Tag Archives: College Point

Your guide to Memorial Day parades and vigils in Queens

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

The sacrifices of American soldiers will be celebrated across Queens in the days to come at various Memorial Day parades and vigils.

Among the celebrations are the following events, scheduled to take place rain or shine:

Residents of Woodhaven will hold an early tribute to America’s fallen troops with a ceremony on Thursday, May 21, at 7:30 p.m. The vigil, sponsored by the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation, will take place at Forest Parkway Plaza, located at the corner of Jamaica Avenue and Forest Parkway.

The program includes patriotic music, a color guard, laying of wreaths and remarks from local elected officials and veterans.

College Point
The College Point Citizens for Memorial Day Inc. will begin their parade on at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 24, at the intersection of 28th Avenue and College Point Boulevard. Queens Borough President Melinda Katz is set to appear along with other local officials, and veteran Louis A. DiAgostino will be honored as the grand marshal.

Marching bands, drill teams and dance groups will all be performing at the event, and military servicemen and women will march in the festivities. The College Point Citizens for Memorial Day are accepting donations to offset parade costs. For more information contact parade chairman Rev. Adam Crabtree at 718-640-8840.

Forest Hills
The Forest Hills Memorial Day Parade hosted by the American Legion and the Forest Hills Kiwanis Club will take place on Sunday at noon. The parade starts from Metropolitan and Ascan avenues and will head westward down Metropolitan Avenue to Trotting Course Lane. From there, the parade will turn right and stop at the landmarked Remsen Cemetery between Trotting Course Lane and Alderton Street.

This year’s grand marshal will be Roland Meier, president of the West Side Tennis Club. Members of ROTC, band, and local civic and children’s organizations such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will march in the parade. Organizers of the parade will hold a ceremony at Remsen Cemetery to honor veterans.

The United Veterans and Fraternal Organizations of Maspeth will honor the men and women of the U.S. armed forces who made the ultimate sacrifice during their 31st Memorial Day Parade on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Grand marshals James Desio, retired US Army WWII veteran, and William Aronowicz, retired U.S. Marine Corp. WWII veteran, will lead the procession, beginning at Walter A. Garlinge Memorial Park, located at 72nd Street and Grand Avenue. At 2 p.m., there will be a memorial service for the deceased veterans of WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Middle Village
The St. Margaret Catholic War Veterans Post 1172 will honor those who died for the nation on Monday, May 25, with a special Mass at 9:30 a.m. at St. Margaret Church, located at the corner of Juniper Valley Road and 80th Street.

Then, at 11 a.m., post members and residents will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Middle Village Veterans Triangle, located at the corner of Gray and 77th streets near 66th Road. The ceremony will include prayers, a military salute and the playing of taps.

The Allied Veterans Memorial Committee of Ridgewood and Glendale, a committee made up of delegates from six veteran organizations, will honor the more than 1.14 million men and women of the U.S. armed forces who died in defense of the country during the 77th Memorial Day parade Monday.

At 11 a.m., the parade will begin at the Glendale War Memorial, located at Myrtle and Cooper Avenues, with a short memorial service to honor the war dead of Glendale. They will then march down Myrtle Avenue westbound to the Ridgewood War Memorial, located at Myrtle and Cypress Avenues, where there will be another short memorial service to honor the war dead of Ridgewood.

Howard Beach
The Howard Beach Memorial Day Parade will honor Vietnam War veterans, including the Howard Beach residents lost at war since the neighborhood’s founding.

There will be a memorial day Mass before the parade at Our Lady of Grace at 101st Street on Monday at 9:30 a.m. At 10:15 a.m., there will be a brief ceremony on top of Hawtree-Ramblersville Bridge and the parade will officially commence at Coleman’s Square at 11 a.m. The parade will stop at the Vietnam War Memorial, located at 99th Street and 157th Avenue and then head to the World War II Memorial at Assembly of God Church at 158-31 99th St. They will then march to St. Barnabas Church at 159-19 58th St. before marching back to Coleman Square.

The Laurelton Lions Club will present the 26th Annual Laurelton Memorial Day Parade, featuring The Queens Area Pathfinders Marching Band and The Black and Gold Marching Elite Band, on Monday starting at 9 a.m. The parade begins at Francis Lewis and Merrick boulevards, and will end at the Veterans Memorial Triangle at 225th Street and North Conduit Avenue.

Sponsors for this year’s parade include the Laurelton Lions Club, American Legion Benjamin Moore Post 1946, Garden Club of Laurelton, Federated Blocks of Laurelton and Concerned Citizens of Laurelton in Conjunction with Col. Edward O. Gourdin VFW POST 5298.

The Whitestone Memorial Day Parade will honor veterans and public servants from the community on Monday, May 25. The event will begin at noon at Whitestone Memorial Park at 149th Street and 15th Drive with a ceremony. Following the ceremony, the parade will commence and follow a rectangular route around the neighborhood back to Whitestone Memorial Park. Jim Dunn, a veteran from The American Legion in Whitestone, will serve as the grand marshal.

The parade will feature classic cars, elected officials, children from local sports leagues, and it will also celebrate the 100th anniversary of Whitestone’s Engine 295/Ladder 144 of the FDNY. For additional, information or to volunteer call Devon O’Connor, parade chairman, at 718-757-8546.

This year the St. Sebastian’s War Veterans will host the Woodside Memorial Day Parade to honor fellow veterans on Monday starting at 11 a.m. Parade participants will get together at the St. Sebastian’s School yard located at the corner of Woodside Avenue and 57th Street.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and John V. Daniels Jr. Post No 2813 in Sunnyside will host a Memorial Day event to honor veterans on Monday at 11 a.m. The event will be held at John Vincent Daniels Square, located on Roosevelt Avenue and 52nd Street. During the ceremony, a wreath will be placed at the flagpole in the middle of the park.

Little Neck/Douglaston
This year’s Little Neck/Douglaston Memorial Day Parade, scheduled to take place at 2 p.m. Monday, pays special tribute to Vietnam War veterans. Dr. Loree Sutton, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs, will serve as grand marshal of the march sponsored by the Little Neck/Douglaston Memorial Day Parade Association.

The march begins in Great Neck from the corner of Jayson Avenue and Northern Boulevard, then proceeds west on the boulevard to the yard of St. Anastasia’s Church, located near Northern Boulevard and 245th Street.

College Point to celebrate Memorial Day with 11-year-old Poppy Queen

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Feehan family

This year’s Memorial Day Parade in College Point has a pretty Poppy Queen with a patriotic heritage.

Julia Elizabeth Feehan, a fifth-grader at a local Catholic school, is a talented young performance artist who enjoys acting, singing and dancing, and both her paternal and maternal grandfathers served in the U.S. Army.

“I enjoy the spotlight sometimes so it’s nice to do that and honor the soldiers at the same time,” Feehan said.

Her paternal grandfather, William Feehan, was a veteran of the Korean War who served from 1951 to 1953. He spent his professional years after 1959 as a New York City firefighter until he lost his life as a first deputy fire commissioner responding to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

Feehan’s maternal grandfather, Bob Fetonte, served in the U.S. Army in 1961 and was honorably discharged.

Julia’s father, John, was also involved in public service, serving as a corpsman in the Army Reserve from 1999 to 2003 with Fleet Hospital in Fort Dix. He is now a chief in the FDNY.

The grand marshal of the parade will be Army veteran Louis A. Di Agostino. Di Agostino was awarded the Military Order of the Purple Heart after serving in the Korean War, and he will be leading the way for marching bands, members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the First Reformed Church, among other youth groups and service organizations.

The parade is set to start at 2 p.m. on May 24.


Historic yacht club in College Point marks 150th anniversary

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Williamsburgh Yacht Club

From relocation to wars to a massive fire, nothing has stopped the Williamsburgh Yacht Club and its love of all things boating for the last 150 years.

The third-oldest yacht club in New York State and the 11th-oldest in the country will mark another milestone in its rich history this Saturday, as members gather at the College Point institution for a sesquicentennial celebration.

As its name indicates, the Williamsburgh Yacht Club first dropped anchor in Brooklyn, established in 1865 on the Newtown Creek waterfront; it constructed its first clubhouse on the Greenpoint waterfront near Eagle Street, on what was then known as Pottery Beach.

By 1887, club members relocated away from the industrial waterfront to Queens and established a resort on Bowery Bay. Less than 10 years later, Williamsburgh Yacht found itself on the move again, this time to the area then known as North Beach.

An undated picture of the former Williamsburgh Yacht Club headquarters, which was destroyed by fire in 1988. (photo courtesy Williamsburgh Yacht Club)

The North Beach area was ultimately developed into Glen Curtis Airport (later renamed LaGuardia Airport), and the club was on the move again. In 1928, it moved to College Point next to what was then known as the Flushing Boat Club. Williamsburgh Yacht purchased Flushing Boat Club’s property at 118-08 29th Ave. and moved its headquarters there.

Despite constantly relocating on the Brooklyn and Queens waterfronts, Williamsburgh Yacht established itself in the annals of pleasure boating and yachting, according to club historian Elaine Bauer, a 23-year club member. It hosted the first Ladies Day Regatta in 1898 and was selected in 1939 as the World’s Fair’s official yacht club. The club’s sailing team also was the inaugural winner of the Sechuessele Cup in 1902.

But the club’s survival appeared in doubt in 1988, when flames destroyed the all-wooden clubhouse and deck.

Past Commodores

“The investigators never knew what started the fire,” Bauer said. “It was a two-story wood frame building standing on creosote pilings with creosote shingles.”

Over the next five years, Bauer said, the club’s members worked hard to rebuild from the shore up. The club’s new quarters opened on the College Point waterfront in September 1993 with a gala attended by more than 120 people.

Today, Bauer said, the Williamsburgh Yacht Club continues to promote pleasure boating and other safe water activities such as jet skiing. The club also plans on dispatching a team into the Captain Island Race scheduled this fall in Douglaston.

Fun at the Club 2012

“It’s a working man’s club,” Bauer said, noting that the club members “keep the heritage and history alive” and pass on membership privileges to their relatives. “All of our members really make the club happen.”

Numerous dignitaries, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, state Senator Tony Avella and City Councilman Paul Vallone, have been invited to the club’s sesquicentennial gala.



Suspect arrested for raping Northern Boulevard spa worker

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Updated Friday, March 6, 2:32 p.m.

Police have arrested a man for allegedly raping a Queens spa worker at gunpoint last month after booking an appointment at an unlicensed massage parlor.

Luis Jessup, a 37-year-old College Point resident, has been charged with rape, criminal sex act, menacing and criminal possession of a weapon in the Feb. 21 attack, authorities said.

According to police, Jessup entered the facility, located on Northern Boulevard near Marathon Parkway, at about 7:30 a.m. that day armed with what appeared to be a gun.

He had an appointment scheduled, and when he arrived he took out the weapon and raped the employee, a 42-year-old woman, on a massage table in a rear room of the spa, prosecutors said.

Jessup’s arrest follows the release of video footage last week showing the suspect at the spa the morning of the rape.

Jessup, who faces up to 25 years in prison, is being held in lieu of $50,000 bail. His next court date is March 20.


Pressure builds to expand school program in northern Queens and Whitestone

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

A push to expand programs for gifted and talented students into middle schools in a northern Queens district has the support of local elected officials and at least 500 parents who have signed petitions backing the effort.

“We’re tired of getting the run around from [Superintendent Danielle Di Mango] and the city,” said Lisa Fusco, a parent from Whitestone who is leading the charge in an appeal that will now go to Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina.

The program’s fate is decided by each school district’s superintendent. The parents who are signing the petition have children in School District 25, where the program is limited to seven elementary schools. Fusco and the other parents decided to write the letter after meetings with School District 25 Superintendent Di Mango and education officials didn’t produce any results. They expect to send the letter by the end of the week.

District 25 is bordered by Flushing Meadows Park to the west and Bayside to the east, and it encompasses Pomonok to the south up to Whitestone and College Point.

Using the force of 500 signatures, the contingent of parents will be sending a letter to Farina requesting that she support their efforts to expand the gifted and talented program into the district’s middle schools.

Elected officials representing the area have also sent letters to Farina in support of Fusco’s efforts. The list of lawmakers backing the effort includes Rep. Grace Meng, Assemblyman Ed Braunstein and Assemblyman Ron Kim.

The Department of Education didn’t return  requests for comment.

“Providing students with a challenging curriculum to compete in today’s globalized world is extremely important,” Meng wrote in a letter to Farina advocating for the program to be expanded into School District 25. “We must work together to grant all qualified students equal access to G&T programs.”

Meng pointed out that the program is in the middle schools of neighboring school districts 24 and 26. She also advocated for school district 28 to get the expansion.

The gifted and talented program is currently in district 25’s elementary schools but once students get to sixth grade, the program ends. The program is meant to provide extra services for students with a high aptitude who get bored easily in regular classes, according to the Department of Education.

“They’re dropping the ball,” Fusco said. “And I don’t know why, but hopefully our letter to the chancellor will help create Gifted and Talented in District 25.”


Residents reject plans to build mosque in Flushing

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

A proposal to build a mosque in Flushing was withdrawn this week after it came under fire from residents and members of Community Board 7 who criticized the proposal, citing violations of local zoning ordinances on parking and setbacks from neighboring properties.

But members of the Muslim congregation said that some of the opposition to their mosque on Monday night may have been fueled by outrage over the terror attacks in Paris last week by a group of violent extremists, who they insist do not reflect their religious values.

Muhammed Sheth, a member of Masjid Noor, the group that wants to build a mosque at 46-05 Parsons Blvd., said he believes that it’s a bad time to try seek public support for any project related to Islam because of the terror attack on Parisian newspaper Charlie Hebdo last week.

“The community wasn’t just rejecting this building on technical grounds. They were asking us lynching questions and Islam is being submitted to this scrutiny,” Sheth said. “It’s because a few loony people did some horrible things that people are now scared of Muslims altogether.”

Dozens of residents came to the meeting to voice their opposition to the mosque on the grounds that the application requested several waivers be made to the area’s building code laws. But some were simply unhappy about a mosque coming to the neighborhood.

“This is a very congested area,” said Grace Kelly, a Flushing resident. “Flushing Remonstrance is something we value, but this spot just doesn’t work,” she said in reference to the historic 17th-century commitment made to freedom of religion by leaders in Flushing.

Harry Coumna said the mosque should be built on the industrial part of College Point in one of the warehouses, a suggestion one board member thought was “offensive.”

“Why do you want to come to our area and do this?” Coumna said. “Do we come to your neighborhood and build stuff there? Leave our neighborhood alone.”

The proposal didn’t include any off-street parking areas, as required under zoning laws for houses of worship. Across the street from the proposed location sits St. Mary’s Nativity Church, which has a parking lot. The area is filled with an array of religious buildings.

Representatives for the mosque – Emily Simon and Jamil Coppin – asked the board to waive the zoning rules. The application called for a two-story building with a total of 2,000 square feet with a maximum of occupancy of 420 people. It also lacked side yards as required by local zoning, requiring additional waivers.

The mosque application was the first prospect hundreds of Muslims in the group had at having a consistent location for worship.

“The congregants have been forced to move from month to month. They’re looking for a permanent home,” said Simon, who is the lawyer for the group. “The community is home to many other religious houses of worship.”

The congregation, which boasts about 400 members, is made up of immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and several African countries. Since 2013, the group Masjid Noor has moved between temporary mosques, and they were hoping to establish a stable place in a part of Flushing that is home to a diverse number of places of worship.

“They were thinking all Muslims are trouble,” said Sheth, who is a member of the group. “The scrutiny to which they subjected us was very intense.”

The architect Jamil Coppin will revise the application so that all of the zoning rules will be observed.

Open houses this weekend: Forest Hills, Hunters Point, College Point

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy StreetEasy and Douglas Elliman

106-20 70th Ave., #4B Forest Hills — $434,000 

This studio condo apartment in the The Milana in Forest Hills has one bathroom and a balcony. It features a hook-up for a washer and dryer, central AC and has hardwood floors throughout. The open house is on Sunday, Jan. 11 from noon to 2 p.m. Contact brokers Aroza Sanjana and Benjamin Koptiev of Warren Lewis Sotheby’s International Realty.

519 Borden Ave. #9J, Hunters Point — $1,275,000

This unit has two bedrooms and two bathrooms in 1,083 square feet of space in The Murano in Hunters Point. It features a 145-square-foot terrace with views of Manhattan and the Queensboro Bridge. The apartment comes with a parking space and other building amenities, including a gym, community rooms, storage, central AC and a bike room. Pets are allowed in The Murano. The open house is on Sunday, Jan. 11 from noon to 1:30 p.m. Contact brokers Brittany Fox and Doron Zwickel of CORE.


122-11 6th Ave., College Point — $568,000 

This townhouse comes with five bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms on two floors. It features a large living room, a renovated kitchen, a finished basement, a yard and an outdoor patio. The open house is on Sunday, Jan. 11 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Contact broker Laura Copersino of Douglas Elliman.



Body found at College Point park

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


A body was discovered along the shoreline of a College Point park on New Year’s Day, police said.

A passerby found the body at about 11 a.m. lying on rocks close to the water inside MacNeil Park near Poppenhusen Avenue, cops said.

The unidentified body, believed to be a man in his 30s, was not badly decomposed and showed no apparent signs of trauma, according to police.

The medical examiner is determining the cause of death.



Douglaston teen is pitching for a good cause

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Michael Petze


Michael Petze is like most other 14-year-olds in that he loves baseball. For the past three years, the Douglaston resident has been playing on the CP Stars travel baseball team out of College Point, winning 24 tournaments throughout the mid-Atlantic area. However, now he is using his baseball skills to raise money for his cousin, Anthony, 24, an athlete with Down’s Syndrome.

Petze was recently invited to compete in the 9th Annual Power Showcase at the Florida Marlins Park in Miami, Fla., from Dec. 28, to Jan. 2. While the Showcase gives him an opportunity to show off his baseball skills, “it also includes a charity component,” explained Petze. The Showcase urges the players to give back to the community, and Petze decided to help his cousin participate in the local Special Olympics competition held every summer in Massachusetts, where Anthony lives.

“Anthony always puts a smile on my face,” said Petze. “He taught me to never judge a person by their looks, not to treat someone as an outcast because they are different.”

While Petze is a pitcher and a competitive hitter, Anthony runs track, plays basketball and bowls. Anthony is part of the Mid-Cape Sports Program, which, said Petze, spends $10,000 annually to provide training facilities for its athletes. He is hoping to raise the entire amount. He started his fundraising efforts “a couple of weeks ago” and has received contributions and pledges for contributions totaling to more than $2,000.

Petze hopes to raise the funds by the beginning of February as that would give him time to visit his cousin in Cape Cod. “I haven’t seen him in a long time,” he said.

Meanwhile, with 170 athletes from more than 20 countries participating in the Showcase, the event itself is a great opportunity for this Derek Jeter fan. “My parents are really happy about [receiving] the invitation and that I’d be meeting new people,” he said. “I like to be able to show people my talent in baseball.”

If you wish to support Michael Petze and his cousin Anthony, you can either make a one-time contribution, or pledge a certain amount for each home run hit or contribute per foot for the longest home run or per foot of a hit that goes over the fence. Make your checks payable to Special Olympics and write Mid-Cape Sports on the memo line.

For more information or to make a pledge, email Michael at MPetze05@gmail.com.


NYPD lieutenant’s new book shows history of tension between cops and mayors

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

New York City today is playing out a familiar scenario that pits the mayor against the NYPD rank and file in tense relations, with the roar of public demand for reform as the backdrop, said a veteran cop who has authored a history of the department.

But with the recent killings of two police officers, Whalen believes that the entrenched groups will have to come to a solution. Whalen of College Point is currently a lieutenant with the NYPD, giving him an unusual perspective from within the department.

“Cops have been getting shot in New York City since the beginning,” Whalen said, an idea illustrated in his book “The NYPD’s First Fifty Years,” due to be released next month. “But certain ones like this are more memorable than others because it impacts policy and how we do business.”

The book begins with the unification of New York City in 1897 and the creation of the modern police force, covering the first 50 years of department history.

De Blasio’s relationship with the police has always been uneasy, since his campaign promise to reform policies like stop and frisk and his response to a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer for the death of Eric Garner. The recent killings of Police Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos in Brooklyn further exposed this divide.

The NYPD’s Union President Patrick Lynch blamed de Blasio for the shooting because of his tolerance of protests across the city protesting the police.

“It’s common for mayors to have troubles and be disliked by police,” Whalen said.

But Whalen said history shows that recent events could provide an opportunity for reform. More than 80 years ago, one of the city’s most popular mayors, Fiorello LaGuardia, faced strained relations with police because of his promises of reform and a perceived lax attitude on popular unrest.

LaGuardia became mayor in 1934 and soon after being elected his notions of reform were tested when cabbies began to riot. He urged restraint when using police force against disgruntled cabbies. Before LaGuardia, police would use their batons, but the mayor now instructed the conservative Police Commissioner John O’Ryan to leave the cabbies alone, despite the commissioner’s advice that force should be used.

In the end, more than 100 cabs were destroyed and rioters injured dozens of people. The press criticized the mayor and the commissioner in the aftermath and, Whalen writes, so began an “escalating ideological battle between the mayor and the police commissioner.”

“LaGuardia is much like de Blasio,” Whalen said. “The police didn’t like LaGuardia either but in the end the mayor was able to consolidate a progressive agenda with effective policing.”

Much like LaGuardia, de Blasio is trying to be a progressive politician while keeping crime down, which is why, Whalen said, Bratton was hired.

“There’s always been this emphasis to keep the lid on it,” Whalen said. “Meaning that crime always has to stay down, no matter what. So de Blasio can talk about progressive agendas all he wants, but he still has to have firm authority through people like Bratton.”

Whalen’s book, which was co-written with his father Jon, is filled with tales of early 1900s anarchists and communists attempting to bomb various sites across the city, including Police Headquarters, which puts today’s peaceful protests in context. Whalen’s book also points out how dangerous it used to be to work for the NYPD.

Whalen believes that the Brooklyn shooting will cause many protesters to stop marching in the streets, as de Blasio has called for. It will also put the police on high alert. He cautioned against the police becoming overly sensitive when on patrol and becoming afraid.

“Police have to watch their backs, but if they’re afraid, they might make the wrong decision and then the city will really plunge into unrest,” he said.

Whalen’s book is set to be released in January 2015.


Northern Queens parents gain no traction during meeting with BP Katz over school program

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Whitestone and Flushing parents were sent back to the drawing board after meeting with Borough President Melinda Katz to discuss their desire to create a gifted and talented program for middle schools in the northern and central Queens area.

Lisa Fusco and a growing number of parents are building a case for the creation of gifted and talented programs for middle schools in their district. During a meeting with Katz and education officials on Wednesday, the parents were told that the district’s superintendent was the only one with the power to extend the program from its limited elementary school reach to middle school.

“They’re giving us the run around,” Fusco said. “We’ve spoken to [Superintendent Danielle Di Mango] before and that hasn’t gotten us anywhere. We’ve tried everything else.”

Mango declined a request for comment.

Fusco’s fourth-grade daughter is enrolled in the gifted and talented program in P.S. 79 and — unlike in many other school districts — the program does not continue into middle school within District 25, which covers most of central and northern Queens. Neighboring districts 26 and 30 provide the program to students in middle school. More than 150 parents have signed a petition to bring the program into their middle schools in places like Flushing and Whitestone.

The gifted and talented programs are meant to provide extra services for students who show academic promise and get bored easily in a traditional classroom setting. Parents must sign up their children for tests to get into the program by November, and children are tested in January and February.

“We have made some real strides engaging community leaders,” Fusco said. “And we will continue to push for the program in our communities.”



‘Shorty 140’ graffiti tagger arrested: report

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Laser Burners/Flickr Creative Commons

They got Shorty.

A graffiti artist famous among local authorities for leaving his “Shorty 140” tag on Queens overpasses has been arrested, according to a published report.

Alberto R. Rodriguez, 33, who has lived in College Point and Long Island at various times, has been charged with criminal mischief and the felony crime of making graffiti, according to Newsday.

Police eventually nabbed Rodriguez on Dec. 3 after picking him up in a DWI case and charged him with the graffiti crimes, the paper reported. They were able to catch him through surveillance and a database that logs graffiti tags throughout the city.

One of the “Shorty 140” tags that police collected, according to am New York, included the words “RIP John Gotti” along the Cross Island Parkway.

Rodriguez has long been a thorn in the side of police and community leaders, angry over his ever-present graffiti on highway overpasses. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton once fumed that seeing Shorty 140’s tag on graffiti while traveling to and from the Hamptons on weekends drove him out of his mind, according to a report in Newsday.

In addition to continuing his graffiti spree, Rodriguez has also developed a cult following as a rapper in recent years.


Whitestone and northern Queens residents push for expansion of school program

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Parents in Whitestone and Flushing are trying to give the city a new lesson plan.

Lisa Fusco, from Whitestone, and 150 parents in northern Queens signed a petition to the city Department of Eudcation demanding the creation of gifted and talented programs for the middle schools in their  district. Several of the parents are also meeting with Borough President Melinda Katz and Department of Education officials on Dec. 10 to discuss the issue.

District 25 is bordered by Flushing Meadows Park to the west and Bayside to the east, and it encompasses Pomonok to the south up to Whitestone and College Point.

The large area has six middle schools, but none of them have gifted and talented programs. For Fusco and others, that’s a problem.

“Our children are in the gifted and talented program in the elementary schools and we would like them to continue this wonderful program into middle school,” said Fusco, whose fourth-grade daughter is enrolled in the program in P.S. 79. “It would be such a shame if they had to stop this program.”

The gifted and talented programs are meant to provide extra services for students with a high aptitude who get bored easily in regular classes, according to the Department of Education. Parents must sign up their children for tests to get into the program by November, and children are tested in January and February.

While the program is usually meant for elementary schools, the group’s request isn’t unprecedented. School District 26, which runs along the border with Long Island, and District 30, Long Island City and Astoria, both have middle schools that offer the gifted and talented program.

“I don’t understand why the DOE lacks a citywide policy on [gifted and talented programs] and why it provides [gifted and talented] classes in one district and not another,” said Morris Altman, the president of the education council in District 25.

Justin Chang, from Whitestone, has two boys who are enrolled in the program at P.S. 79, and he worries about what his kids will do if there is no equivalent teaching method being used in the local middle schools.

“They are different and they need help in a different way,” Chang said. “I would just hope they consider opening the program for our district.”


Local authorities try to put an end to College Point homeless encampment

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

A team of city officials, police and advocates for the homeless swept into a makeshift encampment under a ramp to the Whitestone Expressway, relocating those taking shelter there to safer quarters and fencing off the barren lot.

The fenced off area is under the Whitestone Expressway on the border between College Point and Flushing and is popular among the homeless seeking shelter, according to Councilman Paul Vallone’s office. Police have known about the area and periodically evacuate it. Despite the fence, the homeless kept returning. But Vallone is hoping that the area will be rid of shelter seekers now that the Department of Homeless Services and Common Ground, a nonprofit organization, helped relocate the people who called the Whitestone Expressway their home.

“This combined effort by our city’s Agencies was effective in cleaning up and relocating the homeless encampment in College Point,” Vallone said. “Particularly, I applaud the DHS and Common Ground for going above and beyond to work with the chronically homeless to encourage them to relocate and seek out shelter and housing as we work to try and ensure that no one has to live outside on the streets.”

Vallone’s office estimated that there were around 30-50 people using the underpass as a shelter. Neither the city nor Common Ground returned a request for comment.


Police prepare for Black Friday shopping rush in Flushing and College Point

| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of The Shops at SkyView Center

Police are preparing for Black Friday in Flushing and College Point by beefing up police presence and posting traffic officers on busy roads, according to authorities.

While there weren’t many crimes in the area during last year’s Black Friday, police at the 109th Precinct hope that the increase in police presence will prevent the possibility of shoppers getting robbed and stores being burglarized, according Detective Kevin O’Donnell.

“We’re expecting large crowds to be coming out to Flushing and College Point and we want everyone to have a safe Black Friday,” he said.

The police will be concentrating on two areas. The first location, The Shops at SkyView Center, will be particularly important to police because the Target housed in the mall will stay open all night on Friday into Saturday. The other area is in College Point on a section of 20th Avenue lined with strip malls. Just north of Flushing, the shopping center has several strip malls next to one another. And while there is parking, traffic backups from exit 15 off the Whitestone Expressway on regular weekends.

“Traffic is going to be a mess out there but we’re hoping to keep things as smooth as possible,” O’Donnell said.

Shoppers can expect to see an increase in police beginning on Thursday afternoon, a concentrated presence that will continue into Saturday.