Tag Archives: Jackson Heights

Taxi fatally strikes pedestrian in Jackson Heights

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 7.05.49 AM

A taxi driver struck and killed a pedestrian last week as he was backing up his vehicle at a Jackson Heights crosswalk, police said Wednesday.

The yellow sedan cab was traveling north on 74th Street just after 1 a.m. on Aug. 19 when it stopped as it was entering into the pedestrian crosswalk at 34th Avenue, cops said. The taxi then began to back up and struck a 55-year-old pedestrian as he crossed 74th Street.

EMS rushed the victim, whose identity was pending family notification, to Elmhurst Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

The driver remained on the scene and the investigation remains ongoing.


The Queen’s Cartoonists bring swing-era music, written for classic cartoons, to listeners

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Irina Fateycheva

A new band made up of Astoria and Jackson Heights residents is bringing a fresh, yet vintage, sound to the ears of audiences throughout the city.

The Queen’s Cartoonists, made up of six Queens musicians, was formed when pianist Joel Pierson made the move from Washington, D.C., to Jackson Heights after getting married to a Queens resident.

Pierson, who has been playing the piano for over 20 years and has performed on all seven continents, was looking for a job and said he wanted to do something innovative that would attract audiences — which is how the idea of the band came about.

“I was trying to think of something that would have the band stand out in New York, that would be interesting to people,” Pierson said. “I saw it as a different twist of what people are doing up here.”

The group performs music they call the “zaniest and most creative” out of the swing era and many of which was written and adapted for classic cartoons from Warner Bros. and Disney, such as the Looney Tunes, Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse.

The band is made up of Pierson and Astoria residents Mark Phillips on clarinet and soprano sax; Drew Pitcher on tenor sax; Greg Hammontree on trumpet; Rossen Nedelchev on percussion; and Ian Hutchison on bass.

“We’re all very Queens-centric people. We all just really like Queens. Everybody is rubbing elbows from all over the world,” Pierson said. “We all live here for a reason.”

The name of the band, which was created before there was a group and Pierson believes helped attract the members, has been written in many ways – some including the apostrophe, others placing it after the S — however Pierson said it all goes back to highlighting their home borough.

“[Queens] feels like a really authentic place to live and so many jazz people have lived here,” Pierson said. “It fits with the kind of music we want to play.”

What differs The Queen’s Cartoonists from all other jazz musicians and groups in the city, Pierson said, is that the group does not perform out of spontaneity. Due to the classic music’s short and fast performances, it is crucial that the members spend extensive time practicing every tune and be organized when performing.

Each song can go about 2 to 3 minutes long and performances tend to last about 20 to 25 minutes.

“Everything has to be really set up ahead of time because if we’re not on it 100 percent then it can be really hard for us,” Pierson said.

Although the band performs what Pierson calls “cartoony and silly” music, he adds that he still wants to maintain a formal feel in the performances — much like how it was down back in the 1930s and ’40s.

“We want people to experience a formal experience even if the music is cartoony and silly,” Pierson said. “We want it to be a concert in a way because it is hard to play and we want to give some credibility to this music.”

For now, the “novelty” band is still testing the waters to figure out the best venues to perform in and Pierson hopes to one day see themselves live at performing art centers, festivals and any other venues where audience know they will be. They have also participated in the MTA’s Music Under New York Program.

The Queen’s Cartoonists will perform on Aug. 29 at The Shops at SkyView Center in Flushing from 1 to 3 p.m. and on Sept. 17 will play at the Long Beach Jazz Festival at 7 p.m.

For more information, visit www.thequeenscartoonists.com.


Jackson Heights man starts dads beer meetup to build community

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

A Jackson Heights dad is hoping he can help other fathers or even fathers-to-be rescue their social life with a monthly get-together over some cold drinks — after the kids are in bed.

Jonny Goldstein moved to Jackson Heights a little over a year ago after a series of moves to other cities with his wife and 4-year-old daughter. He said he found it hard to maintain a social life in a new neighborhood while being a parent of a small child.

“When you have a small child, or small children, that takes a lot of your time and energy so I think a lot of people’s social lives suffer and that certainly was the case for us,” Goldstein said.

He added that he does come in contact with other families around the Jackson Heights neighborhood and casually will have conversations with families on playgrounds but friendships normally don’t develop during that short amount of time.

“We go to work, come home, make dinner, put kids to bed and then collapse and start all over again,” he said.

With previous experience in helping start other groups and meetups sharing common interests in other cities he has lived in, Goldstein thought it would be nice to be able to get dads in the community together.

He reached out to a friend in San Francisco, mentioned the idea and found out dad meetups had already been taking place on the West Coast for years. This gave Goldstein the confirmation he needed to start his own.

“I thought, ‘Hey, I bet I’m not the only person in this neighborhood who would like some very low-key random socializing,’” he said.

Goldstein then set up the first-ever Jackson Heights dads beer meetup, which took place on July 31 and saw over 20 dads from the neighborhood and also nearby communities coming out to hang out and talk.

Afterwards, he said he received a lot of positive feedback from attendees and many people also thanked him for bringing them together.

“The nice thing is walking around the neighborhood since then, I’ve bumped into guys that I met and I’m sure that that’s happening to everyone that was there,” he said. “Even if it’s that casual interaction on the street, it improves my experience and hopefully their experience, too.”

Goldstein added that the goal of these meetups, which will occur on the last Friday of every month, is to give these dads the chance to have a social life that can turn into friendships or also help out with learning about the neighborhood.

He added that these meetups could also help the dads and dads-to-be hear about useful community information and also meet with other dads who have children the same age or have already experienced raising younger children.

“It’s very low-key and it’s after you put your kids to bed so it’s not disruptive to your parenting,” he said. “I would definitely encourage people in the neighborhood to give it a try.”

Goldstein said everyone is invited to attend the meetups, and dads do not need to be drinkers to participate. He also asks for women to please pass along the invitation to some dads they think would benefit from attending.

The next dads beer meetup is set for Friday, Aug. 28, from 9:30 to 11 p.m. at the Ready Penny Inn, located at 37-07 73rd St. To RSVP email Goldstein at jonny.goldstein@gmail.com.


Queens workers owed $800K in unclaimed back wages: comptroller

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo via Scott Stringer's Facebook page

With Labor Rights Week quickly approaching, City Comptroller Scott Stringer scored a victory for city workers when he found $3.7 million as part of unclaimed prevailing wage settlements with several companies that worked on city-funded projects.

Stringer is now seeking the public’s help in identifying the over 1,000 workers from across the city to whom these funds are owed.

Throughout Queens, 200 individuals are owed nearly $800,000, according to Stringer’s findings.

In Corona, 20 people are owed a total of $117,470.53; Elmhurst has 18 individuals who are owed $74,934.79; and in Maspeth, Ridgewood and Jackson Heights, 14 people from each neighborhood are owed a total of $151,811.21.

“My office has recovered millions of dollars through our enforcement of the prevailing wage, but now we need your help to connect these workers with the money they are owed,” Stringer said. “Thousands of hard-working individuals, many of whom are immigrants, have been cheated out of their rightfully earned wages, but they may not know these funds exist. Help us get the word out about unclaimed wages — recovering thousands of dollars may only be a phone call or email away.”

Stringer’s office is trying to identify those who are owed wages through social media, media partnerships and distribution of informational flyers in several languages including English, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Russian and Creole in neighborhoods throughout the city.

“We’re ramping up our efforts to identify these hard-working men and women who are owed the money they earned,” the comptroller said. “In the coming weeks, we’ll be on the streets, on social media and on the airwaves with a single message: if you’ve been cheated out of your wages, the comptroller’s office has your back. Tell your friends and family: call our hotline or visit our website to see if you are eligible to receive your lost wages.”

The prevailing wage laws require employers to pay workers the wage and benefit rate set annually by the comptroller when those employees work on city public works projects, such as renovating public schools or building service contracts, which includes security guard and custodial work, with city agencies.

Workers who believe they may be entitled to unclaimed wages can call the comptroller’s hotline at 212-669-4443, send in inquiries via email to laborlaw@comptroller.nyc.gov or check the comptroller’s unclaimed wages website.


Identify this place in Queens

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


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

Last week’s answer to “Identify this Place”: 88th Street and Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights



PHOTOS: Queens residents enjoy a fun ‘Night Out’ with New York’s Finest

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Promoting greater harmony between police and the people they serve, Tuesday’s National Night Out Against Crime brought thousands of Queens residents out to venues across the “World’s Borough” for family-friendly activities.

From Astoria to the Rockaway Peninsula, each Night Out event included free games and activities for children of all ages as well as refreshments, live music and other entertainment. Residents also had the opportunity to meet with the officers who serve their community and learn more about the NYPD’s various crime prevention programs.

Local elected officials, including Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, attended each gathering and presented proclamations to the precinct commanders. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who made the rounds at Night Out events across the city, stopped by the 113th Precinct’s Night Out in Springfield Gardens.

The National Night Out Against Crime, founded by the National Association of Town Watch, aims to strengthen relationships between law enforcement and the communities. Millions of people across the U.S. and Canada were estimated to have participated in Night Out events Tuesday evening.


Suspect whacks elderly driver in face with pipe in Jackson Heights: cops

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Sketch courtesy of NYPD

A man came up to a 74-year-old driver as he was parking his car on a Jackson Heights street last month and struck him with a metal pipe, police said.

The attack happened on July 11 at about 1:40 p.m. on 83rd Street near Northern Boulevard, authorities said.

The victim was trying to park his vehicle as the suspect exited a nearby car and approached him, according to police. The suspect then hit him in the face with a metal pipe before fleeing in a black sedan. Authorities said the assault was apparently unprovoked.

EMS transported the victim to Elmhurst Hospital where he was treated and released for swelling and lacerations.

Police describe the suspect as an Asian male in his 30s, about 5 feet 9 inches tall, 150 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. He was wearing a black T-shirt and blue jeans.

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.




Alleged Queens gang members busted in undercover gun, drug sale operation

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


Eight purported street gang members from Queens have been charged after peddling guns and drugs during undercover buys, prosecutors announced.

“Illegal firearms that flood our streets pose a serious and deadly threat to public safety and the distribution of illegal drugs is a plague on our society. For those arrested, the message could not be clearer: law enforcement has no tolerance for those involved in the weapons and drug trade,” District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement Tuesday.

According to prosecutors, seven of those arrested were alleged members of the Trinitarios, “a violent New York-based Dominican street gang,” and the eighth defendant is a reputed member of MS-13, another “violent street gang primarily composed of Central Americans.”

The buys, which took place in Queens between November 2012 and June 2014, included a total of 14 guns, with ammunition in some cases, and cocaine, MDPV and marijuana, according to the district attorney’s office. During that time, the members were unknowingly selling to NYPD operatives.

In one case, Lucas Singh, 30, of College Point, allegedly sold an undercover agent a defaced cut-down rifle along with 50 rounds of ammunition on July 30, 2013, for $850. He is also accused of selling another undercover operative a defaced .357 magnum revolver and a .32-caliber semi-automatic Kel-Tec pistol with ammunition for $1,200 on June 4. A week later, Singh sold the same operative a .38-caliber Smith and Wesson revolver, and a .380 semi-automatic Kel-Tec pistol with 12 rounds of ammunition for $1,200.

The remaining defendants were identified as Eddie Cruz, 28 and Clase Wellington, 26, both of Glendale; Marcello Esquival, 26, of Jackson Heights; Francisco Gil, 25, Carlos Rosario-Mejia, 30, and Reginald Rosa, 25, all of Jamaica; and Angel Sanchez, 23, of Woodhaven.

They are variously charged with criminal sale of a firearm, criminal possession of a weapon, criminal possession of a firearm, criminal sale of a controlled substance and criminal sale of marijuana.


Jackson Heights, Elmhurst district schools to receive $2.4M in funding

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com


One local elected official is reaching out to help a handful of schools in Jackson Heights and Elmhurst continue to shine.

Councilman Daniel Dromm, who is the chair of the City Council’s education committee, announced on Monday that he has allocated a total of $2.4 million for schools in his district for the upcoming fiscal year.

The money will go toward improvements including security camera installations, electrical wiring replacements, audio/visual system enhancement, library upgrades, and repairs to school PA systems and playgrounds.

“Securing this historic increase in funding was a top priority for me,” said Dromm, who is a former New York City public school teacher for 25 years. “Our kids get one chance at a quality education. I’m doing everything I can to support our public schools. These funds will ensure that our children have access to safe schools and the updated technology they need to be successful.”

The schools that have received a portion of the funding include Public Schools 7, 13, 23, 69, 89, 102, 148, 149, 211, 212, 255 and 280; Intermediate Schools 230, 145, and 5; Pan American International High School, John F. Kennedy Jr. High School, Newtown High School, and the International High School for Health Sciences.


Second arrest made in deadly Jackson Heights shooting

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Image via Google Maps

A second individual has been arrested several months after a Corona man was gunned down in broad daylight on a Jackson Heights street, according to authorities.

Isaac Martinez, 24, who the NYPD said is homeless, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with second-degree murder and gang assault in the May 5 death of 38-year-old Jorge Manzanarez.

Raul Zamora, 33, of Jackson Heights, was charged with second-degree murder, gang assault and criminal possession of a weapon for the shooting two weeks following the incident.

According to officials, Zamora — a reputed member of the Sureños 13 gang — Martinez and another unapprehended individual got into an argument with Manzanarez at about 2:30 p.m. on May 5 on Roosevelt Avenue near Whitney Avenue. Manzanarez was then shot once in the chest.

Martinez’s affiliation with the Sureños 13 wasn’t immediately clear.

Both men face 25 years to life in prison and are currently being held without bail, according to the Queens district attorney’s office and court records.


Take a guided walking tour of Jackson Heights this Sunday

| rmackay@queensny.org

Photo courtesy of Jackson Heights Beautification Group

It’s one of the most diverse neighborhoods in New York City with a “Little Colombia,” “Little India,” “Little Bangladesh” and “Little Nepal.” It features a historic district, the country’s first planned garden and cooperative apartment community, and authentic ethnic restaurants serving cuisines from all over the world. And finally, it was the first home for such celebrities as Susan Sarandon, Howard Stern, Lucy Liu, John Leguizamo and even Don Rickles.

This Sunday at noon, Kornblit Tours will lead a four-hour, guided stroll through Jackson Heights, focusing on the area’s architecture, history, sights, sounds, scents and tastes. Participants can expect to check out inner courtyards, marvel at gargoyles, and then make stops at five or six eateries like La Gran Uruguaya, Delhi Heights, Himalayan Yak and Arepa Lady.

The agenda was created by Adrienne Onofri, a licensed guide who wrote the book “Walking Queens,” which maps out and provides details for 30 tours of borough neighborhoods.

This Sunday’s expedition is based largely on the Jackson Heights chapter in the book. However, Onofri sustained injuries in a recent car crash and is currently recovering. Thus, she will not direct the group, but company owner Steven Kornbilt, another experienced guide, will take her place. (Onofri hopes to make a cameo appearance in her wheelchair.)

For more information, click here.


Queens Botanical Garden to host two-day flower festival

| rmackay@queensny.org

Photos courtesy of Queens Botanical Garden

During Colombia’s Colonial Era, slaves known as “silleteros” would carry cargo — and even people such as children and royalty — on their backs from town to town. Diaries from the 19th century describe dozens of these men climbing the Andean nation’s steep mountains that were impassable with donkeys and other beasts of burden.

After emancipation in 1851, newly freed professionals would earn a living by hauling large quantities of flowers to markets. A genre quickly popped up as skilled artisans would create intricate floral designs to sell or present to romantic interests. In May 1957, the city of Medellin, which is located in the heart of Colombia’s flower-growing region, hosted the first annual Feria de las Flores, which continues to this day.

This weekend, the Queens Botanical Garden will honor this tradition with its sixth-annual, two-day flower festival. On Saturday, visiting silleteros will create and display their medallions of colorful, cut flowers, and visitors will get a taste of Colombian culture through food, hands-on activities for children, and traditional music and dance. Grupo Son Chande, a Colombian coastal band specializing in Cumbia, will perform throughout the afternoon.

Then the Silleteros Parade will take place in Jackson Heights on Sunday. Flower artists will march up 37th Avenue from 69th Street to 86th Street with their creations, starting at noon. After the procession, the public is invited to the Queens Botanical Garden for more music, food, crafts and a ticketed comedy show.



Reward offered for help in finding serial Queens bank robber

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the FBI New York office

Federal agents and the NYPD are offering “a significant reward” for the public’s help in finding the man responsible for at least a dozen bank robberies in Queens dating back to last year — including several armed heists.

Authorities said the suspect last struck in Middle Village on Dec. 9, 2014, robbing cash from the Chase bank at 74-04 Eliot Ave. Many of the other robberies occurred in Astoria, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Maspeth, Sunnyside and Ridgewood.

During each incident, the suspect reportedly passed demand notes to a teller and walked away with various sums of money. In five capers, the perpetrator displayed a handgun in his waistband to bank employees, the FBI said.

Law enforcement agents describe the crook as a black or Hispanic male with a medium to light complexion standing 6 feet tall, and weighing between 200 and 250 pounds. He is usually seen on camera wearing glasses and a baseball cap with the logo of a sports team such as the New York Yankees or New England Patriots. The public should consider the suspect armed and dangerous.

Among the heists in the robbery pattern are the following incidents:

  • June 7, 2014, robbery of a Chase bank located at 77-01 31st Ave. in East Elmhurst;
  • July 22, 2014, attempted robbery of a Santander bank located at 89-01 Northern Blvd. in Jackson Heights;
  • July 25, 2014, heist at a Chase bank located at 47-11 Queens Blvd. in Sunnyside;
  • Aug. 30, 2014, incident at a Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburgh located at 75-23 37th Ave. in Jackson Heights;
  • Oct. 4, 2014, robbery of a Chase bank located at 69-55 Grand Ave. in Maspeth; and
  •  Dec. 6, 2014, heist at a Chase bank located at 60-67 Myrtle Ave. in Ridgewood.

The FBI-NYPD Violent Crime Task Force is investigating the pattern.

Anyone with information regarding the suspect’s whereabouts is urged to call the Task Force at 212-384-1000; all calls will be kept confidential.


PHOTOS: Jackson Heights celebrates 23rd annual Queens Pride Parade and Festival

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office/Gallery by Angy Altamirano

Under sunny skies, Jackson Heights was filled with color and music Sunday afternoon as the neighborhood celebrated this year’s Queens Pride Parade and Festival.

Kicking off the parade, which ran down 37th Avenue from 89th Street to 75th Street, was Mayor Bill de Blasio, who made history by becoming the first New York City mayor to serve as a grand marshal of the parade. He joined APICHA Community Health Center, which was also one of the grand marshals.

“This parade stands for a rejection of any bias and prejudice against the LGBT community,” de Blasio said. “We will not stand in this city for anyone who would harm our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community. And this parade stands for that resolute value of New York City.”

De Blasio became the first mayor to march in the parade last year, and even marched in 2013 while still serving as public advocate.

Joining the mayor were local elected officials such Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Council members Daniel Dromm – who founded the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee over 20 years ago – Jimmy Van Bramer and Julissa Ferreras, and other city and state officials.

The theme of this year’s parade was “Pride – Strength – Unity,” according to organizers.

“We know what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. told us – ‘The arc of history is long but it bends towards justice.’ This parade epitomizes that constant movement towards justice. Let’s keep going. Let’s keep marching on until the day when everyone is truly embraced,” de Blasio said to paradegoers.

At the end of the parade, which featured colorful costumes and even four-legged participants, visitors were able to enjoy the Queens Pride Festival, which ran along 37th Road from 74th to 77th streets.

The festival featured about 100 vendors, community and social group booths and two stages of entertainment with performances that went on throughout the day.


Jackson Heights students raise $2K for Nepal earthquake victims

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Garden School

A local nonprofit benefiting communities from Nepal received a $2,000 donation from the Garden School Key Club to go toward relief efforts after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit the South Asian country last month.

A group of students at the pre-K to 12th-grade school, located at 33-16 79th St. in Jackson Heights, were motivated to help out after hearing of the devastation caused by the earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25 and saw a death toll of more than 7,000 people.

The Garden School Key Club led the fundraising efforts and students, particularly ninth-grader Aneesh D., mobilized in a multi-component initiative which included a soccer match pitting faculty members against their pupils, a “change jug”in the school hallway and solicitation of donations from the community.

The school administration was very encouraging of the students and praised their commitment to the Garden School’s mission of “social involvement.”

Councilman Daniel Dromm helped the Garden School students to identify Adhikaar, an nonprofit benefiting the Nepali community in New York, as a local organization which would help the donations get to those most in need.

Adhikaar Program Coordinator Raji Pokhrel gratefully accepted the donation and spoke to students on progress being made to relieve the damage done to the country and the continued need for aid from the international community.