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Northport

One Stop Deli Food Market on Pulaski Road in East Northport. Photo from Google Maps

Suffolk County police 2nd Squad detectives are investigating an armed robbery that occurred in the rear parking lot of an East Northport convenience store April 15.

A man with a gun allegedly approached a male employee of the One Stop Deli Food Market, located at 246 Pulaski Road, as the employee walked to the rear of the business to dispose of garbage at approximately 8:58 p.m. The man allegedly pointed a gun at the employee and demanded money. The employee complied and gave the man his wallet. The robber took the wallet and fled the scene on foot. No one was injured during this incident.

Detectives are asking anyone with information on this robbery to call the 2nd Squad detectives at 631-854-8252.

Former Northport Mayor George Doll with newly re-elected Deputy Mayor Tom Kehoe. Photo from Tom Kehoe

Spring brings the winds of change to the village of Northport as the longtime Mayor George Doll and his deputy have stepped down, giving over the reins to  familiar faces.

As of April 3, Doll and Deputy Mayor Henry Tobin have officially retired. Former trustee Damon McMullen has taken up the mantle of village mayor, while Tom Kehoe is now the deputy mayor. The question on many residents’ minds is, why did they retire?

“It’s been 12 years,” Tobin said. “I never meant it to be a career. I loved being a trustee and the deputy mayor, but it’s time to do other things.”

Tobin hopes to travel more. Doll said he is ready to roll up his sleeves and spend more time at his other career, as a commercial fisherman. The former mayor also wants to spend more time with his wife, children and grandchildren.

“I will miss George and Henry both miserably,” said Village Clerk Donna Koch. “It was a pleasure working with them for the past 12 years.”

McMullen served as a Northport trustee for 10 years before running unopposed for mayor last month.

I never meant it to be a career. I loved being a trustee and the deputy mayor, but it’s time to do other things.

— Henry Tobin

“If George had wanted to run again, I would have stepped aside,” McMullen said. “I learned so much from George, mainly to relax and be level headed. He said there’s always a solution to whatever problem was at hand that day.”

McMullen added that he admired Doll’s ability to work well with everyone around him. As a trustee, he felt the two had a good relationship working together.

Kehoe agreed with McMullen on the longtime mayor’s approach to running Northport.

“George had an even-handed approach to managing the village; he never attacked people.” Kehoe said, explaining a prior mayor had been contentious. “There was so much rancor and bitterness before George became mayor. Once George took over, no one was ridiculed. He was approachable. He was never disrespectful.”

Kehoe lauded Doll for transforming the village hall into a community forum where residents felt their concerns and issues could be heard. He said the new board will endeavor to do the same.

As the outgoing deputy mayor, Tobin stressed it is important that the new trustees keep sight of working together.

If George had wanted to run again, I would have stepped aside.”

— Damon McMullen

“‘All of us on the board knew that the public wanted a well-unified, well-functioning village government and so we all worked through all the issues until we had a consensus, trusting George and each other,” he said.

Fellow board members said a great deal was accomplished by Doll during his tenure as mayor. Kehoe said they started outdoor dining in Northport, which turned the village into a destination like Huntington or Port Jefferson.

“We have zero vacancies now on Main Street, except for Gunther’s, which is closed because of the fire,” the new deputy mayor said. “We’ve brought people into the village.” 

Tobin said the former leadership also fostered many community activities such as the farmers’ market and Northport Harbor Family Nights, which occur in August. Among Doll’s successes, he said, was rallying community support to save the post office from being closed.

Northport is a unique place with all types of people here. We have 7,000 residents and we want to balance everyone’s needs.”

— Tom Kehoe

The former board, including McMullen and Tobin, managed to obtain significant grants to cover the cost of upgrading the sewer treatment system and installing sewer mains in Steers Pit. The project cost a total of $13 million, but due to the board’s hard work and financial savvy the village taxpayers only had to pay $1.2 million out of pocket. 

Now with McMullen at the helm, he will be setting new goals for the board and already has a list of projects he wants to tackle.

“I want to see the bay area even cleaner,” McMullen said. “And if the weather ever breaks, we will start a lot of road work, including curbs and sidewalks on Woodbine Avenue and work on Laurel Avenue by the library.”

The new mayor said he plans to have the board review the village’s code book to update some of the existing laws.

“Some of the code is 40 years old and it worked in its day, but it just isn’t practical anymore,” he said.

Both McMullen and Kehoe know they will face a few challenges, but both feel they are up for the job.

“We will keep Northport vibrant,” Kehoe said. “Northport is a unique place with all types of people here. We have 7,000 residents and we want to balance everyone’s needs.

A temporary heating and air conditioning unit installed at the homeless shelter of Northport VA medical center. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

By Sara-Megan Walsh

Standing in front of Northport Veterans Medical Center’s shuttered homeless shelter on Monday morning, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said the center requires $15 million in emergency repairs to its heating and air-conditioning systems. Or, it faces the possibility of closing more buildings and its operating rooms again this summer.

“It’s hard to believe, but the dog days of summer are on our doorstep,” Schumer said. “The existing HVAC systems at this veterans center aren’t functioning. To shut down surgeries, to shut down treatment for our veterans is an absolute disgrace.”

Schumer called for the Department of Veterans Affairs to immediately cut an emergency check for more than $15 million to the Northport medical center April 9. The funding would come from the roughly $4 billion set aside in a recently passed federal spending bill to repair and upgrade veterans medical centers across the nation. The senator said he pushed for that funding to be approved specifically with Northport VA in mind.

“We have an emergency here; it’s worse than most other places,” Schumer said. “My message to the VA as summer looms is simple: Don’t make our Long Island veterans sweat over their health care.”

To shut down surgeries, to shut down treatment for our veterans is an absolute disgrace.”

— Chuck Schumer

Standing with Northport VAMC Director D. Scott Guermonprez, Schumer noted the 42-bed homeless shelter was closed in January after its heating system failed during a cold snap. In February, the hospital had to close five of its operating rooms due to an air-conditioning system malfunction, which caused 18 surgeries to be postponed.

The 91-year-old facility provides medical care and services to approximately 130,000 veterans living on Long Island, according to Guermonprez. Its buildings were constructed between 1927 and 1931, a time during which windows were opened and large ceiling fans used to circulate cool outdoor air. While these structures were retrofitted with supplemental heating and cooling systems, Guermonprez said, it was never fully to modern standards.

“As we replace them, we’ll ensure that we have new systems going in place, we’re not fixing the ones that are here today,” he said.

My message to the VA as summer looms is simple: Don’t make our Long Island veterans sweat over their health care.”

— Chuck Schumer

According to Schumer’s estimates, the Northport VA’s hospital will require roughly half of the $15 million to fix long-standing heating ventilation and air-conditioning issues. In 2016, the hospital was forced to close its operating rooms for four months as the air-conditioning system wasn’t properly filtering, but rather spitting particles into the air. The same unit is still in use today, according to Schumer, and needs immediate replacement, as it is 12 years past its maximum advised life span, for $2.5 million. It’s estimated that $5 million would be needed to cover duct work and air volume control boxes to regulate air flow and room temperature in the hospital.

The Northport VA hospital also needs approximately $700,000 to replace the heating and air-conditioning systems in its isolation units for infectious disease patients. These four rooms, located on the second floor, currently cannot be used.

Other buildings that require repairs and upgrades include the hospital’s pharmacy storage, the post-traumatic stress disorder treatment center and the administrative building.

“We have a $4 billion pot of money, $15 million isn’t too much to ask,” Schumer said. “We need to get it now before summer.”

In addition to the repairs, the VA medical center director said he has hired a new chief engineer and is in the process of reorganizing its engineering department to have the skills necessary to maintain and upkeep new, high-tech heating and air-conditioning units once they are in place.

Northport Boy Scout Troop 410 held event to raise funds for the Ecumenical Lay Council Food Pantry

By Karen Forman

Hundreds gathered March 18 to brave the icy cold waters off Steers Beach for the 9th annual Polar Bear Swim. Traditionally held on New Year’s Day, this year’s polar plunge had to be rescheduled for the day after St. Patrick’s Day; the water was a sheet of ice back in January.

The event is run by Northport Boy Scout Troop 410, who donate all the money raised from this event and the pancake breakfast held earlier in the month to the Ecumenical Lay Council Food Pantry in Northport. 

Last year, the Boy Scouts raised more than $5,000 for the food pantry, and they are hoping to top that this year. The final total of participants’ donations was not available as of Monday morning.  Those still interested in donating can visit http://troop410swim.com. 

This post was updated at 3:43 p.m March 19. 

 

Students at Northport High School sat silently for 17 minutes during the national walkout. Photo from Aidan Bryant

Hundreds of Northport High School students walked out March 14 in hopes that their actions would speak louder than words.

Senior Ryan Dowling, student organizer of the walkout to pay tribute to the Parkland, Florida students and faculty killed in the school shooting one month ago, said she estimated between 200 to 300 students quietly left the building to sit in the front courtyard at 10 a.m. Wednesday morning in unified action with thousands across the country.

Students at Northport High School sat silently for 17 minutes during the national walkout. Photo from Juliana Conforti

“We decided that 17 minutes of silence was the best way to go,” Dowling said. “The point was to remember the 17 lives that were lost and to show we didn’t have to say anything to make our voices heard.”

There were no speeches given, no chanting and no homemade signs calling for gun control or legislation. Only a singular black banner with the word “Enough” written across it in white duct tape stood with the students. Those who didn’t walkout were seen photographing and videotaping the event from classroom windows, according to Dowling.

“I think that everyone was respectful and mature about it,” student participant Samantha Sanuki said. “I had a fear of it becoming political with those who disagreed with the walkout — those people who were sharing their political views.”

On their way back inside the building, Dowling and Sanuki said the participants encountered other students holding Trump banners or wearing pro-Trump T-shirts. Both say the atmosphere remained largely respectful in attempt to not disrupt those classes still in session.

Students at Northport High School gather outside the school during the national walkout. Photo from Juliana Conforti

Superintendent Robert Banzer and high school principal Daniel Danbusky had a meeting with the student organizers of the walkout prior to March 14, in which any student who considered participating was initially warned they could face up to three-day suspension for walking out without permission, according to Dowling.

“My parents were supportive of me when I made the decision to try to spearhead this movement,” she said. “My mom was encouraging me saying, ‘I think you should walk out, and if no one is starting the conversation, I believe you should it start it yourself.’”

Days before the event, the senior said Danbusky contacted the student organizers and participants would be considered cutting class for the period. It carries a considerably lighter punishment, a phone call or email to notify the student’s parents, according to Dowling.

“The students — those who decided to walk out and those who decided to stay in class — handled the matter with respect and dignity,” Banzer said in a statement. “Regardless of the decision they made, I am very proud of all of them for that.”

More than 100 attendees shave their heads to raise funds for pediatric cancer

 

Dozens of people lined up to boldly go bald at the Northport-East Northport school district’s St. Baldrick’s Day event March 9. The event raised more than $63,000 for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a nonprofit organization that funds childhood cancer research.

Among the top teams were the East Northport Middle School Bald Tigers, led by teacher John Braun, raising more than $22,000. The team dedicated this year’s shave in memory of Caleb Paquet. Paquet, 19, died in August 2017 after a battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Braun grew a green mohawk for the occasion while marking the side of his head with “Caleb’s Army.” The Bellerose Fuzzballs, of Bellerose Elementary School, also raised more than $10,000 for the cause.

 

Improving school safety also addressed during March 8 board of education meeting

Northport has put in its preliminary budget a focus on expanding its fleet of chromebooks. File photo

Northport administrators have placed an emphasis on getting more computers into classrooms and updating athletic gear and other essentials as part of the instruction, technology, BOCES and special education sections of the preliminary budget.

Superintendent Robert Banzer said during a March 8 board of education meeting that the district intends to continue expanding the deployment of Chromebooks, laptops powered with Google applications, in the $166.2 million budget draft for 2018-19. The district began implementing a plan to provide personal computers to its students last September, piloting the program at the district’s two middle schools.

2018-19 draft budget highlights in instruction, technology, BOCES and special education:

  • $49,000 for responsive classroom training
  • $8,250 for new automated external defibrillators across district
  • $7,500 for training in CPR and AED use
  • $10,000 for upgrades to playgrounds
  • $3,860 for recycled clay for ceramics classes

“Kids want to have them available,” said Matt Nelson, assistant superintendent of student services, technology and assessment. “The biggest problem is the kids leave them at home then want to go get a loaner. They realize really quickly that the loaners run out, and they won’t have one for the day.”

Next year, the district has budgeted to give Chromebooks to its current eighth-grade students as they enter Northport High School and current fifth-grade students as they enter middle school. Banzer said the goal is to provide computers to all students in grades 10 through 12 by September 2019.

Denise Schwartz, of East Northport, asked school administrators to consider providing additional funding for more computers given some classes have students who are in different grade levels.

“I have a problem with some of the inequalities with co-seated classes,” Schwartz said. “For tenth and eleventh-graders to not have Chromebooks when ninth graders do is very unfair. What device does every student have at home to do homework?”

The superintendent has recommended $25,000 be set aside to redesign Northport High School’s career center with new seating, tables, desks and computer workstations “to update and create a learning environment conducive to group counseling, college counseling and professional development,” according to the budget draft. Banzer said staff was noticing the area was not being used as often as expected, and hopes the reconfiguration will promote it.

To build on increases in technology at the middle schools, the budget includes more than $8,000 to purchase six additional 3D printers, three for each building. There is also a proposal to include roughly $10,000 to support the FIRST robotics team and more than $4,000 for VEX robotics for high school students.

“I’m glad to see the robotics competitions fees and materials are included in here,” said trustee David Badanes.

For student-athletes, school administrators have recommended using part of the more than $40,000 budget to outfit the boys lacrosse program with school-issued helmets, similar to the football teams’. The proposal calls for purchasing approximately 30 helmets per year over the next six years.

Other athletic expenditures in the 2018-19 draft budget include more than $26,000 to replace 10-year old treadmills and elliptical machines; fix the girls field hockey goals; add new glass backboards in the north high school gym; purchase new junior varsity football uniforms in the school colors; and add new uniforms for teams.

The next presentation on the proposed budget for personnel and benefits, including security staff, is scheduled for March 15 at 7 p.m. at William J. Brosnan School building on Laurel Ave. A preliminary budget hearing for district taxpayers is set for March 22.

Northport-East Northport school district. File photo

By Sara-Megan Walsh

Northport-East Northport school officials gave residents their first look at the district’s $166.2 million 2018-19 budget draft.

Superintendent Robert Banzer and assistant superintendents presented a $166,165,381 first draft of its budget for next year at the March 1 board of education meeting. It represents a 1.75 percent increase over the current year’s $163.3 million budget, or a $2,858,541 increase.

“We are presenting a budget that supports the mission, vision, core beliefs and priorities of the district,” Banzer said. “While continuing a historically low tax levy increase.”

At the March 1 trustees meeting, the board conducted a line-by-line review of the district’s approximately $11.8 million draft budget for buildings, grounds and transportation.

Some of the budgetary highlights from buildings, grounds and transportation
section include $120,000 for the purchase of a new 66-passenger bus; $69,500 budget for new snow removal equipment; and $50,000 for the purchase of a four-wheel drive vehicle.

A significant portion of the proposed buildings and grounds budget, more than $340,000, has been set aside for new security equipment and services. Leonard Devlin, the district’s
supervisor of security, has proposed installing approximately 30 additional interior cameras and 20 exterior cameras districtwide along with purchasing nine license plate readers, one for each building.

“It allows the principal and myself to identify a vehicle coming on the school property,” Devlin said. “It would give me a clear video of the license plate to prevent vandalism and identify those vehicles that come onto our property at 2, 3, 4 a.m.”

In addition, Devlin has requested the district set aside $28,000 to purchase a new security vehicle to replace an aging vehicle that while having 90,000 miles is spending more time in repair shops than on school grounds, he said.

David Stein, vice president of the board of education, questioned if the district should consider increasing all security lines in the budget by as much as 20 percent.

“There is a lot of work for us to do in this new environment,” he said at the March 1 meeting. “One thing I am certain I heard tonight is there needs to be an increase in substance and value.”

Stein was backed by his fellow trustees in asking Devlin to come up with a wish list of security equipment and personnel for the district in the upcoming weeks. The district will revisit the budgeted lines for security at a future budget presentation, as well as weighing whether the budget allows for additional security personnel.

The next presentation on the proposed budget for instruction, technology, BOCES and special education is March 8 at 7 p.m. at William J. Brosnan School. A preliminary budget hearing for district taxpayers is set for March 22.

Teams up with twin brother Elijah, Dan O'Connor and Thomas Fodor to take first in 4x800 relay

Isaiah Claiborne crosses the 1,000-meter run finish line at the state championships March 3. Photo from MileSplit

Isaiah Claiborne could see his Fairport foe hot on his trail. Like last year, the 1,000-meter run came down to a final lap sprint, but midway through it, Claiborne kicked it into high gear and never looked back. The Northport senior crossed the finish line in a state-championship winning 2 minutes, 26.95 seconds at Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex on Staten Island March 3.

“A week ago my arm was too locked up and I knew I needed to work on that,” Claiborne said. “Today, I got out and I just wanted to be fast, especially since I was on the outside. I didn’t want to be slow to get stuck behind. I left it all on the track.”

Elijah Claiborne comes in a photo-finish second place in the 1,600-meter run. Photo from MileSplit

After leading early in the race, Claiborne fell into third place, but worked his way back into prime position. With 150 meters left, and the field looking like it might leave him behind, he made the move that made all the difference. His time was a new school record and second-best in New York State. It also set a new meet record, breaking Liam Purdy of North Rockland’s 2014 mark of 2:27.63.

“It’s awesome to come out here and win among big competition,” Claiborne said. “I tried to stay relaxed, make it my own race and not get too nervous. My coach says stay composed, stay relaxed, and that’s what I did.”

Of three sets of twins in contention to sweep events at states, Claiborne’s twin brother Elijah was closest to making it happen. Schenectady’s Maazin Ahmed got in the way though, maintaining his lead to the end line to come through with a photo-finish win. The two runners completed the 1,600 in 2:15.543 and 2:15.548 in a race where no one person stayed in first for long.

Northport’s 4×800 relay team of twin brothers Elijah and Isaiah Claiborne, Dan O’Connor and Thomas Fodor were crowned public school state champs. Photo from NYSPHSAA

“After just missing placing at states last year, I used that emotion to propel me toward the finish line.” Ahmed said. “I knew the race was going to be tight — anybody had a chance to win. I stayed with the pack and kicked fast at the end.”

Babylon’s Vlad Cullinane, who has been the top high jumper in the state all season, made it official by clearing six feet, seven inches. Shoreham-Wading River’s Richard Casazza was second, clearing 6-6.

“I was battling with [Casazza] all season and we were inches away from each other,” Cullinane said. “Every time I saw him miss, it felt pretty good. I was working on my form, and it feels great to beat him again.”

Northport’s 4×800 relay quartet of Elijah and Isaiah Claiborne, Dan O’Connor and Thomas Fodor were also public school state champions, completing the event in 7:56.52. The same team minus Fodor, finished first in the outdoor state championship last year.

“I don’t like going head-to-head,” Isaiah Claiborne joked. “My guys always give me a gap so I don’t have to worry about it.”

He and the rest of his relay team will compete at New Balance Indoor Nationals March 9-11 at the Armory Track in New York City.

“I won’t think about it too much,” Claiborne said heading into this weekend. “I’m definitely confident, and I’m going to take it all in.”

Mount Sinai and Miller Place also come in first, Northport and Ward Melville second

Rocky Point's cheerleading team placed first in the county for the third straight season. Photo by Jim Ferchland
Miller Place’s cheerleading team rocks the house. Photo by Jim Ferchland

By Jim Ferchland

The Eagles’ consistency and dominance is second to none when it comes to high school varsity cheerleading.

Rocky Point claimed its third cheerleading county championship in Division I medium varsity Feb. 24 at West Islip High School in front of a boisterous crowd shouting out Rocky Point’s name. The Eagles finished with 94.6 points, the highest overall score of the day.

“It feels amazing,” head coach Anna Spallina said. “There’s so much pressure on me to always compete and be on top. I think it’s just my personality. Climbing to the top is always good but once you’re up there, it’s harder to stay at the top.”

A Mount Sinai cheerleader atop a pyramid. Photo by Jim Ferchland

Before the meet on Saturday, Rocky Point was down in Orlando, Florida for nationals. After earning a pass straight to the finals, the Eagles’ performance put them in a disappointing seventh place.

“It’s a sport,” Spallina said. “Like any other sport, you’re going to have a good day and a bad day. It’s just the way it is.”

Northport finished second (81.2), Newfield third (67.3) and Kings Park fourth (65.9).

Mount Sinai was the only Division II large school in the competition. They finished with a score of 87.7. Mustangs head coach Kara Bochicchio said there still was competition — themselves.

“It was really just about going out there and trying to perform the best routine they could,” Bochicchio said. “Throughout the whole routine, there was fight. It might not have been the most perfect routine of the day, but they fought for everything tooth and nail. I’m really proud of them.”

Mount Sinai senior Charlotte Fiordalisi said there’s no way better to finalize the season with a county championship, especially after the Mustangs also finished nationals in fourth place.

Northport’s cheerleading team brings the excitement. Photo by Jim Ferchland

“I’m just really proud of my team,” Fiordalisi said. “My first ever competition six years ago was here and my last competition being here is bittersweet. It was a great way to finish the season. I’m just living in the moment.”

Miller Place finished first in Division II Medium varsity. The Panthers had 68.5 points to Hampton Bays’ 45.2. The pair are the only two teams in the division.

To wrap up the day was the Division I large school, Sachem North (88.7) earned first place over Ward Melville by one point.

“They really amaze me,” Ward Melville head coach Christine Perretta said of her team. “They never let anything defeat them. We pushed through every routine and they’ve definitely gone further than they’ve ever gone for Ward Melville. They don’t stop until the end.”

A Newfield cheerleader shouts a chant. Photo by Jim Ferchland

Ward Melville senior Kara Manuud has been with the team since her sophomore year. She said she was confident in the Patriots’ routine.

“Just being on that mat one final time, I knew nothing could go wrong,” Manuud said. “We have the skill, we’ve had all the practice we could have and it was just the matter of perfecting that and showing it on the mat.”

The Patriots took eighth place in nationals this year, and senior Courtney Cardillo said it feels good to finish her high school career on a higher note.

“After getting eighth, we worked really hard this past week,” Cardillo said. “We came in stronger than we’ve ever been. We hit a bunch of routines. We showed them what we deserved and who we are.”

 

 

Ward Melville’s cheerleading team. Photo by Jim Ferchland

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