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Port Jefferson Station

Patrick and Phil O’Brien, owners of local brand Anchor East, hosted their second beach cleanup at West Meadow Beach on Sunday. Photo by Sabrina Artusa

By Sabrina Artusa

Photo by Sabrina Artusa

Phil and Patrick O’Brien, owners of the Port Jefferson Station-based clothing brand Anchor East Apparel, hosted their second beach cleanup at West Meadow Beach on July 18.

The brothers grew up on the water and are heavily involved in the boating community. As a result, they decided to actualize their appreciation for Long Island and the water through their brand. 

When they developed the line during the initial COVID-19 lockdown, they knew they wanted to use their brand to promote beach cleanups. Only a couple months after launching their business, they successfully held their second beach cleanup on Sunday.

Phil O’Brien said the idea struck them after his daughter cut her foot on a piece of glass on the beach. They realized that in order to ensure the safety of civilians, the beaches need to be cleaner. Although the beaches might look acceptable, the sand is actually covered in “little things” like discarded ketchup packets and broken beer bottles. “You’d be amazed at how much you find,” he said. 

After only four hours, they accumulated a sizable pile of garbage, but not all of it was destined for the trash. The brothers dispatch recyclable material to be remade into bracelets, which they sell for $2 each. They donate 100% of the money made from bracelet sales to the Ocean Conservancy.

Photo by Sabrina Artusa

The O’Briens hope to make the cleanups a regular event, their goal being to hold three every summer. Ultimately, the brothers “plan to keep growing” and host beach cleanups all over Long Island, starting at the East End and making their way west.

Phil O’Brien said he hopes these cleanups will encourage people to more closely observe how they are impacting the beaches.

“We shouldn’t have to have companies promote this,” he said. “People need to be more aware.” 

The O’Briens have yet to establish a date for the next cleanup, but are likely going to have another one toward the end of the summer season. 

File photo

Suffolk County Police 6th Squad detectives are investigating a motor vehicle crash that killed a motorcyclist in Coram Tuesday morning.

Krista D’Angelis was driving a 2021 Jeep northbound on Route 112, making a left turn into 1650 Route 112, when her vehicle was struck by a 2021 Suzuki motorcycle traveling southbound on Route 112 at 7:34 a.m.

The driver of the Suzuki, Brandon Blades, 32, of Port Jefferson Station, was transported to John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson where he was pronounced dead. D’Angelis, 45, of Ronkonkoma, was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

The vehicles were impounded for safety checks and the investigation is continuing. Detectives are asking anyone with information on the crash to call the 6th Squad at 631-854-8652.

File photo

Suffolk County Police Sixth Squad detectives are investigating the circumstances surrounding the assault of a man who was located behind a Port Jefferson Station strip mall on Monday,  June 12.

Sixth Precinct officers responded to the rear of 5145 Route 347 at approximately 9:20 a.m. after a 911 caller reported finding an injured man. The man, who detectives determined had been assaulted, was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment of serious injuries.

Detectives are asking anyone with information on this incident to call the Sixth Squad at 631-854-8652 or anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.

Photo by Julianne Mosher

It’s time to bring your own glass to Port Jefferson village. 

Lisa Harris — owner of several village dining spots including Torte Jeff Pie Co., East Main & Main donuts, Prohibition Kitchen and the new taco shack at East Beach — has just opened up her newest endeavor, BYOG Wine Bar. 

“I haven’t seen anything like this on Long Island yet,” she said.

Photo by Julianne Mosher

The idea, Harris said, is for customers to bring their own glass and taste from 20 different wines she and her team handpicked. 

“The reason that it’s bring your own glass is because we can’t have a dishwasher here,” she said. Glasses are available, but if a customer brings their own there’s a discount. 

In the space, five machines hold four different bottles of wine. Customers redeem their credit cards for a wine card, which allows them to taste, sample or grab a full glass of any of the 20 wines. 

“We did a pretty extensive research to come up with 20 of what we think are the best wines that are a blend of very affordable, up to a little bit more exclusive,” she said. “They are bottles that you would never normally be able to taste by the glass unless you purchase the bottle, so this system allows you to do that.”

But it isn’t just wine — charcuterie boxes are available to snack on, as well as desserts, like their donut fondue. 

BYOG Wine Bar is now in the spot where Harris’ donut shop originally was at 250 E. Main St. 

“The synergy between the pie shop and the donut shop during COVID made the most sense to cut back on staffing and be able to incorporate the two businesses together,” she said.  

Photo by Julianne Mosher

After combining the two earlier this year, she thought about what could go in her new empty space. 

“I thought because of the limitations, there aren’t a lot of businesses that can run in this type of space,” she said. 

While visiting South Carolina, she found a place with a similar experience.

“We fell in love with it,” she said. 

While Prohibition Kitchen also has a collection local of wines, Harris said BYOG will have a different variety. 

“It’s more about the smaller batch lines that you won’t necessarily see in national distribution,” she said. “They’re more exclusive and unique.”

Compared to other spots throughout the village, she said the new wine bar is just a different setting for wine drinkers.

“I think this is a different type of experience,” Harris said. “This is an experience that you can share with friends when it comes to your tastes, purchase something you really enjoy, and also chat about the wine.”

File photo by Kyle Barr

By Sabrina Artusa

After many gloomy months in quarantine, movie theater-starved citizens can now return to PJ Cinemas.

The Port Jefferson Station-based theater, owned by Phil Solomon, officially reopened May 28 after tentative operation and eventual closure during quarantine.

PJ Cinemas has long been a cornerstone of Port Jefferson life. Many Port Jeffersonians grew up in front of its screens, snacking on popcorn, splurging on candy and laying back in the dimmed theater to enjoy a movie with family and friends. 

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic suspended its operation, halting these happy excursions. Deprived of their local movie theater, many residents have not seen a film on the big screen in more than 15 months.

Most businesses were affected by the COVID-19 virus, and PJ Cinemas was no exception. Although closing was less than ideal, manager Brian Fiederlein recognized that it was necessary in order to “do our part for the community” and “ensure the safety of the staff as well as the patrons.” 

With the worst of the pandemic behind us, Fiederlein is optimistic and excited about reopening. However, the process has not been easy. Seven months after the initiation of quarantine, PJ Cinemas experimented with reopening for a brief time in October, but was forced to close again soon after. 

In regards to this latest reopening, Fiederlein said that it is “energizing to get back to working” but the process of getting acclimated to the state guidelines required “a lot of hustle.”

This time around, however, reopening is more promising. Fiederlein said he has a “more solid belief that things are safe.” 

In December there was no “light at the end of the tunnel” — vaccinations were not yet released and there was not any indication of the virus alleviating, so remaining open was unsustainable.

Fiederlein feels that he and his staff have a moral obligation to secure the safety of moviegoers. 

So, in determining when to reopen, Fiederlein posed the question: “How can we get people back to the movies safely?” Increasing vaccination rates helped answer this question. 

The PJ Cinemas staff had several factors to consider in the reopening process: infection rates, hospitalization rates, product and vaccination availability. Presently, the movie theater is under little restriction — patrons can watch a movie mask-free, as long as they are vaccinated. 

Since reopening, the theater has been awash in accounts of filmgoers’ excitement to be back. “Every day there are more stories about how long people have been waiting,” Fiederlein said. He added that although incoming business is “nowhere where it was pre-COVID,” he is happy to be “getting excitement back into the place — but also safely.”

“There is a buzz in the community,” Fiederlein said. “It’s good to be back.”

Photo from PJST civic

Following the June 17 stabbing of 39-year-old Benjamin Flores-Mendez — who was found dead in Port Jefferson Station on the Greenway Trail — the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Civic Association called an emergency meeting this week to demand answers on a variety of issues from local representatives.

On Tuesday, July 6, nearly 150 people attended the meeting at Comsewogue High School. Suffolk County Police Department 6th Precinct officers joined elected officials from town, county and state offices to listen to topics such as the Lawrence Aviation space, homelessness, gangs and drug abuse which were brought up by concerned residents.

While the stabbing sparked the meeting, SCPD officials were unable to give details or answer questions surrounding the death, as it’s still an ongoing investigation. 

But that didn’t stop Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R), state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), county Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket), and town Councilman Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) from joining the panel. State Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) could not attend, but a representative joined in his place. 

“I’m going to tell you that myself and my colleagues from the Town Board are upset, disturbed by what we see is a growing problem in various communities in the Town of Brookhaven,” Romaine said. “And that is homelessness.”

According to residents, they have seen homeless people set up tents near the vacant and decrepit Lawrence Aviation buildings located adjacent to the Greenway on the Port Jefferson Station section. 

Kornreich added that those who are homeless aren’t necessarily in that plight because of a financial issue — oftentimes it revolves around mental health problems or drug abuse. 

“I think that what we need to try to do is to find a way, a compassionate way, to get these people the services that they need, that maybe they’re reluctant to take,” he said, adding it might require a greater investment in services from county agencies. 

Englebright, who spearheaded the creation of the trail years ago, said the Lawrence Aviation project has been an issue for years and requires coordination from all levels of government. 

“We’re in a moment of turmoil, not only locally but nationally,” he said. “We’re coming off of one of the worst years in the last 100 years because of the COVID infection that has ravaged our communities, and everybody is on edge — that includes disadvantaged individuals, and those who have ill intent. So, we have our work cut out for us.”

During the community forum, questions of hiking trails being linked to crime came up.

“The simple answer is no, there is no correlation, no cause and effect,” Englebright said. “Trails such as this are open space, and so they become targets to the opportunists.”

On the town level, Kornreich assured that meetings like this — between residents and local government — are what allows things to change. 

“We’re all here because we have to renew our commitment to work together at all levels of government to face challenges like the ones we have in Port Jefferson Station,” he said. 

The 6th Precinct commanding officer, Inspector Patrick Reilly, gave an update on crime statistics. In wake of the stabbing, new cameras were placed at the entrances and along the Greenway Trail. Reilly said more patrol officers have been out during the daytime and evening, as well as overnight. Plainclothes officers and the SCPD gang unit are on-site, as well. 

The stabbing that happened last month was the only one in 2021 and 2020, Reilly said. Robberies are down this year, as well as a 100% decrease in aggravated assault. 

“Overall, total violent crime is down 11.1%, total property crime is down 4.8%,” he said. “So, obviously, there are problems that still need to be addressed, and we will continue to do that.”

The next normally scheduled civic meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 20, at 7 p.m. at the Comsewogue Public Library. 

Photo by Julianne Mosher

With restrictions finally lifted, people from across Suffolk County — and even Connecticut — were able to finally celebrate the Fourth of July with a favorite traadition.

The Port Jefferson Fire Department Independence Day Parade was cancelled, along with most other events, last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But this year, things seemed back to normal with hundreds of people gathered on the sidewalks of Port Jefferson village, decked in their most patriotic wear, to celebrate America’s birthday. 

“I’m just glad that we’re back to some sort of normalcy,” said Todd Stumpf, department chief. “We’re glad to see the public back together to help celebrate the country’s birth.”

Vintage cars drove down the road, waving American flags out of their windows as excited kids and their families waved from the sidewalk. Children ran to their parents who marched in uniform when they spotted them from the sidelines. Dancers waved red, white, and blue pom poms whiles pipes and drums played their sounds. Even the Batmobile made an appearance. 

Although the parade included Port Jeff and Terryville, members from South Shore, eastern, and western Suffolk County departments joined together to march along Main Street on July 5. 

Since the Fourth of July was on a Sunday this year, the fire department decided to host the parade a day later, on Monday, to respect the local churches throughout the village. 

“From our end it ran really smooth,” said Steve Erland, third assistant chief. “It’s just so nice to bring it back to the community.”

Photos from Comsewogue School District

This year, Comsewogue High School held their commencement at Stony Brook University’s LaValle Stadium on Wednesday, June 23.

Speakers at the ceremony included High School Principal Michael Mosca, Superintendent of Schools Jennifer Quinn, Valedictorian Sydney Carter, Salutatorian Anthony Lin, Board of Education President John Swenning, Vice President Alexandra Gordon and Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini.

Suffolk County corrections officer Candice Ogiejko was killed in a car crash last week. On Monday, members from her department said their goodbyes outside of St. Gerard Majella R.C. Church. Photo from the Suffolk County Sheriff’s office

The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office is mourning the loss of one of its own.

On Wednesday, June 23, Candice Ogiejko, of Port Jefferson Station, was killed in a car accident while driving in Yaphank just before 9 p.m.

Photo from the Suffolk County Sheriff’s office

As one of the departments newest members, the 25-year-old had just completed her second year on the force, working in the Riverhead Correctional Facility.

“The entire staff of the Sheriff’s Office is mourning the loss of correction officer Candice Ogiejko,” said Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr. (D). “Correction officer Ogiejko was just 25 years old and had her entire life and career ahead of her. She will be greatly missed by her loving family, as well as her extended family in law enforcement.”

According to Suffolk County police, Ogiejko was driving a 2019 Dodge Ram northbound on County Road 101, when the vehicle veered toward the center grass median. 

When the driver overcorrected, she lost control of the vehicle, which skidded across the lanes and crashed into the northeast corner of Old Dock Road. The vehicle struck curbing, fencing and several large trees before eventually coming to a stop down an embankment near a parking lot, at approximately 8:40 p.m.

She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) expressed his condolences on his Facebook page. 

Suffolk County corrections officer Candice Ogiejko was killed in a car crash last week. On Monday, members from her department said their goodbyes outside of St. Gerard Majella R.C. Church.
Photo from the Suffolk County Sheriff’s office

“On behalf of all of the residents of Suffolk County, our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and family of correction officer Candice Ogiejko,” he wrote. 

On Sunday, June 27, a wake was held at Moloney’s Port Jefferson Station Funeral Home. A funeral Mass was held on Monday at St. Gerard Majella R.C. Church, with the burial at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Coram. 

Members of the Sheriff’s Office lined up in Class A dress uniforms to bid farewell to Ogiejko outside of the church. The Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard served as pallbearers as taps was played on a bugle.

Photos from Comsewogue School District

Comsewogue High School announced Sydney Carter as the class of 2021 valedictorian and Anthony Lin as class salutatorian.

Throughout her high school career, Sydney has challenged herself in Comsewogue High School’s most demanding college preparatory curriculum. As a result of her efforts, Sydney has maintained an overall grade point average of 104.12. 

Photo from Comsewogue School District

Equally as impressive, Sydney has been involved in a wide array of activities including but not limited to Varsity Cross Country, Varsity Indoor Track, Varsity Spring Track & Field, WISE, National Science Honor Society, National Math Honor Society, National Honor Society, Girls Leader’s Club, National Merit Finalist, and participation in SCMEA/selection for All-County this year for flute. 

Whether in the classroom or as a participant in one of these activities, Sydney’s moral character, motivational skills, eagerness to help others, teamwork abilities, and determination have been inspirational. 

Sydney will continue to make her mark as a chemistry major at the university level.

Anthony Lin has had an outstanding career at Comsewogue High School. He has equally balanced his stellar academic accomplishments with numerous activities in and outside of high school. 

Photo from Comsewogue School District

Of note, he is National Merit Commended Student, Renssalaer Medal Winner, AP Scholar with Distinction, President of the National Honor Society, Team Lead and Camp Counselor for Tzu Shao Volunteer Organization, president of the Science Club, has done research at the Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine, Varsity Tennis Captain, Varsity Academic Quiz Bowl Captain, and National Science Bowl Team Captain.