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Mount Sinai

They buzz and flutter and they are disappearing from Long Island’s environment. Pollinators are on the decline on the Island and nationwide.

According to the National Wildlife Federation, native pollinators such as Monarch butterflies have decreased in numbers by more than 80 percent in the past two decades. Native bee populations, among other indigenous pollinator species, are also on the decline, which can put local farms at risk as less pollinators mean less pollination.

But Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) hopes to help Long Island farmers combat the population decline with her new Educational Agriculture Support Initiative, which aims to increase the amount of native plant species on Long Island, starting with the Heritage Park in Mount Sinai.

“The history of Heritage Park is [that] we wanted to take care of the rural character and the heritage of the area,” Lori Baldassare, president of Heritage Trust, said about how the park got involved with Anker’s initiative. According to Baldassare, Anker has a long history with the park so “it just seemed like a natural place to do [a] … demonstration garden.”

Honeybees, above, which are native to Europe are efficient pollen collectors and honey producers but they are not effective pollinators because pollen sticks onto their legs so well. They are one of the few bee species that live in a hive. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Honeybees, above, which are native to Europe are efficient pollen collectors and honey producers but they are not effective pollinators because pollen sticks onto their legs so well. They are one of the few bee species that live in a hive. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Although Anker has teamed up with Heritage Trust, Girl Scouts of Suffolk County, Long Island Native Plant Initiative, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County and the Suffolk County Soil and Water Conservation District to help create a pilot native plant species garden at Heritage Park, she said that it will take more than the individuals from these organizations to bring back local pollinator species.

“I need people to participate,” she said. “I need people to understand that this is really important. If we don’t preserve [the environment] nobody else will.”

According to Polly Weigand, executive director of the plant initiative and senior soil district technician for the conservation district, the team is trying to provide the pilot garden with various native plant species, including native grasses, which will attract and sustain pollinators throughout the year. While these plants are neither flowering nor the most visually appealing, Weigand said the grasses provide a place for insects to lay their eggs and shelter during the winter months.

While some invasive or nonnative plants, like butterfly bush, can provide food for native butterflies, it isn’t sufficient for these insects to lay their eggs or seek shelter. Native insects evolve with the native plants in the area. The evolution allows these creatures to use a plant for shelter and sustenance. Although some invasive or nonnative plants can provide food and habitat for these small creatures, this is not always the case.

“Plants have a little chemical warfare that they play with the species that are going to [prey] on them,” Weigand said. “They put out toxins to try to keep the animal from eating the leaves.”

It takes several generations before an insect can successfully utilize the foreign plants for their life cycle.

But according to Robin Simmen, community horticulture specialist for the cooperative extension, and Laura Klahre, beekeeper and owner of Blossom Meadow in Cutchogue, in addition to the lack of suitable plants, the use of pesticides and lack of suitable habitat for Long Island pollinators are some of the many factors contributing to the decline in the native species.

Polly Weigand, left, of the Long Island Native Plant Initiative, and county Legislator Sarah Anker, right, discuss native plant species for Anker’s Educational Agriculture Support Initiative pilot garden at Heritage Park in Mount Sinai. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Polly Weigand, left, of the Long Island Native Plant Initiative, and county Legislator Sarah Anker, right, discuss native plant species for Anker’s Educational Agriculture Support Initiative pilot garden at Heritage Park in Mount Sinai. Photo by Giselle Barkley

“We used to just think that we would get these free pollination services from nature,” Klahre said. “But in the future that may not be the case because there aren’t enough flowers around [and] we have so many pesticides.”

Pesticides that target unwanted pests, like ticks, are also detrimental to native bees, which live underground.

When the toxins seep into an area in close proximity to native insects, some eventually develop dementia.

Klahre also mentioned the lack of open space as an issue as it jeopardizes the livelihood of the bugs.

While Klahre does not know by how much the native bee population has declined, she said they are struggling to maintain their populations just like their European counterpart, the honeybee. According to Klahre there are about 4,000 different bee species nationwide and 450 different species in New York state alone.

Unlike docile native bees like mining, mason or sweat bees, honeybees are not efficient pollen collectors.

Native bees are among the best pollinators for a variety of plant species. The native bees also yield higher quality and longer lasting fruits like apples or cherries, which can have a thicker outer skin; a thicker skin means that the fruits have a longer shelf life than those pollinated by honeybees.

Although Anker said farms across Long Island are affected by the decline in pollinator species as they are forced to import pollinating bees to the locations, Klahre said she only saw a disruption in growing produce with home gardeners.

Monarch butterflies, above, fly from their wintering grounds in Mexico to Long Island, which serves as their breeding range during the summer. Monarchs born during the summer only live three to five weeks in comparison to overwintering adult Monarchs that can live up to nine months. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Monarch butterflies, above, fly from their wintering grounds in Mexico to Long Island, which serves as their breeding range during the summer. Monarchs born during the summer only live three to five weeks in comparison to overwintering adult Monarchs that can live up to nine months. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Pollinators like bees usually have a route that they go on to collect pollen and nectar before returning to their habitat. If these insects are not accustomed or attracted to a homeowner’s property, it is unlikely that the pollinator will visit the area. This is especially the case for homeowners who have a simple grass lawn.

While some grasses help native insects, a bare lawn does not provide a pollinator with the necessary sources of food in order to survive.

But Anker’s goal is to educate the community about the best way to attract and support these insects using appropriate native plant species like milkweed, among others.

“I’m actually looking to have [pilot gardens] throughout Suffolk County,” Anker said in regards to her initiative.

The plant initiative has selected the types of native plants that will go into Anker’s pilot garden, which could be designed and constructed toward the end of August.

Individuals like Klahre believe there is enough time to heal the environment and help increase native pollinators like bees, but she does acknowledge the reality of having little to no pollinators.

“In China there are some areas that are so polluted that they actually have people that are going from flower to flower in orchards with feathers moving the pollen,” Klahre said. “I just never want us to get to that point.”

Car parts thief sought
Suffolk County Police are seeking the public’s help in identifying and locating a man who stole catalytic converters from vehicles in Hauppauge earlier this month.
Police said the man stole 10 catalytic converters from commercial vehicles parked at three businesses on Oser Avenue in the early morning hours of July 3.
Suffolk County Crime Stoppers offers a cash reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest. Anyone with information about this crime is asked to call anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.

High interrupted
A 26-year-old man from East Northport was arrested in Smithtown on July 12 and charged with driving while ability impaired by a combination of drugs and alcohol. Police said the man was driving a 1995 Honda and crashed into a tree on Route 25A and Oakside Road in Smithtown. He was arrested at 2:19 a.m. Police did not know which drug the man was on.

Rowdy gun-wielders arrested
Two individuals were arrested on July 8 in Smithtown and charged with second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Police said a 20-year-old man from Central Islip and a 20-year-old woman from Brooklyn possessed loaded handguns, and both were arrested on Nesconset Highway at 8 p.m. The man was also charged with obstruction of government administration — for flailing his legs and refusing to be placed in a police car — and two counts of menacing in the second degree, for displaying a handgun to two separate women shortly before his arrest. The woman was charged with disorderly conduct — police said she threatened others in a parking lot.

What a pill
Suffolk County Police arrested a 29-year-old man from Kings Park on July 12 at about 9 p.m. and charged him with criminal possession of a controlled substance. Police said he was arrested on 4th Avenue in Kings Park, where he was found in possession of prescription pills.

Check yourself
Police said someone stole a checkbook from a man’s 2010 Lexus LX450 parked on West Main Street in Smithtown on July 12 at about 7 a.m. There have been no arrests.

Cash out
Someone removed a register box containing cash from LA Fitness on East Main Street in Smithtown sometime between 10 p.m. on July 11 and 8 a.m. on July 12. There have been no arrests.

Wheel of misfortune
Someone took four wheels and tires from a 2014 Toyota Tundra at Smithtown Toyota on East Jericho Turnpike in Saint James between 6 p.m. on July 11 and 11 a.m. on July 12. There have been no arrests.

Coming down from a high
Suffolk County Police arrested a 24-year-old man from Setauket and a 22-year-old female from Stony Brook on July 10 in Stony Brook and charged them with loitering and unlawful use of a controlled substance. Police said the pair were observed at a location on North Country Road in Stony Brook in a Ford Taurus in possession of heroin. The duo was arrested at 8:37 a.m., police said.

Car looted
Police said an unknown person took money and a gift card from a 2015 Ford parked on Blinker Light Road in Stony Brook. The incident was reported on July 10 at 6:30 p.m.

Road bump
Someone stole a bicycle from outside a garage on Braemer Road in Setauket. The incident happened sometime between 10 p.m. on July 11 and 9 a.m. on July 12.

Jewelry jam
Police said someone stole jewelry from Kohl’s on Nesconset Highway in Setauket on July 11 at 6:45 p.m. There have been no arrests.

Purse pickpocketed
Police said a woman reported that someone stole her license and credit card from her purse as she was shopping at Walmart on Nesconset Highway in Setauket. The incident occurred on July 9 at 2 p.m., police said.

Money mystery
Police said an Antler Lane resident from South Setauket reported that someone used his Chase banking card to make several cash withdrawals between July 1 and July 9. There are no arrests.

Bank withdrawal woes
Police said that a Stalker Lane resident from Setauket reported someone used his bank information to make three unauthorized withdrawals between July 8 and July 9. There are no arrests.

Car trouble
Things got a little crazy on Woodhull Avenue in Port Jefferson Station on July 4, at around 10:05 p.m., when someone threw items at a 2013 Hyundai and damaged a car door.

Midnight mischief
An unknown person slashed the driver side tire of a 2007 Hyundai parked on Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station on July 3.

Ride denied
A woman reported being harassed by a cab driver on June 30 at around 3 p.m. According to police, the complainant said she called a cab service to pick her up from a dollar store in Port Jefferson Station, but the driver refused to take her. He then allegedly pushed her and took her grocery bags out of the cab and drove away.

Bad luck
A 2008 Toyota’s side view mirror was damaged on July 7 while parked on Dayton Avenue in Port Jefferson Station.

Cloned
Police received two reports of cloned credit cards in the Port Jefferson Station community on July 7. According to police, a resident on Magnolia Drive reported an unknown person had cloned their ATM card and made withdrawals using their pin. Another resident on Pine Street made a similar report.

Razor-sharp
The person who demanded money at the USA Gasoline on Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station got quite the surprise on July 6. According to police, the suspect went into the station shortly after 9:30 p.m. with a razor blade and demanded cash, but the quick-thinking complainant grabbed a knife and chased the intruder out of the store.

Taking flight
A 20-year-old Mount Sinai resident was arrested and charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, third-degree fleeing from an officer in a motor vehicle and third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle on July 9. Police said the woman was driving a 1999 Chevy north on Route 112 in Terryville at around 3 p.m. when police attempted to pull her over. As the officer approached her vehicle, the woman pulled away, almost striking two vehicles, and exceeded the speed limit on Route 112 before pulling over again. Police discovered Roxicodone, a prescription opioid, in her possession.

I saw the sign
A homeowner’s 10 “no parking” and “no trespassing” signs on North Country Road in Miller Place were spray-painted or torn down on July 10.

Lock ‘em up
A wallet full of credit cards and cash was reported stolen on July 8 from an unlocked 2007 Chevy parked at a residence on Ann Street in Miller Place.

Thumb war
A 56-year-old Miller Place man was charged with second-degree assault and second-degree menacing after he stabbed a man in the finger. The incident took place on July 8 at the suspect’s Avery Lane home.

Dashed board
On July 8 at 9 p.m., a Washington Avenue, Centereach, resident reported the dashboard of their 2010 Nissan was damaged.

Grocery games
A woman reported on July 7 that her wallet, with $2,000 in cash, was stolen from her shopping cart at the Centereach Mall Walmart.

Screened
A home on Rosemary Lane in Centereach had a window screen damaged on July 12.

Picking up
An unlocked 2008 Ford pickup truck parked at a Bank Street residence in Selden was robbed of a tablet and money on July 7.

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Ursula Costanzo and her husband, Vince. Photo from Ursula Costanzo

By Rachel Siford

The Miller Place and Mount Sinai communities are coming together to support a fellow resident in her time of need.

Five years ago, Ursula Costanzo, of Mount Sinai, started the parent Facebook group, Mt. Sinai/Miller Pl. Moms, which has more than 2,600 members.

She started the group to unite the communities, since they don’t have a town center. Group members share information, ask questions and have friendly discussions. If someone needs a repairman or landscaper recommendation, the Facebook group is the place to go.

In May, the wife and mom suffered an aneurysm and a stroke, which has since kept her in the hospital and rehab facilities. Costanzo is currently at St. Johnland Nursing Center for rehabilitation and has had various surgeries.

Now, Costanzo’s close friends and other administrators of the Facebook group have pulled together to create a fundraiser to help the family with medical and childcare bills, as her and her husband’s insurance only covers so much.

On Aug. 16, the nine-person committee will present Rock the Range at Willow Creek Golf & Country Club in Mount Sinai from 2 to 7 p.m. The event will have a barbecue, raffle and live music.

“Ursula has been one my best friends for 15 years,” Melissa Goodman, of Mount Sinai, said. “It was mine and my husband’s idea to start this fundraiser because Ursula always liked to help people and has always been so altruistic.”

Denise May, one of the Facebook group administrators and close friend of Costanzo’s, said the event will be a fun community day, which is what Costanzo is all about.

“Ursula is one those happy, dynamic people who runs in a bunch of different crowds,” May said. “She is a very happy, positive person.”

May is also in charge of a GoFundMe site to benefit the Costanzo family. The site has already raised more than $3,400. Their goal is $20,000.

Eight local bands will be playing at the event, and Goodman added there will be grand prizes at the fundraiser, like a television and vacation packages.

“She is a wonderful mom, a wonderful person and a wonderful friend,” Goodman said. “Everyone loves her; that’s why everyone is helping out.”

Costanzo’s other close friend, Cynthia Liendo, of Mount Sinai, is in charge of the ticket sales. She said the committee is expecting between 200 and 400 people.

“She really, truly cares about people and went out of her way to smile,” Liendo said about Costanzo.

A stroke survivor will speak at Rock the Range.

Costanzo’s friends and family said she is fighting hard to get through this.

“She volunteers at school, the kids are familiar with her and she has many friends,” Liendo said. “Her absence has really been felt.”

Tickets for Rock the Range are $25. Children 5 and under are free. For more information and/or to purchase tickets, contact rocktherange4Ursula@gmail.com.

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Historical society launches campaign to restore home by its 300th anniversary in 2020

The William Miller House turned 295 years old over the weekend. The birthday celebration also kicked off the Miller Place-Mount Sinai Historical Society’s five-year fundraising initiative to restore the oldest home in Miller Place by its 300th birthday. Photo by Erin Dueñas

By Erin Dueñas

The William Miller House celebrated its 295th birthday on Sunday, complete with balloons, music and even a replica cake of the house. But in spite of the festivities, old age is catching up to the oldest house in Miller Place, which is in need of a long list of repairs and updates.

The house, located on North Country Road in the historic district of Miller Place, is the headquarters of the Miller Place-Mount Sinai Historical Society. Built in 1720, the house is on the National Register of Historic Places and is significant for the very few changes that have been made to the home’s interior and look over the centuries. The house showcases artifacts ranging from doctor’s equipment and farm tools to children’s toys and furniture from the 1800s.

“It’s a living museum,” said Antoinette Donato, vice president of the society.

Donato said the birthday party was the kickoff to a five-year campaign, which seeks community assistance in order to get the repairs completed in time for the house’s 300th anniversary in 2020.

The society acquired the home in 1979 from the estate of Harry Millard, the last descendant of William Miller, and restored it in the early 1980s.

“We’re working very diligently to get the house up to snuff,” Donato said, noting the house is in desperate need of a new roof as well as repairs to sixteen windows, paint, and doors that need adjusting so that they can open and close properly.

“We need it to be authentically restored,” Donato continued. “It can only be done by skilled craftsmen that have the expertise of historical restoration.”

Society President Gerard Mannarino blows out the birthday cake candles. Photo by Erin Dueñas
Society President Gerard Mannarino blows out the birthday cake candles. Photo by Erin Dueñas

According to society President Gerard Mannarino, who was presented with a proclamation from Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) at the party, estimates for the roof came in close to $20,000, with the least expensive at $18,000. He said that without help from the community, there is a slim chance the society will be able to foot the bill.

“We need people to join the society; it helps us,” Mannarino said. “We are hoping the party will get us exposure to get people interested in us.”

The society is currently constructing a brick pathway, which extends from the street up to the post office on the grounds of the house. Bricks can be purchased for $100 and personalized, and all proceeds benefit the Society.

“My big push is to get 200 families from Miller Place to purchase one of these bricks,” Mannarino said. “That’s the money to fix the roof.”

Mannarino said Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) has been a huge help to the society’s efforts over the years, securing grants that allowed them to continue offering programs to the community.

“She’s our biggest fan,” Mannarino said.

Anker said people need to be motivated to help the society, echoing Mannarino’s goal of getting support from local families.

“We need to prioritize getting these renovations done,” she said.

Donato stressed it is the efforts of the society’s volunteers who deserve credit for getting so much accomplished at the house so far.

“I call them the silent vigilantes — they see that things need to be done and they just do it,” she said. “They understand the importance of the history here.”

One of those volunteers is Miller Place’s Doug Flynn, who saw a loose and splintered board on the porch of the post office and quietly repaired the board and gave the whole porch a fresh coat of paint.

“I enjoy fixing things,” Flynn said. “There is so much to be done here, whatever I can do, I do it.”

Society trustee Margaret Dosher Cibulka chaired the birthday party committee. She said she was pleased with the way the party turned out and noted its importance to the community’s history.

“It was wonderful in all respects,” she said. “The purpose was to acquaint the community with the value of the house.”

“It’s the beginning of Miller Place,” she said. “We need to preserve it so the children realize what a jewel they have in their own community.”

Car trouble
Things got a little crazy on Woodhull Avenue in Port Jefferson Station on July 4, at around 10:05 p.m., when someone threw items at a 2013 Hyundai and damaged a car door.

Midnight mischief
An unknown person slashed the driver side tire of a 2007 Hyundai parked on Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station on July 3.

Ride denied
A woman reported being harassed by a cab driver on June 30 at around 3 p.m. According to police, the complainant said she called a cab service to pick her up from a dollar store in Port Jefferson Station, but the driver refused to take her. He then allegedly pushed her and took her grocery bags out of the cab and drove away.

Poor house
An unknown person stole cash from the register at L.I. Pour House Bar and Grill in Port Jefferson Station on June 29 at around 1:30 a.m.

Explosive
A Mount Sinai Grasslands Circle resident reported their mailbox and garage door had been damaged by some sort of explosives on July 3.

Making waves
An unknown person took a 2006 motor from a boat moored in Mount Sinai Harbor on July 5 at some point between midnight and noon.

Seeing red
There were two separate road rage incidents in Centereach last week. According to police, on July 2, a victim was driving northbound on Nicolls Road by Hammond Road in Centereach when they encountered the suspect, who, at some point, punched the victim in the face. The suspect took off.
Two days later, on July 4, a female driver reported that while at an exit ramp of Nicolls Road in Centereach, six males on motorcycles began kicking her 2013 Hyundai and slashed its tires.

Getaway
A Fountain Avenue in Selden resident, outside his home on June 30, reported seeing someone walking with a satchel or pillowcase on his street. When he returned to his apartment, he found the suspect inside his residence. The two began fighting and the suspect fled with a stolen silver bracelet, kindle and phone charger.

Long weekend
A 21-year-old Mount Sinai resident was arrested in Selden and charged with DWI-first offense on July 3. According to police, the man was pulled over after he failed to stop at a stop sign while driving a 1998 Honda northbound on Bicycle Path.

Pills and pocketbooks
A 26-year-old Sound Beach man was arrested in Selden and charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and fourth-degree grand larceny. According to police, he was arrested on July 2 and was found in possession of Xanax without a prescription. Police said the man is also accused of breaking into a 2010 Volkswagen on June 25 in Port Jefferson and stealing a pocketbook containing credit cards.

Bank robber sought
Suffolk County Police are seeking the public’s help in identifying and locating a man who allegedly robbed a Centereach bank in June.
On Friday, June 26, a man entered the People’s United Bank, located on Middle Country Road, approached a teller at approximately 11:30 a.m. and presented a note demanding cash. The teller complied and the man fled on foot.
Police described the suspect as white, between 45 and 50 years old and approximately 5 feet 7 inches tall with a heavy build. He was wearing a black T-shirt, dark jeans, sunglasses and what appears to be a dark-colored baseball cap.
Suffolk County Crime Stoppers offers a cash reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest. Anyone with information about this crime is asked to call anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.
For video of the bank robbery, go to www.YouTube.com/scpdtv. Click on the link “Wanted for Bank Robbery CC# 15-370331.”
Luck of the draw
Someone stole keys and Yu-Gi-Oh! collector cards from a 2009 Hyundai parked at AMC Loews Stony Brook 17 on Nesconset Highway in Stony Brook sometime between July 3 at 10:45 p.m. and July 4 at 1:30 a.m. There are no arrests.

Louis Vuitton bag stolen
Someone took a Louis Vuitton pocketbook, cash, a wallet and clothing from a 2015 Toyota 4Runner parked in the lot at Marshall’s on Nesconset Highway in Stony Brook. The incident happened sometime between 5 and 6 p.m. on July 1.

Laptop lifted
Police said someone took an Apple Macbook Pro computer from an unlocked 2002 Nissan Altima sometime between 6 and 7 p.m. on July 1 on Nesconset Highway in Stony Brook. There are no arrests.

Grandma scammed
A Setauket woman who is a resident of Francis Street told police on July 1 that she was the victim of a phone scam. She said someone called her saying her grandson was arrested after being involved in a car crash and that she needed to send money to get him home. She sent money via MoneyGram.

Checked out
Someone stole the identity of an Upper Sheep Pasture Road man from Setauket-East Setauket and took money from his JP Morgan Chase checking account. Police said the incident occurred sometime between June 2 at 9 a.m. and June 30 at 2:05 p.m.

Police search for pickpocket
Suffolk County Police are seeking the public’s help in identifying and locating a couple who are wanted for questioning in a grand larceny investigation in Commack.
A man and woman were shopping in Dress Gala, located on Jericho Turnpike, on May 21 at approximately 5:10 p.m. when the man reached into an employee’s pocketbook and stole credit cards.
Suffolk County Crime Stoppers offers a cash reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest. Anyone with information about this crime is asked to call anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.

Shoplifter busted
Police said a 42-year-old man from Hauppauge was arrested on July 5 at the 4th Precinct and charged with petit larceny. According to police, the man stole a garbage pail, sleepwear, lunch bag, socks and other clothing from Walmart on Veterans Memorial Highway in Islandia on July 5 at 11:53 a.m.

That’s my $50
An 18-year-old man from St. James was arrested on July 3 at the 4th Precinct and charged with fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property. Police said that the man had $50 that belonged to someone else. The alleged crime occurred on Old Dock Road in Kings Park on July 1 at 11:30 p.m., police said.

Joy ride cut short
Police arrested a 20-year-old Commack man in Smithtown on July 2 and charged him with driving while ability impaired by drugs and alcohol — the drug being marijuana. Police said that on July 2 at 12:12 a.m., on Route 25A at West Jericho Turnpike in Smithtown, the man was driving a 1997 Ford and failed to maintain his lane. He was arrested at the scene.

Taking it off
A 50-year-old man from Middle Island was arrested at the 4th Precinct on July 2 and charged with lewdness — exposing his body in public. Police said the man exposed his private parts on June 30 while parked in a car at 7-Eleven on Motor Parkway in Hauppauge at 1:02 p.m.

Justice served
Police said they arrested a 27-year-old man from Astoria on July 1 who punched another man in the face while he was sitting in a chair at Napper Tandy’s on East Main Street in Smithtown on May 24. The man required medical attention for his injuries. The 27-year-old was arrested at the 4th Precinct at about 5:25 p.m.

A case of road rage
Two men who were involved in a car accident on Route 347 in Smithtown got into a fit of road rage, according to police. One man got out of the car and started yelling at the other man, grabbing him. The two eventually punched each other. Both plan to press charges, police said. The incident happened westbound on Route 347 on July 2, between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

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Mount Sinai school board Trustees Robert Sweeney, left, and Peter Van Middelem, right, are sworn in as board president and vice president, respectively. Photo by Erika Karp

The Mount Sinai school board has a new vice president this year.

At the district’s annual reorganization meeting on July 1, Peter Van Middelem, who just finished his first year on the board, was elected to the position in a 4-1 vote. Van Middelem, a retired New York City firefighter, succeeds former Vice President Donna Compagnone, whose term was up this year and decided not to seek re-election.

Van Middelem said his main objectives for the new year include keeping positive communications and relations with the community and the district’s teachers, seeing how new programs, such as Columbia University’s Teachers College Writing Project, which provides writing curriculum and professional development for teachers, is implemented, and keeping taps on the new full-day kindergarten program.

“I know that our emphasis right now is to make sure kindergarten is running and up to speed,” he said in a phone interview.

Van Middelem commended his predecessor for all of her work and stated that he had big shoes to fill as vice president.

Trustee Lynn Capobianco, who was re-elected to her second three-year term in May, cast the lone dissenting vote at the meeting. She said she couldn’t support Van Middelem as he allegedly did some political campaigning in his role as president of the Mount Sinai Lacrosse program. According to the Internal Revenue Service, 501(c)(3) organizations are “prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”

Lynn Capobianco takes her oath of office. Photo by Erika Karp
Lynn Capobianco takes her oath of office. Photo by Erika Karp

Capobianco said that in doing so Van Middelem jeopardized the tax-exempt status of the organization. According to an IRS database, Mt. Sinai Lacrosse Inc’s status had been automatically revoked in February 2013 for failing to file a return for three consecutive years. Van Middelem declined to comment on Capobianco’s concerns.

“I respect him greatly for the work he has done for that organization, but based on those issues I think the leadership comes into question,” Capobianco said.

While the board saw a change in its vice president, Robert Sweeney, who was elected to his second three-year term in 2014, is staying put as president. Board newcomer Mike Riggio was unable to make the first meeting and was sworn into his position at an earlier time.

Sweeney thanked the board for its vote and seemed to set the tone for the 2015-16 school year. He pointed out how the trustees were all wearing pins that read, “Respect public education.”

“This is an important statement that we are making about our teachers. … We respect them,” he said.

Sweeney continued to speak about the importance and need for public education.

“I wouldn’t be here and in my career without it,” he said.

iPad grab busted
Suffolk County Police arrested three individuals in connection with stealing 12 Apple iPads from Walmart on Crooked Hill Road in Commack on Aug. 25, 2014 at about 7:30 p.m. Police said a 20-year-old woman from Bay Shore, a 24-year-old man from Waterbury and a 32-year-old woman from Bellport were all charged with third-degree grand larceny. Each in the trio was arrested on different dates ranging from May 18 to June 27.

What a blow
A 23-year-old man from Kings Park was arrested in Smithtown on June 28 and charged with third-degree assault with intent to cause physical injury. Police said that on Nov. 16, 2014, at about 12:21 a.m., the man hit another man on the top of his head, causing a laceration. The incident happened on Pulaski Road in Kings Park. The victim had to go to St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown.

Get drunk, crash and flee
Suffolk County Police arrested a 66-year-old man from Nesconset on June 27 and charged him with driving while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident where there was property damage. Police said the man, who was driving a 2002 Jeep, struck a 2005 Jeep three times on Route 347 in Nesconset at 10:12 p.m. on June 27, causing damage. He then fled the scene without exchanging information, and was later stopped and charged with driving while intoxicated.

CVS shoplifted
Police arrested a 24-year-old man from Nesconset on June 25 and charged him with petit larceny. Police said the man stole merchandise — they couldn’t say exactly what — from a CVS on Middle Country Road in Centereach on May 15 at 5:44 p.m. He was arrested at his home on Truval Lane at about 6:30 p.m.

Back up and out
A 63-year-old woman from Kings Park was arrested at her home on Kohr Road for first-degree leaving the scene of an accident and failing to show license/identification. The woman was arrested on June 28 for an incident that occurred on June 18 at 4:35 p.m. Police said the woman, who was driving a 2010 Nissan, backed into a 2014 Lexus on Broadhollow Road in Melville and fled.

Busted with syringes
Police arrested a 23-year-old man from Northport on June 27 and charged him with possession of a hypodermic instrument. Police said the man possessed hypodermic syringes in his vehicle on Pulaski Road in Kings Park on June 27 at 12:26 p.m. He was arrested at the scene.

Shattered windows
Someone reported to police that windows were broken on a vacant building located on Maple Avenue in Smithtown sometime between June 2 and June 28. There are no arrests.

This trash is on fire
A garbage pail full of yard debris on Dewey Street in Port Jefferson Station was burned at some point between June 27 and June 28.

I spy punches
A 24-year-old man was arrested in front of Junior’s Spycoast bar on Main Street in Port Jefferson at around 2:30 a.m. and was charged with second-degree harassment after he pushed and attempted to punch a police officer.

Designer thief
Between June 25 at 6 p.m. and June 26 at 10:30 a.m. an unknown person took items, including a Michael Kors bag and money, from a Volkswagen and a Toyota parked on Jamaica Avenue in Port Jefferson.

Insta-threat
A Mount Sinai resident reported on June 26 that a high-school-aged girl threatened a male student over Instagram.

Full throttle
The front fender of a Harley-Davidson parked at a Pipe Stave Hollow Road residence in Mount Sinai was damaged at some point between June 22 and June 24.

Details
A 2014 Toyota’s paint was damaged while parked at a residence on Oakland Avenue in Miller Place on June 25 between 1 a.m. and 9 a.m.

Snooping
A North Country Road homeowner in Miller Place reported on June 24 that the panel of a back door was damaged and a person possibly went through items in their home.

Beach party gone wrong
A security guard at the beach off of Friendship Drive in Rocky Point was struck in the head by a bottle. According to police, at around 10:40 p.m. on June 24, the guard had asked a group of youths to leave the beach and the individuals started throwing bottles. The guard wasn’t injured and no arrests have been made.

Tired of this
A customer at a Centereach Goodyear Service Center was accused of harassment and causing public alarm after he entered the Middle Country Road business on June 28 and demanded his car be fixed. The man then pushed the complainant after being told he would have to wait.

Imperial Civil War
A 29-year-old man was arrested on Imperial Drive in Selden on June 24 after he went to a residence and ran up to the complainant, swinging his fists, and then wrestled the man to the ground. The man is charged with second-degree harassment.

No happy meal
Police said a group of teens damaged a fence in the parking lot of McDonald’s  on Nesconset Highway at Stony Brook. There are no arrests.

Money taken
Someone broke in through the side door of Dunkin’ Donuts on Main Street in Setauket-East Setauket and stole money, sometime between 11 p.m. and 3:30 a.m. from June 27 to June 28. There are no arrests.

Boat burglary
Someone entered a boat docked at Setauket Harbor and stole safety flairs and a toolbox, sometime between June 20 and June 28. There are no arrests.

Package stolen
Someone lifted a packaged delivered to a home on Old Town Road in Setauket-East Setauket sometime between June 26 and June 27. There are no arrests.

Car keyed
Police said someone keyed a 2008 Cadillac Escalade parked at Walmart on Nesconset Highway sometime between 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on June 25.

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Despite the rainy evening, Mount Sinai seniors’ spirits were still high at their graduation on Saturday night.

More than 200 graduates received their diplomas and were treated to speeches by Salutatorian Brendan Zoto, who will attend Stony Brook University in the fall, and Valedictorian Seth Brand, who heads off to Harvard University. Brand told his fellow grads and the audience to remember the importance of saying thank you and laughing, and received a standing ovation for his remarks.

Valedictorian Seth Brand. Photo from Mount Sinai school district

They volunteered countless hours, participated in numerous activities and have taken more than 40 Advanced Placement courses combined, so it should come as no surprise that Seth Brand, Brendan Zotto and Tiffany Ong are at the top of Mount Sinai High School’s 2015 graduating class.

Seth Brand
With a GPA of 102.399, Seth Brand graduates as this year’s valedictorian and will head to Harvard University in the fall.

The varsity soccer and basketball player said he plans on studying biology, but is still undecided as he wants to explore and see what he is most interested in.

“I think I’m going to find what I really want to do upon going to Harvard,” he said.

Brand added that he knows whatever he ends up doing, it will involve making a difference in others’ lives.
Over the course of his four years at Mount Sinai, Brand took a total of 24 AP classes and exams — 13 of which he self-studied for — and passed every single one.

In addition to playing sports, Brand served as class president in 10th and 11th grades, and as president of the National Honor Society. He was also vice president of the school’s Environmental Out Reach club, coordinating beach cleanups and collecting recyclables.

Brand reflected fondly on his time as a Mustang and said he benefited from being in small school. He also gave a shutout to his teachers and the friends he has made.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better place to go.”

Brendan Zotto

Salutatorian Brendan Zotto. Photo from Mount Sinai school district
Salutatorian Brendan Zotto. Photo from Mount Sinai school district

In addition to being the Mustang’s senior class president, Brendan Zotto is also this year’s salutatorian, graduating with a 101.213 GPA. He heads off to Stony Brook University in the fall and will major in computer engineering.

Zotto said a programming class he took as a freshman spurred his interest in the subject. After taking the AP Physics C exam, which he self-studied for, Zotto said he realized he was interested in computer hardware as he learned about circuitry, and electricity and magnetism.

“I’m hoping college is an experience like that, where I learn one thing and it leads me to something else,” he said.

In his spare time, Zotto, a member of the cross country track team, said he enjoys running.

His favorite memory from high school, he said, was participating in the National Honor Society’s Video Game Tournament, where students played Super Smash Brothers Melee and raised money for the group.

Zotto, who is also vice president of the Computer Club and treasurer of the Science Club, said he hopes to one day make and improve on current computer hardware.

The salutatorian said college would offer him the “experience to learn more about myself and about what I’m studying.”

Tiffany Ong
Tiffany Ong rounds out the top trio and is this year’s senior class poet. Ong is graduating with a 101.146 GPA and will head to New York University in the fall, where she’ll major in nutrition and dietetics.

Senior class poet Tiffany Ong. Photo from Mount Sinai school district
Senior class poet Tiffany Ong. Photo from Mount Sinai school district

Ong said she picked the major because she has a passion for the sciences, health and food.

“I just love how we can take care of our bodies and be athletic and still have a healthy lifestyle,” she said.

The student government secretary said she stays active in a few different ways. She played varsity tennis until her junior year and currently spends much of her time dancing at Backstage Studio of Dance.

While Ong’s dream job would be to dance for a living, she said she understands how challenging that is and will explore creating a major at NYU that combines her passions for dance and nutrition.

“Hopefully, I can help dancers in the future, or any other athletes.”

The senior also has a love of art and music. She is an accomplished violin player, having served as concertmistress of the high school’s orchestra, ensemble leader of the chamber orchestra and a section leader in the Long Island String Festival Association.

Ong said she enjoyed attending Mount Sinai because it is a small school where you get to know everyone, but she is also excited for new experiences college will bring.

“I’m looking forward to seeing new people, being on my own, growing up really fast, especially being in the city.”

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Village ready to kick off parade and fireworks on July 4

Antonio Febles, 3, and sister Sofia Febles, 7, from Port Jefferson Station get into the spirit despite the rain at the Port Jefferson Fire Department’s July 4 parade last year. Photo by Bob Savage

Port Jefferson is going to be a sea of red, white and blue on Saturday, July 4.

To kick off the day, the Port Jefferson Fire Department will hold its annual Independence Day parade, rain or shine.

The event will start at 10 a.m., with participants marching down Main Street from the Infant Jesus Church at Myrtle Avenue to the harbor, turning left on West Broadway toward Barnum Avenue, and then finishing at the firehouse on Maple Place.

According to the PJFD, roads along the parade route and participant lineup areas will be closed at 8:15 a.m. that day, including Main Street going as far south as North Country Road; Reeves Road; and High Street between Main and Stony Hill Road. Detour signs will direct drivers to the ferry and downtown area.

Later in the day, weather permitting, Port Jefferson Village will continue its annual tradition of setting off fireworks between its East and West beaches in a salute to the nation’s freedom and its Founding Fathers.

The free fireworks show will kick off at 9 p.m.

A resident parking sticker is required to park at the village beaches.

The fireworks are also visible from the neighboring Cedar Beach on Mount Sinai Harbor.

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