Village Beacon Record

Donald Gennarelli was charged with 14 counts of larceny, once at a McDonald's on Route 25A in Miller Place. Photo from SCPD

Suffolk County Police today arrested Donald Gennarelli for committing multiple larcenies from 14 Suffolk County stores over the past two months.

Officers from the 3rd Precinct Crime Section initiated an investigation to multiple larcenies occurring within the area, and discovered that similar larcenies had occurred in other precincts.

The suspect would engage the teller and appear to purchase a product, and when the teller opened the register he would jump over the counter and take money.

Detectives from the Major Case United were assigned to the investigation, and the joint investigation resulted in 3rd Precinct Crime Section Officers Joseph Passantino, and Matthew Fernandez arresting Gennarelli in Islip on Aug. 17.

Gennarelli was charged with larcenies from the following businesses:

  • Dunkin Donuts, located at 411 Furrows Road, Holbrook, June 16.
  • Dunkin Donuts, located at 19 Bay Shore Road, Bay Shore on June 18.
  • Dunkin Donuts located at 280 Sunrise Highway, North Lindenhurst on July 1.
  • Dunkin Donuts located at 155 Sunrise Highway Lindenhurst on July 4.
  • Dunkin Donuts located at 529 East Main Street, Bay Shore on July 5.
  • CVS located at 15 West Main Street, East Islip on July 6.
  • 7-11 located at 500 Islip Avenue, Islip, on July 9.
  • Dunkin Donuts located at 13 West Main Street, East Islip, on July 11.
  • McDonald’s, located at 4498 Sunrise Highway, Oakdale on July 12.
  • Dunkin Donuts, located at 13 West Main Street, East Islip on July 18.
  • 7-11 located at 4506 Sunrise Highway, Oakdale on July 25.
  • CVS located at 1944 Deer Park Avenue, Deer Park, on July 27.
  • Subway located at 1105 Horseblock Road, Medford on August 1.
  • McDonald’s, located at 340 Route 25A Miller Place on August 2.

The suspect was charged with 14 counts of petit larceny and aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle. He was held overnight at the 3rd Precinct and is scheduled to be arraigned today at First District Court in Central Islip.

The investigation is ongoing.

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine and Councilwoman Jane Bonner were on-site in Rocky Point for the knocking down of a zombie home on Monroe Street earlier this year. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

By Wenhao Ma

Brookhaven Town is doing everything it can to clean up neighborhoods in their area.

The town board unanimously passed a resolution to submit a grant application to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services to request funding for the Town Fire Marshals’ Anti-Blight Housing Code Enforcement Project July 21.

The town hopes to receive $25,000 from the state government to help with the cost of assessing neglected homes.

The Anti-Blight Housing Code Enforcement Project, according to town spokesman Kevin Molloy, has been going on for three-and-a-half years. It was designed to assess the abandoned properties that have harmful conditions and come up with resolutions to either repair or remove them. All the grant money, if approved, will be spent on the assessments of the homes. A mobile app is being developed for residents to report blighted buildings.

Molloy said the town’s law department and the fire marshal are responsible for the assessments. If the town attorney or fire marshal determines a house to be a threat to the neighborhood, the town may contact the owner, or when necessary, demolish the house, according to Brookhaven Town Code. The owner will be charged with the cost of tearing down the building.

“With every demolition, every property cleanup and every court case we pursue, we are turning communities around and giving people the quality of life that they deserve.”

— Dan Panico

Molloy said blighted properties can be a real danger to residents. People who enter a house that is unsafe may hurt themselves and, if the condition of the property constitutes a fire hazard, it could endanger the surrounding buildings and residents.

Safety is not the only reason for the town to establish such a project. Property values of homes suffer when an unkempt house is nearby.

One abandoned house in the neighborhood, Molloy said, could decrease the value of all the houses in the vicinity. By demolishing it, the project helps boost the value of other properties.

Eliminating “zombie homes” has long been a battle taken up by current board members.

“With every demolition, every property cleanup and every court case we pursue,” said Councilman Dan Panico (R-Manorville) July 15 in a statement after the demolition of an abandoned house in Mastic, “we are turning communities around and giving people the quality of life that they deserve.”

Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) was on site for a demolition on Monroe Street in Rocky Point in June.

“Nearly every community in Brookhaven Town has been hit by the increase of vacant, neglected houses,” Romaine said. “Unfortunately, many of them are run-down and not secure from animals and squatters. We will continue to clean up properties.”

Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point) also attended the Rocky Point demolition.

“I am very happy for the residents that live on the street,” she said following the demolition. “Some stopped by during the demolition just to say how very thankful they were that it was coming down.”

With the help of the grant money, more homes could be demolished in an effort to clean up the neighborhoods of the North Shore.

Two German shepherds are joining the force.

15-month-old Dallas V and 19-month-old Maverick, who were bred in Europe, have been training with the Suffolk County Police Department for one month and are close to graduation.

The two new patrol dogs are expected to complete training in November, which covers criminal apprehension, evidence recovery, obedience and tracking. These new additions to the team were announced recently at a press conference held at the Suffolk County Police Department Headquarters in Yaphank.

Steve Cuomo speaks about the achievements of Rolling Thunder, one of the marathon teams raising money for athletes with special needs. Photo by Colm Ashe

By Colm Ashe

Last year Suffolk County laced up their running shoes and got moving in support of the first ever Suffolk County Marathon: Freedom Fest, an event dedicated to raising money for local veteran services.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) and sponsors, including Catholic Health Services, organized the first ever 26.2 mile race last year, which raised more than $160,000.

This year, they hope to continue their success at the second annual Freedom Fest on Oct. 30 — but their vision has expanded beyond just aiding local veterans.

On July 21, Bellone held a press conference to announce the marathon, half marathon and 5k, that will allow registrants to run for their own charitable causes.

Though Bellone’s goal when organizing the event was to raise funds for Suffolk County veterans — a community of over 90,000 — he said he believes there are other causes worthy of a champion. He is welcoming anyone with a cause to join the event and raise money for their philanthropic mission.

Bellone does this with the hope that people will “utilize the marathon in a way that will raise funds for other wonderful organizations” in addition to supporting our veterans. Many teams came to the press conference to speak about their cause.

Among those who came to represent their cause was Team Liberty, an organization dedicated to raising funds and awareness about organ donation. Christian Siems, a 22-year old team member from Greenlawn, could be seen sporting the silver medal he won this summer at the Transplant Games of America — just 14 months after he received his heart transplant. Margaret O’Reilly, another Team Liberty member, could be seen holding a picture of her son, Stephen Valsechi, who passed away but saved the lives of four others by donating his organs.

Siems’ mother, Michele Martines, addressed the state of organ donation in Suffolk County and said even though New York accounts for 10 percent of the national waiting list for organs, we rank among the lowest when it comes to registered organ donors. She strives to help NY “come out of last place and go to first place.”

Another organization with a team in this year’s marathon is Rolling Thunder, a nonprofit for athletes with special needs. Steve Cuomo spoke for the team and brought up one of their members, Tysheem Griffin, who will be participating in the paralympics in Brazil this year along with one other teammate, Michael Brannigan.

Patty’s Pacers, a team raising money for the Patricia Keane DeGeorge Memorial Scholarship, paid tribute to Patricia at the event by telling her story. They said she was an example of how to triumph in the face of adversity, continuing on with her nursing degree even after being diagnosed with leukemia. A fighter to the very end, she died soon after receiving the news that she had graduated nursing school. Her spirit lives on in Patty’s Pacers.

A team representing Mothers Against Drunk Driving also came to represent their cause. Richard Mallow, the NYS executive director for MADD, said his team is hoping to change Suffolk County from leading the state in drunk driving incidents.

The Airborne Tri Team joined the event to continue their efforts in serving mentally and physically disabled war veterans. Their team is made up of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.

The teams at the event are not the only ones bringing their personal passions to the race. Thousands of people have signed up to run in this year’s race in October. From people aspiring to meet health goals to teams of veterans running in honor of their fellow troops and veterans, all have stories to tell.

Visit www.suffolkmarathon.com to represent a cause, create a team, help contribute to veteran services, or join the race.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, center, helped to establish the United States Climate Alliance in the aftermath of President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. Lawmakers signed a bill protecting the Long Island Sound last year. File photo from Cuomo’s office

By Donna Newman

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is threatening to sue.

State lawmakers have joined forces across the aisle to issue a demand to both the federal government and the Environmental Protection Agency regarding the dumping of dredged sludge in the Long Island Sound at two existing sites.

At Sunken Meadow State Park Aug. 4, New York office-holders from multiple levels of government presented a united front. Gov. Cuomo (D) warned U.S. President Barack Obama (D) and the EPA that a plan to create a third disposal site poses a “major” threat to the ecologically vital habitat and blocks progress to end open-water dumping in Long Island’s waters. He and Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) wrote letters to Obama, EPA Administrator Regina McCarthy and EPA Regional Administrator H. Curtis Spalding about their opposition.

The dredging of Connecticut harbors and rivers, meant to deepen waterways to allow ships clear passage, produces sludge that is being open dumped in the Long Island Sound, according to Englebright’s office.

Local environmentalists are also concerned with the practice being used long-term.

“We are grateful for the strong support of Governor Cuomo and our local state legislators in opposing this ill-conceived plan and putting the federal government on notice that the Long Island Sound is off limits for the dumping of dredge spoils,” George Hoffman of the Setauket Harbor Task Force, a North Shore group that works for clean water in Setauket and Port Jefferson harbors, said in a statement.

Should the federal agency continue its plan to allow dumping of dredge spoils in eastern Long Island Sound, New York State will pursue legal action against the EPA, Cuomo said.

In 2005, the EPA struck an accord with the governors of New York and Connecticut to reduce or limit the disposal of dredged material in the Sound by examining alternative placement practices. Two sites— Western Long Island Sound and Central Long Island Sound — were designated on Long Island to be used for that purpose.

On April 27, the EPA proposed the designation of a dredged material disposal site in the Eastern region of Long Island Sound, a third dumping location that would continue open-water dumping of dredge waste in the Eastern Long Island Sound for as long as 30 years. The two sites open now are set to close Dec. 23.

Englebright doesn’t see the latest proposal as a step in the right direction — according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, approximately 22.6 million cubic yards of dredging will be done over the next 30 years.

“The draft appears to be the same open water dredge-dumping plan we have seen before,” he said. “Federal, state and local governments have spent billions of taxpayer dollars to clean up the Long Island Sound and significant progress has been made … continued dredge dumping will make the task of cleaning up the sound so much more difficult.”

The EPA has maintained that dredging is a necessary part of keeping the sound passable for ships.

“Dredging is needed to ensure safe navigation in the sound,” EPA spokesman John Martin said in an email. “The EPA has not made a final decision, but we believe the proposal strikes an appropriate balance between the need for dredging to maintain safe and efficient navigation and our desired outcome to restore and protect Long Island Sound.”

He referred to the Sound as a nationally significant estuary that has seen the return of dolphins and humpback whales during the past year, thanks to cleanup efforts.

New York State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) agreed that the state has made significant investments to repair decades of damage.

“Real progress is being made, which makes the EPA’s recent proposal to expand the number of dredged material sites in the sound even more difficult to comprehend,” he said. “I fully support using whatever resources the state has at its disposal to fight the EPA’s plan and protect the long-term health of the sound so that it will continue to be an environmental and economic asset for future generations of Long Islanders.”

In his letter to the agency and the White House, Cuomo stressed his intentions to take action to protect Long Island’s waters if the EPA fails to comply with lawmakers’ requests.

“If the EPA ignores New York’s objections and finalizes its rule to permanently designate an open water disposal site in eastern Long Island Sound,” Cuomo said, “ I will take all necessary steps to challenge the rule and stop it from being implemented.”

Victoria Espinoza, Desirée Keegan and Alex Petroski contributed reporting.

The needles of the dawn redwood darken over the summer and turn reddish-brown in fall. Photo courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden

By Ellen Barcel

Heritage Park in Mount Sinai has many unique plantings. One really interesting section is the walkway lined with trees representing each of the 50 states. New York’s state tree, along with Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin, is the sugar maple (Acer saccharum). A tree native to Long Island, the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) is the state tree of Missouri and Virginia. Both maple and dogwood do well here. Oak, which also grows well on Long Island in one variety or another, is the state tree of Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

But, in planning this interesting homage to the 50 states, it became clear that not every tree that represents each state would be able to grow in Long Island’s climate or was suitable for the walkway. Hawaii’s state tree, the candlenut, (Aleurites moluccanus, also known as kukui), wouldn’t survive in Long Island’s cold climate, for example. So, Fred Drewes, who planned out the walkway, needed to make substitutions. One was the tree for California.

The dawn redwood has been planted at Heritage Park to represent the state of California. It was chosen since the giant redwood, California’s state tree, is not an ideal tree for the walkway. The giant redwood becomes an enormous tree, overwhelming the surrounding area with an extensive root system. It produces a tremendous amount of shade so very little will grow under it. Its shallow roots mean that the tree can be easily damaged by wind. Hence the decision to plant the related tree.

The dawn redwood (Metasequoisa glyptostroboides) is sometimes called a living fossil. Scientists believed that the tree had gone extinct until it was “rediscovered” in 1941 in China. The fossils of the tree have been found in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere as well going back to the Mesozoic Era. The Mesozoic Era (the time of the dinosaurs) ended approximately 66 million years ago. Since its rediscovery, the tree has become a popular ornamental due to its attractive pyramidal shape and rapid growth.

A conifer, it has another distinction — it’s deciduous. Usually we expect conifers (cone-bearing plants) to be evergreens, keeping their needles through the winter. Dawn redwood, the smallest of the redwoods is still potentially a large tree. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, it is fast growing and can easily reach 100 feet or more. It does well in zones 5 to 8 with Long Island being zone 7. It prefers full sun and moist, well-drained soil but even tolerates clay soil. While it is widely adaptable, it does best in a soil pH of 4.5 (that’s very acidic), great for Long Island’s soil. It’s pretty much maintenance and disease free.

One of the advantages of a deciduous tree is that with the leaves (or needles in this case) gone in winter, the sun can warm a nearby house. But come the heat of summer, the tree provides shade to cool the area. Needles appear in the spring as light green, darken over the summer and turn reddish-brown in fall. Since it’s fast growing, it can provide privacy fairly quickly. It is somewhat deer resistant (we know that no plant is completely deer proof if the deer are hungry enough) and tolerates pollution; so it can be planted near roadways or in cities. Its deeply grooved bark and branches give the tree winter interest.

The small female cones are uniquely shaped and are on the same tree as the male ones. If you’re really interested in growing one or more dawn redwood, the website www.dawnredwood.org will provide more detailed information.

Take a walk around Heritage Park and look at the various trees planted there. This will give you a good idea of what trees you may want to plant in your own garden. If you decide to plant a dawn redwood, remember that this is a big tree. Give it plenty of room and don’t make the mistake of planting it too close to your house.

Ellen Barcel is a freelance writer and master gardener. To reach Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County and its Master Gardener program, call 631-727-7850.

Cedar Beach file photo

To help residents keep cool during the extreme heat wave, Brookhaven Town will extend hours at municipal pools and beaches on Friday, Aug. 12 and Saturday, Aug. 13.

The town’s Centereach and Holtsville pools will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and West Meadow Beach in Stony Brook, Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai and Corey Beach in Blue Point will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Normal operating hours at all facilities will resume on Sunday, Aug. 14.

For more information, call 451-TOWN or visit www.Brookhaven.org.

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Glen, Zachary and Renée Cote are receiving a new home on Helme Avenue in Miller Place as part of the homes for returning veterans. Photo from Renée Cote

By Desirée Keegan

After a series of unfortunate events, a string of fortunate ones led the Cote family to their soon-to-be new home in Miller Place.

Glen and Renée Cote, and their 7-year-old son Zachary, were chosen to be the receivers of the 11th home for returning veterans, a program put in place by Rocky Point VFW Fischer/Hewins Post 6249 Commander Joe Cognitore and developer and owner of Landmark Properties in Rocky Point Mark Baisch.

Renée Cote said to be chosen for the home on Helme Avenue is a dream come true.

“It’s extremely overwhelming — we feel extremely blessed,” she said. “I’m just happy that my son is going to have a home and that my husband and I are going to be able to live in a community that’s done nothing but support us.”

The framing is up for the new home on Helme Avenue in Miller Place, which the Cote family will receive as part of the homes for returning veterans. Photo by Desirée Keegan
The framing is up for the new home on Helme Avenue in Miller Place, which the Cote family will receive as part of the homes for returning veterans. Photo by Desirée Keegan

The family has, until recently, lived in a rental home in Sound Beach, but found out in March that it was being evicted because the landlord had let the home fall into foreclosure. But that’s not where the hardships began.

Glen Cote, who was a U.S. Army combat medic from 1988 to 1992 and specialized in deployment training and immunization for a bulk of army medics in the Gulf War, met and married his wife following his service. In 2002, Renée Cote was diagnosed with a rare and painful metabolic disorder called acute intermittent porphyria, which requires expensive biweekly treatments that she has undergone for 14 years at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital. As a result of her illness, which there is no known cure for, she has suffered three strokes.

In 2009, the couple welcomed Zachary into their lives, who in June 2014 was diagnosed with Grade 4 medulloblastoma, brain cancer, and has since endured 42 rounds of radiation and nine months of intense chemotherapy. His treatment had to be halted when he was also diagnosed with acute intermittent porphyria.

“We’ve had the most horrific circumstances happen to us, but in every event there’s been such a huge blessing that’s come out of it,” Renée Cote said. Two years ago, the family was chosen to be recipients of a fundraising effort during Shoreham-Wading River’s Lax Out Cancer fundraiser, which supports local children with cancer. The family was chosen again as the beneficiaries of this year’s event.

“This isn’t a free movie ticket or a handbag. This is a home that we otherwise would not have been able to afford. We’re still trying to process it.”

—Renée Cote

“We’ve mad a lot of friends, a lot of contacts,” Zachary’s mother said. “There are so many people in this area that genuinely want to help people, and it’s so amazing to be on the receiving end of it. It’s awkward, but it’s very humbling. My husband and I just look at each other and feel extremely blessed.”

Due to his illness, Zachary had to start kindergarten a year late, and his parents were worried about how he would manage school, but Miller Place school district has also been supportive of the family, and their fears melted into appreciation.

“The way that the teachers and faculty have personally taken to Zachary on a whole different level, it’s just incredible to see the love, and it’s a very humbling feeling to know that strangers are so willing to help,” his father said. “It was tremendously important that we stay in the district, and for this to become available, so we can set roots here and Zachary can be stable and make friends in the neighborhood. I couldn’t ask for much more at this point in time.”

Glen Cote also suffered a serious incapacitating injury on the job, to the point where he qualified for Social Security disability. Testing showed that his injuries led to a diagnosis of degenerative disk disease and shoulder and knee arthritis.

Following the eviction notice, the Landmark Properties owner was connected with the family when a friend of the Cote family contacted the vice president of Bridgehampton National Bank, who sent out an email to the chain. The manager of the Rocky Point branch knew what Baisch does for veterans, and immediately contacted him on their behalf.

That’s when Baisch asked to meet them.

Zachary Cote enjoys a day at the beach. Photo from Renée Cote
Zachary Cote enjoys a day at the beach. Photo from Renée Cote

“When they came in her, I didn’t know them from Adam, but they were very forthcoming and told me their story. It was a little overwhelming to take in,” he said.

He told them he’d contact Cognitore and get back to them, but the family wasn’t going to get their hopes up.

“We left thinking that there was just no way that we’ll be able to get this to go in our favor,” Renée Cote said, but the following week they were asked to come back to his office and were told the good news. “I honestly never thought something like this would happen to us. This isn’t a free movie ticket or a handbag. This is a home that we otherwise would not have been able to afford. We’re still trying to process it.”

The family will be moved in by Christmas, which Baisch is thrilled about, after he found out that the Make-A-Wish Foundation couldn’t send Zachary to LEGOLAND until next year.

“The happenstance of this is incredible,” he said. “Can you think of anyone else more deserving? I feel privileged to do what I do. It’s been a very good year for me. I’m on cloud nine.”

Knowing that they’ll never have to move again is what excites the family most.

“My son will make marks on the walls and I’ll tell him you did that when you were 8, you did that when you were 9,” the mother said. “Now knowing that no one is going to come knocking on my door telling me ‘you need to get out’ because of somebody else is mind blowing.”

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Geoff, Bob, Karen and Patrick Engel hosted the Hoops for Hope event in memory of their family member. Photo by Kevin Redding

By Kevin Redding

In the face of tragedy, there’s one of two directions you can go. You can react to it optimistically and see what good can come out of it, or you can let it control your life and pin you down. The Engel family, of Miller Place, refuses to be pinned down. In fact, they’re well on their way to making great strides in their community.

Tuesday marked the 2nd Annual Jake Engel Hoops for Hope fundraiser at Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai — a day of competitive basketball all in the memory of a wonderful student and athlete taken too soon.

After Engel’s passing from a heroin overdose last year, his younger brother Patrick acted quickly and — with the help of his family and friends — put the event together in just a few short days, raising more than $5,000 for Hope House Ministries, a center in Port Jefferson where Jake Engel lived for two years, which provides care to young people and families in crisis.

Friends take to the court for some 3-on-3 basketball action in support of Jake Engel, a Miller Place resident who died of a heroin overdose last year, during the second annual Hoops for Hope fundraiser. Photo by Kevin Redding
Friends take to the court for some 3-on-3 basketball action in support of Jake Engel, a Miller Place resident who died of a heroin overdose last year, during the second annual Hoops for Hope fundraiser. Photo by Kevin Redding

Knowing that they wanted to expand on what they accomplished last year, the Engel family — Bob, Karen, Geoff and Patrick — set out to raise money this time around not just for Hope House but for the development of a scholarship at Miller Place High School and nonprofit organization in their son and brother’s name.

“We wanted something that was actually about Jake — In his name, dedicated to him,” said Patrick Engel. “Hope House is wonderful and we love Hope House … but we want something separate from it to remember him more personally.”

Both programs-to-be are in the beginning stages, but even though the qualifiers for the scholarship are not set in stone quite yet, the core mission certainly is. The Engel family is determined to raise awareness about the all-too prevalent drug problem sweeping Long Island and wants to do everything they can to prevent any drug-related tragedies in the future.

“The idea behind the scholarship and nonprofit is to be educating kids in the school district about these types of things,” said Geoff Engel, Jake Engel’s brother. “So we thought that setting up a scholarship would be a good way to promote that. The nonprofit could also hopefully provide housing for kids who are not able to get into rehabs or other types of organizations.”

Bob Engel, Jake Engel’s father, is especially determined to zero in on youth.

“Kids have to be educated,” he said. “It’s out of control out there, and I really want to gear everything toward the younger kids. They gotta get it in their head. Start in 5th grade with lectures every month and a half. The drug dealers aren’t going away no matter what, so at this point it’s about the education of younger people. The community needs to know what’s going on. [Hoops for Hope] is a good thing. This money is going toward educating these kids.”

Karen Engel, Jake Engel’s mother, said the family is still finalizing the details of the scholarship but are thinking of awarding it to someone who has overcome adversity and who does well academically because “that was Jake.”

“He was a very good student and loved his academics, and school and learning,” she said. “So that’s kind of the direction we’re going in.”

She hopes that both the scholarship and organization will encourage more people to become actively involved.

Geoff Engel plays some hoops in support of his brother Jake, who died last year of a heroin overdose. Photo by Kevin Redding
Geoff Engel plays some hoops in support of his brother Jake, who died last year of a heroin overdose. Photo by Kevin Redding

If this year’s fundraiser was any indication, people are ready to turn their attention to this issue.

Geoff Engel said that while last year’s fundraiser was very spontaneous and slapped together quickly, this year’s was a lot more organized.

“We’ve done a much better job promoting the event,” said Geoff Engel, who recently appeared on 103.9 WRCN-FM to spread the word. “We’re really hoping to raise at least twice as much as last year. It’s a much bigger event.”

For starters, last year’s basketball tournament had about 15 teams of 3, and this year boasted 26, with a donation of $15 per team to participate. But the event’s biggest source of income came with the addition of event T-shirts at $10 each, provided by the company Inkterprise, and a raffle.

Some of the donated items included a 32-inch flat-screen TV, a 3-month membership to Planet Fitness and a car care basket with three auto inspections provided by Rapid Inc. The Town of Brookhaven also supported the fundraiser and donated four box seat tickets to the Yankee game this upcoming Saturday, a $100 Modell’s gift card and the basketball court at Cedar Beach, waiving the standard $400 fee to rent it.

“I live right next door in Rocky Point and so many communities on the North Shore have been devastated with overdoses,” said Brookhaven Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point). “We decided to take a stronger role this year … we all collectively decided to roll up our sleeves and become more involved and bring more awareness.”

For the Engel family, whose constant strength and selflessness has perpetuated this call for awareness, the focus is making sure the scholarship and nonprofit organizations get off the ground. If things go as planned, that should be the case by graduation next year.

“We’re trying to do anything we can just so people will talk about it,” Karen Engel said. “We want people to be aware that they can reach out to get help.”

This version corrects the spelling of the company name Inkterprise.

The 2016 Downtown Rocky Point Summer Concert Series, hosted in conjunction with VFW Post 6249, is underway. Following Swingtime Big Band on Tuesday, Southbound, a Long Island country and classic rock band, performed at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in downtown Rocky Point, at 614 Route 25A, Rocky Point.

The concerts begin at 7 p.m. and will help to support local businesses. Admission is free and attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets.

“The Summer Concert Series provides a wonderful way for families and residents to enjoy local musical performances,” said Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Siani). “I encourage residents to join me at the concerts and to take advantage of the wonderful shops in downtown Rocky Point.”

On Tuesday, Aug. 16, Mike DelGuidice & Big Shot, a Billy Joel tribute band, will perform at St. Anthony’s. On Tuesday, Aug. 23, Strawberry Fields, the ultimate Beatles tribute band will perform.

In case of a cancellation, a rain date is scheduled for Aug. 30. For more information, contact 631-854-1600.