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Selden

Brookhaven Town councilman on redeveloping the Middle Country Road corridor

Brookhaven Town Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden), above. Photo from Brookhaven Town website
Part I

Town of Brookhaven Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden) has worked on several major initiatives during his time at Town Hall. In Part I of this two-part interview, LaValle discusses the recent completion of paving projects in Selden, the need for sewers on Middle Country Road, his background in government and the influence of his family on his decision-making. 

Could you discuss the recent paving projects completed in Selden and your ongoing work with the Town Highway Department?

Well, that is a major, major issue in my area. I have the smallest geographic area in the whole town. Our districts are broken up by population — about 80,000 people in each district — but my area is a very dense, compact area. What that means is that, obviously, I have a lot of roads, a lot of neighborhoods, a lot of businesses.

One of the things that we did a few years ago was that we made a commitment that we were going to spend $150 million on the town end, which is $15 million a year for the next 10 years, in paving. We made a pledge to the community that that’s what we were going to do to try to help the infrastructure in the town. We’ve been on target with that.

How have you coordinated with Suffolk County to bring sewers into downtown areas within your district?

That is absolutely crucial for the growth of the business community in Centereach and Selden along the Middle Country Road corridor. Hundreds and hundreds of businesses that run up and down this road are unsewered, and even the houses there, every one has a cesspool.

Our big issue on Middle Country Road is that if you look at these lots, they’re all half-acre and acre lots. So what can you build on it? You can’t really get the nice restaurants that other areas have, and that hinders how we can develop and how we can move forward.

We’ve had a lot of success in redeveloping a lot of these lots throughout this corridor, but bringing [sewers] here allows us to take some of these beat up lots and have developers come in and combine them and build something new, whether it’s a two-story office building or a nice restaurant. Because with that sewer capacity, you have the ability to do that.

That’s really why it will be a huge game changer for this area. It will bring good new development down the road. When I was with [the late Suffolk County Legislator] Tom Muratore [R-Ronkonkoma], we kind of started that process to get the sewers going. Now [county Legislator] Nick Caracappa [C-Selden] has jumped into office and it’s really getting supercharged right now.

The county is going to be setting this up, but it gives the town the option — because I deal with rezoning — to be able to start talking to property owners and say, “Hey listen, we have sewers coming down here. If you put this lot together and this lot together, then we could do this.” That’s when you really start getting some exciting opportunities with new businesses and various other things that we want to come into the area.

To follow up, what is your organizational philosophy toward commercial redevelopment?

I think the big key is that when you look up and down the road, we have some small lots that are a quarter-acre or a half-acre — all beat up properties. Right now, anybody coming in and buying them asks, “What can I really do with them?”

Take a look at the property values on Middle Country Road. Some 37,000 cars drive down the portion of Middle Country Road in my area every single day; 37,000 is a massive number — a lot of cars. And great property values. It’s prime real estate, but for developers to come in, you need to have the sewer capacity to be able to build a two-story building on an acre lot, and right now you can’t do that.

If you’re a developer, you have to spend money to buy the property, then money to build it, and then you have to be able to rent it to make your money back. Let’s be very honest about it. That’s what developers do. That’s what businesspeople do, they’re here to make money. So you have to be able to attract them in. By giving them sewers, you will then give them the capacity that their money will go out to redevelop, but it’s also going to come back to them because they’ll be able to bring in new businesses.

We’ve come a long way in the last nine years. The big thing for me as far as developing properties is developing that relationship with the business owners and the property owners, being a straight shooter, telling them, “Hey, this is going to work and this is not going to work.” It’s about not wasting people’s time.

A mentor of mine once asked me, “What’s the most important thing in business?” At the time, I was young — like 24 or 25 — and I said money. He said, “No, not even close.” The most important thing in business is time. If you’re a service provider, it’s the time from when your order is made to when you provide that service to your client. Or if you’re a builder, it’s the time it takes to buy the property, to get through the zoning process and to finish off building. If it takes more time, it’s going to cost you more money.

For me, I like to be a straight shooter with the developers, with the property owners, with the businesspeople, and say if it’s not a realistic concept, don’t string people along, just tell them. If it is a realistic concept, then how can we get you from point A to point B? How can we get you from when you buy the property to when you develop the property?

What is your professional background, and how did you end up at Town Hall?

I started off many years ago, after I graduated college, as chief of staff for Dan Losquadro [R] when he was a [county] legislator many years ago [and is now town highway superintendent]. I worked with Dan for about two years and then I went into the private sector — I owned a title agency for about four years. We have since sold that business and I went into the mortgage business, which I still do to this day.

During that time a bunch of years back, I was asked to come back part time to the [county] Legislature to work for Tom Muratore. He was about a year into the job and was trying to figure out his way a little bit. I decided to come back and I was with Tom for about three years. Then the opportunity to run for Town Council came up.

I never really thought that I would run for office, even though my family had been in office. I didn’t think that was what I wanted to do, but I had a lot of friends and family and people in the community come up to me — because they saw all the work that I was doing with Tom — and they said, “Listen, you do a great job and we really need you to run for the Town Board. We think you could do a great job here.”

I took that run back in 2013 and I was fortunate to get elected. I’ve been a sitting town councilman ever since. It’s been nine years of working on a lot of things within the district and it’s really something that I’ve grown to love and enjoy.

How has your family shaped your approach to public service?

My brother, John [Jay LaValle (R)], was a town councilman and a town supervisor. My cousin, Ken LaValle [R-Port Jefferson], was a state senator for over 40 years. They had very different styles when they were in office. When I was a kid, I watched how they worked.

Ken was very statesmanlike in the way he went about things. John was very aggressive and would take care of business and kind of push things and run around with a lot of energy. I kind of look at both of them and have learned from both styles.

I think there are opportunities to be aggressive when you have to push things and show excitement, like my brother John. I also think there are other opportunities when, like my cousin Ken, you have to sit back, listen, take it all in, really understand the situation, and do your homework to make sure that you know what you’re talking about. I think both of those styles kind of mesh with who I am.

Part II

For over a decade, Town of Brookhaven Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden) has worked on the Selden Park Complex. Now he can see the finish line. In Part II of this two-part interview, the councilman reflects upon the role of parks, open spaces and the mentorship of the late Suffolk County Legislator Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma), under whom LaValle served as legislative aide.

What is the status of the Selden Park Complex?

Now this is something that I’ve been working on since I was aiding Tom Muratore 12 years ago. This is going to be the largest park in the Town of Brookhaven — 24 acres that we’re breaking ground on.

Heritage Park [in Mount Sinai] is a park that’s at the end of County Route 83. When we started talking about this with the community years ago, people said, “That’s something we want. Can we do that?” And now we’re right there.

Phase I was to bring back the two Little League fields near Grace Presbyterian Church. I actually grew up playing baseball on these fields. Grace used to lease them to the Little League, but then Grace was having issues with its insurance, so [the fields] went fallow. We were able to work with the county to buy this property. The deal was cut so that the county would buy the properties and the town would develop them. Veterans [Park] used to be a baseball field. We then came in, redid it, and now it’s a multipurpose field for all the kids. That was Phase II.

We just broke ground recently on the third and final phase, the biggest phase that we have going on here. We’re building two additional baseball fields, a basketball court, pickleball courts, playgrounds, a concession stand, shade shelters throughout, a storage facility for our guys and batting cages. And for the first time in the town’s history — and I always like to be the first guy — I was the first guy to pickleball and now I’m going to be the first guy to roller and deck hockey.

This really comes back to my childhood growing up in Centereach. We had two deck hockey and roller hockey rinks, and I would play deck hockey with my friends. We talked about it and said, “You know what? This is a good idea. Let’s bring this back to the community.” It will be the first time ever that we’re bringing that back.

I kind of refer to this as a generational park. This is where we hope that families that come to the area will walk their children around in strollers around the walking trails. Then when they get a little bit older, they bring the kids over to the playgrounds. Then they get a little bit older and play any kind of sport, whether it’s softball, baseball, lacrosse, soccer … whatever sport they want. Then the kids go off to college, and hopefully they come back to the community where they’re going to be doing the same thing and raising their families using this facility.

What is your office doing to protect open spaces?

Just this past year in the Centereach/Selden community, right on the corner of Old Town Road and County Route 83, there’s a parcel over there that we just made a preserve. That happened to be a town property, and we saw an opportunity to kind of protect it and consider it a nature preserve.

That’s something that I think is really important that we do and that we continue to do as a township. You have to keep in mind that our drinking water is extremely important to what we’re doing — it’s right under our feet. And protecting our lands protects that drinking water. Bringing sewers protects that drinking water, so that’s a critical issue for us.

What do you foresee as the long-term impact of bringing more public funds into the Middle Country area?

It’s one of the reasons I ran for office nine years ago. I grew up in this area, and I can tell you the sentiments of people back then. Generally, we were looking around at all these other communities and watching what they were building — money going here, they’re building a park there, preserving property over here. They said, “This guy’s getting this, they’re getting that, and what are we getting? Are we getting our fair share here?”

That’s something I focus on every day, about how we can rebuild and what money we can bring in. Bringing in new development is one thing — the town doesn’t put money into that. I have to go out and recruit people and work with businesspeople. But making sure our parks are up to par, making sure we’re getting extra money for our roads, these are things you are required to do as a town councilman.

As far as parks go, in my time here, we really have run through all of our parks. We have built a dog park since I’ve been here. We rebuilt Iroquois Avenue Park [in Selden] completely — the walking trail, everything is getting redone.

I grew up less than a mile from the Centereach Pool Complex. When I was a little kid, I would go up and play basketball. When I got elected, the backboards at Centereach Pool were rusted out and the ground was broken up on the basketball courts. It had been just horrendous. Since I’ve been in office, we’ve redone the basketball courts. We’re the first facility to have pickleball, we’ve built sun shelters, we’ve rebuilt the bathrooms and redone the walking trail.

Can you describe the mentorship of Tom Muratore and his influence on you now?

Tom was an unbelievable guy. We were a good team. He was the vice president of the [Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association] before he became a legislator. He was a soft-spoken guy, wasn’t the kind who was flashy or who would always jump to the mic. That wasn’t Tom.

Tom was a guy who liked to work with people and had the biggest heart of anybody I’ve ever known in politics. He just cared for everybody, didn’t need to get credit for things, just wanted to make the community a better place.

He hired me when I was young and aggressive, bouncing off the walls with a lot of energy. And he was a great mentor because he would look at me sometimes and just say, “Kevin, we can pass it today and just push it through, or we can pass it tomorrow with everybody’s consensus.” Or say, “Let’s take our time and get everybody on board.”

I’m an aggressive guy. I like to keep moving and get things going. Tom kind of put the brakes on me. He taught me to take a little extra time to build that extra consensus, making sure everybody’s on board. There were just so many different lessons that I learned from him.

Next year, when we open up [the Selden Park Complex], it will be weird not to have him here. But I know he’s looking down with a big smile on his face, and he’s glad we’re going to finish this out for the community. Something we started together.

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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.

Stock photo

Over the course of the last year, North Shore residents have gotten relaxed or forgetful when it comes to locking their car doors. 

For example, Fred Leute, chief of Port Jefferson’s code enforcement, said that over the past month, village code has been receiving calls about people rummaging through open vehicles.

He said that right now, thanks to Ring camera footage, they have seen three separate people on camera trying to open car doors. 

“They’re looking for loose change or cash,” he said. “They’re checking for open doors — not even looking inside.”

Leute said this can be prevented.

“Lock your doors,” he said. “Double check.”

And while the village experienced these incidents over the last few weeks, he said that this problem isn’t confined to just one area. 

“We’re aware of what’s going on,” Leute said. “It’s happening all over.”

A spokesperson from the Suffolk County Police Department said several North Shore hamlets have reported thefts from motor vehicles. These numbers cannot verify if a car was unlocked or not.

From January 2021 until this Jan. 22, there have been 111 reported thefts from a motor vehicle in Old Field, Poquott, Port Jefferson, Rocky Point, Selden, Setauket and Stony Brook.

Old Field and Poquott had the least amount, with just two each in the fall, while Selden experienced 46 thefts — the most happening in July, August and December of last year. 

Port Jefferson reported 10, 13 for Rocky Point, 17 for Setauket and 21 for Stony Brook.

These numbers also do not include thefts of parts from the vehicle like tires or catalytic converters. 

But along with small thefts from inside easy-to-reach cars, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said during a recent press conference that eight cars were stolen across Suffolk County in one week — Dec. 19 through Dec. 23.

“Many victims of vehicle theft not only leave their cars unlocked, but they leave key fobs in plain sight, either on the passenger seat, the driver’s seat or in the cup holder,” Bellone said during the Dec. 23 Hauppauge press event. “This allows car thieves to easily enter the vehicle and take off.”

From left to right: Elizabeth Malafi, coordinator, Miller Business Center and Sophia Serlis-McPhillips, library director, MCPL; Maryellen Ferretti, retail market manager, V.P. Long Island East Region; Joseph Clements, V.P. store manager, Bohemia; and Patricia Owens, VP, store manager, Sayville, TD Bank. Photo from MCPL

TD Bank recently provided a generous grant of $2,500 to the Middle Country Library Foundation in support of the annual Women’s EXPO, the library’s educational and supportive venue where local women entrepreneurs and artists gain valuable tradeshow experience.

Representatives from dozens of different employers came to Suffolk County Community College last week for a free job fair hosted by Mario Mattera and Nick Caracappa. Photo by Sara McGiff

By Sara McGiff

Time to get to work!

On Friday, Nov. 19, state Senator Mario Mattera (R-St. James), New York State Assemblyman Doug Smith (R- Holbrook) and Suffolk County Legislator Nick Caracappa (R-Selden) joined together to host a special Long Island Job Fair at Suffolk County Community College.

From 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. people from across the county visited the Babylon Student Center and spoke with representatives from dozens of different employers face-to-face. 

Mario Mattera and Nick Caracappa. Photo by Sara McGiff

Booths adorned names from all categories of jobs such as the U.S Army, Sportime Tennis Academy, and even Finishing Trades Institute of NY, Painters & Allied Trades. Representatives were able to answer questions to interested visitors, in hopes that it would spark an interest. 

The atmosphere was energetic, and the stream of potential employees didn’t cease until the job fair was close to ending.  

According to Mattera, the job fair was for those who lost their jobs from the recent government mandates, the COVID-19 pandemic and to help boost the economy.  

“Without labor, our economy fails,” he said. “Our goal here is to make sure they, especially the people who lost their jobs, come here and maybe find a new career.” 

Caracappa remarked how the turnout for the job fair was outstanding and showed the need from both sides for employment opportunities. 

“We made this free,” he said. “We didn’t charge vendors, we’re not charging the community to come here. This is all about opportunity for both sides.”

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. 

Legislator Nick Caracappa and Dawn Sharrock during TBR News Media’s in-person debate on Oct. 22. Photos by Julianne Mosher

County Legislator Nick Caracappa (R-Selden) is on the ballot again to keep his seat for the 4th District. 

After winning his seat in a special election following the death of Legislator Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma) in 2020, the 54-year-old father of five said he is “here for the people.”

“No one advocates harder than I do for the hardworking middle class,” he said. 

Previously, Caracappa was president of Local 393 Utility Workers Union of America and served as a trustee of the utility union’s national executive board. He worked for the Suffolk County Water Authority in maintenance for 34 years and was on the Middle Country school board for seven years. 

“I’ve been involved with my community since my first child was born,” he said. “I asked myself right away, ‘How can I make my family, my children’s lives better, while at the same time making my community better?’”

And it’s been a family affair for Caracappa. His mother, the late Rose Caracappa, was a county legislator and community advocate throughout most of his life.

“She’s the reason I’m sitting here today,” he said. “Seeing her service really struck a chord with me at a young age — I’m so thankful I had that opportunity. I wouldn’t know the value of giving back to the community the way she did and it’s very big shoes to fill.” 

His opponent, Dawn Sharrock, running on the Democratic Party line, has spent the last six years on the same school board, which includes serving as chairperson of the legislative committee. 

The 46-year-old mother of two high school-aged girls has lived in Selden with her husband for 19 years.

Sharrock is also on the executive committee of the Nassau-Suffolk School Boards Association —serving as chair of its finance committee — and is a board member of Reform Educational Financing Inequities Today, a consortium of school districts supporting equitable school funding.

“That’s really what is the catalyst to have me sitting here before you and wanting to run for county legislator,” she said during TBR News Media’s in-person debate last week. “It’s been my leadership on that committee, and the things that I was able to accomplish with working with elected officials on both sides of the aisle, that helped to get legislation passed.”

One of her greatest accomplishments, she said, was her help with getting swing-arm cameras onto school buses.

“I was instrumental in getting that legislation passed,” she said, noting that she helped work alongside both state and county officials to get the resolution passed.

COVID-19 and small business

Sharrock said that the COVID-19 pandemic divided the community and believes that it “has been politicized a lot.”

“I think as an effective leader, you are someone who has to bring people to the middle, and if you’re not doing that, you’re not being effective in the job that you’re in,” she said.

A main concern is small businesses which suffered during the pandemic.  

“We have to make sure that is something when we come to the table, we are remembering that small businesses, along with union jobs, they’re the backbone of our communities,” she added. “That doesn’t mean we don’t need big corporations, and that they’re not also beneficial to our communities, but the small businesses in particular, we really need to make sure that they’re able to strive and they’re able to continue.”

Sharrock believes that the county needs to do better budgeting, and make sure that grants are available from the federal level. She wants to make sure that “money is going where it is supposed to.”

Caracappa, a small business owner himself, agreed and noted that there were certain businesses across the country receiving PPP money that were not qualified.

“I think we need to have watchdog groups,” he said. “We need to make sure that there are advisories that are making sure that this money is being used where it was intended to be used for.”

He added that small businesses need to thrive in his district because they help grow the economy.

“The people that own the smaller businesses live within that community, as well,” he said. “So they’re giving back to that economy, they’re helping grow that economy, they’re very much active within that community and the schools.”

In the 4th District, Caracappa said that the ratio of big business to small business is greater for the small businesses — even the franchises along Route 25, which are owned by local families. 

“Our district represents probably a core of hardworking middle-class families more than anything else,” he said, adding that over the last year he has worked alongside the Town of Brookhaven, the local chambers of commerce and the IDA to help develop the area.

The two runners butt heads when it came to discussion of vaccines: Sharrock believes that the well-being of the community is important, and criticized Caracappa for holding an “anti-mandate” rally earlier this month in support of industry workers who are being let go of their jobs for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine.

Caracappa is vaccinated, himself, as are his family and staff.

“I would never say do not get vaccinated,” he said. “That is your choice to get vaccinated. I stand by that — those are constitutional rights.”

Sharrock said that a role of someone in government is to be “proactive instead of reactive.”

“I think that those are some of the things that I would bring to this seat is just being proactive, not necessarily reacting to a situation,” she said. “Make sure these things are happening the way they should before they actually go wrong.”

Environment

Caracappa has been vocal in his concern for the local environment and said he has been working to get more federal funding into the 4th District. 

“I work hard with my colleagues,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if they’re Republicans or Democrats — to get proper sewage in the ground.”

An immediate concern he said is the local waterways and our coastal communities which need sewage in the ground to replace cesspools.

Aa a longtime employee at SCWA, Caracappa said that we need to protect the aquifer and if we don’t, “we’re going to be in big trouble.”

While water quality is his main concern, he added that the advancement of local roadways will continuously be a challenge. Over the summer, he and a bipartisan group of his legislative colleagues, wrote a letter to former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) asking for more money to be sent to the county to repair potholes. The letter resulted in an allocation of $30 million to roadway repairs, and a change in repair timeline from 2024-25 to 2022-23, Caracappa said.

Sharrock agreed that the environment and waterways need to be fixed.

“We have no more time left to not worry about the environment or the waterways, we have to make sure that we’re putting the resources in to make sure that we are protecting the environment, that we are protecting our drinking water,” she said. “And I’m not really sure what is happening — where is this money being put? These are the types of things that I want to know, and I want to when I’m sitting on the county Legislature.”

She said that we need “to make sure we’re leaving an environment for our grandchildren and their children and their children. We have to make sure we’re putting it into where it needs to go.”

Affordable housing

When asked about keeping young people on Long Island, Caracappa said his district has the most projects being built and worked on for lower income and affordable housing opportunities. 

“These opportunities are not only for young couples, but I’d like to see the young couples move into our homes,” he said, adding that empty nesters and senior citizens who cannot take care of a large property anymore need opportunities for more affordable living. 

Sharrock believes that creating goodpaying jobs that allow young people to stay is key. 

“If we want to be able to keep generations here, I think the jobs are very important,” she said. “We need to talk about growing apprenticeship programs so that we are making sure kids who are leaving high school are on a path.”

Crime and police

Sharrock said that law enforcement is one of “the toughest jobs and most important jobs out there.”

“They’re keeping our community safe,” she said. “I think that their pay should reflect that they put their lives on the line every day for us.”

She said that she supported the reform that was recently put out and was “needed, balancing out the People’s Plan.”

Caracappa, who was endorsed by the Suffolk County PBA, said that he “absolutely supports law enforcement.”

“That doesn’t mean they’re not accountable for their actions,” he said. “There are bad cops, bad teachers and bad priests, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to brush a broad stroke over the entire department, because it’s one or two bad cops out there.”

He believes that accountability is necessary, and is a huge advocate for body cams, “not only to protect police officers and the citizens, but also protect the county.”

Sharrock also supports body cams, adding, “It’s important for them and for the community.”

Photo from Ray Welch

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.

On Dec. 18, 1959, the Suffolk County Board of Supervisors approved the establishment of the county’s first community college on the former Suffolk Sanatorium site in Selden. The 1918 building above, which originally served as the Sanatorium’s infirmary, housed faculty office space when the 130-acre site on which it stood was designated as the future home of Suffolk County Community College. 

Although SCCC held its initial year of classes in October of 1960 at Sachem Junior-Senior High School in Ronkonkoma and Riverhead High School, the college took permanent residence of the old Sanatorium site beginning in September of 1961. Initial enrollment included 171 full-time and 355 part-time students. 

Suffolk County Police arrested a Selden man after he targeted Hispanic men and brought them to remote locations and attacked them.

Christopher Cella drove to the vicinity of La Placita, located at 711 Horseblock Road in Farmingville, and picked up a 52-year-old Holbrook resident at approximately 8:15 a.m. on Friday, September 17. Cella brought the man to an abandoned construction site on Blue Point Road in Farmingville, where he attacked him.

Photo from SCPD

Cella then left the construction site and drove to the vicinity of 7-Eleven, located at 3000 North Ocean Ave. in Farmingville, where,  just after 9 a.m., he picked up a 60-year-old Medford resident. Cella brought him to the Blue Ridge Condominium Complex, located on Granny Road in Medford. There, Cella attacked and choked the man before the victim was able to escape.

The following morning, at approximately 8 a.m., Cella went back to the North Ocean Avenue location and picked up a third victim, a 47-year-old Brentwood resident. Cella attempted to bring him to an unknown location. The man became suspicious and was able to get out of the vehicle. 

 Suffolk County Police Hate Crimes Unit detectives, in coordination with 6th Squad detectives and Sixth Precinct Crime Section officers, arrested Cella, 19, of 254 Adirondack Drive, without incident at his home at approximately 10:15 a.m. on Sunday. He was charged with two counts of Aggravated Harassment 2nd Degree, two counts of Criminal Obstruction of Breathing, two counts of Unlawful Imprisonment 2nd Degree under the Hate Crimes Law, and one count of Reckless Endangerment 1st Degree under the Hate Crimes Law. 

“The defendant allegedly targeted these victims because of their ethnicity and lured them in under false pretenses before carrying out these violent attacks,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini. “This is a highly disturbing case, and my Office’s Hate Crimes Task Force will work in collaboration with the SCPD Hate Crimes Unit to investigate and prosecute these incidents thoroughly.”

Cella was arraigned on the charges today in Suffolk County First District Court and was released on supervised release with GPS monitoring. He is being represented by the Legal Aid Society and is due back in court on Sept. 24.

The investigation is ongoing, and Sini urges anyone who believes he or she may be a victim of Cella to contact the Suffolk County Police Department’s Hate Crimes Unit at 631-852-6553.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Sheetal Shetty, of the Felony Offense Bureau’s Major Crime Unit, who is a member of the District Attorney’s Office’s Hate Crimes Task Force.

Photo from Long Island Photography Studio

Saturday night, both the Selden Fire Department and the Centereach Fire Department hosted two separate September 11, 2001 memorials at their fire houses. 

Dozens of people came together to remember the victims, who left behind their lives and legacy 20 years ago to the day of the attacks.

During their event, the Selden Fire Department honored Captain Nicholas Chiofalo and other Selden Community members who lost their lives on 9/11.

Ex-Chief Michael Matteo led the members of the Selden community through a ceremony that would memorialize the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. 

Wreaths were placed at the both departments 9/11 monuments.