy he referred to as “the most difficult task of my life.” Raguso said his son’s caring nature was evident early in life, when at age 4 on a family trip to the Dominican Republican he took off the shirt and shorts he was wearing to give to a local boy.

“We knew early on that Chris was on a flight path all his own,” his father said.

Raguso joined the Commack Fire Department in 2000. He served as captain of Company 2 before stepping up as lieutenant of Company 4, located off Kings Park Road. Raguso was posthumously bestowed the rank of honorary fire chief based on a unanimous vote of the Commack Fire Department’s membership March 16.

“Celebrities show off, heroes show up,” said Rev. Sean Gann of St. Joseph’s Church. “Chris always showed up.”

Raguso was also a 13-year veteran of the FDNY, where he served the majority of his career with Ladder Company 113 in Brooklyn. He rose to the rank of lieutenant and was stationed with Battalion 50 in Queens at the time of his death. On six different occasions, he was cited for bravery and life-saving actions either for his individual actions or as part of a unit.

“That’s because Chris didn’t know how not to give 100 percent of himself,” Gorzynski said.

“Chris’s legacy is hallmarked by a life of service so that others may live.”
— Lee Zeldin

His fellow firefighter recalled him as a “gentle giant” who was known not only for his heroic acts but loving messages, bestowing nicknames and “goofball antics we can only tell now in stories and laughter,” according to Gorzynski.

“Chris’s legacy is hallmarked by a life of service so that others may live,” said U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) in his eulogy.

Zeldin, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and his wife, Chirlane McCray, and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) were among the host of federal, state and town elected officials who attended the ceremony but did not publicly speak.

At the end of the funeral service, four Nassau County helicopters performed a flyover in honor of Raguso which was followed by a moment of silence. Bagpipers played “America the Beautiful” as the procession headed to Calverton National Cemetery in Wading River to his interment with full military honors.

by -
0 1561

Wake services to be held March 29 and 30 at Commack Fire Department

A U.S. Air Force carry team transfers the remains of Master Sgt. Christopher Raguso, of Commack, March 18 at Dover Air Force Base. Photo from U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Matt Davis

By Sara-Megan Walsh

Suffolk County police and Smithtown Town officials have announced several road closures in advance of the funeral services for Air National Guard Master Sgt. Christopher Raguso.

Police will close one lane of Jericho Turnpike between Valmont Avenue and Commack Road in Commack on March 29 and 30 between noon and approximately 10 p.m.

Indian Head Road will be closed between Kings Park Road and Old Dock Road March 31 from 8 a.m. to approximately 3 p.m. Church Street, portions of Old Dock Road and portions of Route 25A will also be closed.

Smithtown Town officials announced there will be road closures in Kings Park along the ceremony route. It will start at Clayton Funeral Home on Meadow Road south to Old Northport Road March 31, starting as early as 9 a.m. The funeral service is scheduled for 11 a.m. at Clayton Funeral Home, located at 25 Meadow Road in Kings Park.

Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) has asked all residents to plan accordingly and to please have patience out of respect for the Raguso family and friends. Heavy vehicle and pedestrian traffic is expected and motorists are advised to find alternate routes.

In lieu of flowers, donations are being collected online to benefit Raguso’s daughters via the FDNY Foundation.  All who wish to contribute can do so by visiting: www.fdnyfoundation.org/donate. Visitors can scroll down to the “Fund” column and click on the “Scholarship Fund to Benefit the Children of FDNY Lieutenant Christopher Raguso” from the drop-down menu.

This post will be updated with additional road closures as more information becomes available. 

Police said driver allegedly had 26 suspensions on his license at time of accident

File photo.

Suffolk County police arrested a Wyandanch man who was driving with 26 suspensions on his license after he allegedly left the scene of a Kings Park accident.

Rigoberto Campos. Photo from SCPD.

Rigoberto Campos was driving a 2010 Nissan Altima southbound on Indian Head Road, near Old Northport Road, in Kings Park at approximately 6:15 p.m. March 18 when his vehicle allegedly struck a 2006 Lexus driven by Audrey Montante, 77, of Kings Park. Campos continued driving for approximately one-quarter of a mile before he stopped his vehicle and fled the scene on foot. Police officers from the 4th Precinct apprehended and arrested Campos in a nearby wooded area at approximately 6:45 p.m.

Campos, a male passenger in the Altima and a male passenger in the Lexus were transported by Kings Park Fire Department ambulance to St. Catherine of Sienna Medical Center in Smithtown with non-life-threatening injuries. Montante were not injured.

Campos, 30, was arrested and charged with first-degree aggravated unlicensed operation and leaving the scene of an accident with injury.  He was held overnight at the 4th Precinct and is scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip March 19.