Tag Archives: Flushing

Holy Cross player named to All-New York City hockey first team


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy the Hart family

A star member of the Holy Cross Knights hockey squad topped the list of honorees of MSG Varsity’s 2014-15 All-New York City hockey first team.

Sean Hart, a senior defenseman from the Catholic high school in Flushing, received the honors from the online network devoted to high school sports and activities in the tri-state area. He also earned the New York City Player of the Year Award from the high school sports coverage team.

This is the third consecutive year that Hart has been named to the All-New York City hockey first team, after accomplishing the feat in his sophomore and junior years at Holy Cross.

Hart led all defensemen in the Catholic High School Hockey League (CHSHL) ‘A’ Division with 10 goals and 13 assists, for 23 points this year — one reason he was awarded this honor. His shutdown defensive play also aided him in winning the Player of the Year Award.

“It’s great to win it,” Hart said. “It is a very prestigious award for me to win, but it wasn’t just because of me, it was because of my teammates, too.”

Hart was also named to the CHSHL ‘A’ Division All-Star Second Team this year. He has previously been named to the CHSHL All-Star First Team for the 2013-2014 campaign.

Hart was named the captain of the Holy Cross hockey team this year, being one of only a few seniors on the team. Being a captain for his team has “helped me be more mature,” Hart said.

“I can help them with my four years of experience and I can help them out and get them ready for their next four years,” he added.

Hart has been playing hockey since the age of 4 and has excelled at the sport ever since. He quickly joined youth hockey leagues in Long Island and his travel team, Long Island Edge, recently returned from nationals where they finished 1-1-1.

“It was a great experience,” Hart said of making it to the nationals. “It wasn’t as good of an outcome as we wanted, but it was a good trip with that team.”

As Hart leaves his high school hockey career behind, he has started looking toward the future.

“It was a good run for high school and travel. It was a great experience,” Hart said. “To be around those groups of kids, especially being the captain and being looked at as a leader was really fun.”

“I’m trying to keep my options open at this point,” Hart said of his future. “I might be interested in playing hockey at college. I would like to keep playing as long as I can.”

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Corona, Flushing schools win DOT street safety video contest


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Videos via YouTube/NYC DOT

Hey drivers and pedestrians: Let’s be careful out there!

That’s the message students from the Corona Arts and Sciences Academy and Flushing’s P.S. 255 sent in their winning entries as part of the Department of Transportation (DOT) “We’re Walking Here” public service announcement (PSA) contest.

Students at the participating schools were tasked with developing PSA videos that promote walking and active lifestyles while also urging drivers and pedestrians alike to stay safe. The videos are part of the city’s Vision Zero initiative, which aims to increase street safety across the five boroughs.

The Corona Arts and Sciences Academy took home a $1,000 grant as the first-place winner, while P.S. 255 earned a $500 grant for finishing third. The Safe Streets Fund, a public-private partnership that promotes street safety, provided the prize money.

“In this crucial second year of Vision Zero, we are thrilled that these students are putting their creative minds behind this important safety message,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said in a statement on Tuesday. “It is never too young to begin educating peers on street safety.”

“Walking,” the Corona Academy video, is based on Pharrell Williams’ hit song, “Happy,” and was shot across Corona and in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Teacher Adriana Baiata led the production, which featured lead singers Cristian Dominquez and Jannet Palaguachi, and students Christine Avila, Christopher Carchi, Radhames Dilon, Harry Hernandez, Roselyn Hernandez, Natalie Huerta, Victor Infante, Edwin Jimbo, Aileen Palaguachi, Gagi Jean Renee, Bralin Rodriquez, Leslie Rodriquez, Sarita Roque, Vanessa Rosario, Jeremy Saladana, Elvin Sosa, Kelvin Yunga and Kelvin Zenteno.

Students proclaim “We like to walk” in the P.S. 255 hip-hop video shot in and around the Flushing school. It was directed by teacher Jenny Kim and paraprofessional Cadecia Lowe, and features students Adam Choudhry, Mohammed Hamza, Caleb Kang, Brian Ma, Malik Merlius, Aryan Minhas and Terrel Watson from Class Y40.


Schools can now pre-register to participate in next year’s “We’re Walking Here” competition by clicking here.

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Man wanted in rape of Flushing massage parlor employee


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video and photo courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for a man who they say went to a Flushing massage parlor Tuesday afternoon and raped his masseuse.

The attack happened at a parlor near Union Street and 37th Avenue at about 3:30 p.m.

1421-15 109 Pct Rape

According to authorities, the suspect, who was captured on surveillance video, entered the business and asked for a massage. Once he was inside a private room with a 40-year-old female employee, he raped the woman and fled the massage parlor.

The victim was taken to Queens Hospital Center for treatment and evaluation.

Authorities describe the suspect as a light-skinned Hispanic man who is 23 to 27 years old, 5 feet 5 inches to 5 feet 6 inches tall, 150 to 160 pounds with black hair and a beard. He was last seen wearing a gray tank top, blue jeans and black boots and carrying a duffel bag with a Nike logo.


Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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Identify this place in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

photo

Do you know where in Queens this photo was taken? Guess by commenting below! The answer will be revealed next week.

Last week’s answer to “Identify this Place”: St. Andrew Avellino Parish on 158th Street in Flushing

Church-624x416

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Queens students fold paper cranes for international project


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Gary Malone

Birds of a feather flock together.

Students from middle schools in Flushing and Elmhurst are involved in a project to exchange cranes with schoolchildren their age in the Japanese city of Hiroshima, which was hit with an atomic bomb by the U.S. in the final stage of World War II.

To help their pupils learn about the second world war, Gary Malone, an English teacher at Flushing’s J.H.S. 189, and wife Amber Malone, who teaches social studies at I.S. 5 in Elmhurst, assigned their respective classes to read historical children’s novel “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.”

Based on a true story, the fictional account tells of a young girl living in post-WWII Japan and suffering from cancer caused by the atomic bomb dropped on August 6, 1945. As she spends time in the hospital, she folds papers cranes, inspired by a Japanese legend that says that if a sick person folds 1,000 paper cranes, the gods will make her well again.

After reading the book, classes participating in the Malone’s project folded their own paper cranes to send to students in Senogawa Junior High School in Hiroshima, whose students did the same in exchange.

Students from Queens sent 1,500 cranes to Japan altogether. These will be split into two displays, with 1,000 going to the Children’s Memorial Peace Park in Hiroshima and 500 set to be hung in Senogawa Junior High School, along with 500 more folded by the Japanese middle schoolers.

Senogawa students sent 500 cranes to both participating schools, and these will be displayed along with 500 cranes folded by American students for a total of a thousand each. Malone said that his students were impressed with the precision of the cranes they received, with each creased bird folded in nearly perfect identical form.

According to Gary Malone, the idea for the project came to him and his wife after winning a grant for a trip to Japan in summer 2014 to study the events of World War II from the Japanese perspective.

He said that many of his students do not leave their own neighborhood very often, and while he wishes the class could take an actual trip to Japan, the crane exchange was a good way to connect them with children of the same age who live on the other side of the globe.

“It’s two countries [who were] once enemies, and the communication is meaningful to them,” said Gary Malone, who is currently working to arrange some form of video interaction between his students and their Japanese counterparts.

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Flushing man found dead in Forest Park; cops launch homicide probe


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter / @projwoodhaven

Updated 9:29 p.m.

BY ROBERT POZARYCKI AND CRISTABELLE TUMOLA

Detectives are investigating the death of a 23-year-old man whose body was found in Forest Park Wednesday afternoon as a homicide, police sources said.

Two park-goers found the body of Diego Piedrahita near Park Lane South and Woodhaven Boulevard at about 3:25 p.m., according to authorities. The man had suffered from what was described as blunt force trauma to the head.

Officers from the 102nd Precinct and EMS responded to the scene and pronounced Piedrahita, a resident of Booth Memorial Avenue in Flushing, deceased at the scene.

The preliminary investigation indicated that he may have been dead for at least 10 to 12 hours before his body was found, police sources said. His wallet and identification were found at the scene and there were no signs of a robbery. The victim did not have a criminal record.

The medical examiner is determining the cause of death.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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Husband and wife duo brings ‘anti-tourist’ tours to LIC


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of BQE Tours

One couple with roots in Queens is looking to provide visitors to Long Island City with a one-of-a-kind experience through the booming neighborhood.

John and Elissa Garay are the husband-and-wife team behind BQE Tours: The Brooklyn Queens Experience, a group providing walking tours in both Brooklyn and Queens that cater to what the duo calls “anti-tourists.”

Going away from taking visitors to “obvious” attractions and “spewing facts and figures,” BQE Tours introduce people to local artists, businesses and artisans and show “anti-tourists” how real New Yorkers go about their days.

BQE Tours officially launched in April and started with tours offered in DUMBO and Williamsburg in Brooklyn, but recently also started offering tours through Long Island City.

“All [the neighborhoods] have the same history. Before, [in] old New York, the waterfront wasn’t the place to go,” Elissa said. “These neighborhoods have completely reinvented themselves.”

Although they currently live in Brooklyn, both John and Elissa were born and raised in Queens, and since they have South American and Greek backgrounds they knew they had to give their native and culture-enriched borough a place on the tour list.

“We wanted to give a little love to [Queens],“ Elissa said. “I feel that this year is Queens’ year to shine. I just feel that Queens is starting to come in its own. It’s more of an authentic experience that isn’t overrun with travelers.”

During the LIC tours, which last three hours and span about 2 and a half miles, participants stop at an artist’s studio to get an understanding of what it is to be an artist in LIC before making their way to a gallery and heading to a local microbrewery. As part of the “food and drinks component” of the tour, participants then stop at the LIC Flea & Food where they interact with vendors who “speak to the experience of what Queens is so famous for.” Afterward the group ventures out to local restaurants before ending the tour on the rooftop at the Z Hotel.

Z NYC Rooftop Lounge_LIC Tour (c) BQE Tours

“That has been a great grand finale. You can’t beat the perspective from up there,” Elissa said about ending the tours at the hotel rooftop.

She also added that the goal is to keep each group at a maximum of 12 people in order to allow participants to really enjoy the experience of each tour.

“We definitely want to keep the tours intimate. We want participants to engage with locals that they typically wouldn’t,” Elissa said.

For now the tours, which take place on Sundays, are centered in Long Island City, but as time goes by the duo would like to expand tours to Astoria and Flushing. They would also like to provide more tours in LIC.

“I think Queens right now has a lot of food tours but they don’t have the cultural component we offer,” she said.

For more information or to schedule a tour, visit bqetours.com.

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Whitestone’s defunct little league program gets new life


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy Mets Sandlot Baseball League

The Mets Sandlot Baseball League, founded in the 1960s, was once an outlet for kids and young adults to continue playing past the summer months — but for almost two decades, it’s been inactive. Now, two coaches are helping to resurrect the league with a new generation of players.

In 2012, John Guarneri and Arthur Lagrega wanted to extend the Bayside Little League summer season into the fall. At that time there were no fall programs in Bayside and the fall programs from other local leagues were canceled. In response, they introduced the Whitestone, Bayside, Flushing (WBF) Baseball Program “where the players will not only play games, but also learn about the game and the proper way to play it,” Guarneri said.

By 2014, the WBF league had reached 133 registered players, enough for nine teams. The speedy growth of the program led the coaches to bring back the Mets Sandlot Baseball League.

After a successful 2014 campaign, the board members decided to start a new travel league, called New York City Elite (NYCE). Now, both the WBF Baseball Program and NYCE are incorporated under the Mets Sandlot Baseball League.

As the program keeps developing, its leaders look back to the league’s history. At its height, elite little league teams such as the Bayside Yankees, Flushing Tigers, Youth Service Bonnies, Whitestone Knights, Astoria Youth, Elmjack and Long Island Mets used to participate, and divisions ranged from 10 and up to 21 and up.

“Our vision is to improve the overall baseball talent in the Whitestone, Bayside, Flushing and surrounding areas,” Guarneri said. “We also look to give the players a positive experience that they will remember the rest of their lives and also learn many different life lessons that they will use throughout their life.”

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Flushing rejoices for new affordable residential tower


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre  

In a city where rental rates are astronomical in most areas, housing salvation came to 143 families in the form of a partnership between the legendary Flushing Macedonia AME Church and developer BRP Companies.

The two-century-old religious institution and builder — along with all the Flushing politicos — praised the completion of the nearly $50 million, 143-unit affordable housing development named Macedonia Plaza in a ceremony on Friday.

The 14-story building at 37-08 Union St. replaced a municipal parking lot that the city transferred to BRP Companies at a reduced cost. Macedonia gave unused air rights from its adjacent building for the project, maximizing the height of the affordable housing tower.

“The mission of Macedonia AME Church is to minister to the social, spiritual and physical development of all people,” said Rev. Richard McEachern, senior pastor of the church. “We are grateful to God for the opportunity to provide much needed affordable housing to this community.”


Macedonia Plaza has 161,720 square feet of space, which includes a 9,000-square-foot ground level retail space that will be occupied by grocery store Tree of Life NY.

It has numerous green features as well, including a co-generation facility, and has earned a LEED Silver ranking from the U.S. Green Building Council. The co-generation system will use natural gas to generate electricity for the commercial and common space areas.

More than 30,000 people applied to live in Macedonia Plaza when the lottery for units in the building opened about two years ago. In December residents began moving into the building and now all units are fully leased.

The apartments were reserved for people and families earning from $19,063 to $59,820 annually. The building is broken into 27 studios, and 58 one-bedrooms, 55 two-bedrooms, and two three-bedroom units.

Amenities include a bike storage area on the ground floor, a common terrace on the second floor, a party room and a laundry room.

The building’s completion closes a chapter in plans to construct over Flushing municipal parking lots to feed the ever-exploding community’s population. The other chapters include One Flushing and Flushing Commons, which will be directly behind Macedonia Plaza.

 

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Flushing’s Pomonok Houses gets new security cameras


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Installation is complete on a new security system of 30 exterior cameras installed across eight buildings in the Pomonok Housing Development in Flushing.

The security system will be used by local law enforcement, and was financed with capital funding allocated by the offices of Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz and state Senator Toby Ann Stavisky.

According to Stavisky, officials have worked for seven years to secure the funding and installation of the cameras for Pomonok Houses. Nearly $6 million in additional funding is required to outfit the entire complex with security cameras, as well as install cameras in the interiors of the building and elevators.

“Today is a major victory for the residents of Pomonok, who are now getting the high-tech security system they deserve,” said Stavisky, who added that she plans to continue to work with the Pomonok Houses, NYC Housing Authority and the NYPD for the future expansion of the security system.

A NYCHA official and a technology specialist explain how footage from the outdoor cameras will be stored and used by law enforcement to Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, Council Member Rory Lancman, Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz and Pomonok Residents Association President Monica Corbett. (Photo courtesy of the office of Toby Ann Stavisky)

A NYCHA official and a technology specialist explain how footage from the outdoor cameras will be stored and used by law enforcement to Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, Council member Rory Lancman, Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz and Pomonok Residents Association President Monica Corbett. (Photo courtesy of the office of Toby Ann Stavisky)

Simanowitz and Councilman Rory Lancman also pledged their commitment to outfit every building with the increased security measure.

“Pomonok has long been considered the jewel of public housing in New York City and we need to keep it that way,” Simanowitz said. “With the installation of these security cameras, residents will get an extra layer of protection and feel a greater sense of safety.”

An estimated 4,200 people reside at the Pomonok Houses complex, which is comprised of 35 buildings standing on nearly 52 acres in Flushing in an area bordered by 65th and 71st avenues and Parsons and Kissena boulevards.

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Attempted robbery, car chase ends after crash into Whitestone home


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Jackeline Garcia

A dramatic car chase through Queens Wednesday night ended with a getaway car slamming into a Whitestone home and two suspected robbers in handcuffs, police said.

The trouble began at about 7:45 p.m. at a cellphone store in Flushing.

According to authorities, three men entered the Verizon store at 191-30 Northern Blvd. while wearing masks and simulating a firearm, and announced they were robbing the place.

The suspects then fled without taking anything, with one escaping on foot and the other two getting away in a van.

Police were able to spot the van near the Cross Island Parkway and Willets Point Boulevard a short time later and a chase reportedly ensued. As the cops went after the suspects, the van struck two parked cars before crashing into a nearby home on Willets Point Boulevard.


One suspect, 20-year-old Xavier Oneal of Brooklyn, was arrested at the scene. The van’s other occupant, 38-year-old Andrew Taylor, also of Brooklyn, was nabbed not far from the scene at Utopia Parkway and 17th Road after fleeing on foot. Both have been charged with robbery, reckless endangerment, criminal mischief, fleeing an officer in a motor vehicle and menacing, police said.

According to the FDNY, five people were hurt as a result of the chase. Four were taken to North Shore-LIJ with minor or non-life threatening injuries. One person refused medical attention at the scene.

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Kim helps usher in consumer awareness campaign for nail salon industry


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Office of Ron Kim

Updated June 3, 1:38 p.m.

BY ANGELA MATUA

Assemblyman Ron Kim joined Gov. Andrew Cuomo in Manhattan on Friday to launch a consumer awareness campaign to improve conditions in the nail salon industry.

Kim, who represents parts of Flushing, Whitestone and Murray Hill, called for a more educational approach to reforming the industry and proposed a training program to ensure that workers receive minimum wage while learning about their rights.

“I’m proud to join Governor Cuomo in this fight and that’s why I’m sponsoring important legislation to protect New York’s workers,” Kim said. “Together with the governor, the owners and advocates, we can transform the nail salon industry and protect the thousands of workers in our community so they can obtain the proper treatment they rightfully deserve.”

The consumer awareness campaign proposes to teach consumers what to expect when they visit a nail salon. As part of the initiative, pocket cards listing the “Top Five Things to Ask When Entering Nail Salons” are being distributed statewide.

The questions include “Are workers paid at least minimum wage and overtime?”; “Is appropriate protective equipment (respirator, mask, gloves, eye protection) provided to workers and used?”; “Is there adequate ventilation (no strong odors)?”; “Is the salon business license posted in plain view?”; and “Is the Nail Salon Workers’ Bill of Rights posted in plain view?”

Kim joined public officials and owners of local nail salons earlier last month in Flushing to announce the “Healthy Nail Salon Network,” a series of proposals to create a safe working environment for nail salon workers.

Among the proposals that Kim outlined that day, raising prices for manicures and creating a code of conduct for salons were among a few solutions he suggested.

Several politicians including Mayor Bill de Blasio and Public Advocate Letitia James have taken steps to reform the industry on the state and city level. Efforts to reform city nail salons increased after a New York Times article exposed unfair wage and labor practices at many nail salons.

A spokesperson for James’ office noted Wednesday that the public advocate has been working on the issue for more than a year.

“We are calling on New Yorkers to use their power as consumers to patronize nail salons who treat employees fairly, and boycott those unscrupulous businesses who profit by exploiting their workers,” Cuomo said.

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Flushing fifth-grader dubs $2M surgical robot ‘Leonardo Jr.’


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Alina Suriel

The subject of this christening ceremony has a circuit board.

Fifth-grader Karla Barreta from Flushing’s P.S. 22 won a school-wide contest to name the newest da Vinci surgical robot at Flushing Hospital Medical Center. The final pick was selected by Flushing Hospital’s robotic surgeons and administrators, with “Leonardo Jr.,” beating out a flood of other submissions.

“I feel very proud of myself and also very excited because I’m representing my school and my class,” said Barreta.

Children from Barreta’s class were invited to enjoy a celebration with pizza donated from Trattoria 35 in Bayside, and a live demonstration of how to work the machine. Each child then got a chance to sit in the operating chair and experience what it would be like to perform surgery with the help of the $2 million robot.

“Some of the kids were so keenly absorbing every word that was being said about the robots. They’re fascinated by it,” said class teacher Jennifer Kim. “I can see some future surgeons in this class, I really can, and I think today’s experience is really going to cement that.”

The robot is used in the new robotic surgery division that opened at Flushing Hospital in October 2014. It can be useful in a wide array of different types of surgery, including general surgery, gall bladder procedures and bariatric surgery, among others.

“It’s a tremendous asset,” said Dr. Roberto Cantu Jr., who added that time with the machine is especially sought after because it is the only one of its kind owned by the medical facility. “There are certain situations in which it is the standard of care.”


According to the robot’s informational website, the da Vinci surgical system aims to enable surgeons to operate with enhanced vision, precision, dexterity and control with the use of a magnified 3-D high-definition vision system and tiny instruments that bend and rotate far greater than the human wrist. As a result, surgeons are able to operate through fewer and smaller incisions which can result in less blood loss and faster recovery times.

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First draft of Flushing express bus plan publicly revealed


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

The preliminary design for a proposed Select Bus Service (SBS) line from Flushing to Jamaica was publicly revealed for the first time Wednesday in an interactive open house at Flushing Town Hall.

“We understand that we need streets to work for bus riders, we need the streets to work for businesses, and we need the streets to work for the residents and communities, so the open house tonight is really our opportunity to share our proposal,” said Nicole Garcia, Queens Commissioner of the DOT, during the open house.

The proposal was presented in an informal open house, in which different components of the plan were printed out onto large posters and displayed on easels. Officials from the Department of Transportation (DOT) were on hand to explain each poster to community members and answer any questions, and attendees were encouraged to post their reactions onto a comment board for collection.

Event participants were largely supportive of the proposed changes, which include repavement of the general traffic lanes, as well as the installation of dedicated bus and right turn lanes alongside a curbside parking lane. Pedestrian sidewalks are also set to be made wider to accommodate dense foot traffic in the district.

“I want to see improvement for the Q44,” said Samuel Santaella, a community member who said that he thinks off-board fare collection is one of the most important upgrades to be implemented upon the arrival of SBS along the Q44 bus route connecting Flushing to the Bronx. “To kill two birds with one stone, I want to see improvements to Main Street too, on the pedestrian side.”

The DOT will meet with community boards again in June to continue the feedback process and create a finalized street design. The new SBS service is projected to be implemented in fall 2015.

Although there is widespread anticipation among commuters looking forward to improved bus service from Jamaica to Flushing and the Bronx, the creation of an SBS line was initially met with some contention from some officials and local business owners who feared the designated bus lane would cause a displacement of parking resources and additional traffic congestion for private vehicles.

But even among those who had been initially skeptical, there was a feeling of some compromise being reached.

“They really meant it when they said they wanted to engage the community and hear what the community had to say,” said Don Capalbi, president of the Queensboro Hill Flushing Civic Association and a vocal advocate for the preservation of local parking resources. “I really feel that they’re listening to the concerns of Joe Sixpack and his neighbors in our community.”

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Flushing baby with rare disorder gets surgery for new thumb


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel/Gallery courtesy of the Cohen Children's Medical Center

Who’s got two thumbs and is a happy baby? This little guy!

One-year-old Brandon Torres of Flushing is only a month into recovery after a successful surgery to create a working digit to be used in place of his right thumb. Torres was born without a thumb due to a disorder known as Duane-radial ray syndrome, which can result in abnormalities of bones in the arms and hands.

“It would be extremely difficult just to try to do anything without a thumb,” said Anderson Torres, Brandon’s father, who became visibly emotional when recounting the lifelong physical limitations that could have resulted from his son’s condition. “So for a better future for him we just went ahead and did the [procedure].”

Brandon’s parents, Yuli Ramirez and Torres, found out about his condition when hospital staff did a routine count of the boy’s hands and toes immediately after his birth following an otherwise normal pregnancy.

The boy underwent a three-hour correctional procedure at Cohen Children’s Medical Center on April 27 where his right index finger was shortened, rotated, and moved into the place of the thumb. A metal pin will hold the finger in place so a pseudo joint can form from the bone.

“It was very scary, because of course as a parent you never want anything to go wrong with your children, but we knew that this would be a great thing for him,” said Ramirez, who also has another son.

In order to better understand her youngest son’s experience with a disabled hand, she and her partner would often try to spend time with their own thumbs tied back to recreate the heightened challenges of everyday activities.

The thumb is the most single important finger in the human hand and has a specific area in the brain associated with the task of its movement. Its power is necessary as an opposing force to the other four digits used on a hand when grasping objects.

According to Dr. Nick Bastidas, the pediatric plastic surgeon who treated Brandon, patients with Duane-radial ray syndrome are too rare to statistically quantify, with only about 30 cases reported around the globe. Although the young boy will still only have four fingers and a 30 to 40 percent weakness in his new thumb, he will be able to hold and grasp objects normally after undergoing some physical therapy to perfect his use of the new digit.

Bastidas said the ease in which children like Torres can adapt and heal after extraordinary circumstances is one of the reasons he chose to specialize in pediatric plastic surgery.

“It’s the reason why I went into medicine in the first place, is to really make an impact,” Bastidas said. “Just to shape a child’s life and let him go on to live a normal happy healthy life is the most rewarding thing you can expect.”

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