Suffolk County Police Fourth Squad detectives are investigating an incident during which a Smithtown woman was confronted outside her home the morning of July 26 by two men who allegedly stole money and checks.
A woman was standing in her driveway at approximately 9:40 a.m. on Grandview Lane when two men, both wearing ski masks, approached her and displayed a gun. While speaking to the woman in Spanish, they motioned for her to go in the home.
The woman, who does not speak Spanish, attempted to run from the men who then grabbed her and engaged in a struggle with her. The woman was able to free herself and run toward the street. The men stole money and checks from the woman’s vehicle and fled the scene. The woman was treated by ambulance personnel at the scene.
Detectives are asking anyone with information on this incident to call the Fourth Squad at 631-854-8452 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.
Northport defeated Smithtown East, 16-13, in the Suffolk County Class A Boys Lacrosse Championship game in a game that took place over the course of two days.
After a flash lightning storm struck at East Islip on June 1, the game was delayed for 30 minutes with Northport leading, 6-5. After the officials restarted the game, Northport would outscore the Bulls, 7-2, but the weather would force yet another stoppage. The game resumed June 2 with seven and a half minutes remaining, and despite a furious flurry of goals by the Red Bulls, Northport would hang on to win their second consecutive Suffolk County title.
Marcus Wertheim scored four goals and Brandon Marz three goals for Smithtown East. Michael Meyer and Jacob Starcke scored four each for the Tigers, and Jack Deliberti would net three. The Tigers take on Port Washington for the Class A title on Saturday at Hofstra.
A leader in all aspects of his life, James Edward Dowling, called ‘Red’ by those close to him, lived a life worthy of countless honors and adjectives, inspiring fellow veterans, citizens and officials along the way. He helped save a world from tyranny and helped build a better community.
Red Dowling passed away last week at the age of 99 — a husband, father, grandfather, WWII veteran and prisoner of war, community leader, public servant, and — as many have declared in similar terms — a good man with a heart of gold.
From drafted teenager to hero
Dowling played football and ran track for Smithtown High School before being drafted in 1943. He became a bombardier/navigator for the 703rd Squadron, 445th Bomb Group in the 8th Army Air Corps, where his flight leader was the famous actor Jimmy Stewart.
He went on to earn the rank of 2nd lieutenant and fly several missions. On the fateful day of September 27, 1944, during his 11th mission on a bombing run over Kassel, Germany, his plane was shot down and he was taken as a prisoner of war. He survived to return home as a decorated WWII veteran. His tale is featured in the “Faces of War” video series. Further, he has an entire chapter written about him in Tom Brokaw’s book — “The Greatest Generation.”
“We lost one of the greatest individuals in Smithtown history,” said Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim, a Vietnam veteran. “[He] left his mark on the world in ways that will echo throughout future generations in the most prolific of ways. His stories from the battlefield have been etched in books and TV interviews, so that we will never forget the definition and true meaning of a hero.”
“As a veteran of the Vietnam War,” said veterans’ advocate Kevin O’Hare, of Kings Park, “I looked up to Jim Dowling as a true war hero who served in WWll. Here is a man who not only served his country, but also was a POW. It was my honor to be part of the veteran video for the Town of Smithtown this past November and to be interviewed alongside my hero.”
When POW Lt. Dowling returned home, simply settling down to enjoy life was not good enough. Keeping a promise, he made before going to war, he married his high school sweetheart, Dorothy, fathered eight children and continued to be the shining example of service and sacrifice for his own burgeoning family, and also the children of the community.
He started the St. James Little League for kids in the neighborhood and served in the capacity of president for nearly two decades.
To provide for his family, on his return home, he began a construction business and started Red’s Seafood. He delivered clams all over the tri-state area including Fulton Fish Market in downtown Manhattan.
His service to Smithtown continued when he was elected as Smithtown Highway Superintendent, running the department for nearly four decades from 1960 to 1998. By operating the office with military efficiency, he successfully created 250 miles of permanent roads. In addition, he altered the way the municipality dealt with snowstorms by making the department’s response more proactive. In doing so, he helped set the precedent of a system that is implemented nationwide to this day.
“Jim Dowling will be remembered as one of Smithtown’s greatest citizens,” said state Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick, who served on the Town Council when Dowling led the highway department.
“Upon his return, he ran for highway superintendent and developed a snow-removal team that was the best in New York State and run with military precision … he was a mentor to me during my years in Town Hall, and I owe him a great debt of gratitude for all the help and guidance he gave me,” Fitzpatrick said.
“As parks director, I worked closely together with Jim,” Wehrheim added. “He was always a gentleman and a consummate professional. He built many of the roads and infrastructure we use each day.”
Dowling is now reunited with his high school sweetheart, the late Dorothy (Owen) Dowling, with whom he became an adored ‘Pop’ of 25 grandchildren, 33 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild.
He will be remembered as a loving father to James Dowling Jr., Douglas and Jeanne Dowling, Jeffrey and Aniela Dowling, Janet and Brett Weingarten, Jean Dowling, Elizabeth and Robert Elderkin, Gregory and Donna Dowling, and William and Christine Dowling.
He will be further remembered as an avid golfer and “one heck of a Gin Rummy player.” He was a member of St. George’s Golf and Country Club for over 50 years.
As the family noted, “Jim Dowling lived an amazing life and loved every minute of it. He will be
“Most of all, Jim was a good man with a heart of gold,” Wehrheim said. “His memory and legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of all who were blessed to know him.”
“Jim Dowling was, truly, a great human being,” added Fitzpatrick.
So agrees a grateful township and nation. RIP Red Dowling.
Smithtown residents lined Main Street, Monday, May 30, to cheer on the veterans, volunteer firefighters, Scouts and more that marched down the main thoroughfare to remember those who lost their lives while serving in the U.S. armed forces.
After the parade, which was hosted by the Smithtown Fire Department, a wreath-laying ceremony was held at Town Hall.
The Town of Smithtown Parks Department is scheduled to complete the main Little League field at Gaynor Park in the coming week for local, young athletes and their families to enjoy in time for the season.
In addition to this renovation, construction of the new synthetic field at the largest softball field at Moriches Park is expected to be completed in a month’s time. These improvements are the result of a partnership with the St James Smithtown Little League for field improvements to both increase the amount of field time, as well as enhance the safety and overall experience for local youth.
“There is really nothing like building a park that our young residents get to enjoy and build lifelong memories on,” said Town of Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R). “I want to express my gratitude to the St. James Smithtown Little League for this collaboration between parents, coaches and our team here. Secondly, I need to really shed light on our parks team for an outstanding job well done. Every member of the Parks Department genuinely comes to work, loving what they do each day for our community. Like me, they live for the smiles on the faces of our kids enjoying the game, the camaraderie and soon, the new fields.”
The ball field at Moriches Park and the little league field at Gaynor Park have been resurfaced with a 90-foot synthetic turf infield. Both synthetic fields feature new upgrades for safety, including raising the fencing to upwards of 10 feet, to protect spectators and vehicles from fly balls.
At Gaynor Park, brick walkways surround a tinted concrete sidewalk. The darker concrete will extend the appeal and overall aesthetics of the areas frequented by spectators. This addition to the facility at Gaynor will complement the previous renovation work, which included new Basketball, and Tennis courts in addition to a new state-of-the-art playground.
At Moriches Park, the Parks Department will be rebuilding a new dugout, backstop and added fencing as part of the field restoration. The synthetic field replacement compliments previous park renovations including the artificial turf field replacement at the Moriches Park Soccer Complex, which was completed last April. Additional renovations completed at Moriches Park include the new soft splash pad at the waterpark, state-of-the-art playground, interactive playhouse, new fencing surrounding the play areas, concrete sidewalks, LED user-friendly crosswalk and landscaping.
Suffolk County Police arrested two Smithtown men for allegedly impersonating police officers the night of March 3.
Police received a complaint from a male motorist after two men in a black 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe equipped with flashing blue and white lights allegedly stopped his vehicle on southbound Route 111, at the intersection of East Main Street in Smithtown, at 11:13 p.m. on March 3.
Franco Calla and Robert Toomey, who were in plain clothes, approached the motorist and identified themselves as undercover police officers. Calla allegedly demanded the man’s driver’s license, and Toomey allegedly ordered the man to surrender any drugs. Upon further questioning from the motorist, the men admitted they were not police offers, returned to the Tahoe and drove away.
The two men then allegedly attempted to pull over and detain a female driver a short distance ahead, but she drove away after the first motorist drove up and warned her about the men. The Tahoe then continued south on Route 111.
The male motorist called police and reported the incident. Fourth Precinct officers stopped the Tahoe and arrested the two men in a parking lot, located at 530 Smithtown Bypass in Smithtown, at approximately 11:30 p.m.
Calla, 20, of Port Jefferson Station, and Toomey, 23, of Smithtown, were charged with Criminal Impersonation 2nd Degree and Unlawful Imprisonment 2nd Degree. They will be arraigned at a later date.
The investigation is continuing. Police are asking anyone with information, or who believes they have been a victim, to call the Fourth Precinct at 631-854-8465 or Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.
Local elected officials are joining forces to tell Albany that their towns and villages will not lose zoning control.
During her State of the State address, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) spoke of creating more affordable housing options. When the 2022 State of the State book was released, the proposed plan, found on pages 130 through 131, stated that it would require all towns and villages in New York state to allow accessory apartments, which in turn would effectively eliminate single-family zoning laws.
The proposed plan spurred Town of Brookhaven officials to call a press conference Feb. 3, while others have spoken out via statements. The proposed legislation would require municipalities to allow one accessory dwelling unit using backyard cottages, attics, garages and basements. The plan is one that the State of the State describes as providing “an affordable multigenerational housing option that helps families live closer together.”
While local municipalities would still have a say in minimum and maximum size requirements, local zoning authorities would not be able to prevent reasonable new construction, the governor said.
In the Town of Huntington, accessory apartments may be allowed when someone listed on the deed resides at the dwelling. The living space cannot be less than 300 square feet or more than 650 square feet and must have two bedrooms or less. The accessory apartment must be attached to the home.
Supervisor Ed Smyth (R) is against Hochul’s plan.
“This is an election year overreach by the governor that no one in their right mind should support,” Smyth said. “It has bipartisan opposition at all levels of government for good reason: It would eliminate local control of development and hand it off to extremists in Albany.”
At press time, Huntington announced they would be part of a county press conference on Feb. 10 to comment further on the issue.
In the Town of Smithtown legal accessory apartments with a valid mother/daughter permit from the Building Department are the only ones permitted with limited exceptions including older two-family homes that were grandfathered in. Rules differ in the town’s villages.
Town of Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) said in a statement he fears stripping local zoning control “would only result in a mass exodus.”
“The harsh reality is that Long Island, especially Suffolk County, lacks the modern infrastructure to handle the population increase which this proposal would create,” the supervisor said. “The environmental impacts alone should terrify every Long Islander. We have outdated wastewater systems underground, roads in major need of repair, archaic stormwater infrastructure and in the near future will have nowhere to put our trash. These are the issues that require resolution from the state, not removing local zoning control. This proposal will create a strain on the school system, increased property taxes, amplify traffic and burden local resources which are already stressed. Furthermore, people move out to the suburbs because the perception of the American Dream is still that quaint neighborhood home, picket fence and all, where they can raise a family. As public servants, it’s our duty to preserve and protect that dream.”
In Head of the Harbor, Mayor Doug Dahlgard echoed the sentiments.
“Taking away local zoning control with a broad brush is not acceptable and will be met by opposition claiming the character of our communities will change for the worse,” the mayor said. “Starting a conversation about how to allow generations of a family to stay together on Long Island, on the other hand, makes sense.”
Wehrheim agreed that the issue of affordable housing needs to be discussed and would welcome a task force consisting of local, county and state officials using proven studies and incorporating successful methods that could create affordable housing options in appropriate areas such as a downtown business neighborhood near a train station.
Congressmen support local officials
Town officials have received moral support from their congressmen. U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY3) in a press release criticized Hochul. Suozzi will run in the Democratic primary for governor in June against Hochul
“Governor Hochul’s radical proposal would take away zoning control from municipal governments, erode local government authority and end single-family housing across New York,” Suozzi said. “Hochul’s plan to eliminate home rule is not what we need. I support affordable housing, building up around downtown train stations and helping the homeless. I oppose eliminating home rule and ending single-family housing.”
The presumptive Republican nominee for New York State governor, U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY1) said in a joint statement with Brookhaven officials that Hochul “isn’t focused on real solutions.”
“This blatant attack on suburban communities will end single-family housing as we know it, strip local control away from the New Yorkers who live there, tank the value of their homes, overcrowd their previously quiet streets, and on top of it all, not do anything to solve our affordable housing problem,” Zeldin said.
When foxes are spotted in a neighborhood, residents may wonder if the animal poses any danger to them or their dogs and cats or if they have rabies because they’re out in the daytime. However, experts say seeing foxes out during the day doesn’t necessarily indicate rabies.
“Generally, foxes are most active at night or during twilight, however they can be active at other times of day when food demands are higher such as needing to conduct additional foraging to feed young,” according to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation officials. “During the winter months, foxes may be more inclined to hunt during the day, so a sighting in daylight hours is often not an indication of a sick animal.”
The DEC added that foxes should be viewed at a distance while they are searching for their necessities.
“If foxes are being sighted near residential homes it is probably because some resource need is being met, i.e., shelter, such as under decks or sheds, access to food, where rodents or other natural forage are located.”
Janine Bendicksen, curator and director of wildlife rehabilitation for Sweetbriar Nature Center in Smithtown, said sometimes a person may see a fox circling. This is a result of people who feed them, which is not a good idea as they begin to depend on humans for food. Because of this dependency, when a fox sees a person, they begin circling in anticipation of being fed.
“The fox is definitely more afraid of you than you are of it,” she said. “Foxes have what they love to eat. They love to eat mice. They love moles, rats, and won’t necessarily go after your cat or dog. Could they? Absolutely. But chances are they’re going to be more afraid of the dog than it is of them.”
While people don’t have to worry about their dogs and cats if foxes are spotted, they do have to keep an eye on their chickens. Bendicksen said people who find that foxes get into their chicken cages need to house the birds in an enclosure that is completely fox proof because the animal can get to the chicken easily if there are any substantially sized holes.
Bendicksen said there hasn’t been an uptick in the fox population necessarily, but with more people at home during the pandemic, she believes more residents have noticed them than they did in the past. Even the number of calls they have received about injured wildlife, in general, have increased over the last couple of years, she said, as people are spending more time outdoors.
The fox population is a cyclical one. When it’s a good summer and they can get more than adequate amounts of food, she said, in turn, the animals have many pups.
However, this can result in overpopulation and the foxes get mites, which cause the contagious disease known as mange. The foxes can die from the disease. When another good summer comes along, the population can grow again.
“The population does go up and down based on food and based on the disease that keeps them in check,” Bendicksen said.
Recently, the nature center saved a fox with mange when a resident found him curled up outside their front door.
“He would not have survived the winter,” the wildlife director said. “We literally got him just in the nick of time. His hair just started to fall out. His eyes were just starting to shut. He would have died of secondary infections and starvation had he not come in.”
The fox, named Tod by the staff, will now spend the winter with the nature center and be released in the spring when he is “older and wiser,” according to Bendicksen.
If a person sees an injured fox, they should contact an animal rescue such as Sweetbriar (631-979-6344, www.sweetbriarnc.org).
Bendicksen said foxes are difficult to catch, and they have to be extremely sick for a person to catch them. She pointed out that people rarely see foxes hit along the road because of their speed and other skills.
“The foxes are truly super intelligent, super shy, super careful, and so to catch a sick fox, they have to be in pretty bad shape,” she said.
Smithtown West sitting in second place in the League III standings — one game behind Half Hollow Hills East —hosted their crosstown neighbor Smithtown East who briefly led in the opening quarter. However, West was too much for their visitors closing out the game with a 63-32 victory Jan. 27.
Senior Nikki Mennella led the way for West with a three-pointer, seven field goals and two from the free throw line to top the scoring charts with 19 points. Laura Luikart followed with 15 points along with a dozen rebounds, and Karsyn Kondracki netted 12.
Smithtown East’s Angie Camarda banked 10 points, and teammate Jordan Townes scored nine. The loss drops Smithtown East to 3-10 while the win lifts Smithtown West to 11-1 in League, 15-1 overall, with four games remaining before post season play begins.
It can be difficult to stay calm, cool and collected in certain situations, never mind when one’s mother is choking. Somehow, Sarah Desthers managed to do just that on the night of Jan. 12.
The 15-year-old remembered vital lessons she learned in her first aid/CPR elective health course at Smithtown High School West when she walked into the kitchen and realized her mother Kim was choking and saved her life.
Kim Desthers said she was cleaning up the kitchen after a late dinner when she took a spoonful of food and choked on it. Sarah had just come out of her room, the mother said and noticed something was wrong with her.
While she doesn’t remember much about the few minutes she was choking, Kim Desthers said her daughter realized she wasn’t making any noise and asked if she was OK.
“I was really too stunned to even respond,” the mother said. “I was so scared.”
She added that being a dental hygienist who knows first aid techniques such as the Heimlich maneuver and CPR, she was a bit embarrassed to find herself in the situation.
“I just stopped short,” she said. “I didn’t know what to do.”
The mother of three said her daughter asked, “Mom are you choking?” When she couldn’t respond, Sarah said to her, “You have to nod. If I need to give you the Heimlich, you need to nod. I need to know.”
The mother said once she nodded her head, her daughter sprang into action. She didn’t even call for her father, who is a New York City firefighter, she just began the lifesaving technique.
Kim Desthers said there was a moment when she thought she was going to die.
“I can’t die,” she said to herself. “I need to be a mom to all these kids.”
The first aid elective course taught by Cherie Diamond is one Sarah decided to take because she is planning to be a camp counselor this summer, and she’s glad she did. The high school sophomore said a lot was going through her head as she realized her mother was choking.
“When you’re in that kind of situation, there is no time to hesitate, because my mom’s life was at risk,” she said. “And that’s one of the scariest things that could ever happen.”
She said in addition to learning how to do the maneuver, Diamond has taught the students to stay levelheaded. Sarah said after not only taking the class but going through the experience of using the Heimlich, she has some advice for those who may find themselves in similar situations.
“Just stay ahead of what’s going on,” the student said. “Always be listening. Pay attention if you think something’s wrong. Just don’t panic. Panicking is probably the worst thing you could do. Just figure out what’s wrong and try to help them.”
Sarah said even though COVID protocols may have made taking the first aid class more difficult Diamond made sure the students could be hands-on as much as possible.
“I appreciate that,” Sarah said. “She’s a very good teacher, and she helped me save my mom’s life.”
Diamond, who has been teaching the class in schools for more than 20 years, said it’s the first time that a student has had to use the technique while still in her class.
“You can’t ask for anything more as a teacher than to have your students apply the information they learned, much less a lifesaving device,” the teacher said.
She’s also proud of how calm Sarah stayed in the situation.
“When you come across a first aid situation, you not only have to control your own anxiety but also the anxiety of someone who may be seriously hurt,” she said. “You have to be able to control your own emotions enough to be clear in thought, and to be able to do what you have to do and not panic and freeze.”
The teacher believes everyone should get first aid training and recommends Advanced Training Center of Long Island in Smithtown. For more information, go to the website advancedtrainingcenterli.com.