Tag Archives: Forest Hills

Super-sized chocolate bunny raises money for Alzheimer research


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

bunny

SOPHIA ROSENBAUM

Aigner Chocolates is serving up something extra sweet this year for Easter.

The chocolate company based in Forest Hills has been making chocolate bunnies of all sizes for decades, but this year, its three-foot-tall, 17-pound milk chocolate bunny named Harvey will satisfy more than a few chocolate cravings.

Customers can buy raffle tickets for $1 to have a chance to win Harvey, which has a retail value of $400. All proceeds for the raffle are going to the Fisher Center for Alzheimer Research, a regional charity that puts more than 80 percent of its money toward research.

The original owners of Aigner Chocolates — John Aigner and Ester Tarp — were both diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

“It’s very close to our hearts,” said Christopher Aigner, the original owners’ grandson and current vice president. “We thought this would be a fun and festive way to raise funds and awareness for fighting this terrible disease.”

Harvey’s name plays homage to James Stewart’s invisible best friend in the 1950s classic “Harvey,” one of the Aigner family’s favorite films.

Smaller two-foot-tall chocolate bunnies named Easter Ester after Aigner’s grandmother are available in dark, milk and white chocolate. Aigner Chocolates also sells an array of other chocolatey treats including chocolate-covered marshmallow peeps, German papier-mâché eggs and marshmallow eggs.

 

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Pair sought in Forest Hills bank robbery


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Two men robbed a Forest Hills bank Friday, taking more than $1,000 before fleeing, cops said.

The theft took place about 3 p.m. at a TD Bank on 108th Street, according to police.

After the suspects walked into the branch, they allegedly approached the teller and demanded money.  One of the suspects jumped over the counter and removed money from the drawer, then both men escaped in an unknown direction with about $1,700, officials said.

Police describe the first suspect as 25 to 30 years old and about 5 feet 11 inches tall with a slim build. He was wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses, and has a beard. The second suspect is about 24 to 25 years old and 6 feet 1 inch tall with a slim build.

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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Car share service comes to Forest Hills


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Carpingo

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 

A Brooklyn-based car share company is rolling into Queens.

Carpingo, a subset of All Car Rent-a-Car, opened its second location in Queens in Forest Hills Friday, part of a plan to accelerate their business into the second most populous borough.

The company, which opened in Brooklyn in 2012, has more than 40 locations in its home borough, but officials said they’ve had their eyes on Queens for a while and are thinking of expanding here because of the wide potential for more users.

“Shared mobility is a big, big deal,” said Gladstone McFarlane, director of business development for Carpingo. “It’s something that is catching on. I know people who have owned cars, but are moving on, because they see a financial benefit or an environmental benefit.”

Registered Carpingo members can reserve cars online or from their mobile devices at any time during the day. Then they can pick up the cars from local parking garages and use membership cards to access the vehicles.

Carpingo’s Long Island City location opened last year, but since then the company has had trouble expanding in Queens while fighting rivals such as Zipcar. Now it’s moving forward cautiously with its new location.

The Forest Hills site has just two cars in the Central Parking garage on Queens Boulevard, but McFarlane said based on its performance they’ll add more cars and different makes and models.

“We’re a small company and we are trying to be the little engine that could,” McFarlane said. “Once we gauge activity then we will proceed.”

 

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Suspect swiping checks from Queens mailboxes


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

A suspect has been raiding Queens mailboxes for checks, then cashing them in for larger amounts of money, according to police.

Cops said eight thefts have taken place around Yellowstone Boulevard or 108th Street between Dec. 29 and March 22.

After the checks were removed from the mailboxes, they were each altered to a larger sum of money and deposited into ATMs, officials said. The suspect or suspects then take the cash from the accounts.

Police have released a photo of a suspect taken from a Bank of America ATM taken at 248 East Fordham Rd.

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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Katz names Queens representative on Panel for Educational Policy


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Borough President Melinda Katz

Borough President Melinda Katz has picked Deborah Dillingham of Forest Hills to serve on the city’s Panel for Educational Policy (PEP).

The 13-member board, with representatives from each borough, votes to approve school policies, many which are controversial. Each borough president appoints one member to the PEP and the mayor appoints eight.

“Through her extensive work with our city’s school system, Deborah has shown she has the knowledge, savvy and commitment necessary to be an outstanding member of the Panel for Educational Policy,” Katz said.

Dillingham was president of District 28’s Community Education Council and served on the Queens Borough President’s Parent Advisory Committee, the District 28 Leadership Team and the Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Committee.

The mom of three was also president of the Parent’s Association of P.S. 101.

“She cares deeply about our children and the schooling they receive and has a track record of making sure our kids get the best education possible,” Katz said. “I know she will be a great asset to the PEP.”

Dillingham replaces Queens Borough President Helen Marshall’s appointee, Dmytro Fedkowskyj, who battled against school closures and co-location plans under Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration.

Fedkowskyj, of Middle Village, is mulling a run against incumbent State Senator Marge Markey.

 

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NYC business owner offers to dig out your car for free


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

This season’s snow has left New Yorkers with plenty of winter woes, but one local businessman wants to help ease one.

Bill Lerner, owner of garage firm iPark, is offering to dig motorists parked within a five block radius of any of his 125 parking garages out of the snow for free.

If a driver’s car is stuck, call 917-209-2105 and someone will be dispatched to help.

“We just want to be a good neighbor to everybody in the community,” Lerner said. “I think we all need to help each other out.”

Following one of the recent storms, Lerner was walking around Manhattan, where he lives, and noticed all the cars locked in the “frozen tundra” of ice and snow.

Lerner then realized he had hundreds of men at his disposable who could lend a hand.

During the morning and evening commutes, from 7 to 10 a.m., and 4 to 7 p.m., his garage workers are busy. But in between those hours they have time to grab a shovel and start digging, he thought.

Shoveling out a car is strenuous work, he said, but many of his employees are young and physically fit.

In Queens, there are five iPark garages in Rego Park and Forest Hills, located at 105-25 Gerard Pl., 110-45 Queens Blvd., 98-10 64th St., 98-33 63rd Dr. and 62-60 99th St..

There are also garages throughout Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx. For their locations, click here.

It’s best to call between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Lerner said, when his men are likely to be available.

The offer is good “until the snow melts.”

He hopes next year’s winter will not be as bad as this one. But, Lerner said if it is, he is “going to pitch in and help the community” again.

 

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Forest Hills restaurant files claim demanding city pay for damage done by snow plow


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo and video courtesy of Exo Cafe

A Forest Hills restaurant that suffered thousands of dollars in damage from a Department of Sanitation plow truck accident wants the city to pay for the repairs.

Customers were sitting in Exo Cafe, at 70-20 Austin St., about 10:55 p.m. on Feb. 13 when the city snow plow struck a garbage can full of snow ice, which then hit the restaurant, police said.

The accident damaged the eatery’s winter vestibule and shattered some of its windows, according to the establishment’s owners, who captured the incident on their surveillance video.

A 36-year-old man and a 27-year-old woman were taken to the hospital with minor injuries, police said.

The restaurant was able to quickly clean up the mess and resume regular business, but still needs money to repair the nearly $50,000 in destruction, said owner Peter Kambitsis.

Though Exo Cafe has filed a claim through its own insurance, Kambitsis believes the city is financially responsible.

“Why should we go through our insurance when they have their insurance,” Kambitsis asked.

Kambitsis said he filed a claim with the City Comptroller’s Office on Feb. 18. Since then, representatives from the city have come to the restaurant to examine the structural damage.

As of Monday, he is still waiting to see when or if he will be reimbursed.

A spokesperson for the Comptroller’s Office said the claim was still under review.

The Department of Sanitation conducted an investigation into the accident and said it “is taking disciplinary action against the operators of the equipment.”

 

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Police seek Forest Hills, Kew Gardens purse snatcher who threatens to cut victims


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos and video courtesy of NYPD

Cops are looking for a Queens purse snatcher who grabs his victims using a bear hug and threatens to cut them, according to police.

The suspect first targeted a woman about 12:30 a.m. on Feb. 11 as she was walking on Lefferts Boulevard near Metropolitan Avenue, the NYPD said. After approaching the woman, the suspect pushed her up against a fence, then displayed a box cutter and took her purse. He then fled on foot.

A day later, just before midnight, the suspect exited a dark colored four door sedan and grabbed a woman in a bear hug as she was walking along Continental Avenue near Dartmouth Street, according to police. He then threatened to cut the victim, though no knife was displayed, and stole her purse. The suspect took off in the car.

On Feb. 19, the suspect again grabbed a woman in a bear hug as she was walking down Austin Street near 71st Road about 1:45 a.m., cops said. He pressed an unknown sharp object against the victim’s hand and took her purse. The suspect then fled in a dark colored four door sedan.

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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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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VIDEO: NYC plow truck sends trash can of snow, ice into Forest Hills restaurant


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video and photos courtesy of Elias Kalogiros/Exo Cafe

Updated Monday, Feb. 17, 12:00 p.m.

Several customers were injured after a New York City Department of Sanitation plow truck sent a trash can of snow and ice into a Forest Hills restaurant Thursday night.

Diners were sitting in Exo Cafe, at 70-20 Austin St., about 10:55 p.m. when the accident damaged the restaurant’s winter vestibule and  shattered some of its windows, according to Elias Kalogiros, the establishment’s owner.

Police said the city plow truck hit the garbage can, which then struck the vestibule.

A 36-year-old man and a 27-year-old woman were taken to the hospital with minor injuries, according to the NYPD.

“We were really upset about what happened. We thought it was complete negligence,” Kalogiros said.

“If somebody was standing inside of the vestibule…they would have got hurt or even died.”

The truck driver, who said he didn’t know what had happened, kept going, but was flagged down, according to Kalogiros.

Kalogiros wasn’t at the restaurant at the time of the incident, but was able to see it later through surveillance video.

“It looked from the video that [the plow truck] was reckless,” he said.

In a statement, the Department of Sanitation said it conducted an investigation into the accident and “is taking disciplinary action against the operators of the equipment.”

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Thursday: Sunshine and clouds mixed. High 22. Winds W at 10 to 20 mph. Thursday night: Mainly clear. Low 8. Winds WNW at 10 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Human Plus: Real Lives + Real Engineering

In the interactive exhibit Human Plus: Real Lives + Real Engineering at the New York Hall of Science, visitors can create and explore a range of high and low tech tools that extend human abilities. The exhibit features a simulated downhill mono-ski course; a DJ station built out of a wheelchair and controlled by the wheels; a touch panel that translates music into vibrations; a hands-free computer mouse, controlled through slight movements of the head, that allows the guest to type messages, edit photos or watch videos; and a neuroprosthetic limb that can be controlled by a person’s thoughts. Free with museum admission. The New York Hall of Science is located at 47-01 111th Street, Corona.

Two-alarm fire breaks out at DOT garage in Forest Hills

A two-alarm blaze broke out at a Department of Transportation garage in Forest Hills early Thursday morning, the FDNY said. Read more: The Queens Courier

Less than half show up for school day after snowstorm

It’s was a tale of two cities — half the kids went to school and the other half didn’t. Read more: New York Post

Mayor de Blasio: ‘More could have been done’ on Upper East Side snow

The winter storm dumped not only snow, but also a swirling controversy as many ask if the man elected mayor of New York City is treating the boroughs equally by plowing some less than others? Read more: ABC New York

Republicans, Dolan blast Cuomo for remarks about ‘extreme conservatives’

High-profile Republicans and Cardinal Timothy Dolan are among those calling for Governor Andrew Cuomo to apologize for “divisive” comments about “extreme conservatives.” Read more: CBS New York/AP

Snowstorm gives MetLife Stadium dress rehearsal

The NFL and personnel at MetLife Stadium had a Super Bowl pop quiz on snow removal less than two weeks before the title game between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks. Read more: NBC New York

Two-alarm fire breaks out at DOT garage in Forest Hills


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Don Preus

A two-alarm blaze broke out at a Department of Transportation garage in Forest Hills early Thursday morning, the FDNY said.

The fire started just before 5 a.m. through the roof of the one-story building at 69-46 Sybilla St. It was under control at about 7: 40 a.m., the FDNY said.

There were no injuries reported and the cause is still under investigation, according to the Fire Department.

 

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Glendale’s Finback Brewery to launch beer at local bars despite setbacks


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Finback Brewery

Glendale’s Finback Brewery won’t open for a few more months, but the beer is finally coming to the surface.

The brewery, which was originally supposed to open in November last year, has been delayed by construction issues, but founders Basil Lee and Kevin Stafford are introducing three Finback beers at three bars around the city.

The brewery will have launch events for the beer at The Owl Farm bar in Brooklyn on Wednesday, Jimmy’s No. 43 in Manhattan on Thursday, and Forest Hills Station House in Queens on Jan. 28.

The three beers are Pilot X IPA, a citrusy drink filled with Summit, Chinook and Columbus hops, and hints of pink grapefruit; Puffin Smoked Porter, American porter filled with roast subtle hazelnut aroma and a smoky backbone from cherry wood smoked malt, and hints of chocolate; and Double Sess Wit, brewed with Szechuan peppercorns, ginger and chamomile.

The pair hopes to introduce the beer at other bars in the city, including The Queens Kickshaw in Astoria, and are shooting to open the brewery’s tasting room in late February or March, according to the owners.

“We’re working hard to finish the tasting room and open the brewery for beer and tours,” the owners said in an email. “We wish we could welcome you all to the brewery right now, but alas, NYC contractors have their own way of working, or not working…Rest assured we’re busy making beer and getting it out to our favorite local watering holes. Hopefully we’ll get the tasting room open in the next couple months.”

 

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Queens pro arm wrestlers to be featured on new AMC show


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy NYC Arm Control

Two Queens professional arm wrestlers will show their muscle in a new series on AMC.

Rob Bigwood, a Forest Hills resident, and Whitestone native Mike Ayello, are part of NYC Arm Control, the New York team on the show. The new series, “Game of Arms,” will feature professional arm wrestling teams from five states. The other members of the New York team are Mike Selearis, Dan Fortuna and Kevin Nelson.

The show intends to reveal the sport of arm wrestling in documentary style episodes starting Feb. 25. It will not only show the brawn that wrestlers need to participate, but the personal lives of the athletes.

“Game of Arms not only focuses on the technique and skill in this high-stakes world, but also the family, careers and personal struggles of each man outside of the sport,” said the AMC website description about the show.

The series will follow the personal lives of the country’s premier arm wrestling figures, such as Ayello, who is a firefighter from Ladder 135 in Glendale. Ayello said the show followed him around at home and also featured his work in the FDNY.

A graduate of Bayside High School, before he became an arm wrestler, he was a bouncer at clubs around New York City. He used to arm wrestle with the fellow bouncers, and being at 6 feet 5 inches, 270 pounds, he always won. Four years ago someone challenged him to wrestle in the professional circuit and he started researching professional arm wrestling and attending amateur tournaments. He quickly worked his way through the ranks and is recognized as one of the strongest arm wrestlers in the country.

Bigwood, who is vegan, is being featured among various accomplished vegan male athletes in a new documentary called “The Game Changers” by James Wilks, a former MMA welterweight champion and fellow vegan.

Both men believe that arm wrestling needs a show, such as the one on AMC, to expand.

“It’s actually a huge underground thing, but no one just taped into it yet, but I think this show will bring it out,” Ayello said.

The series is coming from Matt Renner and Ethan Prochnik, the Emmy Award-winning producers of the “Deadliest Catch,” and executive producer Dan Ilani.

Trailers have already been circulating about the show.

 

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Local advocates march for Queens Boulevard safety improvements


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

Updated, 5:22 p.m

A group of local residents want to make the “Boulevard of Death” a thing of the past.

Regardless of the snow, members of Transportation Alternatives’ (T.A.) Queens Activist Committee and residents gathered Saturday to march down Queens Boulevard during the “Winter Wander” Rally to call for a safer thoroughfare.

The group of advocates, who began the event at New Life Fellowship Church in Elmhurst, spoke about the Zero on Queens Boulevard campaign, calling for a redesign of the strip with pedestrian safety improvements, dedicated lanes for Select Bus Service (SBS) and protected bike lanes.

The snowy march served as the first step in letting people know what they can do to change the busy corridor.

“We’ve been trying to build community support for the city to re-envision Queens Boulevard,” said Jessame Hannus, co-chair of T.A.’s Queens Activist Committee, who carried a sign that read “30 mph” to remind drivers of the speed limit. “We just want to make it clear that this is a neighborhood street and we are all neighbors.”

Hannus said even though many accidents happen on the boulevard, the community just ignores them because they believe it is normal.

According to a “Queens Blvd. Crash Data” map by T.A., there have been 890 pedestrian injuries, 17 pedestrian fatalities, 205 cyclist injuries and 2 cyclist fatalities between 2002 to 2011 on Queens Boulevard stretching from Jackson Avenue in Long Island City to Jamaica Avenue in Jamaica.

“The community doesn’t respond to it,” she said. “It does not have to be this way and it’s not going to change unless we make a fuss about it.”

During the march street safety advocates discussed the history of the roadway, stopping at specific spots pedestrians lost their lives. The “Winter Wander” Rally ended in Forest Hills.

The Zero on Queens Boulevard campaign,  with more than 40 coalition partners and close to 2,000 petition signatures, has a long-term goal of making sure the city allocates funding and energy to change the boulevard on a large scale saving lives and strengthening the local economy.

Councilmember Daniel Dromm, who has worked with the Department of Transportation to implement neighborhood slow zones and other pedestrian safety improvements in his district, also joined the group on the march. In his district three children have also lost their lives in traffic fatalities in the past few months.

“This is a very, very serious issue and we have to continue to stress the seriousness of this because sometimes people dismiss it as just something that doesn’t affect their lives but when you look at the statistics you see that there are more pedestrian deaths than there are murders in the city of the New York,” said Dromm. “I believe in the three E’s:  engineering, education and enforcement on these issues and that’s what we have tried to do in my council district. More needs to be done.”

According to the DOT, there have been decade-long improvements to the seven-mile strip that have re-engineered the streets for enhanced safety. Some of these improvements include pedestrian countdown signals at more than 60 intersections at Queens Boulevard from Queens Plaza South to Hillside Avenue, lowering the speed limit on Queens Boulevard from 35 to 30 mph, installing 15 electronic boards displaying the speed of passing motorists, installing 46,000 linear feet of pedestrian fencing along the entire corridor to prevent jaywalking and many more.

“Safety is DOT’s top priority, in the last ten years, traffic fatalities have fallen borough-wide by nearly 35 percent,” said DOT spokesperson Nicholas Mosquera. “Queens Boulevard saw 18 pedestrian fatalities at its height in 1997 and zero pedestrian fatalities in 2011, the first time this has been recorded, and two last year along the entire seven-mile corridor. We continue to look for ways to enhance safety both on Queens Boulevard and citywide.”

 

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