Yearly Archives: 2012

‘Little North Pole’ gives kids reason to smile again


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Sandy couldn’t stop Santa.

That’s how Joe Mure described the “Little North Pole,” the annual holiday celebration in Neponsit held this year on Sunday, December 23. A holiday tradition in the neighborhood, the original event, slated for Saturday, December 1, had to be cancelled because of the devastation from the superstorm.

But after discussing it with other organizers, Mure said the event had to go on.

“For the most part I think we brought the entire community back together,” Mure said. “There were thousands of people out on the street.”

The afternoon featured free food from places such as Russo’s on the Bay and Ludwig’s Catering. Every kid in attendance got several toys, Mure said. Goumba Johnny and WCBS-FM’s Joe Causi emceed the event well into the night with a string of popular musical performers. But the biggest highlight of the night: a police escort for Santa Claus, much to the delight of the kiddies.

Along with the colossal damage some peninsula residents suffered from the storm, the lives lost from the Sandy Hook shootings were honored with 26 Christmas trees throughout Mure’s home.

“They were in the back of our minds,” Mure said. “[And] all the [superstorm] Sandy victims were in the back of our minds.”

This year was particularly about making sure everyone had a reason to smile, Mure said, especially the children.

“The kids need to be able to go ahead and smile,” he said. “That’s why we went ahead with this party.”

Weekend 7 subway service suspended through March


File photo

For the second time in less than six months, straphangers in Queens and Manhattan will be without the No. 7 subway for multiple weekends in a row.

Starting December 28, No. 7 line service between the two boroughs will be suspended every weekend until March 25 due to planned subway work.

Trains won’t run between Times Square and Queensboro Plaza, from 11:45 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Monday during those 13 consecutive weekends.

During President’s Day weekend the suspension will remain in effect until Tuesday, February 19 at 5 a.m.

For alternate service between the two boroughs, straphangers can use the “E”,” F”, “N” and  “Q” lines.

The “Q” will also be extended to Astoria-Ditmars Blvd. on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m. to  7 p.m., and free shuttle buses will operate between the Vernon Blvd.-Jackson Avenue and Queensboro Plaza stations during those weekends.

Along with the weekend suspensions, the No. 7 train will not run from 11:45 p.m. on Monday, January 14 until 5 a.m. on Tuesday, January 15.

According to the MTA, these service changes are so it can perform tunnel, signal and track maintenance in the Steinway Tunnel, which connects Queens to Manhattan, as well as replace tracks between the between the Court Sq. and Queensboro Plaza stations.

In the fall, the MTA also suspended No. 7 subway service for five weekends for maintenance reasons.



Two Queens Catholic schools to merge next year


Two Catholic schools in northeast Queens will merge and operate under one name in September 2013.

St. Robert Bellarmine School, located at 56-10 214th Street in Bayside, will reopen under Divine Wisdom Catholic Academy in the next school year after board of directors at both schools unanimously approved the expansion this month.

The Bayside school will be called the Divine Wisdom Catholic Academy at St. Robert Bellarmine campus. It will join Divine Wisdom’s current campus at St. Anastasia, located at 45-11 245th Street in Douglaston.

“In an age when Catholic schools are being closed in our city and in the whole nation, this is a strong and confident step in the other direction,” said Monsignor Martin Geraghty of St. Robert’s.

The change will have no effect on students, who will continue attending their respective campuses, Geraghty said.

But while existing administration, staff and faculty at Divine Wisdom will stay in place, employment at St. Robert’s will cease when the school year ends, said officials.

Geraghty said staff members could reapply for jobs at Divine Wisdom.

Some St. Robert’s community members, including Geraghty, are expected to be added to Divine Wisdom’s board of directors.

“We’re confident that we will be able to grow stronger by combining our assets and growing together as a larger community dedicated to excellence,” Geraghty said. “We will be able to take what are already two very good schools and make them superior.”

FDNY determines cause of Breezy Point, other Sandy fires


File photo

Two months after Sandy hit, the FDNY has determined the cause of most of the serious fires that occurred during the superstorm, including the Breezy Point blaze that decimated 126 homes and damaged 22 others, Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano announced this week.

“A total of 21 serious fires occurred during the storm, destroying more than 200 homes and businesses across the city, and fire marshals have determined that most were sparked by sea water impacting electrical systems and components in and around these structures,” said Cassano.

Storm conditions also contributed to the severity of these fires because floodwaters made it difficult for authorities to reach and control them, and winds helped spread the fires, according to the FDNY.

The six-alarm Breezy Point blaze, which started around 8:30 p.m. on Monday, October 29, the night of the superstorm, started when water that came in contact with the electrical system of a one-story house at 173 Ocean Avenue. After it spread to over a hundred other homes, firefighters finally brought it under control at about 6:30 a.m the next day.

Authorities also had a difficult time responding to two significant Rockaway Beach fires during Sandy because of flooding and storm surge.

According to the FDNY, one of those blazes started when utility wires fell onto a three-story commercial and residential structure at 113-18 Rockaway Beach Boulevard during the storm, spreading to and destroying and 16 other buildings.

Another Rockaway Beach fire, at a Beach 129 Street home, was also caused by utility wires and destroyed 32 structures after authorities couldn’t reach it for several hours.

In addition to the 21 serious storm-related blazes in New York City, there were another 73 structural ones, said the FDNY.

Most of these blazes, 68, was electrical-related, 20 began because of an open flame, such as candles or a stovetop, and six started because of generators.

Bayside developer to turn vacant Flushing property into mixed use development


Photo courtesy of NYCEDC

A Bayside developer has been tapped to transform a vacant Flushing property into a mixed use development.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) announced it has selected Success 88 LLC, headed by Betsy Mak, to turn an abandoned site at 135-15 40th Road into 12,000-square-feet of community, commercial and retail space.

“Flushing continues to thrive and this project […] will add to the community’s economic growth,” said Councilmember Peter Koo.

The current 5,000-square-foot building on the property was previously used as office space for the city’s Department of Sanitation until it was vacated in 2005 due to structural damage by adjacent construction, officials said.

The NYCEDC said Mak has a “long history of developing and renovating properties across the city,” including 30 projects in Queens. Her company, officials said, has agreed to hire locally to fill jobs generated by the project, as well as seek public input to determine how the community space will be used.

“Success 88 LLC is grateful for the opportunity to turn the property on 40th Road into a prominent structure that will fit well into downtown Flushing,” the company said in a statement. “We are anxious to begin this exciting project that will benefit the local community. Our hopes are to develop a multi-use and multi-functional building that will blend well into the neighborhood, and provide growth potential for local small businesses. This will provide an economic boost to Flushing by creating new opportunities and jobs.”

Queens’ Morning Roundup



Wednesday: Overcast with ice pellets and rain in the afternoon. High of 41. Windy. Winds from the ENE at 10 to 25 mph with gusts to 35 mph. Chance of precipitation 100% . Wednesday night: Overcast with rain. Low of 39F. Windy. Winds from the ENE at 30 to 35 mph with gusts to 55 mph. Chance of rain 100% with rainfall amounts near 1.4 in. possible

EVENT of the DAY: Holiday Open House

At the Queens Country Farm Museum Holiday Open House enjoy free tours of the decorated farmhouse, craft activity for children and mulled cider. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Some Hurricane Sandy aid diverted to Gulf Coast in D.C. deal to gain Senate votes

A bill to provide $60.4 billion in disaster aid to Northeast states ravaged by Hurricane Sandy has been quietly amended to divert some of the money to Gulf Coast states recovering from a much smaller storm. Read more: New York Daily News

NWS issues advisories across tri-state as massive snowstorm heads east

n enormous storm system that dumped snow and sleet on the nation’s midsection and unleashed damaging tornadoes around the Deep South began punching its way toward the Northeast on Wednesday, slowing holiday travel. Read more: CBS New York

Webster firemen’s killer left chilling note, deaths at 3

An ex-con killed two firefighters with the same caliber and make military-style rifle used in the Connecticut school massacre after typing a note pledging to burn down his neighborhood and “do what I like doing best, killing people,” police said Tuesday as another body, believed to be the gunman’s missing sister, was found. Read more: ABC New York

City fire marshal dies behind wheel on Christmas Eve

A city fire marshal died Monday night after suffering an apparent heart attack while driving in Queens. Read more: NY1

First of its kind Museum of Mathematics open in Flatiron District

A new museum has opened its doors in New York. This one’s geared a kids, but tackles a subject not typically popular among the school-aged set. Read more: CBS New York

Catholic schools open doors to storm-tossed students

The scene at St. Patrick School in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, seemed no different from that at any other parochial school: Students stood bright-eyed and fidgety in choirlike rows around the auditorium stage, rehearsing carols for an annual Christmas pageant. Read more: New York Times

Obama to cut vacation short to deal with fiscal crisis

President Barack Obama is cutting short his Hawaiian holiday to leave for Washington on Wednesday to address the unfinished “fiscal cliff” negotiations with Congress, the White House said on Tuesday. Read more: Reuters 


Queens’ Morning Roundup



Tuesday: Overcast with a chance of rain in the morning, then partly cloudy. High of 45. Winds from the NNW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 20%. Tuesday night: Overcast. Low of 32. Winds from the North at 5 to 15 mph.

Hurricane Sandy’s 21 most serious fires caused by sea water hitting electrical systems: FDNY

Most of the 21 serious fires that destroyed hundreds of homes during Superstorm Sandy were sparked by sea water coming into contact with electrical systems, the FDNY announced Monday. Read more: New York Daily News

Outer borough metered cabs head to NY’s highest court

This cab fight is going straight to the top. The city has received permission to bypass the Appellate Division and go directly to the state’s highest court — the Court of Appeals — to try to overturn a lower court ruling blocking a new class of 18,000 taxis that would be allowed to pick up street hails outside Manhattan. Read more: New York Post

A Christmas miracle: Queens baby miraculously survives despite mother’s rare condition

This is a Christmas full of special meaning for a young family in Queens. Read more: CBS New York

Winter storm barrels toward region

Forecasters are tracking a significant winter storm barreling toward the tri-state area, though it’s not clear whether the system will pummel the region with rain or snow when it arrives Wednesday evening. Read more: NBC New York

Report: FBI counter-terror agents investigated Occupy Wall Street

When the Occupy Wall Street movement was setting up shop in Zuccotti Park last year, the FBI was already using counter-terrorism agents to investigate it, according to a report. Read more: CBS New York

Ambushed NY firemen shot dead; two police killed elsewhere

A gunman, who spent 17 years in prison for murder, ambushed and killed two volunteer firefighters and wounded two others on Monday near Rochester, New York, as they responded to a house fire he deliberately set, police said. Read more: Reuters

2 actors we loved knowing, who seemed to know us

What a couple of mugs, sporting less-than-perfect physiques in the bargain. But was there anything lovelier than Jack Klugman or Charles Durning doing what they did for an audience? Read more: AP


NORAD, Google track Santa’s Christmas Eve journey



After more than 50 years of tracking Santa, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) continues to update millions on his whereabouts on Christmas Eve.

The tradition started in 1955 when a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement misprinted the telephone number for children to call Santa, according to

Those calls went to the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Commander-in-Chief’s operations, and not wanting to disappoint the children who called, the director of operations had his staff “check the radar” for Santa’s location.

CONAD continued to track Santa until 1958 when the newly created bi-national air defense command, NORAD, took over the task.

Today, tracking Santa has gone high-tech.

Volunteers still respond to phone calls, but answer emails as well.

Updates are also posted to Twitter through @NoradSanta, Facebook, where the NORAD Santa tracker has more than a million likes, smartphone and tablet apps, and on

The website, which is available in eight languages, features an interactive map that tracks Santa in real time, and information on where he was last spotted, where he is headed next and how many gifts he has delivered.

For seven years NORAD used Google Maps to track Santa, but this year Microsoft’s Bing is providing the mapping software.

Google now has its own Santa Dashboard to track his Christmas Eve journey.

As of 4:30 p.m., NORAD said St. Nick was last spotted in Gaborone, Botswana in Africa, but according to Google, he is currently in Istanbul, Turkey.


Drugstore chain steps up for volunteers


THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

While Sandy flooded Hamilton Beach and endangered the lives of many residents trapped in their homes, the area’s volunteer fire department was out braving the elements. Now they’re getting some help back.

Duane Reade/Walgreens came to the West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department on Thursday, December 20 to donate $25,000 so the company can replace some of the life-saving equipment that was ruined by the storm.

“We understand the value of volunteer fire departments and what they bring,” said Greg Calvano, Duane Reade/Walgreens’ senior director of store operations. “And when we heard they lost all their equipment, and a lot of their personal stuff in the firehouse, it’s time that communities join together.”

State Senator Joseph Addabbo commended the fire department, with much of the staff living nearby, for putting the lives and the safety of others first – while their own homes were suffering damage.

“Moments after Sandy came along and hit this area of Hamilton Beach, which is Zone A,” Addabbo said, “moments after that storm hit, volunteers went throughout this area rescuing people. And these are volunteers that put their personal issues with Sandy aside to deal with the issues others had.”

The first step will be to get a new ambulance for the fire department. After the trucks were damaged, firehouses from places such as Berlin, Pennsylvania, donated equipment.

“It’s nice to have the [support of] people in the community,” said Fire Chief Jonah Cohen. “It’s also nice that people volunteer their time. It’s not only us, but there have been a lot of people in the community that have volunteered to help others. And that’s an important thing to understand.”

The Courier, Queens Chamber of Commerce & Russo’s on the Bay team up to make Christmas bright for kids


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Under the sparkling chandeliers and twinkling Christmas lights, seventh grader Maddie McDade smiled brightly.

The St. Francis de Sales student’s Belle Harbor home burned down during Superstorm Sandy, leaving her and her family displaced to parts of Long Island and Brooklyn just weeks before the holidays. She, and students from five south Queens schools, attended a holiday celebration at Russo’s on the Bay on Tuesday, December 18, hosted by The Queens Courier and the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

“We’re all getting together and I’m excited to see everyone,” said Maddie. “And it’s a nice celebration we’re having after everything and everyone being sad. It kind of brings everything up.”

Over 1,000 students in kindergarten through eighth grade gathered at the event hall for lunch, music, entertainment and gifts. Jugglers and magicians travelled from table to table, showing off their skills to students whose mouths dropped to the floor. Nick the Baloonatic – a renowned balloon artist – created swords, hats and animals out of colorful rubber and thin air for the amazed guests. Even Santa was present, making his grand entrance to the sounds of delighted screams and cheers. Students clamored up to Saint Nick’s gilded throne, posing for pictures with the man in red.

Click here to see all the photos from the event

“For us, this was just a simple way to bring joy to children at this time who really, truly need it,” said Russo’s on the Bay owner Frank Russo Jr.

Jack Friedman, Executive Director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, couldn’t have been happier to provide such a wonderful experience for children who have experience such tragedy. The Queens Chamber of Commerce Foundation provided essential funding to give each child a gift at the end of the celebration.

“Many of [the children] lost homes, personal possessions, many were displaced or had no electricity for weeks,” said Friedman. “The impact on children, the stress on children is something that’s rarely looked at, so to put a smile on children’s faces today is just a great, wonderful thing. These children missed out on Halloween so we’re going to make sure they have a merry Christmas.”

Callie Todd, a 3rd grader at St. Rose of Lima, is finally back in her Breezy Point home after the storm. The spirited amateur equestrian hopes to get the American Girl horseback riding set for Christmas, but is just ecstatic to be home again with all her toys.

Kindergartner John Anthony Grimes from Ave Maria Catholic Academy was excited for the day’s activities and to meet Santa Claus. After staying in his grandparents’ house for several weeks after the storm, he said he couldn’t wait for Christmas, and hoped to find a toy dirt bike under the tree.

Theresa Andersen, principal of St. Rose of Lima, said the school has continued to carry on holiday festivities, despite the tragic events of Sandy. She thanked Frank Russo Jr. for his immense kindness, stating that the school even switched the date of their Christmas show so children would not miss out on the party.

“This is a wonderful thing that [Russo] didn’t have to do, but he did it from the heart, and the children were so excited,” said Andersen.

Other volunteers who made this event possible were Archbishop Molloy High School Student Volunteers, Consolidated Bus Transit, Inc., Flowers by Brian, Danielle Michaels of Adrenaline Entertainment, Nick the Balloonatic, Magician Lou Johnson, Jack Lasala of Satisfaction Guaranteed DJs, Nicky Guida of 2+2 DJs, Steven Retas of Classie Sounds, Artie D’Alessio, Dan Drennan, Robert Castellano, Scott Nastro, Julian Nardulli of Express It Video, Susan McVea, Party City in Bayside, Mullen Advertising Agency, Lois Christie and the staff of Christie & Co. Salon * Spa, New York Hospital Queens, John and Colette Roe, the Jamaica Rotary, Dr. Mary Andrea, Benefits Advisory Group, All Car Rental Car, Rego Park Forest Hills Kiwanis, the Giving Tree Family, the New York Daily News, and Heskel and Janet Elias and American Car Wash.

– Additional reporting by Terence M. Cullen

Donations help schools return to normalcy


THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Their Christmas gift came in the form of a check.

Councilmember James Sanders once again provided his district’s schools with his yearly donation of $2 million.

“We are in the midst of a series of tragedies so great that they seem to undermine the very notion of a holiday season,” said Sanders. “But in the midst of tragedy, we can still find reason for hope.”

School Districts 27 and 29 received Sanders’ donations, split up between 32 schools, equaling $50,000 for each. The funds, acquired through the council’s budget, are designated for science and technology upgrades for schools.

On Wednesday, December 19, Sanders’ chief-of-staff and hopeful predecessor, Donovan Richards, donned a Santa Claus outfit as he presented a check for $2 million at P.S./I.S. 270 in front of a crowd of students. A similar scene went on later in the day at P.S. 197, Sanders’ former elementary school.

“It’s a very, very good time [for the donation], especially for our families,” said P.S. 197 principal, Christina Villavicencil.

P.S. 197, located in Far Rockaway, was spared from structural damage during Sandy, but many students’ homes were devastated. School take-home materials were lost, much of which included books that teachers were encouraging students to read at home.

With the $50,000, Villavicencil plans to reinstate the read-at-home policy and invest much of the money in books and, if possible, electronic books.

This is the 10th year that the councilmember was able to make this donation for his district’s schools, and students are very excited for upgrades to come.

Victoria, a 2nd grader at P.S./I.S. 270, is hoping her class can get Kindle Fires, and more lap tops so she can “play math games.”

“It means even more this year,” said Richards in his Santa suit. “The schools are all getting back to a point of normalcy.”

P.S./I.S. 270 Principal Chayvonne Harper plans to use the grant to install new Smartboards in every classroom, and expand the access of technology to her students.

“We’re extremely excited to receive this grant,” she said.

Sanders hopes to keep his district’s students abreast of the latest technology, for he believes that it is vital to ensure them a good future.

“We owe it to our children, now more than ever, to follow through on our pledge to them, to help them secure a better future for themselves,” he said. “Maybe, in that, we can salvage a little bit of the holiday spirit.”

Tip line set up in an attempt to exonerate Mazoltuv Borukhova in 2007 murder of her husband


THE COURIER/File photo

A confidential tip line has been established by friends and family members hoping to free a Forest Hills woman serving life behind bars for the 2007 murder of her husband.

Former NYPD homicide detective Jay Salpeter said he was hired by supporters of Mazoltuv Borukhova to seek information that may lead to the exoneration of the former physician convicted for the shooting death of her estranged spouse, Daniel Malakov.

Borukhova and her cousin Mikhail Mallayev were sentenced life in prison without parole for murder and conspiracy in the “execution style” killing of Malakov on April 21, 2009.

“I believe she’s innocent,” said Debbie Jonas, whose daughter is friends with Borukhova. “Many of us believe very strongly that Mazoltuv didn’t have a fair trial, and the proper investigation was never done. She’s innocent. My gut instincts tell me that.”

A $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the overturning of the conviction, Jonas and Salpeter said.

“Cases like this sometimes are a result of a rush to judgment by police and prosecutors, while important information is left uninvestigated,” Salpeter said. “Tip lines have been very successful in getting people out or giving me new information. It’s led to the exonerations of a couple of people that were all convicted of murder, one being on death row.”

A motion for a new trial is being prepared by Borukhova’s appellate attorney, Nathan Dershowitz, who said the first trial was marred by “major irregularities.”

Borukhova could be retried by a different jury, a legal source said, if new evidence is found and a judge grants approval.

Malakov, 34, was shot and killed on October 28, 2007 after leaving his Queens office to take his four-year-old daughter, Michelle, to a Forest Hills playground to meet Borukhova for a custody visit. He had previously won custody of the child in a bitter court battle, and prosecutors reportedly claimed Borukhova’s motive for the murder was sole custody of the girl.

“There’s something else out there, evidence that was never looked for,” Jonas said. “Money can’t be equated with somebody’s freedom.”

Individuals with information are asked to call 718-747-4662.

Queens surfer who saved six during Sandy apparently drowns in Puerto Rico


A 23-year-old Belle Harbor man, who, using his surfboard, heroically saved six people during Sandy, died in a surfing accident in Puerto Rico yesterday, according to multiple media reports.

The body of lifeguard Dylan Smith was discovered floating near his surfboard in the waters just off of Maria’s Beach in western Puerto Rican, near Rincon on Sunday morning, police told NBC New York.

Smith was pulled from the water, but attempts to resuscitate him failed. It appears that he drowned, but the U.S. Caribbean territory’s police are investigating his death.

FDNY Chief Michael Light, a family friend who knew Smith his whole life, told the Daily News that Smith went to the popular surfing spot to “unwind” and “blow off some steam.”

“The same sport — the sport of surfing — that he used to save all those people, it’s so shocking that he perished that way,” Light also told the paper.

During the night of Sandy, Smith, along with Michael McDonnell, rescued six of their neighbors trapped on a Beach 130th Street porch as houses around them burned and flood waters surged. Using a homemade rope bridge and surfboard, the pair was able to get them to safety.

Because of their heroics, People magazine named Smith and McDonnell as two of its 2012 Heroes of the Year.

Sandy’s surge delays bike share yet again



The city’s previously stalled bike share program is again slamming on the breaks after Sandy.

The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) and bike share operator New York City Bike Share (NYCBS) announced that its hotly-anticipated Citi Bike will be postponed for a second time to May of 2013 because of damage incurred by the Superstorm.

Sandy’s surge flooded NYCBS’s facility located at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which sits along the East River and housed roughly two-thirds of the system’s equipment. According to the DOT, while portions of the equipment were not significantly damaged, including bike frames and hardware, several integral electrical components require repairs or replacing.

“DOT has worked around the clock to restore vital transportation links following the storm and that includes putting Citi Bike on the road to recovery,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “Despite the damage, New York will have the nation’s largest bike share system up and running this spring.”

The initiative was originally supposed to unveil 7,000 bicycles in March of 2013 after being delayed from the fall because of faulty equipment. The DOT said they intend to increase the number of bikes in the program to 10,000 eventually, but do not presently have a timeline on when that will occur.

According to the DOT, 5,500 bikes will be implemented at 293 stations in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Long Island City – initially slated to receive bikes in the first phase of the program – will not be included in the May 2013 debut. Western Queens cyclists can expect to see the shiny cobalt cruisers on their blocks sometime towards the end of 2013.

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, who has long been in support of the bike share program, said the delay is a major disappointment. Regardless of Long Island City’s exclusion from phase one, the councilmember said he would continue to advocate for the active neighborhood to increase its ability to be sustainable and environmentally friendly.

“I understand the Department of Transportation is doing its best to get the nation’s largest bike share program up and running but leaving Western Queens out of the mix does not seem logical when so many residents here rely on alternate transportation options,” said Van Bramer.

Initially, 10 docking stations were expected to be placed strategically to provide riders access to premier locations in LIC, including waterfront parks, the business district and LaGuardia Community College.

The delay will not impact the program’s $41 million price tag, funded privately by Citi.

Star of Queens: Jack Fried


Jack Friedw

Star of Queens: Jack Fried

President,  111th Precinct Community Council

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: The 111th Precinct Community Council is made up of neighborhood residents. As president, Jack Fried leads the Council at its regular meetings, which are held on the first Tuesday of every month. Meeting topics include giving a rundown of crime statistics, discussing local issues with the police captain and other staff members and having guests like representatives from security companies and sanitation workers speak to inform the public.

“The Precinct Council serves as intermediary between community and the precinct,” Fried said.

PERSONAL: Born and raised in Bayside, Fried also grew up in Fresh Meadows and now resides in Hollis Hills. Between his involvement with the 111th Precinct and as a member of Community Board 11, he has been active in the community for more than 35 years. He has always lived in a neighborhood within the 111th Precinct and calls it a “good and thriving community.” Currently retired, in his spare time he likes to garden and spend time with his four grandchildren.

FAVORITE MEMORY: Fried’s father, Ben, owned a hardware store on Bell Boulevard called Ben’s Hardware. Having grown up hanging around the store and working at it, Fried eventually acquired the nickname “Little Ben” from customers. To this day, many residents of the neighborhood still remember him as “Little Ben,” which Fried accepts affectionately, feeling a sense of community from the moniker.

INSPIRATION: Fried said the reason he gets involved is to better the community for himself and others and to make sure things get done, adding that he gets a sense of satisfaction out of being a part of a better community.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: A lingering sense of apathy held by some residents in the community is an obstacle Fried said he would like to eventually overcome.

In order to solve this, Fried went on to say that he has thoughts of creating a community patrol to get residents more involved in community affairs by helping to prevent crime, which has recently been on the rise in the 111th Precinct.