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Port Jefferson Station

Subway on Old Town Road in Port Jefferson Station was robbed July 6, according to SCPD. Image from Google Maps

A Subway sandwich shop on Old Town Road in Port Jefferson Station was robbed Thursday night, July 6, according to the Suffolk County Police Department.

“Suffolk County Police 6th Squad detectives are investigating a robbery that occurred in Port Jefferson Station this evening,” Assistant Police Commissioner Justin Meyers said in an email through a police spokesperson. “A man robbed the Subway located 681 Old Town Road at approximately 5:45 p.m. The man fled with cash. The investigation is continuing.”

File photo

A resident of a Port Jefferson Station group home intentionally lit a fire at the facility, located on Poplar Street, during the afternoon July 3, according to the Suffolk County Police Department. A 6th Precinct Police Officer extinguished the fire.

Sixth Precinct Patrol Officer Joanna Westrack responded to call of a house fire at a congregate care facility, which is operated by Options for Community Living, in Port Jeff Station, at about 1:25 p.m. Within minutes, Westrack arrived on scene and observed smoke emanating from the second floor of the home. As smoke streamed from the door, she entered the room and used a fire extinguisher to put out a mattress that was fully engulfed by fire. There were no injuries to staff or residents of the home.

Arson Section detectives, personnel from the Terryville Fire Department, and a Fire Marshal from Brookhaven Town also responded. An investigation by Arson detectives revealed the fire was intentionally set.

Sheldon Whittingham, 38, a resident of the home, was arrested and charged with second-degree arson. He is being held at the 6th Precinct and is scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip July 4.

Attorney information for Whittingham was not immediately available.

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Community members call for Trump’s impeachment. Photo by Alex Petroski

On the south corner of Routes 347 and 112 in Port Jefferson Station about 100 community members gathered to call for the impeachment of the 45th president of the United States July 2. And after hearing about the demonstration on Facebook, a few dozen of their neighbors assembled on the north corner of the intersection to voice their support for President Donald Trump (R). Though only six lanes of highway and a median separated the two groups, the ideological gulf between protestors and their interpretation of the first six months of the Trump presidency is seemingly growing by the second.

Jim Barr and other pro-Trump community members oppose the rally. Photo by Alex Petroski

Members of political activist organizations The North Country Peace Group, Long Island Rising and others organized the Impeach Trump rally. The groups have been involved in organizing similar rallies since Inauguration Day Jan. 20 to speak out about Trump’s position on climate change, women’s health care rights, nuclear proliferation and to commemorate International Women’s Day. To coincide with The Women’s March on Washington D.C. Jan. 21, a sister march boasting attendance in the thousands took place at the same corner.

The march calling for Trump’s impeachment Sunday had a different feel from previous events for two major reasons — a sizable group of Trump supporters gathered across the street to oppose the rally, and attendance was substantially lower compared to not only the massive Jan. 21 event, but to all others organized by the groups of late as well.

Organizers from the two groups on the south corner pointed to the holiday weekend as an explanation for the waning number of attendees, rather than a potential decrease in enthusiasm for the Trump “resistance.”

Though citizens on both corners acknowledged the heated political discourse is having an overall negative effect on the country, neither seemed ready to concede any ground.

“The country has never been divided to the extent it is now, and the anger level is very, very high,” said Bill McNulty during the event, a member of the North Country Peace Group who has had a political radio talk show at Stony Brook University for 25 years. When asked how a rally calling for Trump’s ouster days before July 4th might contribute to that divide, McNulty suggested supporters of the president are among those most likely to suffer from his policies, especially regarding health care and the environment.

Community members call for Trump’s impeachment. Photo by Alex Petroski

McNulty admitted discussion of Trump’s impeachment is premature due to the Republican majority in the House and Senate, and because investigations regarding possible collusion between his campaign and the Russian are still in the early stages.

“What we have to do now is draw together these different organizations and focus on a couple of particular points that will enable us to really throw a fright into these politicians,” he said, also conceding political opposition from his corner would be productive if focused on specific issues, though he didn’t back down from his belief Trump is not fit for office.

Across Route 347, most attendees declined to answer questions. Sean Bergin, a Ronkonkoma resident explained his motivation for occupying the north corner.

“They are out here actively trying to undermine a dually elected president,” he said, gesturing across the street. “The Democrat policies that they put forth have flooded Long Island’s streets with blood-thirsty gangsters in the form of MS13, and cheap heroin, which is killing our kids by the dozens and the hundreds every goddamn day. None of the media has the guts to point at Barack Obama’s failed immigration policies as the cause of that. We have a president now who’s putting a stop to that, and those people are terrified because they know it’s the end of the Democrat party.”

Jim Barr, a Selden resident, Trump supporter and President of Long Island ABATE, a group dedicated to the training and education of American bikers, said the source of the anger across the street is Hillary Clinton’s loss in the election.

“This is the United States of America — key word ‘united,’” he said. “We’re all supposed to be on the same page. I didn’t vote for Barack Obama. That’s the last person I would have voted for, but I didn’t cry when he got elected.”

Barr admitted he wished someone would screen the president’s tweets, but said he’s happy Trump hasn’t changed from his demeanor during the campaign.

Sound Beach resident Noreen Morrison, a member of Long Island Rising, explained the thinking behind a July 4th-weekend rally calling for the impeachment of a sitting president, and the possibility it could heat up political rhetoric.

“It’s the only thing we have available to us, peaceful protest,” she said. “I don’t want to see this country come to armed conflict between political factions.”

Though there has been chatter on the Democrat side, no substantial move towards impeachment has accumulated to this point.

File photo

By Desirée Keegan

The Suffolk County Police Department Highway Patrol Bureau, assisted by the New York State Police, arrested 14 people and seized one vehicle during an overnight sobriety checkpoint in Port Jefferson Station June 30.

Police officers from the SCPD highway patrol were assisted by New York State Troopers in conducting a sobriety checkpoint at the corner of Route 112 and Hallock Avenue. The checkpoint was conducted as part of an on-going July 4th holiday enforcement operation for the prevention of injuries and fatalities associated with driving while ability impaired by alcohol and drugs.  A total of 716 vehicles went through the checkpoint.

The following people were charged with driving while intoxicated:

  • Sandra Ventre, 50, of Port Jefferson
  • Robert Paddock, 28, of Stony Brook
  • John Young, 40, of Centereach
  • Jeffrey Gerlin, 57, of Centereach
  • Megan Dichtl, 26, of Wading River

The following was charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs:

  • Nicholas Cappelletti, 31, of Centereach

The following was charged with driving while ability impaired by a combined influence of alcohol and drugs and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance:

  • Justin Maldonado, 24, of New Jersey

The following was charged with seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance:

  • Justin Wienckowski, 23, of Commack

Ventre’s vehicle was seized due to a prior DWI conviction. The individuals were be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip July 1. Additionally, six individuals were arrested for unlawful possession of marijuana and issued field appearance tickets and will be arraigned on a later date.

File photo

A South Setauket resident was seriously injured after he was hit by two cars while riding a bike across Nesconset Highway near Walmart in East Setauket just before 11 a.m. June 26, according to Suffolk County Police.

Stefan Kochaniwsky was riding a bicycle across Route 347 from the south side to the north side in front of 3990 Route 347 when he was struck by an east 2004 Ford Mustang. Kochaniwsky was then struck by an eastbound 2005 Jeep Liberty.

Kochaniwsky, 18, of South Setauket, was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment of serious injuries. The driver of the Ford, Kevin Nelson, 22, of Port Jefferson Station, and the driver of the Jeep, Cassandra Benitez, 23, of Shirley, were not injured.

Both vehicles were impounded for safety checks and the investigation is continuing.

A proposed sketch of what the Hallock Avenue-Main Street intersection would look like if the plan were brought to fruition. Image from hub study

During a Three Village Civic Association meeting June 5, Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) provided a look into the future of Port Jefferson Station.

In 2014 the Brookhaven town board approved a study for a potential hub project for Port Jefferson Station, specifically in the area of Route 112 north of Route 347 and south of the Long Island Rail Road train tracks near Hallock Avenue. The goal of the study and community-visioning document was to gauge public interest and provide in-depth plans for what a walkable, downtown Main Street residence and commercial retail space might look like in Port Jeff Station. In the time since the study was conducted, Cartright, who has played an instrumental role in the progress of the plan, which preceded her taking office, since taking over, said a steering committee has been appointed to continue moving the project forward. Cartright said in an email the town has been working with the steering committee to discuss potential projects and proposals with landowners in the area.

“The community has expressed a desire for revitalization in the study area in Port Jefferson Station/Terryville,” she said in an email through spokeswoman Jennifer Martin. “From a town perspective, we agree with the community that this area calls for a flourishing and vibrant ‘walkable’ downtown that has an appropriate mix of commercial and residential. Both the town and the community wish to see a smoother transition from Port Jefferson Village to the station in that corridor.”

Cartright added the next step in the process is to determine the compatibility of landowners’ visions for the future of the area with the plans laid out in the hub study-visioning document.

Lee Koppelman, a longtime Suffolk County planner and a current professor at Stony Brook University, submitted a letter in support of the proposed project.

“The overall goal sought for the corridor is to achieve improvements that will transform this core of the hamlet into a destination center with improved, coordinated architectural design; safe walkable ambience; and the preservation of historical sites,” he said.

A survey was sent out to 6,500 residences in 2013 to assess if the community would be behind a project like this. Some responses included “the idea for a real downtown is great,” “the area is terrible — clean it up!” and “beautification is always welcome.” Others suggested building affordable housing would be preferable, congestion in the area is already excessive and abandoned buildings should not be replaced with brand new ones.

In the survey residents were able to weigh in on aspects of the project they might like to see. Of those who responded to the questionnaire, 82 percent said they wanted to see a historic looking downtown area, 92 percent were in favor of public Wi-Fi and 87 percent would be in favor of a grocery store. A vast majority of those who responded also said they would not patronize stores in the area if they were required to pay for parking — about 89 percent.

Port Jefferson Village secured grant money from New York State and Suffolk County earlier this year to improve the train station, parking surrounding the train station and to fix blighted buildings in the area just north of the station on Main Street.

Reporting contributed by Rita J. Egan.

A man was taken to the hospital for treatment of a puncture wound after he was allegedly assaulted with a screwdriver by a 22-year-old man in Port Jefferson Station May 22, according to police.

Joel Moreno-Alvarado, 22, of Port Jefferson Station was arrested and charged with second-degree assault and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance after he allegedly assaulted a victim at about 11:30 p.m. Monday night on Main Street near the intersection of East Oakland Avenue, police said.

The victim walked into the 6th Precinct in Selden to report the incident and was taken by ambulance to the hospital to be treated for a puncture wound. Moreno-Alvarado was held overnight and arraigned in 1st District Court in Central Islip Tuesday, May 23, police said. Attorney information for Moreno-Alvarado was not immediately available.

 

Maximilian Beres was arrested for allegedly robbing a Smithtown bank. Photo from SCPD.
Maximilian Beres was arrested for allegedly robbing a Smithtown bank. Photo from SCPD.

Suffolk County Police arrested a man for robbing a Smithtown bank Thursday afternoon, May 18.

Police said a man entered New York Community Bank, located on Nesconset Highway, at approximately 1:45 p.m., displayed a handgun and demanded money.  The teller complied with the suspect’s demands and gave him cash from the drawer.  The suspect fled the bank on foot to a waiting vehicle.

Fourth Precinct Police Officer James Tobin located a vehicle matching the description of the suspect’s vehicle and pulled the driver over. Officer Tobin arrested the suspect, Maximilian Beres, 29, of Port Jefferson Station. Major Case detectives charged Beres with first-degree robbery.

Beres is scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip May 19.

Hundreds attended the Lax Out Cancer fundraiser in Shoreham that benefited four local children battling cancer. Photo by Kevin Redding

Alexa Boucher has attended Shoreham-Wading River’s Lax Out Cancer game for years, and this year, she’s one of the fundraiser’s beneficiaries.

In January, Alexa Boucher was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancerous tumor that’s grown on the 14-year-old’s eye socket.

She was chosen as one of four — alongside 6-year-old Grayson from Miller Place, and 1-year-old Hannah Grace and 10-year-old Jackson from Port Jefferson Station — who were honored in the middle of Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field during the ninth annual event May 6.

Alexa Boucher, above with her family, enjoys playing her guitar, basketball and softball. Photo by Kevin Redding

Shoreham-Wading River, Garden City, Miller Place and Bellport participated in three games, with all money raised through donations and raffles divided equally among the recipient’s families.

“I’m overwhelmed,” Alexa said when she arrived on the school grounds to see hundreds of families, volunteers and corporate sponsors rallying behind her. “I never would’ve imagined that I would be a recipient.”

Kimberly Boucher, Alexa’s mother, was equally overwhelmed by the outpouring support for her daughter, who has been undergoing chemotherapy at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in the city.

“We’re just so blessed to live in such an amazing community; there aren’t enough words to say how much we appreciate what’s been done for Alexa,” she said. “You never think it’d be your own child that you’re coming for … we’re just so grateful [that] everybody comes together when they hear a child is sick.”

Larry and Vanessa Horowitz, whose son was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma in February and has been in and out of treatment at Stony Brook Hospital the last few weeks, were grateful to be there with him.

“He’s 6 years old and deserves everything we can give him,” Larry Horowitz said as he watched Grayson, smiling ear-to-ear, pass a lacrosse ball around with his friend. “There’s so much unbelievable selfishness and fundraising and everyone getting together here. The sun is shining and this is what I’ve been praying for.”

Grayson Horowitz tosses around a lacrosse ball. Photo by Kevin Redding

His wife, reflecting on her son’s ability to muscle through his ordeal at such a young age, said, “He’s stronger than I ever imagined and it’s making us all stronger just watching him. … You don’t really know people until you go through something like this, and I have no idea how to thank everybody for doing they they’ve done for us.”

The Shoreham-Wading River-based fundraiser was started in 2008 by Tom Rotanz, the high school’s then varsity lacrosse coach, as a way to acknowledge the father of one his player’s, who succumbed to a rare salivary gland cancer in 2005, as well as others in the community affected by cancer.

Since then, the event narrowed its focus on raising money for the families of kids in Shoreham and neighborhood districts fighting cancer — starting with 10-year-old Liam McGuire, a member of Shoreham’s lacrosse program who has been in remission following a 38-month leukemia battle, and Kaitlyn Suarez, a Shoreham girls’ lacrosse superstar who joined the team after recovering from two bouts with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“It’s such an uplifting experience to feel all the love that everybody throws at these kids,” said Miller Place resident Glen Cote, who, along with his wife Renée and young son Zachary, were beneficiaries in 2014 and 2015. In June 2014, Zachary, 5 at the time, was diagnosed with Grade 4 medulloblastoma, or brain cancer.

“To have your child go through something like this, you’re down in the dumps,” the father said. “But this provides the parents and the little ones with a great feeling.”

Before the event even kicked off, $30,000 was raised for the families through sponsors, which included St. Charles Hospital and FLG Lacrosse, and the sale of program ads, T-shirts and raffle tickets.

A DJ from 101.7 FM “The Beach” emceed the fundraiser and That Meetball Place, from Patchogue, supplied food for attendees.

“They’re competitive kids and they want to play the game, but they understand the bigger purpose of giving back to kids that are not as fortunate.”

— Mike Taylor

“Every year it’s grown and grown,” said Kathy Miller, a member of the event committee and mother of a lacrosse player. “It’s teaching the players a valuable lesson about life, how precious life is and how much this giving means for the families. It’s bigger than just a lacrosse game.”

Mike Taylor, head coach of the boys’ varsity lacrosse team who opened the door for other school districts to participate when he was hired three years ago, said the players are a different breed of athletes.

“They understand the true meaning of this,” he said. “They’re competitive kids and they want to play the game, but they understand the bigger purpose of giving back to kids that are not as fortunate as they are. When they were kids seeing this event, they wanted to be part of it on the lacrosse side. Now that they’re older, and they’ve met the kids that they’re helping, it becomes a whole different thing to them.”

Joe Miller, a senior and varsity midfielder for Shoreham-Wading River’s boys’ lacrosse team, said he’s incredibly moved by what the recipients go through.

“It means a lot that we can help them out a little bit,” Miller said. “Seeing the kids and their families here, it makes it a lot more powerful and makes you feel like what you did made a difference.”

Defenseman Kyle Higgins echoed his teammate’s sentiment.

“It’s an honor to play for this kind of event,” he said. “Helping those who need support means a lot to us.”

Under sunny skies on a warm spring day, hundreds gathered at the corner of Nesconset Highway and Patchogue Road in Port Jefferson Station April 29 to make their voices heard in opposition of policies and promises from President Donald Trump (R) that reversed environmental protections.

On March 28, Trump signed an executive order to rescind two actions taken by the Obama administration that sought to establish a climate action plan and reduce methane emissions. It also established a review to determine if the Clean Power Plan, another Obama administration policy designed to reduced carbon pollution from power plants, should remain in place. Trump’s budget blueprint for the 2017-18 fiscal year released in March included significant cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, and he has also publicly stated his intention to consider withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, a United Nations convention on climate change. He has said the goal in rolling back measures designed to protect the environment is to relieve the financial burden the measures create for American businesses.

The North Country Peace Group and Long Island Rising, two activist groups who have been quick to break out the poster board and markers to congregate and send a message to Trump and politicians who support his policies, organized a sister march of the People’s Climate March in Washington D.C. The Port Jefferson Station march saw several hundred protestors armed with signs and chants line the streets to voice their opinion.

“I knew that the people’s climate march was happening and I wanted us to have a local event for Long Island, for Suffolk County,” Rosemary Maffei, a member of both activists groups and an organizer of the Port Jeff Station march said in an interview during the event. “The reasons being, of course, I believe in climate change. I believe it’s happening and unfortunately we have someone in the White House right now who doesn’t believe in it. I think it’s important for us to come out in numbers and to show our representatives that this is an important topic for us and that we want them to represent us and how we want them to vote.”

A press release advertising the event also stated the two groups’ intentions.

“The rally will be an event for our community to come together and voice our concerns about the policies this administration is enacting which will have devastating effects on our planet,” the statement said. “We rally for our planet because if we don’t stop the insanity who will?”

Other residents from the North Shore shed light on their reasons for attending.

“We protect ourselves in all sorts of ways for the future, and here we are allowing the future of our children and grandchildren to be so jeopardized,” John Robinson from Setauket said.

A Port Jefferson resident shared Robinson’s concerns.

“He’s undoing incredibly important legislation that was designed to save the environment,” Merle Neidell said.

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