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The Setauket branch of Investors Bank will close in February. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Many Investors Bank customers will soon find an empty building where they once traveled to take care of their financial matters.

Last year, Citizens Bank, headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, acquired New Jersey-based Investors Bank. While Investors’ doors remained open to customers, the process of the merger began in August as investmentaccounts transferred to Citizens, and in October, mortgage loan services transitioned from Investors to Citizens.

According to the Citizens website, the merger will “offer Investors’ customers an expanded set of products and services, enhanced online and mobile banking capabilities, and more branch locations, along with a continued commitment to making a difference in our local communities.”

While the East Northport location on Larkfield Road will remain open doing business under the Citizens name, the Investors Commack location on Jericho Turnpike will close Feb. 14. The Huntington branch on Main Street and the Setauket location on Route 25A will close their doors for the last time Feb. 15. All three due-to-be closed branches have Citizens operating nearby.

Nuno Dos Santos, retail director of Citizens, said the banks located in Commack, Huntington and East Setauket are less than 2 miles away from the Investors branches that are closing.

“As we continue to integrate Investors with Citizens, we have been reviewing customer patterns and branch locations to ensure we are serving customers when, where and how they prefer,” Dos Santos said. “As a result of this review, we will close the Investors branch locations in Commack, Huntington and Setauket.”

Current Investors employees have been encouraged to apply for positions at Citizens, according to a company spokesperson.

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Despite weather forecasters calling for rain, Setauket residents showed up for veterans on Friday, Nov. 11. 

In an abbreviated ceremony to avoid the pending bad weather, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3054 hosted its annual recognition service at the Setauket Veterans Memorial Park at the corner of Shore Road and Route 25A in East Setauket.

Scouts and veterans laid wreaths at the memorial that recognizes the various wars American soldiers have fought in. 

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Leah Jantzen in a previous race. Photo from Leah Jantzen

While many Three Village residents will be reading The Village Times Herald soon after it hits newsstands on Oct. 6, one familiar face in the area will be in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, competing in the Ironman World Championship.

Elite endurance athlete Leah Jantzen, left, with her husband, Michael, right, and children Phoebe, 19, Luke, 14, Audrey, 10, and Charlie, 12. Photo from Leah Jantzen

Elite endurance athlete Leah Jantzen has qualified for this year’s competition. The Ironman Triathlon includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile marathon. To qualify for the event, triathletes must be in the top 2% in the world. Jantzen has competed in two triathlons before, but the competition in Hawaii is the longest.

In a phone interview, Jantzen said she is excited about qualifying and competing in Hawaii, where husband Michael has joined her to cheer her on.

Jantzen is a guidance counselor at Ward Melville High School and a 1991 graduate. The mother of four children, ranging in age from 10 to 19, was the Ward Melville girls volleyball team coach, but she put coaching on hold so she could train more rigorously.

A typical weekend for the Three Village elite athlete has included 6-hour bike rides on Saturdays and 20-mile runs the next day. During the week, she is engaged in one or two of the three triathlon activities every day.

“I’m that lady who is running and biking all over town,” she said, adding she swims at West Meadow Beach.

Jantzen balances her training schedule with caring for her family and working by setting goals and establishing boundaries.

“I’m really good with boundaries for myself,” she said. “I take care of myself as best as I can. I don’t do a lot of shopping. I don’t do a lot of decorating. I don’t drink a lot of wine. I don’t go out with the girls.”

The guidance counselor and coach said she follows the same self-care advice she gives her student-athletes regarding staying in top form. She said getting a good night’s sleep, eating healthy, especially before a competition, and surrounding yourself with good people is key.

Jantzen has her own private performance coaching business and is a motivational speaker; however, like coaching, has had to put these pursuits aside to train. Recently though, she became involved with The Hidden Opponent, a nonprofit organization. She is raising funds for the nonprofit and is a mentor for its campus captain program. Jantzen said she believes in its cause of raising awareness of mental health for student-athletes and addressing the stigma within the sports culture where many teens are hesitant to ask for help.

“There are times when you’re OK and there are times when you’re not OK,” she said, “I want to try to empower our athletes on the high school level to be equipped to handle this. The kids that are struggling, I want to be one of those resources for these kids.”

In her role as coach and counselor, she tries to ensure student-athletes know the importance of mental wellness when they come to her to discuss issues. She said young athletes go through issues such as suffering an injury in their senior year when colleges may be scouting games, while others may want to quit a team but feel they will let down their families or friends.

“Adults don’t get it sometimes that they are really wrapped up in it, and it’s normal for a 17-year-old to see themselves as this athlete,” she said. “That’s their identity and that just gets sort of taken away from them without any notice, and they don’t know how to cope with it.”

Among the Three Village residents who know Jantzen and are excited about her entering the triathlon are Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) and Billy Williams, father of four children who through the years have had Jantzen as a coach or guidance counselor. His youngest child Bailee has been on varsity volleyball for the past three years and has been coached by Jantzen in the past. He described the coach and guidance counselor as a positive role model for the students.

“Everything she does is at the highest quality,” he said, adding that she is a hard worker and organized. “It’s like knowing a professional athlete or rock star, someone who is at the pinnacle of their sport.” 

Hahn, who is also a Ward Melville graduate, grew up with Jantzen. She described her as strong, determined and an inspiration. 

“She’s doing it, and she’s just inspiring to everybody because you see her, you see her on the streets when you’re driving,” Hahn said. “She’s so dedicated and an incredible athlete and incredibly dedicated individual. It’s a huge commitment.”

As Jantzen prepared for the big race, she followed mental health advice she shares with students when it comes to dealing with pressure, which includes setting goals and practicing visualization. While athletes can get lost in anxiety, Jantzen suggests embracing the excitement.

“Excitement and nervousness are the same thing,” she said. “Like butterflies in your stomach, that means you’re nervous. That means you care about what you’re doing, and it also means you’re excited. It’s OK to try and change it a little bit to be more excited — and less about it being nerve-racking and anxiety producing.”

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From the Ru Yi Spa website

Suffolk County Police today arrested a Flushing woman for allegedly unlawful practice of a profession during a massage parlor raid in Setauket.

In response to community and quality of life complaints, Suffolk County Police Sixth Precinct Crime Section, Sixth Squad detectives, and the Town of Brookhaven fire marshal and building inspector, conducted an investigation at Ru Yi Spa, located at 175 Route 25A, at 6 p.m. Oct. 5.

Following the investigation, Xiahong Zhao, 57, was charged with two counts of unauthorized practice of a profession. Town of Brookhaven investigators and the fire marshal issued numerous violations for fire and building code offenses.

Zhao was released on a field appearance ticket and is scheduled to appear in First District Court in
Central Islip on a later date.

The Three Village area and downtown Port Jefferson were filled with local history buffs Saturday, Sept. 10.

Culper Spy Day, presented by the Three Village Historical Society and Tri-Spy Tours in collaboration with more than 30 local historical and cultural organizations, returned in full force for its eighth annual event. Due to COVID-19, organizers hosted a downsized version last year and a virtual presentation in 2020.

The spy day celebrates Gen. George Washington’s spies who operated in Three Village and the surrounding area during the Revolutionary War.

The majority of activities, such as reenactments, readings, docent- and self-guided tours and more, took place on the grounds of the Three Village Historical Society headquarters. Other sites included Setauket Neighborhood House, Patriots Rock, Caroline Church and cemetery, Setauket Presbyterian Church and cemetery, Emma S. Clark Memorial Library, Setauket Elementary School auditorium, Sherwood-Jayne House, The Long Island Museum and Drowned Meadow Cottage Museum in Port Jefferson.

Mari Irizarry, TVHS director, said she estimated around 1,300 people visited the historical society grounds on Sept. 10.

Margo Arceri, of Tri-Spy Tours, said Irizarry was a huge help spearheading the planning of many of the activities. Arceri said she was grateful for all the volunteers, sponsor Heritage Spy Ring Golf Club and participating organizations, who were not just locally based but from all over Long Island, who made it a success. 

“We’re all telling our part of the Revolutionary story,” she said.

Arceri added she was impressed by the people from all different age groups she met at the event and showed interest in the Culper spies.

“This is not just one age group that enjoys and is attracted to this story,” she said. “It’s really for all ages.”

TVHS historian Beverly Tyler said he also noticed the age range of attendees.

“They were absorbing everything, asking questions and even proudly telling us their connections with ancestors in the Revolutionary War or things they have from the colonial period,” he said.

Tyler said he also saw children fascinated by demonstrations that included writing and mailing a letter in colonial times and hearing stories about youngsters during the era as well as recent local history.

In Port Jeff village, local historians greeted visitors with a tour of the Drowned Meadow Cottage Museum, a structure that dates back to the 18th century. 

The museum has been relocated twice before finding its way to its current resting place at the intersection of West Broadway and Barnum Avenue. During the Revolution, it was the former home of Phillips Roe, a known member in the Culper Spy Ring.

Mark Sternberg, the spy ring historian at Drowned Meadow Cottage, said he was elated by the day’s success and the public’s degree of interest.

“It has been awesome to have so much new information to share with people, specifically about [Phillips, Nathaniel and John] Roe and their involvement in the Culper Spy Ring,” he said. “A lot of Port Jeff residents don’t know that Drowned Meadow had such an important role during the Revolution, so the response has been great — and we have had so many people.”

Irizarry said she enjoyed all the organizations taking part in the day to tell their Revolutionary War stories. She added organizations such as Four Harbors Audubon Society discussed making ink from natural products, and Sweetbriar Nature Center representatives talked about birds of prey that existed during the 18th century.

“It wasn’t just talking about the spies and the war, but it was really just talking about life during the 18th century, which is the bigger picture also, which was nice to see,” Irizarry said.

Additional reporting by Raymond Janis.

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Students in the Three Village Central School District returned to their buildings on Sept. 6 for the first day of school. Administrators, teachers and staff members welcomed students and led them to their classrooms for a day full of introductions and activities.

From the youngest students in the district to the Class of 2023, everyone was excited to start the new school year.

This academic year will resemble scholarly life before COVID-19 a bit more as the New York State Department of Health has lifted restrictions such as masks, social distancing and mandatory quarantines if exposed to someone with the virus.

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Emily Ostrander when she was first promoted to Teen Services librarian. Photo from Emma Clark library

For many people, a library with all its books and materials transports them on a journey of learning or fantasy. In the case of one 27-year-old Three Village resident, her love of libraries, especially one in particular, led to her career path.

Emily Ostrander, Emma Clark’s Teen Services librarian, above, recently found her first reading prize from the library, above left inset. Right inset, Ostrander as a child.

Emily Ostrander has been visiting Emma S. Clark Memorial Library in Setauket regularly since she moved to Stony Brook from Massapequa when she was 7 years old. Today she is the Teen Services librarian who patrons meet when they enter Emma Clark’s Adult Services department. She had wanted to be a librarian since she was 12 when she began volunteering at the library. Ostrander said it was then working with the librarians that she realized it was “a cool career.”

A few years after volunteering, she began working as a library page and went on to receive her bachelor’s degree in English from Stony Brook University and master’s in Library Science from Queens College. After graduating, she became a part-time children’s librarian.

She landed her current full-time position  as Teen Services librarian and working at the Adult Reference Desk in 2019, a few months before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down libraries for a few months.

Despite dealing with a complex age group and shutdowns, library officials said teen programming has flourished under Ostrander’s care. In 2021, the number of hours teenagers volunteered had increased over 2019 and 2020. Participation in the Teen Summer Reading Club also continues to increase with readers using a new online platform.

Library director, Ted Gutmann, said Ostrander has developed a rapport with the teenage patrons and their parents. He added she has a good mix of librarian skills and enterprise.

“She’s constantly coming up with new and creative ideas to engage the teens, and really to help instill the value of libraries in general in their lives, which I think is an important thing,” he said.

Ostrander said she tries to think outside of the box, but it can be difficult coming up with ideas for teens as she describes them as “over scheduled and under slept.”

“They have so many other things that they’re doing that you have to have something that is worth it for them to come to the library,” the librarian said.

Recently, the library introduced a Dungeons & Dragons group, which she said has brought in more young people.

For Ostrander, once she and her sister could read, their mother would take them to the library at least once a week, sometimes every other day. Being homeschooled, Ostrander said the library was for educational purposes and socializing. Through the years she participated in the library’s Summer Reading Club and Battle of the Books team.

“I would meet friends there as well as make friends there,” she said. “I went to as many library programs as I could go to.”

“She’s constantly coming up with new and creative ideas to engage the teens, and really to help instill the value of libraries in general in their lives, which I think is an important thing.”

— Ted Gutmann

She remembered being 9 years old and discovering the stickers on the children’s books.

“I read every single one that had the historical-fiction sticker on it from A to Z,” Ostrander said.

In addition to enjoying a physical book, she also has an appreciation for audiobooks because, as a child, there were many books she wanted to read such as “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” and the “Harry Potter” series which were above her reading level when she was interested in them. She continues to use audiobooks exclusively on the library’s reading app when she doesn’t have time to sit and read a book.

As for the challenge of a new job, Ostrander said she was ready. After she worked in the children’s department, former Teen Services librarian Nanette Feder, now Adult Programming librarian, trained her and planned out programs for the first few months, which Ostrander said was a big help.

She has known Feder since she was a teen going to the library.

“I think she probably had a formative effect on my decision to go into the library and everybody in children’s,” she said.

Ostrander started to prepare her own programs when the library was shut down due to COVID-19 restrictions. She and other librarians found themselves starting from scratch, and she found she was up to the challenge.

“It was freeing in a way because no one has ever done this,” she said.

She found programs via Zoom weren’t successful with teens, which she said was understandable because they were learning virtually during school hours. She said craft kits where people would pick up materials at the building and then make something at home turned out to be successful with all age groups. The craft program continues due to demand.

Ostrander said the job has lived up to her expectations, and it has been interesting working with teens.

“They’re all coming into their own,” she said. “They’re really starting to build their own personalities and it’s so much fun to watch.”

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By Amanda Olsen

Being matched with a service dog can sometimes feel like hitting the jackpot.

That’s certainly how Jamie Sileo, of Setauket, feels. Her daughter Drew, 10, and “best friend” Dasha, a pure yellow lab, were paired in October 2021.

“I always say we’ve won the doggy lottery,” Sileo said. “She’s just amazing.” 

Drew has global developmental delays, executive function issues and ADHD. The pairing was made possible through Canine Companions, whose northeast location is based in Medford. The organization is the nation’s largest provider of service dogs, at no cost to the recipient. 

When Sileo first started looking for a dog, she first contacted the Guide Dog Foundation of Smithtown.

“I knew that with her needs, getting a puppy would be very hard,” the mother said. “So I called the Guide Dog Foundation and asked them about it. And they said that we don’t do it, but you can call Canine Companions. It took one month shy of two years to get the call to join team training and get matched with a dog. It took a long time, but we were patient.” 

When they finally got Dasha, she integrated into their lives immediately.

“I think it’s better than we thought it would be,” Sileo said. “I didn’t realize how highly trained these dogs are, and how they’re bred to be such amazing, kind animals. They’re very routine based, so the dog just kind of fell right in with everything that we do.”

These dogs spend 18 months with a puppy raiser and then graduate to formal training at the Medford center. Training focuses not only on commands but also behavior. These dogs have a job to do, and they take it very seriously.

“She really knows when her vest is on that she’s working,” the mother said. “If we’re going to a restaurant, most people will tell us, ‘We didn’t even know there was a dog in the restaurant,’ because she’s quiet. She just lays under the table. They’re trained to not touch anything off the floor, So they don’t touch a single piece of food or anything. We take her with us, even if we just run into the grocery store.”

All Canine Companions service dogs learn the same commands, including retrieving dropped items as small as a dime, pulling a manual wheelchair, and turning light switches on and off. Certain commands are more useful for Drew and Dasha than others. Dasha helps with Drew’s sensory needs and keeps her safe.

“She does cover, which is basically like laying across her lap to apply pressure and fulfill her sensory needs,” Sileo said. “We also use the push command. If we’re upstairs getting dressed, and she’s got her drawers open, the dog will help push things closed. Drew has a tendency to get up and then not realize that it’s the middle of the night. So, if she does get up, the dog stays with her.”

For anyone considering raising a puppy for Canine Companions, Debra Dougherty, executive director of the Northeast region, emphasizes commitment over experience.

“We’re looking for someone that’s committed,” Dougherty said. “Someone that wants to give back. It’s a great experience raising a puppy and then watching it go on to help someone.” 

There is an extensive support system for puppy raisers to draw from, and previous dog experience is not required.

“We go through a process with them,” she said. “They apply, and then we do a phone interview with them. Then we have them come to a couple of classes on our Medford campus to observe and maybe talk to some of the other raisers. At that point, if they’re still interested, then they go on the waitlist. When they get a puppy we have a pretty structured program for them. We try to pair people up with a mentor if they want, someone who has more experience so that they have someone to go to. So it’s not necessary for someone to have raised a dog before, because we support them.” 

Dougherty also wants people to be mindful of the future recipient, and the weight and emotion attached to their decision to raise a puppy.

“Be open to new things and have a big heart to share with that puppy as well as with the recipient,” she said. “It is a commitment because these dogs are bred for a very special purpose and you know the end purpose, you know the end goal being to be matched with a person with a disability to help them. So we want them to be serious about it.”

As the family of a Canine Companions service dog, Sileo is thankful.

“I’m forever grateful for all the puppy raisers out there,” the mother said. “We can’t thank Canine Companions enough for this opportunity. Because of the puppy raisers, trainers, and the generosity of the donors and everyone in between, my daughter was able to receive this beautiful and extremely smart dog named Dasha. Dasha has improved Drew’s life in so many ways from daily routines and her speech to social interactions and anxiety control. Dasha is such a welcome part of our family, and everyone who meets her just falls in love.” 

Alleged suspects were seen driving what appears to be a light-colored sedan. Photos from SCPD

Suffolk County Crime Stoppers and Suffolk County Police Sixth Squad detectives are seeking the public’s help to identify and locate the people responsible for stealing wallets and cash from unlocked cars in the Sixth Precinct in June.

Two individuals allegedly have been involved in multiple grand larcenies in the Setauket, Terryville, Stony Brook and Port Jefferson areas. The unknown persons allegedly entered the cars and stole wallets containing cash, credit and debit cards, and licenses. They were seen driving what appears to be a light-colored sedan.

Suffolk County Crime Stoppers offers a cash reward for information that leads to an arrest. Anyone with information about these incidents can contact Suffolk County Crime Stoppers to submit an anonymous tip by calling 1-800-220-TIPS, utilizing a mobile app which can be downloaded through the App Store or Google Play by searching P3 Tips, or online at www.P3Tips.com. All calls, text messages and emails will be kept confidential.

The Setalcott Nation hosted their 15th annual Corn Festival & Pow Wow at Setauket Elementary School Saturday and Sunday.

The last two years the festival was not held due to the pandemic. For its return, the 2022 festival’s theme was “We Are Still Here.”

To celebrate Native American culture, attendees had the opportunity to see Aztec dancers and Taino dancers, listen to storytelling, flute players and traditional drums. Visitors were also able to participate in some of the dances.

Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook), lower right, was also on hand to welcome everyone.