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Commack

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Photo from Suffolk County Police Department

Suffolk County Crime Stoppers and Suffolk County Police 4th Precinct Crime Section officers are seeking the public’s help to identify a man who allegedly stole property from a Commack store in May.

A man allegedly stole a portable generator from Walmart, located at 85 Crooked Hill Road May 25 at approximately 10:25 a.m. The stolen merchandise was valued at approximately $300.

Suffolk County Crime Stoppers offers a cash reward for information that leads to an arrest. Anyone with information about these incidents can contact Suffolk County Crime Stoppers to submit an anonymous tip by calling 1-800-220-TIPS, utilizing a mobile app which can be downloaded through the App Store or Google Play by searching P3 Tips, or online at www.P3Tips.com. All calls, text messages and emails will be kept confidential.

Tandy Jeckel, above, stands in the expanded Tandy Wear. Photo by Julianne Mosher

A pandemic didn’t stop TandyWear from expanding, in fact, it gave them the push do something great. 

The upscale clothing boutique located at 89 Commack Road in Commack is celebrating 10 years at its location with a store expansion and launch of its junior’s selection, TandyGirl.

An inside look at the expansion of TandyWear in Commack. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Owner Tandy Jeckel began her brand 25 years ago selling woman’s accessories and handbags. Then 10 years ago, she moved to the current brick and mortar store with a goal to dress local women in the trendiest of clothes with a low budget. She said that she began noticing girls shopping alongside their mothers, so Jeckel wanted to cater to them, too, by expanding her inventory and sizes. 

“Everybody feels like they can shop here,” she said. “They can feel good about themselves, and they can be with their moms.”

With inclusive sizing ranging from extra small to 2XL, Jeckel realized that she needed to expand her square footage to meet the demands of a bigger catalog. 

And while the COVID-19 pandemic was hard on many businesses, Jeckel said she and her store lucked out, taking advantage of masks early on and making them a fashion statement. “That was something that we knew everybody needed, but they wanted to be fashionable,” she said. 

Jeckel said that next door to her shop, an empty storefront laid vacant for nearly three years. She always wanted that space, she said, and decided in August to make the jump.

“Since we were doing really well during the pandemic with the mask sales and curbside pickup, we pivoted,” she said, “We just took something and made it happen.”

She had a short amount of time to break down the wall of the former Karate school and reinvent the space. They officially opened the second side the day before Black Friday.

With the new side of the store contemporary casual wear for the young and young-at-heart, it also includes a wall of dressing rooms, sparkling chandeliers and a positive message.

TandyWear wanted to give back to the community while opening up their new space. This week, a portion of all sales from the weekend of Dec. 11-13 will be donated to the Long Island Coalition Against Bullying.

A table featuring cards from the anti-bullying campaign that TandyWear is taking part in. Photo by Julianne Mosher

LICAB helps to create bully-free communities across Long Island through education, increased awareness and therapeutic outlets, offering a variety of programs and services such as school assistance programs, care packages, youth leadership programs and subsidized therapy. 

On the counter and inside those fresh dressing rooms, are 5×7 index cards that subtly say that “you’re beautiful,” and encourages girls who are struggling with bullies to reach out — a discrete way for girls to find information. 

LICAB founder and Executive Director Joe Salamone said that partnering with a store like TandyWear helps get the word out on his organization and gives girls an outlet that will make them feel better if they’re struggling. “Any opportunity that gets us in front of the community who may need us so we can help is great,” he said. “The cards give us the opportunity for kids to get in touch with us in a judgement-free way.”

Salamone said the cards were delivered to the store in early November, and Jeckel said the first pile of cards is almost gone. 

Jeckel said the anti-bullying campaign hits close to home, as her daughter was bullied as a child.

“I’m very happy to get involved with the anti-bullying coalition because my daughter was bullied in middle school and high school,” she said. “She never really came out and said anything — she just dealt with it and masked it, and she was one of the lucky ones that got through it. But if she had this group, it would have really helped her.”

Jeckel said that she knows girls are embarrassed to talk about how they’re feeling, and often hears stories from mothers and their daughters who were also struggling with bullies at school and online. But now with the partnership, she’s already receiving positive feedback. 

“Moms are just really happy because they know someone or their child is being bullied, and they didn’t know there was a place that could really go for help,” she said.

These anti-bullying materials will be available in store year-round at TandyGirl.

“I would like to make a difference,” she said. “I want to make people feel good who are all shapes and sizes. When they look good, they feel good.” 

An inside look at Huntington Village's Little Switzerland Toy Store. Photo by Lina Weingarten

COVID-19 has impacted business globally, but for local mom-and-pop shops across Long Island, they have been hit twice as hard. 

Between the impact of online retailers, plus big box stores, the pandemic has made it even more difficult to make a sale for these smaller businesses.

When people shop small, the sales tax goes right back into the local economy. The community depends on these stores to make the village look great, while also supporting a neighbor. 

That’s why on Thanksgiving weekend, Small Business Saturday immediately followed the biggest shopping day of the year, Black Friday, with hopes to bring revenue into the smaller stores. 

All weekend long throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties, local shop owners gleamed with hope that customers would continue their holiday shopping “small” and keeping these businesses afloat. 

Here’s what some small business owners had to say: 

Madison’s Niche employees at the Stony Brook store. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Madison’s Niche 

83 Main St., Stony Brook/14 Wall St., Huntington

Madison’s Niche, with four locations throughout Long Island, is a lifestyle boutique that sells everything from baby onesies to UGG boots to home décor.

At the Stony Brook Village Center store, director Carolynn Mertens said that they did “fantastic” this past holiday weekend.

“We’re up in sales,” she said. “We’re very grateful to be up, and we didn’t think it was going to happen, but we’re very lucky.”

From Friday to Sunday, Mertens said she saw dozens of people shopping with their holiday lists in hand, while a lot of people were even shopping for themselves.

“I think people want to support small businesses,” she said. “They don’t want to see any more empty stores in their community and are trying to keep our mom-and-pop stores alive.”

Compared to a big box store or the mall, Mertens believes that customers feel more comfortable shopping in her stores.

“Our stores are easy to shop in,” she said. “We can maintain social distancing and we are constantly disinfecting.”

Morolay Children’s Boutique is now open by appointment only. Photo by Lina Weingarten

Morolay Children’s Boutique 

302 New York Ave., Huntington 

This holiday season is looking a little different for Morolay Children’s Boutique on New York Avenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Under these unique circumstances, we’re fully by appointment,” said owner Leah Casabona. 

But that works in the customers favor, because it provides an even more one-on-one shopping experience for people looking to come in. 

“The customer service here is much better than big chain stores,” she said. “We personally deal with our customers and live in the community.”

For the past 21 years, Morolay has been a staple to the Huntington community, known for selling special occasion wear to local children. 

“If you support small business, that sales tax goes back into our own local community,” she said. “And, the uniqueness of Huntington makes it a desirable place to live.”

Casabona said that shopping small is the way to go this and every other year.

“We need to be more conscious to help small businesses now more than ever,” she said.

Lily Bergh stands behind the counter at Little Switzerland Toys & Dolls. Photo by Lina Weingarten

Little Switzerland Toys & Dolls

267 Main St., Huntington

Lily Bergh, owner of Little Switzerland Toys & Dolls, said she has been in the business for more than 30 years. 

This holiday season, she’s reminding people that shopping in-store is part of the magic that is Christmas. 

“It was so nice seeing the kids with their big smiles this weekend,” she said. “They were making lists for Santa while walking around the store.”

Since opening in 1981, Bergh said that three generations now have been walking through her front door to buy presents during the holidays.

“The kids will come in with their grandmas and say with excitement, ‘Wow, a toy store!’”

And that reaction isn’t the same when a child walks through a toy aisle at a larger retailer.

“You’re just a number at a big box store,” she said. “And, I think it’s important to actually be able to pick up or touch a toy.” 

Bergh said that the last nine months have been hard for her and the business, but Saturday and Sunday had a great turnout. 

“It was awesome,” she said. “But we need more to make up for the four months we were closed. We want to stay in Huntington. It’s important.”

She said her toy store is a “wonderland” and strives to bring good memories to little ones visiting inside. She hopes that more people will continue to shop at her store, especially now. 

“I don’t care who you shop from, but you need to shop local,” she said.

TandyWear in Commack recently expanded. Photo by Rita Egan

TandyWear

89 Commack Road, Commack

TandyWear has been in business for over 20 years and owner Tandy Jeckel said shopping at her store is a safe and fun experience, especially during these unprecedented times.

“We’re on a first-name basis with our customers,” she said. “You’ll get a personalized experience — we have an amazing team, amazing stylists, we’ll find your style.”

Jeckel said that this past Saturday was the best Small Business Saturday they have ever had.  

“It was amazing,” she said. “We had so much foot traffic. It was great.”

Known for their dressy wear, comfy wear, going out wear and trendy wear, the store has something for everyone. 

“We get new styles daily, and we sell masks to match,” she said.

Throughout the holiday weekend, Jeckel said she offered doorbusters and 20% off the entire store.

Jeckel thinks people are gravitating toward the smaller shops because the big box stores are also competing with online retailers and are closing due to them. 

“The big box stores aren’t around anymore,” she said. “You have a few small chain stores, and then us.”

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Suffolk County Crime Stoppers and Suffolk County Police 2nd Squad Detectives are seeking the public’s help to identify and locate the man and woman who allegedly used stolen credit cards at a Melville store and two Commack stores in September.

Credit cards were stolen from a purse in a shopping cart inside Trader Joes, located at 5900 Jericho Turnpike in Commack, Sept. 17 at approximately 1:15 p.m. Later that day, a man and woman used the stolen credit cards at Home Depot, located at 65 Crooked Hill Road in Commack, as well as at two separate Dick’s Sporting Goods, located at 6070 Jericho Turnpike in Commack and 870 Walt Whitman Road in Melville.

Suffolk County Crime Stoppers offers a cash reward for information that leads to an arrest. Anyone with information about these incidents can contact Suffolk County Crime Stoppers to submit an anonymous tip by calling 1-800-220-TIPS.

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File photo

Suffolk County Police arrested a man July 25 for reckless endangerment after he allegedly fired a rifle and shotgun numerous times in Commack.

Police officers responded to several 911 calls reporting shots fired on Fulton Boulevard at 11:07 p.m. July 24. When officers arrived, they found numerous shell casings in the yard of 47 Fulton Blvd., and Mikhail Niyazov, the resident of the house, came outside.

Following an investigation, Niyazov was arrested at 12:47 a.m.

Twenty-five shell casings were recovered from shots that were fired into the air and the ground, and four weapons were removed from the residence. There were no injuries or damage to property reported.

Niyazov, 58, was charged with reckless endangerment.

He is being held overnight at the 4th Precinct and is scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip in the morning.

Detectives are asking anyone with information on this incident to call the 4th Squad at 631-854-8452 or anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.

File photo

Suffolk County Police June 1 arrested a man for allegedly threatening to bomb a business in Commack.

A man working at PetSmart, located at 2160 Jericho Turnpike, received a phone call from an unknown man who threatened to bomb the business at approximately 1:30 p.m.

Following an investigation by Fourth Squad detectives, the phone number of the caller was determined to belong to Peri K. Henschel, a former employee of PetSmart. Henschel was arrested at the Fourth Precinct at 7:50 p.m.

Henschel, 33, of Setauket, was charged with making a terroristic threat (bomb threat) and aggravated harassment. He is being held overnight and is scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip  June 2.

The new front entrance of the emergency room. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

As the number of people who need hospitalization from COVID-19 decreases, Suffolk County health care facilities will be able to engage in hospital procedures that may have been put off for weeks or months.

Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) said today that Suffolk and Westchester Counties were eligible to resume elective surgeries and ambulatory care.

County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said the county was waiting for an executive order from the governor to resume those procedures, which he expected soon.

“This is another indication of opening up and getting back to more normal” activities, which includes the announcement yesterday that South Hampton and Cupsogue beaches would be opening for Memorial Day weekend, Bellone said on his daily call with reporters.

Elective surgeries are “another step forward in this transition away from a pause and to a management of public health concerns,” Bellone said.

The county executive said the surgeries would be helpful for the hospitals, as they return to other procedures and practices beyond caring for COVID-19 patients, while they would provide necessary treatment for people who need these operations.

The number of hospitalizations from COVID-19 decreased by 15 over the last 24 hours, dropping to 539. The number of people in the Intensive Care Units, meanwhile, rose by one to 186.

ICU beds were at 68 percent capacity, while overall hospital beds were right at the targeted 70 percent for reopening.

In the last day, 40 people left the hospital, which is “a very good number,” Bellone said. “We wish all those who have come from the hospital a continued speedy recovery.”

The number of people who have died from complications related to the virus increased by 24 to 1,733.

A Thursday rally in Commack calling for the state to reopen the economy led to multiple protesters acting in an agressive fashion toward Kevin Vesey from News 12, walking toward him with megaphones as he tried to keep a distance from the people who took off their masks to shout at him. That video shortly went viral.

President Donald Trump (R) tweeted about the incident Friday and Saturday, reciting chants from the group of protesters writing “FAKE NEWS IS NOT ESSENTIAL!” in all caps, and calling the protesters “great people.”

Bellone did not mention the president but instead expressed his support for journalists.

“I will make sure and the Suffolk County Police Department will make sure that everyone who is attending a rally like this, which includes members of the media, are protected,” Bellone said.

Separately, Bellone heard back from Veterans Affairs that residents would not be able to place flags at the graves of veterans at Calverton National Cemetery and Long Island National Cemetery. Bellone plans to send another letter, urging that VA Secretary Robert Wilkie reconsider, allowing the county to honor these servicemen and women during Memorial Day.

Many drivers were honking their horns at the intersection of Veterans Highway and Route 25 in Commack May 14, but it wasn’t due to traffic.

More than 100 people rallied in front of the Macy’s parking lot in support of businesses deemed nonessential during the coronavirus pandemic opening up as soon as possible. While many were honking in support of the participants, a couple of drivers yelled disapproving comments out their windows.

The Reopen NY rally was the second one to take place at the location this month with the first one held May 1. The May 14 event was posted on the website Meetup by Olivia M. who asked attendees to decorate their cars, wave their flags and wear patriotic colors.

Many held signs with messages such as “My constitutional rights are essential,” “My sons are not lab rats for Bill Gates vaccine” and “Cuomo to businesses: drop dead.” One large dog wore a sign that read, “Dog grooming is essential.”

The dog’s owner, Debbie Wilson, who traveled from Freeport, said she was a retired dog groomer who came out of retirement to take care of some people’s pets.

“Dogs need maintenance,” she said. “Grooming dogs is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. For the life of me, I’ll never understand why they shut down dog groomers.”

She added it’s important to maintain many dogs’ ears and nails for health reasons and this is done while grooming. 

During the rally, News 12 Long Island reporter Kevin Vesey was filming participants with his smartphone live on Facebook. He had concluded interviews with his cameraman and was documenting the event for social media.

While describing the scene, one woman confronted him saying she noticed he was wearing a mask which she said he didn’t do at the May 1 rally. Vesey responded he did wear a mask last time. The woman was quickly followed by another female, and both had megaphones. The duo was questioning him about his reporting of the May 1 Commack rally saying he was trying to paint the narrative instead of reporting it and said his report prompted people to call the May 1 protesters “murderers.” One man yelled that Vesey was not a real journalist but a “political operative.”

As he kept backing up, continuing to film them, about a half a dozen kept following him aggressively, criticizing his reporting and asking why his job is considered essential and theirs are not.

During the verbal confrontation, a few police officers were standing nearby and evaluating the situation. The May 14 rally had a strong police presence, and before it started, an announcement by the Suffolk County Police Department was made to remind participants of the importance of wearing facial masks and social distancing.

Across the street, a nurse took in the rally and said she was surprised by how many people participating, especially children who were there, were not wearing masks.

“I guess they don’t know anyone who died from this,” she said.

After the event, the Setauket Patriots, who were among the organizers, took to Facebook and apologized to Vesey for their fellow protesters’ behavior.

“We can tell you that the few who decided to harass you and try to prevent you from doing your job are not members or affiliated with the Setauket Patriots group in any way, shape or form,” the post read. “We were looking forward to you giving us fair coverage with what you documented when we first arrived. But as with all mass rally events, you will always get a few idiots to disrupt an otherwise peaceful, pleasant demonstration and they should have been removed by police.”

At press time, Long Island still had not met the seven health metrics required by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to reopen the region. The state’s pause order was extended until May 28 for regions that didn’t meet the requirements to reopen May 15.

Protesters hung signs on their cars at a May 1 rally. Photo by Lorraine Yovino

Protesters in Commack May 1 made it clear that they wanted New York to get back to business.

A protester in Commack joins others in asking for all nonessential businesses in New York to be reopened. Photo by Lorraine Yovino

Dozens lined up in front of the Macy’s parking lot at the intersection of Veterans Memorial Highway and Jericho Turnpike rallying for New York to open up its economy. For weeks, after an executive order from Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), businesses deemed nonessential such as clothing stores, hair salons, barbershops, casinos and more were mandated to shut their doors to customers to slow down the spread of the coronavirus.

The rally was organized through the Reopen NY Facebook page, and similar events have been held across the country in the last few weeks.

These protests have taken a politically partisan edge, with many wearing “Make America Great Again” hats and waving “Trump 2020” signs in support of President Donald Trump (R).

Protesters held signs while others hung them on their cars. One read, “If it’s forced, are we free. Reopen NY Now.” Another sign said, “Small business is essential.” One car had an “Impeach dictator Cuomo” sign on its window, while a protester held a sign that read, “Stop the spread of tyranny.” One woman held two signs where one read, “All jobs are essential” and the other, “Hey Cuomo, domestic violence and poverty does equal death.”

Among those lining the street, some wore masks while others had no face covering. Children were among the protesters with their parents, many holding signs as well.

Setauket resident George Altemose attended the event with friends from the North Country Patriots, a conservative group that rallies on the northeast corner of Bennetts and North Country roads in Setauket every Saturday morning.

“I was there because of the ongoing COVID-19 problem, to show my support for President Trump and to express my disapproval of the misguided policies of Governor Cuomo, Mayor De Blasio and other politicians that are counterproductive in our battle to restore our normal lives,” Altemose said in an email after the rally.

He said he was pleased that he attended the May 1 rally.

“It was a most refreshing and uplifting experience to gather with hundreds of like-minded friends and neighbors in Commack, and to enjoy the enthusiastic responses from the passing motorists, the majority of whom took the time to wave, blow their horns and give us the “thumbs up” sign,” he said. “It looks like Nov. 3 will be a day to remember.”

For Altemose, the protests were about more than the closings. He said he has taken issue with a few of Cuomo’s mandates, including that nursing homes must admit those afflicted with the virus, “even though they are not hospitals and are not even close to being equipped to deal with a problem of this nature and magnitude.”

Altemose applauded the president’s performance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“President Trump has provided outstanding leadership from the earliest possible day of this crisis, including the placement of responsibility where it belongs,” he said.

Lorraine Yovino, from Hauppauge, said in a phone interview after the protest she was delighted to see so many people show up for the rally.

“The whole atmosphere was so positive and so hopeful,” she said. “It was just a very happy, hopeful group. I was so pleased to see so many young people too.”

Yovino said she has attended rallies in the past including the March for Life protests in Washington, D.C. and others in Albany. She heard about the May 1 rally through friends.

She said the Macy’s parking lot turned out to be an ideal place for everyone to park and protest as the lot was empty, unlike the Target parking lot in the next shopping center which was full.

“It’s unfair that the Target salespeople are considered essential, while the Macy’s people are nonessential,” she said. “One group gets a salary to support their families, and the other group is impoverished.”

While Yovino said she understands that there was not much information known about the virus at first, she said she feels experimental treatments, such as the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine may be helpful to many. Though it has shown in cases to help treat the virus, it is still largely untested and has shown to cause heart issues in some who use it.

“It’s no longer justified to put American citizens into poverty and not let them go to work, not let them open their businesses, not let them support their families,” she said.

Yovino said she believes Trump has been doing a good job when it comes to dealing with COVID-19, and people need to ask more questions regarding the local elected officials’  response to the pandemic.

“My heart is going out to so many people who are unnecessarily having their freedom taken away,”
she said. “Their constitutional rights are being trampled on.”

Earlier this week, Cuomo said that businesses in the state will begin opening after the May 15 pause deadline. However, the first nonessential businesses to open will be in areas with lower density in upstate New York, with those in the city and Long Island to follow at a later date. Currently, Suffolk and Nassau counties have not met much of the criteria set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control for any kind of reopening.

Miller’s Ale House in Commack hosted a St. Baldrick’s Day event March 8 to raise money for childhood cancer research.

According to Wayne Forte, lead organizer, the event raised nearly $50,000 for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation with 72 shavees. In the past 10 years, the Commack event has raised $500,000 for the  nonprofit.

On hand for the event were eight members of the Fr. Judge Knights of Columbus. At press time, the team raised nearly $6,000 for the cause, according to member Bob Slingo. The team is still accepting donations at www.stbaldricks.org/teams/FrJudgeKofC2020.