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Selden

Areatha Pickens mugshot. Photo from SCPD

By Desirée Keegan

Suffolk County Police today arrested a nurse for assaulting a paraplegic man she was caring for at his Coram home last week.

Areatha Pickens, a licensed practical nurse, was caring for an 83-year-old man and Korean War veteran who became paraplegic in a 1975 motor vehicle crash, when she assaulted the man who was confined to a stretcher June 22. Pickens punched the man several times after the victim notified Pickens’ employer that she was late for work. The victim was treated at Stony Brook University Hospital for a fractured orbital bone.

Sixth Squad detectives charged Pickens, 44, of Coram, with second-degree assault. She was scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip.

Voting will take place at Newfield High School May 16. The high school is located at 145 Marshall Drive. File photo

Three — one an incumbent — are vying for three seats on Middle Country’s board of education. Current trustees Debbie Parker and Daniel Hill are not seeking re-election.

Doreen Feldmann

Doreen Feldmann

Doreen P. Feldmann, a 46-year resident, said she strongly believes in the value of community service.

An active member of the PTA, the nine-year board member is also the chairperson of the Selden Centereach Youth Association; serves on the Middle Country Education Foundation; and has served or is continuing to serve on district committees such as the audit, anti-drug coalition, policy, legislative, PPS advisory council, safe schools and school business advisory boards.

She particularly enjoys her work on the business advisory board.

“It allows me to advocate for a clean and safe environment,” she said, through the Green Career Job Fair and e-waste collections.

She and her husband, Bill, who are both graduates of Newfield High School, do work via their solar equipment distribution company. They supply no-cost solar energy equipment to Habitat for Humanity and other not-for-profit groups.

A mother of two, she received formal recognition for her child advocacy work and community service, such as the NYS PTA Jenkins Award and the Distinguished Service Award, but said the best recognition comes when she is allowed to serve on the board of education.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve Middle Country,” she said. “I want to continue my work supporting children and the school board.”

Dina Phillips

Dina Phillips

Dina Phillips, a 17-year resident and stay-at-home mother of two, was in the accounting field for 12 years.

Phillips attended Briarcliffe College, obtaining an associate’s degree in graphic design in 2008.

She has been an active member of the PTA for many years, holding the position of treasurer, and is currently vice president at Stagecoach Elementary School and recording secretary at Selden Middle School, which she said gives her the skills needed to serve on the Middle Country board.

Phillips has chaired committees like homecoming, book fair and staff appreciation. She is also a recipient of the NYS PTA Jenkins Award, and is currently serving on the Middle Country legislative/community outreach committee, and has served on the interview committee.

“I have been advocating against high stakes testing for the last four years and want to continue my work on the board of education,” she said.

Ellie Estevez

Eliness Estevez

Eliness “Ellie” Estevez is a three-year resident and a senior at Newfield High School. The president of the mock trial team is also a member of the jazz choir, jazz band, pit orchestra, Tri-M Honor Society and leadership club, and is also a volunteer at Stony Brook University Hospital.

A soon-to-be business major at Stern School of Business, Estevez looks to apply the knowledge she obtains of finance and management, to maintain fiscal responsibility.

“I want to continue to offer students opportunities for success and academic excellence,” she said. “As a Middle Country student, I offer the perspective of the students as the district moves toward greater success in the future.”


Budget breakdown

This year’s proposed budget of $243,590,487 for the Middle Country Central School District is a 1.21 percent increase from last year’s expenditures, with a tax levy increase of 1.929 percent. It would cost homeowners roughly $108.41 and is under the 2 percent cap.

“We look forward to continue offering our district-wide STEM programs — allowing students the opportunity to explore robotics, zSpace labs and 3D printing,” superintendent Roberta Gerold said. “These programs — along with our math literacy initiatives, music, arts and athletics programs — provide students with a well-rounded educational experience.”

There is $63,215,804 in proposed foundation aid. The district will look to expand upon AP and College Tie offerings, add lab space for eighth grade living environment, add math periods for students in sixth through eighth grades, increase K-5 literacy and continue the full-day, pre-K program.

File photo.

Suffolk County Police have arrested a man for driving while intoxicated after he was involved in a crash that killed a motorcyclist in Selden April 29.

Christopher Vorisek was riding a 2006 Harley Davidson motorcycle southbound on College Road when his vehicle struck a 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee traveling northbound, making a left to turn onto Palm Street at 1:09 a.m.

Vorisek, 52, of Farmingville, was transported by Selden Fire Department to Stony Brook University Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The driver of the Jeep, Francis Quinn, 59, of Selden, was not injured.

Quinn was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated. He was held overnight at the 6th Precinct and was scheduled for arraignment at First District Court.

Both vehicles were impounded for safety checks and the investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information on the crash is asked to call the Major Case Unit at 631-852-6555.

Andrew Rosa in his new Quadriciser, which was donated by members of the Marty Lyons Foundation and other donors. Photo from the Marty Lyons Foundation

The Marty Lyons Foundation was among a group of donors who helped make a dream come true for Selden resident Andrew Rosa.

The foundation, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes to children who have been diagnosed with terminal or life-threatening illness, together with mother and son Eileen Valenti and Blake Burgan of Sachem and sisters Dawn and Kim Roesch of the Roesch Law firm in East Meadow, raised money to purchase a Quadriciser rehabilitation chair to assist in Rosa’s recovery.

Now 22 years old, Rosa was a college-bound teenager, junior firefighter, BMX biker and snowboarder. In 2010, he was struck by a car while he was riding his bike. The force of the impact left him in a coma for months while he fought for his life. He sustained a traumatic brain injury and became physically disabled, unable to walk or speak.

In 2013, Rosa’s mother JoAnn applied to the Marty Lyons Foundation for a wish for her son. While he was immediately approved for a wish, he and his family were not quite sure what would be the most appropriate wish. When Rosa’s occupational therapist discussed the great benefits of the Quadriciser with his family, it became quite evident that this was his wish.

“The goal is for Andrew to use the Quadriciser in the home setting on a regular basis to improve his physical capabilities,” his mother said. “It is our hope that he will eventually be able to stand and perhaps take a few steps on his own.”

Currently, Rosa requires 24/7 nursing care, while receiving lots of love and support from his friends and family. He is showing signs of regaining brain function as a result of the intense therapy he receives in his home.

Because this miraculous piece of equipment was way beyond the financial parameters of the organization’s guidelines, others became involved to provide outside fundraising to help Rosa. Through the efforts of the foundation’s wish coordinators, Terri Fudens and John Gordon, multiple donors generously contributed to the purchase of the Quadriciser, including a GoFundMe page set up by the Burgans, and a generous donation from the Roesch Law firm.

“Andrew’s wish took four years to complete,” Fudens said. “But it was well worth the effort.”

The Quadriciser Rosa received stimulates the brain and simultaneously encourages muscle memory in the extremities which later results in neurological connections and advancements.

The equipment lets a patient move his or her arms and legs in patterns that closely simulate walking and crawling. For the first time in years Rosa’s arms and legs can move simultaneously.

File photo

Suffolk County Police Sixth Squad detectives are investigating a fatal motor vehicle crash that killed a pedestrian in Centereach March 27.

Gabrielle Gallagher was driving a 2001 Ford Focus south on Mark Tree Road, just north of Linda Drive, when she struck a male pedestrian who was standing on the side of the road. The pedestrian, Dominick Geraci, 84, of Selden, was pronounced dead at the scene by a physician assistant from the office of the Suffolk County medical examiner.

Gallagher, 27, of Centereach, was not injured and remained at the scene.

The vehicle was impounded for a safety check and the investigation is ongoing.

As music blasted and hair clippers buzzed in the packed  Rocky Point Middle School gymnasium March 16, teachers, students and community members lined up to get their heads shaved in the name of childhood cancer research.

Upwards of 25 people, a majority of them students, registered to shed their locks and raise money for the school’s second annual St. Baldrick’s event. Organized by 8th grade social studies teacher Erica Alemaghides, the event encourages students to “stand in solidarity” with those struggling with childhood cancer, one of the most underfunded cancers in the world, and be involved in community fundraising.

“Everybody has someone in their family or community that has been touched personally by cancer, so this really is an event that hits home for so many people.”

—Scott O’Brien

This year, Alemaghides said, the middle school began raising money in February through online crowdfunding accounts, and raised more than $13,000 for the non-profit St. Baldrick’s Foundation, surpassing its set goal of $10,000.

After last year’s success, raising $8,000 with an originally-set goal of $5,000, Rocky Point Middle School Principal Scott O’Brien didn’t hesitate to give Alemaghides the go ahead to double the amount.

“Everybody has someone in their family or community that has been touched personally by cancer, so this really is an event that hits home for so many people,” O’Brien said. “I’m just so proud of what our school and community continues to do … The money will help give kids a second chance at life and the students, teachers and community members are making a difference.”

Each student who got their heads shaved received a certificate, T-shirt and a bracelet. Student step dancers and Selden’s Siol Na h’Eireann bagpipe band performed Irish dances and songs for those in attendance.

Feeling more like a rock concert than a school assembly, students from all grades filled the gym’s bleachers, cheering and stomping their feet for those who sat down centerstage and got their heads shaved by members of the high school’s cosmetology program.

Seventh-grader Quentin Palifka received a special medal after he and his family donated the most money — $4,120. He said he was eager to get involved.

“Middle school can be rough for some people, but when we all focus on a single cause for at least one day, it pulls us together.”

—Liam Abernethy

“I really liked the cause — it’s a great cause, and one of my family’s friends we’ve known for so long died of cancer and I just wanted to help out,” Palifka said. “I wanted to do it last year but didn’t, and then this year, I was like, ‘I have to do it.’”

Eighth-grader Liam Abernethy and his father, a teacher in the Sachem school district, decided to get bald together.

“I have a lot of family members that died from cancer — my grandfather, my uncle, even some aunts — and I think suffering through it at such a young age would be absolutely devastating,” Abernethy said about his drive to donate. “Middle school can be rough for some people, but when we all focus on a single cause for at least one day, it pulls us together.”

When asked how it felt to be hairless, he said, “I feel lighter, a few pounds lighter.”

It was seventh-grader Kathryn Bush, however, who got everyone’s attention for being the first girl in the event’s two-year history to shave her head.

“I felt like it was something good to do and I also wanted to start over again with my hair,” she said. “I was nervous at first because I have a couple beauty marks on my head and people would maybe see things that I don’t want them to see, but now I’m fine with it and it’s not really that big a deal.”

Bush, who raised more than $1,000, said she hopes more girls will volunteer in the future.

Diedre Johnson, the high school cosmetology student who shaved Bush’s head, said she was impressed by her courage.

“Can you imagine shaving their head at their age? It takes a lot of courage. As adults, it’s easy to see that it’s just hair and will grow back in a few months, but to kids, it seems like forever.”

—Bruce Wolper

“That was so sweet; I always say I want to shave my head [for charity] but she actually did it, that was so nice,” she said, adding that the process of shaving heads was at first nerve-wracking, but became easier and more fun as the event went along. “It’s all one size and pretty easy to do … it was really eye-opening that so many people wanted to volunteer.”

Silvina Vega, a Wading River resident, heard about the St. Baldrick’s event on Facebook and decided to stop by and participate. She plans on donating her hair to Locks of Love, a not-for-profit that provides hairpieces for kids struggling with cancer.

Many teachers at the school look forward to the event and seeing their students excited about doing something good.

“It’s electric and very heartwarming,” said 7th grade Spanish teacher Bruce Wolper. “They’re taking a risk at this age, can you imagine shaving their head at their age? It takes a lot of courage. As adults, it’s easy to see that it’s just hair and will grow back in a few months, but to kids, it seems like forever.”

John Mauceri, a 7th grade special education social studies teacher, echoed Wolper’s sentiment.

“Having the kids realize how important it is to give back,” Mauceri said, “especially in this world we live in, and feel good about positive things, is amazing.”

MELTology owners Nick Mauceri and Kevin Muller. Photo by Kevin Redding

With the newly opened MELTology in Mount Sinai, two young business partners and former Friendly’s employees bring their fresh, experimental take on a classic comfort food to the North Shore.

The cafe-style sandwich spot, serving variations of grilled cheese, among other standard items like burgers and chicken sandwiches, marks co-owner Kevin Muller’s fourth — and most ambitious — venture in the restaurant business.

Menu options at MELTology include various grilled cheese mash-ups. Photo from MELTology

After his first restaurant in Selden, Simple Smoothie Cafe, buckled under the pressures of surrounding competition in 2012 — with nearby Tropical Smoothies and Red Mangos making his “no-name brand” obsolete — the 30-year-old Patchogue resident drove up and down North Country Road to get a grasp of what foods were most popular among locals, while brainstorming what new flavors he could bring to the area.

“I was losing big time, and I had to figure something else out,” Muller recalled, saying he had to go back to his old job at Friendly’s just to pay rent month after month while his first business went under. “I was just thinking ‘what can I do differently?’”

Just a few months later, after crafting his own spin on his grandmother’s Italian crepes recipe, Muller found great success with Crazy Crepe Cafe, bringing all variations of the traditional treat to four different locations: Selden, Mount Sinai, Smithtown and Lake Ronkonkoma. In the midst of that, he also opened up an East End food truck business in 2016.

Alongside Crazy Crepe manager and former Friendly’s co-worker Nick Mauceri, 25, Muller recently decided to convert his Crazy Crepe in Mount Sinai into MELTology, to try and reach a different market and more of the general public.

“We paired up the grilled cheeses with the dessert crepes and it works really well together, and [in a few weeks] we’re going to bring our burgers from our food truck and combine that to make grilled cheese burgers … we love seeing the place packed and everyone enjoying the food,” Muller said.

MELTology is located at 5507 Suite 16 Nesconset Highway in Mount Sinai. Photo by Kevin Redding

Mauceri, who said the MELTology idea started back when they worked at Friendly’s and were experimenting with the food chain’s super melt sandwiches, can’t believe how quickly the community has taken to the new restaurant — even despite its Friday the 13th opening in January.

“Luckily, everything went off without a hitch [opening day],” he said. “It’s something that’s catching on really quickly, but we couldn’t have known that it was going to be this fast. We get a great sense of pride from it, especially when you get to talk to people who say they’re really enjoying what they just ate.”

According to the owners, such menu picks like the “Chicken Parm Melt” sandwich, made up of melted mozzarella, chicken strips and marinara sauce on parmesan-crusted sourdough bread, and the “Sweetness Melt,” which features applewood smoked bacon and maple syrup, sets MELTology apart from similar sandwich spots in the area.

Kevin put himself through college at SUNY Polytechnic Institute while working, climbing the ladder from employee to general manager, and saving money to start his own business, he said, and has utilized his business degree well. With Crazy Crepes, Muller did all his own training, made his own menus and even did all the marketing.

John Muller, Kevin’s father, called his son a “workaholic.”

MELTology will still have Crazy Crepe desert options on the menu. Photo from MELTology

“I’m very proud of him, obviously, and for someone who started with only a couple thousand dollars and is now running and owning four restaurants, he’s doing really well,” John Muller said. “He’s entrepreneurial — owning a business is something he’s always wanted to do.”

MELTology, located at 5507 Nesconset Highway Suite 16, is open 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Menu items range frlom a classic grilled-cheese sandwich ($4.95); chicken parm melt ($6.95); and “Kitchen Cinque” sandwich, a multilayered melt of Parmesan-crusted sourdough, melted Cheddar, Gruyère, American, pepper jack and apple-wood smoked bacon with a slice of tomato ($6.95). Sides like mac & cheese ($2.50) and soup ($3.99/cup, $5.99/bread bowl) are coming soon. Crazy Crepe sweet crepes that have made the menu include the Dirty Banana, Oreo Crepe, S’mores Crepe, Peanute Butter Cup Crepe and Apple Pie Crepe. Prices Range from $6.95 to $7.95. Milkshakes in vanilla, chocolate, nutella, oreo and peanut butter cup are also available ($4.50).

Takeout can also be ordered online.

For more information, call (631) 509 0331 or visit www.meltology.

File photo by Victoria Espinoza

Suffolk County Police arrested a man for burglarizing a Selden pharmacy early March 6.

Sixth Precinct Police Officers Jennifer Mackey and Christopher Weiner responded to Rite Aid, located at 229 Independence Plaza, at approximately 5:05 a.m. after an employee called 911 to report someone attempting to break into the store, which was closed at the time.

When officers arrived, they apprehended Christopher Martinelli who was standing outside the store. Martinelli had broken a window with a baseball bat and reached inside the store and removed cigarettes and electronic cigarettes.

Martinelli, 43, of Selden, was charged with third-degree burglary, and was scheduled to be arraigned Monday, March 6 at First District Court in Central Islip.

File photo.

Suffolk County Police Sixth Squad detectives are investigating a motor vehicle crash that seriously injured a pedestrian in Selden Feb. 20.

Joshua Ganci was a driving a Jeep Wrangler east on Route 25 when his vehicle struck a pedestrian who was crossing the street 15 feet east of College Road at approximately 8:35 p.m.

The pedestrian, Quincy Grant, 32, of Farmingville, was transported by Selden Fire Department to Stony Brook University Hospital with serious injuries. Ganci was not injured.

The vehicle was impounded for a safety check. Anyone with information about this crash is asked to call Sixth Squad detectives at 631-854-8652.

Frederick Staria III and Jason Kinlaw. Photos from SCPD

Suffolk County Police have arrested two Selden men in connection with multiple robberies that occurred earlier this week.

Following an investigation by Sixth Squad detectives, Frederick Staria III and Jason Kinlaw were arrested in connection with three robberies and an attempted robbery. Staria entered businesses, threatened the use of a weapon and demanded cash. He fled with an undisclosed amount of money. In one incident, the employee did not comply and Staria fled without proceeds. During two of the crimes, Kinlaw drove Staria to the locations.

The following businesses were robbed:

  • Gorgeous Salon, located at 1232 Middle Country Road in Selden, Feb. 12
  • QuickChek, located at 2686 Middle Country Road in Lake Grove, Feb. 13
  • Pizza Hut, located at 534-1 William Floyd Parkway in Shirley, Feb. 13

The attempted robbery occurred at:

  • Milk and Things, located at 815 Middle Country Road in Selden Feb. 13

Staria, 35, was charged with three counts of third-degree robbery, third-degree attempted robbery and four warrants. Kinlaw, 24, was charged with third-degree robbery and third-degree attempted robbery. They were held overnight at the Sixth Precinct for arraignment Feb. 14 at First District Court in Central Islip.

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