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Mount Sinai

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Last year 55 students from Port Jeff took the polar plunge. This year 70 students have dedicated to jump into North Shore waters Nov. 23. Photo from Deirdre Filippi

The Port Jefferson high school varsity club raised around $9,500 for the Special Olympics last year. This year, as the club’s number of students swell, club advisers hope to do even better.

The annual Polar Plunge, which takes place at Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai, is back again Nov. 23. Last year, the club sent 55 students into freezing cold waters, plus two advisers. 

“As a club in its fourth year, doing it we had a really good experience,” said Jesse Rosen, club co-adviser and social studies teacher. “The level of ownership in helping another human being is an awesome thing.”

For this year’s event, the club has taken on some new recruits. This year 70 students will take the plunge, which represents close to 25 percent of the overall ninth through 12th grade population.

The Polar Plunge is run by the Special Olympics, where the money raised from the event goes toward supporting a Special Olympics athlete in sports training, and health and inclusion programs for individuals with intellectual disabilities looking to compete. The organization advertises that $400 will give enough funds for one athlete to train for a year.

“We were so proud to help sponsor over 20 people to compete in the Special Olympics,” Rosen said.

The growing participation has both club advisers excited about this weekend’s event.

“I think Jesse would agree that we are thrilled to have so many student athletes taking part in this year’s Polar Plunge,” co-adviser Deirdre Filippi said. “We couldn’t think of a better organization to support and we are ecstatic to see so many of our students rallying behind such a great cause.” 

In addition to the Polar Plunge, the senior varsity club has been involved in the recent Powder Puff flag football game between the classes of 2020 and 2021, volleyball tournaments and assisting young people with special needs from the League of Yes, which creates baseball programs for kids with disabilities.

While the club does not have the final word on how much money it has raised this year, club advisers said they hope it continues to build even more after this year’s event.

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Quarterback Brandon Ventarola in traffic in the Mustangs semi-final playoff win against Babylon Nov. 15. Bill Landon photo

The No. 1 seeded Mustangs of Mount Sinai outran Babylon, the No. 4 seed, in the Division IV semi-final round overwhelming their opponent 28-6 to punch their ticked to the County Championship. Mount Sinai quarterback Brandon Ventarola led the way for the Mustangs with two rushing touchdowns and a 45-yard touchdown pass to Derek Takacs. Sophomore Joseph Spallina scored on short yardage to keep the Mustang’s undefeated record intact at 10-0.

The County Championship will be a rematch of week five where Mount Sinai will replay the No. 2 seeded Wildcats of Shoreham Wading River at Stony Brook University Sunday, Nov. 24 at 1 p.m. Tickets at the gate are $10.00 or are available for $8.00 online here: https://gofan.co/app/school/NYSPHSAAXI

Skyler Johnson, 19, is looking to run against Laura Ahearn and then Ken LaValle for state Senate. Photo from Skyler for Senate website

Just two days after the end of the 2019 elections Nov. 5, Skyler Johnson, a 19-year-old Mount Sinai resident and college student, announced he wanted to take on one of the longest-running incumbents in the New York State Senate.

Skyler Johnson, 19, is looking to run against Laura Ahearn and then Ken LaValle for state Senate. Photo from Skyler for Senate website

“Someone should not hold a seat for 43 years,” he said during a phone interview after he announced he was running. “We need
term limits.”

Johnson is a political science student at Suffolk County Community College and said he had already filed his name to run for the state Senate’s 1st District seat. As a local activist, he said he sees young people not getting a fair shake, with college students working 60-hour weeks to pay for higher education and senior citizens unable to afford much of the costs of living.

Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) has held the position since 1976 and has been cited by people like Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) for bipartisan support on issues of the environment. He has shown unwavering support for Stony Brook University and is often behind many state grants the college receives.

But Johnson said there are two issues that made him especially want to run that has expecially vexed the incumbent in recent years. One is the number of young people leaving Long Island and the lack of real affordable housing, the other is what he called a history of denying rights to the LGBT community. He cited the senator’s opposition to New York’s same-sex marriage bill in 2009 and his voting against a bill banning gay conversion therapy earlier this year. 

“It’s time to take our future into our own hands,” he said. “I believe I can bring much needed change.”

Johnson was the campaign manager for Sarah Deonarine, a Democrat who ran against another longtime incumbent, Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) for the Brookhaven District 2 council seat. He said that campaign gave him the experience of what it was like to be on the campaign trail. He said he plans to spend next year canvassing the district.

It won’t be an easy road for the first-time contender. He will have to first primary for the Democratic nod against Laura Ahearn, a well-known voice in advocating for crime victims and founder of organizations such as Parents for Megan’s Law and Crime Victims Center. 

Bruce Blower, a spokesperson for LaValle, confirmed that the state senator planned to run again in the 2020 election.

The young man agreed he was part of a larger wave of young liberally minded people looking to get involved since the 2016 election of Donald Trump (R). Johnson is going to be running in a presidential election year, which are notoriously the most hotly contested races to campaign.

“I expect people are ready for change,” he said.

Stock Photo

Federal authorities have entered permanent injunctions against 15 individuals and ordered them to cease their involvement in multi-million-dollar mail fraud schemes. 

Anthony Kafeiti, of Port Jefferson, and Steven Diaz, of Mount Sinai, coordinated the schemes, according to federal officials. Documents show the individuals targeted elderly by falsely stating that they won large sums of money in exchange for a fee, but never gave the victim’s their winnings.

The schemes grossed $4.8 million in fraudulent proceedings over the past year, according to authorities.

“These permanent injunctions stop unscrupulous individuals and companies from conducting fraudulent solicitation schemes that targeted the elderly in our district and throughout the country and the world,” said U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue of the Eastern District of New York. “This office will continue to use all available resources to protect victims of get-rich-quick schemes.”

Officials said the 15 individuals participated in the schemes in a variety of ways, including facilitating the mailing of fraudulent solicitations that victimized the elderly or vulnerable. The solicitations informed recipients throughout the world that they had won multi-million-dollar cash prizes but needed urgently to pay a fee to claim their winnings. Although victims sent in the requested fees by cash, check or credit card, they did not receive large cash prizes in return. 

Some 10 other individuals and companies were connected to the scheme, some were located in Germany, Las Vegas and Vancouver, British Columbia. 

The permanent injunctions were issued after the district court granted the government’s request for a temporary restraining order in November 2018. The injunctions prohibit those individuals from sending fraudulent solicitations, receiving, handling or opening any victim mail responding to solicitations and using or benefiting from lists of victims who previously responded to solicitations. The injunction also authorizes the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to open mail that was detained by law enforcement and return payments to the victims of the schemes.

“These defendants were making misleading promises of easy money,” said Delany De Leon-Colon, inspector in charge, U.S. Postal Inspection Service Criminal Investigations Group. “Anyone who engages in deceptive practices like this should know they will not go undetected and will be held accountable, regardless of where they are.”

Attorneys for the two individuals named in the alleged scam could not be reached
for comment.

Peyton Buckholtz a senior challenges Mount Sinai 8th grader Taylor Pedra in a Div. II matchup Oct. 22. Photo by Bill Landon

It was all Harborfields in a Division II road game against Mount Sinai where the Tornadoes blew through the Mustangs, 5-0, Oct. 22. 

The juniors led the way for Harborfields when Katie Davis scored twice along with Kathryn Morgan and Taylor Sammis who both stretched the net. Ruby Sember, the freshman, also put one through to round out the scoring for the Tornadoes with one game remaining before postseason play.

Harborfields senior keeper Zoe Krief had three saves in net and teammate Kristina Hansen a freshman stopped two. Hailey Covington had eight saves for the Mustangs and teammate Alaina Riley stopped four.

Mount Sinai concludes their regular season with a senior night home game against West Babylon Oct. 24 in a must-win game for any hopes of postseason play. Game time is 6 p.m.

Harborfields also concludes their regular season needing a win on the road against Bayport-Blue Point Oct. 24, with a 4:30 p.m. start.

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File photo

Suffolk County Police Sixth Squad detectives are investigating a single-vehicle crash that killed a man in Mount Sinai on Oct. 20.

Ralph Maiello was driving a 2019 Chevrolet pickup truck southbound on County Road 83 when his vehicle left the roadway and struck a tree just south of Mount Sinai-Coram Road at approximately 9:05 a.m.

Maiello, 55, of Coram, was transported to John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson where he was pronounced dead.

The pickup truck was impounded for a safety check. Detectives are asking anyone with information on this crash to call the Sixth Squad at 631-854-8652.

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Usually the football team schedules its homecoming game against a lower seeded team to increase the likelihood of victory, but not Shoreham-Wading River. At 4-0 the Wildcats hosted the other Division IV powerhouse Oct. 12, the Mount Sinai Mustangs, also at 4-0. It was the battle of the unbeaten, but the Mustangs scored the first two touchdowns and never looked back out pacing the Wildcats, 35-21, for the division’s top spot.

Senior running back Matthew LoMonaco led the way for the Mustangs first with a pick-6, a 62-yard reception for the score and a short yardage catch for his third touchdown of the game. Derek Takacs hauled in a 31-yard pass for the score, and Joseph Spallina punched in from short yardage. Senior kicker Joseph Balzano was perfect on the day splitting the uprights all five times.

Shoreham-Wading River quarterback Xavier Arline did what he’s done all season scoring on a pair of rushing touchdowns, and teammate Max Barone, the sophomore, caught a 7-yard pass from Arline for the score.

Pictured clockwise from right, running back Barone dives up the middle for Shoreham-Wading River; Mustangs celebrate after taking a 28-7 lead over Shoreham-Wading River; Mount Sinai LoMonaco with a pass reception against the Wildcats; Mustangs celebrate after one of LoMonaco’s touchdowns; Arline lunges toward the end zone; and Shoreham-Wading River’s halftime entertainment.

The Mustangs stand alone atop the Division  IV leaderboard 5-0 while the Wildcats dip to 4-1.

Next up for the Mustangs is a road game Oct. 18 against Southampton/Pierson/Bridgehampton with a 6:30 p.m. kickoff.

The Wildcats look to get back to their winning ways at home Oct. 19 at 2 p.m. for their senior game.

File photo

Suffolk County Police Sixth Squad detectives are investigating a single-vehicle crash that killed a woman in Port Jefferson Station Oct 15.

Kaitlyn Schaal was driving a 2001 Jeep Cherokee southbound on Old Town Road when the vehicle crossed the northbound lane and struck a tree on the east side of the road at Greenhaven Drive at 6:03 a.m.

Schaal, 19, of 60 Chestnut St., Mount Sinai, was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

The vehicle was impounded for a safety check. Detectives are asking anyone with information on this crash to call the Sixth Squad at 631-854-8652.

 

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A rendering of the proposed development in Mount Sinai. Image from Steven Losquadro

A Mount Sinai millennial housing project, located on Route 25A near Myrtle Street, dubbed Mount Sinai Meadows inches closer to breaking ground on construction. 

On July 19, Woodmere-based real estate developer Basser-Kaufman was approved of a change of zoning from J-Business 2 to Planned Development District. The application is currently being reviewed by the Town of Brookhaven Planning Board. 

Lori Murphy, legislative aide for Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) said the application is currently being looked at by the Planning Board and will have to be reviewed by multiple departments including the Highway Department. 

Asked if she knew how long the Planning Board would take to review the application, Murphy said it varies from a case by case basis and could only confirm that the zone change was approved by the town. 

Site plans for the project call for 140 housing units, including 106 two-bedroom apartments and 34 one-bedroom apartments. The complex will have bike racks, walkable grounds, communal barbecue areas, electric car charging stations, a large open lawn for the use of residents and four spaces toward the northern end of the property that will be used for large retail spaces, according to a March 2019 TBR News Media article. There will be 21.78 acres used for residential housing, while 8.3 acres will be retail. 

The mixed-use complex will be geared toward creating a living space for young adults and young professionals. According to the developers, they are catering toward the 20-34 age group. 

Ann Becker, president of the Mount Sinai Civic Association, reiterated that the civic supports the development and are awaiting to hear updates from the town once it goes through planning. 

“We want something for young people and professionals,” she said. “We were looking for flexible options for available housing for young people, the developer has assured us at this point that the number of children won’t burden the community.”

She brought up another point that approximately 20 percent of the housing stock in the hamlet is for those 55 and older. Becker said they didn’t want an overload of senior living facilities in the area. 

Construction is currently underway for two projects, a 120-unit Bristal assisted living community and a 225-unit senior rental complex for individuals 55 and over at the corner of Echo Avenue and Route 25A.

Becker said while some children could come out from the development, she said she believes it could aid the declining school enrollment in the Mount Sinai School District. 

Marc Kemp, a representative at Bassar-Kaufman, said once they can get site plan approval from the planning board they will move forward with the development.

“It [the review] could take eight to 10 months,” Kemp said. “Once we get the approval we want to break ground as soon as possible.”

Mount Sinai dominated their homecoming game through three quarters of play out scoring the visiting Royals 33-6 before Port Jeff rallied in the final quarter. Royals’ quarterback Luke Filippi (filling in for the injured Sam Florio) found senior Aidan Kaminska on a pair of short yardage pass plays for his 2nd and 3rd touchdown in the game where the senior set a Section XI record with 17 catches for 233 yards placing him 2nd in total receptions in a single game.

But despite Kaminska’s record the Royals fell to the Mustangs 39-20 Sept. 28.

Mount Sinai sophomore running back Joseph Spallina led the way with a16-yard run, a 23-yard pass reception and an 85-yard interception all finding the end-zone for the Mustangs. Senior quarterback Brandon Ventarola punched in from short yardage, while Matthew LoMonaco scored on a 14-yard pass play and Michael Trepeta found the end-zone on a 3-yard run.

Junior Alex Ledesma’s solid boot put up two PAT’s for the Royals in addition to Kaminska’s record making set of catches.

The win boosts the Mustangs to 4-0, tied with Shoreham Wading River in their division at the season’s halfway point.

The loss puts Port Jeff 1-3 in league. Their next game is set for Oct. 5 for homecoming weekend, where they expect to face Greenport at home with a 2 p.m. start time.

Mount Sinai looks to keep their perfect record intact when they hit the road Oct. 12 to face undefeated Shoreham-Wading River, for sole possession of first place in League IV. Kickoff is at 2 p.m.