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Mount Sinai

Volunteers from the Coastal Steward Long Island group getting ready at Cedar Beach to set sail and plant oysters in Port Jefferson Harbor. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Not only are they delicious, but they’re good for the environment, too. 

On Sunday Oct. 18, several volunteers from Coastal Steward Long Island who work at the Mount Sinai Marine Environmental Stewardship Center planted 400,000 oysters in and around the harbor.

Oysters are one of the best natural ways filter local waters. Photo by Julianne Mosher

“Fifteen years ago, there were no oysters in Port Jefferson Harbor,” said Bruce Folz, CSLI director of shellfish restoration. “When my kids were little, we were walking down the beach and they were picking up oyster shells, but there were no live ones. … We want to change that.”

According to Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (R), Long Island used to be a saturated with shellfish. 

“There was a time 50 years ago when you could just walk down the beach and grab oysters or clams,” he said. 

But because of poachers and pollution, clams and oysters that once covered the sands have become difficult to find.

Every year, in a collaborative effort with local groups and the town, shellfish are grown in netted cages with the expectation to plant them back in the local waters, north to south, including Mount Sinai Harbor and Bellport Bay. Back in August, the town announced the supply of 50,000 seed clams for planting in the South Shore. Earlier this year, the town finished several upgrades to the Mount Sinai mariculture facility, thanks to a $400,000 state grant.

“We make sure the seeds are distributed to other groups to plant and spread them out,” Romaine said. 

CSLI originally got started restoring the shellfish population back in 2000, and now it has a steady group of volunteers who come to the mariculture facility in Mount Sinai Harbor every two weeks, May through October, to maintain both the facilities and the seed beds. As they have done every year, volunteers come down to the harbor early in the morning to head out by boat and drop the oysters into the water with hopes they survive and thrive. 

“We put them in cages and bags, or as I like to call them ‘condos,’ then every couple of weeks we check up on them,” Folz said. “They have an 80-to-90% survival rate in the cages, but only 10 or 15 while in nature.” 

By planting the shellfish, they won’t only be harvested for commercial use, but will help clean up the water as a natural ocean vacuum. The shellfish program is becoming ever more important for water quality, as locations as close as Stony Brook Harbor have experienced hypoxia, or a lack of oxygen in water, just this year, according to the annual Long Island Water Quality Impairments report. Shellfish such as oysters and clams are great for filtering out organic particulates.

The Town of Brookhaven has seeded over 1 million oysters since it started its program. Photo by Julianne Mosher

“Adult oysters can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day,” Folz said. “We’ve talked to a couple of baymen and I’ve gotten the feeling it’s become a viable product — it’s increasing the oyster count.”

Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R) said that organizations like the Coastal Steward have played an important role in bringing shellfish back to local waters. 

“The Town of Brookhaven has beautiful and bountiful waterways that are so much a part our economy, community and the environment,” she said. “We must do everything we can to take good care of these natural assets, so generations to come will benefit by our actions to preserve and protect them.”

Since the planting program began, well more than one million shellfish have been planted in Port Jefferson and Mount Sinai harbors, helping the ecosystem and cleaning things up.

“We’re not giving up, we believe in our environment and that’s crucial,” Romaine said

File photo.

Suffolk County Police said a woman was arrested Saturday Aug. 29 for allegedly driving while intoxicated when she struck a pedestrian in Mount Sinai.

Jennifer Hohn, 50 of St. James, was driving a 2018 Toyota northbound in front of 745 Mount Sinai Coram Road, when she allegedly crashed the vehicle into a parked 2010 GMC pickup truck occupied by a man and woman, which then struck a man on a bicycle who was leaning against the truck from the right shoulder of the road at 2:27 a.m. Hohn then crashed the Toyota into a sign, a mailbox and a fence.

The pedestrian, Jason Sciortino, 40, of Port Jefferson Station, was transported by Port Jefferson EMS to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment of serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

Following an investigation by 6th Squad detectives, officers charged Hohn with driving while intoxicated. She was arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip Aug. 29. She is next set to appear in first district court Sept. 2.

Detectives are asking anyone who witnessed the incident to call the 6th Squad at 631-854-8652.

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Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini (D). File photo

A Mount Sinai man was officially sentenced in Suffolk County Supreme Court Wednesday, Aug. 26 for an alleged scheme to defraud people about a fake recycling plant in upstate New York.

Between August 2010 and November 2017, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office said Joseph Prosa, 53, of Mount Sinai, operated a money-making scheme where he claimed to victims that he was seeking investments to build a recycling facility in Poughkeepsie, telling them he owned land for the facility, that he had a permit and that he was a recycling and plant construction expert for a process called “gasification,” or the process of burning garbage for use in things like boilers furnaces and gas engines. Prosecutors said none of this was true. 

Through the scheme, Prosa stole around $3.6 million from a blind Poughkeepsie man in his 80s. The man has since passed away. He also allegedly stole around $250,000 from a second victim who resides in Suffolk County. Both victims were previous acquaintances of Prosa’s, the DA’s office said.

“This was a grossly deceitful scheme in which the defendant stole millions of dollars from his victims, including a senior citizen who was robbed of his life savings,” District Attorney Tim Sini (D) said. “He operated this scheme out of pure greed and callousness.”

The DA said the investigation revealed Prosa used the stolen money on personal expenses, including using more than $1.2 million in casinos and racehorse gambling. An additional amount was used to purchase a racehorse. The defendant also used the stolen funds to repay large amounts of debt incurred by gambling and to pull his house out of foreclosure.

Prosa was indicted in December 2018 and he pled guilty May 18, 2019.

Prosa was sentenced by Acting Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho for first degree grand larceny and first degree scheme to defraud. The sentence incurs 2 ½ years to 7 ½ years for the grand larceny and 1 to 3 years for the scheme to defraud. The sentences will run concurrently.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Thalia Stavrides, currently of the Conviction Integrity Bureau.

 

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Your vote is the most valuable treasure you own. Take good care of it, use it wisely, never sell it and demand a great return on your investment. I have spent years encouraging people to vote.  This year is quickly becoming a time when we must protect and defend our right to vote! Below are a few suggestions some should be done now so you will be prepared:

1. Items 1a, 1b,and 1c require the assistance of the Suffolk County Board of Elections. It is suggested that you contact them by email so you spend time on a long phone hold:  suffolkcountyny.gov/departments/BOE

1a. If you have moved in the past year, make sure you are registered. Contact the board of elections. Check online for their contact information.

1b. If someone in your family has or will turn 18 before Nov. 3, ask how they register and what documents must be provided.

1c. Request an Absentee Ballot. You can get the request form online, print it out, fill it out and mail it to the board of elections. Do this as soon as possible.

2. Your Ballot will be mailed to you, ask the BOE when they mail the ballots so you can watch for it. When it arrives, Vote and mail back right away. Do not wait until the middle of October as the mail might be delayed then.

3. If you plan to vote in person, make sure your polling place has not been moved. Wear a mask, gloves and carry hand sanitizer and most importantly, practice social distancing.

4. Try to avoid taking children to the polls. If you must, make sure they have well-fitting masks, keep them close, no wandering. Before getting back in the car everyone should sanitize their hands.

5. If you decide to vote in person bring proper identification: driver’s license, passport. There can always be a first time when you will have to show ID.

Live at polling places vs. total mail in ballots for Mount Sinai School District

In Mount Sinai, the voting data of this past year’s school budget vote showed a huge increase.   

Vote Counts  2014 – 2019  based upon in person voting:

Lowest count was 962 while the highest was 1557. The average for those five years was 1352.8. 

In 2020 ballots were mailed to all registered voters in the school district and could be mailed back or put in a drop box in the district office lobby.

The total number of votes cast was 2993. This number is 1641 more votes than the average of the past five years.

There is a fantastic website which is designed to answer voter questions and provide information, state specific, for voters. The site is presented by the National Association of Secretaries of State and it can be reached at canivote.org.

Vote as if your life depends upon it, because the American way of life does. 

Lynn Jordan is a lifelong Long Island-based community advocate, stemming from her time as a volunteer district lobbyist to PTA Council President at the Comsewogue School District, which preceded her 19-year tenure as a nurse at Mount Sinai Middle School, following which she served 12 years on the Mount Sinai board of education.

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The Mount Sinai School District released its preliminary reopening plans July 31, and though documents state the district would prefer to have all students in school five days a week, it has instead put forward a hybrid model for all students in grades 1 through 12.

Documents state that Mount Sinai simply does not have the building space to comply with New York State guidelines on remaining six feet apart. All students will be put into two cohorts separately in the elementary, middle and high schools. Cohorts will be alphabetically based in order to keep students in the same family going in at the same time.

Monday through Tuesday and Thursday through Friday will be taken up by one of the two cohorts, and all students will share Wednesday for remote learning.

Meanwhile, students in kindergarten will be able to attend in-person four days a week, with remote learning one day a week. In the elementary school, each room will need to be thoroughly disinfected in between cohorts usage.

Students in special education which normally learn in “self-contained classrooms” will be able to attend in-person instruction four days a week, with remote learning one day a week.

Kindergarteners will be assigned to classrooms of 18 to 20 on average, which the district said it should be able to do with current accommodations. For Grades 1 through 4, students will be placed into cohorts of 10 to 15 students depending upon the physical size of the classroom. This will be accomplished by taking a traditional classroom of 20 to 25 students and splitting into two groups alphabetically. The elementary school will prevent intermingling across cohorts by limiting movement of the cohort throughout the day. The only movement of the cohort will be to lunch and potentially physical education. Faculty may travel in and out of the classroom for art and music instruction.

During remote learning, the district said attendance will be taken through Google Classroom recording a student’s logon. Remote learning may consist of synchronous, with a teacher present live online, and asynchronous instruction dependent upon the course or teacher.

Teachers are also expected to communicate with parents weekly, for elementary students, and biweekly for parents with kids in the middle and high school.

In order to attempt to maintain social distancing, the district will put signage and markings on the floor to designate traffic in the hallways and for standing on lines in places like the cafeteria.

Cohorts in the middle and high school will be broken up into last names starting with A through Kh and Ki through Z. Music lessons will be created within each cohort group. Students will also be assigned one of several doorways in each building to both enter and exit the school, and no student is allowed to use their gym or hallway locker, and they will often rely on online textbooks.

Upon arrival, students that do not have the required proof of temperature from home will be directed to a screening area. The district will conduct temperature checks outside the building at a designated location upon arrival via touchless thermometers. If the student has a temperature above 100 degrees, the nurse will be called by radio to escort the student to isolation waiting room for pick up.

The district’s survey showed that out of 1,085 responses, 86 percent said they would send their children to school for in-person instruction in the fall. 66.5 percent said they would need to use buses for transportation.

Still, some number of respondents said they would require district help. Approximately 112 respondents said their child does not have access to a computer, tablet or laptop for use in the online component.

Suffolk County police car. File photo

Suffolk County Police arrested four people the night of July 29 for allegedly selling E-liquid nicotine, in the form of JUULpods, to minors at businesses located in Mount Sinai, Medford, and Centereach.

In response to community complaints, 6th Precinct Crime Section officers, in conjunction with representatives from the Suffolk County Department of Health Services Tobacco Regulation Enforcement Unit, conducted an investigation into the sale of E-liquid nicotine to minors, during which five businesses were checked for compliance on July 30 between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. Those businesses that were found to not be in compliance were issued a notice of violation by the Suffolk County Department of Health.

The following clerks were arrested and charged with unlawfully dealing with a child 2nd degree after they sold E-liquid nicotine to a minor:

  • Nalin Kaushik, 22, employed at Barcode Hookah and Smoke Shop, located at 39 Route 25A in Mount Sinai
  • Dylan Kincel, 19, employed at Vapor Nation, located at 331 Route 25A in Mount Sinai
  • Anthony Mazza, 21, employed at Hookah City, located at 2717 Route 112 in Medford
  • Mario Hawk, 24, employed at Hemp Clouds, located at 1515 Middle Country Road in Centereach

All four clerks were issued Field Appearance Tickets and are scheduled to appear in First District Court in Central Islip at a later date.

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Suffolk County Police 4th Squad detectives are investigating a motor vehicle crash that killed a man in Smithtown early in the morning July 9.

James Turek was driving a 2007 Nissan Altima eastbound on Route 347, just east of Terry Road, when the vehicle collided with the rear of an eastbound box truck at about 1:15 a.m.

Turek, 33, of Mount Sinai, was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The driver of the box truck, an adult male, was transported to the same hospital for evaluation.

Detectives are asking anyone with information on the crash to contact the 4th Squad at 631-854-8452.

Mount Sinai 2020 Valedictorian Aaron Angress and Salutatorian Skyler Spitz. Photos from MSSD

The two young men heading up Mount Sinai’s Class of 2020 are mathematically minded individuals hoping to reach new heights in their careers. 

The top of Mount Sinai’s class this year includes salutatorian Skyler Spitz and valedictorian Aaron Angress.

Angress, with a total weighted grade point average of 105.17, has been a member of the National Honor Society, the decorated Ocean Bowl Team, active in STEM ROV building and a National Merit Scholarship finalist. On the artistic side, he is a member of All-State and All-County symphonic band, a member of the pit band and mini-ensemble group.

The valedictorian said one of his favorite activities during high school was his participation in the school’s Ocean Bowl team, which participates in quiz-bowl competitions based around oceanography. The team qualified for a national competition in Washington, D.C. 

The graduating senior, who moved to Mount Sinai when he started fifth-grade, said growing up in the hamlet was “pretty great,” and the district “played an integral part in my process of growing up.”

His best memories from high school, along with the Ocean Bowl team, was playing saxophone with the various groups around New York and his senior trip to Disney World.

Angress plans to attend Northeastern University to study mechanical engineering and physics. He said he would enjoy being involved in scientific research, and if the stars align, his dream is to visit space as an astronaut.

Spitz finishes the year with a weighted GPA of 104.86. He spent his high school years as a student council vice president, a National AP Scholar, a member of the National Honor Society, varsity tennis captain, member of Mathletes and Future Business Leaders of America All-Sate winner. He said the best part of his extracurriculars are the memories and friends he made.

He too felt the best moment of his high school career was being able to take his senior trip despite the start of the pandemic.

The salutatorian will be attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to major in statistics and analytics in the hope of becoming an analyst at a quant in the future. 

Though their years were cut short because of the pandemic, Angress said those students entering their senior year should figure out what it is they want to do and prepare for the future.

“Personally, the pandemic has taught me to take nothing for granted — I’ll certainly cherish everything much more now, even the little things,” Angress said.

Spitz said that the year had been nothing but disheartening, but he suggested students look to take advantage of their senior year to have at least some fun.

“I was looking forward to creating many more memories this year and can now only hope that I will be able to graduate alongside my friends,” he said. “Everything will work out, and you might as well enjoy your final moments in school rather than worrying about the small things in life out of your control.”

Voting booths at Rocky Point High School. File photo by Kyle Barr

All school districts passed their budgets this year, though all are anticipating potential changes in state aid later in the year. In addition, all district voters decided to reelect incumbents in contested races.

Shoreham-Wading River Central School District 

SWR passed its 2020-21 budget, 2,146 to 801. Its budget is set at $77,164,774, a 1.6 percent increase from last year’s $75,952,416. The year’s tax levy is $55,391,167, a $1,013,510 increase from 2019-20.

The district will maintain all current programming despite potential state aid cuts. Its state aid package would be $12,789,308, a $112,843 increase from last year. In the event of potential state aid cuts midyear, the district has placed certain items in the budget that would not be purchased before Dec. 31, including multiple infrastructure projects at Miller Avenue elementary and the middle school, as well as work on the districtwide grounds and asphalt repairs.  

In the board of education elections all three candidates were incumbents and ran unopposed. Board president Michael Lewis secured another term on the board with 2,292 votes, Katie Anderson, who finished her first term this year, was reelected with 2,324 votes. Henry Perez was reelected to another term as well and garnered 2,300 votes. 

Rocky Point Union Free School District

The 2020-21 budget passed 1,961 to 952. Its budget is set at $84,586,600, with state aid reduction resulting in a $2.1 million decrease in the overall figure. Expenditure decreases are across the board to reach the reduced budget. The budget sets the tax levy at $52,483,059,

setting itself directly at the tax cap, a very slight increase from last year’s figure.

A capital reserve proposition was approved 1,998 to 893. The district is planning to use the capital reserves to repave the front driveway area in front of the high school with a cost not to exceed $350,000. Rocky Point’s current reserve balance is set at $1,590,368. Due to the result of the vote, the district will gain access to the funds. The capital reserve does not increase the tax levy.

Incumbents Sean Callahan and Jessica Ward secured reelection to a three-year term. They garnered 1,955 and 2,094 votes, respectively. Challenger Kellyann Imeidopf fell short with 960 votes.

Miller Place School District 

The Miller Place School District passed its 2020-21 budget convincingly with a vote of 2,156 to 860. The budget is set at $75,713,895, a 2.37 percent increase from last year. The district’s 2020-21 tax levy is set at $47,616,059 and an increase of $687,471 from last year’s amount. 

Miller Place’s state aid was set at $23,144,911, but the district also has leftover building aid of $792,666 and will be receiving an additional $208,010 for 2020-21. Officials said they plan on using leftover aid and funds from repairing the high school gym floor to help offset any further reductions in state aid. 

Proposition 2, which comprised the library budget, passed overwhelming as well:  2,464 to 548. 

Board Vice President Richard Panico was reelected to the board with 2,407 votes. Trustee member Lisa Reitan was also reelected to another term with 2,420 votes. 

Mount Sinai School District

Voters passed the 2020-21 budget, 2,108 to 857. Its budget is set at $61,769,870, a $760,100 and 1.25 percent increase from last year. The tax levy is set at $41,396,602, an increase of 1 percent and well below the 2.43 percent cap set by New York State.

A second proposition asked voters to approve $1.2 million for capital projects from the reserves. It passed 2,365 to 595. Projects will include continuing the high school roof replacement for $865,000, replacing the middle school water heater for $100,000, among others for a total of $1,200,000.

Three board seats were up for grabs this year. Incumbents Edward Law, Robert Sweeney and Peter Van Middelem all secured reelection with 1,635, 1,915 and 1,675 votes, respectively. Newcomer Karen Pitka came up shy in her bid to get on the board securing 1,597 votes.

District Attorney Tim Sini (D). File photo by Victoria Espinoza

A Mount Sinai man was arrested and indicted Friday, June 12 for allegedly perpetuating a Ponzi scheme that defrauded over $500,000 from investors, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office said.

District Attorney Tim Sini (D) said in a release that Craig L. Clavin, 61 of Mount Sinai, with his company Lighthouse Futures Ltd. allegedly solicited investments into an investment fund called the Lighthouse Futures Commodity Pool, managed by the company, which would participate in the commodities market. The D.A. said he would then allegedly promise investors the guaranteed return of their investment in full by the end of each year with an option to roll the funds over into the next year.

“As with any Ponzi scheme, this was a scam built on greed and deceit,” District Attorney Sini said. “The defendant bilked his own friends and associates out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, promising to turn their hard-earned savings into solid investments. Instead he used some of their money to further the scheme, and used the rest to line his own pockets.”

The D.A. also alleged that between 2012 and 2017, Clavin received in excess of $500,000 dollars from investors for the purpose of investing the funds into commodities. Clavin allegedly misappropriated the majority of those funds for his personal and unrelated business use, including making payments on his credit cards, student loans, insurance and everyday expenses. Clavin then allegedly concealed his theft by fabricating documents and otherwise representing to the investors that they were earning “dividends” and profits on their investments. At least between 2013 and 2016, Clavin allegedly used money from investors to pay back the funds to other investors, misrepresenting that the funds were “returns” on their investments.

Anthony La Pinta, of the Hauppauge-based Reynolds, Caronia, Gianelli & La Pinta P.C., is representing Clavin. 

“Mr. Clavin is a well respected and admired member of the community,” the attorney said. “We have undertaken our own investigation into these allegations.”

The indictment comes after a D.A.-led investigation that ran in conjunction with U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the National Futures Association investigations, according to the D.A. release.  

The parallel investigation by the CFTC resulted in an action to sue Clavin and Lighthouse that was filed yesterday in United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Clavin was issued a summons on that case Thursday, June 11.

Clavin was arraigned yesterday by Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Richard Ambro and was released. He is due back in court June 29.

Clavin has been previously named in a past TBR News Media article as an owner of Billie’s 1890 Saloon in Port Jefferson. The building is now owned by the Phillips family, the original owners of the bar and grill.

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Yana G. Knutson, of the Financial Investigations & Money Laundering Bureau.

Sini urged anyone who believes he or she is a victim of this scheme to call the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office’s Financial Investigations & Money Laundering Bureau at 631-853-4232.