Tag Archives: Jackson Heights

Jackson Heights-born men among 13 to be ordained priests, largest class in nation


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of The Tablet


The Diocese of Brooklyn will welcome 13 new priests this weekend, including two Jackson Heights-born men, in this year’s largest ordination class in the nation.

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of the Diocese of Brooklyn will be proclaiming the group of men, who were ordained as transitional deacons last August, into the priesthood on Saturday, June 28, at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Brooklyn.

“These 13 men represent the great diversity of ethnicity, life experience and socioeconomic background of the Church of Brooklyn and Queens,” DiMarzio said. “I am privileged to ordain them as priests of Christ and welcome them to the Presbyterate of Brooklyn.”

Of the 13 men, eight were born in the United States, including Felix Herrera and the Rev. Anthony Rosado, who were born in Jackson Heights.

Herrera was born and raised in the western Queens neighborhood and as a young child admired his pastor and wondered what he had to do to be the one up at the altar. He was later invited to be an altar server while in the fourth grade.

“It was fun and nerve-wracking,” Herrera said. “The greatest joy was the peace and tranquility I experienced when I was serving. I believe that was God’s way of saying, ‘This is for you.’”

Herrera went off to earn a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from St. John’s University and a master of divinity degree from Immaculate Conception Seminary in Long Island, and he served as a pastor and deacon at Blessed Sacrament Church in Brooklyn.

According to the 27-year-old, although he received immense support from his parents, the biggest influence on his decision to be a priest came from his grandmother, Gloria, who took him to Mass, taught him to pray the rosary and would talk about both God and the church while cooking Ecuadorian food.

“Grandma was one of the main catalysts as to why I am here now,” Herrera said. “Growing up she was the one who always took us to Mass. She never mentioned priesthood to me but just the way she was devout and would go to Mass was inspirational.”

Herrera will give his first Mass of Thanksgiving on June 29 at Blessed Sacrament Church in Brooklyn.

Rosado, 30, grew up as a member of Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Jackson Heights and at 5 years old recognized his love for music while learning to play the piano. He sang in his parish’s choir, played the organ and served as music director at St. Bonaventure Church in Jamaica while in high school.

He later earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from the Manhattan School of Music and, although he initially aspired to become a professional musician, he realized that every music piece he composed always had a sacred theme.

“Once I realized that music was my own little way of sharing faith, I started to ask, ‘Why not begin to share my faith at the broadest level, using every means at my disposal’ – namely, being a priest,” Rosado said.

Although he later enjoyed his more than three years serving pastoral assignments in Toronto, California and Michigan, he said he felt God was calling him back to serve his roots in New York.

He earned a master of divinity degree with a concentration in Hispanic ministry and went on to serve as a deacon at St. Fidelis Parish in College Point, where he helped both English- and Spanish-speaking parishioners.

“With people in the city with so many cultures, the fact that we 13 people from as many different cultures are making this decision really shows that we can show faith in a multitude of ways,” he said.

Rosado will offer his Mass of Thanksgiving on June 29 at St. Fidelis Parish in College Point.

Saturday’s Ordination Mass will be streamed live at www.netny.tv.

 

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Jackson Heights student, muralists color LIC


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Edward Fernbach


It has been 22 years since muralists and friends Alex Cook and Pasqualina Azzarello collaborated on a piece, and now with the help of Jackson Heights resident Sunny Hossain, they are adding color to Long Island City.

The artists have come together to replace a fading mural located on a former meatpacking plant located at 46-01 Fifth St. The building is now home to Rockaway Brewing Company, the LIC Community Boathouse and the nonprofit Recycle-A-Bicycle, which provides environmental education and job training through youth education programs.


Photo by Alex Cook

The group not only revamped the mural on 46th Avenue but also stretched it around the corner of the building so that it can been seen down on Fifth Street.


Photo by Pasqualina Azzarello

The original mural was completed in 2006 by Azzarello while she worked with summer youth employment participants as a freelance teaching artist for Recycle-A-Bicycle. However, she always felt the mural needed more.

The Brooklyn resident then went on to become executive director for the nonprofit in 2009 and after leaving in early 2013, she kept the mural on her to-do list as she continues to be involved with Recycle-A-Bicycle.

“For the last number of years, while that mural had become a mini-landmark in the neighborhood, we always had the feeling that it wasn’t as complete as it could be,” said Azzarello. “We wanted to create a new mural that more accurately reflected the new sense of vibrancy in that part of town.”

About two months ago, Cook, who lives in Boston, Mass., reached out to her with interest to work on a collaborative mural in New York and Azzarello contacted Karen Overton, founder of Recycle-A-Bicycle and current executive director, with the idea of revamping the mural.

To Azzarello’s surprise, Overton was also looking to revitalize the mural after being contacted by Edward Fernbach, a teacher at P.S. 993, a District 75 school located within the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Astoria. Fernbach wanted to know if his student Sunny Hossain could help to fix the peeling mural,to receive school credit as part of an internship program. District 75 schools are designed to teach and support students with various learning challenges.

“Sunny happens to be a phenomenal artist and I wanted to emphasize his strength rather than the place he has challenges,” Fernbach said. “He is going to be in the art world, no question about it. He has his foot in the door and he isn’t going to let it close behind him and he is going to keep on going forward.”

This mural project is the first for the 16-year-old, who is a student at P.S. 993. Hossain said he loves to be creative, and working with Azzarello and Cook has helped him develop his artistic skill. He said he felt very proud after seeing the piece come together.


Photo by Edward Fernbach

“We had a lot of fun. I never had an experience like that,” said Hossain, who will next work on a mural at the Broadway branch of the Queens Library in Long Island City. “I never knew I could do so many things with art. It gives me inspiration to continue my art.”

The theme of the colorful and celebratory mural, which took about 10 days spanned over a few weeks to complete, surrounds the “joy of riding a bicycle,” according to Azzarello.

“It has meant so much to Alex and me to support Sunny in this way,” Azzarello said. “We are reminded of how many people supported us as young artists. The fact that we are now in a position in our lives to work together and help support a young artist with incredible talent and vision is very meaningful.”


Sunny Hossain and Alex Cook (Photo by Pasqualina Azzarello)

The brand-new mural will be unveiled at 46-01 Fifth St. on Friday, June 13 at 4 p.m. and light refreshments will be served.

 

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Jackson Heights to celebrate arts during day-long festival


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Carlos Martinez, Hibridos Collective

Jackson Heights will bloom with the arts on the first day of summer.

For the second year, the Jackson Heights Arts Festival is slated to bring the community an all-day public event featuring free art workshops, music and outdoor art exhibitions during a Summer Solstice Celebration. The event will take place on June 21 at Diversity Plaza, a pedestrian plaza located on 37th Road between 73rd and 74th streets.

The outdoor festival is organized by the Friends of Diversity Plaza, a community partnership of local organizations and residents committed to re-envisioning Diversity Plaza as a space opened to the community.

Co-organizers of the festival are Hibridos Collective, an interdisciplinary collaborative co-founded by Carlos Martinez and Beatriz Gil, and Jackson Heights artist Nitin Mukul.

“In collaboration with the Friends of Diversity Plaza we want to build on the local arts community, increase the visibility of artists that live and work in the neighborhood, promote community-based arts and open a dialogue for empowerment through the arts,” Gil said.

The day-long festival will kick off at 11 a.m. with two art education workshops, followed by hourly musical performances starting at noon as part of Make Music New York. Artists performing include Bethany Wild, CoCo Wade, Roopa Mahadevan, Nova Safra Bateria, AC Haley, Roberto Buscarsi, SA, and The Live Cultures.

“Our community represents one of the most culturally diverse ZIP codes on the planet. There is no better way to celebrate that diversity than the arts,” Mukul said. “This exhibition brings together community artists in a public space, creating both intentional and accidental intersections as a metaphor for the strong, vibrant, eclectic community we are.”

 

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Suspects wanted in assault at Jackson Heights train station


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of NYPD

Police are looking for two suspects wanted in connection with an assault at a Jackson Heights train station last weekend.

On Saturday, May 24 at about 9:46 a.m. a 22-year-old man got into a verbal dispute with two women while on the Manhattan bound No. 7 train platform at the 74th Street and Roosevelt Avenue subway station. The two female suspects began to punch the victim on the head and body and then one of them slashed his arm and shoulder with an unknown object, cops said.

The victim was taken to Elmhurst General Hospital, treated and released.

One of the suspects, seen in a photo released by the NYPD, is described as a 35-year-old Hispanic woman with black hair in a ponytail.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

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Jackson Heights to host 22nd annual Queens Pride Parade


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

The streets of Jackson Heights will be filled with pride this weekend as the borough comes together to celebrate the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) community.

On Sunday, elected officials as well as supporters and members of the LGBTQ community from throughout the city will gather for the 22nd Queens Pride Parade and Multicultural Festival hosted by the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee.

Celebrating the accomplishments of the global LGBTQ community, the theme for this year’s event is “A World of Pride.” The theme will also emphasize the need to continue the attention on the struggles that still have to be addressed in regards to human rights, according to organizers.

Grand marshals for the parade include Queens council members Daniel Dromm, one of the founders of the parade in 1993, and Jimmy Van Bramer, who was the first elected official in the borough to get married after New York legalized same-sex marriage. Manhattan council members Corey Johnson, Rosie Mendez, Brooklyn Councilman Carlos Menchaca and Bronx Councilman Ritchie Torres will also join the procession.

“Our grand marshals reflect how far we have come to be integral in our government, community and our visibility,” Queens Pride co-chair Chris Calvert said.

Melissa Sklarz, president of the Stonewall Democratic Club, will also be honored during the event for her leadership and as a transgender member of the community. Founded in 1986, the Stonewall Democratic Club is the first citywide LGBT Democratic organization in New York City.

The parade kicks off Sunday at noon at 84th Street and 37th Avenue and ends at 75th Street. The festival also begins at noon with about 100 vendors along 37th Road from 74th to 77th Street, performances and family-friendly entertainment.

For more information on the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee visit www.queenspride.org.

 

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Jackson Heights native creates website to prop up short men


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Harold Everton

There is a now is place for every guy who has gotten the short end of the stick because of his height.

Jackson Heights native Harold Everton created AtEyeLevel.co, a website billed as a community forum for men 5’7” and under, last month to educate people about heightism and create a community where short men can give tips to overcome discrimination. The site already has about 300 registered members, active forums and articles.

Everton, who didn’t reveal his height but calls himself a “statistically normal short guy,” said that men are often stigmatized for their height and face prejudice in various situations, including their financial, romantic and professional lives.

“Every short guy I know has had an experience where someone makes fun their height,” Everton said. “You are taught when you are out of the womb that taller is better.”

Studies, such as “The Effect of Physical Height on Workplace Success and Income” by Timothy Judge of the University of Florida in 2004, revealed that taller men make more money on average than shorter men. There are also studies that show women are attracted to taller men. Everton believes there is a social negative stigma of short men, which for now is generally accepted by society.

Even the success of some short men is still riddled with negative references to their height, Everton said.

“Kevin Hart is a perfect example. He’s a very funny guy but jokes are always based on his height,” Everton said referring to the 5’2” actor and comedian. “Height is just an arbitrary trait, and it should not be indicative of someone’s character or success.”

Everton’s idea came after reading studies about heightism and blogs dedicated to it. It made him think back to times in his life where he felt slighted because of his height, including once losing a job to a taller person.

Everton, a graduate of Brooklyn College, has a bachelor’s degree in music education and an MBA in media from Metropolitan College of New York. He is a 10-year veteran New York City high school music production teacher, and has made a name for himself on online marketplace Fiverr. He has made commercials and voice-overs for hundreds of clients on the website for nearly two years, and earned the ranking of top-rated seller on the website within a year.

He doesn’t want AtEyeLevel.co to be a site for negativity, but one that gives confidence for short guys and tries to open society’s eyes to height discrimination.

“You’re never going to eradicate heightism in the same way that you’re never going to eradicate racism,” Everton said. “The goal is to provide a community where short guys can get together and exchange tips. You are who you are and you can’t really change it.”

 

 

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FBI seeks ‘Gatsby Bandit’ in Queens bank robberies


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of FBI

A man the FBI is calling the “Gatsby Bandit” is wanted in three bank robberies around western Queens.

The suspect, who was given his nickname because of the hat he was wearing, last robbed the Astoria Federal Savings Bank on Broadway near 73rd Street in Jackson Heights on May 16, according to authorities.

He is also accused of robbing an Investors Bank on Broadway at 31st Street in Astoria on May 13 at 4:40 p.m., and a Santander Bank, on Roosevelt Avenue near 84th Street in Jackson Heights on May 7 at 3:30 p.m., where he may have pulled out a black handgun, the FBI said.

Authorities describe the “Gatsby Bandit” as a white man, around 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 10 inches tall and about 45 to 50 years old. He has gray hair, blue eyes and a skinny build, and was last seen wearing black-framed glasses, a tan Gatsby hat, a black coat and blue pants.

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI  at 212-384-1000. Tipsters will remain anonymous.

 

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Queens dogs to raise paws for favorite teams in World Cup


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Mauricio Hernandez


This year’s FIFA World Cup is receiving a ‘pawsitive’ reaction from four-legged fans throughout the borough.

Dog owners and their pets will be able to show their love for their favorite soccer teams Saturday in Jackson Heights, just less than two weeks before the big games kick off in Brazil, during an event called “Mi Mascota, Mi Seleccion,” translated to “My Pet, My Team.”

During the event, which will take place from 4:30 to 8 p.m. at the garden of St. Marks Church at 33-50 82nd St., both owners and dogs are asked to come dressed in their favorite team’s colors. The day will feature food and treats for dogs, a trainer, entertainment for the whole family and contests for both pets and their owners.

“It looks like we are going to have a large participation of Colombian, Mexican and Ecuadorian pets, which are the majority in Corona, Jackson Heights and Woodside in Queens,” organizer Mauricio Hernandez said in Spanish.

One of the sponsors, who will also be selling dog jerseys at Saturday’s event, is Dalila’s Petwear located at 90-12 37th Ave. in Jackson Heights. Some of the national team jerseys in doggie sizes include the United States, Colombia, Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil and many others.

“I’m very excited,” said Miguel Rodriguez, owner of Dalila’s Petwear. “This idea came out last year. It’s amazing.”

Proceeds from “My Pet, My Team” will go toward St. Mark’s Church, which recently had to deal with a flooded basement.

After the event, photos of the best-dressed pets will be available on www.MyPetMyTeam.com. For more information call 718-644-7072 or 347-447-4433. To purchase a jersey click here.

 

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Queens man realizes two dreams through film, serving country


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of American Heroes Channel - Discovery Communications


When filmmakers Brian Iglesias and Anton Sattler released their documentary “CHOSIN,” on the Korean War’s Chosin Reservoir Campaign, they had high hopes for the film.

In addition to positive reviews, it has received several recognitions, including Best Documentary Feature at the GI Film Festival and Best Documentary Feature from the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation in 2013.

But the most important approval was from the men whom the pair interviewed for the documentary.

“That review meant more to us than anything else we’ve gotten,” said Sattler, a Jackson Heights resident who co-produced the documentary with Iglesias, who also directed the film.

They were prepared to remake “CHOSIN” following two private screenings they had for the veterans, but the men gave it a thumbs-up.

Four years following the documentary’s debut, the pair is trying to reach a larger audience and share the battle’s story with more people.

This Memorial Day, on May 26, at 9 p.m., “CHOSIN” will premiere on the American Heroes Channel (AHC) and help launch AHC Films, a new outlet for independent nonfiction filmmakers looking for a television home for documentaries.

“We are proud to kick off AHC Films with the critically-acclaimed documentary, ‘CHOSIN,’ giving viewers an amazing, first-person account about a historic battle, and shining a light on the true meaning of honor and solidarity,” said Kevin Bennett, executive vice president and general manager of AHC.

“It premiering on Memorial Day has huge significance for us,” Sattler said. “It will be seen by a larger audience, and the story will be told and these men [will not be] forgotten.”

The idea for “CHOSIN” and Sattler and Iglesias’ filmmaking partnership came out of the battlefield.

The two were brought together by their shared passion for film and service fighting for the country.

Both men served in the U.S. Marine Corps and were deployed to Iraq. After 13 years of service, Iglesias, who lives in New Jersey, joined the reserves and currently holds the rank of major. Sattler, following six years of active duty, transferred to the reserves, where he is presently serving as a major with Marine Corps Public Affairs, NYC.

Sattler, who’s had family members serve in the armed forces, knew at a young age that he wanted to join the military. The Sept. 11 attacks occurred around the time of his college graduation, in 2002, and he enlisted after finishing school.

A film studies major, the Pittsburgh native wanted to pursue moviemaking after his service.

A mutual friend introduced him to Iglesias and about 24 hours after they met, they decided to launch a film company, Veterans Expeditionary Media, and 30 days later they started filming “CHOSIN.”

They were on the road for eight months, visiting 27 cities in 14 states, where they interviewed 185 veterans who survived the battle.

The Chosin Reservoir Campaign, which took place over 17 days in 1950, is one of three pivotal battles taught in boot camps, according to Sattler.

“The odds were stacked against the Marine Corps,” he said. There were news reports saying the troops were going to be destroyed, he explained, but they fought their way out.
Many of the men didn’t even go through boot camp because of post-WWII cutbacks, according to Sattler.

The brutal battle was not only fought in subfreezing temperatures and on rugged terrain, but it also pitted 15,000 U.S. soldiers and Marines against 67,000 Chinese troops.
Sattler and Iglesias felt it was pivotal to tell the story of Chosin and its survivors because it shed more light on the battle and the entire Korean War.

“Hollywood for the most part hasn’t paid attention to Korea since the 60s,” Sattler said.

Their film is the first feature-length documentary on the Chosin Reservoir Campaign.

They also felt it was vital to capture the survivors’ stories while they were still alive.

“Decades separated us but there was a ‘two-way rifle range,’” Sattler said, describing the experience of interviewing the men. That ability to relate, he said, helped them with in reaching out to the veterans, he added.

The result was a documentary that tells not only the story of one conflict, but also of “the human experience of going off to war,” Sattler said.

Along with the AHC Films premiere, Sattler and Iglesias are bringing the story of Chosin Reservoir Campaign to a younger audience with a graphic novel, now available in a digital version and soon-to-be print version, and an animated adaptation that is currently in the works.

The filmmakers hope if the stories are engaging enough, maybe younger people will watch the documentary and want to learn more about the Korean War.

 

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Children of America day care to open first Queens location in Jackson Heights


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Rendering by First Class Management


Children of America is opening its first location in Queens, looking to bring its services to parents in Jackson Heights.

The school is expected to open in early 2015 at the brand-new 40,000-square-foot commercial building being built on 87-10 Northern Blvd.

Jim Perretty, president for Children of America , said the location was chosen based on the lack of child care centers in the area and they are excited to open the new site in the community.

“We really felt there was a big demand for it,” Perretty said. “We identified [Jackson Heights] as a place where there would be a need for it.”

The site, which is expected to hold 170 students, will offer educational and enrichment programs for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, kindergartners and school-age children. The programs include before- and after-school activities and summer camp.

The “Mind and Body Matters” programs involve a curriculum that allows the children to have flexibility and be part of the course. Students are allowed to learn subjects at the pace they want to, as long all subject areas are covered, according to Perretty.

“We found it engages them and keeps their interest a little more,” he said.

Children of America  also includes a physical fitness program, a healthy food menu for students, and a reading program in which students help write and illustrate a book published online every other month which is read out loud by the school’s mascot, Bentley the Jack Russell terrier.

The school also tries to promote parent involvement in every activity such as reading and taking home healthy meal ideas. The school also offers a video monitoring service called “Always Close By,” which allows parents to see their children throughout the day on their phones, tablets or computers.

“Parents have to have a place where they can trust we will take care of their children,” Perretty said.

A playground for the students will also be located on the roof of the building.

Children of America will share 87-10 Northern Blvd. with other co-tenants such as the first Queens Denny’s restaurant, Red Mango, Dunkin’ Donuts and medical offices.

 

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‘Daily Show’ inspired Middle Eastern newscast turns to Kickstarter


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Clarke Leo Michael Smith


Laughter is the basis of a new Kickstarter campaign looking to bring Western attention to Middle Eastern headlines.

Based on the structure of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” a satirical newscast all about the Middle East called “The Mideast Show” was dreamed up by Brooklyn resident Kayvon Afshari earlier this year.

“I thought there was a need to create a space, create a platform where people with a sense of humor could laugh together,” Afshari said.

At first Afshari was going to shoot the show from his apartment using an iPhone, but after receiving strong, positive feedback on the idea he began reaching out to friends and colleagues in Brooklyn and Queens to help create the first episode.

The pilot episode, partially written by Jackson Heights resident Serhan Ayhan, features Afshari as the host of the show reviewing headlines out of the Middle East, a special guest, on-scene reporting and much more.

However, the big challenge for the show is funding. The pilot episode cost about $15,000 to create.

With the hopes of producing five more episodes for the first season, Afshari has turned to Kickstarter to raise a goal of $85,000. The money would go into renting a studio, camera and equipment, hire a professional crew involving camera operators, director, audio engineer and graphic designers, and post-production work.

The funds would also help purchase props for the show and pay members of the creative team, most of whom are currently volunteering their time.

The mission of “The Mideast Show” is to create a newscast for people who have a sense of humor about the Middle East and want to laugh together, regardless of nationality, religion or ethnicity, according to the show’s Kickstarter website.

“There is a lack of information on the Middle East that Americans have and among some people there is not even an interest,” said Afshari. “We are embedded in this region. However, [people] don’t know about it.”

The team behind the show is mixed with various Middle Eastern roots, including Afshari who is Persian-American.

Ayhan, who is half Turkish and half Kurdish and one of the writers for the show, came up with the segment on the pilot episode where reporter Rex Huckstable takes a trip to the Little Egypt community in Astoria and speaks to residents about recent elections in Egypt.

In future episodes, Ayhan said he hopes to have the chance to continue doing segments on local Middle Eastern communities.

“The goal is to entertain but also educate. We’re not trying to make fun of people from the Middle East,” Ayhan said. “We want to be that bridge to educate people.”

To donate to the Kickstarter campaign click here. For more information on “The Mideast Show” and to watch the pilot episode click here.

 

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First Queens Denny’s opening in Jackson Heights


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons


Updated 3:33 p.m.

Jackson Heights will soon be home to the third Denny’s Restaurant in New York City and the first in Queens.

The chain restaurant will be a co-tenant, along with Red Mango, Dunkin’ Donuts, Children of America Day Care and medical offices, at a brand new commercial building coming to 87-10 Northern Blvd., according to commercial real estate management company First Class Management.

The 40,000-square-foot building will have underground parking, with about 5,000 square feet of retail space available for lease on the ground floor and 10,000 square feet of office space available on the second floor, according to the company’s website.

Councilman Daniel Dromm, who confirmed the chain restaurant will open its doors in Jackson Heights, said he is concerned about Denny’s coming into the community because it is allegedly known for paying its employees minimum wage.

“I hope that when they do come that they would pay fair wages to the workers,” said Dromm, who has supported a resolution calling for New York City to raise the minimum wage. “They should be paying [workers] a wage they can live off of, that they can survive on.”

Denny’s is expected to open its first chain in New York City in downtown Manhattan later this summer, after settling a lawsuit with residents who opposed the restaurant claiming it would became a hangout spot for college students, according to published reports. The chain is also reportedly slated to open a location in Brooklyn.

Denny’s did not respond to request for comment.

 

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Queens native explores borough in new children’s book


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Illustrations © Rick Sanders

Demetra Tsavaris-Lecourezos is taking young readers on a journey around the world with the first magical stop in Queens.

Tsavaris-Lecourezos, who was born in Jackson Heights and raised in Woodside, is the author of a new children’s book and series titled “Young World Travelers and the Magical Crystal Globe,” where a group of kids from Florida are transported to any time period they want, wherever they want.

The first book of the series debuted Sunday at the World’s Fair Anniversary Festival. It takes these young world travelers back in time to experience the site of the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs, the Queens County Farm, before it was a museum, and a Civil War fort in Fort Totten.

“You pick up books in the bookstore and you are learning about the Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building, but never about the structures in Queens,” Tsavaris-Lecourezos said.

The concept of the “Young World Travelers” series began nine years ago when Tsavaris-Lecourezos gave birth to her daughter Katerina, the year after marrying her high school sweetheart. Together with her husband, Constantinos (Gus) P. Lecourezos she began to come up an initial concept of writing a movie script that would be educational for children and revolve around traveling to Greece.

After realizing the large costs that involved turning the script into a film, Tsavaris-Lecourezos decided to create a children’s book. She wrote four books in total with the characters traveling to places in Egypt, England, Greece and New York.

In 2009, her husband passed away and Tsavaris-Lecourezos moved to Tarpon Springs, Florida with her daughter.

At the end of last year a friend suggested she take her concept to a publisher and when Tsavaris-Lecourezos approached publisher thewordverve inc. her ideas were accepted.

“It was all falling into place, I had no idea,” she said. “I’m rolling with it and I’m really excited.”

The “Young World Travelers” series is dedicated to Tsavaris-Lecourezos’ husband and mother. In the book the children receive a magical crystal globe, which allows them to time travel, from Mrs. Eva, who was named and inspired by Tsavaris-Lecourezos’ mother.

The 43-page book’s illustrator Rick Sanders is also a Queens native. Though Tsavaris-Lecourezos and him first met through thewordverve, they were coincidentally born in the same hospital.

During the World’s Fair Anniversary Festival, Tsavaris-Lecourezos held two readings to share the book with visitors of all ages.

“I was so honored to have been invited to such an event,” she said. “It was amazing and an opportunity of a lifetime to be able to debut my book there.”

To preorder “Young World Travelers and the Magical Crystal Globe,” click here.

 

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Jackson Heights filmmaker turns to Kickstarter for new flick


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of Alex Webb

Actor Alex Webb has gone behind the camera to write, direct and produce award-winning films. Now, he is turning to Kickstarter to get his new film rolling.

The Jackson Heights resident has worked with actors such Meryl Streep, Kevin Spacey and Ben Affleck and has appeared in the Netflix series “House of Cards” and HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.”

Aside from acting, Webb began working on film production with his first picture “The Girl in 2C,” which received a silver medal at WorldFest, an international indie film festival in Houston. His most recent short film “Hove (The Wind)” received the Panavision New Filmmaker Award and was selected for several international film festivals.

“The interesting thing I didn’t realize is that all along I had writing and directing right in my pocket,” Webb said. “I was much happier when those times came to be creative and start creating your own work.”

Webb decided the next step in his production career would be to create a full-length feature and came up with his newest thriller and dark comedy flick called “To The Flame.”

“[I wanted to] try to make a story that is super intriguing, weird and surprising and — on the production end — simple,” Webb said. “Make [a film] that would really lend itself to a micro-budget.”

On May 7, Webb created a 30-day Kickstarter project to help raise $25,000 in funds to make his feature film a reality. The money raised would go toward production equipment and hiring the remaining cast and crew members, as well as helping to keep location and travel needs to a minimum.

“The great thing about Kickstarter is you are raising awareness about your project before even starting it,” Webb said. “You get these people already hooked on the project and you’re getting an audience before it even starts.”

The film, which already has Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis and actor Bob Balaban slotted for cameos, was inspired by the works of directors Alfred Hitchcock and David Lynch. It follows two college students, Kyle and Penny, and their interaction with two neighbors, played by Webb and his wife Shirleyann Kaladjian, for a school assignment. The project then takes the students into the couple’s “dark and twisted world,” Webb said.

Shooting for the film is expected to begin in early July, with some scenes possibly shot in Queens, and a release date is slated for late this year or early 2015.

To watch a teaser for “To The Flame” and donate to the Kickstarter, which ends June 6, click here.

 

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DOT to implement Slow Zones on Northern and Queens boulevards


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

The city’s Vision Zero traffic safety plan will be implemented at two highly trafficked Queens thoroughfares where collisions have claimed more than 20 lives in the last six years, officials said.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) announced Thursday that Northern and Queens boulevards would become part of 25 planned Arterial Slow Zones implemented throughout the five boroughs.

“I am pleased to bring the Arterial Slow Zone program to Northern Boulevard where long crosswalks and high speeds have been an unnecessary reality for too many Queens residents,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said.

The first phase of a Slow Zone for Northern Boulevard will run 4.2 miles long from 40th Road to 114th Street. Starting later this month, the speed limit will be lowered to 25 mph and traffic signals will be retimed.

Since 2008, there have been five fatalities on Northern Boulevard, according to the DOT. One of the recent accidents involved 8-year-old Noshat Nahian, who was fatally struck by a truck on his way to school on Northern Boulevard and 61st Street.

Last month the DOT announced it would install two pedestrian safety islands at the intersection, and remove the westbound left turn bay and signal on Northern Boulevard to eliminate possible vehicle and pedestrian collisions.

“Bringing an arterial slow zone to Northern Boulevard is a huge victory for our entire community,” Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras said.

In July, the DOT will implement a Slow Zone on Queens Boulevard, which has seen 23 deaths in the past six years. The Slow Zone will stretch 7.4 miles from Jackson Avenue to Hillside Avenue.

“I am thrilled to be here on Northern Boulevard with Commissioner Trottenberg announcing safety improvements, rather than with a grieving family begging the city to take actions,” state Sen. Michael Gianaris said. “Too many lives have been lost on Northern and Queens Boulevard, and many other dangerous roads throughout our city.”

The city agency also announced Slow Zones would go up on Jamaica Avenue later this month, and Rockaway Boulevard in August.

For more information on the Slow Zones, visit www.nyc.gov/dot or www.nyc.gov/visionzero.

 

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