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Lloyd Harbor

A drone captures a photo of The Van Wyck-Lefferts Tide Mill in Lloyd Harbor. Photo from The Van Wyck-Lefferts Tide Mill Sanctuary

One of the oldest industrial buildings on Long Island is about to get an upgrade.

The Van Wyck-Lefferts Tide Mill Sanctuary recently announced in a press release that the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation awarded it a grant of more than $97,000. The matching grant will go toward the restoration of the 223-year-old Van Wyck-Lefferts Tide Mill in Lloyd Harbor and the dam where it is located.

The tide mill sanctuary is a nonprofit established to preserve and promote public access to the three and one-half story 18th-century tide gristmill. Both the timber-frame wood tide mill and the 400-foot long earthen dam are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation’s mission is to advance Long Island’s regional history,” said Kathryn Curran, executive director of RDLGF. “All projects chosen to receive RDLGF funding each have their own individual impact, but mark a shared place in a larger story. The Van Wyck-Lefferts Mill is one of many local mills that dot this Island, each representing commerce, community devolvement and technology.”

According to the tide mill sanctuary, the grant will help to restore the earthen dam. The nonprofit will also be able to install a new roof on the mill building and do interior structural repairs. This work is expected to be completed in the middle of this year.

“The mill is considered one of the best preserved 18th-century tide mills in the United States and is one of only 10 surviving examples of tide mills in the northeast from Virginia to Maine,” said Robert Hughes, tide mill sanctuary board member and Town of Huntington historian. “The funding from the Gardiner Foundation will help to ensure the continued preservation of this remarkable structure, which was built in 1797 and continued to serve local farmers for the next three-quarters of a century.”

In the future, the nonprofit also hopes to shore up the bulkhead, which protects the mill’s stone foundation, and to restore the bridge over the spillway that connects the north and south sections of the dam.

Third-grade student struck by van in Huntington, undergoing treatment at Cohen Children’s Medical Center

The Mendelsohn family of Lloyd Harbor. Photo from GoFundMe

Two distant Long Island communities have rallied to support an 8-year-old Lloyd Harbor girl seriously injured in a Huntington accident earlier this month.

GoFundMe campaigns have raised more than $40,000 to help Leah Mendelsohn, a third-grader at Lloyd Harbor School, who was hit by a van while crossing New York Avenue Nov. 3. Each fundraising campaign hopes to be able to offset the family’s medical bills while Mendelsohn begins her long road to recovery.

“Communities come together when they need to,” said Lisa Pinsker, of East Northport, a longtime family friend of the Mendelsohn family. “I’m happy to know that it’s going to help them — and after the amount of money we raised, they are pretty grateful for it.”

I’m happy to know that it’s going to help them — and after the amount of money we raised, they are pretty grateful for it.”

— Lisa Pinsker

On Nov. 3, Leah was with her mother picking up her younger sister, Sara, from dance class at Laura’s Dance & Fitness Studio in Huntingtonat approximately 12:10 p.m. As Leah was crossing New York Avenue, she was hit by a 1997 Ford van traveling southbound driven by Pedro Guerrero, of West Babylon. He stayed at the scene of the accident.

Leah was transported to Huntington Hospital by the Huntington Community First Aid Squad, then transferred to the intensive care unit of Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park due to her extensive head trauma, liver and lung injuries.

The first GoFundMe Campaign for Leah was launched by ENT and Allergy Associates, a Garden City-based medical practice where her father, Michael, works as a pediatric ear, nose and throat specialist. It has raised more than $22,800 of its $25,000 goal as of this paper’s press time Nov. 20 and can be found at www.gofundme.com/helping-leah-mendelsohn.

The medical office jumped into action as Dr. Mendelsohn has been out of work for several months, in and out of hospitals battling a life-threatening infection, according to Pinsker.

“It’s the financial burden that’s hitting the family right now,” she said. “When he’s not able to work, he doesn’t get paid.”

Leah’s father has extended his leave from work in order to stay 24/7 at the bedside of his daughter, who is undergoing extensive surgeries at Cohen’s. She most recently underwent a skull reconstruction surgery Nov. 14.

We’re hopeful, but she’s got a really long road to recovery in front of her.”

— Lisa Pinsker

A second GoFundMe campaign was launched by family friend Tricia Avidano, of Cold Spring Harbor, who hoped to raise an additional $20,000 to help offset Leah’s medical bills and family’s expenses at this difficult time. Avidano turned to Pinsker for help in terms of helping direct the funds to the family.

The page has raised more than $22,000 of its $20,000 goal as of Nov. 20 and is no longer accepting donations. It can be found at www.gofundme.com/help-for-leah-mendelsohn-and-family.

In addition to the fundraisers, Pinsker said the Lloyd Harbor community has pulled together to prepare hot evening meals for the five-person Mendelsohn family.

“Every night there’s somebody coming in to make sure they are eating — eating healthy — and taken care of,” Pinsker said.

She said the family hopes as of Nov. 16 that Leah would be released from the hospital soon but will have to undergo extensive therapy at home.

“We’re hopeful, but she’s got a really long road to recovery in front of her,” Pinsker said.

Kyle Gutman smiles with his newly refurbished Jeep. Photo from Kellie Ryan

By Victoria Espinoza

Kyle Gutman’s wish came true — and then some.

Lloyd Harbor resident Kyle Gutman was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014, at age 17. While undergoing treatment during his senior year of high school, the Make-A-Wish Foundation reached out to him to see if it could grant him a wish. On Dec. 19 Kyle Gutman, now cancer free, received his wish: to have his 1989 Grand Jeep Wagoneer restored.

Kyle Gutman and his father Jim purchased the Jeep together back in 2009 and worked on repairing it for years.

“We bought it together and played and worked on it for numerous years,” Jim Gutman said in a phone interview. “It was fun, he learned a lot with it. But there were many things we couldn’t fix ourselves, and he always wanted to get it fixed up to be proud of it.”

Tim Browner, president of AutoMat Customizing and Restoration, and Make-A-Wish helped bring the Gutmans’ Jeep to the next level.

Kyle Gutman smiles with his newly refurbished Jeep. Photo from Kellie Ryan

“He has such enthusiasm about the Jeep, as did the whole family,” Browner said in a phone interview. “You could tell it was more than just a method of transportation, it meant a lot to them. There’s always a reason why someone wants to restore a car.”

Browner restored the interior of the Jeep, with new seating, wood panels and more.

The transformed Jeep was presented to Kyle Gutman at the end of December in Browner’s location in Hicksville.

“It was really nice, seeing the look on his face,” Browner said. “I’m sure he’s going wild with it now.”

Kyle Gutman said he loved the reveal.

“It was awesome, I have never seen it look as good as it did and was very excited that I can finally take it home and use it again,” he said.

Kyle Gutman’s mother Tracy agreed that seeing the expression on his face the first time he saw the Jeep was priceless.

“His eyes lit up,” she said in a phone interview. “It was like watching a little kid at Christmas. He immediately went and sat in the car and it just suited him so. He and his father just kept looking at it like ‘wow.’”

Jim Gutman agreed the revel was exciting.

“We usually see the car outside the house, and it started out as a 17-year-old boy’s car, which typically ends up looking like their bedrooms after a while,” he said with a laugh. “So seeing it super clean and in the showroom was great. It just came out fantastic — I want to drive it everyday.”

Rather than ask for a trip to the Superbowl, or a vacation to a tropical island, Tracy Gutman said this wish is something her son will have forever.

“It’s something to look at to symbolize he beat this [cancer],” she said.

Kyle Gutman said he wanted his wish to be something he could have forever.

“I wanted my wish to be something meaningful that would last for a long time,” he said.

Jim Gutman said he never expected the car to become such an important part of the family.

“We originally just purchased it to be a little bit of a project for us,” he said. “Now it’s more like a collector’s car. I think this car will be around forever; it’ll be a family heirloom.”

Dennis Cullen is charged with drowning his mother. Photo from SCPD

A 63-year-old woman was found dead in the back yard of her Lloyd Harbor home on Wednesday, Aug. 17.

Lloyd Harbor Police officers found Elizabeth Cullen’s body after they received a request to check on her welfare at her residence on White Hill Road. Once she was found dead, Lloyd Harbor Police contacted Suffolk County Police Homicide Squad detectives to conduct an investigation.

While police forces were at the house, Denis D. Cullen Jr., the victim’s son, came home and police arrested him and charged him with second-degree murder.

No attorney information on the 23-year-old was immediately available.

Sebastian Prestia is the No. 1 ranked 6-year-old chess player in the country. Photo from Rosanna Prestia

By Victoria Espinoza

It’s check and mate for one Lloyd Harbor 6-year-old.

Sebastian Prestia beat 30 of the highest ranked chess players his age and under last month, at the ChessKid Online National Invitational Championship, to make him the No. 1 ranked 6-year-old chess player in the nation. He was also the youngest child competing at that tournament.

“It feels great to work hard and then win the national championship by beating the really good players,” Sebastian said in a phone interview on Tuesday.

Being on top is not exactly different for Sebastian. He was also the No. 1 chess player when he was 5 years old.

“After about six months of watching his brothers, Sebastian wanted his own trophies,” she said. “Now, he has the largest trophies in the home!” 

He said he really enjoys solving puzzles and engaging skilled players, where whoever solves the puzzle better and faster, wins.

“It makes me feel good,” Sebastian said of whenever he can best another player.

Rosanna Prestia, Sebastian’s mother, said her youngest son has been watching his brothers and dad play chess for years, which made him want to compete on his own.

“After about six months of watching his brothers, Sebastian wanted his own trophies,” she said. “Now, he has the largest trophies in the home!”

Brothers Paris and Frankie certainly share the talent for competitive chess, with Frankie set as the best 7-year-old chess player in New York last year, and Paris is ranked in the top 30 nationally for 10-year-olds.

The three Prestia boys smile with their chess trophies. Photo from Rosanna Prestia
The three Prestia boys smile with their chess trophies. Photo from Rosanna Prestia

Together, the brothers set a New York State Scholastic Chess Championship record by taking home top five finishes from each respective grade. Sebastian placed second in first grade, Frankie came in fifth in third grade, and Paris earned a third-place finish among fourth-graders. Prestia said it’s even more impressive because two of the boys were born later in the year — so they are usually the youngest kids competing at their levels.

And although all are champions in their own right, Prestia said she and her husband never let the boys compete against each other in tournaments.

“We want to maintain a harmony between the boys,” she said.

Prestia said Sebastian practices daily with different puzzles and brain games and only started playing chess two years ago. “He has a lot of talent, but he also puts in a ton of hard work,” she said, adding that Sebastian doesn’t like being called a prodigy because chess requires a lot of practice, and he works hard to improve and stay on top.

Now he is preparing to represent America at the 2017 World Cadet Chess Championship in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, next August — although his brothers expressed some concerns of running into any mosquitos while there.

Aside from chess, Sebastian said he enjoys playing the piano and other sports with his brothers including tennis, baseball, badminton and swimming.

The landscape truck after firefighters put out the flames on Saturday, April 16. Photo by Huntington Fire Department

Firefighters worked to extinguish flames that engulfed a landscaping truck in Lloyd Harbor this past Saturday, April 16.

The landscape truck was completely engulfed in flames. Photo by Huntington Fire Department
The landscape truck was completely engulfed in flames. Photo by Huntington Fire Department

Huntington Fire Department volunteers arrived at 1:45 p.m. at a residence on Lloyd Point Drive, where the truck was parked in the driveway. Crews from two engines battled the blaze, which consumed the truck.

Units were under the command of Chief Jesse Cukro, who was assisted by Deputy Chiefs Rob Conroy and Brian Keane. The Lloyd Harbor Police Department and Town of Huntington Spill Response were also on the scene.

There were no injuries reported.

The Lloyd Harbor house still stands after the fire. Photo from Steve Silverman

Five Huntington area fire departments worked together on Wednesday night to fight a fire that caused extensive damage to a home in Lloyd Harbor.

Fire fighters work to put out the flames of a Lloyd Harbor house fire. Photo from Steve Silverman
Fire fighters work to put out the flames of a Lloyd Harbor house fire. Photo from Steve Silverman

The Huntington Fire Department responded to a call at 8 p.m. for a residential structure fire on Seacrest Drive in the Lloyd Neck neighborhood of Lloyd Harbor that involved the house’s attached garage and second floor. The Halesite, Cold Spring Harbor, Huntington Manor, Centerport and Greenlawn fire departments assisted the Huntington department About 85 firefighters used ten trucks to get the fire under control in two hours, under the command of Chief Jesse Cukro, supported by Assistant Chiefs Rob Conroy, Brian Keane and Scott Dodge.

Firefighters were able to stop the blaze and contain the damage to the center portion of the home. No residents were home at the time of the fire, and there were no injuries reported. The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Lloyd Harbor Police Department and Suffolk Police Arson Squad.

A 28-foot female humpback whale was spotted floating in Lloyd Harbor on Saturday morning. Photo by A.J. Carter

A dead female 28-foot humpback whale was found floating in Lloyd Harbor over the weekend.It is the seventh large-sized whale to have washed up in New York this year — five of which were humpback whales, according to Rachel Bosworth, a spokesperson for the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation foundation. And it could have been one of several spotted swimming in Hempstead Harbor recently, she said. The foundation is a nonprofit that operates the New York State Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Program.

The whale died of blunt force trauma, a necropsy performed by the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation revealed on Sunday.

“A cause of death has not been determined as of now but they’re going to continue an investigation to see if this is also one of the whales spotted swimming in Hempstead Harbor,” Bosworth said.

The animal was spotted 150 yards offshore Woodland Drive in Lloyd Harbor on Saturday morning. Town spokesman A.J. Carter said a resident called at about 10:30 to 11 a.m. reporting a “whale in distress.” The town harbormaster’s office responded and worked with the foundation, along with the U.S. Coast Guard Station in Eatons Neck.

Town officials towed the large animal over to the U.S. Coast Guard Station, where the necropsy was conducted. It’s general rule of thumb that a whale weighs a foot per ton, so the animal weighed about 28 tons, according to Bosworth.

“The biologists, interns, and volunteers from the Riverhead foundation completed an external and internal exam to document the whale, and also determine a possible cause of death,” Bosworth said in a statement describing the incident. “There is evidence of blunt force trauma on the right side of the whale’s body.”

By “blunt force trauma,” that could mean a large vessel that struck the whale, Bosworth said. But because of where the whale washed up, officials aren’t exactly sure that’s what caused the whale’s death — because the area it was spotted floating in doesn’t really have those kinds of vessels, she said.

Lately the foundation’s gotten calls, photos and videos from members of the public who’ve been spotting whales further west on Long Island — in the eastern Nassau/western Suffolk region, she said. The foundation had been monitoring reports of three humpback whales swimming in Hempstead Harbor and Bosworth said officials are looking into whether this female whale was one of them.

“We’ve been seeing a lot more activity and we think one of the main reasons is there’s a larger food source out here right now,” she said.

It’s not rare for whales to be in New York waters. It might just be that more people are out on the water and seeing them.

Last year’s whale figures pale in comparison to this year. Last year, two large whales were “stranded” in New York — meaning they washed up either dead or alive. There was a third in New Jersey that the foundation assisted with, but it doesn’t count towards New York numbers.

The foundation advises that it’s important for the public to remain at a minimum of 50 yards away from all marine animals, for the safety of the public and the animals. All sightings should be reported to the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation by calling the group’s 24-hour hotline at (631) 369-9829. Photos and videos are also very helpful for the foundation to identify and document animals, and can be emailed to [email protected].

Galip Gulmez mugshot from SCPD

Police arrested an elderly man on Monday, three weeks after they say he lured children with candy while masturbating.

The 87-year-old Lloyd Harbor man was sitting in his gray 2011 Subaru at West Neck Beach on the afternoon of Aug. 10, when he allegedly offered candy to nearby children. The Suffolk County Police Department said a woman who was at the beach with the kids went up to the Subaru to intervene and saw that the suspect was not wearing pants and was masturbating.

Detectives from the SCPD’s 2nd Squad investigated the case, and on Monday afternoon arrested Horseshoe Path resident Galip Gulmez. He is charged with public lewdness and with endangering the welfare of a child.

Attorney information for Gulmez was not available Tuesday morning.

According to police, the suspect was scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday.

Young bathers dive into the waters of a newly reopened beach at the Centerport Yacht Club. Photo by Rohma Abbas

The county health department warned locals on Friday against bathing at 25 Huntington area beaches, the morning after heavy rainfall drenched the North Shore.

According to the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, it issued the advisory because the rain could have led to bacteria levels in the water that exceed state standards.

“The beaches covered by the advisory are located in areas that are heavily influenced by stormwater runoff from the surrounding watersheds and/or adjacent tributaries,” the department said in a press release, “and, because of their location in an enclosed embayment, experience limited tidal flushing.”

Affected beaches include Eagle Dock Community Beach, Cold Spring Harbor Beach Club beach, West Neck Beach, Lloyd Neck Bath Club beach, Lloyd Harbor Village Park beach, Gold Star Battalion Park beach, Head of the Bay Club beach, Nathan Hale Beach Club beach, Baycrest Association beach, Bay Hills Beach Association beach, Crescent Beach, Knollwood Beach Association beach, Fleets Cove Beach, Centerport Beach, Huntington Beach Community Association beach, Centerport Yacht Club beach, Steers Beach, Asharoken Beach, Hobart Beach (both the Long Island Sound and cove sides), Crab Meadow Beach, Wincoma Association beach, Valley Grove Beach, Prices Bend Beach and Callahans Beach.

The advisory was scheduled to be lifted at 9 p.m. on Friday, to give enough time for two tidal cycles to clear out the water. However, the health department said the advisory would not be lifted if water samples from the affected beaches showed continued high levels of bacteria.

For up-to-date information on the affected beaches, call the health department’s bathing beach hotline at 631-852-5822 or visit the beach monitoring webpage.