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Sound Beach

Members of the Sound Beach Fire Department, like Captain Greg Ferraro, give blood in memory of one of their own. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Almost five years after his death, an ex-captain of the Sound Beach Fire Department’s memory is still helping to save others. 

Jim Ford passed away on June 2016 after serving in the department for more than two decades. A beloved member of not only the department, but also within the Sound Beach community, Ford always was there to help. His wife, Nancy, still participates and volunteers with the auxiliary.

“Jim filled many shoes out of the office and in the office,” said Bill Rosasco, first assistant chief. “He loved it. He loved doing it. He loved being here at the firehouse.”

On top of his many roles, he founded and ran the department’s January blood drive, so it was only fitting to name it after him in 2018 — the first drive after his passing.

And on Saturday, Jan. 16, his memory was brought back at the firehouse at 152 Sound Beach Blvd., getting people together for something good. 

Ever since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, blood donations have been at an all-time low, according to the New York Blood Center. Schools, businesses and community centers halted blood drives early on, in fear of too many gatherings and the uneasiness of the virus. 

Sound Beach Fire Departmen’ts ex-captain, Jim Ford, who passed away nearly five years ago, is still making an impact at the fire house with an annual blood drive in his name. Photo from Stefanie Handshaw

The Sound Beach Fire Department usually hosts two blood drives in honor of their own. January is dedicated to Ford, while July memorializes Ex-Capt. John Drews Jr. But because of the pandemic, the July drive was canceled. 

The drive this past weekend was the first since the pandemic began.

“We wanted to still run this blood drive,” said Chief Darran Handshaw. “Even though we shut the department down for all the other meetings, we still wanted to do this because we know how important it is.”

Handshaw said that everyone on the board wanted to make sure the January drive went on, despite the department shutdown. 

“This is an emergency,” he added. “We need to get blood out there.”

He said that to make this month’s blood drive work, they took precautions including temperature monitoring, social distancing and a fogger machine that can decontaminate the room before the event and after. 

But the drive wouldn’t be happening without Ford’s spirit. 

“This would be something that Captain Ford would be here helping out with, even during [the pandemic],” Handshaw said. “It’s an honorable effort for an honorable man, so we’re going to do something honorable that serves the community for him and his death.”

Saturday’s event had more than 20 appointments, a dozen walk-ins and 31 pints of blood were collected, according to Margaret DeTurris, president of the department. Each pint of blood can help up to three people — so these 31 pints will impact 93 lives. 

“Jim was a great example  of wisdom and honor,” Handshaw said. “In my eyes, that inspired a lot of us to behave well and do the right thing for the community. He’s missed every day.” 

The Sound Beach Fire Department is actively seeking volunteers to serve as firefighters and emergency medical technicians. The department provides free training for those positions. To join contact the chief’s office at 631-744-2294.

John Guido, of Sound Beach, stands in front of the bench that honors his mother, Jane Guido. He. along with his family, started a nonprofit foundation to continue her legacy of giving back. Photo by Kyle Barr

For years, if one wanted to talk to somebody in Sound Beach about donating or giving, that person was Jane Guido.

She was a volunteer and later the outreach director for St. Louis de Montfort R.C. Church in Sound Beach’s food pantry for well over 30 years, and even while she worked as an administrator at Brookhaven National Laboratory, she was in charge of its food drives. It was something her children couldn’t help but notice, and they were soon sucked into that world of giving back. She would do that work even as she struggled with diabetes. 

“What I used to do is I used to always help her out over there, it was a volunteer thing for everybody,” said John Guido, Jane’s son, who said in later years she was working at that place 80 or so hours a week. Some of her work went beyond food, even helping to provide oil to heat a person’s home in the winter. John, a senior manager at a real estate firm, said together with his friends and compatriots, he would help gather food or donations for whatever his mother’s outreach center needed at any one moment. 

After being diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in 2017, Jane passed in August 2018 at the age of 74. In all those years, she never stopped giving. Her name now adorns the outside of the outreach center of the church she worked from, as well as a bench just outside its doors.

“She did that until the day she died,” John said. “The number of families she helped was huge.”

It was after her death that John and other members of her family decided they needed to do something to honor that legacy. That would come in the form of a nonprofit foundation bearing his mother’s name.

“The purpose of it was to help memorialize my mom, but it was also to keep her mission, keep her drive going,” he said. “Knowing that eventually, people are going to forget who Jane Guido is, but her drive and her mission will always be out there.”

The family organized and created a nonprofit in 2018, the Jane Guido Foundation and has worked since to provide people with food and other necessities, often working with established organizations such as the Port Jefferson Lions Club, who during this Thanksgiving season the Jane Guido Foundation donated 100 turkeys for the club’s annual drive. The foundation also donated toys and presents to 20 families through the Lions Club’s Christmas Magic program. It has also worked with Lighthouse Mission, which operates mobile food pantries all over Suffolk County, including in Port Jefferson Station and Rocky Point. Overall, John Guido said they touch about 70 families and a dozen different organizations through their efforts, and they are looking to grow those numbers.

The organization is looking for additional donations to help them grow its outreach efforts. People can offer support using the foundation’s website at janeguidofoundation.org or by contacting them at 631-258-8787 or [email protected] John Guido said they also plan to host several events in 2021, one for spring, summer and fall. A calendar of events should be available on the website starting in the new year.

Members of the Miller Place Fire Department and other community volunteers successfully packed a department bus full of food and other supplies for the St. Louis de Montfort church’s food pantry. Photo by Kyle Barr

Though students now aren’t meant to sit too close on the bus, the Miller Place Fire Department, for the 10th year in a row, is using every inch of space in a bus that bears its own logo.

Members of the Miller Place Fire Department and other community volunteers successfully packed a department bus full of food and other supplies for the St. Louis de Montfort church’s food pantry. Photo by Kyle Barr

MPFD’s 10th annual Stuff-a-Bus event managed to fill every seat in their red-and-white bus to the brim with food and other essential items donated by the community. All food was delivered to the St. Louis de Montfort R.C. Church in Sound Beach for its food pantry.

Items were donated by fire department members and the surrounding community at the annual Stuff-a-Bus event held at the Miller Place Stop & Shop Nov. 20, from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. In addition to the donated items, Miller Place EMS Capt. Rob Chmiel, who headed the event, said they received nearly $1,000 in cash and gift card donations. The cash was used to purchase items the department was short of, and the gift cards were given directly to the food pantry staff, so they could use them to address their needs in the future.

Though normally the fire department holds its donation drive over two days, on the night of this year’s event, Chmiel said that they were receiving an incredible amount of donations, more than they usually do. They even received a car full of groceries by a volunteer at 4 p.m. By around 5:30 p.m., just two hours into the six-hour event, they had filled half the bus through several dozen residents donating a few boxes, cartons or jars at a time. By the end that same bus was packed to the seams. 

“We set out to make this the biggest year we possibly could, given the pandemic and everybody being stuck at home for most of the year,” Chmiel said. “We broke every record we possibly could.”

Elaine Bender, outreach director for St. Louis de Montfort Church, said the department did a “fabulous job” as they got way more than initially expected. The gift cards are also a big help as those are needed to help needy people purchase big ticket Thanksgiving items like turkeys.

The late afternoon-evening event was a large-scale operation, with a score of department volunteers bringing food to the bus and loading it up as music rang out over the crowded lot on the Friday before Thanksgiving. Other fire department volunteers stood by the doors to the supermarket asking local residents for donations.

“There’s a lot of hungry people right now,” volunteer Lori Aliano said. 

Since the pandemic’s start, Bender said the church has seen an increase in the overall number of clients they help. She added she expects there could be an increase in need should there be another statewide shutdown in the near future.

Chmiel thanked Marchand’s School of Dance for their yearly donations and Stop & Shop of Miller Place for allowing them to host the drive.

St. Louis de Montfort Church also hosts a drive for Christmas and will be accepting gift cards from any shop that sells toys supplies and/or clothing. Donations can be dropped off at the church located at 75 New York Ave. in Sound Beach.

Highway Super Dan Losquadro and Councilwoman Jane Bonner on North Country Road in Miller Place. North Country Road has been repaved from Honey Lane to the entrance of the Miller Place elementary school. Photo from TOB highways

The Town of Brookhaven’s plan to redo the well-tread North Country Road is coming close to completion, with only a stretch in Sound Beach left for 2021. Officials said the last bit of work will depend on an extra $600K as part of this year’s proposed capital budget.

Town Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R) and Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) announced the completion of three separate capital improvement projects, totaling more than $3.425 million on North Country Road from Miller Place to Rocky Point.

The initial phase of this project took place in 2019 when sidewalk, curbing and crosswalk improvements were constructed on North Country Road and Miller Place Road from the entrance to the Laddie A. Decker Sound Beach School to Echo Avenue. This phase was funded in part by a Multi-Modal grant secured by State Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) in the amount of $500,000, with the Town of Brookhaven contributing the $345,418 match. Also in 2019 and part of this project, crews worked to dredge the bottom of the Miller Place Duck Pond, lowering its level and improving its drainage and water quality, at a cost of $125,629.

The second phase of this infrastructure improvement project included the construction of new sidewalk, curbing, bike lanes, ADA-compliant handicap ramps, driveway aprons, drainage infrastructure, pedestrian crosswalks, benches, bike racks, and the resurfacing of North Country Road from Honey Lane to the entrance to the Laddie A. Decker Sound Beach School. This phase was funded in part by a New York State Department of Transportation “Transportation Alternatives Grant” for $1.159 million, with the Town of Brookhaven contributing the $751,580 match.

It’s not just the road surface, but all the other improvements that make their work so important for the people who use it every day, especially when school is in session,” Bonner said. 

The third phase of this project included the milling and paving of North Country Road from Washington Avenue in Sound Beach to NYS 25-A at the Miller Place/Rocky Point border which totaled $555,411.

To complete the North Country Road reconstruction project in Miller Place, Losquadro said he has included 600,000 in his proposed 2021 capital budget to install over 3,000 linear feet of drainage pipe and 14 drainage basins on North Country Road from Honey Lane to Pipe Stave Hollow Road to solve the significant water problems experienced along this stretch. Once the drainage infrastructure work is complete, the entire roadway from Pipe Stave Hollow Road to Honey Lane will be resurfaced, completing the three-year capital project.

“The capital improvement projects completed on North Country Road over the last two years have created safer pedestrian access for the students who walk to the middle and elementary schools; residents who walk, bike and jog in the area; and motorists,” Losquadro said in a release. “Once the final phase of drainage infrastructure work and resurfacing is complete next year, we will have resurfaced North Country Road from the Village of Port Jefferson border to Route 25A at the Rocky Point/Miller Place border.”

Local civic leaders have noticed the difference from before to where it is now.

“All the improvements that have been done so far have made the area safer and more aesthetically pleasing, especially given all the kids that do walk there,” Sound Beach Civic Association President Bea Ruberto said. “I know that the town is strapped now because of COVID-19, but I do hope that they are able to secure the funding needed to complete this really worthwhile project.”

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A concept design for the essential worker tribute by Brianna Florio, a young local resident who will also be designing the cover of the cookbook pro bono.

By Bea Ruberto

How do we say thank you to the nurse who during the pandemic worked tirelessly to try and save a life and then sat quietly holding his hand when that life would have ended alone, without loved ones by his side? How do we say thank you to the doctor who day after day showed unfathomable courage by putting himself and his family at risk to care for us? How do we say thank you to all those who were willing to sacrifice their own safety and well-being so that we would have essential services in our life — the grocery store clerk who kept us all fed; the postal worker who made sure some of us received our needed medicine; the nursing home worker who cared for our most vulnerable; and so many more. To all those willing to sacrifice their own safety and well-being in this crisis, we are eternally grateful and we at the Sound Beach Civic Association want to establish a standing tribute to their commitment and sacrifice.

Sound Beach Civic Associaiton President Bea Ruberto speaks during the Veterans Day ceremony at Sound Beach Veterans Memorial Park. File photo by Desirée Keegan

These individuals are truly heroes — By showing up for work in dangerous conditions, they helped to ensure the health and safety of everyone in our area and elsewhere. With this in mind, the civic is launching a campaign to express our gratitude and respect. In the near future, we will be installing a tribute to the frontline and essential workers at the adopt-a-spot on New York Avenue.

We are also in the process of compiling a cookbook, “Signature Dishes of Sound Beach,” that will also be dedicated to the frontline and essential workers, with all profits going to help install the tribute. In a section of the cookbook entitled Heroes Are All Around Us, we will list the names of individuals and organizations that worked to keep us safe. So, we are asking the community at large to let us know who they are so we can say, “Thank You.” When we look back at these months, we want to remember all these amazing people.

Also included in the cookbook will be a section entitled Chef’s Specialties for those who aren’t cooks. Here, restaurants can tell us about their signature dishes or possibly even share a recipe. Although civic members will be given preference, all Sound Beach residents are invited to submit their “special” recipes. We ask that all recipes be original. If taken from another publication, it must be sufficiently adapted to make it their own. To help cover expenses we are asking $1 for each recipe submitted.

So, if you want to be a part of this worthwhile project, please submit your favorite recipe as well as names of the heroes all around us to be included in the book. Additionally, we are asking for donations as well as for sponsors to advertise in the cookbook. 

For more information please contact Bea Ruberto at [email protected]       

Bea Ruberto is the president of the Sound Beach Civic Association.

Brookhaven finalized repairs on Lower Rocky Point Road this past week. Photo from TOB

Brookhaven Town Highway Superintendent Daniel Losquadro (R) and Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) announced the complete resurfacing of Lower Rocky Point Road from Woodhull Landing Road to Rocky Point Landing Road, as well as Hagerman Landing Road.

Residents have noticed the repaving of the thoroughfare over the past few weeks, which included some need for cars to take detours to avoid construction. Officials said in a press release that the paving project included the milling of nearly 38,000 square yards of roadway, before 4,400 tons of asphalt were put down on the roadway. The total cost for this paving project was approximately $448,300, a portion of which, $138,643, was funded by a Community Development Block Grant.

Losquadro called the road “a very busy, main thoroughfare,” adding, “I am glad we were able to include it, along with Hagerman Landing Road, in our 2020 paving season.”

Bonner said Lower Rocky Point Road is one of the most traveled in her council district.

“This road and Hagerman Landing Road are much safer for drivers, bike riders and pedestrians,” she said.

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Police said they are looking for several people who were allegedly involved in stealing money from cars in Sound Beach early July. Photos from SCPD

Suffolk County police are seeking the public’s help to identify and locate persons who allegedly stole cash from multiple vehicles in Sound Beach earlier this month.

The 7th Precinct said several people stole cash and a wallet from vehicles parked in residential areas on Greenlawn Road and Sunrise Drive from the evening of July 1 to the morning of July 2. Two of the men were caught on surveillance video in the area.

Police said they are looking for several people who were allegedly involved in stealing money from cars in Sound Beach early July. Photos from SCPD

Suffolk County Crime Stoppers offers a cash reward of up to $5,000 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 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 P3Tips.com. All calls, text messages and emails will be kept confidential.

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Suffolk County Police said marine officers rescued three men who were stranded in the Long Island Sound Thursday evening.

A 911 caller reported to police that three men were fishing and became stranded in a 10-foot inflatable raft that was drifting out to sea approximately one mile north of Sound Beach at around 7:30 p.m May 14. The raft was taking on water.

Marine officers Greg Stroh and Mike Malone responded in Marine Delta and located the men in the raft within 15 minutes of the call. The boats occupants, Carlos Argeta 31, Elmer Argeta, 36, and Moisises Perez, 38, all of Patchogue, were taken aboard Marine Delta and transported along with their raft to a boat ramp in Mount Sinai.

The three men, all wearing life jackets, were not injured.

But Have ‘Only Scratched the Surface’

Maria Francavilla, left, and Lisa Principe speak about their daughters' experiences Jan. 31. Photo by Kyle Barr

Two mothers, one from Farmingville and the other from Merrick, may live on different parts of Long Island, but both had very similar experiences, watching their daughters abused in sex trafficking schemes that saw men use drugs to keep their children captive.

Photos of Maria Francavilla’s and Lisa Principe’s daughters. Photo by Kyle Barr

Lisa Principe and Maria Francavilla spoke of their experiences Jan. 31 at a Suffolk County Police Department press conference in Yaphank to round off National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. 

Principe said her daughter, Jenna, went to school at Wellington C. Mepham High School in Bellmore. She said her daughter fell in love with a man who ended up taking advantage of her in the extreme. She was gang raped at only 19 years old, as her “initiation.” She was kept in motels with a number of other girls as her pimps used her addiction to drugs to keep her under control. She would spend time in and out of jail, but as soon as she got out the traffickers were there to pick her up and bring her back into the fold. 

“They took her soul,” Principe said. Even after the men keeping her were arrested, Jenna would later die at 27 from an overdose at home. 

Though her hardship remains, she said she hopes new initiatives from the police will help combat the slew of sex trafficking cases happening all across the Island, targeting potential victims on the internet, in public places or even around schools.  

Jennifer Hernandez, the executive director of the nonprofit Empowerment Collaborative of Long Island, which provides trauma services for victims of human trafficking and other abuse, said they have worked with more than 160 victims of trafficking just this past year.

“Most of which were born and raised right here on Long Island — in Suffolk County.” she said.

Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said the biggest misconception about sex trafficking is that it’s men piling people, mostly immigrants, into the back of trucks and taking them away. Modern sex trafficking happens to people of all walks, immigrants and native-born Long Islanders. Traffickers take vulnerable people, mostly young women, and use a combination of drugs, violence and other emotional manipulation to control these women. There’s no single place, police said, whether rich or poor, that sex trafficking isn’t happening. The epidemic is tied to the opioid crisis that still rages in communities across the Island.

Since October of 2017, the police’s human trafficking unit has leveraged 417 charges against individuals, with 186 she said were specifically related to sex trafficking. The police has interacted with and identified over 220 women involved with trafficking since the beginning of the initiative, with the youngest one being only 12 years old.

Still with those numbers, Detective Lt. Frank Messana, the commanding officer of the department’s human trafficking unit, said they have “only scratched the surface.”

On Jan. 25, Kings Park man and alleged Bloods gang member Abiodun “Abi” Adeleke was sentenced to 25 years in prison for multiple counts of sex trafficking. He allegedly participated in this ring from 2014-18.

Last year, Sound Beach man Raymond Rodio III was arrested for allegedly hosting a sex trafficking ring at his parent’s house on Lower Rocky Point Road. Police and the county district attorney said he had preyed on more than 20 women over several years, most from Suffolk, with many floating in and out from the man’s basement apartment as his parent’s home located in a relatively middle-class neighborhood.

Lt. Frank Messana of the police’s human trafficking unit speaks alongside commissioner Geraldine Hart. Photo by Kyle Barr

Rodio’s investigation originally began in 2018 when an officer witnessed a suspected victim of trafficking in the alleged perpetrator’s car during a traffic stop. Hart said such awareness and education, for not only police officers but the general public, is doing much of the job of finding and arresting sex traffickers.

In October 2017, police first piloted its human trafficking program, which then became permanent in 2018. The commissioner said in the year prior to the unit being formed, there hadn’t been any examples of sex trafficking arrests.

In 2019, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office started a human trafficking unit to work inside the county jails. Undersheriff Kevin Catalina said the team of officers look to identify human trafficking victims within the jail. While women are in jail for a stint, officers can get them to “open up.” Many, he said, could not even identify they were victims of trafficking, instead thinking these people were their “boyfriends.”

Francavilla had a similar experience to Principe. Her daughter, Tori, fell in with the wrong people early out of high school. She described it got to the point that her daughter was, “handcuffed to a bed and kept captive.”

She would eventually help put the perpetrator away but, like Jenna, the opioid addiction followed her even after her traumatic experiences. She died when she was 24.

Police said a person is at-risk or is already a victim of trafficking if they start to show behavior of chronically running away from home or having a history of unstable housing, demonstrates inability to regularly attend school or work, exhibits bruises or other physical trauma, withdrawn behavior, signs of drug or alcohol addiction, inconsistencies in their stories, inappropriate dress, a mention of a pimp, “daddy” or being “in the life,” suspected engaging in prostitution, history of pregnancies, abortions or sexually transmitted diseases, and looking as if they worked excessively long hours.

Identifying such a person, a resident should call 911 in an emergency, or contact Suffolk County Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS (8477). 

People can find more information and resources at the ECLI at www.empowerli.org.

For more information about Suffolk County’s public information initiative, visit https://scatili.org/

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The house where Raymond Rodio III allegedly committed acts of sex trafficking. Photo by Kyle Barr

A Sound Beach man who was arrested last year for sex trafficking pled guilty Feb. 4. He is set to be sentenced in March and faces what could be more than nine years in prison.

The Suffolk County district attorney announced Raymond Rodio III pled guilty to several counts of sex trafficking, selling drugs and several counts of promoting prostitution. 

Police and prosecutors said Rodio had been conducting a human trafficking operation in the basement apartment of his parent’s house located on Lower Rocky Point Road in Sound Beach, in which police said they identified more than 20 victims who had been moved through that house. Rodio engaged in drug sales, including heroin and crack cocaine, and used those drugs to keep better control of his victims, which he pimped out in motels around Long Island.

“This is an individual who clearly had no regard for the women he victimized, subjecting them to exploitation, fear and humiliation,” District Attorney Tim Sini (D) said after the defense’s guilty plea was read out. “It is our hope that this guilty plea delivers justice for the many survivors of Rodio’s scheme.”

Police also said Rodio would keep women in that basement for an extended period of time, forcing them to use a bucket as a toilet since there was no bathroom in the apartment. The Sound Beach man would post advertisements on websites, including Backpage and Craigslist, promoting prostitution by the victims and would keep either a large percentage or all of the profits of their prostitution.

Rodio’s attorney is listed as Scott Gross, a Garden City-based criminal defense attorney. Gross did not return calls for request for comment.

Police originally started investigating Rodio after a Suffolk County police officer noticed a suspected victim of trafficking in his car during a routine traffic stop in August 2018. The man was later arrested in March 2019 after an investigation found a score of other victims.

Rodio is scheduled to be sentenced by Acting Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Mark Cohen March 9. The court promised the defendant a 9½-year with five years of postrelease supervision on the top count. He will also be required to register as a sex offender upon his release from prison.