Tag Archives: Douglaston

Flushing contractor busted in home improvement scam


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

File Photo

A Flushing contractor has been charged with scamming $10,000 in down payments from Queens homeowners for work he never performed, according to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

Alfred Lakas, 57, allegedly took money from three homeowners for air-conditioning and other work to be done at their residences which he failed to do, and did not return any of the money. Lakas, who operates Al’s Heating on 172nd Street in Flushing, is also being charged with misrepresenting himself as being licensed to do the work, although he is not.

Lakas was arraigned on Tuesday before Queens Criminal Court Judge John Zoll on ten counts, charging him with grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and scheme to defraud, among other offenses.

He was ordered to be held on $5,000 bail and will return to court on Sept. 15. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison.

According to Brown, Lakas is accused of misrepresenting himself as a licensed professional to perform air-conditioning, heating and other contracting work from February 2012 to June 2015. His complaining victims are three homeowners respectively from South Ozone Park, Douglaston-Little Neck and Kew Gardens.

Brown said consumers should be cautious when hiring a home improvement contractor, and that cases like this one are a pervasive problem.

“Defective or incomplete home improvement repairs are among the top consumer complaints my office receives,” the district attorney said. “To avoid being a victim of a home repair scheme, consumers should request and check a contractor’s references and check with the proper city agencies to ensure that he is licensed — and not just take his word for it.”

The District Attorney’s office is urging anyone who may have been a victim of this alleged scheme to call the Queens District Attorney’s Economic Crimes Bureau at 718-286-6673.

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Retired NYPD captain to launch bid for open City Council seat as Republican


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook/ Joseph Concannon

When he first campaigned for City Council two years ago, retired NYPD Capt. Joseph Concannon ran on the Reform Party line and was trounced at the polls on Election Day by the incumbent, Councilman Mark Weprin.

Now that Weprin is out of the City Council and in with the Cuomo administration, Concannon is going for the now-vacant 23rd Council District seat again, but this time as a Republican.

Concannon is scheduled to formally announce his campaign on Monday, alongside Queens GOP leaders and supporters in front of the 105th Precinct stationhouse in Queens Village.

“Over the past few weeks and months, my close friends and family have been encouraging me to take my zeal for public service and community activism to the next level,” Concannon said in a press release issued Thursday. “Many of my friends as well as the people I meet every day express their dismay with the current leadership in the City Council, our mayor and the direction this city is headed in as a whole.”

While five Democrats are seeking the party’s nomination in the September primary, the Republicans appear to be unifying early around Concannon. Sources with the Queens GOP indicated earlier this week that he is the only Republican seeking the seat.

More evidence of GOP unity was noted in Concannon’s press release, which listed Queens GOP Chairman Bob Turner, Councilman Eric Ulrich — the lone Queens Republican in the city legislature — and Queens Conservative Party Chairman Tom Long as guests scheduled to attend the campaign launch.

In August 2013, Concannon launched a challenge to then-Councilman Weprin after the City Council passed into law the Community Safety Act, two bills bringing greater oversight to the NYPD and aiming to end “bias-based profiling.” Concannon opposed the act, claiming the regulations would impede police officers in their service, and received the support of numerous unions representing members of the NYPD.

Even so, Weprin was re-elected in November with 84 percent of the vote in the district covering all or parts of Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens and Queens Village.

Since then, Concannon has remained politically active in holding rallies calling for public support of the NYPD, most recently following the murders of Police Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in Brooklyn last December, and P.O. Brian Moore in Queens Village in May.

“Not since the violence and division this city faced decades ago have people felt so disconnected from their government,” Concannon said in Thursday’s press release. “I am running to restore some respect and common sense to our local government, the kind of common sense that is embarrassingly lacking in the NYC Council.”

Concannon added that he plans “to spend the next few weeks and months earning the right to be their voice and champion.”

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Mark Weprin’s former City Council seat won’t be filled until November


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Jeff Xie

Mark Weprin officially left the City Council on Sunday, June 14 — apparently three days too late for a non-partisan special election to fill his seat.

Mayor Bill de Blasio proclaimed on Monday that the vacancy will be filled at the Nov. 3 general election, and that the political parties will nominate candidates for the election in the Sept. 10 primary.

According to a spokesperson for the city Board of Elections, a non-partisan special election cannot occur if the vacancy occurs between 60 and 90 days of the scheduled September primary. Had Weprin resigned before June 11, the mayor would have been obligated to call a non-partisan election.

Weprin had announced in May he would step down from the City Council to join the Cuomo administration as deputy secretary for legislative affairs. At the time, he said he would leave within two weeks, but ultimately delayed his departure.

Following the traditional election format now leads to a competitive Democratic primary among previously announced candidates including former Assemblyman Barry Grodenchik; Rebecca Lynch, former assistant commissioner with the New York City Community Affairs Unit; Celia Dosamantes, former aide to Assemblyman David Weprin and Rep. Grace Meng; attorney Ali Najmi; and former City Council candidate Bob Friedrich.

Whoever wins the Democratic nomination will face the Republican nominee in the general election. Sources close to the Queens County GOP identified retired NYPD Capt. Joe Concannon as a probable candidate.

Once the general election winner is certified, he or she will be sworn into office immediately and will fill out the remainder of Weprin’s term, which expires in 2017.

Regardless of the outcome, the 23rd Council District — which includes Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens and Queens Village — will be without a voice in the City Council through November. Constituent services are continuing to function from the district office, and staff members are forwarding and following up on any complaints or service requests received.

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Photos: Queens honors and remembers soldiers with Memorial Day parades


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy Dominick Totino Photography/Gallery by Robert Pozarycki, Anthony Giudice, Liam La Guerre

Nearly a dozen Memorial Day parades were held in Queens over the weekend as the borough paid tribute to military men and women who protect the freedoms residents enjoy today.

Mayor Bill de Blasio marched in the Little Neck/Douglaston Memorial Day Parade, which began at 2 p.m. on Northern Boulevard and Jayson Avenue, alongside U.S. Representative Grace Meng, Borough President Melinda Katz, Public Advocate Letitia James, Councilmen Paul Vallone and Mark Weprin and Assemblyman Ed Braunstein.

Retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Loree Sutton, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs, served as the parade’s grand marshal. Sutton hailed Memorial Day as a sacred time.

“It is a day that we come together to commemorate and remember and to think about all that we share in this great country and to remind ourselves that the cost and price of freedom is never free,” Sutton said. “That we are so blessed to be in the land of the free because of the brave.”

Parades were held in Woodside/Sunnyside, Whitestone, Laurelton, Howard Beach, Glendale/Ridgewood, Maspeth, Middle Village, Forest Hills, College Point and Woodhaven.

New military recruits, veterans in vintage cars, fire fighters, police officers, JROTC members, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and marching bands participated in the borough’s parades while parents and children donned red, white and blue and waved the stars and stripes from sidewalks.

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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:

Woodhaven
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.

Maspeth
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.

Glendale/Ridgewood
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.

Laurelton
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.

Whitestone
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.

Woodside/Sunnyside
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.

Douglaston native killed in Amtrak derailment


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield

A 47-year-old real estate executive, formerly from Douglaston, has been identified as one of the eight victims of Tuesday night’s Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia.

Laura Finamore, a senior account director at Cushman & Wakefield, grew up in Douglaston and graduated from Benjamin Cardozo High School and George Washington University. She was living in Manhattan immediately prior to her death.

Finamore joined Cushman & Wakefield in 2008 and according to her family was known among her peers as “someone who would go above and beyond for her clients, to always exceed their expectations.”

“Laura’s smile could light up a room and her infectious laughter will be remembered by many for years to come. She was always there when you needed her — with a hug, encouraging words or a pat on the back,” her family said in a statement.

Finamore is survived by her parents Cynthia and Richard, three brothers, Michael, Paul and Peter, sisters-in-law, nephews and nieces.

“Laura was an incredibly loving and giving person, touching many people each and every day through her generous spirit, thoughtfulness and compassion for others,” her family said. “She will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her.”

Funeral services for Finamore will be at Fairchild Sons Inc. in Manhasset, New York. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in her name.

The National Transportation Safety Board confirmed Wednesday that Amtrak train 188 was traveling at more than 100 mph, double the speed, as it was entering a sharp curve before derailing. Before entering the curve, the speed limit is reportedly 70 mph.

In addition to the eight people who died in the accident, more than 200 people were injured, including the conductor and engineer.

Another one of the victims was 20-year-old Justin Zemser, a naval midshipman, who was on leave and heading home to visit his family in Rockaway.

An investigation is still ongoing to determine the cause of the derailment.

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Councilman Weprin to leave seat for Cuomo administration


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/file photo

Updated Tuesday, May 12, 12:35 p.m.

Councilman Mark Weprin gave his two weeks’ notice to the people of his district Monday, as he announced his departure from the City Council to take a job with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Weprin, 53, who has served in the 23rd Council District seat since 2010, is poised to become Cuomo’s deputy secretary of legislative affairs. He didn’t set a specific date when he would leave office, but in a statement, Weprin indicated his resignation would take effect “within the next two weeks.”

Prior to his City Council election, Weprin served for 15 years in the state Assembly, holding the seat previously held by his late father, former Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin. Mark Weprin was elected to the City Council seat in 2009 to succeed his brother, David, who made an unsuccessful run for City Comptroller.

David Weprin then won a special election in 2010 for his brother’s and father’s former Assembly seat.

“It has been an honor to represent eastern Queens as an elected official for 21 years,” Mark Weprin said in a statement Monday morning. “It has been my privilege to serve the people and families of my neighborhood. I am proud to have helped the communities I have represented to continue to be wonderful places to live, work and raise a family.”

At the start of his second City Council term, Mark Weprin was elected in January 2014 as chair of the City Council’s Queens delegation. He was also named chair of the Zoning and Franchises Committee and serves on the Land Use, Education, Economic Development, Oversight and Investigations, and Technology committees.

As deputy secretary for legislative affairs, Mark Weprin will reportedly serve as a liaison between Cuomo and leaders of the Assembly and state Senate on various matters.

“I have known Governor Cuomo for most of my life, and he is a leader of incredible talent,” Weprin added. “I look forward to this next step in my public career.”

Once the councilman’s resignation takes effect, the mayor must call for a non-partisan special election to be held within 60 days. Each candidate must secure their own party line; the established political parties cannot nominate a candidate of their own, but they may make an endorsement.

The 23rd Council District includes all or parts of Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Hollis Hills, Hollis Park Gardens, Holliswood, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens and Queens Village.

As for who may replace Weprin in the City Council, one contender has already emerged — former Assemblyman and Deputy Queens Borough President Barry Grodenchik. He confirmed his interest in running for the seat in a phone interview with The Courier on Tuesday.

Other potential contenders, as reported in the New York Observer, include Dominic Panakal, chief-of-staff to Councilman Rory Lancman; local attorney Ali Najmi; civic activist and former City Council candidate Bob Friedrich; and former City Council and Assembly candidate Steve Behar.

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Politicians allocating more than $700K to expand Little Neck’s Udalls Cove


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Eco-friendly advocates may see more green for the park known as Udalls Cove.

Councilman Paul Vallone, Borough President Melinda Katz and state Sen. Tony Avella are allocating a combined $710,000 toward acquiring more land for the 30-acre inlet of Little Neck Bay, which has marshes and wetlands inhabited by various wildlife and plants.

The money will allow the city to purchase and add to the park the “Callender Property,” which is a vacant 11,800-square-foot site near Sandhill Road that borders the park, at the request of the nonprofit Udalls Cove Preservation Committee (UCPC).

“This will preserve the future and expand the area [of the park],” Vallone said. “We don’t have many spaces left like that.”

A house was on the property until 2006, when it was demolished. Recently the site hit the market for sale and members of the  UCPC, which has been advocating to protect the wetlands since 1969, has been hoping to purchase it out of fear that a buyer will want to redevelop it.

Potential developers of the site may try to build a large home, meaning it would tower over the park, and debris and materials from the construction could flow into the wetlands, potentially harming the environment, said Walter Mugdan, president of the UCPC.

“If those properties were ever allowed to be developed, it will waste all the money the city has put into Udalls Cove,” Mugdan said. “Suddenly the park would be ruined. It would destroy the ecosystem.”

A map of part of Udalls Cove, showing the “Callendar Property” outlined in red.

A map of part of Udalls Cove, showing the “Callender Property” outlined in red.

A variety of wildlife inhabits Udalls Cove, including egrets, herons, ducks, geese, swans, raccoons, foxes, osprey, many kinds of fish, frogs and turtles.

Since officially recognizing Udalls Cove as a park in 1972, the city has acquired private lots around it and expanded it. The Parks Department currently has identified about a dozen other parcels that it wants to buy from private owners. Together it would take a few million dollars, according to Mugdan, so they have been focusing on buying some at a time.

Vallone and Katz are allocating $250,000 each, and Avella will allocate $210,000. The UCPC and another neighborhood organization has collected about $45,000 to help purchase some more parcels. Mugdan said the asking price for the “Callender Property” is $575,000, so they should have enough.

Besides the potential of harm from construction, Mugdan said that since the home was torn down nature has reclaimed the land, and plants and animals now call it home. They want to preserve the area that way.

“In urban areas, preserving the wildlife space that we have should be among our top priorities as elected officials,” Avella said. “Udalls Cove is home to several species of plants and animals that need our help to ensure that their habitats are not disturbed.”

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More honorees named for Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day march


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade committee

Keeping with this year’s theme of honoring the sacrifice of Vietnam War veterans, organizers of the annual Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade have added five men who fought in the decade-long conflict to its slate of honorees at this May’s march.

Back in March, the organizers announced Dr. Loree Sutton, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs, would serve as the parade’s grand marshal. The committee will also honor:

  • Developer Carl Mattone as its man of the year;
  • Television chef Lydia Bastanich as its woman of the year; and
  • Local veteran Jerry Villbig with its community service award.

As announced last week, John Rowan will serve as honorary grand marshal of the parade. A Queens resident, he is a founding member of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 32 and a five-term president of the national Vietnam Veterans of America.

During the conflict, Rowan served with the Air Force as a linguist with the Strategic Air Command, gathering intelligence on North Vietnamese missile defenses.

Four other local Vietnam veterans were tapped as parade marshals: Joseph Graham an active member of numerous veterans groups including the American Legion Edward McKee Post 131 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4787, both in Whitestone; Pat Gualtieri of Queens, executive producer of the United War Veterans Council and an active member of the Samaritan Village Veterans Program; Robert McGarry of Little Neck, an active member of the Little Neck-American Legion Post 103; and Richard Weinberg of Hollis Hills Terrace, a longtime member and treasurer of American Legion Post 103.

Also named as a parade marshal was Korean War veteran Sebastian D’Agostino of Bayside Hills, who– in addition to his activities at American Legion Post 103– serves as caretaker of the World War II Memorial on Bell Boulevard in Bayside Hills.

Toro

Pat Toro

Finally, the committee will induct the late Pat Toro, former president of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 32, into its Legion of the Fallen during an interfaith service prior to the May 25 parade. Toro died last July of blood cancer.

Click here for more information about the parade.

photovisi-download (10)

From top left, clockwise: The committee will honor Carl Mattone as its man of the year; Dr. Loree Sutton will serve as the parade’s grand marshal; Lydia Bastanich will be honored as woman of the year; and Jerry Villbig will be honored with the community service award.

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Msgr. Nicholas Sivillo, longtime Middle Village church pastor, dies


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/File photo

Catholics in Middle Village are mourning the loss of Msgr. Nicholas Sivillo, the former longtime pastor of Our Lady of Hope church, who died Friday night at the age of 76.

Sivillo, who was ordained a priest in May 1964, served as Our Lady of Hope’s pastor from 1988 to 2009. He gained a tremendous following among parishioners for his involvement in various activities in both the church and school.

Prior to arriving at Our Lady of Hope, Sivillo served at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Ozone Park and St. Francis of Assisi Church in Long Island City. He was also active in the Diocese of Brooklyn Catholic Education Office, the Family Life and Pre-Cana programs, and, for more than 25 years, served as NYPD Housing Bureau chaplain.

Following his retirement in 2009, Sivillo served in residence at St. Margaret Church, also in Middle Village, and at Brooklyn’s Holy Spirit Church. He died Friday while under care at the Bishop Mugavero Residence at the Immaculate Conception Center in Douglaston.

A wake for Sivillo will be held Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m., and Monday from 2 to 5 p.m. at Hillebrand Funeral Home, located at 63-17 Woodhaven Blvd. in Rego Park. Our Lady of Hope, located at 61-27 Eliot Ave., will hold a vigil Mass for the late pastor on Monday at 7:30 p.m. and a Mass of Christian Burial on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m.

Following Tuesday’s Mass, Sivillo will be interred at St. John Cemetery.

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Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day march to honor Vietnam vets


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Vietnam War veterans and the city’s top veterans’ advocate will be recognized in a special way during the 85th Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade.

Regarded as the largest Memorial Day march in the country, the parade will feature as many as a dozen bands including the West Point marching band from the U.S. Military Academy. This year’s march will place additional emphasis on Vietnam War veterans, as this year marks the 50th anniversary of American involvement in the conflict. More than 58,200 American soldiers died in the decade-long war.

“We felt it was long past time to specially honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice there and those who bear the memory of their fallen brothers and sisters,” said Douglas Montgomery, who co-chairs the Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade Association.

Leading this year’s march as grand marshal will be Dr. Loree Sutton, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs, who also is a retired Army brigadier general. Sutton served as the command surgeon for the Multinational Force in Iraq and was previously deployed to Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait and Egypt. She earned various military honors including the Bronze Star Medal, the Presidential Service Badge (White House Fellow) and the Legion of Merit.

The association will also honor Douglaston resident Carl F. Mattone, president of Mattone Group LLC, as its man of the year. Along with developing numerous large-scale projects throughout Queens, Mattone contributes to his alma mater, Holy Cross High School, and various charitable organizations including the Queens Library Foundation, the Italian Charities of America, the Order of Sons of Italy, the American Cancer Society, the Queens Museum of Art and the Reading is Fundamental (RIF) program at College Point’s P.S. 129.

Lidia Bastianich, the Emmy-winning host of her own PBS cooking show and Douglas Manor resident, will also be recognized as the association’s woman of the year. Bastianich opened her first restaurant in Forest Hills, and over the years expanded her culinary empire across the country. Like Mattone, she is active in a host of charitable causes, providing support to the Bowery Mission, St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital, the Global Orphan Project, the Italian American Committee on Education and the United Nations Development Fund for Women.

The association will also recognize Jerry Vilbig with its community service award. Vilbig served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean War and is presently vice commander of American Legion Post 103 in Douglaston, which sponsored the first Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade. He is an active member of the Udall’s Cove Preservation Society board of directors.

Scheduled to take place rain or shine, the march steps off at 2 p.m. on May 25 in Great Neck from the corner of Northern Boulevard and Jayson Avenue. Participants will head west along Northern Boulevard to the yard of St. Anastasia’s Church, located near Northern Boulevard and 245th Street.

Click here for more details.

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Springfield Gardens Girl Scout is city’s top cookie seller for second year


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of DeAnne Lorde

She truly is the queen of cookie sales.

Springfield Gardens eighth-grader Najah Lorde is once again the top Girl Scout cookie seller in New York City with 1,816 boxes.

Last year, the now-13-year-old more than doubled her sales from the previous year, earning the cookie crown for the first time.

Najah was already aiming for another win shortly after the first one.

But when she found out she was the number one seller for a second time — beating out 10-year-old Brooklyn resident Danielle Bioh, who sold 1,782 boxes, and Manhattan’s Madeleine Noveck, an 8-year-old Brownie who sold 1,728 boxes — the news came as a shock.

Photo courtesy of Girl Scouts of the USA

Photo courtesy of Girl Scouts of the USA

“I was really busy during the Girl Scout cookie season so I didn’t get to sell as much as last year,” she said. “I was grateful and thankful that I was still able to be the top Girl Scout cookie seller.”

Najah’s mother, DeAnne Lorde, was also surprised Najah took the top spot after selling 2,833 boxes the previous year. Unlike last cookie selling season, she said her daughter was preoccupied with high school prep, including exams and applications, while keeping up with her grades.

“She didn’t have the time to put in the amount of effort that she really wanted to,” she said.

But Najah, using both new and old strategies, still sold an impressive amount of the sweet treats.

The Troop 4287 member again used the networking skills normally seen in a much older person, taking contacts from her parents’ phones and asking her customers to reach out to others.

“My favorite part [of selling] is learning all the skills like time management, organization and keeping track of money,” Najah said.

During the selling period — from the second week of December to late January — she sold cookies at her school, Divine Wisdom Catholic Academy in Douglaston; her church, the Greater Allen Cathedral of New York; and her parents’ workplace, SUNY Downstate Medical Center.

IMG_0467[1]

Najah Lorde surrounded by boxes of cookies in the U-Haul truck her family had to rent to pick up her cookies after she became the top seller for the first time last year. (THE COURIER/File photo)

She also decided to try a new selling method this year — social media.

Najah posted an image of her sales sheet on her father’s Facebook page as a way to find more customers.

This year was also the first time in the nearly 100-year history of the cookie program that Girl Scouts got to sell the baked goods online through their own digital stores. The three top sellers all had significantly higher-than-average digital cookie sales, according to the Girl Scouts of Greater New York. With the help of the new online sales tool, the city’s Girl Scouts sold 1,084,526 boxes this year, up from 998,580 boxes the previous year.

“The focus of the cookie program is on teaching girls leadership and business skills in a fun setting that also builds courage and character,” said Girl Scouts of Greater New York CEO Barbara Murphy-Warrington. “Setting goals and developing a sales strategy, making independent decisions, managing money, learning to communicate well with people, understanding business ethics — these are all skills our girls acquire that will serve them well throughout their lives.”

In addition to being named the number one seller, Najah, along with each Girl Scout who sold more than 1,000 boxes, received all the prizes offered, including an iPad Air.

“I’m not sure about next year. I’ll just have to wait and see what’s going to happen,” Najah said about taking the top spot for a third time in a row.

Her mother says high school could get in the way of her cookie selling, but they are ready to “follow her lead.”

“We are ready to take on whatever she is ready to take on.”

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Video: Teens rescued after becoming stranded on ice in Little Neck Bay


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video YouTube/courtesy of Mary Marino

A venture onto a frozen Douglaston bay turned dangerous on Valentine’s Day when two teenagers got stuck on the cracking ice and had to be rescued by the fire department.

Ladder Company 164 and Engine Company 313 responded to the stranded pair around 5 p.m. Saturday, when they found them near Bay and 223rd streets about 300 to 400 feet from the Little Neck Bay shoreline, fire officials said.

When they arrived, FDNY members witnessed one of the teens, believed to be a boy, fall into the icy water and be pulled out by the other person.

Mary Marino, who lives right on the bay, saw the emergency vehicles and ran out to see what was happening.

“The water started rising up and the ice started cracking,” she said.

Marino then grabbed her phone and filmed the speedy rescue.


The teens, a boy and a girl, managed to make it closer to the shore, but were still stuck on the weakening ice, she said. The video shows the first responders placing a ladder across the ice so the two could crawl across it to shore, while some rescuers were in the water in insulated suits to hold the ladder steady.

“They did an excellent job — it was fast,” Marino, said, adding that the entire rescue took about 10 to 15 minutes.

One of the teenagers was taken to Long Island Jewish Medical Center for treatment due to exposure to the water.

Marino, who has lived near the bay for 40 years, said it’s very rare for someone to get stuck on the ice, but decided to post her video of the rescue online to make sure no one else gets stranded on the body of water again.

“You can’t walk on this ice because it’s dangerous,” Marino said.

“They didn’t realize the tide gets high,” she added.

Earlier this month, the FDNY and Parks Department held a press conference on the dangers of walking on frozen waters in city parks.

“This winter we have seen incidents in Central Park, in the Bronx and [on Saturday] in Queens where, if not for the quick response and brave work of FDNY members in frigid, icy waters, New Yorkers may have lost their lives,” said FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro in a statement. “Venturing onto the ice of New York City’s rivers and waterways is dangerous. I urge all New Yorkers to stay off the ice for their safety, and for the safety of all FDNY members who respond to these emergencies.”

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Douglaston teen is pitching for a good cause


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Michael Petze

BY ASHA MAHADEVAN

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.

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Near $4 million Douglaston mansion most expensive listing in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

39-05

A nine-bedroom mansion on 234th Street was the priciest Queens home put on the market last month, The Real Deal reported.

The home, at 39-05 234th St., was listed just shy of $4 million by Laffey, according to data crunched by the real estate website.

Over in Whitestone, a home on Powells Cove Boulevard was listed by TMT Realty Group for under $3 million.

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