COURTESY SCPD | Police say this man robbed a Calverton gas station.
Suffolk County Police said on Tuesday that they are investigating a recent gas station robbery in Calverton as one which was carried out as part of a larger pattern, and are asking for the public’s help in tracking down the man they say is responsible for all of them.
The Hess gas station on Edwards Avenue – barely in the jurisdiction of the SCPD – was robbed last Wednesday night, after a clerk said that a man pulled a handgun on him, demanding cash from the register about 7:45 p.m.
Police said that over the past two weeks, similar robberies have occurred at seven different establishments, at gas stations in Eastport, Mastic, North Babylon, St. James, Dix Hills and Bohemia, as well as Jamba Juice in Stony Brook. No one was injured during any of the robberies.
The suspect is described as a white male, about 5-foot-10 to 6-foot-2 with a tall to medium build. Police said he usually wears a dark-colored or gray hooded sweatshirt.
According to police, the man has frequently approached the clerk to purchase an item and when the cash register opened, pulled a gun and demanded cash.
Mohammed Kahn, the clerk at the Calverton Hess, told the News-Review last week that the robber walked straight up to the register and demanded cash, first giving him the impression that the act was a trick.
“I was looking to him like he was joking,” Mr. Kahn said at the time.
Anyone with information about the incidents is asked to call Suffolk County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. Any information that leads to an arrest could result in a reward of up to $5,000.
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | The Hess station on Edwards Avenue that was robbed at gunpoint Wednesday night, police said. The robber remains at large.
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | (L-R) IDA executive director Tracy Stark-James takes notes as Skydive Long Island owner Ray Maynard and Barbara Schiano speak to the IDA board Monday night.
Plans to build a two-story tall indoor skydiving tunnel are a little bit closer to taking flight.
The proposal — a new building to house the unique attraction at Skydive Long Island in the Enterprise Park at Calverton — will be subject to a public hearing over requested tax incentives in December, after members of Riverhead’s Industrial Development Agency expressed support for the proposal, with one member of the board calling the plan a “home run.”
COURTESY PHOTO | People skydiving in a wind tunnel.
“That’s a really great project,” said IDA executive director Tracy Stark-James at the board’s meeting Monday night in Riverhead Town Hall. “It’s truly a regional draw.”
Skydive Long Island owner Ray Maynard and Barbara Schiano, his wife, told the board their planned attraction would not only allow skydivers to practice jumps in a safe environment, but would also draw tens of thousands more into town during the typical skydiving off-season to experience the indoor wind tunnel — without having to get in a plane.
“There are many people who just go to these indoor wind tunnels to experience freefall who never go skydiving,” Ms. Schiano said.
Skydive Long Island would build a four-story tall building to house the 18-feet high, 14.5-foot wide vertical wind tunnel, which would use giant fans to lift customers into the air.
“It’s going to bring a lot more people to the town,” Mr. Maynard said, adding that the nearest indoor skydiving attractions were in New Hampshire and North Carolina.
Mr. Maynard also said that, while tunnels are used by professional skydivers to train, the general public could buy time inside the tunnel with an instructor in 2-minute blocks. Up to six experienced skydivers could use the tunnel for practicing formation diving.
The project — estimated to cost between $4.5 million to $5 million — would also feature glass running windows along the side of the tunnel, allowing onlookers to see in. It would take up to a year to build the structure, Ms. Schiano said.
Skydive Long Island — which has been in operation out of Calverton since 2000 — is asking for three types of tax incentives: a sales tax exemption, a mortgage tax exemption and a deal on its real property taxes, Ms. Stark-James said.
The sales tax exemption would apply to all construction material purchases, from building supplies to lighting fixtures for the new building.
Skydive Long Island has already secured partial funding for the project through the U.S. Small Business Administraiton, which doesn’t require mortgage tax to be paid. The local mortgage recording tax exemption would apply to the remainder not covered under the SBA and would eliminate the usual 1.05 percent tax.
The final incentive is to reduce the real property tax assessment, Ms. Stark-James said. The IDA’s standard property tax abatement reduces the assessed value of the new additions to the property by 50 percent; the assessed value of the property excluding the new additions is unaffected, meaning taxes on the existing property wouldn’t change. The property would gain an additional 5 percent on its assessed value each year until it hit the full 100 percent of its value, Ms. Stark-James said.
For example, if a property were worth $50,000 and another $10,000 in assessed value were added, the property’s abated assessed value would be $55,000 in the first year of the abatement, increasing by 5 percent each year until it reached the full $60,000.
While the 50 percent initial abatement is the typical IDA offer, Ms. Stark-James said Skydive Long Island was planning to request more of an abatement from the IDA. While board members didn’t reveal whether they would support the incentives, all expressed admiration for Mr. Maynard, a longtime local business owner.
The proposed incentives will be open for public comment at the IDA’s next meeting in early December. In the meantime, Ms. Schiano said the company is working on getting the necessary zoning permits to build the new attraction.
“This is going to be another iconic attraction [for Riverhead],” she said. “There’s nothing like it in the area.”
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | The Hess station on Edwards Avenue that was robbed at gunpoint Wednesday night, police said. The robber remains at large.
It had been a quiet night for Hess gas station clerk Mohammed Kahn.
Unlike during the busy summer months, there were no customers inside the station’s market on Edwards Avenue near the Long Island Expressway on-ramp Wednesday.
About 7:45 p.m., Mr. Kahn said a customer — a man in his 30s wearing a black hat and black clothing — walked in through the doors and up to the counter. The man told Mr. Kahn to give him money from the register.
The cashier, the only employee working at the time, thought it was a prank.
“I was looking to him like he was joking,” Mr. Kahn told the News-Review.
Suffolk County police are actively investigating the scene of an armed robbery which occurred Wednesday night at a Hess gas station on Edwards Avenue in Calverton, authorities said.
Riverhead police said they received a 911 call just before 8 p.m., however the incident took place just outside town police jurisdiction.
The Brookhaven/Riverhead border marks the jurisdiction border between the Riverhead and Suffolk County Police Departments. The Hess station, just off exit 71 of the Long Island Expressway, sits less than a quarter-mile from the Riverhead Town border.
Suffolk County Police Department detectives are investigating, county police said.
CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Two people were sent to area hospitals following a crash on Roanoke Avenue Tuesday evening.
Two people – including a four-year-old child – were sent to area hospitals following a two-car accident on Roanoke Avenue Tuesday afternoon.
A black Volkswagen Jetta traveling southbound on Edwards Avenue collided with a gold Toyota Corolla by the intersection on Sound Avenue about 4:40 p.m., authorities said.
The driver of the Volkswagen was transported to Peconic Bay Medical Center with facial injures, while the child, who was a passenger in the Toyoya, was transported to St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson as a precaution, said Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps chief Joey Oliver.
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that the article occurred on Edwards Avenue.
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Sarah McCombe riding Malvin at Sleepy Hollow Cattle Ranch.
Families and their horses are donning Halloween costumes to participate in a rodeo at Sleepy Hollow Cattle Ranch in Riverhead today, Saturday.
The event kicked off at 11 a.m. and runs to 5:30 p.m.
The kids’ cowboy-themed Halloween event and horsemanship show was hosted by a true cowboy, Missouri-raised cattleman and bareback bronco rodeo competitor, Shane Ely, who operates the Riverhead ranch.
The event features horsemanship classes for children and adults, barrel and dash racing, cattle-roping competitions, rider-and-horse costume classes, egg-and-spoon riding races, pony rides, a swap meet, and a Chinese auction of baskets donated by local businesses.
There is also a free barbeque.
All of the proceeds go to Contractors For Kids, a charity assisting families with seriously ill and dying children.
Since its start in 2005, the nonprofit has helped about 400 families with help fund mortgage payments, bills, funeral expenses, and even cars for single mothers with children receiving frequent treatments.
To support Contractors For Kids and learn about the organization’s activities and upcoming events, please visit www.contractorsforkids.org or call 1-888-208-KIDS.
They say you never forget how to ride a bike, but I kinda did. At least the gear-shifting part and the keeping air in the tires part.
A few months ago, I dropped my car off at an auto repair shop, intending to use my brother’s bike — built sometime in the early 1980s — to get back home. As it turned out, the bike’s tires were flat and I found it didn’t fit in the car’s trunk, so that idea went nowhere.
Instead, I walked home from the repair shop … seven miles. That was enough walking for me. The next day, I bought a bike.
It’s a used bike, with a little switch that enables me to easily take off the front tire so the bike will fit in my car. This way, I can drive the bike to places more conducive to riding than where I live. Now that I had the bike, I figured the Tour de France couldn’t be far off — so long as I could drive there.
For the first week or so, I drove my bike to a lot of different places. Sure, I didn’t get out and actually sit on the bike and pedal, but it was there if I wanted it — or needed it.
Then one day, I decided I would bike over the Brooklyn Bridge, which I’ve been told has a bike lane running across it. So the bike and I went on a ride to Brooklyn, in my car. We took a few wrong turns, but eventually found the bridge (which, I suppose, isn’t that hard to find). Then we went looking for a place to park the car. I looked all over Brooklyn, reluctantly went into a parking garage that had only valet parking, backed into something, panicked and quickly exited the parking lot. I then spent time looking for a roadside parking space with no success. After a while, I just gave up and went home.
But I hadn’t given up entirely on being a biker.
On the last day before my next vacation, in September, I had to write a story on the completion of federally funded $3.2 million bike path from Calverton to Jamesport. As part of the story, I tried to call some local bike enthusiasts for comment. None of the bikers I contacted seemed too excited about this bike path, which basically consists of some widened roads and signage indicating that bikes go on the side of the road and the cars stay in the middle. Duh!
What the bikers were excited about was the bike path that runs around the Enterprise Park at Calverton. The bike enthusiasts see this as a potential major draw to the area, since there aren’t many places on Long Island, apparently, where people can ride around a nine-mile path. I had noticed a lot of people using it one Saturday, so on my next vacation, I packed the bike in the car, drove it to Calverton and tried out the EPCAL bike path.
Turns out, it’s pretty cool. Unlike riding on the road, it’s all inside the fence, so you can’t get hit by a car, unless you have really, really bad luck and get hit by one crossing the entrance road off Route 25. And, you can go as fast as you want, because it’s a relative straight path and has some long, but not steep, hills.
It’s also pretty scenic. You start at the dog park and ballfields area, then you get to ride around the back of the two fighter jets on display at the Grumman Memorial Park and then you go all the way around the Calverton Industries sand mine, which is a lot bigger than it appears from the road. Eventually the path disappears into woods and the paved part of the trail stops. That’s where I turned around and went back. My tally? EPCAL bike path: 1, Brooklyn Bridge bike path: 0.
The Town Board has applied for a grant to finish the EPCAL path so it goes completely around the EPCAL site, but that was a split vote, with three in support and two against. It remains to be seen if the town will get the grant or otherwise finish paving the path.
In the meantime, my bike and I drove to some other places, like the Country Fair, where I parked at Town Hall and rode to the fair, since it was tough finding parking.
That’s technically using the bike to avoid exercise rather than to get exercise, but it’s a start. I now figure I should be in the Tour de France in a year or so.
Tim Gannon is a longtime reporter for the Riverhead News-Review.
He can be reached at (631) 293-3200, ext. 242, or email@example.com.
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The monastery’s dog, Argos, joins (from left) novice-in-training Maria, Sister Theonymphi, Abbess Foteini and Sister Martha outside the chapel after vespers.
Nestled on a secluded plot of land in Calverton, just far enough away from the rumbling traffic of Route 25, the nuns of All Saints Greek Orthodox Monastery enter their chapel and begin to pray.
Standing in a circle around an intricately carved wooden podium, the four nuns recite liturgy before breaking into harmonious song. They’re observing Vespers, a Christian worship service that traditionally signifies the start of a new day and is usually marked at or near sunset.
After about 15 minutes, the sisters stop singing and Abbess Foteini, a petite young woman from Missouri, glances in the direction of two visitors in attendance.
“That’s it,” she says brightly. “Vespers is short.”
All Saints Greek Orthodox Monastery was founded in 1997 when Sister Ypomoni, née Chrystalla Petropolou, used her life savings to purchase eight acres of land on Middle Road. Born in Cyprus, she had moved to Mattituck in the 1950s. She died in late 2010 and is buried in the monastery’s backyard.
The monastery is under the auspices of the Direct Archdiocesan District of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. No priest resides at the abbey, but the monastery’s chaplain, the Rev. Father Vasilios Govits, comes to Calverton every Sunday to celebrate the Divine Liturgy.
The monastery building wasn’t completed until 2007, and was unoccupied until 2009, when Sister Ypomoni and three young women — Abbess Foteini, Sister Theonymphi and Sister Martha — took up residence there. Sister Theonymphi, whose tonsured name means “Bride of God,” was born “Maria” and raised in a Greek Orthodox family in Detroit.
“I wasn’t a little kid like [she places her hands in mock prayer and closes her eyes, smiling],” she says of her decision to join the monastery. “For me, it was where my heart felt drawn.”
In 2011, Sister Theonymphi’s mother, a former middle school teacher also named Maria, entered the convent herself. Since she has lived at the monastery less than three years, she is considered a “novice,” or nun-in-training, and hasn’t yet received a new name.
“I liked my work and I was actually very comfortable where I was,” Maria says of life before the convent. “But I felt that I would have a fuller life with Christ in the monastery.”
“It didn’t hurt that your daughter was here,” Sister Theonymphi jokes.
“It helped,” Maria says. “It definitely helped.”
Days at the monastery are strictly structured and chores are assigned by Abbess Foteini. The sisters rise each day at 3:30 a.m. and pray for an hour, Sister Theonymphi explains. Quiet hours are from 4:30 to 6 a.m., during which the sisters can rest, read or catch up on personal tasks. At 6 a.m., the sisters gather for a 15-minute service that includes a song, a hymn dedicated to the saint of the day and a closing prayer. This service is repeated three more times throughout the day. Vespers is observed at 4 p.m. and dinner is served around 5. The nuns don’t eat meat and they frequently fast for religious reasons.
When they aren’t in prayer, the sisters earn a living creating handmade soaps, soy candles, all-natural deodorant, lip balm and bath scrubs as part of their “All for Nun” line of artisan goods, produced in-house and sold in the monastery’s gift shop. They have also published two children’s books, both illustrated by Sister Theonymphi, and sell prayer bracelets online at Amazon.com.
In addition, the sisters are also responsible for cleaning and maintaining the abbey.
“It’s physically demanding,” Sister Theonymphi says of the work. “We don’t have a man around. If we have to change the blades on the lawnmower and a [repair] man doesn’t show up, we’re just going to have to get out the tools and take care of it.”
As it turns out, the only “man” who resides on the property is Argos, a friendly two-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog the sisters adopted as a puppy. Named after Odysseus’ canine companion in Homer’s “The Odyssey,” Argos delights in keeping watch over the numerous chickens the sisters keep in a coop on the property.
Argos, with his glossy coat and affable personality, is the sort of dog some people might spend their time posting endless pictures of on photo-sharing websites like Instagram. The sisters don’t have their own cellphones, but that doesn’t mean the monastery is devoid of modern technology.
The nuns use alarm clocks and have an emergency cellphone as well as an iPad that can process credit card transactions for gift shop purchases. All the sisters take turns managing the monastery’s Facebook page, which is updated numerous times per month and includes things like a Lenten brownie recipe and mission work photos.
When it comes down to it, Sister Theonymphi says, monastic life isn’t much different from being married.
“People always wonder,” she says. “They think it’s so different. I’m sure you could compare the difficulties of monastic life to the difficulties of married life. It’s not always so easy to do something like cook [a meal] the way your husband really likes it, but you do it because you love him.
“We have those scenarios,” she says. “You have to cut your will and do the will of someone else. For us, we do that because we love them but we’re trying to love God through the other person.”