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Patchogue

A Qwik Ride vehicle currently on the streets of Patchogue. Photo from Qwik Ride

A new transportation service is ready to hit Huntington Village’s streets this August.

Qwik Ride plans to roll out a free shuttle service across downtown Huntington, offering visitors who park further away a ride to or between area restaurants, bars and stores with a simple click of an app or flagging down a ride.

“This transportation could be used in suburban areas where you have to find your parking spot, and you don’t want to leave it,” said Daniel Cantelmo, co-founder of Qwik Ride. “Where parking is so tough, people have turned around and left.”

Cantelmo said he and his fellow co-founder John Yancigay first came up with the business concept while on a trip to Nashville, Tennessee.

“This transportation could be used in suburban areas where you have to find your parking spot, and you don’t want to leave it.”

– Daniel Cantelmo

“We saw this free shuttle service that would take you anywhere in Nashville,” he said. “We thought it was pretty cool.”

This May, Cantelmo said they launched the service in his hometown of Patchogue using modified six-passenger golf carts to shuttle customers from the waterfront restaurants and bars to downtown businesses. The electric-powered vehicles are enclosed with a full set of doors, have heat and can continue to run through inclement weather — except for snow, according to Cantelmo. He said Qwik Ride has provided more than 700 free lifts to Patchogue passengers this month as of July 13, and he expects that number to continue to grow.

“We’ve had a lot of success in Patchogue,” Cantelmo said. “We know Huntington is going to follow suit. Huntington is a little more condensed.”

He sees the free shuttles as a potential solution to what he called a “twofold” parking problem in Huntington. First, area business employees come into work early and take up front-row or prime parking spots in the village throughout their eight-hour shifts, according to Cantelmo. Second, there are plenty of parking lots on the outskirts of town that are underutilized because they require a long walk.

“Uber is helping that situation, but we are taking it one step further,” he said.

The two co-founders reached out to Huntington Chamber of Commerce and Huntington Business Improvement District to invite business owners down to The Paramount to talk about the new service they would be launching with two vehicles, adding up to three more with time for a total of five shuttles. 

“It sounds like a great idea to free up some parking in town,” Ellen O’Brien, executive director of Huntington’s chamber said. “It’s innovative, it’s free, it’s cutting edge and it will free up parking spaces.”

“It sounds like a great idea to free up some parking in town.”

– Ellen O’Brien

The Paramount in Huntington is one business that was already on board with asking its employees to park further out to free up spots for customers. Adam Ellis, the theater’s director of marketing, said Paramount staff has been utilizing Huntington Town Hall’s lot for the last year and a half to use a shuttle bus to get back and forth to work.

“We hope the Qwik Ride program will help other businesses in town to offer their staff alternative transportation to their job while parking further from town to open up more spaces for guests as a way to improve parking in town,” Ellis said.

The free shuttles are paid for by advertising, according to Cantelmo, as local businesses are invited to buy space on the outside of each vehicle. He hopes these same businesses will commit to getting employees involved in parking in distant lots and hailing a Qwik Ride.

“Everyone has truly got to be on board,” Cantelmo said. “If The Paramount is on board but Honu [Kitchen & Cocktails] isn’t, then all it will do is open up more parking for Honu. The community has to work together, and everyone has to be on board. Then it will benefit everybody.”

Ru Jurow was able to afford this new home with the help of a grant from Community Housing Innovations. Photo from Douglas Elliman

By Guy Santostefano

For most, homeownership is a dream, and for many, it’s also a big challenge.

For some Long Islanders, owning a home seems financially out of reach, but that’s where Community Housing Innovations can help.

The cost of living continues to rise, while home and apartment rental costs make saving to buy a home nearly impossible. Lenders are now requiring larger down payments for many homebuyers — so a buyer seeking to land a modest $250,000 home on Long Island may need $25,000 cash up front, plus another $10,000 in closing costs. Saving $35,000 is not an easy task. But for those who qualify, help is available.

Community Housing Innovations is a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-sponsored agency that assists first-time buyers in meeting the challenges of homeownership. From homebuyer education classes to credit counseling, and down payment and closing cost assistance, the company’s staff have the ability, and most importantly, the financial resources to help buyers realize their dream.

Grants earmarked for closing costs and down payments have averaged $25,000. Other programs offered through the nonprofit, in conjunction with the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, help a novice buyer arrange special savings accounts geared toward meeting down payment requirements.

“Being able to buy a home allows my children and I to have a sense of permanency and security.”

—Ru Jurow

Andrea Haughton, the director for home ownership at Community Housing innovations, reports that since 1997, 31 homes on Long Island have been purchased through the program, which has bases in Patchogue, Hempstead and White Plains.

For Ru Jurow, a graphic designer living in Farmingville, this program was critical.

A single mom, Jurow has been paying nearly $2,000 a month in rent and utilities for a small home in the Sachem school district.

“I wanted to stay in the same school district, as I have two teen children, both honors students,” she said. “And after 10 years in the same rental, we really needed more space and privacy for the kids.”

Jurow found a charming three bedroom, two bath home one mile from her current rental, and did a search on Google for grant programs for new homebuyers, coming across Community Housing Innovations’ website. She saw she met the requirements, and applied, receiving a $25,000 grant, which she said, must be split with 51 percent going toward renovations and upgrades, and 49 percent going toward closing and other costs.

“Being able to buy a home allows my children and I to have a sense of permanency and security,” Jurow said. “With the purchase of our own home, we can feel pride.”

According to Haughton, the grant is recorded on the home’s title as a second position lien for ten years. This encourages the owner to stay in the house and thus avoid paying penalties. Eligibility guidelines and other key information can be found on the organization’s website, www.chigrants.org, or by visiting their Patchogue offices.

“All three of us are incredibly excited,” Jurow said of her family beginning its new journey. “My daughter has been planning how she will get to decorate her own room and can’t wait to have big sleepover parties with her friends in the finished basement. My son is looking forward to having a work-out room in the basement and I am a huge baker and cannot wait to get into that kitchen and cook up a storm.”

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Joselo Lucero speaks during a Bethel AME Church program about building bridges during Black History Month. Photo from Tom Lyon

By Tom Lyon

Members of Setauket’s Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church hosted a community forum last Saturday to conclude Black History Month with a time of reflection about violence and its aftermath.

The event was a follow-up to last June’s memorial gathering held just three days after the tragic shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. Nine people, some related to Bethel church members, died in the church’s sanctuary, yet their families spoke out for healing and forgiveness. Actions resulting from the tragedy included the removal of the Confederate battle flag from many public places across the South.

The 80 audience members reflected personally about the main themes of how we can change in response to tragic events and of building bridges throughout our communities to prevent future violence.

A featured speaker was Joselo Lucero, whose brother Marcelo, an Ecuadorean immigrant, was murdered in a Patchogue hate crime six years ago. Joselo Lucero has since become a champion against hate crimes and for tolerance, and has presented programs to thousands of Long Island students. At Bethel AME, he spoke of his family’s loss and how the village of Patchogue now holds an annual vigil in remembrance of the tragedy.

Jennifer Bradshaw, an assistant superintendent in the Smithtown school district, said, “It was so empowering to be surrounded by people dedicated to not just identify societal problems, but to work actively to solve them … to sit down and talk honestly, yet hopefully about building bridges across differences.”

Susan Feretti, of Setauket, said, “The conversation began here today is the beginning of neighbors and groups building bridges … the root of healing both locally and globally. I look forward to what lies ahead.”

Rev. Greg Leonard added that, “Based upon the very positive responses from the audience, and a questionnaire distributed, a task force is being formed to explore ways to hold more ‘building bridges’ events in the future. All community members are invited to join.”

Tom Lyon is a program director at Lift Up Long Island, a group that teaches leadership skills to youth.

A county police car sits outside the Smithtown Planned Parenthood. Photo by Jared Cantor

A deadly shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado has spurred Suffolk County into action with a growing police presence surrounding similar clinics in Huntington and Smithtown.

Robert Lewis, 57, allegedly opened fire at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic on Nov. 27, killing three and injuring nine, according to published reports in the Associated Press. And while the horrific scene may have occurred more than 1,000 miles away, the Suffolk County Police Department said it was taking no chances when it comes to protecting clinics on the Island.

In a statement, the department said it would be increasing patrols near the five Planned Parenthood clinics throughout Suffolk, including those at 755 New York Ave. in Huntington and 70 Maple Ave. in Smithtown. Police vehicles were stationed at both buildings for much of the week so far, but the department said there were not any credible threats targeting any county clinics.

“While no specific threats have been made toward Planned Parenthood locations in Suffolk County, the department will enhance patrols and remain in contact with other law enforcement agencies for the most up-to-date information regarding the potential for similar attacks,” the department said in a statement.

Planned Parenthood clinics also reside in Patchogue, Riverhead and West Islip.

When reached for comment, both the Huntington and Smithtown Planned Parenthood clinics deferred to a statement from Reina Schiffrin, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic, who spoke of grief for those affected by the horrific shooting.

“The hearts of the staff at Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic are with the families of the victims of this senseless tragedy, as well as our colleagues across the country and particularly PP of the Rocky Mountains,” she said. “The safety and security of our patients and staff has always been our top priority, and we are very grateful to the Suffolk County Police for their response to this event and for expanding their presence at our five health centers in Suffolk County. Our doors remain open and we will continue to provide high quality health care to the women, men and teens of Suffolk County.”

Suffolk County cops also teamed up with Planned Parenthood administrators this week to offer crime prevention training, the department said in a statement. The goal of the crime prevention program, the department said, is to reduce opportunities for crime at sensitive locations while also combatting fear.

“Suffolk Police officers will assess the locations and provide information on how building design and environmental influences can affect human and criminal behavior,” the department said in a statement. “Officers will speak to Planned Parenthood officials about the importance of camera systems, target hardening, natural surveillance, facility access control, and territorial reinforcement which may be used to decrease crime.”

Planned Parenthood has roughly 700 health centers across the country, with each clinic serving as a hub for affordable health care and sex education. Its practices have been an ongoing source of controversy, mostly relating to its work in providing abortion and greater contraception services for women.

This female bobcat, named Surabi, lives at Holtsville Wildlife and Ecology center. Photo from Brookhaven Town

Proceeds raised at a bowling event on Sunday will be used to feed and care for the more than 100 animals that live at Brookhaven Town’s Holtsville Wildlife and Ecology center.

Halloween Bowl for Animals will run from 4 to 7 p.m. at Bowl Long Island at Patchogue, and will cost $30 for adults, $20 for children and $10 for non-bowlers who attend. That price includes unlimited bowling, shoe rental, a buffet and dessert. Reservations are required.

“This is a great event for the entire family that will help to ensure the animals at the ecology site continue receiving the proper care,” Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro said in a statement.

The spooky bowling fundraiser will include a costume contest — children are encouraged to dress as their favorite animal — and a 50/50 raffle.

To reserve lanes, register online at www.brookhavenwildlifecenter.org or call 631-758-9664 x11.

The bowling alley is located at 138 West Ave., Patchogue.

Robert Cariddi, of Mount Sinai, was arrested yesterday for burglarizing 16 businesses between August and October. Photo from the Suffolk County Police Department

Police arrested a Mount Sinai man Monday for allegedly burglarizing 16 Asian restaurants and nail salons over the last couple of months in Centereach, Selden, Setauket, Miller Place, Rocky Point, Sound Beach, Patchogue, Bohemia and Middle Island.

According to the Suffolk County Police Department, 6th Squad detectives, after noting a pattern of burglaries in which someone broke the front windows at the restaurants and nail salons and took cash, began patrolling potential targets similar to the burglarized businesses. On Monday, Detective Michael Fales allegedly observed suspect Robert Cariddi commit a burglary at Ho Ming Kitchen, on Route 25A in Miller Place.

Cariddi, a 49-year-old Mount Sinai resident, was arrested shortly afterward. He was charged with 16 counts of third-degree burglary and with false personation, and was scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday.

Attorney information for the suspect was not immediately available.

According to police, Cariddi allegedly targeted the businesses because they did not have alarms or surveillance systems.

Detectives are investigating whether Cariddi was responsible for other burglaries. Anyone with information is asked to call them at 631-854-8652, or to call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 800-220-TIPS.

A Middle Country man allegedly left the scene of a Patchogue boat crash that sent a woman to the hospital last week.

The Suffolk County Police Department had been searching for the owner of the boat involved in the crash, and reported on Thursday that officers had arrested 31-year-old Selden resident Mark Tricarico after he surrendered that afternoon at the 5th Precinct. He was charged with leaving the scene of a boating accident involving injury and was released on bail, police said.

Attorney information for Tricarico was not immediately available. Police said he would be arraigned at a later date.

According to police, a 23-foot 1987 Sea Ray boat crashed into the western jetty at the entrance to the Patchogue River on May 24, around 9:20 p.m., sending one of its passengers, 29-year-old Farmingdale resident Danielle Virgilio, to the hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. Witness reports had indicated that up to seven people were aboard the boat at the time of the crash, and several of those people were located near the scene. Police said those people were interviewed but were not cooperative.

Police searched surrounding waters for more potential victims but did not find any, officials said.

The Sea Ray had extensive damage after the crash, which police called a hit-and-run. Authorities secured the boat in place and said the owner was responsible for removing the boat from the jetty.

Anyone with information about the incident may call the 5th Precinct Crime Section at 631-854-8526.

‘Short But Sweet,’ the butterfly bra created by Tammy Colletti in memory of her mother. Photo by Erin Dueñas

By Erin Dueñas

Covered in feathers, decorated in shells and bedazzled in rhinestones, the bras on display at the Wang Center at Stony Brook University last Thursday looked like they could have been part of the latest collection from an eccentric lingerie designer. The bras were actually created by members of the community, local businesses, cancer survivors and television personalities as part of Bodacious Bras for a Cure, a fundraising event to benefit women’s cancer programs at Stony Brook Cancer Center.

Dr. Michael Pearl says the services offered to cancer patients involved in the cancer center help to restore some control in their lives. Photo by Erin Duenas
Dr. Michael Pearl says the services offered to cancer patients involved in the cancer center help to restore some control in their lives. Photo by Erin Duenas

Bodacious Bras was initiated by Linda Bily, director of Cancer Patient Advocacy and the Woman to Woman program at the center and inspired by a similar event called Creative Cups at Adelphi University. Bras were decorated and then put up for auction at the Stony Brook event. “It’s just a fun, different way of promoting awareness of all women’s cancers,” Bily said.

Twenty-two bras were auctioned off, raising $5,000 that will help fund women’s patient services at the Cancer Center.

According to Bily, each bra entry had to be created on a size 36C garment. Nothing perishable was permitted on the creations and the entire bra needed to be decorated. A brief summary accompanied each bra explaining the creator’s motivation. The “Mandala” bra, which fetched $250, created by local artist Jessica Randall, was made of shells and won the Best in Show prize. “I made this bra,” Randall’s summary read, “to honor women who have struggled with the debilitating disease of breast cancer.” “That Meatball Place” bra was created by the restaurant of the same name, located in Patchogue. Featuring bows and rhinestones and the restaurant’s logo, the bra fetched $500 at the auction. “Whichever [meatball] style suits you, we support them all, while always saving room for hope of a cure,” that summary read. Another bra called the “Hooter Holster” was created by Port Jefferson Station native Clinton Kelly, co-host of  “The Chew.”

22 bras were featured at Bodacious Bras for a Cure bringing in $5000 to fund women’s cancer services. Photo by Erin Duenas
22 bras were featured at Bodacious Bras for a Cure bringing in $5000 to fund women’s cancer services. Photo by Erin Duenas

Tammy Colletti of Setauket made a bra called “Short But Sweet” dedicated to her mother Marion who passed away a year and a half ago. Using purple and teal feathers, the bra was made to look like a butterfly. A small vial containing a piece of paper that read “Cure Breast Cancer” rested in the center in between the feathers.

Colletti, who volunteers at the Cancer Center, said she was inspired to create a butterfly bra after watching her mother live out the remainder of her life in hospice care. “When they brought her in to hospice she was all wrapped up, and I told her it looked like she was in a cocoon,” Colletti said. When she passed away, Colletti imagined her mother shedding that cocoon and turning into a butterfly. “She was transformed into something beautiful, into something that I know is flying all around us.”

The Cancer Center provides a wide variety of support to ill patients to help them cope with a cancer diagnosis. In the Woman to Woman program, patients can get help with childcare, transportation to treatments, financial assistance to pay for costs associated with being ill and selecting wigs if needed.

Dr. Michael Pearl, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology, said that a cancer diagnosis has a huge impact not just on the woman affected but on her family as well. “In a lot of families, the woman acts as the glue that keeps everything together,” Pearl said. When a woman gets sick, often the day-to-day operations of family life get disrupted. That is when the Woman to Woman program can step in.

“We have volunteers that provide active support services,” Pearl said. Services could even include driving a patient’s children to sports or band practice. “Getting sick takes away your control. The program tries to restore some control and normalcy into their day-to-day lives.”

Bily said she was expecting Bodacious Bras to take a while to catch on, but she was happy with the positive response of the event. “It was a great night,” she said. “People who designed a bra are already thinking about what they will make next year.”