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Kings Park

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Suffolk County Police arrested a man after he pointed a shotgun at a group of people in a commercial parking lot in Kings Park June 2.

Kenneth Kopek was engaged in a verbal dispute with a group of people in a parking lot, located in front of Key Food at 66 Indian Head Road, when he pointed a loaded double-barreled shotgun in their direction at approximately 9:15 p.m. Kopek fled before officers arrived at the scene.

Following an investigation, Kopek, 39, was arrested a short time later at his residence on Shay Drive in Kings Park. He was charged with menacing and criminal possession of a weapon. He was held overnight at the Fourth Precinct and is scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip June 3.

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Suffolk County Police have arrested a Medford man after he allegedly assaulted a woman and barricaded himself in a Kings Park house for approximately 8 hours April 26.

Mark Reyes entered the home of a female acquaintance, located on Clover Lane, the evening of April 25 and allegedly held the woman against her will overnight. The 33-year-old woman was assaulted and sustained knife-wounds in the incident. She escaped the house at approximately 9:30 a.m. Sunday and was taken to an area hospital for treatment of serious but non-life threatening injures. Two children who were in the house at the time of the incident were unharmed.

Reyes fled the house on foot and kicked in the back door of a nearby house, located at Rumford Road, at approximately 9:35 a.m. Sunday.

A good Samaritan saw Reyes enter the home on Rumford Road and called 911. Suffolk County Police Emergency Service Section officers and members of the hostage negotiation team responded to the scene. Emergency Service Section officers were able to enter the home and bring a 77-year-old female resident to safety while Reyes barricaded himself in an upstairs bathroom. The woman was uninjured.

At approximately 5:45 p.m., Emergency Service Section officers re-entered the home and removed Reyes from the house. Reyes, who had a self-inflicted knife wound, was transported to an area hospital for treatment of serious but not life-threatening injuries.

Reyes, 51, is being charged with criminal mischief, criminal obstruction of breathing, two counts of unlawful imprisonment, assault in the first degree, aggravated criminal contempt, two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, criminal trespassing in the second degree, and criminal mischief in the third degree. Other charges may be pending. He will be arraigned on a later date.

The air was chilly but the sun was bright as hundreds turned out for Kings Park’s 10th Annual St. Patrick’s Parade March 7.

Jim Girvan, this year’s grand marshal, lead the way with dozens of his family members and friends marching in the parade.

More than 20 bands, 15 of which were bagpipes, as well as more than 10 fire departments and several local businesses made their way down the route which starts at the corner of Lou Avenue and Pulaski Road, continues down Main Street and turns onto Church Street and ends down Old Dock Road at William T. Rogers Middle School.

Jim Girvan, this year’s grand marshal, in his Kings Park home Photo by Rita J. Egan

Kings Park resident Jim Girvan was thrilled when he heard he would be this year’s grand marshal in the hamlet’s St. Patrick’s Day parade.

A scene from the 2019 Kings Park St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Photo by Rita J. Egan

“As a Scout in parades, I never thought I would be a grand marshal,” he said, adding that when he was a kid, he would march in fire department parades.

Kevin Johnston, chair of the parade committee, said Girvan was the perfect choice for grand marshal. He remembered Girvan saying that when he was younger, he wanted a place where he had friends, a job and a town, and he found that in Kings Park.

“He epitomizes what we consider Kings Parkers,” Johnston said.

The committee chair described this year’s grand marshal as a delight to be around.

“It’s that Irish smile of his that is just beaming,” Johnston said. “He has a very welcoming and endearing smile and that’s what kind of brings people in.”

The 88-year-old Girvan has a deep connection with Ireland. His father, John Girvan, was raised there, and while his mother Mary McGuckin was born in Scotland, she was of Irish descent.

It’s Kings Park though where Girvan has established deep roots.

His father worked in a naval yard in Staten Island, and as a semiprofessional soccer player, would travel out to Kings Park to entertain patients at the psychiatric hospital. Girvan said when his father broke his leg and lost his job at the naval yard, he was offered a position as a kitchen helper at the hospital and worked his way up to head cook.

That move was a fateful one for Girvan, who has lived in Kings Park most of his life except for two years when he was a nurse in Philadelphia. He and his wife have also raised six children in the hamlet.

After graduating from St. Joseph’s R.C. Church’s grammar school, he said he received a scholastic scholarship to Bishop Loughlin High School in Brooklyn. Girvan said he attended the school for two years until he asked his father if he could go to Kings Park High School. The grand marshal said he loved playing basketball, but couldn’t participate while commuting to the city to attend school, sometimes not returning home until 8 p.m.

He would go on to not only graduate from Kings Park High School but to also be part of the basketball team that won the 1950 Suffolk County Championship, the first time the school won a county title in the sport.

“He epitomizes what we consider Kings Parkers.”

— Kevin Johnston

Girvan went into nursing and worked at the Kings Park Psychiatric Center and then Northport Veterans Hospital. He said he was drafted by the army in 1966 but then was commissioned by the navy to work as a nurse in Philadelphia Naval Hospital, where he supervised the Acute PTSD Admissions Unit.

After two years living in New Jersey with his wife and children, and commuting to the Pennsylvania hospital, Girvan  and family returned to Kings Park. Through the decades the grand marshal has been involved in the Knights of Columbus, Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Kings Park Fire Department and Ambulance Committee and more. To this day, he is an usher at St. Joseph’s R.C. Church.

When it comes to Kings Park, Girvan realizes there has been a lot of development through the years, but he said when it comes to charm, it’s stayed the same.

“We didn’t change that much, believe it or not,” he said. “The town is pretty much the same.”

He and wife Irene, known by her nickname Rene, said they remember when the Northern Parkway ended in Nassau County and Smithtown was filled with farms. They also still call Commack “Comac” as many longtime residents do, the original spelling and pronunciation of the neighboring hamlet.

Girvan has marched in the Kings Park parade before with the Ancient Order of Hibernians, but this year will be special, he said. He and his wife said friends and family are coming from all over to see him lead the parade, including Texas, Maryland and Florida, and many will also walk with him. A good friend from San Antonio recently came up to surprise him for the Grand Marshal Ball that was held back in January.

“The Girvan family feels very good about it, and it will be in our hearts forever this day,” Girvan said.

Johnston said this year the parade will feature more than 20 bands, 15 of which will be bagpipes, as well as more than 10 fire departments and several local businesses.

The Kings Park 10th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade kicks off at noon Saturday, March 7, rain or shine. It begins at the corner of Lou Avenue and Pulaski Road, continues down Main Street and turns onto Church Street and ends down Old Dock Road at William T. Rogers Middle School.

Rocky Point’s Matt Caggiano battles in the paint as Kings Park junior Nicholas Svolos defends Feb. 5. Bill Landon photo

It was a must win for the Rocky Point boys basketball team in order to make post season play, but Kings Park had other ideas, defeating the Eagles in the final game of the regular season 77-27 Feb. 5.

Kings Park Co-Captain Jack Garside topped the scoring chart for the Kingsmen with six field goals, four triples and seven free throws for a team high of 31 points. Nicholas Svolos followed with 12 while Jon Borkowski banked 10.

Gavin Davanzo led the way for the Eagles with 18 points and teammate Will Platt netted 7 in the League V season finale.

The win lifts Kings Park to 15-1 in their division, 18-2 overall and look to carry the momentum into the opening round of the playoffs Feb. 12.

Rocky Point senior Jimmy Curley (l) runs 3200 meters along with Comsewogue’s Joe Fazio and Kings Park’s Jonathan Englehardt at SCCC Feb. 1. Bill Landon photo

The Mount Sinai Mustangs were the class of the field in the Suffolk County small school championship Feb. 1, sitting atop the leader-board to win the team championship with 66 points at Suffolk County Community College.

Kings Park finished 7th overall just ahead of Comsewogue High School. Shoreham-Wading River junior Blake Wehr placed 2nd in the high jump event clearing 6’ 4” landing the Wildcats 12th in the team standings.

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Kings Park track and field standouts competed in the Last Chance Meet Invitational at Suffolk County Community College’s Brentwood campus Jan. 25.

It was the final meet before the County Championship Feb. 1. Senior Luke Neilson placed first at 3,200m, setting a new school record for Kings Park clocking in at 9 minutes, 56.43 seconds, 14 seconds clear of second place.

Richard Mangogna, also a Kings Park senior, ran the shorter events where he captured the indoor pole vault record clearing 13 feet Dec. 14 at the Armory Track & Field facility in Manhattan. Mangogna is the No. 3 pole vaulter in Suffolk County and has qualified for the State Pole Vault Qualifier Championships at Mount Sinai High School Feb. 6.

 

Bellone and Wehrheim meet at Park Bake Shop for signing of a $500,000 law for economic development project.

Popular downtown Kings Park businesses, such as the Park Bake Shop and the Kings Park Shipping and Business Center, have said for years that they lacked adequate parking for their customers. Their decade-old complaint has finally spurred action that has become one of the county’s most significant investments in a downtown: $500,000 for a new parking lot that will provide 23 stalls for local businesses. 

“I was shocked when I got the call,” said Lucy Shtanko, who owns the bakery with her husband, Gabe.

On Thursday, Oct. 3, County Executive Steve Bellone (D) sat beside Smithtown’s Town Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) inside the busy bakery to sign the new Jumpstart economic initiative. 

“When we’re focused on families, communities rather than political nonsense,” Bellone said. “We get things done.”

Bellone said that Kings Park had all the qualities worthy of economic development efforts. It has a train station, natural resources, a good school district and is located between Stony Brook University and Cold Spring Harbor Lab. Most importantly, people worked together to make it happen. 

“When you talk about revitalization, you have to start with community right from the start, otherwise it will fail,” Bellone said. “This community has done it right.”

Shopowners Shtanko and John Nobles, who own the shipping center, said they had gathered years ago more than 750 signatures and worked with civic groups and other businesses to mobilize action. Their persistence has ultimately paid off. 

Wehrheim, who lives in Kings Park, said that the town had already purchased in the late summer of 2018 two vacant lots for the additional parking at a cost of $279,000.  

“We cannot do this alone,” the supervisor said. “We rely on higher levels of government and there couldn’t be a better partner than Bellone.”

The jumpstart funds will pay for the entire project from start to finish, according to the supervisor’s office. But, not for the land that has already been purchased. Costs include surveying, erosion control and environmental protection, excavation, grading, pavement, concrete, handicap accessible sidewalk entrances, landscaping, all new electric lighting, traffic control signage and labor.

The parking lot is expected to be particularly useful for the Park Bake Shop and the Shipping Center and restaurants The Reel Kitchen, Dragon House, Red and Relish. The additional parking will also likely help with leasing out shops that have been vacant, according to town officials. 

Since the downtown is laid out rectangularly with the train station serving as a corner hub, some business leaders foresee Kings Park becoming a more popular destination. Joann Galletta Hahn, president of the Kings Park Heritage Museum, predicts that people will be more likely to stroll the business district. 

Bellone noted that when the chamber, civic, businesses, residents and government join together, anything is possible. 

Twenty-four hours after the jumpstart announcement, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed a bill that essentially secured funds for $20 million in sewer upgrades for Kings Park. The upgrades are considered essential for the downtown business development.

“I thank the governor for signing this important bill into law,” said State Sen. John Kennedy (R) who was the bill’s original sponsor. “And I am grateful the project can now proceed.”

The overarching consensus of the community after the announcements: Great things are on the horizon.

The jumpstart project will begin immediately with the surveying. The town expects to finish the parking lot in May or June of 2020.

September 2, 2019 - Sportime2 youth tennis program during an on court demonstration at the 2019 US Open. (Photo by Jennifer Pottheiser/USTA)

Sportime2, a youth tennis league in Kings Park, participated in a Net Generation “Kids on Court” activation at the 2019 U.S. Open on Sept. 2. Twenty-four kids from the program were part of an on-court tennis demonstration prior to the start of a match between Aidan Mayo and Shunsuke Mitsui on Court 12. Sportime2 member Diane Durante, tossed the coin prior to the match and then posed for a photo with the players. 

Kids On Court, part of the USTA’s youth tennis brand, Net Generation, is expected to give more than 1,000 youth tennis players from across the country the opportunity to play this year on the iconic courts of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. 

Kings Park kids on the court at U.S. Open

This year marks the first time American tennis has one unified youth brand for children to get into the sport. Net Generation will make it easier for kids and their parents to learn about tennis and get into the game in schools, parks and tennis clubs across the country. The movement embraces all aspects of youth play for kids ages 5 to 18. For more information, visit www.NetGeneration.com.

-Compiled by Donna Deedy

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The Suffolk County Junior Tennis League in Smithtown runs a demonstration Aug. 26 at the U.S. Open. Photo from Sharp Communications

United States Tennis Association, the national governing body for the sport of tennis, is shining a spotlight on its youth tennis leagues during the 2019 U.S. Open, and two local teams are participating in events. 

Children from the Suffolk County Junior Tennis League in Smithtown and the Sportime League in Kings Park are conducting on-court tennis demonstrations for fans. 

Net Generation kids on court before a match between Denis Kudla and Janko Tipsarevic at the 2019 U.S. Open Aug. 26. Photo by Jennifer Pottheiser/USTA

The opportunity for young athletes to play a role in one of the world’s highest-attended sporting events has become a key component of the sport’s success. Suffolk’s founder and executive director, Joe Arias, was unavailable for comment this week, but national manager for USTA’s youth brand Net Generation, Leah Friedman, shared her insights. 

“Our on-court experiences allow us to celebrate our coaches, who are offering tennis in their communities and going above and beyond to impact their players,” she said. “Joe Arias and Suffolk County continue to inspire and engage their community. We want the next generation of greats leaving the U.S. Open with a lifetime of memories.” 

Madison De Cicco, 8, of Smithtown, tossed the coin Aug. 26 prior to the opening day match between Denis Kudla and Janko Tipsarević and then posed for a photo with the two players. The Suffolk County league delivered a demo session to fans prior to that match. On Monday, Sept. 2, the youth league at Sportime in Kings Park will put on a demo show on Court 12. 

Now in its third year, the program, called Kids on Court, has expanded each year with 60 groups nationwide participating. The demonstration program is part of the USTA’s youth tennis brand, Net Generation. The nonprofit organization expects to give more than 1,300 youth tennis players from across the country the opportunity to play on the iconic courts of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center during the first 10 days of the 2019 tournament. 

The youth demonstrations, called activations, will take place prior to sessions on each of the U.S. Open show courts: Arthur Ashe Stadium, Louis Armstrong Stadium, Grandstand and Court 17 as well as Courts 5, 11 and 12. They will also be held in Arthur Ashe Stadium prior to four selected night sessions.

Net Generation wants to make it easier for kids and their parents to learn about tennis and get into the game in schools, parks and tennis clubs across the country. The movement is designed to appeal to kids ages 5-18. For more information, visit netgeneration.usta.com.