Port Times Record

Teenager staying in Port Jefferson Station, attending Comsewogue High School

Cathy Song, far right, hangs out with host mother Linda Bernet, her daughter Meredith, and Meredith’s children Nicholas and Larissa in Port Jefferson Station. Photo by Barbara Donlon

She had to travel 7,000 miles, but Seungeun Song is living out her dream and seeing what America is really like.

The 15-year-old Comsewogue foreign exchange student, who goes by Cathy, made the trip from her hometown, the South Korean city of Incheon, to Long Island at the end of January through the educational tour group EF Explore America. To participate in the program, the high school sophomore had to score well on a written exam and decide which country she wanted to visit.

“I wanted to come here to learn English better and make American friends,” Cathy said in an interview in the home where she is staying in Port Jefferson Station.

Upon arriving in New York, Cathy, who once briefly visited the United States as a young child, stayed with a welcome family before moving in with her Dorothy Street hosts, the Bernets, about five weeks ago.

Since starting classes at Comsewogue High School, she has made the honor roll and is having a great time experiencing American education.

She will stay stateside until the end of January 2016.

“Everybody is nice to me; they help me,” Cathy said. “It’s fun to learn something else in another language.”

Cathy said she likes school in the United States better than in South Korea because it is not as strict. One of her favorite things, for instance, is that she is allowed to eat during class, something she said would never be allowed back home.

“I like it here better,” Cathy said. “Korea is crazy about studying, but here I feel comfortable … and I’m doing OK.”

Cathy said high school in South Korea runs nine hours a day. Students then eat dinner and go to study until about 10 p.m. There would sometimes be class after that, too.

As the school year is coming to a close, Cathy has plans to travel, including a trip to Walt Disney World with another exchange student staying in Smithtown, a two-week trip to South Carolina to visit her aunt and cousins and excursions with the Bernet family.

“I want to take her to Broadway,” host mother Linda Bernet said. “We’ll cook, go upstate and I want to take her to the beaches.”

Cathy isn’t the only one getting the experience of a lifetime — Bernet said her home’s new resident has brought a lot of joy into her life as well.

“It’s been nice because we do things together,” Bernet said. “We are really kind of learning from each other.”

Bernet got the opportunity to host Cathy through her gym — Cathy’s exchange coordinator was teaching a class and asked if anyone was willing to take in the girl during her stay or knew someone who would. Bernet was intrigued and offered to do the job.

Through the experience, Bernet has decided to become a coordinator for EF Explore America to help connect exchange students with families here on Long Island.

Since Cathy arrived here, she and Bernet have done a lot, including a trip to Times Square, visits to the nail salon and some local shopping. They also have dinner together as a family every night. Soon Cathy will join the family on trips upstate to their second home.

“I want Cathy to have a good feel of the U.S. and see what kids here do,” Bernet said.

The student will also get the chance to make money like any other American teen with a part-time job this summer, as she learns how to babysit and take care of three of Bernet’s grandchildren, who often come over to ride scooters with her.

While Cathy is enjoying her time in New York, she misses home and Korean food, despite finding American food and Bernet’s cooking delicious, she said. She uses Skype regularly to chat with her mom and her younger brother and sister back home. Her time away from them has taught her a lot.

“I’m having fun because I get to be independent,” she said.

Because she has enjoyed her time in Comsewogue, Cathy said she may return to the United States for college.

Republican Party establishes new Hispanic alliance

Latinos congregate at Xavier Palacios’ law office in Huntington Station last year to watch President Barack Obama announcing executive orders on immigration. File photo by Rohma Abbas

Republicans are vying for the votes of Suffolk’s Latinos.

The county GOP committee announced in a press release last week that for the first time in its history, it would create a Hispanic alliance tasked with registering Latino voters and recruiting potential candidates to run for office.

“For far too long, the political left has taken the Hispanic community for granted and recent polls indicate a growing frustration with the [Democratic] Party’s lack of family values and understanding of small business,” GOP chairman John Jay LaValle said in the statement.

Republicans are seeking to tap into a growing Latino electorate in Suffolk County, the statement said.

According to Nick LaLota, the Republican commissioner of the Suffolk County Board of Elections, Latinos comprise about 7.8 percent of Suffolk County’s 907,000 total registered voters this year. That’s up from 5.82 percent in 2006, he said.

When drawing up the figures, BOE officials analyzed the last names of voters to determine which individuals have “Hispanic-oriented” names, LaLota said. And while it’s not an “exact science,” it gives officials an idea of the growth of the population.

Two Hispanic Republicans — Brookhaven’s Jose Nunez and Victoria Serpa of Islip — will co-chair the Suffolk County Republican Hispanic Alliance, LaValle said. When reached this week, Nunez said there was a great opportunity for the Republicans to attract Hispanic voters, who traditionally lean Democratic.

“We believe that they have the same core values — family, business,” he said. “They’re very conservative. There’s a lot of religion.”

But as far as Suffolk County Democratic Chairman Rich Schaffer is concerned, the Republicans are late to the party. He noted the Democrats have backed several Hispanic individuals who were elected.

“It’s about time,” Schaffer said. “We welcome them to finally recognizing that the Hispanic population is an important part of our county.”

Nunez said the GOP’s new alliance would also serve an educational purpose — engaging Latino voters in a political dialogue and perhaps dispelling fears of the political process that some may have learned in their native countries.

It’s “smart” for Republicans to be reaching out to Hispanic voters, according to Xavier Palacios, a Huntington resident, school board member and co-founder of the Friends of Huntington Station Latin Quarter — a group established to revitalize Huntington Station through business development, mentorship, vocational training and other programs. The No. 1 issue on the minds of Hispanics, Palacios said, is immigration reform, and Republicans need to address the issue head-on if they’re going to attract Latino voters.

“I think it can no longer be the hot potato,” he said. “A solution to real immigration reform needs to be had.”

Not everyone thinks that Latinos care most about the immigration issue. Nunez said there are many Latinos out there who feel people should arrive and settle in the country through legal channels. He also said immigration was a federal issue, not a local one.

Other issues on the local level are of importance to Latinos too. Palacios said Republicans and Democrats would be smart to focus on economic issues, as many Latinos are staggered in professions or can’t afford college. Immigrants come here to fulfill the American Dream, something that appears to be becoming more challenging.

“Folks nowadays, in my view, are losing that dream,” he said.

Burglar caught
A 33-year-old woman from Hauppauge was arrested in Smithtown on May 5 and charged with third-degree burglary. Police said that on April 23 at 10 a.m. she entered a vacant home on Davis Street in Hauppauge by smashing a window and damaged the interior of the structure. She was arrested at 9:35 a.m. at the 4th Precinct.

Facepalm
Police said a 29-year-old man was arrested at his home on Apple Lane in Commack on May 9 at about 6:30 p.m. and charged with petit larceny. Police said the man took six containers of Olay face cream, put them in a bag and exited the store without paying.

Cat food thief caught
A 55-year-old woman from Commack was arrested in the same town on May 7 at about 3:20 p.m. and charged with petit larceny. Police said the woman took cat food, a pillow, paper goods and soup from Walmart on Crooked Hill Road without paying. She was arrested at the location.

Cash nabber caught
Police said a 43-year-old man from Yaphank was arrested in Smithtown on May 7 and charged with two counts of grand larceny, one in the third and the other in the fourth degree. Police said the man on two separate occasions earlier this year took cash from a cash register drop box from a store on West Jericho Turnpike in Smithtown and removed it without permission.

An elaborate steal    
An unknown person entered a vacant building, broke down a sheetrock wall and entered neighboring Markar Jewelers on E. Main Street in Smithtown and stole assorted jewelry in a display case on May 8 at about 3:18 a.m.

In your face
Police said two men were involved in an altercation at Accompsett Middle School on Meadow Road in Smithtown on May 5 at about 4:25 p.m. Someone threw dirt into the complainant’s face.

Tires, rims stolen
Eight sets of tires and rims were taken from Smithhaven Dodge on Middle Country Road in Nesconset and a passenger side door window was also damaged sometime between 9 p.m. on May 7 and 7:45 a.m. on May 8.

Jeep stolen
Someone took a customer’s 2012 Jeep from the parking lot of Smithaven Chrysler on Middle County Road in Nesconset sometime between 7:45  and 11:45 a.m. on May 8.

Indian Head harassment
Police received a report of harassment from Key Food on Indian Head Road in Kings Park on May 7 at about 6:15 p.m. A male complainant said a man grabbed him by the shirt and left a red mark.

Figurines lifted
Someone stole figurines from the St. James General Store on Moriches Road around noon on May 8.

Window damaged, rims lifted
Police said someone smashed the window of Smithtown Nissan on Middle Country Road in St. James and stole rims and tires and damaged a window of a 2015 Nissan 370z sometime between 10 p.m. on May 5 and 6:45 a.m. on May 6.

Damaged window
An unknown person smashed the back window of a 2001 Volkwagon Suburban on Middle Country Road in St. James sometime between 9:30 a.m. on May 5 and 8 a.m. on May 6.

Speedy arrest
Police arrested an 18-year-old man from Stony Brook and charged him with first-degree operating a motor vehicle impaired by drugs and unlawful possession of marijuana. Police said the man was driving a 2011 Subaru southbound on North Country Road and Beacon Hill Drive in Stony Brook and was pulled over for exceeding the speed limit. He was arrested on May 7 at 2:45 a.m.

Can’t get enough
Two men — one a 21-year-old from Centereach, another a 22-year-old from Coram — were arrested on May 10 at about 6:42 a.m. in Setauket-East Setauket and charged with trespass. Police said the two men were attempting to open doors of parked vehicles at a location on Pond Path in Setauket. Both were ordered to leave and later returned to the property. The Centereach man was also charged with criminal mischief — police said he punched a 2008 Chevrolet Silverado at that location.

Shopping flee
A Shirley woman was arrested on May 10 at the Walmart on Route 347 in Setauket-East Setauket and charged with petit larceny. Police said she took assorted clothing and household items, put them in a shopping cart and bags, and walked past the register without paying. She was arrested at the location at about 6 p.m. that day.

Pocketbook pocketed
Someone entered an unlocked front door of a residence on Galleon Lane in Setauket-East Setauket and took a pocketbook containing credit cards, cash and a cell phone sometime between 3:30  and 7 p.m. on May 8.

Money mystery
A Robinhood Lane resident from Setauket-East Setauket reported an incident of first-degree identity theft on May 7. Police said someone took cash from the individual’s Bank of America online account and transferred it to different accounts. The transaction occurred at 5:30 p.m. on May 6, police said.

Those darn kids
A Brandywine Drive resident in Setauket-East Setauket reported an incident of second-degree harassment on May 5 at 7 p.m. Police said an adult neighbor verbally harassed an 11-year-old.

A lot at stake
Two Willis Avenue neighbors in Port Jefferson Station got into a verbal argument on May 6 after one removed stakes in the ground that marked a proposed fence line.

Do not enter
A 21-year-old Port Jefferson man was arrested in Port Jefferson Station on May 9 after he entered a building and remained in it unlawfully. He was charged with third-degree criminal trespassing and unlawful possession of marijuana.

Hateful
A resident of Richmond Hill Road in Sound Beach reported on May 8 that an unknown person had spray-painted a swastika in the street by their home.

Bang bang
An unknown person shot somebody with a BB gun on May 5 in Rocky Point at around 2:45 p.m. According to police, the perpetrator was traveling north on Shell Drive when they fired the gun. The person who was shot was OK.

We are the Champlins
Several people were involved in a fight at a home on Champlin Street in Centereach on May 10. Police said a man went to the hospital after sustaining a head laceration that required medical attention.

Out of gas
A 35-year-old homeless man was charged with third-degree robbery after he stole money from a Middle Country Road gas station on May 8.

Shattered glass
An unknown person smashed a window with a rock at a Shamrock Lane home in Centereach on May 8 at around 8 p.m.

Failing to stop
A 39-year-old Port Jefferson man is facing numerous charges, including leaving the scene of an accident, after he crashed his 2004 Hyundai into a 2015 Jeep on May 8, causing damage. Police said the man fled the scene, which occurred by Skips Road and Route 112 in Coram.

Lost numbers
An unknown person stole a cell phone from a 2009 Chevy Malibu on Wood Road in Centereach on May 8. The incident occurred around 2:30 p.m.

Zoom
A 1994 Ford was stolen from a Centereach mechanic on May 6. According to police, the vehicle had been repaired, but when the owner went to pick it up, it wasn’t there.

Play ball
An unknown female stole both a baseball cap and a decal from Bob’s Stores in Selden on May 8, shortly before 6 p.m.

Superintendent Ken Bossert explains the difficulties of measuring how iPads affect student achievement in Port Jefferson. Photo by Elana Glowatz

Port Jefferson schools will put more money toward using modern technology in the classroom next year.

Following a presentation from the staff technology committee at a board of education meeting Tuesday night, the trustees approved a request to spend about $17,000 on iPad tablets and Chromebook computers to assist instruction.

The district began using iPads in elementary classrooms in the 2013-14 school year on a pilot basis. After receiving a positive response to the tablets, the school board tripled the number of tablets in the current school year, to three carts of iPads for the teachers to rotate among their classrooms. The board’s approval will bring the number of carts next school year up to four, which officials said would be the program’s final expansion — moving forward, money would be spent on replacing iPads, not adding more to the supply.

According to Christine Austen, the district’s K-12 assistant principal and a technology committee member, each teacher could potentially have the iPads for five weeks of instructional use with those four carts.

The additional iPads will mean there will roughly be one for every five students, she said.

In classrooms where teachers are using the tablets, Austen said, students are more engaged and there are more opportunities for the kids to collaborate with one another, among other benefits.

Although the school board supported the iPad expansion, President Kathleen Brennan and Trustee Bob Ramus said they wanted to see more data on the technology’s effect on student performance. Ramus pointed out that the board had requested such information during previous presentations on the iPad program.

But Superintendent Ken Bossert said the matter is not so simple.

“When we talked about what a researcher would do to develop a model to measure that impact, it would be to give a class full-time use of the iPads for all initiatives and deny another class any use and then measure the achievement levels between the two. We weren’t comfortable with that model.”

He said the district would work to get more data on student performance, but there are ways to measure how much a student is learning within different educational applications on the iPads “and we saw student growth within the apps.”

There is also a staff development element — Austen said some teachers still need training to effectively use the tablets in their classrooms, as only about 69 percent of the staff is using them this year.

Another piece of the district technology program is using laptops with older students to access Google applications. Some teachers have incorporated those free applications — which are collectively known as Google Classroom and include functions like word processing, survey, slideshow and spreadsheet tools — into their lessons already.

According to the technology committee’s presentation, the Google system makes it easy to create assignments and grade them, encourages collaboration, organizes students’ class materials and reduces the use of paper. It also “provides students an opportunity to engage in an online learning environment prior to attending college.”

Austen said the district would like to start replacing “aging laptops” with Chromebooks, which run on Google software and have the applications built in. They are also less expensive than other laptops and run faster.

Roughly two-thirds of the cost for the Chromebooks, Bossert said, will be covered by state aid.

Legislator Kara Hahn, center, pitches the pieces of legislation that would employ GPS technology to keep offenders away from domestic violence victims in Suffolk County. Photo from Kara Hahn

The county’s proactive push to empower victims of domestic violence reached another milestone on Tuesday when the Legislature unanimously approved a pilot program that would slap ankle bracelets on offenders under an order of protection.

County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) ignited the domestic violence discussion last month when the county approved her legislation providing law enforcement and victims with danger assessment tools that identify high-risk offenders. Her efforts turned another corner with Tuesday’s approval of legislation that she called a multi-faceted approach to making Suffolk’s domestic violence policy stronger than it’s ever been.

The latest pieces of legislation make Global Positioning System technology available to electronically monitor those in the family and criminal court systems who are subject to a “stay away” order of protection — which is more restrictive than a “refrain from” order — and pose a continuing threat to the safety of a victim or their children, Hahn said.

“This has been something I’ve wanted to work on since getting here,” said Hahn, whose personal experience as a victim of domestic violence brings the issue to the top of her list of priorities. “One of the things that was important to me was dealing with orders of protection. I had an order of protection and it’s very frightening — and I’ve heard over and over again over the years — that it’s just a piece of paper with no ability to truly protect the victim. That’s what I’m trying to fix.”

Both bills were virtually replicas of one another, but were specific to criminal and family courts respectively.

The county’s district attorney would acquire the GPS units and the offenders would have to cover the cost of monitoring, she said.

Tom Spota, the Suffolk County district attorney, threw his support behind Hahn’s initiative.

“I have every confidence this pilot program will be successful in effectively protecting victims of domestic violence,” he said in a statement.

In 2013 alone, the state division of criminal justice reported that there were more than 1,500 violations of orders of protection in the county. That statistic, coupled with the fact that domestic violence accounted for 21 percent of all violent victimizations nationwide from 2003 to 2012, was what spurred Hahn to bulk up her agenda, she said.

“In my experience as a federal prosecutor, GPS devices serve as a real deterrent,” said Tim Sini, assistant deputy Suffolk County executive. “In the moment of passion, an offender often thinks twice before reoffending when he knows he is being monitored by law enforcement.”

The pilot program would provide the county with 30 new GPS devices to be used when judges assign offenders to an order of protection. The technology could be used in one of two ways — either tracking offenders so they stay away from victims’ homes or jobs, or acting as proximity detectors and letting victims know if an offender is near them. The latter form of tracking would be optional for victims.

“Having been someone who had an order of protection and was afraid that the offender would come, it gives you peace of mind as a victim knowing you could be alerted,” Hahn said. “If a victim doesn’t like it, they don’t have to [wear] it.”

East Northport lawmaker says responsibility of new role to include rebuilding public trust

John Flanagan and former state education commissioner John King at a Common Core forum. File photo by Andrea Moore Paldy

Suffolk County’s own state Sen. John Flanagan has been elected to serve as temporary president and state Senate majority leader after former head Dean G. Skelos resigned from the post on Monday.

The Republican-led chamber appointed Flanagan (R-East Northport) as its new leader amid the arrest of Sen. Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) last week on federal corruption charges. The change in leadership comes after several Senate members pressured Skelos, a Long Islander who touts a more than 30-year tenure, to resign from his position.

Flanagan has been appointed the temporary position of president and State Senate majority leader for the remainder of the 2015-16 term, according to a video from his swearing-in.

“I am proud and humbled to have been chosen as temporary president and majority leader of the New York State Senate,” Flanagan said in a statement. “I thank my colleagues for the confidence they have placed in me. With this job comes a responsibility to lead and to listen, and to rebuild the public’s trust.”

Flanagan, 54, has held the position of senator since 2002. Prior to joining the Senate, he was a member of the New York State Assembly for 15 years.

State Sen. John A. DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse), who was vying for the majority position, spoke to Flanagan’s appointment on Monday and said there were no hard feelings.

“I know he is not only a great senator, he’s a great man and I’m proud to move his nomination,” DeFrancisco said.

Flanagan’s colleague, State Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) also lauded the move.

“It gives me great joy, great pride to second the nomination of John Flanagan as our temporary president,” LaValle said. “John Flanagan has great intellect, great energy and he has a wonderful, wonderful demeanor that brings people together.”

Many of Flanagan’s colleagues spoke highly of the new majority leader prior to his swearing-in ceremony that took place in Albany following the 32 ayes he received out of 63 senators present.

“The Senate made the right decision by voting Sen. John Flanagan as the newest majority leader,” Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci (R-Melville) said in a statement. “Flanagan has a track record for getting things done in the Senate and working with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.”

After his swearing in, Flanagan thanked Skelos for his decades of service and accomplishing the enactment of Megan’s Law, a law that publicizes the whereabouts of sex offenders.

“I have now had the good fortune of being in the Legislature for 29 years and I am proud to be in public service,” Flanagan said in a video from his swearing-in ceremony. “I spent 16 years in the Assembly in the minority, I’m now in my 13th year in the Senate, two of which [were] in the minority and I learned a lot being in both venues.”

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Comsewogue’s Justin Virga stops the ball at home in the Warriors’ 7-4 win over Westhampton on May 11. Photo by Bill Landon
Comsewogue’s Dan Colasanto, who went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI, hurls a pitch from the mound in the Warriors’ 7-4 win over Westhampton on May 11. The win helped Comsewogue claim sole possession of first place with a 16-3 mark in League VI. Photo by Bill Landon
Comsewogue’s Dan Colasanto, who went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI, hurls a pitch from the mound in the Warriors’ 7-4 win over Westhampton on May 11. The win helped Comsewogue claim sole possession of first place with a 16-3 mark in League VI. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

The League VI title is on the line for the Comsewogue baseball team.

The Warriors took one step closer to claiming that elusive title and the first-round bye after topping Westhampton at home Monday afternoon for the team’s seventh win in a row, to break the first place tie, as both teams were tied 15-3 at the top of the standings.

Westhampton scored first, but the Warriors rallied in the bottom of the fourth inning and fended off a late comeback-effort to earn a 7-4 win.

Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the fourth, Comsewogue’s bats came alive.

The runs started adding up when Robert Dattoma’s hit drove in Dan Colasanto to tie the game. Jordan Lisco set up the next scoring opportunity when he singled to right field, putting runners on both corners.

Ryan Szalay’s bat spoke next when he hit a line drive to right center that drove home Dattoma for a 2-1 lead, and Mike Stiles struck next when he laid down a perfect bunt and beat the throw to first.

Erik Bono stepped into the batters’ box and waited for his pitch. He smacked the ball deep to right field to bring home Lisco and Szalay, to give the Warriors a 4-1 advantage.

Comsewogue’s Erik Bono takes a cut in the Warriors’ 7-4 win over Westhampton on May 11. Photo by Bill Landon
Comsewogue’s Erik Bono takes a cut in the Warriors’ 7-4 win over Westhampton on May 11. Photo by Bill Landon

“I knew it was going to be a tough game today — we had to come out strong after they scored first,” said Lisco, who went 3-for-4 with a run. “We came back and took the lead and we had good, solid defense, and when you can do that, you win baseball games.”

The Warriors weren’t done for the inning.

Vin Velazquez stepped to the plate and hit a fly ball that dropped into the gap to move Bono over to third, and John Braun finished the job with a shot to left field to bring Bono across the plate as the team surged ahead, 5-1.

Having given up five unanswered runs, Westhampton made a pitching change to try to stop further damage from being done, but Colasanto, back at the plate for the second time in the inning, had something to say first, when he ripped one deep for a stand-up double that scored Velazquez for a 6-1 lead.

Comsewogue’s Justin Virga makes a catch at home plate in the Warriors’ 7-4 win over Westhampton on May 11. The win helped Comsewogue claim sole possession of first place with a 16-3 mark in League VI. Photo by Bill Landon
Comsewogue’s Justin Virga makes a catch at home plate in the Warriors’ 7-4 win over Westhampton on May 11. The win helped Comsewogue claim sole possession of first place with a 16-3 mark in League VI. Photo by Bill Landon

“We have a great group of guys,” Szalay said. “Once we get a hit, we all start to hit, and the game- changer was when Dan Colasanto got that RBI-double.”

Westhampton tacked on a run in the top of the fifth, and threatened with one out and two runners in scoring position. Colasanto was able to pitch his way out of the jam though, as he got the batter to ground out to Dattoma, the short stop, who quickly flicked the ball to second and helped his team turn the double play to end the inning.

“We knew coming in we could beat these guys — we all just needed to stay loose,” said Colasanto, who went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI. “I told the team that if we stayed loose, kept the chants going and have some fun, we could win it.”

Mike Stiles took over the mound at the top of the sixth, and Westhampton scored two more runs to bring the score to 6-4 before Stiles was able to work his way out of the inning with a strikeout.

“We’ve been able to play error-free baseball all year long,” Comsewogue head coach Mike Bonura said. “Our strong points are our defense and the mound. We’ve struggled with hitting, and obviously you’ve got to hit to score runs to win ball games, but today we finally put a good part of the bat on the ball.”

Comsewogue’s Mike Stiles tosses a pitch in a 1-2-3 inning that helped the Warriors claim a 7-4 win over Westhampton on May 11. The win helped Comsewogue claim sole possession of first place with a 16-3 mark in League VI. Photo by Bill Landon
Comsewogue’s Mike Stiles tosses a pitch in a 1-2-3 inning that helped the Warriors claim a 7-4 win over Westhampton on May 11 and sole possession of first place in League VI. Photo by Bill Landon

In the bottom of the sixth with a man on base, Dattoma cracked one to right field for added insurance.

Comsewogue needed three outs in the top of the seventh and Stiles answered the call, putting the game away with a 1-2-3 inning.

“We knew we needed to win this,” Dattoma said. “It’s been a while since we got a title; we’re hungry. We were looking for a little revenge and we got it today. For the playoffs, we’ve got to stay mentally tough, don’t let bad at-bats get in our head, and just work on the next one.”

With one game left in the regular season, Comsewogue traveled to Harborfields Wednesday, but results were not available by press time. A win would give the Warriors the league title and first-round bye for the playoffs.

“We’re all rested and if we get a bye, that’s huge because it’s all about pitching,” Bonura said. “Anyone’s No. 1 can beat anyone. Our pitching staff is healthy, and I’ve got plenty of them.”

The Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce held its sixth annual Health & Wellness Expo on Saturday, May 9, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Earl L. Vandermeulen High School gym.

The free event, with the theme “Healthy Living — It’s Your Choice,” kicked off with a 2K Fun Run hosted by the Port Jefferson Royal Education Foundation, and included free health screenings by Stony Brook University Hospital, St. Charles Hospital and John T. Mather Memorial Hospital. More than 40 vendors showed up and there were prizes, giveaways, games and raffles for free movie tickets to the Port Jeff Cinemas every 15 minutes. A mini-farmer’s market was held outside that featured Fairway Market and Sweet Melissa’s Dips, Cornucopia Cafe gave cooking demonstrations of healthy recipes and Starbucks and Phountain Water provided free refreshments. In addition, there were performances by members of the Port Jefferson high school choir and the Port Jefferson Jazz Combo.

Officials broke ground Monday morning on a housing complex many hope will spur redevelopment in uptown Port Jefferson.

After four years of plans and approvals, developer Rail Realty LLC can get started on demolishing homes and buildings along Texaco Avenue to make way for 74 rental apartments, a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom. The Hills at Port Jefferson apartments will be constructed as two three-story buildings on several parcels along that street: One building will take the place of two vacant houses and the former Port Jeff Auto Spa car wash on the north half of Texaco, close to Sheep Pasture Road; while the other will be built in what is now a grassy field at the intersection with Linden Place. Resident parking will be underground, with a final parcel on the south side of Texaco and Linden, currently holding Stony Brook Electric Inc., to be used for additional parking.

Ryan Gitto arrives at a groundbreaking ceremony in upper Port Jefferson prepared to work. Photo by Elana Glowatz
Ryan Gitto arrives at a groundbreaking ceremony in upper Port Jefferson prepared to work. Photo by Elana Glowatz

“This is the beginning of a renaissance and a jumpstart to upper Port Jefferson,” Rail Realty principal Tony Gitto said at the groundbreaking ceremony, after digging into the earth at the grassy field.

The shovel work was followed up on the car wash property next door, where Mayor Margot Garant climbed into an excavator and took the first crack at taking apart the building there. Concrete crunched as she closed the vehicle’s claws over a corner of roof and ripped it away from the rest of the building.

“I can get used to this,” she shouted from the operator seat.

Garant said that the apartment project will be “so important” to upper Port revitalization efforts.

The village has been working to enhance that troubled area around Main Street between North Country Road/Sheep Pasture Road and the Long Island Rail Road tracks. An entire section of the village’s draft comprehensive plan is devoted to upper Port, with recommendations geared toward improving quality of life, making it more pedestrian-friendly and attracting developers and visitors.

Rail Realty got final village approval on its project last year. Under the conditions of that approval, the developer will make improvements to a pocket park near the apartments and improve traffic flow in the area by redesigning the intersection of Main Street and Sheep Pasture Road.

Tony Gitto breaks ground at the site of his upcoming apartment complex. Photo by Elana Glowatz
Tony Gitto breaks ground at the site of his upcoming apartment complex. Photo by Elana Glowatz

The housing complex will be constructed in phases, with the first phase being the northern apartment building, the second being the other building, and the third being the parking area across Linden Place.

The Town of Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency gave financial assistance to Rail Realty on the project, including sales tax exemptions on construction items, a mortgage tax exemption and a 10-year property tax abatement through which the owner will pay taxes on roughly the current value of the site, as opposed to the increased value of the property once work is complete.

The IDA aims to boost the economy within Brookhaven Town by assisting businesses in locating or expanding in the area.

IDA Chairman Fred Braun said Monday, “Cleaning up a semi-blighted area is the first step,” and Long Island needs rentals both in the area of Stony Brook University and elsewhere.

Port Jefferson is fighting to keep property tax revenue flowing from the power plant and to prevent restrictions from being lifted on peaker unit output. File photo by Lee Lutz

A clerical item on the Brookhaven Town Board’s agenda regarding Caithness Long Island II, a proposed Yaphank power plant, caused a stir among some Port Jefferson residents on Thursday, as they questioned what exactly the board was voting on.

Earlier in the week, Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) predicted the issue at a Monday work session meeting. The item — accepting documentation about covenants and restrictions at the project site — was included under the board’s Communication Consensus agenda. Romaine said the town received correspondence that the information was filed with the Suffolk County Clerk’s Office, and the board had to vote to accept it. He added that the Town Board was not trying to sneak anything by residents.

“We have to list correspondence that we receive,” he said Monday.

Last July, the Town Board granted Caithness Long Island II a special permit for its proposed 752-megawatt power plant. Romaine and Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) remained in the minority and voted against the permit.

Some Port Jefferson residents adamantly oppose the project, as they fear it could negatively impact the chances of the Port Jefferson power plant being upgraded. Critics allege the Caithness project’s environmental impact statement was flawed and didn’t adequately address impacts on the surrounding communities and species living near the property, which is adjacent to an existing 350-megawatt Caithness power plant.

At Thursday’s meeting, standing together in the minority as they did on the special permit vote, Cartright and Romaine voted against accepting the Caithness communication. Cartright said the project should be re-evaluated, as PSEG Long Island has stated there will be sufficient local energy capacity until about 2020, and thus there is no need for Caithness II.

“In light of that fact, it appears to me that the [environmental review] process was based on an erroneous premise, as the original … findings for this project were in part based on an additional need of power,” she said.

During public comment, Port Jefferson Village Trustee Bruce Miller expressed his frustration with the Town Board granting the special use permit and with how backup documents, which officials said are available at the town and county clerk’s offices, weren’t provided with Thursday’s agenda.

Miller said he sympathized with Medford residents, some of whom attended the same meeting to advocate against a proposed casino in their neighborhood.

“Only two people on this board are voted for by the people from Port Jefferson,” he said, referring to the supervisor and the councilwoman, “and yet the rest of the board members can vote with impunity against us and against our interests.”