Tag Archives: Fresh Meadows

Fresh Meadows middle school will walk to stop bullying


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Follow me @liamlaguerre

 
One Queens middle school is taking a stand against bullying with a walk-a-thon.

J.H.S. 216 George J. Ryan in Fresh Meadows is hosting its “Respect For All” walk-a-thon on Tuesday, May 13, on the school’s track, to celebrate diversity and discourage bullying.

“We are trying to get kids to stop name-calling, and do whatever we can to get this building the way it should be,” said Hal Fuchs, an academic coordinator in the school. “And something like this we feel could do that. It’s about respect. We want kids to have respect for each other.”

Three students from each homeroom, approximately 150 kids, will represent the school’s 1,400 students in the event. From 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. the participating students will lap the track four times, which is the equivalent of one mile, Fuchs said.

The New York Mets have donated tickets to the upcoming game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 21 for kids who take part in the walk-a-thon.

The school is also selling 800 “Respect For All” bracelets for $1 each. The proceeds from the event will be donated to an anti-bullying charity to be named.

Photo courtesy J.H.S. 216 

 

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Crash victim’s parents take safety oath with hundreds of students


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Melissa Chan

Studying for the year’s biggest standardized tests can wait, District 26 Superintendent Anita Saunders said.

Scholars at P.S. 173 have a more important task at hand — memorizing the 120-word oath they took Friday to put safety first as passengers and pedestrians.

“This pledge you’re taking is very, very important,” Saunders said to a packed auditorium of wide-eyed youths. “It’s even more important than your ELA and math test.”

Almost all 940 students at the Fresh Meadows school raised their right hand and promised, in unison, to buckle up, be alert and “value the preservation of life above all else” when riding in cars or crossing the street.

The pledge was taken in honor of 3-year-old Allison Liao, who was tragically killed by an SUV in Flushing last October, while crossing Main Street at Cherry Avenue.

“We’re here today because something bad happened to our family,” Allison’s father, Hsi-Pei, said to the students. “She did nothing wrong, and she was holding an adult’s hand.”

The Liaos’ tragedy has aided a local push to stop short-tempered parents from double parking, blocking the school bus stop and letting students run across the street outside of P.S. 173, where Allison’s 5-year-old brother Preston attends.

Nearly 700 parents have signed a driver’s version of the pledge so far, PTA President Italia Augienello said.

Educators hope to hold each to their word.

“Just signing [the pledge] once is not enough,” Saunders said. “We don’t want to have another terrible tragedy.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

 

Hundreds to sign safety pledge in honor of Flushing 3-year-old killed by SUV


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The family of the 3-year-old girl tragically killed by an SUV in Flushing will watch hundreds stand to take a pledge against reckless driving Friday to honor the toddler.

“This is actually pretty amazing,” said Hsi-Pei Liao, whose daughter, Allison, was fatally struck while crossing Main St. at Cherry Ave. last October. “It’s very personal.”

Nearly 2,000 people are expected to take a safety oath at P.S. 173, promising to “value the preservation of life above all else” while behind the wheel.

It couldn’t come at a better time.

The Fresh Meadows elementary school, which Allison’s 5-year-old brother Preston attends, has been the site of daily, dangerous drop-offs during the morning rush, civic leaders said.

Police even stepped in last month to stop short-tempered drivers from double parking, blocking the school bus stop and letting students run across the street, The Queens Courier reported.

“Our traffic conditions outside of our school are so severe,” said PTA President Italia Augienello. “We don’t need another tragedy. I’m afraid because, next time, it could be my kid.”

The driver who hit Allison remained at the scene and was not charged with a crime, police said. He was issued two summonses for failing to exercise due care and failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

The irreversible tragedy has led Hsi-Pei and his wife, Amy, who works as a social worker, to turn their pain into progress.

“We can’t save her,” said Hsi-Pei, a 36-year-old software technician. “There’s a feeling of helplessness and we can’t do that anymore. We can’t do that to ourselves anymore.”

The couple, in February, helped create Families for Safe Streets, a New York City-based group fighting for an end to traffic deaths.

They also meet monthly with local precincts and the PTA, drive to Albany to plead with elected officials and rally with a local advocacy group, Make Queens Safer.

“Something needs to be changed,” Hsi-Pei said. “Even if it constantly brings up the topic of why I lost my daughter, I feel like we’re proactively doing something.”

The family’s resilience has inspired hundreds on a local and citywide level. All 940 students in the school are expected to take the pledge to be careful on the streets and at least 1,000 parents, staff and residents plan to do the same.

“It’s amazing — the strength they have after what they’ve been through,” Augienello said. “They’re humble and quiet, yet they’re strong and their voices are heard.”

All are welcome to join the assembly March 21 at 1:10 p.m., inside the school’s auditorium at 174-10 67th Ave.

“They’re healing by helping other people understand what their actions can cause,” said Parent Coordinator Jean Mendler, “and that’s wonderful.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Fresh Meadows noise complaint leads to heroin bust


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of NYPD

A noise complaint at a Fresh Meadows home led police officers to make a major heroin bust Friday night.

Uniformed officers of the 107th Precinct responded to a 3-1-1 noise complaint at 11:05 p.m. on the third floor at 67-11 161st St., according to the NYPD. Upon arriving, the officer heard a loud radio from one apartment and after they knocked the suspect, Frank Giardina, answered the door holding a marijuana pipe.

In order to write Giardina a summons, the officers asked him for his identification after which Giardina invited the police inside his apartment in order to get his ID, according to police. Once inside the apartment the officers saw about five pounds of alleged heroin on the kitchen table. Giardina was then placed under arrest.

A search warrant was granted and after further search, 1,948 glassines of heroin were found together with packing materials and equipment.

Giardina faces charges including criminal possession of a controlled substance of an amount greater than eight ounces, criminal possession of a controlled substance of methamphetamine, intent to sell a criminal possession of a controlled substance and criminal possession of marijuana.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Queens precinct ramps up speeding enforcement to meet ‘Vision Zero’


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

Lead-footed drivers in the 111th Precinct will have to ease up on the gas soon or get a ticket.

The precinct plans to ramp up speeding enforcement and make sure motorists yield to pedestrians, Deputy Inspector Jason Huerta said.

The push is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Vision Zero” initiative, which aims to reduce traffic fatalities to zero within the next 10 years. De Blasio’s plan also calls for a reduction in the citywide speed limit from 30 to 25 mph and stiffer penalties on reckless taxi and livery drivers.

Speeding and failing to yield make up 70 percent of pedestrian fatalities in the city, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said.

Officers will be closely eyeing major area intersections like Northern and Bell Blvds. and Springfield Blvd. and Horace Harding Expwy., Huerta said.

The 111th Precinct  covers Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck, Auburndale, Hollis Hills and Fresh Meadows. It is one of many citywide precincts to beef up traffic enforcement in order to reach the mayor’s goals.

There have been no pedestrian deaths within the precinct this year, Huerta said.

However, a 2-year-old boy was hit by a car Monday afternoon in Auburndale after he darted onto 196th St. near Northern Blvd., police said, though he is expected to recover.

“They think the child is going to pull through,” Huerta said. “Obviously, it’s a tragedy.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

Queens Boy Scouts need money for historic Normandy trip


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Hedy Debonet

Four Boy Scouts from Queens and about a dozen more in the city need help funding a historic trip to Normandy.

The Boy Scouts of America Greater New York Councils is hoping to give 15 young leaders a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tour Europe and visit France during the 70th Anniversary of D-Day.

Nearly 160,000 American soldiers landed on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944 to march across Europe to defeat Hitler at the height of World War II.

“The soldiers who stormed the beach that day are probably no older than the boys we’re taking on this trip,” said Hedy DeBonet, a trip leader from Fresh Meadows.

“This is what we will be showing to the youth on this trip — a reminder of the sacrifices made a generation ago, acknowledgement that freedom is bought at a terrible price,” she added.

Each teen must come up with $2,600 for airfare, hotels and admission fees for nearly a dozen tourist spots, including the Eiffel Tower and the Imperial War Museum.

So far, each Scout has paid for half. But more is needed before the nine-day trip, beginning April 18, DeBonet said.

“There’s so much history that the kids don’t really learn anymore,” she said. “It’s just a real hands-on learning experience.”

Tax deductible checks can be made out to the Greater New York Councils, Boy Scouts of America, at 350 Fifth Avenue, Suite 7820, New York, NY 10118.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Precinct helps ease parking problem outside Fresh Meadows school


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Police have stepped in to ease a daily parking problem outside a Fresh Meadows school that has frustrated parents and put students at risk for at least a year.

Parents dropping off their kids at P.S. 173 have been double parking and blocking the school bus stop during the morning rush about 8 a.m., residents said.

“Sometimes they’ll let the kids out in the middle of the street and have the kids run across to get into school,” said Jim Gallagher Jr., president of the Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association.

At times, students are also left stranded in the middle of the road until traffic clears, said former PTA President Alan Ong.

The “No Standing” street on 67th Avenue gets backed up with at least 15 cars at a time, according to Gallagher.

Short-tempered parents have cursed and threatened volunteer parents who try to move traffic along, residents said.

“It’s a dangerous situation,” said John Callari, a nearby resident. “I almost got run over one morning when my wife and I were taking our grandchildren to school.”

Two traffic safety cops at the 107th Precinct have been easing congestion at the school for about half an hour every day, for the last two weeks.

They will continue “as long as resources are there,” a community affairs officer at the precinct said.

Summonses have been issued to illegally parked drivers in the past, but the precinct wants their main goal to be making sure parents understand the danger.

“We’re trying to work with everybody to educate motorists,” the officer said. “Keeping the kids safe is always the priority.”

The school has more than 900 students, from kindergarten through fifth grade, said Ong, who is now a member of Community District Education Council 26.

The Department of Education did not comment.

“Many other schools in the city are experiencing the same problem,” Ong said. “We need to somehow, someway bring awareness to parents. The last thing we want is an accident.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

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.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Support grows for farmers’ market to sprout in Fresh Meadows


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A budding plan to grow a farmers’ market in Fresh Meadows is getting the green thumbs up from neighborhood residents. 

Community support is sprouting for a green market to open at Cunningham Park this summer, local leaders said.

“It’s up for a lot more discussion, and we’re really in the tentative, beginning stages,” said Martha Taylor, who chairs Community Board 8’s Parks Committee. “But we’re excited about it at this point.”

Local vendors would sell fresh produce — and possibly baked goods, jams and juices — near the tennis courts, in the corner of the main parking lot on Union Tpke. and 196th Pl.

Officials hope to open the market in late June, after the Big Apple Circus leaves town, and run it for at least one afternoon a week until October.

“People from this community go to other green markets in other parts of Queens,” Assemblymember Nily Rozic said. “I think this is really something the community has been craving.”

The Parks Committee held a meeting Jan. 30 to gauge public interest, since a proposed plan was met with some opposition about eight years ago.

Some residents had feared the market would decrease parking spots, increase traffic, and take away business from a newly opened supermarket nearby, Taylor said.

But reception for the plan has increased over the years, said Taylor and Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association President Jim Gallagher Jr.

“We were pleasantly surprised at all the people who were there in favor of it, including some who had been opposed to it the first time,” Taylor said.

The Parks Committee plans to interview market vendors next month, while the full board is slated to vote on the proposal in late spring.

Residents looking to weigh in can call Rozic’s office at 718-820-0241.

“I think we’re going to have a process that is very neighborhood-driven, and one that has everyone’s input,” Rozic said. “Fresh Meadows foodies are in for a treat.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES:

Rory Lancman details seamless move from Assembly to City Council


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

It may have been the smoothest transition in the city.

Councilmember Rory Lancman, sipping a 7-Eleven Super Big Gulp, detailed his seamless move from the State Assembly to the City Council Tuesday in a sit-down interview with The Courier.

“It’s a different ball game, when everything you deal with is the five boroughs,” he said. “But in terms of the district office and serving the community, there’s no difference at all.”

New to City Hall, but not to New York politics, Lancman, 44, won the open District 24 seat in a landslide victory Nov. 5.

He succeeds term-limited Councilmember James Gennaro in a district almost identical to the one he served in the Assembly from 2007 to 2013.

“Jim and I have known each other for a long time. He and I supported each other politically and legislatively for many years,” Lancman said. “I don’t think there could have been a more natural or productive handoff of responsibilities.”

The Fresh Meadows attorney said even during his tenure in the Assembly, nearly all constituent services were related to city issues.

Drinking Diet Pepsi, with a splash of lemon — his choice of beverage every morning — Lancman is quick with a quip.

On snow, he says he is “against it.”

“I have a longstanding policy of being against snowstorms, and I’ve been pretty consistent,” he joked, later adding the city’s first storm was well-handled by the new administration.

And in between multiple phone calls that he answers with his Bluetooth headset, Lancman is still trying to perfect his office space.

“We need a space heater in the conference room,” he tells his chief-of-staff. “Everybody is cold.”

As he slips into his next meeting, Super Big Gulp in hand, he apologizes to his guests from the Wildlife Conservation Society.

“I promise next time there will be coffee and warmth,” he said.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Op-ed: Support programs that boost our economy


| oped@queenscourier.com

ASSEMBLYMEMBER NILY ROZIC

One by one, each student marched his way up to the front of the room to receive certificates of completion, each with a sense of accomplishment and hopefulness. One by one, each member of the cohort recounting stories of the past couple of weeks that gave them a second chance.

It was the workforce development initiative of the Queens Botanical Garden and LaGuardia Community College that made these second chances possible.

Unlike some traditional programs that lack strong ties to industry, workforce development programs often accelerate job creation because workers acquire precisely the kind of skills businesses need to expand. Today, examples like those of the Green Jobs Training Program include sustainable landscape design and maintenance, waste management, and other similar green practices.

More recently, the Robin Hood Foundation provided funding to create a workforce development program run by AAFE and One Flushing to recruit and assist those ready to enter the workforce. It is a welcome partnership that will enhance the growth and success of our local Flushing community.

Beyond that New York needs to implement creative ways to retain the talent we have. This year, I sponsored legislation that was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo making New York a national leader in workforce development and job training. I have also introduced legislation supported by Comptroller-elect Scott Stringer that would continue our economic growth and create quality jobs by investing in our engineering workforce. The financial aid program for engineering students who commit to staying in the city for five years after graduation is a smart investment to bolster an innovation economy and prepare our workforce for the 21st century.

This year’s budget also focused on workforce development and new industries in every community. Cuomo pushed for programs including innovative “Hot Spot” incubators, the Venture Capital Fund, and job linkage initiatives that push our state’s ideas, create new businesses, and train our workforce for jobs of tomorrow.

Queens is one of the most diverse counties in the entire country and it needs a government that can embrace and harness that to power its economic engine. We need to keep creating ways to support programs that boost our economy. The task for our next administration will be to help more of the city’s workforce develop the skills to obtain jobs—and more importantly careers—in sectors that are growing and expanding.

That is what I am determined to champion to do in next year’s legislative session—to be a champion of minority-owned and women-owned small businesses, provide resources to assist local businesses flourish, and forge better partnerships between private and public entities. There has never been a better time to support these pathways and programs that ultimately help our most critical economic resource–our workforce.

Assemblymember Nily Rozic represents New York’s 25th District, which spans the northeast portion of Queens, including the communities of Flushing, Queensboro Hill, Hillcrest, Fresh Meadows, Oakland Gardens, Bayside, and Douglaston.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Police: Suspect injures Fresh Meadows woman during attempted robbery in her driveway


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo and video courtesy of NYPD

A Fresh Meadows woman was injured when a man who was trying to rob her while she was in her driveway, hit the victim on the head with his gun, police said.

The suspect approached the 66-year-old around 11:15 a.m. on December 5 while she was emptying items from her car and demanded her valuables, police said. When the victim began to scream, the suspect hit her in the head with his gun. He then fled without stealing anything, according to police.

The victim was taken to New York Hospital Queens with lacerations to her head, cops said.

Police describe the suspect as a Hispanic man, 20 to 25 years old, and 5 feet 11 inches tall. He was wearing a black skullcap and black jacket.

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.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

 

 

EXCLUSIVE: City eyes two more northeast Queens school sites


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The city’s School Construction Authority (SCA) is looking for more than an acre of Queens land to build a new high school, The Courier has learned.

The SCA has allocated funds for the future institution, poised to alleviate Queens high school congestion, but is still scouring the borough for a site slightly larger than an acre to build it on, according to SCA Director of External Affairs Mary Leas.

“We’d love to find a nice, big site for a high school,” Leas said. “Over an acre would be best. It’s not easy to find a site that size. Then when we do, we really want to investigate it and see if we could make it work. An acre is a lot of property in the city.”

The SCA briefed Community District Education Council 26 (CDEC) Thursday on its proposed $12 billion capital budget for 2015 to 2019, which includes the new high school.

A Department of Education spokesperson told The Courier the city is eyeing a site in Whitestone that “has not been identified.”

Residents in the area, in September, said they saw SCA scouts surveying the vacant Whitestone Jewels Property at 150-33 6th Avenue. The six-acre site is in the midst of a foreclosure action by OneWest Bank.

State Senator Tony Avella said the location is not “viable” for a school, due to lack of infrastructure and public transportation options.

“The city would have to put in sewers and water mains. It would be a transportation nightmare for parents and students,” he said.

The authority ruled out a Little Neck school site — long suggested by the CDEC — due to its “remote” location near 58-20 Little Neck Parkway, on the border of Long Island.

“It’s very hard to site a high school in a community,” Leas said. “Just even looking at a site could cause quite a flurry of activity amongst communities that don’t want the high schools.”

The SCA’s preliminary five-year plan also includes building a 465-seat elementary school in either Oakland Gardens or Fresh Meadows.

Partial funds have been set aside for the potential elementary school, but the SCA has not found a site yet, according to Monica Gutierrez, an SCA community relations manager.

The City Council last week passed a controversial plan to build a pre-kindergarten through fifth grade school at 210-11 48th Avenue in Bayside. According to the SCA, it will likely take about three years to open. Its design process, which has not yet begun, is expected to be finalized in about a year.

The SCA gave the presentation to seek feedback from the school district that encompasses Bayside, Douglaston and Little Neck.

To suggest site locations to the city, email sites@nycsca.org.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Fresh Meadows home to appear on ‘The Good Wife’ Sunday


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of CBS Broadcasting Inc./Below photos THE COURIER/By Melissa Chan

This Sunday’s episode of CBS’s “The Good Wife” will feature a Fresh Meadows home and a stretch of Union Turnpike.

Show fanatics Peter and Kathy Hart lent their 183rd Street home to film crews and actors for a full day of shooting in October, The Courier first reported.

“We’re excited. This weekend, we’re throwing a ‘Good Wife’ red carpet premiere. I just don’t have a red carpet,” Kathy said. “I just invited some friends over.”

Five actors, including two playing FBI agents, shot scenes in the couple’s living room, dining room, kitchen and on the street near their home, as well.

The episode will air November 24 at 9 p.m.

The critically acclaimed drama began its fifth season this September. It stars Emmy Award winner Julianna Margulies, who plays a wife and mother who restarts her life as a defense attorney after her politician husband is jailed over a public sex and corruption scandal.

 

 RECOMMENDED STORIES

Fresh Meadows restaurant owners featured on Cooking Channel show say eatery did not need ‘redemption’


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Queens restaurant owners recently featured on the Cooking Channel’s new series, “Restaurant Redemption,” say their iconic 60-year-old eatery did not need the rescue.

King Yum in Fresh Meadows kicked off the show’s first episode on October 29. The series stars Ching-He Huang, a British food writer and TV chef, who helps revitalize struggling Asian restaurants around the country.

Business has dropped “drastically” for the “failing” tiki-themed Chinese restaurant, according to the network’s description of the episode.

But husband and wife duo Robin and Roberta Ng, who own the family-operated business, say the plot was largely exaggerated for show business.

The restaurant needed a change in décor, not food, and did not need redemption, they said.

“It was such a bunch of baloney, the whole thing,” said Robin, 61. “A lot of it was made up. They tried to make it look like the restaurant was failing and that the show was going to come in and save the day.”

In the episode, Huang describes King Yum’s best-selling dishes as “over-fried, greasy, bland” and “dreadful” as a straight-faced Robin blankly looks on.

“I wasn’t going to give her a reaction or feed into her,” said the Culinary Institute of America graduate, who took over the restaurant seven years ago from his late father.

One of the leading chefs in the business, Emeril Lagasse, praised King Yum’s test-of-time standards just two years ago on the Cooking Channel’s “The Originals with Emeril.”

Robin also had a brief cameo as a waiter in the 2010 action comedy film, “The Other Guys,” starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, which filmed in the 181-08 Union Turnpike eatery.

The couple said they originally thought the Cooking Channel reached out to them to shoot another tribute-esque show.

Instead, they were blindsided — a claim echoed by other show participants, according to the Detroit Free Press.

“We had no idea what they were coming in to film,” Robin said. “They kept us in the dark about everything. They never told us it was for a restaurant do-over.”

Roberta said her regular customers were “mortified” to see the restaurant on the show.

“People love the food here,” she said. “Our customers are really angry.”

It has been King Yum’s “good food, consistency and good value” that has kept the business alive in the ever-changing food industry, Robin said.

“I grew up working here with my brother. We managed the place as teenagers. I did everything from washing dishes to peeling shrimp,” he said. “We’ve been here for 60 years. We must be doing something right.”

The Cooking Channel did not comment.

Somewhat grateful for the “wake up” call, the Ng family said they plan to soon incorporate Huang’s crispy chicken wings with citrus five-spice salt into the menu.

“It had a nice ending,” Roberta said. “Things needed to be freshened up. She did that.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES