Douglaston teen Michael Tuffey is collecting personal care items for the Veterans Affairs Community Living Center at St. Alban’s to become an Eagle Scout, the highest rank for members of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).
Tuffey, a Life Scout in Troop 153 with 31 badges, has already collected hundreds of personal products, including body wash, shaving cream, deodorant and shampoo, for the nearly 140 male veterans living at the home. He plans to continue the drive until June 20.
“Sometimes for projects it’s refurbishing a park or a playground or a community center,” Tuffey said. “But I wanted to give back to people. I thought this was a really worthy cause because these guys have obviously done a lot and they definitely deserve to have something given back to them.”
Tuffey, 16, is a junior at Xavier High School in Manhattan and is a member of the track team and the school’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC). He was inspired to help the veterans because of his affiliation with the reserve training group. He initially approached the hospital to ask for their needs and received a list of personal care items.
To collect the donations, Tuffey set up two drop-off stations, one at Douglaston French Cleaners on Northern Boulevard at Douglaston Parkway, and another at HOME NY Real Estate at 40-60 Douglaston Parkway. He has also contacted and received donations from various organizations, including local churches, and handed out flyers on Memorial Day to spread the word about his campaign.
The project is the final step for Tuffey, who has been with the BSA since the Cub Scout level in second grade, to complete his longtime dream to become an Eagle Scout.
“It would mean a lot,” he said of the honor. “It’s a culmination of a lot of hard work and a lot of years of being involved.”
Anyone willing to donate can drop off items at the stations in Douglaston or contact Tuffey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students from the Divine Wisdom Catholic Academy School embarked on their first “Stamp Out Bullying Walkathon” on Friday in an effort to remind themselves and the community about the damaging effects of students picking on each other.
“This walk is meant to stomp out bullying,” eighth-grader Lena Vella said. “It’s meant to teach people how to take action.”
The trek from the school on Northern Boulevard to a ballpark on Cloverdale Boulevard was made by 250 students, Prinicipal Michael Laforgia and several teachers. A new student-run program in the school called the Pope Francis Society hosted the event. Once students made it to the ballpark, a selected group of kids read essays on bullying to their classmates. A group of students from Divine Wisdom’s other campus in Bayside also held a walkathon and the two converged on the ball park. Most of the students wore orange shirts, the color of their cause.
Laforgia became principal of the pre-K-8 Catholic school four years ago, and students, teachers and parents credit him with making the students more aware of bullying.
“These kids don’t walk into the school with a halo,” Laforgia said. “So we have to be very active in preventing bullying. I hope in the quiet of their day they’ll take a moment to reflect on this.”
Lena and three other classmates volunteered to write their own essays for the event. They are all part of the Pope Francis Society, which is made up of about 40 students who meet together once a week with Laforgia and teachers. Most importantly, Lena said, they’re given the task of keeping an eye out for bullying in school, acting as hall-monitors against aggressive behavior.
“I hate that so many people just watch when others are picked on,” said Laura Toscano, Lena’s classmate. “We’re trying to get people to be friendly.”
“I couldn’t breathe in the morning before we started filming,” Burke said. “Once we got into the studio, it was a totally different ball game. You’re there and doing the best you can. It was very hard; between every round I had no idea what was going to happen.”
Contestants are given $25,000 at the start of the show to bid on the right to sabotage their competition during three rounds of cooking challenges.
In the episode called “Chain of Tools,” Burke had to create her own versions of Cobb salad, enchiladas and layered cake while facing sabotages such as having to mix ingredients in a cement mixer and create her own kitchen out of items within a shopping cart.
Although Burke had received no training as a chef and never enrolled in culinary school, the Queens resident beat her competition Sunday night and took home a total of $8,600 in winnings.
“You have no idea what you can do until you have to do it,” she said.
Burke, however, did not start off as a chef. The 31-year-old graduated from Columbia Law School and, while studying and working in a city law firm, took courses at the Institute of Culinary Education. She then decided to leave the legal profession and opened her own catering company in 2013 called “TomCookery – New Comfort Cuisine & Catering.”
Since then, Burke has been cooking Caribbean and Southern-inspired food, influenced by her grandmothers, out of the Entrepreneur Space in Long Island City. TomCookery caters for any kind of party including weddings, bar mitzvahs and much more.
She said as a new business it was very important for her to take the risk of competing on the show, which she hopes will create more business and recognition for TomCookery.
“I think taking risks is super-important in general,” she said. “You shouldn’t limit yourself, just jump at every opportunity and let life decide what is going to happen.”
For those who want to catch a rerun of Burke on “Cutthroat Kitchen,” the episode will air again on April 26 at 4 p.m. and May 4 at 6 p.m.
The United War Veterans Council (UWVC) hosted the first of a series of meetings to organize the Little Neck–Douglaston Memorial Day Parade, which was in danger of being canceled this year, on Wednesday, March 19, at Community Church of Little Neck.
Since the former parade board was dissolved, the UWVC, which organizes the annual National Veterans Day Parade in Manhattan, reached out to help save the event.
The UWVC isn’t taking over the event, but just wants to help the community organize the parade, which started in 1927.
“We’re not uncomfortable by taking this leap, and we are not uncomfortable to say to you that if you want it, we could help you get it done, but we can’t do it, you have to do it and we will help you keep on track and make sure that it happens,” said Vince McGowan, president and founder of the UWVC.
About 60 residents, some of who were on the former board of the parade, packed the room at the church, full of resolve to keep the parade alive.
The UWVC just took a census from the room about saving the parade. They then talked about the committees that would be needed to organize the parade, including the Executive Division, Legal, Treasury, Parade Operations, Marketing, Public Relations, and Institutional Involvement, Dignitary, Opening and Closing Church Ceremony Committees. They also noted possible volunteers from the community.
Past parades cost about $30,000, so the UWVC believes it should cost about the same this year. The group is pledging $10,000, and former State Senator Frank Padavan donated $1,000, according to Geraldine Spinella, who was the head of the Treasury Committee of the former board of the parade. Many kinks still need to be worked out, but residents left feeling confident the parade will be back again.
“The best people in the community were in this room and they will get it done,” said Spinella, who volunteered to continue as the head of the Treasury Committee.
Anyone that wishes to volunteer should attend the next meeting on Wednesday, March 26 at 7:30 p.m. at Community Church, or visit the parade’s website or Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Springfield Gardens seventh-grader Najah Lorde more than doubled her cookie sales from last year to become the top seller in the city with 2,833 boxes.
Najah, 12, has been selling cookies since she joined the Girl Scouts in second grade, but didn’t surpass the 1,000 mark until 2013 when she sold 1,111 boxes.
That year, she was bested by Upper West Side resident Olivia Cranshaw by about 700 boxes.
Cranshaw set a goal of selling over 2,000 this year. She exceeded that number by 141, but Najah had the right ingredients for a win.
“I was running and screaming all over the house,” Najah said, describing the moment she found out she was the cookie champ.
Each Girl Scout that sells over 1,000 boxes receives all the prizes offered, including a Nintendo Wii and Sephora gift card.
“If you are the top seller you just win bragging rights,” Najah said.
“She’s very competitive, Najah’s father Donovan Lorde said. “She was very determined when the sale started.”
Najah, a member of Troop 4287, claimed she had no special strategy, but her father said she did have a plan, she just didn’t realize it.
He said she made a list of the people she wanted to call and even took his and his wife’s phones to look for potential buyers. Using her networking skills, the preteen urged her contacts to reach out to others.
The Girl Scout said she received a lot of support from family. She also sold the baked goods 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.
“When we tallied up the numbers and we saw 2,833, we were like ‘wow that is a lot of boxes,’” Donovan said.
“To a certain degree we were surprised by the number, but we weren’t surprised that she did it,” he added.
Najah is aiming for another win next year by selling at least 3,000 boxes.
Though her father is supportive of her ambitions, he admits the goal makes him somewhat “afraid.”
This Saturday, the boxes are set to arrive and they will need to figure out how to store, transport and hand out all those cookies.
“We are going to need a very big vehicle to pick up the boxes,” Donovan said.
Lead-footed drivers in the 111th Precinct will have to ease up on the gas soon or get a ticket.
The precinct plans to ramp up speeding enforcement and make sure motorists yield to pedestrians, Deputy Inspector Jason Huerta said.
The push is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Vision Zero” initiative, which aims to reduce traffic fatalities to zero within the next 10 years. De Blasio’s plan also calls for a reduction in the citywide speed limit from 30 to 25 mph and stiffer penalties on reckless taxi and livery drivers.
Speeding and failing to yield make up 70 percent of pedestrian fatalities in the city, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said.
Officers will be closely eyeing major area intersections like Northern and Bell Blvds. and Springfield Blvd. and Horace Harding Expwy., Huerta said.
The 111th Precinct covers Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck, Auburndale, Hollis Hills and Fresh Meadows. It is one of many citywide precincts to beef up traffic enforcement in order to reach the mayor’s goals.
There have been no pedestrian deaths within the precinct this year, Huerta said.
However, a 2-year-old boy was hit by a car Monday afternoon in Auburndale after he darted onto 196th St. near Northern Blvd., police said, though he is expected to recover.
“They think the child is going to pull through,” Huerta said. “Obviously, it’s a tragedy.”
“She’s going to be great,” Iannece said. “She’s a hardworking, diligent, responsible person, who has always had the best interest of the community at heart.”
Haider, a board member since 1991, was Iannece’s right-hand woman for the last five years, serving as first vice chair. She also chaired the board’s crucial East Flushing/North Bayside Zoning Committee.
“I’m delighted that I’ve been picked as chair,” Haider said, “and I will do my best.”
Iannece, who is term-limited due to the board’s bylaws, was first appointed board chair in 2002. He stepped down in 2007 due to term limits and took back the board’s helm in 2009.
Board members praised Iannece’s leadership at his final meeting on March 3.
Councilmembers Paul Vallone, Peter Koo and Mark Weprin also gave him a proclamation for his “labor of love” and countless years as a volunteer civic leader.
“He can be proud and know that his legacy of service will continue to fortify the lives of countless Queens residents for generations ahead,” the proclamation says. “He has truly distinguished himself in all of his endeavors and he has earned the enduring gratitude of all New Yorkers.”
The Queens board will bid farewell to Jerry Iannece, who is term-limited due to the board’s bylaws. An election to replace him will take place March 3.
“It was an awesome ride,” said Iannece, whose term ends March 31. “It was exciting, exhilarating. It’s been a labor of love in many ways.”
Iannece was first appointed as board chair in 2002, stepping down in 2007 due to term limits. He returned to take back the board’s helm in 2009.
Under his leadership, Community Board 11 was at the forefront of a $125 million ravine improvement project at Oakland Lake. The massive upgrade, which was more than 10 years in the making, fixed a flooding problem in Bayside Hills.
“It saved Oakland Lake, and it saved the ecosystem,” Iannece said. “It’s sort of a textbook case of how a civic can identify a problem, employ their resources and get a problem solved.”
But after a roller coaster, decade-long tenure — and multiple failed bids for political office — the civic leader plans to step down for good.
Aegea, located at the “Douglaston Corner” serves up a surprisingly good array of apps, wraps, pasta, pizza, salads, Greek specialties and some of the best burgers in town.
Owner Mike Sackos commands the counter, moving at light-speed to ensure that, even when the place is packed (which is often), the dishes are not only delicious, but also well-presented and a treat to the eye as well as the palate.
Sackos’ forebears hail from the isle of Chios, just off the coast of Turkey – hence his motto, “where the Aegean meets the Mediterranean.” This may also explain the tasty falafel and Turkish gyro listed alongside the fantastic baby lamb chops, moussaka and other Greek specialties.
Aegea features a wide selection of salads for the health conscious, including seasonal selections. The winter salad is red and green for the season – tender spinach leaves, cucumber, red onion, beets, chick peas and crumbled feta, with a creamy vinaigrette dressing.
Other salad selections include Acropolis (with walnuts and goat cheese), Aegea (with stuffed grape leaves, feta and grilled chicken), Douglaston (with shredded mozzarella, fried chicken strips and honey mustard dressing) and of course, Greek salads, all well-dressed and beautifully presented.
Having started in the restaurant business at the tender age of 16 and formerly the owner of Pete’s Pizza on Bell Boulevard, Sackos’ pie bona fides are impeccable, as are his Sicilian round pies, offered with a good selection of toppings. Those too hungry for a just a slice can also opt for the nine-inch “Pita Pizza,” in plain cheese, Greek (lots of olives and feta), Buffalo or pesto chicken varieties.
Pasta lovers can choose from several varieties of spaghetti, baked ziti, penne (whole wheat penne also available) or stuffed shells. The red sauce is piquant and fresh and dishes with red or white clam sauce, or oil and garlic also satisfy.
More than a dozen wraps will satisfy any taste, from vegetarian to tuna, turkey or Angus burger, plus the expected Mediterranean flavors, including shrimp with spinach, souvlaki or gyro filled. For those with no Hellenic inspiration, there’s even a Philly cheesesteak wrap.
Speaking of burgers, the variety of seven-ounce Angus burgers for less than $7 (deluxe for a few dollars more) is an outstanding value. The Aegea burger features American cheese with grilled onions, peppers and mushrooms is juicy and delicious. Soups and sides are also first rate.
If you have room for dessert, the Greek pastry offerings are large, authentic and wonderful.
Mike added a mirror-image double-G to the logo, “Because ‘Aegea’ is a palindrome,” a word that spells correctly forward or backward. Any way you look at it, it’s a place for good food at a great price. Yiasou!
Aegea Gyros and Pizza
242-05 Northern Blvd., Douglaston
Open 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. every day
Closed Christmas, Thanksgiving Day
Cards accepted for dine in, take out
Free local delivery, cash orders only
Extended delivery for catering orders
Limited on street parking
Q-12 bus, LIRR Douglaston station
One by one, each student marched his way up to the front of the room to receive certificates of completion, each with a sense of accomplishment and hopefulness. One by one, each member of the cohort recounting stories of the past couple of weeks that gave them a second chance.
Unlike some traditional programs that lack strong ties to industry, workforce development programs often accelerate job creation because workers acquire precisely the kind of skills businesses need to expand. Today, examples like those of the Green Jobs Training Program include sustainable landscape design and maintenance, waste management, and other similar green practices.
More recently, the Robin Hood Foundation provided funding to create a workforce development program run by AAFE and One Flushing to recruit and assist those ready to enter the workforce. It is a welcome partnership that will enhance the growth and success of our local Flushing community.
Beyond that New York needs to implement creative ways to retain the talent we have. This year, I sponsored legislation that was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo making New York a national leader in workforce development and job training. I have also introduced legislation supported by Comptroller-elect Scott Stringer that would continue our economic growth and create quality jobs by investing in our engineering workforce. The financial aid program for engineering students who commit to staying in the city for five years after graduation is a smart investment to bolster an innovation economy and prepare our workforce for the 21st century.
This year’s budget also focused on workforce development and new industries in every community. Cuomo pushed for programs including innovative “Hot Spot” incubators, the Venture Capital Fund, and job linkage initiatives that push our state’s ideas, create new businesses, and train our workforce for jobs of tomorrow.
Queens is one of the most diverse counties in the entire country and it needs a government that can embrace and harness that to power its economic engine. We need to keep creating ways to support programs that boost our economy. The task for our next administration will be to help more of the city’s workforce develop the skills to obtain jobs—and more importantly careers—in sectors that are growing and expanding.
That is what I am determined to champion to do in next year’s legislative session—to be a champion of minority-owned and women-owned small businesses, provide resources to assist local businesses flourish, and forge better partnerships between private and public entities. There has never been a better time to support these pathways and programs that ultimately help our most critical economic resource–our workforce.
Assemblymember Nily Rozic represents New York’s 25th District, which spans the northeast portion of Queens, including the communities of Flushing, Queensboro Hill, Hillcrest, Fresh Meadows, Oakland Gardens, Bayside, and Douglaston.
The city’s School Construction Authority (SCA) is looking for more than an acre of Queens land to build a new high school, The Courier has learned.
The SCA has allocated funds for the future institution, poised to alleviate Queens high school congestion, but is still scouring the borough for a site slightly larger than an acre to build it on, according to SCA Director of External Affairs Mary Leas.
“We’d love to find a nice, big site for a high school,” Leas said. “Over an acre would be best. It’s not easy to find a site that size. Then when we do, we really want to investigate it and see if we could make it work. An acre is a lot of property in the city.”
The SCA briefed Community District Education Council 26 (CDEC) Thursday on its proposed $12 billion capital budget for 2015 to 2019, which includes the new high school.
A Department of Education spokesperson told The Courier the city is eyeing a site in Whitestone that “has not been identified.”
Residents in the area, in September, said they saw SCA scouts surveying the vacant Whitestone Jewels Property at 150-33 6th Avenue. The six-acre site is in the midst of a foreclosure action by OneWest Bank.
State Senator Tony Avella said the location is not “viable” for a school, due to lack of infrastructure and public transportation options.
“The city would have to put in sewers and water mains. It would be a transportation nightmare for parents and students,” he said.
The authority ruled out a Little Neck school site — long suggested by the CDEC — due to its “remote” location near 58-20 Little Neck Parkway, on the border of Long Island.
“It’s very hard to site a high school in a community,” Leas said. “Just even looking at a site could cause quite a flurry of activity amongst communities that don’t want the high schools.”
The SCA’s preliminary five-year plan also includes building a 465-seat elementary school in either Oakland Gardens or Fresh Meadows.
Partial funds have been set aside for the potential elementary school, but the SCA has not found a site yet, according to Monica Gutierrez, an SCA community relations manager.
The City Council last week passed a controversial plan to build a pre-kindergarten through fifth grade school at 210-11 48th Avenue in Bayside. According to the SCA, it will likely take about three years to open. Its design process, which has not yet begun, is expected to be finalized in about a year.
The SCA gave the presentation to seek feedback from the school district that encompasses Bayside, Douglaston and Little Neck.
To suggest site locations to the city, email email@example.com.
Community Board 11 granted the East Hills Chevrolet in Douglaston permission to build a parking deck and expand its showcase to display six more new cars.
The car dealership at 240-02 Northern Boulevard, originally constructed in 1954, needed to grow in order to be “competitive in the market” and “meet new standards of Chevrolet,” according to the building’s architect, Gerald Caliendo.
“In order to keep a dealership, you have to keep up with the Joneses and accommodate the look of the building,” Caliendo said.
The small automobile showroom can currently hold two cars. An expansion to the west of the building would allow a total of eight brand new vehicles to be displayed, dealership representatives said.
“We don’t really have a history of complaints with the business or site at all,” said Joseph Sollano, chair of the board’s Douglaston Zoning Committee. “It seems that what they’re asking for is somewhat minor and understandable.”
Construction, slated to take about four to six months, will be fenced off and contained within the property, Caliendo said. Dealership officials said it will not obstruct adjacent properties or traffic.
About 20 more parking spots for employees and customers would be created with the deck, officials said.