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Ronkonkoma

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Unknown couple circa early 1900s enjoying fishing in the pond. Photo from MCPL

Amongst the Middle Country Public Library’s many historical artifacts are a few that explain just how far the area has come from its pastoral roots. The picture and story below comes courtesy of a collaborative effort among the librarian staff.

Gould’s Pond is both! It is a pond, a body of fresh water, but it is also known as a kettle pond. This name is used for ponds or lakes which form when very large blocks of ice left by glaciers break off, stop moving and melt. 

Photo from MCPL

This is exactly what happened when the glacier which formed Long Island reached its southernmost point on its journey down from eastern Canada over 20,000 years ago. There are many kettle ponds and lakes on Long Island, the largest of which is Lake Ronkonkoma. Lake Ronkonkoma is the largest freshwater lake on the Island, measuring approximately two miles in circumference. Fresh water has always been a valuable resource, and Gould’s Pond is one of our local treasures.

 People have always chosen to live near water, and Long Islanders were no exception. Middle Country Public Library has some historic atlases which show exactly who lived near the pond back to the late 1800s. Here is an image from Fredrick W. Beers’ “Atlas of Long Island, New York” published in 1873. The pond is represented by a circular feature at the left side of the map.

Individual family names were plotted on older maps like this one. Here we can see labeled homesteads surrounding Gould’s Pond and the names of families who lived on Hawkins Avenue, Middle Country Road, Moriches Road and Saint James and others. 

One of the earliest settlers we can name was Morgan Lewis Gould, whose home appears above the pond which bears his name. In 1886, the Town of Brookhaven paid Morgan Lewis Gould and his son, Henry Lewis Gould, $5 to maintain an unobstructed pathway connecting to the main road, four rods wide (approximately 60 feet), for public access to the pond, so residents could bring their livestock to water and to use it for general household purposes. 

Two historic houses are still situated near the Pond today, most probably the M.L. Gould and T. Scott homes shown on our 1873 map.

In later years, with home wells or piped water, this freshwater pond was used more for leisure purposes, including ice skating and fishing. But during the 1880s the pond still had a practical purpose – as a source of ice before refrigerators and freezers were commonplace.

In this case, ice from the pond was harvested. It was cut by hand from the surface of the pond and stored for later use. Two separate icehouses were built along the shores of Gould’s Pond, used to store this ice during the warmer seasons. 

The large chunks of harvested ice were tightly packed in these icehouses so they would not easily melt. Sometimes, straw or sawdust was used for insulation, and in many cases, icehouse foundations were built below ground to keep the ice frozen year-round. Research shows that after World War I, the icehouses were no longer necessary and were dismantled.

Today, Gould’s Pond is used for hiking, nature watching and fishing. A gentle hill which is popularly used for sledding lies next to the pond. This hill was most likely scooped out by that same glacier which formed the pond so many years ago. You can find Gould’s Pond at the corner of Moriches and Saint James Roads in Lake Grove, where a beautifully lettered sign marks its spot.

Vincent Pelliccio with Acting Commissioner Stuart Cameron in 2019. Photo from SCPD

The Suffolk County Police Department is mourning the loss of an active officer, Vincent Pelliccio, who died in a motor vehicle crash Nov. 8.

The 30-year-old was off-duty and driving his 2021 Jeep northbound on Nicolls Road, near West Road, in Selden when his vehicle left the roadway and crashed in the median. He was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital where he was pronounced dead. 

Pelliccio was a 3rd Precinct officer and a member of the department since December 2014. A 2011 graduate of Connetquot High School, he started his professional career as a teacher, but decided to pursue his dream and follow in his retired NYPD detective father’s footsteps. 

Upon graduating the police academy, he was assigned to the 3rd Precinct as a uniformed patrol officer and became a plain clothes officer in the 3rd Precinct Gang Task Force in March 2019. Pelliccio also served his fellow law enforcement officers as a Police Benevolent Association delegate.

In 2019, Pelliccio was awarded the Theodore Roosevelt Award, which recognizes members of service who have overcome serious injury, disease or disability and have returned to work, for overcoming his battle with testicular cancer. 

Photo from SCPD

Diagnosed in September 2017 at age 26, he went through both radiation and chemotherapy treatments, fighting to get back to health to return to work. According to the SCPD, even when he was too sick to report for duty, he was constantly in contact with his colleagues and friends at the SCPD, expressing his desire to help and return to his sector in Central Islip. He returned to full duty in March 2018.

 “Officer Pelliccio was a dedicated member of the 3rd Precinct who overcame personal adversity to continue serving the people of Suffolk County,” Inspector John Rowan said. “His perseverance and unwavering commitment to his calling as a police officer is inspirational. Vinny will be missed but not forgotten by this command.”

In addition to a departmental recognition, Pelliccio was named Cop of the Month in April 2020 with Police Officer Anthony Devincenzo for the arrest of a violent gang member and drug dealer in September 2019. 

While monitoring a known drug and gang location in North Bay Shore, the officers witnessed the gang member in front of a business and found marijuana on the sidewalk near where he was. Upon approaching the subject, he fled officers into a hair salon with multiple civilians. During a violent struggle, Pelliccio deployed his Taser and the subject was taken into custody, where he was found to be in possession of multiple weapons and narcotics.

“Vinny was an extremely dedicated young man who loved being a police officer and was always eager to perform and excel in his law enforcement duties,” Sergeant Philip Dluginski said. “He fully embraced the police culture and loved spending time with his blue family both during and outside of work. He will be sorely missed by all his friends and co-workers, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and fiancée at this time.”

County Executive Steve Bellone (D) expressed his sympathy for the SCPD’s loss. 

“I had the pleasure of meeting Officer Pelliccio when he was honored for his outstanding work in keeping our communities safe,” he said. “An exemplary law enforcement professional and relentless fighter who returned to work full duty after winning a battle with cancer, Officer Pelliccio’s tragic passing has shaken our entire police family.”

Pelliccio, who resided in Port Jefferson Station at the time of his death, is survived by his parents, Tony and Angela, his sister, Niki, and his fiancée, Danielle Trotta. 

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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.

Photo from the county executive

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) announced at a press conference on April 22 at Lake Ronkonkoma a $100 million in funding to eliminate outdated cesspools and septic systems identified by scientists as the primary source of excess nutrients that have fouled local bays, contributing to harmful algae blooms, beach closures and fish kills.

The funding from a combination of federal, state and county sources, will be used to complete long-awaited sewer projects along south shore river corridors, and to boost funding for the landmark county program that provides grants to homeowners who choose to upgrade to new nitrogen reducing septic systems.

“With the help and support of our colleagues in state government, the business and environmental communities, and our friends in the building trades and organized labor, Suffolk County has made more progress over the past five years than had been made in the prior four decades in efforts to address the lack of wastewater infrastructure that has harmed water quality and been a drag on our economy,” Bellone said. “This new investment will allow us to take significant next steps in implementing a long term plan to improve water quality.”

Under the funding plan, a total of $30 million in funding would be invested in the County’s grant program for homeowners, including $10 million recently awarded by the State Septic System Replacement Fund, and $20 million from the County’s Drinking Water Protection Program.

An additional $70 million would be invested to complete two long awaited sewer projects along south shore river corridors that comprise the Suffolk County Coastal Resiliency Initiative, which will eliminate nearly 6,000 cesspools and septic systems by connecting parcels to sewers.

The new funding includes $24 million from a county reserve fund to connect homes in Sewer District #3 Southwest to the existing sewer system, and $46 million from the county’s allocation under the $1.9 trillion American Recovery Plan to address the increased cost of projects to connect parcels along the Carlls River (Babylon) and Forge River (Brookhaven). 

The sewer projects are being funded primarily with Post-Sandy resiliency funding, but constructions bids received during the COVID pandemic were significantly higher than pre-bid construction estimates.

Bellone thanked Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D) for making sure that the American Rescue Plan funding can be used for sewer infrastructure. “We are hopeful that there will be a separate federal infrastructure bill, but the timetable for Congress to act is not clear yet, and these historic sewer projects are ready to begin now,”  he added.. “Thanks to the leadership of Senator Schumer, the County has the ability to use a portion of its ARP funds to address the cost increases driven in large part by the uncertainties of the COVID pandemic.”

Suffolk County’s Septic Improvement Program, the first of its kind, was established in 2017 and provides grants of up to $30,000 in State and County funding to homeowners who choose to replace their existing non-performing cesspool or septic system with a new Innovative/Alternative Onsite Wastewater Treatment System.

The program was recognized earlier this month by New York State as the winner of an Environmental Excellence Award, and has twice been awarded 70% of a $15 million statewide allocation of funding from the New York State Septic System Replacement Program.

To date, more than 2,300 homeowners have applied for grants under the program. County funding for the program was originally established at $2 million per year, but increasing interest on the part of the public prompted the County Legislature to approve $3.7 million in additional water quality funding last July because the pace of applications exceeded the amount of funding available.

 “The high level of interest in the program, even during the COVID 19 pandemic, shows just how strongly the people of Suffolk County feel about the need to improve water quality,” Bellone said. “This additional funding will help make sure that the amount of grant funding keeps pace with the number of applications we are receiving.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer added, “I worked hard to deliver over $10.8 billion in aid directly to New York’s counties, towns, and villages as part of the American Rescue Plan, in addition to the $300 million I secured for this project after Sandy. I’m glad to see County Executive Bellone use a portion of this aid to help fill the funding gap and advance these long-awaited sewer infrastructure improvements. These projects are vital to the health and well-being of Suffolk residents, and are essential to improving the quality of life in the county for years to come.”

John Cameron, Chairman of the Long Island Regional Planning Council said that water is the life blood of Long Island.

“County Executive Bellone’s initiatives protect our sole source aquifer-the drinking water supply for more than 2.8 million Long Islanders,” he said. “These investments will also help reverse the negative impacts that nitrogen pollution has had on coastal wetlands, coastal resiliency and the overall quality of life in Suffolk County and all of Long Island. They will additionally create numerous economic development opportunities by strengthening our downtowns, increasing tourism and recreation.”

Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director, Citizens Campaign for the Environment added that the announcement brings Long Islanders closer than ever to restoring clean water in Suffolk County.

“Year after year, we witness water quality impairments and harmful algal blooms from nitrogen pollution plaguing nearly every bay, lake, river and estuary in our county. However, we are now seeing growing success of the county’s program to combat nitrogen pollution from sewage and replace these antiquated septic systems,” she said. “This infusing of critical funding will ensure we are well on our way to once again seeing healthy waterways and productive ecosystems throughout Suffolk County.  We applaud our county and state leaders for working to add funding for this crucial clean water program and we cannot think of a better Earth Day present!”

 

 

People can take as many pictures of their friends at the new interactive selfie museum. Photo by Julianne Mosher

It’s a new place to play and all are welcomed to it. 

Popup Speakeasy is an interactive photobooth museum, that allows people to come in and take as many pictures in different settings. 

“It really is for us a place where people can be creative,” said co-owner Catherine Ovejas. “It’s a selfie studio, you come and take your own pictures, or can come with a photographer, and you get access to the whole studio.”

Located at 1860 Pond Road in Ronkonkoma, like a speakeasy of the past, it’s hidden in plain sight. From the outside of the building, one wouldn’t know what to expect when they walk through the front door — a warehouse of 14 different stations from all different eras and scenes. 

Ovejas said that each season the stations will change.

Visitors of the Popup Speakeasy can choose from 14 different photobooth stations. Photo by Julianne Mosher

But right now, there’s a “record room,” decorated with a wall of vinyls and a boombox, a picnic scene where friends can pretend to pop champagne, and a pink repurposed Volkswagen bus tucked away in the back. 

“It’s a nod to pop culture,” she said. “I love retro things. So, you will see a lot of vintage things … things from the 70s, 80s and 90s.”

She said the idea for a selfie museum came amidst the pandemic. Between production, construction and the creation of each theme, they began the process a little more than six months ago, choosing Ronkonkoma as a central location that everyone interested can get to.

As far as she and her team know, she said, this is the first selfie studio in the whole state. 

“There are pop-up photo experiences that have taken place in and around Manhattan,” she said. “But those are more of a museum-type experience where you’re taking pictures of the exhibits, not so much of yourself.”

Oveja encourages visitors to express themselves. 

“We want you to go crazy,” she said. “We want you to interact with the scenes and the different themes and make it your own story.”

She added, “It’s not about looking at an exhibit and admiring it from a distance. I want you to actually bring your personality into the theme.”

For just $25 an hour (at the adult rate), visitors get access to the whole studio. Using an online booking system, the space is reservation-only. Social distancing is required, as are masks — except for when a quick photo is being taken in the scene.

Oveja said they are allowing one group at a time, and the whole studio (plus the props) are sanitized before and after each use.

Children are also encouraged to come and enjoy the studio, where kids ages five to 12 are just $15.

“This is a judgment free zone, we want you to be yourself, have a great time and bring your own personality to the table,” she said.

Co-owner Jose Rivera said the ultimate goal is to franchise, and those future locations will have their own vibe. 

“There’s no limit to how far we can go how far we can go,” he said. “We’re looking forward to collaborating with as many businesses as we can.”

To make reservations, visit popupspeakeasy.com.

File photo

Suffolk County Police 5th Squad detectives are investigating a crash that killed a motorcyclist in Ronkonkoma Sept. 15.

Richard Schmansky was traveling southbound on Smithtown Avenue near 2nd Street when his 2014 Harley Davidson motorcycle collided with a 2001 Nissan Altima that was also traveling southbound at approximately 7:50 p.m.

Schmansky, 58, of Centereach, was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The driver of the Nissan, Jamese Chetuck, 22, of Coram, remained at the scene and was uninjured.

Both vehicles were impounded for a safety check. The investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information on this crash is asked to contact the 5th Squad at 631-854-8552.

File photo

By Desirée Keegan

Suffolk County Police responded to an incident in which two Good Samaritans helped rescue a Mount Sinai man from a burning car after he crashed in Hauppauge July 19.

Paul Gross suffered an apparent medical incident and crashed into a tree in front on Townline Road at approximately 4:53 p.m. The car started to catch fire, and volunteer fireman Stephen Matteo, who heard the crash from his residence, rushed to the scene. Matteo flagged down a passing motorist, Edmund Quinones, to help pull the unconscious man out of his vehicle.

Matteo and other Good Samaritans provided medical care on the scene and helped revive Gross. Briana Stettner, 19, of Hauppauge, heard the crash and went in the intersection of Townline Road and Hoffman Lane and stopped traffic, so emergency vehicles could get to the scene.

Gross, 53, was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital by Smithtown Fire Department with several non-life-threatening injuries. Matteo, 31, of Hauppauge, and Quinones, 57, of Ronkonkoma, did not suffer injuries. The heat was so severe Matteo’s watch burned.

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Suffolk County Police Fifth Squad detectives are investigating a crash that killed a Coram motorcyclist in North Bellport May 12.

Dayquon Boykins was traveling southbound on the northbound lanes, passing other motorists on Station Road approximately 200 feet north of the Woodside Avenue intersection, when he crashed into a 2010 Honda Odyssey minivan that was traveling southbound and attempting to make left-hand turn into a parking lot at approximately 4:18 p.m.

Boykins, 29, was ejected from the motorcycle, and pronounced dead at the scene by a physician assistant from the Office of the Suffolk County Medical Examiner. The driver of the Honda, Stacy Washousky, 40, of Ronkonkoma, and her 11-year-old daughter were both transported by South Country Ambulance to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in East Patchogue with minor injuries.

Both vehicles were impounded for a safety check. The investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information on the crash is asked to contact the Fifth Squad at 631-854-8552.

 

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Suffolk County Police First Squad detectives are investigating a two-car crash that killed a man in West Babylon yesterday evening.

Alfred Bayard was driving a 2013 Jeep Wrangler eastbound on Sunrise Highway at approximately 6:30 p.m. when his vehicle collided with a 2004 Dodge Ram that was also traveling eastbound on Sunrise Highway at the Hubbards Path overpass. 

Bayard, 53, of Barnyard Lane, Setauket, was pronounced dead at the scene by a physician assistant from the Office of the Suffolk County Medical Examiner.

The driver of the Dodge Ram, Nicole Limbach, 25, of Ronkonkoma was transported by West Babylon Rescue to Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip where she was treated for minor injuries.

Both vehicles were impounded for safety checks and the investigation in continuing. Anyone with information regarding this crash is asked to call the First Squad at 631-854-8152.

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A man was violently robbed and thrown out of a moving car earlier this month, and police have recently arrested three suspects in the case.

While at a bar on Hawkins Avenue in Ronkonkoma on May 6, three men allegedly offered a ride to the victim shortly before 4 a.m., the Suffolk County Police Department said.

They headed north into Lake Grove but during the ride, police said, the trio punched and choked the man, then stole his jewelry, wallet, cell phone and cash before throwing him out of the moving car.

The victim was treated for non-life-threatening injuries at Stony Brook University Hospital, police said.

A few weeks later, detectives arrested three local men in connection with the crime, on three separate days: 36-year-old Jason Mikalauskas, of Lake Grove, on May 23; 21-year-old Michael Masterson, of Centereach, on May 24; and 23-year-old Dominic Dentici, of Ronkonkoma, on May 26.

All three were charged with second-degree robbery, and Mikalauskas is facing additional charges of fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance. He was also arrested on an active warrant, police said.

Attorney information for Mikalauskas and Dentici was not available on the New York State court system’s online database. Masterson was listed as representing himself and could not be reached for comment.