Tag Archives: Elmhurst

Body parts found near train tracks in Elmhurst: reports


| editorial@queenscourier.com

A homeless man uncovered plastic bags containing body parts in Elmhurst Saturday afternoon, according to published reports.

He made the discovery in an overgrown area around the LIRR tracks, the New York Post and AP reported.

The body parts included a skull, torso and leg bone, and it could not be determined yet if they belonged to a man or a woman, reports said.

The medical examiner is performing an autopsy Sunday, according to the New York Post.

 

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Op-ed: Our children win with universal pre-K


| oped@queenscourier.com

COUNCILWOMAN JULISSA FERRERAS

After months of rallying for the future of our children, our voices have finally been heard! Last week, our state legislators approved $300 million in funding for universal pre-kindergarten programs in their final budget. This is historic. We are now poised to ensure every child has access to high-quality, full-day pre-K.

The City’s plan is moving forward, and in less than six months, a new school year will begin, giving tens of thousands of our children access to full-day pre-K and thousands more middle-schoolers access to a safe, educational place to go after school.

Imagine the difference this will make for kids who will now start learning a year earlier. Imagine what it means for working parents!

As a former director of a Beacon program at P.S. 19 in Corona, it was my privilege to watch the effect of high-quality programming on young people who would otherwise be falling behind. Just as early education, including pre-K, is vital to a child’s success later in life, after-school for young adolescents is a bridge that helps them maintain momentum—or, in the case of struggling students, a way to regain lost time and get back on track. Studies show that children who participate in these programs behave better in school, do better in class and on tests, and have improved attendance records.

With this new, dedicated funding from Albany, the people who win here are parents and children. New York City is ready to move forward. We’ve been moving aggressively to put all the pieces in place to be ready for the fall.

Thanks to the work of Mayor Bill de Blasio, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and my colleagues in our city and state government, we are making history. As a new mother, I cannot tell you how excited I am about this momentous change. These are game-changing solutions that will reach every child. They’re the kind of solutions that unite communities and improve our schools.

If you live in New York City and your child is turning 4 years old in 2014, it’s time to think about applying to pre-K. Here’s what you need to know:

• Children turning 4 years old in 2014 who live in New York City are eligible to attend pre-K programs.

• Pre-K is free. You do not have to pay to attend programs offered by the NYC Department of Education.

• Programs can be half-day (2 hours and 30 minutes) or full-day (6 hours and 20 minutes). Half-day programs may take place in the morning or afternoon.

• Programs are available at public schools and community-based organizations (CBOs). There are separate application processes for public schools and CBOs.

The pre-K application period has been extended to April 23. The online application for pre-K is currently available in English and Spanish on www.schools.nyc.gov. You can also apply in person at your nearest Queens Enrollment Office, which are listed on the website. If you have any questions or need further information, please call (718) 935-2009. Our children’s future begins today.

Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras represents the 21st Council District encompassing Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Corona and Jackson Heights. She is also the Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Finance.

Star of Queens: Lorraine Sciulli, first vice president, Juniper Park Civic Association


| editorial@queenscourier.com

LoriChristmas2012

 HARVIND JAPRA

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Lorraine Sciulli is the first vice president of the volunteer group Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA) and a member of Queens Community Board 5. Sciulli is also the editor of Juniper Berry, a quarterly all-volunteer magazine of the JPCA that focuses on the history of Middle Village, Maspeth and Elmhurst and other pertinent information about the community.

BACKGROUND: “At Juniper Park Civic Association we do everything, literally everything. People come to us with problems and we help anyone we can. We have over 1500 members and we’re in charge of all of Middle Village and Maspeth.”

FAVORITE MEMORY: “My favorite memory goes way back to the late 70s when there was a problem with a parking lot. There was prostitution going on down there and Arthur Catsman was the council member at the time, and he helped me with the petition for closing down the parking lot. It was the first spark and the first beginning to when it pulled me into the whole system, where I just wanted to keep doing it.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “The biggest challenge I had to face was in the early turn of the century. We wanted to include the area of the Elmhurst into Middle Village, because it was right across the road and it would make it easier for the people of Elmhurst to identify themselves. We wanted to include the area into the 11379 zip code and it wasn’t easy. It took a lot of work and patience, but we did it.”

INSPIRATION: “I’ve never looked at anything hopelessly. Anything is possible; if you have a goal and you set out to get it you will win, and even if you don’t win, you’ll win enough to want to stay working at it. That’s what happens when people come to us at JPC — they come to us with a problem and we find tangible results. They like making a difference, and they end up staying active with us.”

 

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Ridgewood Savings to hold financial seminar, free homebuyers’ workshops


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Ridgewood Savings Bank will host a financial seminar and free homebuyers’ workshops at several branches in April and June for people who need assistance.

At the homebuyers’ workshop, bank representatives and a licensed architect will take participants through the process of buying a residence, including initial decision-making cost analysis, criteria for selecting the right home and mortgage application do’s and don’ts.

At the financial seminar, professionals will explain how to start and manage checking and savings accounts for emergencies, financials goals and retirement, among other topics.

“As a community-focused institution for more than 90 years, Ridgewood Savings Bank has an unwavering commitment to helping people achieve homeownership and financial stability,” said Peter Boger, Ridgewood Savings Bank chairman, president and chief executive officer. “These programs provide residents of the communities that we serve with vital information about purchasing a home, managing their money, and achieving their financial goals.”

Workshops
• Tuesday, April 8, 6:15-8:15 p.m. at the Ridgewood branch, 71-02 Forest Ave.
• Tuesday, April 22, 6:15-8:15 p.m. at the Astoria branch, 43-14 Ditmars Blvd.
• Tuesday, June 3, 6:15-8:15 p.m. at the Elmhurst branch, 74-25 Grand Ave.

Financial seminar
• Wednesday, May 14, 6:15-7:45 p.m. at the Astoria branch, 43-14 Ditmars Blvd.

 

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Star of Queens: Frank Toner, president, Rocky Hill Civic Association


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Frank Toner

KATELYN DI SALVO

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Frank Toner is the president of Rocky Hill Civic Association (RHCA), a volunteer organization started  more than 80 years ago. Today it continues to work and enhance the quality of life for more than 1,000 households bounded by Braddock Avenue, Union Turnpike, Stronghurst Avenue and Winchester Boulevard.

BACKGROUND: Toner was born and raised in Middletown, N.Y. His family moved to Elmhurst when he was a teenager. Toner and his wife Margaret, a Bellerose native, married in 1973 at St. Gregory The Great and settled in the neighborhood.

Toner’s interest in the RHCA was piqued when he started receiving the association’s monthly bulletin.

“I was aware that this community organization existed, and I was a little curious,” Toner said.

But it wasn’t until he was playing basketball at a local school that he decided to sit in on a RHCA meeting that was being held in the same building.

“I saw that they were really devoted in helping the community, and from there I was committed,” Toner said.

He signed up to be a block captain, and dealt with the complaints of his neighbors and the distribution of bulletins on his block. Toner was asked to be on the board after impressing the association president with volunteer work and a 95 percent collection rate on dues. When the president stepped down in 2007, Toner took his place.

GOALS: A goal Toner has for the near future involves surveying the streets for potholes and notifying the city so they can be fixed. He also intends to lobby for long-removed greenery to be restored to the median on Winchester Boulevard.

Another key focus for Toner and the RHCA is participatory budgeting, where community members vote to decide how public money is spent.

“This is something we will soon be hearing a lot about,” Toner said. He said he is excited about being a part of this project and optimistic that it will lead to more involvement from people in the community. “This allows people to get money for any project they have. They just need the vote,” Toner said.

FAVORITE MEMORY: Toner’s fondest memory is participating in a coalition with a number of other civics associations in Queens, called Eastern Queens United.

This group consists of about 10 different civic groups that come together when there is a problem in communities.

“There is power in numbers, and this is a positive thing for the community,” Toner said. One of the projects that the RHCA has worked on with the help of Eastern Queens is enforcing the zoning rights in Toner’s community.

“It took all of us working together to rezone the area, and that was a big victory for us,” Toner said.

INSPIRATION: Toner said his biggest motivation is a belief in people and the community, saying, “I’ve always felt that real change comes from the community level.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Toner’s biggest challenge is outreach. “The ethnic make up in the neighborhood has changed, and I would like to see more diversity in the group,” he said.

 

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Elmhurst Hospital celebrates opening of new Women’s Pavilion


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Elmhurst Hospital Center has opened the doors to more health care access for the women of Queens.

The hospital celebrated the grand opening of its new 17,370-square-foot outpatient healthcare facility, the Women’s Pavilion.

The $16.3 million Women’s Pavilion, located adjacent to the hospital’s main building at 78-20 41st Ave., is expected to expand the access to prenatal and complete obstetrical services for the women in the borough.

“I’m extremely thankful to call this hospital our own in our borough,” Borough President Melinda Katz said. “A women’s health care pavilion is sorely needed in this borough, we need to make sure that women are comfortable going in for health care, asking any questions they possibly have.”

The site, which is expected to start accepting patient June 1, will bring 15 percent greater capacity in patient volume and allow 5 percent annual growth in service capacity over a 5-year period, according to Chris Constantino, senior vice president of the Health and Hospital Corporation Queens Health Network.

“What this pavilion means for the women of New York City and the women of this district is priceless,” said Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras. “This space here is allowing for a safe haven, just the same type of safe haven we want to give our children.”

Some of the women’s health services offered include walk-in pregnancy testing, prenatal care, HIV counseling and testing, genetic counseling, high-risk pregnancy and postpartum services.

The new two-story facility features 18 exam rooms and two reception areas. There will also be space offered for childbirth, breastfeeding, nutrition and diabetes education classes.

“This is just another step in the journey to excellence,” former Councilwoman Helen Sears said.

 

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Queens student treated for tuberculosis as cases rise in city


| mchan@queenscourier.com

CDC/ Melissa Brower

A Hillcrest High School student recently exposed to tuberculosis is receiving treatment and recovering from the potentially deadly bacterial infection, officials said.

The Health Department tested 170 students and six staff members who might have been at risk at the Queens school Tuesday as a precaution.

“Given that the person with TB is receiving treatment, there is no health risk to students or staff currently at the school,” a department spokeswoman said.

Tuberculosis cases are on the rise in the city for the first time in a decade, health officials said. They increased 1 percent from 651 in 2012 to 656 in 2013.

Most people infected were foreign-born, living in Flushing, western Queens and Sunset Park in Brooklyn, according to the Health Department.

Officials said 19 out of 100,000 people have contracted the disease in Corona, Woodside, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Maspeth and 15 out of 100,000 in Flushing.

“Many are likely infected in their country of origin and developed TB after entering the U.S.,” Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said.

Smokers and people with diabetes or HIV have a higher chance of getting tuberculosis and should be tested for the disease, Bassett said.

Tuberculosis, which usually affects the lungs, spreads from person to person through the air.

 

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Op-ed: Why I support Mayor de Blasio’s plan for universal pre-K


| oped@queenscourier.com

COUNCILWOMAN JULISSA FERRERAS

There’s been a lot of discussion recently about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan for universal pre-kindergarten in New York City. Often overlooked is that the plan would provide more than just high-quality programs for our youngest learners, it would also fund after-school programs for every interested middle schooler in New York. As chairwoman of the City Council’s Finance Committee, I support the de Blasio plan because it’s such a cost-effective way to address one of the most pressing challenges the city faces. As the former director of an after-school program, I support the plan because I know firsthand how critical after-school support can be in developing and safeguarding adolescents. It’s inspiring that both the Assembly and Senate have put forward budget proposals that meet these goals.

As you probably know, the mayor’s plan – which the Assembly also supports – would modestly raise income tax rates for New York City earners making more than $500,000 a year, from 3.9 percent to 4.4 percent for a period of five years. That’s a smaller increase than previous mayors have sought from Albany for key projects, and still would generate $530 million in new revenue for each of those years. Much of that revenue would be used to create tens of thousands of pre-K slots for 4 year olds, but $190 million would be directed to after-school programs. The Senate Majority Conference proposes funding after-school for every middle school student through the budget. Both proposals offer the funding needed to make the historic expansion of after-school a reality in New York City.

The city currently offers a little more than 45,000 after-school slots, which serve 56,300 students (not every student goes every day) in 239 schools. Fully, one in four children are left alone and unsupervised after school ends, the time of day when juvenile crime and violence are at their highest, and there are 237 public schools in which middle-school-age children don’t have access to comprehensive after-school. The funding from the de Blasio plan would allow the city to increase the number of after-school spots to 95,000—an addition of about 68,800 new slots—across 512 local schools, serving 120,000 children. The goal is for every child who’s interested to be able to participate. Programs would be free, run from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and mostly be run by local organizations experienced in working in the community.

As a former director of one such organization, I spent years running after-school at P.S. 19, a Beacon program, and it was my privilege to watch the effect of high-quality programming on young people who would otherwise be falling behind. Just as early education, including pre-K, is vital to a child’s success later in life, after-school for young adolescents is a bridge that helps them maintain momentum—or, in the case of struggling students, a way to regain lost time and get back on track. Studies show that children who participate in these programs behave better in school, do better in class and on tests, and have improved attendance records. After-school programs also help kids identify subjects and disciplines they enjoy and in which they can excel.

The expansion of after-school programming under the de Blasio plan would be a win for everyone. Far more children would have access to programs that would help cultivate their interests and improve their performance in school, all while ensuring they’re under supervision and avoiding the kinds of trouble that can derail a promising young life. The Legislature must work with the governor to ensure that the funding needed for expanded after-school and universal pre-K is part of the State’s final budget.

Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras represents the 21st Council District encompassing Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Corona and Jackson Heights. She is also the Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Finance.

Sunnyside, Elmhurst buildings sell for $50M


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

A Manhattan management group has sold four of its Queens buildings for $50 million, according to The Real Deal.

Urban American sold the multi-family properties in Sunnyside and Elmhurst at 43-31 45th Street, 41-96 Gleane Street, 87-40 Elmhurst Avenue and 87-42 Elmhurst Avenue to Great Neck-based firm Benedict Realty Group (BRG), The Real Deal reported.

BRG already owns about 1,800 units nearby, according to the website.

The publication previously reported Urban American had signed an agreement to sell five multi-family buildings in Far Rockaway for $52 million to E&M Associates.

 

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Op-ed: Why we need Mayor de Blasio’s pre-k plan


| oped@queenscourier.com

COUNCILMEMBER DANIEL DROMM

As chair of the NYC Council Education Committee, it is a priority of mine to see Mayor Bill de Blasio’s universal pre-kindergarten plan enacted. The only viable way to ensure that our children get this extra year of education is to create a tax on the city’s most wealthy residents to help fund it.

Before teaching fourth grade for 25 years, I directed a preschool in Harlem. I saw firsthand how an extra year of socializing and learning helped set up these young learners of all social and ethnic backgrounds for a more productive educational career. Study after study has shown that quality pre-k works.

Pre-kindergarten isn’t just for the children.  It also lends a helping hand to their parents, especially single parents. At the first Education Committee hearing that I chaired on February 12, I heard from parents about how pre-kindergarten combined with after school care allows them to work a full day. Without pre-k, working mothers and fathers have to scramble to find someone to care for their children and often times have to scrape the bottom of their bank accounts to pay for childcare.

I believe it is not too much to ask of those who are making $500,000 or more a year to fund the program with a small tax increase that equals the price of a cup of latte from Starbucks every day. I totally disagree with those who say these wealthy residents may leave the city. New York City is the greatest city in the world and everybody wants to be here. Wealthy residents won’t leave just for the price of a cup of coffee. A tax on the wealthy is the right path.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan to fund a statewide program without a designated tax has its pitfalls. Former Education Committee Chair Robert Jackson walked 150 miles to Albany to shine light on the unequitable amount of education funding NYC receives and won a court judgment for city schools. A decade later, more than $4 billion of that money has never made it to our public schools. That’s why we need a dedicated tax – a lockbox – to fund this program.

Pre-kindergarten is a win-win plan for everyone. It gives all children a better start with a chance at a better future. It gives parents the support they deserve to further contribute to the city’s vibrant economy.  And, most importantly, it provides New Yorkers with a bright future.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm is chair of the NYC Council Education Committee. He was elected to the New York City Council in 2009 and represents District 25 (Jackson Heights & Elmhurst).

 

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John Messer ‘seriously considering’ another State Senate run


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

John Messer is mulling over another State Senate run, he told The Courier.

“I am dedicated to this community, which is why I have been driven towards public service and am seriously considering a run for New York State Senate,” he said.

It would be the Oakland Gardens attorney’s third try at defeating incumbent State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, who has held the seat for nearly 15 years.

Most recently, Messer lost a contentious two-way Democratic primary to Stavisky in 2012. 

The heated race was waged principally on negative campaign attacks. Stavisky won 58 percent of the vote.

But Messer said he has not lost momentum since then.

“I believe now, more than ever, that this is a community I want to represent,” said the 43-year-old small business owner. “If anything, it’s a stronger feeling.”

“There are things you to look at before you decide to run — finances, family,” Messer said. “We’ll make a decision soon.”

Mike Murphy, a Senate Democratic spokesperson, said Stavisky has been a “vocal ally” for middle class families and recalled Messer’s previous losses.

“She enjoys wide support from all corners of her diverse district and has now defeated Mr. Messer twice despite the fact that he has spent over $1 million,” Murphy said. “The voters of the district see Mr. Messer for what he is — a Republican surrogate.”

The district encompasses parts of Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Bayside, Oakland Gardens, Rego Park, Elmhurst, Forest Hills and Jackson Heights.

 

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John Bowne crushes Newtown basketball in tense game


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

John Bowne basketball added to its undefeated record after a tense game against Newtown High School, crushing the Elmhurst team by almost 20 points.

Bowne players yelled at both their opponents and teammates throughout the Tuesday night game and Newtown boys walked off the court before it was officially over, unable to stay for the defeat.

The game got a late start but Bowne (PSAL 12-0) hit the ground running with a layup in the first four seconds. It seemed the John Bowne Wildcats would stay strong, as they maintained a strong defense and the Newtown Pioneers (PSAL 5-8) fired several wild shots throughout the first quarter.

However, about halfway through the quarter, Newtown’s Leon Peprah Antwi made a three-pointer, forced a turnover after Bowne rebounded, then sunk an additional shot for a five-point play.

Bowne responded slowly and Newtown’s offense quickened. But with just a couple minutes left, Bowne forward Ethan Harris Holt stole the ball from Newtown and ran down the court, dunking the ball and getting his team back on the scoreboard.

Bowne then picked up play, ending the quarter 17-14 Bowne. The second quarter was the Wildcats’ show as they made fast, effective passes and executed shots, ending the half up 13, 43-30.

But Newtown came out swinging the second half and outscored Bowne 11-5 in the first few minutes. For the Pioneers, Peprah Antwi and Noah Patterson remained leaders on the court, sinking the majority of shots. But the streak ended after Holt caught a down-the-court pass and made an easy layup.

Bowne’s persistence in rebounds also paid off, and the quarter ended at 61-58 Bowne, the closest margin of the game.

Newtown started the last quarter strong and trailed Bowne by only a few points, and after a brief scoring run, Bowne got antsy. Players started yelling at each other and the game got physical. Peprah Antwi was pushed to the ground, and Bowne’s Luis Hernandez was pushed under the basket into the wall.

But Bowne proved stronger on rebounds, getting both their own and Newtown’s missed shots. About halfway through the quarter, Bowne maneuvered Newtown’s defense with ease and the score rose to 79-61 Bowne.

With 1.4 seconds left and Newtown’s morale visibly low, Patterson wrapped his arms around Karven Alcindor from John Bowne, prompting a foul shot to end the game. Patterson and Peprah Antwi didn’t stick around for the shot, and walked off the court.

 

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Queens Library space to open in Queens Center


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

Shoppers will soon be able to take a break in between stores and visit the library.

Queens Center, located at 90-15 Queens Blvd. in Elmhurst, has invited the Queens Library to open up a library space within the mall. It will be located adjacent to the food court and is expected to open in late spring.

“We are excited about bringing Queens Library to the Queens Center mall. It is an opportunity to reach even more people and familiarize them with everything Queens Library can do to enrich their lives,” said Queens Library’s Chief Operating Officer Bridget Quinn-Carey. “The library space at Queens Center mall will have books and reading material to engage people at the mall, or they can borrow and take books home. We will be hosting special programs as well.”

The library space, which will be Wi-Fi enabled, will include comfortable seating and offer a collection of popular books which people can sit down and read or borrow with their library cards. Laptops will be available to rent for use within the space and tablets may also be offered.

Free library card sign-up will be available at the location and there will be a schedule of promotional events in collaboration with other mall tenants  and programs, such as speakers, arts and crafts, kids’ educational entertainment and more. 

The space will also feature computer terminals to look up and request materials, order books  and research things to do in their neighborhoods. Full reference and referral services will be available by phone. 

 

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FBI looking for three suspects in robbery of armored truck guard in Elmhurst


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of the FBI

The FBI is looking for three men who attacked and robbed an armored truck guard on Friday at an Elmhurst bank.

After 12 p.m. on Friday, a GardaWorld armored truck arrived at the HSBC Bank at 82-57 Broadway. One of the armed guards went into the bank to make a regularly scheduled deposit pick-up and as he was leaving the three suspects attacked him at gunpoint inside the ATM lobby, according to the FBI.

The suspects may have used a .45 semi-automatic handgun during the robbery and as they fled they sprayed the guard with mace, according to the FBI.

The three men then fled on foot with cash from the guard and may have driven in a navy blue or black Ford Explorer described by witnesses as “dirty from the winter weather and missing a front license plate,” the FBI said.

The men are described as either Asian or Hispanic and were dressed in heavy winter clothes.

The FBI has released surveillance photos of the suspects and together with the NYPD is asking for the public’s help in identifying and finding the three armed men. GardaWorld is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the capture, arrest, and conviction of those responsible and the recovery of the stolen money. 

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at (212) 384-1000. Tipsters may remain anonymous. The suspects should be considered armed and extremely dangerous.

 

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Victims’ families, pols gather to support Vision Zero


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Many teary eyes were focused on “Vision Zero” during recent rallies in Queens.

Supporters of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s call to reduce traffic fatalities to nil gathered Sunday at a candle light vigil on the corner of Wyckoff and Myrtle Avenues in Ridgewood, where 23-year-old Ella Bandes was struck and killed by a city bus a year ago.

Politicians, advocacy groups, friends and families of victims called for safer streets and more responsible drivers during the event, which paid tribute to Bandes and many others.

“What we’ve been through in the past year is such a nightmare,” said Judy Kottick, Bandes’ mother. “Losing your child is the worst thing that could happen to anyone. We just don’t want anyone else to go through this.”

There have been nearly 20 auto-accident related fatalities in the city since the start of 2014.

People at the rally wanted drivers to be more aware of pedestrians and avoid breaking traffic laws. They also asked for support for Assemblymember Dan O’Donnell’s bill, which would lower the NYC speed limit to 20 mph from 30 mph, except where the City Council determines a different speed is appropriate.

Before the candle light vigil, supporters of “Vision Zero” rallied on Grand Avenue and 69th Place in Maspeth in honor of Angela Hurtado, who was killed at the intersection when a driver with a suspended license struck her on Jan. 18.

Transportation advocacy group Make Queens Safer called for support for State Senator Michael Gianaris’s bill, which would charge drivers who continue to drive without a valid license and are in an accident that causes serious injury or death with vehicular assault. It would be a class E felony, punishable by up to four years in prison.

“The people we are talking about have had their licenses suspended because they’re already known to be bad drivers, and the faster and easily we could make it for law enforcement to take them off the street, the better,” Gianaris said.

 

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