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Shoreham

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Rocky Point Fire District residents file into the district offices in Shoreham to cast their votes. Photo by Kyle Barr

RPFD is going ahead with a new $1 million bond after a community vote Tuesday, Oct. 13, with a narrow margin of just 18 votes. 

The community in the Rocky Point Fire District, which covers the Rocky Point and Shoreham hamlets, voted 271 to 253 on new funds to finish the Station 2 firehouse construction project on King Road.

Officials have previously said that because of a delayed start, expanding construction costs and the pandemic they do not have the funds to complete the original $7.25 million project. District officials cited the projects late start, as well as increased costs due to the ongoing pandemic for why they needed these new funds. 

“We are all very pleased that a majority of our residents came out and supported the project,” David Brewer, vice chairman of the board of fire commissioners, said in a statement. “We are equally pleased that some of the misinformation and inaccuracies posted on some social media sites didn’t adversely affect the outcome of the vote. From the beginning, the board of fire commissioners has been committed to providing our members and residents with a safe and modern firehouse. Our goal remains unchanged and that is to complete this building despite many financial setbacks and delays, and we thank all of our supporters.”

Social distancing and mask wearing rules were enforced, though the district did not allow people to cast absentee ballots, citing the extra time it would take to count those ballots as well.

In a Zoom call last week relating to this vote, officials said the new bond will cost residents an average of $18 more per year on their fire district taxes, though they could not relate how many years it may take to pay off the new bond.

Officials expect the project to be finished around the end of the year.

More Details on the Station 2 Firehouse Project

The district originally asked the community to support a $8.5 million bond in 2017, where $7.25 million would go to the construction of the new firehouse. Fire District Chairman Anthony Gallino said they originally included about 7% contingency of over $500,000. This new $1 million bond is looking at a 25% contingency of about $250,000. Gallino added that any unused funds of the new bond will be put to paying down the bond.

“We realized that [the original contingency] was not enough to cover obstacles, so we put a little more in there for this building,” Gallino said. 

On Saturday, Oct. 10, district officials made a full breakdown of the project budget available. Documents show the district lacked $752,310 to complete the firehouse. That number is out of a remaining $1.5 million on a firehouse that is 75% complete. The district still has $500,000 in contingency bond funds and $293,814 left in money taken from the general fund.

There were issues on the project from the start, officials said during the call. The project manager they originally hired put out bids which were routinely around $1 million over budget. In August 2018, the district terminated its contract with its original construction manager. In February 2019, they hired a new project manager, Devin Kulka, the CEO of Hauppauge-based Kulka Group, and were able to get started with asbestos abatement in May 2019 and demolition followed in June. Materials and labor costs, especially with New York’s prevailing wage, also increased from when the bond vote was passed. The pandemic made things even more complicated. 

Documents show there were items that came in way over what they were originally budgeted for several years ago, resulting in the $752,310 shortfall. HVAC, for example, was slated for $600,000, but is now awarded at $925,000. While a few items came slightly under budget, those overages make up the total of the project’s $1.5 million excess.

Kulka said during the Zoom call there was one contractor company that went under during construction due to COVID-19. He confirmed a surety company would be cutting a check for the cost between the work the contractor already did and what it wasn’t able to complete.

Gallino said materials costs increased by 10%. Some community members questioned what the cost could be on what has already been constructed, which now resembles a cinder block exterior, but officials said the price of prevailing wages kept costs high.

Currently the station 2 company is housed in the old Thurber Lumber property on King Road, which is owned by local developer Mark Baisch. The developer allowed the company into the property free of charge but plans to turn that property into a slate of 55-and-older rental pieces and would need the fire company to be out by the end of the year.

This article was updated Oct. 15 to include extra information and a quote from the fire district.

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Suffolk County police car. File photo

Suffolk County Police said they arrested a Yaphank man Friday, Sept. 25 for allegedly stealing items from 13 unlocked vehicles in Shoreham and Wading River during the past month.

For several weeks, residents in the SWR community have complained about an alleged individual stealing items from people’s unlocked cars. A man in a hat and mask was seen in several residents’ security cameras walking up to cars late at night and trying their locks.

During the course of the investigation into larcenies from vehicles since Aug. 30, police said 7th precinct officer Karen Grenia observed the alleged suspect, Patrick Fontaine, 38, in the vicinity of Route 25A at around 7:50 a.m. Fontaine was apprehended a short time later on the grounds of Shoreham-Wading River High School.

Fontaine has previously been arrested in 2015 for a string of robberies in Yaphank.

7th precinct officers, who were assisted by canine section officers, charged Fontaine with 13 counts of petite larceny for stealing items from vehicles at the following locations:

  • Circle Drive in Shoreham on Aug. 30.
  • Circle Drive in Shoreham on Aug. 31.
  • Jomar Road in Shoreham on Sept. 13.
  • Reynolds Road in Shoreham on Sept. 18.
  • Frederick Drive in Shoreham on Sept. 18.
  • John Street in Shoreham between Sept. 18 and Sept. 19.
  • Royal Way in Shoreham on Sept. 19.
  • John Street in Shoreham on Sept. 19.
  • Knight Street in Shoreham on Sept. 19.
  • Zophar Mills Road in East Shoreham between Sept. 20 and Sept. 21.
  • Randall Road in Wading River between Sept. 20 and Sept. 21.
  • Zophar Mills Road in East Shoreham on Sept. 21.
  • Thomas Drive in Wading River between Sept. 20 and Sept. 21.

Items allegedly stolen included money, electronics, identification and glasses. Fontaine was also charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance and a parole warrant. Police said he will be held overnight at the 7th precinct and is scheduled for arraignment at First District Court in Central Islip Sept. 26.

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Suffolk County Police said an unknown person or persons broke into the Tesla Science Center earlier this month and graffitied the inside and broke windows on the now reconstructed chimney.

Police said the vandals broke into the Tesla Science Center, located at 5 Randall Road, sometime between Sept. 7 and Sept. 12. Whoever broke in apparently spray painted WTF on one of the walls and another acronym on a toilet. The damage was valued at approximately $3,000.

On Sept. 19, the center held a ceremony where they displayed the final touches on the center’s reconstructed chimney. The windows had already been fixed by the time of the event. Those in charge of restoration said those windows had been painstakingly recreated to match the Tesla lab’s original design.

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 (8477), 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 are kept confidential. 

Check back later this week for the full story and more pictures of the first real renovation to Tesla’s historic lab.

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Kim Bardes, right, and her husband Bruce just before she started her first round of chemotherapy July 28. Both she and her husband have recently been diagnosed with two different types of cancer. Photo from Bruce Bardes’ Facebook

By Odeya Rosenband

Kim and Bruce Bardes, husband and wife, of Shoreham are in need of support, as one after the other have now been diagnosed with cancer. A friend of the family has started a GoFundMe campaign that has raised $24,100 of its $50,000 goal, as of July 28.

“Back in April, Bruce noticed that one of his legs was swollen,” Kim said. “But he didn’t want to go to the hospital because of COVID-19.” 

Kim Bardes, right, and her husband Bruce have recently been diagnosed with two different types of cancer. Photo from Bardes’ GoFundMe

After eventually visiting the emergency room when the swelling worsened, Bruce was told he had a blood clot in one of his legs but was quickly discharged due to coronavirus guidelines. On May 6, after gardening in the backyard — one of his favorite activities, according to his wife — Bruce suffered a heart attack and stroke in the family home. When he was found unresponsive, his son ran to the neighbor’s house who was trained in CPR. Doctors suspected Bruce had cancer, and a week later, May 21, Bruce was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic lung cancer. 

Nearly two months after Bruce’s diagnosis, the family received more devastating news. Kim was diagnosed with aggressive inflammatory breast cancer. 

“It was seven weeks of me just getting my mindset around the fact that this was happening, trying to be his supporter and his support system, taking care of all of his medical needs — doing what any wife would do — when I had noticed one day that my left breast felt different in one area.” 

With a “funky family history,” Kim had gotten routine mammograms since she was 30 years old. When she visited her doctor June 30, she received a diagnosis for a type of breast cancer she had never even heard of. 

Bruce began his chemotherapy treatments in May, and Kim started hers July 28.

“I know our condition is going to get even worse because now I’m not just going to be tired from running my husband around and taking care of home, now, I got to add myself to this scenario somehow. And I don’t know how I’m going to feel from the treatments,” she said.

With a crackling voice, Kim describes their “love story turned tragedy,” as she calls it. They met at 15 years old, as sophomores at Half Hollow Hills East in Dix Hills. The basketball player and cheerleader were locker neighbors and a year later — thanks to Bruce’s persistence — they were a couple. They started dating when they were 16 years old, 34 years ago. High school sweethearts, Bruce and Kim got married in 1995 and had their first son, Austin, in 1996 and their second, Tanner, in 1999. 

“We met 35 years ago and never had a fight,” Bruce jokingly adds from the next room. “If we can’t joke, then we cry. And we’ve already done too much crying.” 

“Anybody would describe my husband as the kindest person they have ever met,” Kim said. According to their GoFundMe, Bruce coached youth basketball and baseball teams in Long Island for many years. Although he has been on disability leave since 2013 due to back injuries, he continues to be remembered as a beloved coach and has a “huge baseball family that has been giving them a lot of support,” Kim added. Kim, whose eBay business was already struggling due to the pandemic, had to halt her sales in order to care full time for her husband. 

“I don’t have a job where I can take sick leave,” Kim expressed. Now, the family has no source of income. 

“We were so excited for this year — we were turning 50, celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary, and were looking forward to the second half of our lives,” she said. “Our kids are now grown up and we were getting back to being us again … we even talked about moving to Florida.” 

Kim added, “I feel blessed that we have never been hit this hard, but I didn’t expect that when we would be hit, it would be this hard.”

Overall, Bruce has been feeling better following his chemotherapy treatments. 

“He hasn’t lost a stitch of hair, which I’m definitely going to be jealous of,” Kim joked. The hardest part is going through their doctors’ visits alone, due to coronavirus guidelines. 

“COVID is making it 10 times harder because we can’t have any normalcy even if we try to,” she said. “It’s a weird feeling to ask for help because that’s not who I am, ever. But I’ve had to put my pride aside a little bit …. I can’t do it all.”

Kim, whose extended family describes her as the “matriarch,” had adopted the role of hosting Thanksgivings and annual Fourth of July celebrations. Now, without the time or energy, she’s struggling to adapt to her new normal that doesn’t include her regular hobbies like cooking and hosting. 

“This isn’t the life we had, not even close to it,” Kim said. “It seems like somebody else’s life.” 

Kim and Bruce’s family, friends and Shoreham community have been great supporters — in addition to the GoFundMe — offering their services, giving gift cards to local restaurants and writing letters. 

“Our younger son is now a shadow and doesn’t leave us alone,” Kim said. 

Their older son moved back home from Brooklyn in order to help. Kim’s mom and dad, who are 75 and 78, respectively, live in an apartment attached to the Bardes’ house and have also been significant supporters. Kim is one of three children who have all had cancer. Her sister is a nurse and has been instrumental in assisting the family, especially with their medical needs. Kim’s brother passed away at 33 years old from lymphoma. 

“You do the best you can for people and try to do the right thing and it doesn’t matter who you are but sometimes life just attacks you. It feels like we are under attack … and I don’t know why,” she said.

A statement on their GoFundMe reads: “As you may know, medical expenses and life expenses add up quickly and the family needs to make financial decisions based on the best prognosis and not the cost of care … If you are able to support the family during this time please donate. But if not, that’s okay, please join them in prayer.” 

The GoFundMe is available at:  https://www.gofundme.com/f/nqp2qt-help-bruce039s-fight-against-cancer.

File photo

Suffolk County Police said a man was killed in Coram Wednesday, May 13 after he was struck by a car.

Police said a Shoreham man was allegedly driving a 2010 Mercedes northbound on North Ocean Avenue, near Hawkins Road, when the vehicle struck William Moschetto, 33 of Mount Sinai, who walked into the roadway into the path of the vehicle at around 12:15 p.m.

Moschetto was taken via ambulance to Stony Brook University Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The vehicle was impounded for a safety check. Detectives are asking anyone with information on the crash to call the 6th Squad at 631-854-8652.

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File photo

Police said a woman was hit and killed Sunday night in Shoreham after she allegedly was crossing over Route 25A.

Suffolk County Police said in a statement a yet-to-be-named adult female was crossing westbound in front of the Rocky Point Fire Department at 49 Route 25A, Jan. 12, when she was struck by a 2018 Hyundai SUV at around 6:10 p.m. The woman was transported to John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson where she died from her injuries.

The driver of the Hyundai, Paula Avent, 36, of Rocky Point, was alone in her vehicle and not injured.

The event is under investigation why the woman was crossing the road. The Hyundai was impounded for a safety check.

This story will be updated when the name of the woman is released.

Rob Bentivegna, center, helped build the Rocky Point EMS building. Photo by Kevin Redding

Rob Bentivegna, a former firefighter and general handyman for Rocky Point Fire District often goes unnoticed. 

Usually a cheerful and magnanimous guy, Bentivegna allows other people to sit in the limelight, but firefighters, according to fire district and department officials, would be at a huge loss if it weren’t for their go-to maintenance man. 

Rocky Point’s Rob Bentivegna was the driving force in reconstructing a historic building. Photo by Kyle Barr

“He’s got a work ethic you don’t see in a lot of people anymore — it’s something to see,” said RPFD fire commissioner Kirk Johnson. “Anything he does do, he doesn’t do the minimum. If there’s a job out there, Rob takes care of it, he’s right on top of everything.”

Bentivegna, a Shoreham resident, has gone far beyond the scope of what his job entails. When RPFD bought a section of property at the corner Hallock Landing and Rocky Point Landing roads, Bentivegna rolled up his sleeves to help reconfigure a new EMS vehicle garage out of what were two rundown buildings. Many thought the buildings were beyond repair. 

Bentivegna also set himself apart on another project: Repairing and revitalizing the old Parish Resource Center, a historical building that has been neglected for years. 

To hear the maintenance man speak of the building, one would think he designed and built it himself back when it was originally constructed in 1849. Bentivegna kept an eye on the details of everything from the molding in the building’s interior, to the hand-blown glass windows, which he stressed needed to remain intact. He built shutters, based off of old pictures, by hand. The constantly flooded basement was reconfigured into a space where volunteers could wash their equipment after a job, and the maintenance man has plans to turn it into a training space. What had once been derelict has been transformed into a useful community center. 

It was two years worth of work, and much of the effort he completed on his own time. 

Tony Gallino, chairman of the board of fire commissioners, said Rob goes far above and beyond, noting that he has saved the district and the taxpayers thousands of dollars by doing work they would otherwise have to contract out. Bentivegna is a perfectionist, he said, who will do anything for the department and its volunteer members. 

When the fire department company 2 needed to move out of their space into a neighboring yard during construction, Bentivegna was instrumental in getting the new space on Prince Road ready to receive all the department’s equipment, trucks and personnel. He even went in to collect pictures and other items at the company 2 house to make sure they were preserved, Gallino said.

Rob Bentivegna points to the windows that had been reinstalled in the old Lecture Room’s interior. Photo by Kyle Barr

“He doesn’t miss a day’s work, and he comes in on his own time, doesn’t matter if it’s Christmas day,” the board chairman said. 

Kristen D’Andrea, a Shoreham resident and spokesperson for Brookhaven town highways superintendent, said Bentivegna offers help to anybody who needs it. He had come by her house to offer landscaping support.

“We had a groundhog in our front yard we couldn’t get rid of,” she said. “He came over, set a trap and removed it. He wouldn’t take money. … He’s just a genuinely good guy.”

Bentivegna had been a contractor for more than 30 years and had joined the fire department as a volunteer around 15 years ago. Unfortunately, life had thrown him a curve ball. What coworkers and friends called an “illness” had left the Rocky Point volunteer in large amounts of pain. Johnson said the longtime firefighter was “crushed” to have to step down from active duty, but even as a paid employee he said the man cannot stop giving his time to make sure things are done well. The Shoreham 9/11 responders memorial had taken years of planning, but Bentivegna’s expertise in contracting and landscaping lent itself toward constructing both the wall of names and the fountain in the center of the grounds.

“For those few who know what he’s going through, actually being able to work and do what he gets to do every day gets him through it,” Johnson said.

Adam DeLumen, chief of Rocky Point Fire Department, has known Bentivegna for around 15 years. He said that Bentivegna has also renovated each company’s back rooms and created a training room at the Shoreham firehouse. He even helped with renovations to DeLumen’s own house several times. 

“Most people don’t know what they have with Rob,” DeLumen said. “He’s just one of those guys, he’ll do anything for anybody.” 

Alexandra Smith on the trail. She hopes to beat 18 minutes going into next year’s cross country season. Photo from SCCC

Her first year in college, Shoreham’s own Alexandra Smith cannot be stopped. In just one season at Suffolk she beat her own record four times in a row.

2019 Champions from left, head coach Matt French Ashley Czarnecki, Nina Bonetti, Taylor McClay, Allaura Dashnaw, Yasmeen Araujo, Alexandra Smith, Stephanie Cardalena, Assistant Coach Miles Lewis. Photo from SCCC

Suffolk County Community College Women’s Cross Country team won its third national title led by Smith, who claimed the individual title in 18:34.03. Smith logged the third fastest time by a female individual champion in meet history and was named National Women’s Cross Country Athlete of the year from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association and National Junior College Athletic Association, Division III. She is SCCC’s first-ever to win that recognition in women’s cross country. 

The Sharks ended up with 27 points, the second fewest scored by a winning team since 2010, which was also 64 points less than the runner-up.

Cross country head coach Matt French said the team this year has been one of the best, with them taking on a mission to hit milestones, and then reaching those goals.

Smith, he said, has been one of the best the school has seen, managing to beat her own personal best four times this season. 

“Once she got that bug, she just wanted to run faster,” French said. 

The runner, whose going to SCCC looking toward a career in special education, said she felt great this season, and though she hoped to break 18 minutes this semester, she still has three other semesters to make it there. She added she hopes to break her high school record of 4:49 in the 1,500 in the next year and a half.

“It was great to come to Suffolk and have such a great team and coach,” she said. 

French also took home top coaching honors as 2019 National Women’s XC Coach of the Year from the USTFCCCA and NJCAA Division III.

The night of Sept. 11, 2019 was one of solemn remembrance. Community members, Boy Scouts and firefighters gathered in ceremony in both Shoreham and Sound Beach to show that fateful day would not be forgotten.

The event was attended by members of the Wading River, Rocky Point, Miller Place and Mount Sinai fire departments, as well as Boy Scout Troops 161 and 244, as well as several county, town and state officials.

Many of those younger people who gathered at the 9/11 Community Memorial site in Shoreham with their families were not even alive on that day in 2001. Yet those from the Rocky Point Fire Department and 9/11 Memorial Committee who spoke asked all to remember those several local residents and rescue workers who died 18 years ago. They also spoke of the hundreds who have died after the 9/11 attacks from health issues gained while at the site of the towers and in the weeks afterwards working in the rubble.

In Sound Beach, local residents gathered with the Sound Beach Fire Department gathered community members together in recognition of the historic date. The ceremony was led with opening remarks by Chief of Department Michael Rosasco and Chaplain McKay, who also led with closing prayers.

The Shoreham Tesla Science Center’s celebration of famed scientist Nikola Tesla’s 163rd birthday was an indicator of how much perspective matters.

While participants watched demonstrations Saturday afternoon and evening of a number of Tesla-built devices from Tesla coils to the induction motor, behind them the world’s largest Tesla coil, a 40-foot monster of a device, loomed. The coil, designed by electrical engineer Greg Leyh, made its grand debut on Long Island, brought all the way from California by road.

“It’s basically a hobby that’s gotten away from me,” Leyh said. 

The design is actually a one-third scale model of the electrical engineer’s intent to build a 120-foot Tesla coil — two actually. And if set up side by side he said it can test to see how lightning is created in the atmosphere.  

“Being an empiricist, I thought the best way to get to the heart of the problem is to recreate the point inside the lightning storm where the lightning starts,” Leyh said.

As large as the coil was, Leyh admitted it was only a fraction of the size of Tesla’s original tower, which once sat in the middle of the center’s property, behind the current statue of Nikola Tesla. That tower rose 187 feet in the air and was part of the famed inventor’s idea of wireless transmission of power across a wide expanse.

The Tesla Science Center now enters its seventh year since originally purchasing the property, with plans continuing to turn the site into a museum about Tesla and science, as well as a science-based business incubator. 

Marc Alessi, the center’s executive director, said they are still looking to raise many millions of dollars more for the project. Current renovations to the main laboratory, used by Tesla back in the early 1900s, include the rooftop chimney and cupola surrounding it.

The next stage for the location is finalizing site plans, which could take several months, on the visitors center, to be located in the white house in the front of the property, and demolition of other nonhistorical buildings at the location.  

“I’m really excited things are starting to pick up pace,” Alessi said.