Tag Archives: Fresh Meadows

Democrats to nominate City Council District 23 candidate on Thursday

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photos

Democrats residing in much of northeast Queens will head to the polls tomorrow, Sept. 10, to choose a nominee to fill the 23rd City Council District seat that Mark Weprin vacated earlier this year.

The polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the 23rd District’s confines, which includes all or parts of Bayside Hills, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Hollis, Little Neck, New Hyde Park, Oakland Gardens and Queens Village. The primary is open to only registered Democrats in the district.

Six Democrats are seeking the party’s nomination to succeed Weprin: political aide Celia Dosamantes; civic activist Bob Friedrich; former Assemblyman Barry Grodenchik; former Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit member Rebecca Lynch; attorney Ali Najmi; businessman Satnam Singh Parhar.

The candidates, along with Republican nominee Joe Concannon, participated in a number of debates recently held around the district, including an Aug. 5 forum that The Courier and North Shore Towers co-sponsored.

Concannon gets a chance to relax tomorrow, as he does not face a primary challenger. He will, however, face the winner of the Democratic primary in the November general election for the right to occupy the 23rd Council seat for the remainder of Weprin’s term, which expires in 2017.

To find a polling place or for more information, call 212-VOTE-NYC or visit the city Board of Elections website.


Fresh Meadows residents allege increase in stray cats

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Alina Suriel

Things aren’t so purr-fect for one Fresh Meadows community.

Fresh Meadows residents are alarmed by what they say is an increasing number of stray cats overrunning residential streets and nearby Cunningham Park.

Many of the cats belong to a feral colony located off a walking path in Cunningham Park near the corner of 199th Street and 73rd Avenue. The spot — set up by an unknown caretaker who has been spotted by nearby residents — has enough food and shelter to support a large group of animals. At least 12 bowls of dry cat food were left open and 10 discarded Christmas trees were serving as permanent shelter for the felines on a recent evening. There were also several kennels left open and lined with natural fibers for warmth.

Four cats could be seen in the colony during a 30-minute time frame.

Melissa McFadden, a Fresh Meadows homeowner who lives a block away from the park, said that she has seen an uptick of strays in the surrounding neighborhood as a result of the thriving colony.

“They are always wandering back and forth from the woods across the street into our yards,” McFadden said, adding that the feral felines exhibited aggressive behavior when approached by her small dog.

Feral cat colonies can be legally maintained by a certified caretaker if registered with the Feral Cat Initiative of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals. In order to become a certified caretaker, New Yorkers must attend a hands-on workshop on how to safely trap, neuter and return the animals into the wild.

According to Katy Hansen of Animal Care Centers of New York City, there is a managed feral cat colony in Cunningham Park, although she could not definitively say if the registered colony was the same one observed by The Courier.

Hansen did state that part of the agency’s ongoing problem is dealing with abandoned felines in city parks, which find their way to open containers of food.

“Unfortunately, domesticated cats are not used to having to find food on their own and thus may migrate to neighborhoods where outdoor food is readily available,” Hansen said.

Residents in the immediate vicinity of the park help to support the stray cat population by feeding them from open bowls of food left in their driveways as well. Some have as many as four or five bowls of cat food on their property, along with multiple kennels left open for the strays.

Alan Stratman, a resident less than four blocks away from the park, personally knew of some neighbors actively feeding the cats. He believes the stray cat population is growing because of the abundance of food, and said that it is not uncommon to see kittens roam the area as the animals breed.

“It’s out of control. It’s totally out of control,” Stratman said. “I understand people feeding the cats and they’re trying to be good, but it’s not helping.”

Sally Giles, a Fresh Meadows resident who feeds the cats from bowls on her property, said that she does it because she feels bad for animals that have no home. Unlike some of her neighbors, she was supportive of the existence of a large colony for them in the woods.

“I don’t understand why they’re against it. It’s not hurting them,” Giles said. “It’s one of God’s creatures. It’s helping animals that need help.”

The Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals could not be immediately reached for comment.


Students reveal computer programs on mental health at Zucker Hillside Hospital

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

Tech-savvy high school students presented computer-based programs and apps aiming to break the stigma of mental illness at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks on Thursday.

The presentation was the culmination of a six-week summer course for teens with an interest in pursuing careers in mental health. The students interned with Dr. John Kane, an internationally known psychiatrist and a leader in the research and treatment of schizophrenia, and worked with a group of doctors and therapists.

Submitted projects included an examination of mental illness in award-winning movies and an interactive program in which young people describe their emotions while listening to current music, and two of the groups tied to take home a $1,000 first prize for best project.

According to Dr. Kane—who is currently in office as chairman of psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital—the overall goal of the program was to increase mental health literacy. Different aspects of that overall goal include finding out what people know about mental illness, what they understand about the signs and symptoms, how it can be treated and how well people can function with mental illnesses.

“We have to do a lot to reduce the stigma that associated with these illnesses so they’ve taken on that challenge, and I think they’ve come up with some terrific ideas,” Kane said.

Lucy Lin, a high school student from Fresh Meadows who participated in the program, said that she experienced the stigma in her own home with her parents, who encourage her to become a doctor but are not supportive of her interest in treating mental illnesses.

“I wanted to be involved in this because psychiatry in general is a very stigmatized area of study,” Lin said. Her group created a series of posters featuring pop culture figures who suffer from schizophrenia and an emoji-based system of emotional expression.

Dr. Frederick Muench, a doctor at North Shore-LIJ Health System who is currently serving as director of digital health interventions, said that all of the projects had the potential to help many people suffering from mental illnesses.

“I hope that this experience has helped you realize the power of technology to engage people in the care process,” Frederick Muench said. “What [this project has] done for us is really help us see how you are going to make a tremendous difference in this world.”


Pesticide spraying across many Queens neighborhoods set for Monday night

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Trucks will spray pesticide across nearly every corner in Queens this Monday night as part of the Health Department’s ongoing efforts to kill mosquitoes that may carry the West Nile virus.

Weather permitting, the spraying will begin at about 8:30 p.m. Monday and continue until 6 a.m. the next morning. In the event of inclement weather, the spraying will take place on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning at the same hours.

The spraying will occur in four clusters of Queens as follows:

  • Areas of Long Island City and Sunnyside generally bounded by 47th Avenue on the north; Dutch Kills on the west; Newtown Creek on south; and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and 43rd Street on the east.
  • Parts of Astoria and Woodside generally bounded by 20th Avenue and 30th Street on the north; 28th Avenue, 43rd Street and Newtown Road on the west; Broadway and Northern Boulevard on the south; and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, 30th Avenue, 78th Street, Astoria Boulevard and 75th Street on the east.
The northwest Queens spray zones. (Maps courtesy NYC Health Department)

The northwest Queens spray zones. (Maps courtesy NYC Health Department)

  • Areas of Fresh Meadows, Hollis, Hollis Hills, Holliswood and Oakland Gardens generally bounded by 73rd Avenue on the north; 188th Street on the west; Jamaica Avenue, 199th Street, Hillside Avenue, 212th Street and the Grand Central Parkway on the south; and Springfield Boulevard on the east.
  • Parts of Briarwood, Forest Hills, Glendale, Jamaica Hills, Kew Gardens, Middle Village, Richmond Hill and Woodhaven generally bounded by the Grand Central and Jackie Robinson parkways, Groton Street, Yellowstone and Woodhaven boulevards and Eliot Avenue on the north; Lutheran Avenue, 71st Street, Metropolitan Avenue, All Faiths Cemetery, 76th Street, Cypress Hills Cemetery and Cypress Hills Street on the west; Jamaica and 89th avenues on the south; and 169th Street on the east.
The central Queens spray zones (Maps courtesy NYC Health Department)

The central Queens spray zones (Maps courtesy NYC Health Department)

Though the pesticide used during these sprayings, Anvil 10+10, poses no significant health risks to humans, the Health Department advises residents in these areas — especially those with respiratory ailments — to stay indoors while spraying occurs. Windows should be kept closed; air conditioners may be used, but the vents should be closed to prevent possible indoor exposure to the pesticides.

Any toys, clothes and outdoor equipment should be moved inside prior to spraying; anything left outside while spraying occurs should be thoroughly washed before reuse. Produce grown in backyards should be washed before being consumed or cooked.

Persons exposed to the pesticide should thoroughly wash their skin with soap and water.

For more information, visit the Health Department’s website or call 311.


Health Department to spray parts of Queens against West Nile

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Images courtesy of NYC Health Department

The Health Department is once again treating a number of Queens neighborhoods, including many across the northeast and central parts of the borough, in an effort to reduce mosquito activity and reduce the risk of the West Nile virus.

The treatment, which will include spraying pesticide from trucks, will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 11, between the hours of 8:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. the following morning. In case of bad weather, the application will be delayed until Wednesday, Aug. 12, during the same hours.

Though no human cases have been reported so far this season, the following neighborhoods will be treated due to “rising West Nile virus activity” and “high mosquito populations,” according to the Health Department.

The treatment will take place in the following areas:

  • Parts of Auburndale, Corona, Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Kew Gardens Hills, Murray Hill, Pomonok, Queensboro Hill and Utopia (bordered by 43rd Avenue, Cherry Avenue, Kissena Boulevard, Elder Avenue, Main Street, Blossom Avenue, College Point Boulevard and Long Island Expressway to the north; Grand Central Parkway to the west; Jewel Avenue, Main Street, Long Island Expressway, 185th Street and 73rd Avenue to the south; and Francis Lewis Boulevard, Hollis Court Boulevard and Auburndale Lane to the east)
  • Parts of Bellaire, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Floral Park Center, Glen Oaks, Hollis Hill, Little Neck and Oakland Gardens (bordered by Hewlett Avenue, Hewlett Street, Long Island Expressway, Little Neck Parkway and Northern Boulevard to the north; 223rd Street, Cloverdale Boulevard, 73rd Avenue, Springfield Boulevard, Union Turnpike, and 229th Street to the west; Hillside Avenue, Commonwealth Boulevard, 87th Avenue and 261st Avenue to the south; and 86th Avenue, 263rd Street, Williston Avenue and Langdale Street to the east)

For these sprayings, the Health Department will use a very low concentration of the synthetic pesticide Anvil 10+10, which poses no significant risks to human health when properly used. The Health Department recommends that people take the following precautions to minimize direct exposure:

  • Whenever possible, stay indoors during spraying. People with asthma or other respiratory conditions are encouraged to stay inside during spraying since direct exposure could worsen these conditions.
  •  Air conditioners may remain on; however, if you wish to reduce the possibility of indoor exposure to pesticides, set the air conditioner vent to the closed position, or choose the re-circulate function.
  • Remove children’s toys, outdoor equipment and clothes from outdoor areas during spraying. If outdoor equipment and toys are exposed to pesticides, wash them with soap and water before using again.
  • Wash skin and clothing exposed to pesticides with soap and water. Always wash your produce thoroughly with water before cooking or eating.



Armed bandits in Springfield Gardens stickup linked to earlier robbery: cops

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video and photo courtesy of NYPD

Two armed robbers wanted for tying up employees at a Fresh Meadows RadioShack earlier this month are suspected of pulling off the same crime at a Springfield Gardens cellphone store on Tuesday, police said.

The pair, while wearing hoodies, walked into a Metro PCS located at 219-25 North Conduit Ave. at about 3:30 p.m. on July 28 and took out silver firearms, authorities said. They then took a 30-year-old female clerk and a 47-year-old male customer to the rear of the store, where they tied them up. The suspects then removed money from the cash register and several cellphones before fleeing on foot.

According to police, the same suspects walked into a RadioShack at a Fresh Meadows shopping center on July 10, where they also tied up the store’s employees at gunpoint.

After the suspects entered the 87-12 Horace Harding Expwy. store at about 10:25 a.m., one of them displayed a silver firearm while the second forcibly bound the two employees with duct tape and then removed about $400 and various electronics devices, authorities said. The suspects then fled.


Police have released video from the most recent incident and photos from the RadioShack robbery. The perpetrators are described as black males, with the first suspect as about 40 years old, 5 feet 10 inches tall and 170 pounds.

Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit their website or send a text message to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577. All calls and messages are kept confidential.


Fresh Meadows RadioShack employees tied up in armed robbery: NYPD

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

A pair of robbers walked into a RadioShack at a Fresh Meadows shopping center last week, tied up the store’s employees at gunpoint and stole cash and electronics, police said.

The robbery happened about 10:25 a.m. on Friday at the store located at 187-12 Horace Harding Expwy., according to authorities.

After the suspects entered the RadioShack, one of them displayed a silver firearm while the second forcibly bound the two employees with duct tape and then removed about $400 and various electronics devices, cops said. The suspects then fled.

Officers from the 107th Precinct responded to the scene. There were no injuries reported in the incident.

Police have released photos of the perpetrators, both described as black males. The first suspect was wearing a gray shirt, black sweater, black and white baseball cap, and black sneakers; and the second was wearing a light gray shirt with a black hooded sweatshirt.

Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS, visit their website or send a text message to 274637 (CRIMES), then enter TIP577. All calls and messages are kept confidential.



Seven Queens students accepted to the US service academies

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of Congresswoman Grace Meng's office

Seven recent high school graduates from Queens will be all they can be in their college years after being accepted into various U.S. military service academies with the assistance of Congresswoman Grace Meng.

The academies consist of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point; U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland; U.S. Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Colorado; U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point; and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy at New London, Connecticut.

Kate Gerodias from Middle Village graduated from Forest Hills High School and will be attending the Naval Academy; Zachary Kurre from Glendale graduated from Archbishop Molloy High School and will attend West Point this summer; Selah Cho of Fresh Meadows finished school at Marion Military Institute in Alabama and will attend West Point; Kevin Guo from Rego Park graduated from Hunter College High School and will be continuing his education at the Naval Academy; Julia Hsu from Flushing graduated from West Point Prep School and will go on to West Point this summer; John Makiling of Flushing graduated from Naval Academy Prep School and will continue on to the Naval Academy; and Daniel Zakrevski from Richmond Hill graduated from Bronx High School of Science and will be attending the Merchant Marine Academy.

“I am honored to congratulate these seven exceptional students,” Meng said. “All are outstanding individuals who will be future military leaders of our country. I have no doubt that they’ll make Queens and the nation proud.”

Students looking to attend the service academies are required to be nominated by their Congress member. The institutions then evaluate the nominations from across the nation and decide which nominees to accept.

The students nominated by Meng compete against students from across the country and must meet the highly competitive educational, physical and extracurricular standards set by the institutions. Meng’s Academy Review Board, which is a panel of local community leaders, assists Meng in the nomination process for students looking to attend the academies.

This year, a total of 33 students applied to be nominated by Meng. Of those 33 students, 20 were nominated by the Congresswoman.

To congratulate the students for being accepted to the service academies, Meng hosted a reception for them and their families at her office in Flushing. She also presented each student with a certificate of Congressional recognition.

Meng plans to continue her “U.S. Service Academy Information Night” for Queens students who are interested in applying to the U.S. Service Academies. The day and location will be announced in the near future.


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

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook/ Joseph Concannon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Jeff Xie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Fresh Meadows street renamed for late religious leader

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Councilman Rory Lancman's office

Local Catholics and elected officials gathered outside Holy Family Church in Fresh Meadows on Sunday to rename a nearby street in honor of the late Bishop Ignatius Catanello.

Catanello, 74, served the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens for 47 years as a priest, more than 20 of which took place at Holy Family Church. He took up residence at the parish rectory in 1988 after being appointed vicar of the diocese’s Queens South region, and was appointed the church’s pastor in 2007.

The bishop continued in service to the parish until his retirement in 2010, and he died in 2013 of a lengthy illness. Following his death, Councilman Rory Lancman and parishioners supported legislation to rename 74th Avenue between 175th Street and Utopia Parkway in Catanello’s honor.

Helping Lancman and members of the Catanello family unveil the tribute on Sunday were Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Rep. Grace Meng, Holy Family Pastor Fr. Casper Furnari and the Holy Family Knights of Columbus.

“Bishop Catanello devoted his life to helping the people of Queens,” Lancman said. “Co-naming 74th Avenue, right next to Holy Family Church where the bishop spent so much of his life, is a wonderful tribute to this caring and dedicated man who touched the lives of so many.”

Katz remembered Catanello’s “faith, scholarship and pastoral leadership” for setting “positive examples for all of us and [helping] to make the borough a better place to live and raise a family.”

A native of Brooklyn, Catanello was ordained a priest in May 1966. During his service, he had stints as pastor of several other Queens churches including St. Rita’s in Long Island City, St. Helen’s in Howard Beach and St. Ann’s in Flushing.

He also served as principal-rector of Cathedral Preparatory Seminary in Elmhurst between 1991 and 1994 and was an adjunct professor for many years at St. John’s University; the Jamaica institution conferred him an honorary doctorate of law in 1989.

Pope John Paul II named Catanello an auxiliary bishop in 1994. He served the Diocese of Brooklyn as vicar of clergy and vicar for consecrated life and apostolic organizations. Catanello continued to serve Holy Family residence and was named its pastor in 2007. Health problems, however, forced Catanello to retire in 2010.

Parishioners and family members alike remembered the bishop fondly at Sunday’s ceremony.

“I met [him] when I joined Holy Family Parish and the Holy Family Knights of Columbus in 2008,” said Peter Joseph Petrino Jr. “For the five years that I knew him, he became like a second father to me.”

“I have observed if one wants to assess a person’s life, you can judge not so much on how much they loved people, but on how much they were loved,” added Deacon Joe Catanello, the late bishop’s brother, “and I have observed that the congregation loved him dearly.”


Improvements aim to end flood woes on Utopia Parkway

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Office of Rory Lancman


The intersection of Utopia Parkway and 65th Avenue in Fresh Meadows should no longer be plagued by flooding every time it rains.

Councilman Rory Lancman and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced Friday that several measures have been installed to mitigate flooding that has inundated residents for years.

The area has experienced severe floods since 1975 and residents have had to pump out their basements and repair flooded cars, spending thousands of dollars in the process.

The manhole cover in the area, which would have several feet of water shooting out of it when it rained, has been sealed and duckbill check valves have been installed in the catch basins. Duckbill check valves, which get their names from the shape they resemble, prevent back flow in the sewers.

“After years of dangerous road conditions and flooded basements, the Fresh Meadows community will now get some relief,” Lancman said. “These improvements will help limit future flooding on Utopia Parkway, where a veritable lake is formed during heavy storms and basements are inundated with dirty rainwater.”

Eric Landau, associate commissioner of public affairs for the DEP, said the rainfall early this week proved that these measures work.

“These improvements represent a great collaboration between DEP engineers and members of the community,” Landau said. “And this week’s heavy rains demonstrated that the infrastructure upgrades DEP recently completed worked and helped prevent flooding.”

According to Nadia Chait, communications director for Lancman’s office, the city has acknowledged that the infrastructure is overloaded and is working on a $6 billion multi-year effort to mitigate flooding in all of southeast Queens.

“That’s obviously a very large project, which is why we’re excited about what we’ve done today and [this project is] something that’s going to have an immediate impact for these homeowners,” she said.

DEP officials indicated this project will reduce flooding in the area by 65 percent.


Five-alarm inferno in Queens Village amid stormy weather

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@FDNY

Updated Monday, June 1, 11:24 a.m.

Firefighters battled a five-alarm inferno at a Queens Village commercial building Sunday night amid wild weather that caused street closures borough-wide due to flooding.

According to the FDNY, the blaze broke out at about 6:30 p.m. on the ground floor of the warehouse located in the area of 218th Street and 98th Avenue.

Hundreds of firefighters from across the city were battling the inferno, which was upgraded to a five-alarm fire at about 8:47 p.m. Sunday. No injuries were reported, and the blaze was brought under control about four hours later.

The 109th Precinct tweeted that the odor of heavy smoke from the fire wafted across northeast Queens. Residents in the Queens Village area were advised to keep their windows closed and limit outdoor activity until the smoke dissipated.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Meanwhile, as thunderstorms carrying torrential rains rolled through the city, the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) reported numerous road closures due to flooding.

As of 9:01 p.m. Sunday night, the OEM reported flooding forced the closure of the westbound Jackie Robinson Parkway at Union Turnpike in Glendale and the Long Island Expressway at Utopia Parkway in Fresh Meadows. Both roads have since reopened.

The 104th Precinct also reported that part of Cypress Avenue at Vermont Place in Glendale was closed after a sinkhole developed at a construction site.


Francis Lewis JROTC to advance to national academic championship

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Francis Lewis High School JROTC

The Francis Lewis High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) will be among only 26 out of 1,512 teams nationwide to compete in the JROTC National Academic Bowl in June.

Luwei Xiong, Tianhao Zhang, Lisha Zeng and Michele Lee will compete in Washington, D.C., from June 26 to 30 at the campus of The Catholic University of America. The winners of the Army JROTC Academic Championship will go on to compete against the winners of JROTC programs in the Air Force, the Marine Corps, and the Navy.

One of the main goals of the JROTC Academic Bowl is to prepare the participating high school students for state graduation exams and college entrance exams such as the SAT and the ACT.

To qualify for the final championship, the Francis Lewis team had to advance through two rounds of online competition testing them on their knowledge on JROTC curriculum, English, math and science.

The Francis Lewis JROTC program is well known for its academic and competitive achievement. Since 2003 the team has seen over 20 of their former members attending the prestigious United States Military Academy at West Point, a four-year federal service academy which only accepts 9 percent of applicants. The team also won the National High School Drill Team Championships with an almost perfect score in 2013.


Queens councilman calls for boost in non-public school safety

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilman Lancman's Office


Private schools deserve better protection, Councilman Rory Lancman, school administrators and students said during a Monday press conference in Fresh Meadows.

Lancman was joined by representatives from Yeshiva Ketana, Al-Mamoor School and St. Nicholas of Tolentine to rally for a bill that would provide NYPD safety officers to these and other non-public schools.

The bill is supported by 46 of 51 council members, according to a press release.

“We live in a dangerous world where terrorists will not hesitate to target even innocent schoolchildren,” Lancman said. “The city must provide all schools with safety officers. Non-public school students deserve the same safe learning environment that their public school peers enjoy.”

The bill was introduced by Councilman David Greenfield and would require the city to provide full funding for the NYPD to provide public, private, religious and secular schools with safety agents, if they request them.

According to the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), there are more than 5,200 school safety agents protecting New York City schools, making the School Safety Division one of the largest police forces in the country.

“It would be a tremendous benefit to the safety and well-being of our students to have an NYPD Safety Agent in our school,” Rabbi Binyomin, the Menahel of Yeshiva Ketana of Queens said.

School safety agents are unarmed but they are trained by the NYPD and are equipped with police radios to directly communicate with other NYPD officers.

“The administration, faculty and families of Al-Mamoor School strongly support this bill, which will provide our students with the protection they deserve,” Ismael Khalil, the president of Al-Mamoor School said. “We urge the City Council to pass this important legislation that will keep our students safe.”

Negotiations are being made for the city budget, and the deadline to finalize it is Tuesday, June 30. If funding for the budget is not approved, the City Council can take steps to pass the stand-alone bill.