05/26/13 12:43pm
05/26/2013 12:43 PM

KERI NAJDZION COURTESY PHOTO | Ashley Yakaboski of Baiting Hollow has been selected Miss Polish Town USA 2013.

Ashley Yakaboski of Baiting Hollow has been selected Miss Polish Town USA for 2013. Miss Polish Town leads the parade and ceremonies at the Polish Town Fair in August.

First runner up was Anna Klimczuk of Mattituck and second runner up was Tiffany Russo of Hicksville.

KERI NAJDZION COURTESY PHOTO | First runner up was Anna Klimczuk of Mattituck and second runner up was Tiffany Russ of Hicksville.

05/23/13 8:00am
05/23/2013 8:00 AM
Great job Riverhead police

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Town police and state troopers teamed up to capture a shooting suspect Monday night on Osborn Avenue in Riverhead’s Polish Town

Alarm bells rang out through Polish Town Monday night as ambulances and town and state police cars — their lights and sirens blaring — descended on several crime scenes within minutes, and just a few blocks, of one another.

It was no terror scare, but it was no drill either. Police arrested a shooter accused of injuring a woman on Raynor Avenue with a shotgun blast and, in a separate case, a would-be armed robber on Osborn Avenue.

Monday night’s incidents, culminating with police officers storming an Osborn Avenue house and dragging out a suspected gunman, served as a reminder of the dangers our police and emergency workers face every night, often when the rest of us are tucked safely in our beds.

We also saw on full display the fine work of two police agencies that coordinated with each other and mobilized quickly to secure three crime scenes and make quick work of violent acts in our communities. While such incidents in town are, of course, cause for concern — and downright frightening for many — Riverheaders can take comfort in the quality of the men and women sworn to protect us.

05/21/13 2:15pm

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Police investigate an armed robbery scene in Polish Town Monday night.

UPDATE (2:15 p.m.): The 33-year-old Riverhead man who allegedly attempted to rob an Osborn Avenue store Monday night faced a judge this afternoon, answering to two felony charges.

Nicholas Savino is charged with two counts of second-degree robbery after displaying what appeared to be a handgun at International Connection and demanding money about 8:45 p.m., police said.

Mr. Savino hit a store worker several times in the head, causing lacerations to the man’s face, prosecutors said during his arraignment in Riverhead Town court.

The worker was taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries, according to a release.

Two other workers subdued Mr. Savino until police arrived, prosecutors said in court. Visible cuts could be seen around Mr. Savino’s neck and face while in court this afternoon.

Justice Richard Ehlers granted an order of protection for the store workers involved in the incident.

Procesuters said Mr. Savino has been convicted of one felony and eight misdemeanors prior to the incident.

He also failed to appear in court on four separate occasions, prosecutors said.

Mr. Savino is being held on $300,000 bail.

Original Story: Less than 30 minutes after a shooting sent a Polish Town woman to a hospital Monday night, three employees at a store on nearby Osborn Avenue wrestled an armed robber to the ground in an unrelated incident.

Nicholas Savino, 33, of Riverhead displayed a handgun as he entered International Connection and demanded money of three employees there at about 8:45 p.m., police said. The three men quickly fought him off and held him down until police could arrive.

It was later learned the gun Mr. Savino used in the robbery was actually a BB pistol, police said.

Mr. Savino and one of the employees were taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries from the scuffle, police said.

A worker at the store, who did not give a name Monday night, said, “I’m just happy everyone is safe and we could all go home with our lives tonight.”

Mr. Savino is being held at police headquarters on two counts of second-degree robbery, police said. He is expected to be arraigned later Tuesday morning. He was previously arrested last February on a warrant related to a charge of petit larceny.


05/21/13 6:03am

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Riverhead police arrest Nathan Streit outside the home on Osborn Avenue where he had been hiding for several hours after a confrontation that led to a shooting on nearby Marcy Avenue.

Three hours after shotgun blasts sent shockwaves through Polish Town and a Riverhead woman to the hospital, Riverhead and New York State police used a K9 to capture the teenager they say pulled the trigger.

Nathan Streit, 17, who police say is homeless, was found hiding inside a Osborn Avenue house about 11:30 p.m. Monday.

Hours earlier, Mr. Streit had fired several rounds at Jon Gallo, 26, and Shane Sypher, 25, both of Riverhead following a confrontation on nearby Raynor Avenue, police said. While neither man was struck by any of the shots, pellets from one round did cause minor injuries to Mr. Gallo’s mother, Sharon, 52.

Mr. Gallo told a News-Review reporter Monday night that he had confronted Mr. Streit and another young man over a series of break-ins in the area.

“Next thing I know, he comes back with a gun and he’s [expletive] shooting,” Mr. Gallo said.

The gunman then fled on foot, Mr. Gallo said.

Police quickly responded to the home on Osborn Avenue where they later found Mr. Streit, frequently shining a flashlight at an open second story window and questioning two men and a woman sitting outside the home.

Shortly before 11:30 p.m., several state troopers and Riverhead police officers and detectives wearing bullet proof vests, surrounded the house while a police dog and several more officers searched the interior for the shooter.

Mr. Streit was quickly apprehended without resistance, police said. He was charged with assault, criminal possession of a weapon and reckless endangerment. He was held overnight for a Tuesday morning arraignment.

Ms. Gallo was treated at Peconic Bay Medical Center for what police described as non-life threatening injuries.

Check back for more details later this morning.


04/21/13 8:00am
04/21/2013 8:00 AM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Contractor Matthew Forrest bought this home in Polsih Town last December.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Matthew Forrest bought this home in Polish Town last December.

Veteran homebuilder Matthew Forrest has been constructing new houses for investors for nearly a decade but recently decided to try his hand at buying a two-story fixer-upper in Polish Town.

Months into the job, he’s torn the interior walls apart, rooted out an unpleasant surprise and is still several weeks away from completion. The 30-year-old Hampton Bays native agreed to share his thoughts on the process with others looking to fix up an old house, whether they plan to flip it or live in it.

Q: How did you find this house on Marcy Avenue?

A: My real estate agent originally [showed it to me]. I saw the potential. I kind of knew in the long run it would be worth it to me. The good thing about it was that it fit my budget [$135,000]. The house is a decent layout. You get a husband and wife with a couple of children and they can make this a cozy home. And it’s in a nice neighborhood. The staircase in the middle of the house — it is what it is. It’s strange but you work with it.

Q: You knew this house needed work when you purchased it last December. Have you encountered any unsavory surprises?

A: These floors were just stained with [dog] urine marks. It was so bad that right here, in the ceiling, there was like a watermark in the sheetrock. It wasn’t water. So when that happened it leaked down and came inside this wall and when I took the sheetrock off it was stained, with streaks coming down the side of it. I had no idea when I bought the house. The urine was under the sills of the walls. There was no getting it without going to the root.

Q: None of the reports you got about the house showed the problem?

A: You can prepare to an extent, but there’s an extent to which you really can’t prepare. With the engineer’s report, we were unable to see that there was a urine infestation.

Q: That sounds like a pretty big hassle.

A: [It’s] one of the risks you assume, but you also have to keep your eyes on the long term and the opportunities that owning a house gives you as to borrowing power, building equity, rental income. You need to be able to see the big picture and not just the front line but the back line. That’s really where I’m keeping my focus.

Q: What are some things homebuyers should be looking out for if they’re searching for a good fixer-upper?

A: For me the biggest thing has definitely been the neighborhood. The two factors that came into play were the neighborhood and the layout of the house … That’s a really special factor for me, having a neighborhood that’s homey.

Q: Fixing up a house is a big undertaking. Would you recommend this as something people should look into?

A: I would suggest anybody, especially now, especially younger people, get into owning their first home at a young age. Just go out and make offers. I have a couple of friends, investors that we build for, they’re just always making offers. They consistently have five offers on the table … Start the process. Speak to a mortgage broker, speak to a bank and see what you’re going to need. You’re not paying the rent, you’re not paying someone else’s mortgage, you’re paying your mortgage. And especially now with the [mortgage] rates, it’s crazy.


03/23/13 12:00pm
03/23/2013 12:00 PM
Doc's Taven plans scuttled

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The person leasing Doc’s Tavern (La Isla Bar & Grill) is in arrears on both the rent and taxes, according to a sign papered on the building.

The group trying to reopen the former Doc’s Tavern in Polish Town as a Mexican restaurant is more than $100,000 in arrears on various payments, according to a notice on the door of the building.

A Brentwood company headed by Delmis and Fausto Reyes had received an extension last year on a commercial alteration permit for the building. They also received a liquor license from the State Liquor Authority that runs through Oct. 31, 2013, and had erected a new sign, calling the business La Isla Bar and Grill.

But a notice posted on the door Jan. 23 says their company owes $119,000 — comprising unpaid rent, property taxes and insurance — to Roy Schoenhaar of Cutchogue, who owns the building under the corporate name Mile High, Inc.

Neither Mr. Schoenhaar nor his attorneys, Goggins and Palumbo of Mattituck, returned calls seeking comment.

“I gave up the business, that’s all I can say,” Delmis Reyes told a reporter Monday. “I saw the comments of the people there. I am truly unhappy about that kind of thing,” she said, referring to online comments posted on riverheadnewsreview.com and Facebook last year, when the News-Review wrote about the proposed Mexican restaurant.

Many of the comments were anti-immigrant.

Doc’s Tavern had been a staple in Polish Town for more than 50 years, but has been closed for the past seven years or so.

It had been renovated following a fire about eight years ago and briefly reopened, but then closed again for good.


01/30/13 8:00am
01/30/2013 8:00 AM


The Crooked Ladder Brewing Company, which plans to open soon next to West Main Street’s Digger O’Dell’s pub, may not be the new kid on the block for very long.

Moustache Brewing Company, the brainchild of Central Islip couple Matt and Lauri Spitz, went from a pipe — or rather, barrel — dream to a dream all but realized after a successful kick-starter campaign brought in more than $30,000 in startup capital this past spring, the owners said.

“We’re excited and of course a bit nervous because this is all brand-new territory for us” said Matt Spitz, whose moustache matches the company’s handle-barred logo. “We plan to start small with a one-barrel brew system and build things up over the next few years, as far as the volume of our production goes.”

This is the couple’s first business venture. Mr. Spitz is a musician who plays bass guitar in a reggae band. Ms. Spitz is a health information manager for a medical practice.

Moustache Brewing has leased a commercial building on Hallett Street in Polish Town, which they plan to use mostly for production. Mr. Spitz isn’t expecting a lot of walk-in traffic.

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO  |  Co-owner Mike Spitz stands in front of the future site of Moustache Brewery in Riverhead's Polish Town on Tuesday afternoon.

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Co-owner Matt Spitz stands in front of the future site of Moustache Brewery in Riverhead’s Polish Town on Tuesday afternoon.

“There won’t be a bar or a fancy tasting room,” he said. “We’ll just have some taps on the wall where people can get samples or growlers and go.”

Lauri Spitz said signing the lease on Saturday brought an exhausting search to an end.

“We’ve been looking for a place since June of last year,” she said. “So it’s really exciting to have found a home.”

The Spitzes, who have been married for over five years and home-brewing for eight, originally wanted to build their brewery in Nassau County, which Mr. Spitz said currently has only one brewery. He cited Riverhead Town’s enthusiasm for their proposed venture as a reason for landing on the North Fork.

“They were one of the only towns to welcome us with open arms,” said Mr. Spitz. “A lot of the towns we talked to weren’t sure what to do with a brewery, but the town of Riverhead has been great.”

Riverhead’s first brewery, the Long Ireland Beer Company, not only welcomes the new business but has also helped the first-time entrepreneurs.

“When we heard they were considering coming to Riverhead we directed them to a few possible locations,” said Greg Martin, Long Ireland co-owner. “We don’t see them as competition. We want Riverhead to become a destination for craft beer. Look at the wineries. People will come out here and hit multiple wineries during their visits.”

The addition of Moustache Brewery will bring the number of breweries in a half-mile radius to three.

“There’s us and Long Ireland, and then Digger’s and Crooked Ladder are on their way to building a brew pub,” said Mr. Spitz. “It’s going to be fantastic.”

The owners hope the new brewery will open by the end of this summer.

“That would be optimal,” he said.


12/15/12 10:24am
12/15/2012 10:24 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Carolers make their way through Polish Town Friday evening.

The tradition of Caroling in Polish Town, which was first started in the the 1970s and continued for a decade, took on a new life Friday evening with some of the founding members and new blood aboard a flatbed pulled by a tractor, with Thomas Najdzion of Riverhead at the wheel.

They traveled around the streets of Polish Town for about an hour bringing holiday cheer to the neighborhood.

The Polish Town Civic Association stalwarts who led the charge to revive the event were Kay Davis, Claire LaTour, Barbara Szczepanik and chair Marianne Turbish.

The first runner-up in the Polish Town Queen contest of 2012, Nicole Mielnicki of Aquebogue, was the featured guest on the holiday float, which was decorated with Christmas lights and a tree and a boom box playing Christmas songs that they sang along with.