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Selden

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Suffolk County Police Sixth Squad detectives are investigating a fatal motor vehicle crash that killed a pedestrian in Centereach March 27.

Gabrielle Gallagher was driving a 2001 Ford Focus south on Mark Tree Road, just north of Linda Drive, when she struck a male pedestrian who was standing on the side of the road. The pedestrian, Dominick Geraci, 84, of Selden, was pronounced dead at the scene by a physician assistant from the office of the Suffolk County medical examiner.

Gallagher, 27, of Centereach, was not injured and remained at the scene.

The vehicle was impounded for a safety check and the investigation is ongoing.

As music blasted and hair clippers buzzed in the packed  Rocky Point Middle School gymnasium March 16, teachers, students and community members lined up to get their heads shaved in the name of childhood cancer research.

Upwards of 25 people, a majority of them students, registered to shed their locks and raise money for the school’s second annual St. Baldrick’s event. Organized by 8th grade social studies teacher Erica Alemaghides, the event encourages students to “stand in solidarity” with those struggling with childhood cancer, one of the most underfunded cancers in the world, and be involved in community fundraising.

“Everybody has someone in their family or community that has been touched personally by cancer, so this really is an event that hits home for so many people.”

—Scott O’Brien

This year, Alemaghides said, the middle school began raising money in February through online crowdfunding accounts, and raised more than $13,000 for the non-profit St. Baldrick’s Foundation, surpassing its set goal of $10,000.

After last year’s success, raising $8,000 with an originally-set goal of $5,000, Rocky Point Middle School Principal Scott O’Brien didn’t hesitate to give Alemaghides the go ahead to double the amount.

“Everybody has someone in their family or community that has been touched personally by cancer, so this really is an event that hits home for so many people,” O’Brien said. “I’m just so proud of what our school and community continues to do … The money will help give kids a second chance at life and the students, teachers and community members are making a difference.”

Each student who got their heads shaved received a certificate, T-shirt and a bracelet. Student step dancers and Selden’s Siol Na h’Eireann bagpipe band performed Irish dances and songs for those in attendance.

Feeling more like a rock concert than a school assembly, students from all grades filled the gym’s bleachers, cheering and stomping their feet for those who sat down centerstage and got their heads shaved by members of the high school’s cosmetology program.

Seventh-grader Quentin Palifka received a special medal after he and his family donated the most money — $4,120. He said he was eager to get involved.

“Middle school can be rough for some people, but when we all focus on a single cause for at least one day, it pulls us together.”

—Liam Abernethy

“I really liked the cause — it’s a great cause, and one of my family’s friends we’ve known for so long died of cancer and I just wanted to help out,” Palifka said. “I wanted to do it last year but didn’t, and then this year, I was like, ‘I have to do it.’”

Eighth-grader Liam Abernethy and his father, a teacher in the Sachem school district, decided to get bald together.

“I have a lot of family members that died from cancer — my grandfather, my uncle, even some aunts — and I think suffering through it at such a young age would be absolutely devastating,” Abernethy said about his drive to donate. “Middle school can be rough for some people, but when we all focus on a single cause for at least one day, it pulls us together.”

When asked how it felt to be hairless, he said, “I feel lighter, a few pounds lighter.”

It was seventh-grader Kathryn Bush, however, who got everyone’s attention for being the first girl in the event’s two-year history to shave her head.

“I felt like it was something good to do and I also wanted to start over again with my hair,” she said. “I was nervous at first because I have a couple beauty marks on my head and people would maybe see things that I don’t want them to see, but now I’m fine with it and it’s not really that big a deal.”

Bush, who raised more than $1,000, said she hopes more girls will volunteer in the future.

Diedre Johnson, the high school cosmetology student who shaved Bush’s head, said she was impressed by her courage.

“Can you imagine shaving their head at their age? It takes a lot of courage. As adults, it’s easy to see that it’s just hair and will grow back in a few months, but to kids, it seems like forever.”

—Bruce Wolper

“That was so sweet; I always say I want to shave my head [for charity] but she actually did it, that was so nice,” she said, adding that the process of shaving heads was at first nerve-wracking, but became easier and more fun as the event went along. “It’s all one size and pretty easy to do … it was really eye-opening that so many people wanted to volunteer.”

Silvina Vega, a Wading River resident, heard about the St. Baldrick’s event on Facebook and decided to stop by and participate. She plans on donating her hair to Locks of Love, a not-for-profit that provides hairpieces for kids struggling with cancer.

Many teachers at the school look forward to the event and seeing their students excited about doing something good.

“It’s electric and very heartwarming,” said 7th grade Spanish teacher Bruce Wolper. “They’re taking a risk at this age, can you imagine shaving their head at their age? It takes a lot of courage. As adults, it’s easy to see that it’s just hair and will grow back in a few months, but to kids, it seems like forever.”

John Mauceri, a 7th grade special education social studies teacher, echoed Wolper’s sentiment.

“Having the kids realize how important it is to give back,” Mauceri said, “especially in this world we live in, and feel good about positive things, is amazing.”

MELTology owners Nick Mauceri and Kevin Muller. Photo by Kevin Redding

With the newly opened MELTology in Mount Sinai, two young business partners and former Friendly’s employees bring their fresh, experimental take on a classic comfort food to the North Shore.

The cafe-style sandwich spot, serving variations of grilled cheese, among other standard items like burgers and chicken sandwiches, marks co-owner Kevin Muller’s fourth — and most ambitious — venture in the restaurant business.

Menu options at MELTology include various grilled cheese mash-ups. Photo from MELTology

After his first restaurant in Selden, Simple Smoothie Cafe, buckled under the pressures of surrounding competition in 2012 — with nearby Tropical Smoothies and Red Mangos making his “no-name brand” obsolete — the 30-year-old Patchogue resident drove up and down North Country Road to get a grasp of what foods were most popular among locals, while brainstorming what new flavors he could bring to the area.

“I was losing big time, and I had to figure something else out,” Muller recalled, saying he had to go back to his old job at Friendly’s just to pay rent month after month while his first business went under. “I was just thinking ‘what can I do differently?’”

Just a few months later, after crafting his own spin on his grandmother’s Italian crepes recipe, Muller found great success with Crazy Crepe Cafe, bringing all variations of the traditional treat to four different locations: Selden, Mount Sinai, Smithtown and Lake Ronkonkoma. In the midst of that, he also opened up an East End food truck business in 2016.

Alongside Crazy Crepe manager and former Friendly’s co-worker Nick Mauceri, 25, Muller recently decided to convert his Crazy Crepe in Mount Sinai into MELTology, to try and reach a different market and more of the general public.

“We paired up the grilled cheeses with the dessert crepes and it works really well together, and [in a few weeks] we’re going to bring our burgers from our food truck and combine that to make grilled cheese burgers … we love seeing the place packed and everyone enjoying the food,” Muller said.

MELTology is located at 5507 Suite 16 Nesconset Highway in Mount Sinai. Photo by Kevin Redding

Mauceri, who said the MELTology idea started back when they worked at Friendly’s and were experimenting with the food chain’s super melt sandwiches, can’t believe how quickly the community has taken to the new restaurant — even despite its Friday the 13th opening in January.

“Luckily, everything went off without a hitch [opening day],” he said. “It’s something that’s catching on really quickly, but we couldn’t have known that it was going to be this fast. We get a great sense of pride from it, especially when you get to talk to people who say they’re really enjoying what they just ate.”

According to the owners, such menu picks like the “Chicken Parm Melt” sandwich, made up of melted mozzarella, chicken strips and marinara sauce on parmesan-crusted sourdough bread, and the “Sweetness Melt,” which features applewood smoked bacon and maple syrup, sets MELTology apart from similar sandwich spots in the area.

Kevin put himself through college at SUNY Polytechnic Institute while working, climbing the ladder from employee to general manager, and saving money to start his own business, he said, and has utilized his business degree well. With Crazy Crepes, Muller did all his own training, made his own menus and even did all the marketing.

John Muller, Kevin’s father, called his son a “workaholic.”

MELTology will still have Crazy Crepe desert options on the menu. Photo from MELTology

“I’m very proud of him, obviously, and for someone who started with only a couple thousand dollars and is now running and owning four restaurants, he’s doing really well,” John Muller said. “He’s entrepreneurial — owning a business is something he’s always wanted to do.”

MELTology, located at 5507 Nesconset Highway Suite 16, is open 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Menu items range frlom a classic grilled-cheese sandwich ($4.95); chicken parm melt ($6.95); and “Kitchen Cinque” sandwich, a multilayered melt of Parmesan-crusted sourdough, melted Cheddar, Gruyère, American, pepper jack and apple-wood smoked bacon with a slice of tomato ($6.95). Sides like mac & cheese ($2.50) and soup ($3.99/cup, $5.99/bread bowl) are coming soon. Crazy Crepe sweet crepes that have made the menu include the Dirty Banana, Oreo Crepe, S’mores Crepe, Peanute Butter Cup Crepe and Apple Pie Crepe. Prices Range from $6.95 to $7.95. Milkshakes in vanilla, chocolate, nutella, oreo and peanut butter cup are also available ($4.50).

Takeout can also be ordered online.

For more information, call (631) 509 0331 or visit www.meltology.

File photo by Victoria Espinoza

Suffolk County Police arrested a man for burglarizing a Selden pharmacy early March 6.

Sixth Precinct Police Officers Jennifer Mackey and Christopher Weiner responded to Rite Aid, located at 229 Independence Plaza, at approximately 5:05 a.m. after an employee called 911 to report someone attempting to break into the store, which was closed at the time.

When officers arrived, they apprehended Christopher Martinelli who was standing outside the store. Martinelli had broken a window with a baseball bat and reached inside the store and removed cigarettes and electronic cigarettes.

Martinelli, 43, of Selden, was charged with third-degree burglary, and was scheduled to be arraigned Monday, March 6 at First District Court in Central Islip.

File photo.

Suffolk County Police Sixth Squad detectives are investigating a motor vehicle crash that seriously injured a pedestrian in Selden Feb. 20.

Joshua Ganci was a driving a Jeep Wrangler east on Route 25 when his vehicle struck a pedestrian who was crossing the street 15 feet east of College Road at approximately 8:35 p.m.

The pedestrian, Quincy Grant, 32, of Farmingville, was transported by Selden Fire Department to Stony Brook University Hospital with serious injuries. Ganci was not injured.

The vehicle was impounded for a safety check. Anyone with information about this crash is asked to call Sixth Squad detectives at 631-854-8652.

Frederick Staria III and Jason Kinlaw. Photos from SCPD

Suffolk County Police have arrested two Selden men in connection with multiple robberies that occurred earlier this week.

Following an investigation by Sixth Squad detectives, Frederick Staria III and Jason Kinlaw were arrested in connection with three robberies and an attempted robbery. Staria entered businesses, threatened the use of a weapon and demanded cash. He fled with an undisclosed amount of money. In one incident, the employee did not comply and Staria fled without proceeds. During two of the crimes, Kinlaw drove Staria to the locations.

The following businesses were robbed:

  • Gorgeous Salon, located at 1232 Middle Country Road in Selden, Feb. 12
  • QuickChek, located at 2686 Middle Country Road in Lake Grove, Feb. 13
  • Pizza Hut, located at 534-1 William Floyd Parkway in Shirley, Feb. 13

The attempted robbery occurred at:

  • Milk and Things, located at 815 Middle Country Road in Selden Feb. 13

Staria, 35, was charged with three counts of third-degree robbery, third-degree attempted robbery and four warrants. Kinlaw, 24, was charged with third-degree robbery and third-degree attempted robbery. They were held overnight at the Sixth Precinct for arraignment Feb. 14 at First District Court in Central Islip.

Alan Bauser. Photo from PIO

Suffolk County Police arrested a man for driving while intoxicated with his daughter in his car in Selden Feb. 11.

Alan Bauser was driving a 2008 Hyundai southbound on North Ocean Ave. and Middle Country Road, when he was observed by Sixth Precinct Patrol Officer Christopher Weiner failing to maintain his lane of travel, crossing the roadway’s lane marking and crossing onto the shoulder of the road numerous times at approximately 11:35 p.m. Officer Weiner initiated a traffic stop and conducted sobriety tests, which Bauser failed. Bauser also admitted to overusing his prescription medication. Bauser’s 12-year-old daughter was in the car.

Further investigation revealed the daughter had a Family Court Order of Protection requiring Bauser to refrain from misusing prescription medication in her presence. The daughter was released to a family member.

Bauser, 42, of Medford, was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated, aggravated driving while intoxicated with a child passenger 15 or younger (Leandra’s Law), endangering the welfare of a child and second degree criminal contempt.

Bauser will be held overnight at the Sixth Precinct and was scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip on Feb. 12.

Javon Harrington. Photo from PIO

Suffolk County Police arrested a man in Selden Feb. 11 for driving under the influence of drugs after a two-vehicle crash.

Javon Harrington was operating a 2003 Infiniti on North Evergreen Drive at a high speed when he went through a stop sign at Pine Street and struck a 2009 Dodge, and then a tree. Harrington, 20, of Coram, and his passengers Elijah Quinitchette, 24, of Coram and Eddie Bray, 20, of Coram were transported to Stony Brook University Hospital via Selden Fire Department Ambulance. Bray suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries. Harrington and Quinitchette suffered minor injuries.

The 19-year-old man driving the Dodge, and his two passengers, were also transported to Stony Brook University Hospital via Selden Fire Department Ambulance for observation.

Sixth Squad detectives arrested Harrington and charged him with driving while ability impaired by drugs. He was scheduled to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip Feb. 12.

Both vehicles were impounded for safety checks and the investigation is ongiong.

Bras to be auctioned in March for Adelphi University's breast cancer program

A Creative Cup made by Samantha Eddy and Sandra Lundy will be among 137 auctioned off by Adelphi University to raise money for breast cancer support. Photos from Adelphi University

Two Selden college students got creative making bras to support breast cancer support programs.

Through Adelphi University’s Breast Cancer Program, Samantha Eddy and Sandra Lundy constructed works of art for the Creative Cups project, which encourages artistic expression in celebration of the lives of those living with and lost to the disease.

The bras will be auctioned to benefit the Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline & Support Program. The program seeks to educate, support, empower and advocate for breast cancer patients and professionals. Those working the hotline answer questions, provide people with someone to talk to and guide them to resources to help.

To make their Creative Cups, people embellished ordinary bras to fit with stories they wanted to share.

Eddy said in 2014, when she received a position in Consumer Advocacy and Low Income Programs as an assistant coordinator, she was given the opportunity to join the Employee Outreach Council at PSEG Long Island. This group of employees has a mission to coordinate support for the specific needs of the communities served by PSEG.

“I hope it brings support to the fight against breast cancer.”

— Sandra Lundy

When October came around and breast cancer awareness fundraising was in full force, the Employee Outreach Council launched Cups for a Cure, according to Eddy.

“The entire company was invited to design a bra and donate the winners to Adelphi’s Creative Cups,” she said. “I was inspired by everyone’s enthusiasm and decided to create a bra that was influenced by my favorite place to visit: Las Vegas. Just like Vegas, this bra has glitz, glam and is over the top. I am proud to donate Bras Vegas to such a great cause.”

Lundy’s “Hunting for a Cure” will also be auctioned off.

The inspiration for her piece was not just her Aunt Diane, a breast cancer survivor, but also her husband.

“My husband and I are opposites, so I took his love for hunting and my love for art and morphed it into ‘Hunting for a Cure,’ ” she said. “This bra is a very personal piece as I feel it demonstrates our love and support for each other. I hope it brings support to the fight against breast cancer.”

“Bras Vegas,” “Hunting for a Cure” and 135 other Creative Cups will be auctioned at a gala event at Adelphi University’s ballroom in Garden City on March 16. NBC News personality Pat Battle is hosting the event. To date, major sponsors include Goldman Sachs Gives, The Leviton Foundation Inc. and Digital Graphic Imagery.

For further information about the hotline and support program, call 516-877-4320 or email breastcancerhotline@adelphi.edu. The hotline number is 1-800-877-8077.

Brookhaven Town Councilman Kevin LaValle, at center, is honored by Centereach VFW Post 4927 at its annual Gold Chevron Ball last month. File photo from Town of Brookhaven

By Daniel Dunaief

Brookhaven Town Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden) has worked on big projects in the 3rd Council District, although it is his ability to hone in on some of the smaller quality-of-life details that impressed Bram Weber, a partner with the Weber Law Group in Melville.

Weber worked with Kimco Realty, the owners of Independence Plaza mall in Selden, which recently brought in new tenants and renovated the property.

LaValle has “noticed things I may not have noticed the last time I was at the property,” Weber said. “He digs deep into the details of his job.”

Indeed, LaValle, whose last name has become synonymous with public service on Long Island, is earning his own admirers as he focuses on everything from rebuilding roads, to continuing construction on a new park in Selden, to improving the aesthetics and ease of shopping in his district, to searching for businesses to bring into the area and create jobs.

Brookhaven Town Councilman Kevin LaValle, on right, welcomes paralyzed U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. William Ventura to his newly renovated and handicap-accessible home in Selden. File photo from Town of Brookhaven

For LaValle’s dedication to his work on behalf of his constituents, while maintaining a job as a mortgage loan originator at Lynx Mortgage Bank in Westbury, Times Beacon Record News Media names the councilman a 2016 Person of the Year.

“The fact that he can balance [his roles] is quite tremendous,” said Zahra Jafri, president of Lynx Mortgage Bank, who described LaValle as “honest, ethical and service-oriented.” LaValle “does what he says he’s going to do.”

Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point), who has known LaValle for 12 years, said he dug in from the moment he was elected.

“It’s impressive what he’s been able to accomplish so quickly,” Bonner said.

Indeed, Bonner cited the work the third-year councilman did to help bring businesses to Selden’s Independence Plaza.

“We were able to work with the property owner and redevelop that site,” which now has a Rite Aid and a Guitar Center, LaValle said. Five Guys Burgers and Fries is expected to move in within the next six months. “I am always looking to work with property owners who have vacant stores to bring in new businesses, whether they be big-name companies or new businesses just getting started.”

LaValle, whose district includes Lake Grove, Centereach, Selden and parts of Lake Ronkonkoma, Farmingville and Coram, said it is a challenge to fill large sites, and is excited that Ocean State Job Lot moved into the former Pathmark site in Centereach and Best Market took over the former Waldbaums site in Selden.

He sees his role as creating a way to share the community’s perspective with business.

At town board meetings, LaValle honors a business of the month. He instituted that process when he first entered office. He chooses a business that is recommended by a community organization, such as the chamber of commerce, for supporting the community through charitable acts.

Bonner said the spotlight on these businesses also helps deliver the message to residents to shop locally, work with fellow business owners and the Chamber of Commerce.

Brookhaven Town Councilman Kevin LaValle, on left, celebrated the Selden Dog Park festival in October with the unveiling of a memorial bench in honor of deceased police dog, Ace. File photo from Town of Brookhaven

“You can tell he knows these businesses and has visited them,” town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said. “He has taken a personal interest in knocking on doors and asking what’s going on, how can we help, and what is bothering you?”

Romaine has worked with LaValle on a sport complex in Selden that currently has what Romaine describes as two “world class” turf baseball fields, with dugouts, fencing and lights behind Grace Presbyterian Church.

LaValle was the “chief motivator and instigator in getting things moving” with this park, which sits behind Hawkins Path Elementary School, Romaine said. “He made sure everything stayed on the timetable we set.”

The park will be breaking ground soon on redeveloping a baseball field to a multipurpose field, which LaValle hopes will be done by the summer. In 2017, engineers will design the remaining part of the park as well as roadway improvements along Boyle Road and Hawkins Road to handle the additional traffic.

LaValle worked to redesign a planned dog park. He said he met with residents to talk about the park, which is divided into areas for large and small dogs, and hosted a public meeting.

LaValle worked with the owners of a batting cage site in Selden that was the regular target of graffiti. He put the property owner in touch with a security company in California that uses wireless, motion-activated cameras to take a video whenever someone walks on the property. This should reduce the number of false alarms police responded to with the other types of security systems, LaValle said. It will also help law enforcement catch those who are defacing the property.

LaValle said working as a councilman and a mortgage loan originator puts pressure on his schedule, which can require him to work 17 days in a row without a break.

“My family is understanding about my commitment,” he said. “If I show up late for a party, they get it. They understand what’s going on.”

His family has been down this road before. His cousin, Ken LaValle, has been a state senator (R-Port Jefferson) since 1976. Kevin’s brother, John Jay LaValle, is a former town supervisor and is the Suffolk County Republican Committee chairman.

“Invariably, someone comes to meetings and calls him Ken or John,” Bonner said. “He handles it really well. He has a good sense of humor about it.”

Brookhaven Town Councilman Kevin LaValle honors Centereach High School Student of the Month, Troy Lee, in October.

The councilman said each of the politicians in his family has his own style. He’s taken to the notion that working hard will bring good results.

Those who have seen LaValle in action believe he practices what he preaches.

“He’s a hard worker,” said Donna Lent, Brookhaven town clerk. “I don’t think it has anything to do with his name. I judge people by what they do.”

A resident of Selden, LaValle graduated from Centereach High School. He earned a bachelor of arts from Salisbury University in Maryland. Before running for office, he worked for then-county Legislator Dan Losquadro (R) as his chief of staff.

Bonner, who also worked for Losquadro before becoming a councilwoman seven years ago, described how LaValle’s high energy benefits everyone in the office.

“I can hear him when he’s on the phone with residents and constituents, while he’s trying to solve their problems, he’s so high energy that he’s bouncing a ball against the wall,” Bonner said.

Having LaValle as a member of the council has put a “spring in the step” of other council members. “It’s impossible not to have that [energy] affect you.”

As the liaison with the highway department, LaValle collaborated with Losquadro, who is now highway superintendent, to complete a 23-road paving project near Centereach High School and Dawnwood Middle School.

As LaValle learned from watching his brother and cousin, he knows that he’ll hear from members of his constituency wherever he goes.

LaValle is “deeply engaged with the community,” Romaine said. “It’s been a joy to work with him. He has no reticence to take the initiative.”