Tag Archives: Borough President Helen Marshall

Queens Center job fair draws 1,400


| RubenMuniz@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of the Borough President’s office

More than 1,000 eager job seekers flooded the Queens Center Mall last week.

At the mall’s third job fair on Thursday, May 17, employers like Citibank, Resorts World and the United States Tennis Association were among the 25 recruiters in attendance in search of new employees.

Borough President Helen Marshall also stopped by to socialize with recruiters and job seekers. There were more than 400 jobs available at the fair and over 1,400 job seekers attended the event in hopes of finding employment. Many said they heard about the opportunity through advertisements and social media.

Over 300 candidates are expected to be called back for a second interview, according to Dawn Simon, senior manager of marketing at the Queens Center Mall.

“It will help the economy of Queens with new job opportunities,” she said.

Police involved in Sean Bell shooting get canned


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

The-Afternoon-Roundup2

Police involved in Sean Bell shooting get canned

The cops that gunned down Sean Bell, the Queens man killed on his wedding day in a 50-shot fusillade, will be drummed out of the department, the NYPD said Friday.

Detective Gescard Isnora, who fired the shot that touched off the senseless 2006 killing, was found to have violated department guidelines by shooting his weapon while undercover. He will be fired and will not get a pension or health benefits.

Read More: The Daily News

 

College student killed by L train after drunken man attacked him and pushed him onto tracks

A LaGuardia Community College student was killed by a Brooklyn subway train Friday, after a boozed-up straphanger started a fight and the the tussle spilled onto the tracks.

JoshuaBasin, 20, was riding an eastbound L train to go to his girlfriend’s house in Long Island when a drunken man began berating him and his two friends before theBedford Ave.stop inWilliamsburg, sources and a friend said.

Read More: The New York Daily News

 

Whistleblowing NYPD sergeant had a hand in crime spike in Queens precinct: sources

A whistleblowing NYPD sergeant had a hand in the monstrous spike in crime that plagued a Queens precinct last year when his scrutiny of fellow cops’ official reports prompted them to properly classify a wave of felony complaints, law-enforcement sources said yesterday.

For doing his job, Sgt. Robert Borrelli was banished to an abysmal night shift at Central Booking in the basement of theSouth Bronxcriminal courthouse, the sources said.

Read More: The New York Post

 

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall’s daughter works at Aqueduct racino

As the gaming giant behind the Aqueduct racino pushes its lawmaker allies for a shot at full casino gambling, Genting’s hire of one employee in particular is coming under scrutiny from watchdogs.

That employee, Agnes Marshall, is the daughter of Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, an influential force inQueensDemocratic politics. Helen Marshall could be a valuable ally for Genting given its long-term ambitions, which include a convention center and the conversion of its racino to a full-fledged casino, watchdogs said.

Read More: The Daily News

 

Lawyer: Redinel Dervishaj acted in self-defense in fatal stabbing of groom-to-be Antonio Lacertosa

One day after aStaten Island groom-to-be was laid to rest, a lawyer for his accused killer claimed his client had acted in self-defense.

Redinel Dervishaj, 35, was arraigned Friday on murder charges in the stabbing of Antonio Lacertosa, 27, during a brawl following the victim’s engagement party. The reputed Albanian gangster, who was caught at a relative’s home inIllinoisthree days ago, pleaded not guilty and was ordered held without bail.

Read More: The Daily News

 

Syrian troops stormed northwestern town: activists

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian troops backed by tanks stormed a northwestern town on Saturday in the latest of a series of pushes by regime forces into rebel-held areas, but faced strong resistance from defending army defectors, activists said.

The British-Based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees said the troops entered Saraqeb from the north and were advancing amid heavy shelling.

Read More: The Daily News

NYPD detectives crack 30-year-old unsolved murder of Holocaust survivor who fled Poland

A fingerprint left on a ransacked jewelry box helped cops crack the case of a Holocaust survivor who was strangled in his Queens apartment nearly 32 years ago.
The arrest of a convicted robber for Cecil Schiff’s brutal murder stunned a former neighbor who was close to the victim’s widow, Gertrude, and lived in their Flushing building.
Read More: The Daily News

 

Obama puts Trayvon in a ‘son’ light

WASHINGTON— President Obama yesterday cast a national spotlight on the racially charged killing of unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin, telling the nation, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”

Taking a rare personal tack, Obama took on the wrenchingFloridacase during an unrelated Rose Garden ceremony — stopping unexpectedly to answer a reporter’s question about the shooting.

Read More: The New York Post

Budget may force senior centers to close


| mchan@queenscourier.com

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Budget slashes may force closure upon the Korean-American Senior Center, leaving hundreds of hungry, homebound Asian seniors in Queens without a hot meal.

The Corona-based senior center — along with five others in the borough — is up on the chopping block if Borough President Helen Marshall is not able to restore $1.6 million in discretionary funding to keep them up and running.

Marshall and the Borough Board — made up of the borough president, district council members and chairs of each of the borough’s 14 community boards — approved a $258.6 million budget priorities package on March 13.

“This priorities package, which will now be sent to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council, is meant to build our borough,” Marshall said.

Heading the top of the list is restoring funds to save the Forest Park Senior Center, the Kew Gardens Senior Center, SAGE/Queens Senior Center, Korean-American Senior Center, Bell Park Senior Center and LeFrak Senior Center, said a spokesperson for the borough president.

“We need the funding. Without it, our center would be in jeopardy, and without the center, the seniors’ lives would be very hopeless,” said Helen Ahn, director of the Korean-American Senior Center in Corona. “It really worries me.”

Ahn said her center is currently supported by the borough president’s discretionary funds, although it has already seen up to 50 percent in cuts. The Korean-American Senior Center used to receive $215,000 in funds, but now only gets about $110,000, she said.

“Our senior center is the only one — the only unique homebound program for Chinese and Korean homebound seniors in Queens. If we cannot sustain the senior center programs, we don’t have any place to prepare these meals,” said Ahn, who added that the mobile meal program reaches close to 100 homes.

The budget cuts also mean the Forest Park Senior Center will face the ax once more, after it narrowly escaped closure last year, receiving $120,000 in funding — half from the City Council and the other half from the borough president — at the last minute.

“Every year at this time, I feel like I’m Chicken Little,” said Donna Caltabiano, the center’s executive director. “If it wasn’t for the borough president and Councilmember Eric Ulrich, we wouldn’t be open this year, and we won’t be open next year if they don’t help us again. We need them even more than ever.”

Caltabiano said the center — which has been in existence since 1979 — is home to the 40 to 45 seniors who use the center daily.

“They will not go to another place. They will not. This is their home,” she said.

Ulrich said he would try and pull through for the center again this year.

“This is déjà vu all over again. Every year, we seem to be in the same predicament,” he said. “The Forest Park Senior Center does a wonderful job of providing services to the senior population in Woodhaven and Forest Park. I’ll do everything I can to fight and keep it open.”

Meanwhile, Caltabiano said she and the seniors can only cross their fingers and hope for the best.

“I’m hoping for another miracle. I’m hoping for Christmas in June,” she said.

 

Will Forest Park Senior Center close its doors for good?


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alexa Altman

Another round of budget cuts may force the Forest Park Senior Center — along with five others in the borough — to close its doors for good.

The Woodhaven-based center narrowly escaped the chopping block last year, after it received $120,000 in funding — half from the City Council and the other half from the Borough President — at the last minute.

But it faces the threat of potential closure once again this year.

“Every year at this time, I feel like I’m Chicken Little,” said Donna Caltabiano, the center’s executive director.

Marshall and the Borough Board — made up of the borough president, district council members and chairs of each of the borough’s 14 Community Boards — approved a $258.6 million budget priorities package on March 13.

“This priorities package, which will now be sent to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council, is meant to build our borough,” Marshall said.

Heading the top of the list, Marshall said, is restoring $1.6 million in discretionary funding to keep the Forest Park Senior Center, the Kew Gardens Senior Center, SAGE/Queens Senior Center, Korean-American Senior Center, Bell Park Senior Center and LeFrak Senior Center up and running.

“If it wasn’t for the borough president and Councilmember Eric Ulrich, we wouldn’t be open this year, and we won’t be open next year if they don’t help us again. We need them even more than ever,” Caltabiano said. “Last year, we really felt like it was the end. We were actually in a closed-down mode, and we already broke the news to our seniors.”

Caltabiano said the center — which has been in existence since 1979 — is home to the 40 to 45 seniors who use the facility daily.

“They will not go to another place. They will not. This is their home. Their friends are here. They even have a certain seat that they sit in every day. For the majority of them, this is their center,” she said.

To keep their home, the seniors — and Caltabiano — are prepared to fight for it once more.

While Caltabiano has personally lent the center $20,000 — until it receives Marshall’s secured funding from last year — seniors, like one who goes by the name of “Joe,” gave the center $5,000 and lent $30,000. The others also raised $11,000, thanks to Joe who matched the donations, Caltabiano said.

“That’s how much they want to keep the place running,” she said.

Ulrich said he would try and pull through for the center again this year.

“This is déjà vu all over again. Every year, we seem to be in the same predicament,” he said. “The Forest Park Senior Center does a wonderful job of providing services to the senior population in Woodhaven and Forest Park. I’ll do everything I can to fight and keep it open.”

Meanwhile, Caltabiano said she and the seniors can only cross their fingers and hope for the best.

“I’m hoping for another miracle. I’m hoping for Christmas in June,” she said.

Officials break ground on new Adult Learning Center in Rochdale Village


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo by Dominick Totino Photography

Brainy bookworms in Rochdale Village will soon have a $4.1 million new home away from home.

According to Queens Library officials, the community’s Adult Learning Center will be doubled in size to include more classroom and discussion group space, additional computers, listening stations and a new handicapped-accessible restroom.

“The expanded Adult Learning Center at Rochdale Village is a solid investment in the future,” said Borough President Helen Marshall, who provided $500,000 in funding. “When finished, it will be a practical resource for users who want to explore the programs and services it offers to enhance opportunities and career paths in a comfortable, up-to-date modern facility.”

Additional funds were allocated by Assemblymember Vivian Cook and Councilmember Ruben Wills, who joined Marshall and library officials on March 9 during the project’s groundbreaking and ceremonially kick-off.

According to library officials, the adult learning center — which is one of seven in the Queens Library system — serves hundreds of adult students every year, helping them to learn how to read, write and converse in English. The center also helps prepare students for pre-GED classes.

“The Adult Learning Center is vital to the adults in our community,” Cook said. “This expansion is great news for the residents of southeast Queens.”

The new center will be built on the vacant city-owned property adjacent to the library, officials said. Among other renovations, officials said, the roof, indoor ventilation systems and fire protection equipment will be replaced and self-service check-in technology will be installed.

Construction is expected to conclude in the fall of 2013.

Meanwhile, officials said,  will continue its normal operations, and the Adult Learning Center will hold its sessions at the Rochdale Village and Laurelton Libraries in the interim.

‘Framing’ an Institution


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

MoMA PS1 has a brand new “frame.”

Congregated in the brand new entryway at MoMA PS1, members of the art community and local officials came to celebrate the unveiling of the very vestibule in which they stood.

The new entrance “kiosk,” located on Jackson Avenue in Long Island City, is approximately 140-square-feet of artfully-designed concrete — its walls adorned with quarter-sized portholes, allowing the sun to stream through.

“[This entryway] has been long anticipated and long in the making,” said Klaus Biesenbach, director of MoMA PS1, who added that the extension of a new doorway will contribute to the re-mapping of New York City by bringing creative neighborhoods together.

Agnes Gund, Chairman of the Board at MoMA PS1, was enthusiastic about the wonderful influences incited from collaborations between the museum and various groups around Queens.

“It’s hard to do a structure like this, make it interesting but keep with the structure of the building,” said Gund.

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer also spoke at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, thanking Biesenbach for his endless, grand ideas and steadfast dedication to improving the establishment.

“This project is so important because it contributes to the neighborhood,” said Van Bramer. “I’m really glad this is happening here, at this institution, at PS1.”

Van Bramer also hinted at the possibility of a High-Line-type park, to be built above the facility sometime in the future.

Terri Osborne offered a few words on behalf of Borough President Helen Marshall, expressing the BP’s happiness in having the privilege of spending tax payer dollars on an organization such as MoMA PS1 that will benefit not only the Long Island City neighborhood, but all of Queens.

Yvonne Force-Villareal came to the ceremony to support her husband, Leo Villareal, the artist commissioned to create the light structure surrounding the entryway.

“I’ve been coming to MoMA PS1 for decades,” said Force-Villareal. “For me, this structure formalizes it in a way. Even though it’s an entrance, it’s like a frame. It gives it the attention it deserves. It’s astounding.”

Residents rally against redistricting at public hearing


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Christina Chang sat calmly in the front row of the hearing room, unshaken by the raging crowd surging behind her. In her hands she held a homemade, neon sign that read “Minority Votes Should Count.” She wore a crisp white T-shirt stenciled with the word “MinkWon.”

It means “civil rights” in Korean.

Representing her group, MinkWon, part of the Asian American Community Coalition on Redistricting and Democracy (ACCORD) — a non-partisan, pan-Asian association reflecting community interests — Chang came to stand for the strength of her neighborhood and the voice of her people.

Residents and officials crammed into a hearing at Queensborough Hall on Tuesday, February 7, combating the redistricting they feel has divided their neighborhoods and diminished their voting power. Based on population transfers noted in the 2010 Census, redistricting resulted in Queens Democrats believing the procedure was an effort by Republicans, who represent the majority in the state Senate, to pit seat holders against one another.

“Allow the public to speak first! This is a public hearing!” yelled Bob Friedrich, founder of Eastern Queens United, which advocates for maintaining unity among ethnically-diverse neighborhoods.

“This is one of the most important meetings we’ve ever had,” said Borough President Helen Marshall, quieting the rowdy audience. “Minority votes should count. We’ve got to make sure the lines are drawn properly.”

Local government officials took to the microphone to state their opinions to the audience and members of the Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR), which held the hearing.

Senator Michael Gianaris referred to the recent redistricting as “disgraceful manipulation” and a “vain attempt to deny minorities a vote.” Armed with maps of Hempstead and Westchester, Gianaris indicated areas of high minority populations and their dissection.

“[This redistricting] is more than just the fragmenting of communities. The procedure and product has been taken as borderline racism,” said Councilmember Ruben Wills.

Freidrich hopes that LATFOR will redraw district lines, reuniting ethnic communities.

If they fail to do this, Freidrich says he will consult the governor, who intends to veto the plan, according to spokesperson Matt Wing.

Borough President bestows honors


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

Besides celebrating Queens during her State of the Borough address, Borough President Helen Marshall honored a special few whose spirit and dedication have made the borough a better and safer place to live.

Marshall reserved the end of her speech to recognize a handful of residents and workers who went above and beyond the call of duty this past year and one whose dedication 70 years ago helped protect the country.

Arno Heller, a 91-year-old volunteer in Marshall’s office, emigrated from Germany shortly before World War II and served for the U.S. Army during the global conflict.  His service during that time earned him a Bronze Star, which he will receive shortly, more than a half century after serving the country.  For his service, Heller was bestowed the Declaration of Honor from Marshall.

“What I did in the Army, a lot of people did a lot more,” Heller said.  “I was just a small cog and I was glad to be able to fight for this country that gave me a home and a refuge in 1939.”

Other heroes who received the declaration from the borough president included: Firefighter Ronald Daly, a member of Rescue 4 in Woodside, who entered a raging home fire to rescue a man and his dog; Detectives Charles LoPresti and Richard Johnson, who captured the suspect in four fire bombings that took place in December; and Department of Sanitation workers Joseph Maneggio and Semi Nkozi, who while on duty saw five children and their mother on the roof of a house fire in Far Rockaway and caught each as they leapt from the burning building.

Mr. Met was also on hand to invite Maneggio and Nkozi to a Met game and give them gloves in honor of their life-saving catches.

“These acts are just a sample of the compassion and commitment you find on streets across our borough,” Marshall said.

A flourishing future for Queens parks


| editorial@queenscourier.com

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BY DOROTHY LEWANDOWSKI

Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Borough President Helen Marshall and all of our Queens elected officials, we are continuing to benefit from the largest period of park renovation and expansion since the 1930s. Over the past decade, almost half a billion dollars has been allocated for more than 600 upcoming and completed projects in Queens parks.

We work hard to listen to and include all the communities of Queens in what we do at NYC Parks, and we’d like to share with you a look back and a look ahead as the new year begins.

This past summer’s opening of Rockaway Beach brought sand, surf, and sun, but also tacos, spring rolls, smoothies, arepas and more, thanks to an international menu from a slate of new vendors.

Those looking for something a little more active than a day at the beach were able to play cricket on the new grass cricket fields at Jamaica’s Baisley Pond Park, practice their backhand at the restored Forest Park and Astoria Park tennis courts or row around Meadow Lake, thanks to the new boat launch and restored boathouse at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

And Queens kids were able to climb, run and slide into new playgrounds at Middle Village’s Juniper Valley Park and Springfield Garden’s Montbellier Park. These 21st-century playgrounds feature challenging equipment and themed designs guaranteed to entertain even the most seasoned playground-goer.

As part of the mayor’s PlaNYC program, we’re making New York a more sustainable and livable city. One of PlaNYC’s goals has been to take advantage of existing, underutilized space and improve it for additional use. Last June, we took a space that was once blighted by giant, unused gas tanks, visible from the highway, and opened Elmhurst Park – six acres of rolling hills, expansive lawns and innovative playground equipment.

Another of the initiatives under the PlaNYC program has been to improve schoolyards and open them after school hours and on weekends for public use. Last year, we opened the city’s 200th such site when we cut the ribbon on Jackson Heights’ P.S. 69. In total, 52 Queens schoolyards have already been opened, and an additional eight are currently being improved.

Queens was particularly hard hit by the 2010 tornado and last year’s many storms, so recent Queens plantings targeted Forest Hills, Rego Park, and other communities that lost trees during these storms. As you may know, the goal of MillionTreesNYC is to plant one million trees on NYC’s streets and in our parks by 2017. Last year we reached the halfway mark, planting our 500,000th tree, including more than 120,000 new trees in Queens.

I would like to thank all of our Queens partners and elected officials who have – through advocacy, special events, and funding – “adopted” Queens’ parks as their own, and made 2011’s improvements possible.

And we’re always on the lookout for new volunteers to help keep Queens’ parks clean, green and beautiful. If you want more information about volunteer opportunities visit nyc.gov/parks.

We’re working for a greener, cleaner 2012, and look forward to seeing you in the beautiful parks of Queens!

Dorothy Lewandowski is the Parks Department’s Queens Borough Commissioner.

Ground broken at Willets Point


| brennison@queenscourier.com

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After years of planning, protests and public hearings, ground was broken at Willets Point — marking the first physical step in the area’s redevelopment.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg was joined at the Thursday, December 1 ground breaking by New York City Economic Development President Seth W. Pinsky, New York City Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, Councilmembers Julissa Ferreras and Karen Koslowitz, Borough President Helen Marshall and State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky.

“The development of Willets Point and the benefits that it will provide for the entire city cannot become realities without a multimillion dollar investment in infrastructure improvements that have been needed for many years,” said Marshall.  “Expanding the city’s sewer network and increasing storm water drainage in the area will address longstanding issues and put new development on a firm foundation for the future.”

The infrastructure work is estimated to cost $50 million and will include construction of a sanitary sewer main and reconstruction of a storm sewer and outfall. This phase should be completed in 2013.  The construction will mostly occur between October and March, so as not to interfere during the baseball season with Citi Field which sits next door to Willets Point.

Bloomberg called Willets Point “New York City’s next great neighborhood.”

A plan for the redevelopment of Willets Point was announced by Bloomberg in 2007.  Since that time, the city has been able to acquire nearly 90 percent of the land.  Nine private property owners remain in the projects Phase 1 area, according to the city.

The plan for Phase 1 includes up to 680,000 square feet of retail, up to 400 units of housing — 35 percent of which will be affordable — a hotel, two acres of open space and parking.

College Point spa issue is a steamer


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Local officials are not warming up to the idea of a luxury spa in College Point.

Community Board 7 voted overwhelmingly against the project, with 25 members against and only five in favor. Borough President Helen Marshall will now review the plan before it goes to the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals and a final decision is made.

“They usually take three weeks to digest the testimony and make a decision,” said spokesperson Dan Andrews.

According to Andrews, the building request was submitted by architect and engineer H. Irving Sigman of S&I Property Management, who presented the plans at a Land Use Hearing at the borough president’s office on Thursday, November 17.

The spa would be installed in a previously existing structure, and according to Andrews, would generate two-and-a-half times more tax revenue than is currently generated in College Point. The facility, to be located at 31st Avenue and the Whitestone Expressway, would potentially have amenities such as a rooftop pool, a yoga studio, a beauty salon and food store.

Andrews alleged that the main reason many board members opposed the spa was because of the rooftop pool, which would be open from 6 a.m. to midnight.

“We are currently making some revisions to our plans,” said Sigman. “There are some changes that are required in the design, and then we’ll submit those to a public hearing.”

Sigman alleged that there was concern among board members about the soil and the foundation surrounding the potential building site. According to Sigman, they felt that the ground was too weak to support such an endeavor. Sigman also alleged that the board was concerned about the credentials of the possible builder, Kwang Park, who is new to construction but has previous business experience. The board asked about Park’s background and a resume was presented at the meeting.

Sigman believes that the spa would be good for the area, boosting business and providing for the community.

“It’s available to everyone and it’s in good proximity to residential areas. We think it will attract a lot of customers,” said Sigman.

Within the next few weeks, the borough president and the community board will review the information and the fate of the luxury spa will be determined.

Reward offered for swastika perp


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of Councilmember Daniel Dromm

The neighboring communities of Jackson Heights and Elmhurst are battling back against a string of hate crimes that recently rocked the region’s residents.

Beginning the night of November 2 and extending into the early hours of November 3, swastikas were drawn at three locations across the area — on the facades of the Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst branches of the Queens Library and on the door of the Congregation Tifereth Israel of Jackson Heights.

“A swastika should not be anywhere in public,” said Lana M., a Jackson Heights resident, who is Jewish on her mother’s side. “We need to spread peace, not hate. We want to enjoy life and we don’t want to be hated by anyone. You have to respect everyone’s religion. We have to make sure this doesn’t spread. We have to get the community together to wipe it out.”

A rally in response to the vandalisms was held on November 4, during which elected officials and local leaders spoke out against hate crimes.

“We stand here today to say no to hate,” said Councilmember Daniel Dromm. “We stand here today to say no to fear. We stand here today to say that hate and fear have no place in our community. We stand here today to say to those that committed these heinous crimes – you will be found, you will be prosecuted and you will not intimidate us. We will defeat you and your ugly ideas. We stand here today to fight back. We stand here today as Jackson Heights, a beautiful, diverse community of compassion, tolerance and understanding.”

The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is currently investigating the incidents, which are believed to be related.

Dromm announced at the rally that he has raised a $3,000 reward for anyone who provides information leading to the capture of the perpetrator, consisting of $500 contributions from Borough President Helen Marshall, Senator Jose Peralta, Assemblymember Michael DenDekker, Assemblymember Francisco Moya, Councilmember Julissa Ferreras and Councilmember Karen Koslowitz.

“I represent one of the most diverse districts in the country,” said Moya. “I take great pride in our diversity and the respect and understanding our community has for every resident’s different heritage. It is critical that we come together as a community and denounce the recent hate crimes that have occurred. We must also help our local police precinct in whatever way possible to lead to the arrest of the individuals that committed these cowardly attacks.”
Leaders urge anyone with information regarding these sincidents to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.