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Shoreham

The Shoreham Tesla Science Center’s celebration of famed scientist Nikola Tesla’s 163rd birthday was an indicator of how much perspective matters.

While participants watched demonstrations Saturday afternoon and evening of a number of Tesla-built devices from Tesla coils to the induction motor, behind them the world’s largest Tesla coil, a 40-foot monster of a device, loomed. The coil, designed by electrical engineer Greg Leyh, made its grand debut on Long Island, brought all the way from California by road.

“It’s basically a hobby that’s gotten away from me,” Leyh said. 

The design is actually a one-third scale model of the electrical engineer’s intent to build a 120-foot Tesla coil — two actually. And if set up side by side he said it can test to see how lightning is created in the atmosphere.  

“Being an empiricist, I thought the best way to get to the heart of the problem is to recreate the point inside the lightning storm where the lightning starts,” Leyh said.

As large as the coil was, Leyh admitted it was only a fraction of the size of Tesla’s original tower, which once sat in the middle of the center’s property, behind the current statue of Nikola Tesla. That tower rose 187 feet in the air and was part of the famed inventor’s idea of wireless transmission of power across a wide expanse.

The Tesla Science Center now enters its seventh year since originally purchasing the property, with plans continuing to turn the site into a museum about Tesla and science, as well as a science-based business incubator. 

Marc Alessi, the center’s executive director, said they are still looking to raise many millions of dollars more for the project. Current renovations to the main laboratory, used by Tesla back in the early 1900s, include the rooftop chimney and cupola surrounding it.

The next stage for the location is finalizing site plans, which could take several months, on the visitors center, to be located in the white house in the front of the property, and demolition of other nonhistorical buildings at the location.  

“I’m really excited things are starting to pick up pace,” Alessi said.

Jon Meeker, left, with his family during SWR graduations June 28. Photo from Gofundme page

A Shoreham man was killed this past Sunday after his motorcycle was involved in a crash with another car, Southold Town police said.

Jon Meeker was travelling eastbound on Route 25 driving a 2001 Suzuki motorcycle and attempted to pass a 2015 Jeep Cherokee on the right as it made a right turn onto Bailey Avenue shortly after 8 p.m., according to police.

Meeker was then thrown from his motorcycle and collided with a utility pole. The Shoreham man was transported to Eastern Long Island Hospital by members of the Greenport Fire Department where he later succumbed to his injuries.

Jennifer Feldstein of New York, the driver of the Jeep Cherokee, was not injured along with two other passengers in the car. Both vehicles were impounded for safety checks.

A GoFundMe page was set up on July 1 to provide contributions to the Meeker family.

“Jon worked three jobs to support his family, but the responsibility of two children in college, a daughter with a medical condition and funeral costs have overwhelmed the family financially,” the page reads. “Nothing was more important to Jon than his family. Any contributions will go directly to the family to address their most immediate needs during this difficult time.”

Within a day, over 250 people have raised upwards of $26,000 of the $75,000 goal.

The father of three is survived by his wife Kimberly, who works in Shoreham Wading-River School District, son Jake, who graduated from SWR High School this past week, and daughters Makayla and Ella.

Shoreham has been host to several tragedies over the past few years. Only recently 18-year-old Melissa Marchese, who was set to graduate from SWR, died in a car crash at the corner of Route 25A and Miller Avenue. The school district wore yellow ribbons and released doves in her honor at the commencement ceremony June 28.

For those looking to donate to the GoFundMe page visit here.

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SWR High School Principal Frank Pugliese, Kathleen Loscalzo, Natalie Epp, Alanna Santa Maria, Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker and Town of Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith. Photo from Anker’s office

Three Shoreham-Wading River Girl Scouts were each honored with their Gold Award June 7.

At Shoreham-Wading River High School, Natalie Epp, Kathleen Loscalzo and Alanna Santa Maria, of Service Unit 669, all received the highest Girl Scout award. The event was attended by Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker and high school principal, Frank Pugliese. 

“Congratulations to the Scouts from Service Unit 669 on receiving their Gold Awards,” Anker said. “These young ladies are great role models for the other girls in their troop and I look forward to seeing their future accomplishments with our community.”

Service Unit 669’s Gold Award projects included creating silk flower arrangements and pens to be used during services at the First Presbyterian Church of Smithtown, making fleece blankets for residents of the Long Island State Veterans Home in Stony Brook, and creating alphabet audio books in Spanish and English for the Southampton Head Start preschool.

The Gold Award requires that a Girl Scout identifies an issue, investigates, gets help by building a team, creates a plan, presents that plan to a Girl Scout council, gathers feedback, takes action, and educates and inspires others. 

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Melissa Marchese proved herself in sports, was set to graduate June 28

Shoreham-Wading River senior forward Melissa Marchese battles in the paint Feb. 11. Photo by Bill Landon

A community that has become much too familiar to tragedy was left reeling June 14 as Melissa Marchese, 18, a Shoreham resident and senior at the high school passed from her injuries received in a car crash the day before.

Shoreham-Wading River senior Melissa Marchese During an April 22 Softball game. Photo by Bill Landon

Suffolk County police confirmed her death Saturday,  June 15.

Marchese’s father Charlie Marchese posted a lengthy eulogy on his Facebook page. He called his daughter “… brilliant, she was magnetic,” and said she fought long enough in order for doctors to donate her organs, something she had always wished to do.

“She would light up the room with her smile and make everybody burst with laughter,” Marchese’s father wrote. “Melissa was a remarkable athlete. Fierce, determined, and focused. Just try to slide into her at home plate or try to battle her for a rebound. She did not lose. She was a born leader in all facets of her life. Whether barking instructions on the softball field or leading her friends in a dance or a song, everyone would follow her. She did not lose.”

Marchese was in the backseat of a car turning left onto Route 25A from Miller Avenue June 13. The high school was having its senior honoring ceremony. Another vehicle, driven by Ridge resident Michael Troiano, 34, went through a red light and struck Marchese’s vehicle. The two other students in Marchese’s car, Evan Flannery, 17, and Caroline Tyburski, 18, both of Shoreham, were transported to St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson with non-life-threatening injuries. Marchese was airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital, where she died a day later.

The Shoreham-Wading River school district released statements Friday and Saturday.

Melissa Marchese battles Mount Sinai senior Gabby Sartori for a loose ball under the boards Jan. 22. Photo by Bill Landon

“We extend our deepest condolences to the individual’s family and friends, and we continue to keep all those involved and impacted by this tragedy in our thoughts during this very difficult time,” the district wrote on its website.

Marchese was well known in the district for her work on the basketball court and the softball field.

Adam Lievre, Marchese’s basketball coach, said he would watch Marchese move around the court and be awed at her tenacity. It was that tenacity, he said, that had her fighting death until the time they could donate her organs.

“She was willing to throw her body anywhere and everywhere to get every rebound,” he said. “I’ve never coached a kid who wanted rebounds so badly, and she went after every ball with this relentless effort. It was contagious when the other kids saw how hard she worked, was an example she led on the court.”

He remembered two cases of her caring personality. One was on the court where she saw eighth-grader GraceAnn Leonard get knocked over, and she “sprinted” over to help her up. The other was in the locker room after the team’s heartbreaking playoff 42-41 loss against Sayville Feb. 12. 

“She was sitting right in front of me in tears, so emotional about losing but so thankful, she said how thankful she was to be a part of the team and how great it was,” Lievre said.

Marchese was known as a standout softball player in SWR, having been recognized as All-League in the Scholar-Athlete Team in March and was committed to the University of Hartford for softball.

Once it became known of Marchese’s hospitalization, a GoFundMe page was started, and within a day raised nearly $20,000. By Tuesday, June 17, the site had raised over $60,000.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Melissa and the Marchese family,” Joseph Dwyer, the GoFundMe organizer, wrote to the page. “Thank you all for your generous donations during this time of unthinkable sadness and utter despair. God Bless.”

The school district canceled senior finals June 14 and made mental health staff available. The district also invited students to the high school library Saturday for staff to support them.

Melissa Marchese. Photo from SWR School District

Shoreham has become well known for tragedies of this kind. In 2014 the community grieved for Tom Cutinella, who died due to a head injury on the football field. In 2018, the community wrapped hundreds of red ribbons on flagpoles to memorialize Andrew McMorris, who was killed by a drunk driver while out on a hike with his Boy Scout troop. 

The Andrew McMorris and Tom Cutinella memorial foundations both shared their condolences on their Facebook pages.

“No one should ever have to go through this,” a post to the Tom Cutinella Memorial Foundation Facebook page read.

Marchese’s wake will be held at Branch Funeral Home, located at 551 Route 25A in Miller Place, on June 20 from 7 to 9 p.m. and June 21 from 2 to 5 p.m. and at 7 to 9 p.m. Marchese’s funeral procession will leave the funeral home at approximately 9:30 a.m. on June 22. A Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. at St. Mark’s R.C. Church, located at 105 Randall Road in Shoreham.

This article has been updated to reflect the name of the eighth-grader who Marchese helped up.

A post on a Gofundme page set up by Joseph Dwyer has confirmed Melissa Marchese, 18, of Shoreham died due to her injuries June 14.

“With a heavy heart, deep sorrow and tremendous regret, I write to inform you that Melissa Marchese has gone to be with the Lord,” Dwyer wrote. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Melissa and the Marchese family. Thank you all for your generous donations during this time of unthinkable sadness and utter despair. God Bless.”

The Gofundme page raised nearly $20,000 from 294 people in six hours.

*Original story

A Shoreham teen was seriously injured in a crash at the corner of Route 25A and Miller Avenue the evening of June 13.

Suffolk County Police said Evan Flannery, of Shoreham, was driving a 2007 Hyundai Elantra southbound on Miller Avenue and was turning left into Route 25A when his car was struck by a 2006 Honda Accord, being driven westbound on Route 25A by Michael Troiano, of Ridge, at approximately 6:50 p.m.

A passenger in the Hyundai, Melissa Marchese, 18, of Shoreham, was airlifted via Suffolk County Police helicopter to Stony Brook University Hospital with serious injuries.  Flannery, 17, and another passenger in the Hyundai, Caroline Tyburski, 18, of Shoreham, were transported to St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson with non-life-threatening injuries. Troiano, 34, was transported to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead with non-life-threatening injuries.

Marchese has been known as a standout softball player in SWR, having been recognized as All-League in the Scholar-Athlete Team in March and is committed to the University of Hartford for softball.

The Shoreham-Wading River Central School District said they have canceled all high school final exams for June 14 and released the following statement:

“Our hearts and thoughts are with the impacted students and their families. The district’s mental health team will be available in the high school library for student support today.”

A Gofundme for Marchese and her family can be found here.

The vehicles were impounded for safety checks. Anyone with information about this crash is asked by police to call the Seventh Squad at 631-852-8752.

A crash in Shoreham left several injured. Photo from Kevin Wood

A Shoreham teen was seriously injured in a crash at the corner of Route 25A and Miller Avenue the evening of June 13.

Shoreham-Wading River senior Melissa Marchese During an April 22 Softball game. Photo by Bill Landon

Suffolk County Police said Evan Flannery, of Shoreham, was driving a 2007 Hyundai Elantra southbound on Miller Avenue and was turning left into Route 25A when his car was struck by a 2006 Honda Accord, being driven westbound on Route 25A by Michael Troiano, of Ridge, at approximately 6:50 p.m.

A passenger in the Hyundai, Melissa Marchese, 18, of Shoreham, was airlifted via Suffolk County Police helicopter to Stony Brook University Hospital with serious injuries.  Flannery, 17, and another passenger in the Hyundai, Caroline Tyburski, 18, of Shoreham, were transported to St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson with non-life-threatening injuries. Troiano, 34, was transported to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead with non-life-threatening injuries.

Marchese has been known as a standout softball player in SWR, having been recognized as All-League in the Scholar-Athlete Team in March and is committed to the University of Hartford for softball.

The Shoreham-Wading River Central School District said they have cancelled all high school final exams for June 14 and released the following statement:

“Our hearts and thoughts are with the impacted students and their families. The district’s mental health team will be available in the high school library for student support today.”

A Gofundme for Marchese and her family can be found here.

The vehicles were impounded for safety checks. Anyone with information about this crash were asked by police to call the Seventh Squad at 631-852-8752.

This post has been updated with a statement from the SWR school district.

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Lisa Pepper-Byron. Photo from Help Lisa Medulloblastoma Treatment andCare GoFundMe page

A native of Shoreham is in need of help. 

Lisa Pepper-Byron, a mother of three young daughters ages 2, 6 and 7, was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a cancerous tumor that starts in the brain and spreads to the spine, in December 2018. 

Earlier last month, members of her family created a GoFundMe page in her name. Pepper-Byron now resides in Concord, North Carolina, along with the majority of her family and was working as a wedding planner before she was diagnosed, and she currently lacks health insurance. Since she has started radiation treatments, she is unable to work and support her family, according to the GoFundMe page. 

Jamie Pepper, one of the Shoreham native’s sisters, said her sibling is a giver and tries to be the best role model she can be for her young daughters. 

Lisa Pepper-Byron with her three daughters. Photo from Help Lisa Medulloblastoma Treatment andCare GoFundMe page

Pepper-Byron grew up and lived on Long Island for much of her life, graduating from Shoreham-Wading River High School in 2002 and during her high school days worked at Mr. G’s Pizza in Wading River. The mother of three only moved to North Carolina in the past few years. 

The GoFundMe campaign has already raised close over $7,300 of the $200,000 goal within a month, with 127 individuals having donated. The is a currently trending campaign on the site. 

“Lisa is really overwhelmed with the amount of support she has been receiving,” Pepper-Byron’s sister said. “She is doing her best to remain strong during this
difficult time.”

Pepper-Byron recently underwent surgery to remove two tumors from her brain to try to prevent the cancer from spreading to her spine. After the surgery, she began another round of chemotherapy. 

“Our family is very grateful for the amount of love and generous contributions Lisa has been receiving on her GoFundMe campaign,” Pepper said. 

All funds collected from the campaign will go for treatments, medications, a reliable vehicle and short-term expenses for her and the family. The family hopes people support the campaign so that Pepper-Byron can undergo her chemotherapy treatments without the worries of all the expenses involved. You can donate to campaign at https://www.gofundme.com/help-lisas-brain-cancer-treatment-and-care or can send contributions to the Pepper Family at 101 Georgia Street NW, Concord, North Carolina, 28025.

Superintendent Gerard Poole speaks to residents about the survey results. Photo by Kyle Barr

The Shoreham-Wading River Central School District is trying to gauge its long-term future with community, teacher and student feedback.

The district has surveyed district residents to help determine which school functions are doing well and which need to be improved. This data was especially important, Wading River Elementary School Principal Lou Parrinello said, because of expectations over declining enrollment.

“They’re putting it out there because the district is shrinking in enrollment,” Parrinello said. “This shows what we want to hold dear, what we want to expand and what we want to let go. We don’t want to make those decisions in isolation.”

That loss of students could then mean a loss of revenue for the school over a period of several years, along with shrinking class sizes and potentially less specialized electives available. Superintendent Gerard Poole said the district has already hosted forums with teachers and students of all grade levels.

“They’re putting it out there because the district is shrinking in enrollment.”

— Lou Parrinello

In a special focus group meeting Feb. 26, the district asked residents to present their own ideas for where the district should head in the next five years.

In the survey, close to 1,000 residents rated where the strongest and weakest elements of the district were. On the negative end, 47 percent of those surveyed said the cafeteria programs needed improvement. While the high school cafeteria remains as it is, the district has used funds from a bond passed in 2015 to create a new kitchen and cafeteria spaces in both the Wading River Elementary School and Albert G. Prodell Middle School. The district plans to renovate the cafeteria with the ongoing bond funds this summer.

A number of teachers, parents and even some students were present to speak about the issues they see with the school, with some noting a lack of proper communication with parents and students, especially over social media.

Karla Roberts, a fourth-grade teacher in the district, said the schools need to look toward standing out among the flock of other districts on Long Island. She was especially disappointed to learn how some seniors in the high school, because they were already at the mandated amount of class credits they needed to graduate, were coming in late during the school day and leaving early.

“It’s making sure all students have something, and [the school] should be tracking if students are in sports, clubs electives, or not,” Roberts said.

High school senior Katie Loscalzo said there is a disconnect between the guidance counselors and the students, especially in guaranteeing there is interest for students in varying classes. She noted she is currently in an Advanced Placement course with only seven students and is taking an elective with only four enrolled.

“We don’t have those guidance relationships,” the senior said.

The district conducted an enrollment study in 2015, which was updated for the 2017-18 school year. The study predicted the district will recede to 1,650 enrolled students by 2025, compared to its current enrollment of 2,264. Along with a declining birthrate and an aging population, the district has in the past pointed to low housing turnover from 2008 to 2016 for part of its ebbing enrollment figures. 

“We don’t have those guidance relationships.”

— Katie Loscalzo

This fact brings a call for strategic developments of new school budgets. At its Feb. 26 meeting, the district revealed a preliminary proposed budget of $75,952,416, approximately a million more than the current year’s budget of $74,776,072 and below the current year’s tax cap of 2.96 percent.

Also represented in the budget is a 3.69 percent drop in state aid funding, based on projections of the New York State budget proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).

In the continuing work of the 2015 bond, the district outlined a number of projects for the upcoming summer, including renovating the high school theater lighting and dimming system, a full reconstruction of the main parking lot, a renovation and expansion of the existing kitchen and serving line and a reconfiguration of the office spaces within the center corridor. The board awarded bids to a number of contractors for that work at the Feb. 26 meeting.

Sign outside Bakewicz Farms. Photo by Kyle Barr

On 11 acres of farmland in Wading River, the cross section between green living and green energy is coming to a head as developers are looking to install a solar energy storage facility.

“There are going to be days when the sun doesn’t shine, and the wind doesn’t blow,” said Rocky Point-based attorney Steve Losquadro, who is representing the developer TradeWind Energy and property owners Manzi Homes East construction company in Rocky Point. “If you’re truly committed to renewable energy you have to have storage. Otherwise, the whole thing doesn’t work.”

The 11-acre Bakewicz Farms property, located along Route 25A in Wading River down the road from Shoreham-Wading River High School, is rented by the Bakewicz family. Justin Bakewicz, who helps run the farm along with his mother, Marianne, said he built the farm up for two years, from selling hanging baskets to now growing crops and raising livestock. It was his dream to live that rural lifestyle since he was a kid spending time on his grandfather’s farm in Southampton.

“I put my blood, sweat and tears into this farm,” Bakewicz said.

“I put my blood, sweat and tears into this farm.”

— Justin Bakewicz

The land is already zoned for residential, and Losquadro said it already has preliminary approval from the Town of Brookhaven for a subdivision of 14 single-family homes. The attorney stressed new homes could lead to more traffic along the often-traveled corridor, along with concerns over nitrogen pollution from cesspools and a tax impact from the potential new students residences bring. This development would also mean the complete elimination of any farm property.

Losquadro said, due to feedback from locals, they are planning to draft up plans of the property that would shield the station from view with trees and accommodate a section of farmland in the front of the property to maintain that rural feel.

“This is the only path they could use to keep the farm,” Losquadro said.

Sid Bail, the president of the Wading River Civic Association, said he has heard from residents who were concerned homes might increase the burden on the Shoreham-Wading River school district. Originally Bail had invited TradeWind to give talks to the civic at its meeting in April, though after listening to more feedback from the community, he said he would withdraw from that meeting and tell the developer to focus on other properties such as the unused site that was once the Shoreham nuclear power plant.

“I’m just getting it’s the wrong location in reaction from other people,” Bail said. “I’ve also had some second thoughts about this.”

For years, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has set lofty goals for New York’s renewable energy production, particularly to have 50 percent of the state’s energy consumed to be renewable energy by 2030. In January, during his State of the State address, the governor announced the adoption of a Green New Deal to promote projects and jobs in the renewable energy economy.

The area has been a focal point for renewable energy under this state initiation. Two solar farms are already soaking up the sun’s rays in neighboring Shoreham: one, a 9.5-megawatt array on a former sod farm along Route 25A, and another 24.9-megawatt array on the former Tallgrass golf course. 

While solar panels have existed for years, renewable energy storage facilities are much less prolific. The closest existing structure currently operates in East Hampton, though that property only has a 5-megawatt capacity whose facility takes up less than one acre. The Wading River facility would have a much larger capacity and need a larger footprint, according to Bail.

Brookhaven town Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) said the prospective location is close to the area’s power lines and the LIPA electrical substation, which is why the prospective developers are looking closely at the Wading River property. Because the technology is so new, Bonner said TradeWind and the property owner will likely have to work closely with the town, and it might require a zoning change similar to what was done with the solar farms in Shoreham, which maintained residential zoning but received 20-year zone overlays allowing for the arrays.

“You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

— Jane Bonner

She has heard from residents on both sides of the issue. Some locals raised concerns about the loss of farmland and potential noise from converters at the facility, while others are all for the idea, especially in the promise of reducing traffic on the often-congested state road.

“People don’t want houses because they don’t want traffic, some say they will miss the farm, but I have gotten complaints about traffic from the farm,” Bonner said. “You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

At a Wading River civic meeting Jan. 24, Bakewicz was asked what his thoughts on the potential facility were. 

“I wish we had another year to stay here,” he said, adding the family is trying to work out a deal to create a farm on some property in Center Moriches, and he would need time to set up that deal. “I threw my hands up and said, ‘I have handcuffs on because my hands are tied.’”

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By Bill Landon

After a disastrous first half for Shoreham-Wading River’s boys basketball team netting only 7 points before the break, the Wildcats came out shooting in the third quarter out scoring Sayville 20-14 over the final 16 minutes of play; but it was too little too late. The Wildcats fell to visiting Sayville 32-27 in a League V contest Jan. 5. Tristan Costello banked 4 field goals and a free throw to lead his team in scoring with 9, followed by Tom Bell’s 4 swishes from the free throw line and a pair of field goals for 8 points. The loss drops the Wildcats to 1-4 in the league, 4-5 overall. The team was back in action Jan. 8 where they traveled to Westhampton, but the Wildcats lost 58-60.  

 

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