Tag Archives: grace meng

Mayor adds Lunar New Year holiday to NYC public school calendar


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

Mayor Bill de Blasio came to Flushing Tuesday morning to announce that the Lunar New Year will be an official public school holiday beginning in the 2015-16 school year, allowing students of Asian descent to celebrate with family without missing class.

The mayor made the declaration at P.S. 20 in Flushing, which counts 75 percent of the student body as being of Asian descent. The Lunar New Year has already been added to the NYC public school calendar and will take place next year on February 8.

“There was a lot we had to balance to get this right,” said de Blasio, who cited difficulties in ensuring that the state-mandated 180 yearly school days fit into the plan. “It took some work, but it happened.”

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña emphasized the importance of keeping a steady education schedule for the 1.1 million students of the city and offered her support of new holiday. To make up for the school hours lost, two separate half-days already in the calendar will be lengthened to become full days of classes.

“Taking time off to honor people’s heritage is also important,” said Fariña.

This is the second time de Blasio had made moves toward cultural inclusion in the school calendar. In March he also declared the two holiest days in the Islamic calendar, Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha, as official public school holidays.

The mayor was joined by a host of officials and community leaders who had long been advocating for the change.

“For too long, families have been forced to choose between celebrating this important cultural holiday and sending their child to school,” said Councilman Peter Koo, a Shanghai native. “By including Lunar New Year in the school calendar, New York City shows that we are an ever-evolving city that takes pride in the cultural traditions of its diverse populations.”

“This holiday is not about kids just getting a day off from school,” added Assemblyman Ron Kim, who attended P.S. 20 as a student himself 30 years ago. “It’s about the City of New York telling hundreds of thousands of Asian Americans that their culture and heritage is part of the American fabric.”

Kim and Koo, along with Rep. Grace Meng and many other prominent members of the Asian-American community, have all pushed for the mayor to establish the school holiday after de Blasio promised to do so while on the campaign trail in 2013.

After seeing no movement forward in the initiative for the Lunar New Year, Kim took on the responsibility of pushing it forward himself this year by authoring state legislation which would have given all New York children the day off. While that bill is still pending, Kim has said that he would lay aside the legislation in the interest of collaborating with the de Blasio administration.

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Hillary Clinton visits Queens for campaign fundraiser


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Victoria Schneps-Yunis

Updated 3:22 p.m.

Former Secretary of State and current presidential candidate Hillary Clinton appeared at Terrace on the Park Monday afternoon for a lucrative fundraiser in her honor.

Rep. Joe Crowley, leader of the Queens County Democratic Party, and Rep. Grace Meng held the $2,700-per-plate campaign luncheon in support of Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

It was the second of three fundraisers held for Clinton in the New York City area; earlier in the afternoon, she stopped by a Manhattan function held by former New York State first lady Silda Wall Spitzer. Following her appearance at the venue inside Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Clinton headed off to a private fundraiser at the home of Nassau County Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs.

All told, the “Hillary for America” campaign reportedly raised $275,000 at the Queens fundraiser. According to the New York Daily News, Clinton is rumored to be planning an official campaign launch later this month on Roosevelt Island.

Former President Bill Clinton was not with candidate Clinton at Monday’s event.

Prominent Democrats from across Queens joined Crowley and Meng at the Clinton fundraiser, including Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Queens County Clerk Audrey Pheffer, former Borough President Claire Shulman and former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr.

Polls point to Hillary Clinton as the prohibitive front-runner in the 2016 Democratic race. Two rivals, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, have already declared their candidacies for the Democratic nomination.

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Renovated Rego Park Social Security office reopens


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Property Shark/Scott Bintner

The Social Security office in Rego Park is up and running once again.

Renovations to the office located at 63-44 Austin St. forced its closure last December, making the hundreds of daily visitors have to travel to other offices around Brooklyn and Queens – including Jamaica, Flushing and Bushwick.

“The reopening of the Social Security facility in Rego Park is great news,” U.S. Rep. Grace Meng said. “I’m pleased that the facility has been modernized and I hope these improvements will allow its staff to better serve our borough.”

All 32 employees stationed at the Rego Park office prior to the renovation returned upon the office’s reopening. The full-service facility handles all matters including retirement, disability and survivor’s benefits as well as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for qualified individuals.

The office is open five days a week: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to noon.

Click here for more information.

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Nail salon owners and officials speak on changes to labor practices


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

BY ALINA SURIEL AND ANGELA MATUA

Owners of New York City nail salons gathered Monday in Flushing to publicly speak for the first time since recent investigations shed light on rampant abusive labor practices in the industry.

Sang-Ho Lee, president of the Korean Nail Association, was joined by Congresswoman Grace Meng and Assemblyman Ron Kim to announce the creation of the “Healthy Nail Salon Network” to institute immediate fixes and long-term solutions to alleged wage theft and unsafe working conditions.

Kim, himself the child of immigrant parents who once operated Manhattan nail salons, said that the business leaders in the community have stepped up to the challenge of creating a safe workplace.

“I stand here with the owners of these mom-and-pop, community-based stores today to use this opportunity to help this industry become better,” Kim said. “For every turn, confrontation, or setback, there are opportunities to learn and become better at what we do.”

Lee outlined many of the problems in the nail salon industry and proposed actions to combat these issues, such as raising prices for manicures and creating a code of conduct for salons, as well as a state-certified “good business” label to show which salons are in compliance with regulations.

“We have a number of challenges ahead of us but thousands of immigrant workers depend on us getting this right,” said Lee, who added that the association will cooperate with state labor agencies in their ongoing investigations.

The thousands of undocumented women in the nail salon industry are particularly vulnerable, often lacking English language skills and the means to find employment. Business owners who intentionally exploit these employees exacerbate the issue by violating health codes and underpaying beauty technicians to cut costs and drive prices down.

Meng said that while cooperation from nail salon employers is crucial in creating change, more should also be done by federal and state immigration and labor agencies to increase awareness of workers’ rights.

“It’s important, as with any industry, not to just paint the entire industry with such a broad stroke, so that the hard-working, law-abiding owners are vilified,” said Meng.

As part of his continued effort to deal with the issue at a state level, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that in addition to his multi-agency task force to recover stolen wages and shut down the industry’s worst offenders, a new package of legislation and regulations will be implemented to protect workers. The legislation would allow the Department of State to shut down any nail salon that is unlicensed and impose financial penalties higher than currently permitted.

Unlicensed nail practitioners will be allowed to register with the state as trainees and skip high-cost education programs, which will allow them to work while studying for their licensing exam. These license exams will now be offered in three extra languages including Nepali, Tibetan and Vietnamese, in addition to English, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, Russian and Chinese.

In addition to reviewing the chemical agents used in nail products and requiring employers to provide workers with protective masks, nitrile gloves and eye protection, all nail salons must secure a bond or insurance policy to cover business liabilities and ensure that employers can pay back wages to workers if they are ordered to do so.

A new task force hotline number has been established to answer any questions about nail salons, proper wages and safe working conditions at 888-469-7365.

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Congresswoman Meng pushes for EPA action on airplane noise


| asuriel@queenscourier.com

File photo

Congresswoman Grace Meng has reached out to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to push for an increase in the agency’s efforts to control noise pollution from airplanes and helicopters.

Residents from Bayside, Flushing and surrounding neighborhoods have reported daily disruption from roaring, low-flying planes since the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved a route change in December 2012 that affected departing LaGuardia Airport traffic.

The new routes adhere to a required three-mile separation between planes coming into John F. Kennedy International Airport and planes taking off from LaGuardia Airport while using a new, precise navigation method.

Meng appealed to the EPA because the agency has the authority to investigate and study noise and its effect and respond to inquiries on matters related to noise under the federal Noise Control Act of 1972. The congresswoman charged that the FAA did not have the resources to properly improve the situation in north Queens, and that a lack of coordination between the aviation authority and airport operators is detrimental to any possible progress.

“[In] order to properly protect human health and the environment from excessive noise, the EPA must fully include flight noise in its jurisdiction,” Meng said. “I have no doubt that its involvement is the best way forward to coordinate the efforts of air carriers, the FAA and airport operators.”

In response to the outcry from the community after the route change, in March 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to double its sound monitors and create an office to address soaring noise complaints.

As part of the ongoing study, the Port Authority has since collected reports in an online noise complaint management system powered by PlaneNoise, an aviation noise consultancy specializing in airport noise complaint management solutions.

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MTA, DOT scrap plans for Main Street bus-only lane in Kew Gardens Hills


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilman Rory Lancman's office

Facing community and political opposition, the MTA and the city Department of Transportation slammed the brakes on a proposed dedicated bus lane for the limited Q44 bus line on Main Street in Kew Gardens Hills.

The news came during Wednesday night’s meeting of the Kew Gardens Hills Civic Association. The MTA planned to take one lane in each direction of Main Street to convert the Q44 between Flushing and Jamaica into a Select Bus Service (SBS) route.

Civic leaders and elected officials protested the plans previously, claiming the lost lane of traffic would increase vehicular traffic on Main Street while also depriving both residents and shoppers of valued parking space.

“A dedicated bus-only lane in Kew Gardens Hills was always the wrong choice for our community,” Councilman Rory Lancman said in a press release Thursday. “The proposed bus-only lane would have increased congestion, reduced parking spaces, hurt businesses and diverted cars onto residential streets.”

Lancman, along with Rep. Grace Meng, Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz and state Senators Joseph Addabbo and Toby Ann Stavisky, praised the MTA and DOT for hearing concerns about the bus lane and ultimately nixing the plan.

According to Lancman, the DOT and MTA will seek other methods to improve traffic flow on Main Street in Kew Gardens Hills, including potential street reconfiguration, off-board fare collection and re-synchronizing traffic lights.

A source familiar with the plan indicated a bus-only lane is most likely for areas of Main Street north of the Long Island Expressway. However, it is not likely a bus lane would be created on Main Street south of Kew Gardens Hills due to a lack of street space.

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Federal funding for Flushing Bay channel dredging


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Image via Google Maps

Looking to make it easier for ships and barges to navigate, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will dredge the main channel leading into Flushing Bay beginning this fall, Representatives Joe Crowley and Grace Meng announced Thursday.

The dredging will focus on Flushing Bay’s Federal Channel — located near the East River, the easternmost end of La Guardia Airport’s Runway 31 and the College Point waterfront. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, approximately 1,425,000 tons of cargo is transported through the channel annually and deposited at 14 different marine terminals.

Much of the cargo consists of sand, stone and petroleum products sent to local industries.

In October crews will begin dredging the 15-foot deep channel extending the length of Flushing Bay, removing approximately 125,000 cubic yards of sediment and other material on the channel floor. The sediment will be shipped inland for processing and disposal.

“Flushing Bay continues to be an important waterway for New York and I’m pleased that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be undertaking much-needed dredging of the channel to improve maneuverability for ships,” Crowley said.

“Ensuring that these vessels are able to freely navigate through this body of water helps promote and improve everything from trade and commerce to recreation and public safety,” Meng added.

The project, which was secured in the Corps’ $12.1 million work plan for federal 2015 fiscal year, has an estimated cost of $250,000.

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First charter meeting for Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

City Council Member Peter Koo swears in the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce board of directors last Wednesday. (photo courtesy of Koo's office)

The Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce continued its growth on the afternoon of March 18 with its first membership meeting that attracted numerous civic and business leaders.

The chamber’s first formal task was to elect a board of directors to oversee the organization’s operation under the stewardship of co-chairs Simon Gerson and Chris Kui. The organization also appointed a council of advisers and approved its corporate bylaws and agenda for the months ahead.

“The Flushing Chamber is proud to provide leadership to ensure the continued prosperity of our community,” Gerson said. “Our local businesses will benefit from the networking, education and advocacy opportunities that the chamber provides.”

Greater Flushing looks to replace the void that the 80-year-old Flushing Chamber of Commerce left when it dissolved in 2012. Many blamed the group’s inability to change with the times and neighborhood’s demographics as key factors resulting in its demise.

But Greater Flushing Executive Director John Choe said the upstart group aims to create a “multicultural and modern” organization catering to all businesses and people in Flushing from every background. Greater Flushing already has about 70 businesses as members, and Choe hopes that number will double in the next few months.

“I think Flushing deserves a chamber that will advocate on behalf of the entire community,” he said. “We haven’t had a chamber for a long time, even though we’re the fourth-largest commercial district in the city.”

Greater Flushing already has a “very full plate” of programs aiming to serve and enrich businesses, residents and visitors alike, Choe added, including a free English language program in partnership with Monroe College. The chamber also wants to sponsor several street fairs this summer and launch free financial literacy programs.

The chamber is also considering creating a “formal lending circle” with established credit agencies, Choe noted. Traditional lending circles often practiced among immigrant families involve members donating funds into a central account, with the lump sum then provided to someone launching a business or buying a home, among other purposes.

The formal circle, Choe said, would follow regulations and ensure accountability with the borrowers.

City Councilman Peter Koo had the honor of installing the newly-elected board of directors and threw his support to the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce, saying the group would provide “small business owners with the resources they need to expand and grow.”

“We are still living in a climate of over-regulation that remains challenging for many small business owners, so the Flushing Chamber will be a welcomed addition to our diverse business community,” Koo said.

Greater Flushing’s board of directors consists of Gerson, Kui and Don Capalbi of the Queensboro Hill Flushing Civic Association, Perka Chan of HealthFirst, Michael Cheng of Epos Global Management, Taehoon Kim of Regen Acupuncture, Ellen Kodadek of Flushing Town Hall, Michael Lam of Century Homes Realty Group LLC, Alice Lee of HealthPlus Amerigroup, Alfred Rankins of the Latimer House Museum, Maureen Regan of Green Earth Urban Gardens and Leo Zhang of the law firm of Geng & Zhang.

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Dragons mark Lunar New Year in Flushing


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Eric Jankiewicz

Dragons were spotted in Flushing on Thursday.

Thumping drums accompanied the quick pace of commuters and shoppers in downtown Flushing. Two dragons walked into a T-Mobile store on Roosevelt Avenue with a traveling band following close behind. It was the first day of Lunar New Year.

To mark the holiday that is celebrated by many Asian communities, a kung fu and dance club ran through the streets of Flushing’s Chinatown with dragon costumes, cymbals and drums. The Hung Sing Kwoon group celebrates the holiday every year by holding a small parade on the first day of Lunar New Year.

“We’re celebrating the new year by parading around Flushing stores,” said Adam Chin, who has been with the group for seven years.

The group usually barges into stores and parades through the streets for the majority of the day.

“We’ll keep it up even in this cold,” Chin said as the wind picked up. “We feel it’s our duty to help spread joy on this day. That’s why we go into stores too. People really like that.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Rep. Grace Meng read to a group of students for Lunar New Year. The lawmakers were at the Flushing branch of the Queens Library, where many of the children were wearing traditional red clothes for the holiday.

“The Lunar New Year is an important time,” Gillibrand said. “It’s a chance to think about new goals, and I wish everyone happiness, success and good fortune.

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Op-ed: Small businesses vital to Queens and the nation


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY U.S. REP GRACE MENG

What do the local pizzeria, optometrist and neighborhood nail salon have in common? They are all small businesses; and if you walk down any commercial strip in Queens — from Bell Boulevard to Myrtle Avenue and Main Street to Queens Boulevard — you’ll see plenty of them.

Why? Because small businesses drive the economy here in our borough and across the nation. They are the engine that stimulates economic growth and the backbone of the region’s economy.

Small businesses also bring investment and innovation to communities; provide jobs to local residents; and heavily contribute to their local tax base, funding everything from schools, police and many other municipal services.

According to federal government statistics, 99.7 percent of all employer firms are small businesses. Small businesses also generate 63 percent of new jobs and make up 48.5 percent of private-sector employment.

With the prosperity of New York City and the country so closely tied to the success of small businesses, it is critical that government do all it can to help entrepreneurs make their businesses successful. On the federal level, a great deal of assistance is provided by the Small Business Administration (SBA), an independent agency created by Congress to assist, counsel and protect the interests of small-business owners. The SBA offers many programs for individuals to start and run a small business, such as providing grants and loans, and help to develop business plans and obtain government contracts, among many other services.

I urge all entrepreneurs to make use of the valuable resources that the SBA provides, whether it’s an idea for a startup or questions about operating an existing business. Go to SBA.gov to tap into the huge array of these services.

Just two weeks ago, I arranged for the head of the SBA, Maria Contreras-Sweet, to visit Queens, where she saw borough businesses firsthand. While meeting with area entrepreneurs, she, too, encouraged local small-business owners to take advantage of all that the agency has to offer.

As a member of the House Small Business Committee, I’ve made helping small businesses a top priority during my first term in Congress.

After organizing and taking part in a rare Congressional field hearing in Queens, I worked with the SBA to make it easier for entrepreneurs to gain critical access to capital. I also helped arrange for additional Small Business Development Center (SBDC) services in Queens, and I continue my efforts to secure a third full-service facility in the borough—a site that would be more central to our district and meet the language and cultural needs of area business owners.

There are several other initiatives I’ve been proud to spearhead, from hosting seminars to sponsoring and supporting legislation to helping entrepreneurs impacted by Hurricane Sandy. During my second term in 2015, I plan to continue these and other initiatives, and I’ll continue to work closely with the SBA and other government agencies. We must ensure that entrepreneurs are aware of the resources that are available to them, and that they stay up to date with the ever-changing business landscape.

With so much at stake, it is imperative that we help small businesses grow and thrive in order to ensure that our economy moves in the right direction and continues to recover from the economic downturn. As the daughter of Queens small-business owners, I have a profound understanding of the struggles and needs of small businesses. We cannot afford to let them down.

In addition to government resources, consumers must do their part. It is essential that Queens residents support small businesses in their communities. I’ll be doing so on National Small Business Saturday this Nov. 29. I hope you will as well.

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng is a Democrat representing Queens.

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Bayside small businesses praised by feds


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the borough president's office

With more small businesses than big box stores on Bell Boulevard, the commercial strip was the perfect destination for the head of the federal Small Business Administration (SBA) when she made the trip to New York last week.

“I’m so excited to be here in Bayside,” said Maria Contreras-Sweet, administrator of SBA. “Unlike many other places, Bell Boulevard has such a high concentration of small businesses and I want to keep this area thriving.”

Contreras-Sweet, along with Congresswoman Grace Meng, spoke to the owners of Bayside Milk Farm and went behind the food market’s deli to try out some of the food.

During the trip, Contreras-Sweet urged business owners to use the free resources that SBA provides. Many new initiatives, Contreras-Sweet said, are meant to help small businesses modernize their tools.

Small businesses can get technical assistance through a program called Operation HOPE. Entrepreneurs can also get loans and business counseling through SBA’s Direct Resource Packet, which brings together information about lenders and counselors in one document online.

“Thank you for your voice and thank you for all the great work you’re doing,” Meng said to Contreras-Sweet.

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Outrage after DMV dismisses tickets against driver who killed toddler in Flushing


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The Department of Motor Vehicles has dropped two tickets against the driver who fatally struck a 3-year-old girl in Flushing last year, angering the toddler’s father and others.

Allison Liao and her grandmother were crossing the intersection of Cherry Avenue and Main Street on Oct. 6, 2013, when an SUV hit the child, according to police.

The driver, identified in media reports as Ahmad Abu-Zayedeha, remained at the scene and was not charged with a crime. But he was issued two summonses for failing to exercise due care and failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

The girl’s father, Hsi-Pei Liao, took to social media Friday to express his feelings over the dismissal of the summonses.

“.@nysdmv why did you void the 2 tickets for the driver that killed my 3 year old daughter!?!?” he wrote on Twitter.

He has filed a civil suit against Abu-Zayedeha, according to the New York Post.

Advocacy group Transportation Alternatives and U.S. Rep. Grace Meng were also upset over the decision and took aim at the DMV.

In a statement, Meng said she would be writing to the department about the dismissal.

“After watching the video of this tragedy, I find the decision to dismiss these tickets very troubling,” she said.

Photo via Hsi-Pei Liao/Twitter

Photo via Hsi-Pei Liao/Twitter

According to the video and published reports, Liao and her grandmother were crossing with the light and holding each other’s hands when the SUV struck them as it was making a turn.

Abu-Zayedeha had been drinking before the accident, but passed a Breathalyzer test, reports said. He testified under oath that Allison had run into the path of his car, according to Gothamist.

Transportation Alternatives called for the removal of DMV Commissioner Barbara Fiala.

“This is an outrageous injustice to the family of Allison Liao, and to all New Yorkers,” executive Director Paul Steely White said. “The two summonses were already a mere slap on the wrist for the driver who failed to yield and killed Allison Liao when she was in the crosswalk with the light, hand-in-hand with her grandmother. Now the state Department of Motor Vehicles has decided the deadly driver who muscled his way through that crosswalk doesn’t even deserve such a paltry sanction.”

In a statement released to CBS New York, the DMV reiterated that no criminal charges were brought against Abu-Zayedeha in connection to the accident and said that the tickets had been dismissed on July 1.

“However, whenever a fatal accident occurs anywhere in the state, the DMV schedules a special safety hearing,” the statement also said. “That hearing for Mr. Abu-Zayedeha has been set for January 6. At that time, a determination will be made if Mr. Abu-Zayedeha has any culpability for the accident on October 6 that would result in any action being taken with regard to his driver license based on the Vehicle and Traffic law. DMV is an administrative agency and has no authority with regard to law enforcement or criminal prosecution.”

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Legislation proposed to give Glendale its own ZIP code


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Is it Glendale or Ridgewood? You can’t tell from the ZIP code.

But the confusion may be a thing of the past if new legislation, introduced by U.S. Rep. Grace Meng, gets passed.

“For years, the residents of Glendale have sought to obtain a ZIP code for their community and now I join them in their fight,” Meng said. “Most areas in the borough are recognized by their neighborhood names, which provide a sense of identity and pride for local residents. That is true for Glendale, and it’s time for the Postal Service to accept and recognize that by creating a ZIP code that the community can finally call its own.”

The pleas for a Glendale ZIP code have been constant for over a decade but have continually fallen on deaf ears, according to published reports. The neighborhood currently shares its 11385 ZIP Code with Ridgewood.

In 2007, the U.S. Postal Service shot down Glendale’s plea for its own ZIP code because it would be too costly and would have an adverse effect on mail service, according to the Daily News.

But residents and elected officials are willing to give it another go and win their very own five-digit identity.

“The residents and business owners in Glendale have advocated for Glendale to have a unique ZIP code for many year,” said Brian Dooley, president of the Glendale Property Association.

“Glendale should be recognized as a truly unique place with its own identity, issues and strengths, separate and apart from our neighbors in Ridgewood.”

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House bill looks at Flushing’s connection to religious freedom


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

File Photo

There’s more than just tennis and the World’s Fair in Queens. U.S. Rep. Grace Meng wants to add the roots of American religious freedom to Queens’ list of accomplishments.

A bill, sponsored by Meng, would require the government to look into funding Flushing sites like the Bowne House and Quaker Meetinghouse, according to the Library of Congress. These sites are associated with the 1657 signing of the Flushing Remonstrance, the document recognized as the forerunner of religious freedom in America.

Her bill won a majority in the House of Representatives on Monday night.

“The passage of this legislation brings us one step closer towards many more Americans learning about the important role that Queens played in the history of religious freedom in America,” Meng said.

If the bill passes the Senate and is signed by President Barack Obama, the Flushing sites would receive federal funding and, according to Meng, result in increased tourism.

“Not only would the two facilities become more well-known, but the sites would stand to receive many more visitors each year, and more tourism translates into more dollars for the Queens economy,” she said. “It’s time for more people across the country to know about the Flushing Remonstrance, and putting these sites on a national stage is a sure way to accomplish that.”

Rosemary Vietor, vice president of the Bowne House Historical Society, was “thrilled” to hear the news and said that the study would help lift the Flushing Remonstrance signing out of obscurity.

“The 1657 Remonstrance triggered events which established the principle of religious freedom in the colony of New Amsterdam,” she said, “which led to the guarantee of religious freedom in the First Amendment more than 100 years later.”

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Op-ed: Protect yourself from skin cancer all year long


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

DR. WAYNE KYE

May is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Protection Month. It makes sense to focus on skin protection when spring gives way to summer and we spend more time outdoors. While we should be especially vigilant in the strong summer sun, it is also important to remember to protect our skin throughout the year.

Damage can be done in the fall and winter and on cloudy days. Many facial moisturizers are now made with SPF 30 or higher and should be used year-round, along with hats and sunglasses.

Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, with more than 2 million people diagnosed each year. In 2014, it is expected that 76,100 of new cases will be melanoma skin cancer, the most dangerous type of skin cancer, leading to 9,710 deaths. One person dies from melanoma skin cancer every hour. In New York alone, it is expected that there will be 4,240 new cases of melanoma skin cancer in 2014. People too often don’t realize that melanoma can be deadly or understand that everyone, regardless of age, hair color, race or gender is at risk.

The primary cause of skin cancer is damage from the sun’s UV rays (ultraviolet radiation). Spending time in the sun, tanning or getting sunburned ages your skin rapidly and leads to a higher risk of skin cancer.

Tanning booths, popular among teenagers, produce dangerous UV rays and are especially harmful to those who are younger than 35, increasing their risk of melanoma by 75 percent. One indoor tanning session can increase your risk of melanoma by 20 percent. There is also a higher risk for people who smoke, have fair skin, freckles or light-colored eyes, have a family history of skin cancer or have numerous moles.

Children are especially vulnerable and spend more time outdoors than they do at any other time in their lives. Skin damage at an early age significantly raises the risk of skin cancer later on in life, so it is crucial to be attentive with young people. By practicing sun safety consistently, they will learn habits to use during teenage years and adulthood.

Here are some things everyone — regardless of age — should know:

  • Seek shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is the strongest. Even when it is cloudy out, UV rays can still reach the earth’s surface.
  •  Don’t get burned. Always use sunscreen when you are outside. Use at least SPF 30 sunscreen that is UVA and UVB blocking. Apply a palmful to your entire body 20 minutes before exposure, repeating every 2 hours. Do not forget to use SPF lip balm, too — even your lips are sensitive to sun rays.
  • •When you are in the sun, protect your eyes with UV-absorbent sunglasses, and wear a wide-brimmed hat and tightly woven clothing for maximum protection.
  •  Enjoy brief sun exposure of 15 minutes up to 3 days a week to your arms, face and hands. This produces much-needed Vitamin D.

It is also important that your health professional give your skin an annual examination — and that you check yourself monthly. Look for new moles or moles that have changed in size, color or shape. If you find a change in your skin, red spots, have sores that do not heal, or new moles, see your health professional right away.

The power of the sun should not be feared, but it must be respected. Always be cautious when going out in the sun. The preventive steps outlined above are easy and effective. Follow them. Encourage your loved ones to do the same. For more information on skin cancer and cancer prevention, visit preventcancer.org.

Dr. Wayne Kye is the spouse of Representative Grace Meng (NY-6) and a member of the Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program of the Prevent Cancer Foundation.

 

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