Tag Archives: Jamaica Bay

Jamaica Bay movie is nearing completion


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo via  Jamaica Bay Lives Flickr

Jamaica Bay is on the verge of getting its own little taste of stardom as a new documentary about the body of water and its surrounding habitats is officially in post-production.

The documentary film titled “Jamaica Bay” was started about three years ago. It will cover the bay’s history, environmental issues and local residents’ way of life, according to Dan Hendrick, producer of the film.

“The overarching theme of the film is that right now, Jamaica Bay is a good national park but it has the potential to be great one,” Hendrick said. “We hope that this film will inspire people.”

Hendrick and his team started his work on the film in August 2011. He said he wants to highlight how the bay has made such a remarkable comeback from where it was 30 years ago. They have over 100 hours of film of the bay including shots from before, during and after it was devastated by Superstorm Sandy.

“People care about the bay more than ever,” Hendrick said. “The pollution has subsided from where it was 30 years ago but there is still a lot of work to do.”
The team hopes to get the documentary out to both local TV channels and movie theaters by spring of 2015.

Due to limits on public television, the television cut will be less than an hour long, but the producers hope for the full film to run up to 90 minutes.

To learn more about the film check out jamaicabaylives.com.

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Governor Cuomo signs legislation to preserve Jamaica Bay


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo by Dan Mundy, Jr.

Jamaica Bay, long known as a dumping site for toxic waste, now has a law to prevent some of the hazardous material from making its way into the body of water.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that prohibits state regulatory agencies like the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) from issuing permits to allow dumping hazardous materials in Jamaica Bay. This law will ultimately limit the risk of water contamination in the bay.

“Communities surrounding Jamaica Bay can now breathe a little easier with the passing of this bill, both figuratively and literally,” said state Sen. Joe Addabbo, who, along with Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, drafted the legislation. “In the district, we were all fortunate enough to grow up with Jamaica Bay and I hope this legislation will ensure future generations can enjoy the serenity and beauty for years to come.”

Prior to this bill, there were no guidelines that the DEC had to follow when issuing permits for dumping into the bay’s burrow pits, which are areas with increased depth as a result of dredging projects by the Army Corps of Engineers that removed sand from parts of the floor to fill in others.

Both Addabbo and Goldfeder believe this will be a huge victory for Jamaica Bay and its surrounding neighborhoods.

“Dredged materials leaching with toxins have no right to be dumped in our waters and now we finally have the laws in place to keep our families away from harm and preserve the natural ecosystem of Jamaica Bay for years to come,” concluded Addabbo and Goldfeder. “We commend Governor Cuomo for signing this legislation into law.”

 

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Jamaica Bay ospreys take off


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Shalini Gopie

SALVATORE LICATA

Jamaica Bay has some new flight patterns.

Coley and Coley Two (C2), the ospreys that call Jamaica Bay home, just added some new chicks to their nests about a month ago.

While Coley, whose nest can be seen from Cross Bay Boulevard in Broad Channel, had three chicks for two years in a row now, C2, whose nest is on the Yellowbar Marsh, has had some trouble. Last year she did not make her nest, which can weigh over 500 pounds, soft enough for the hatchlings, causing the eggs to crack before they were ready to hatch. This year she had two baby chicks that are doing well, according to Shalini Gopie, a representative from the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

 Adult ospreys just back from the hunt. (Photo: National Parks Service/ Jamaica Bay Gateway)

While C2’s chicks are still too young to fly, Coley’s offspring just started to take flight about a week ago.

“They’ve gotten their freedom,” Gopie said.

Both Coley and C2 are part of a tracking project, where the wildlife refuge collects data on where the birds fly during their migrations, according to a 2012 New York Times article. During their southern migration, Coley has been tracked as far as Colombia and C2 has been tracked to Venezuela, according to Gopie.

The refuge has been low on funding for these tracking projects which can help keep the osprey population growing in the bay.  To find out more about the project or to follow the osprey, visit jamaicabayosprey.org.

 

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Rotting fruit washes up in Charles Park


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Salvatore Licata

 SALVATORE LICATA

The shoreline of Jamaica Bay, bordering Charles Park, is home to shellfish, seagulls, seaweed, submerged shopping carts, abandoned baby strollers and now, rotting fruit.

A cluster of putrefying fruit was found in the water on Thursday on the northwest portion of Charles Park, where clean-up has been a long-standing issue.

“We need to protect and clean up the shore line,” said state Sen. Joe Addabbo. “We appreciate the advocacy for the clean-up of Charles Park and do not want to see this great volunteerism go to the wayside.”

The fruit mound washed over from the Broad Channel part of the bay where Hindu worshipers sacrifice items in the water to the goddess Ganges of their religion.

It is unclear how such a large amount of fruit was able to pile up in one specific area about a half mile away from where it was sacrificed leaving the devotees puzzled.

“We honestly had no idea the items we sacrificed washed up there,” said Amar Hardeosingh, who takes part in the Hindu religious ceremony at the bay. “We try to do good for the environment and we want to keep it as beautiful as it is.”

The religious group has been taken to task before for not cleaning up after they finished their rituals, according to a 2011 article in the New York Times, but lately have been keeping up with the guidelines of the National Parks Service (NPS), which owns the land.

To practice their rituals, the religious group must get a permit from the NPS, which is a long process, according to Hardeosingh. But they have continually received the permit because of their avid clean-up once the ceremonies are over, he said.

“We sacrifice the fruit hoping that the fish will eat it but if it is piling up elsewhere it is not going toward the right cause,” said Hardeosingh, who operates a Hindu radio station and promised to announce this problem over the air waves to gather a clean-up group. “If they are rotting away in this area, it’s [the same as using] non-perishable items, which means we should clean it up.”

Unlike non-perishable items, which litter the waters of Jamaica Bay and its surrounding shorelines, this fruit usually never makes its way to the shoreline. Throwing the fruit in Jamaica Bay is technically illegal but is less detrimental to the ecosystem than the usual non-perishable garbage items and wastewater from four sewage nearby plants that end up in the bay, said Veronica Scorcia, a marine biologist.

“The whole pieces of fruit take time to break down, which makes their particulate matter insignificant compared to the sewage runoff,” Scorcia said.

The NPS is responsible for the upkeep of the park and its shoreline and Addabbo said he is getting in touch with the NPS to make sure they are notified about the fruit pile-up.

He added that NPS has made an effort to clean up the park and that residents must keep being the service’s eyes and ears to notify the NPS about any problems going on in the park.

The Charles Park Conservation Society, which has played a major role in the clean-up effort of the area, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The NPS did not immediately return a call for comment.

 

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Ferry runs aground in Jamaica Bay


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

Updated 5:20 p.m.

A Seastreak ferry ran aground near the eastern end of Jamaica Bay Wednesday afternoon.

The 65-foot long boat was on a private excursion with 29 people aboard, including 25 local Rockaway residents and business owners, and a few crew members, when it became stranded around 12:30 p.m., according to officials and the ferry company.

There were no injuries and the passengers were unloaded from the vessel and taken to a wharf just west of the Cross Bay Bridge, near where the incident happened, the FDNY said.

The ferry was moving at about 2 knots (1 mile) per hour when it ran aground in the eastern area of the bay after the captain noticed shallow water and slowed down the boat, Seastreak said.

The vessel did not appear to suffer any damage, and remains stuck in the water until it can float freely during the next incoming tide.

“I am told the boat encountered an uncharted shoal.  We are sorry this happened and that our guests were inconvenienced.  Thankfully, no one was injured,” Seastreak Spokesman Tom Wynne said.

Seastreak said the accident’s cause is still being investigated.

 

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Newtown Creek sludge project nearing completion


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Jeff Stone

JEFF STONE

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is celebrating the end of a month-long project in Newtown Creek that, if successful, will eventually make the water running through Ridgewood, Maspeth and Greenpoint much more inviting.

DEP crews have been traveling through the contaminated creek since the end of March, cleaning up silt, industrial waste and untreated sewage overflow that has been left largely undisturbed since the 1970s. The project, which is expected to be fully complete by no later than the end of April, aims to make Newtown Creek passable for a new fleet of DEP sludge vessels that will transport wastewater from elsewhere in the city to a new facility deeper inland.

Sludge vessels can be seen six days a week traveling through the East and Hudson Rivers, transporting sludge (semi-solid material leftover from industrial wastewater or sewage treatment) to decontamination facilities. Those facilities then extract any harmful materials and dump the clean water back into rivers around the metro area.

Yet, despite its status as one of the most contaminated bodies of water in the city, Newtown Creek is not currently equipped with its own dewatering plant. Sludge from the area is transported through a pipeline under the East River to a wastewater treatment plant in Greenpoint. City officials hope to soon use that valuable Brooklyn real estate for affordable housing and a new park, but the first step in removing the treatment facility is cleaning Newtown Creek.

Step one, for the most part, is finished. Environmental officials said that barges will be taking their final trips through the area using sonar technology to ensure that a new fleet of sludge vessels will be able to travel through without incident.

“Most likely there will be a few spots where they have to touch up and lay a fresh layer of sand down,” a DEP representative said Friday. “The barge and dredge machinery will be on Newtown Creek for at least another week or so, but the majority of the work will be completed by this weekend.”

Before the project began last month, DEP officials and nearby residents were concerned that the stirred-up silt bed would omit a smell of rotten eggs into the spring air. The very notion was enough to prompt a flurry of social media activity from Queens and Brooklyn residents alike. None of the dire predictions came to pass, though, thanks to the crews’ round-the-clock reliance on air and water quality monitors.

“The fact that there’ve been two complaints and all of our monitoring indicates that we’re well within our acceptable limits, everything has gone smoothly,” the spokesman said.

Work at Newtown Creek is a symptom of a citywide effort to equip designated priority areas like Gowanus Canal, Jamaica Bay, Flushing Bay and the Bronx River with green infrastructure. The city will spend $2.4 billion over the next 20 years on treating wastewater and rain overflow before it enters New York’s waterways.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Friday: Cloudy with occasional rain showers. High 53. Winds N at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 70%. Friday night: Rain early followed by a mixture of wintry precipitation overnight. Low 37. Winds NNE at 10 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Bach & Brew: Dongsok Shin & Leah Nelson

Pianist Dongsok Shin performs on the King Manor Museum’s fortepiano and is joined by violinist Leah Nelson. The program will include works by Johann Christian Bach and Muzio Clementi. Sample craft beer similar to what would have been enjoyed during Rufus King’s lifetime. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

City sues Bell Helicopter for $12.4 million after 2010 splash-land in Jamaica Bay

New York is demanding Bell Helicopter Textron fork over $12.4 million to replace an NYPD aircraft that was destroyed after it splash-landed in Jamaica Bay due to a mechanical defect, according to a new lawsuit. Read more: New York Daily News

Lawsuits filed in connection with Metro-North derailment

The first lawsuits have been filed in the deadly Metro-North derailment as some victims say the tragedy should have been prevented. Read more: CBS New York

Bus shooter’s insanity defense fails; jury convicts

A sociopathic gunman’s insanity defense failed on Thursday when a Queens jury convicted him of shooting three men dead — two on the Q111 bus. Read more: New York Post 

Small-business hiring increases slightly in November

Hiring for small businesses was just so-so in November. Read more: New York Daily News 

Mandela’s influence felt in New York City

When a newly freed Nelson Mandela visited the United States in 1990, his first stop was New York City. From elected officials to everyday New Yorkers, the political giant is remembered fondly for the strength of his character and the power of his example. Read more: AP

$50 million to protect Howard Beach from storms


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo

Howard Beach homes will now be protected, starting at the coast.

Spring Creek and Jamaica Bay will undergo a multi-million dollar resiliency project that Governor Andrew Cuomo said will better protect homes and businesses from destructive storms.

“Like several other communities located by the water, Howard Beach suffered incredible damage from storm surges during Sandy,” Cuomo said. “To strengthen Howard Beach against future flooding and storms, we are moving forward on a major project that improves the natural infrastructure along Spring Creek and the Jamaica Bay coast, with the approval of federal funding.”

About 3,000 homes were damaged during Sandy in the low-lying community.

Roughly $50 million will go towards engineering, designing and executing this project, which will cover 150 acres. Excavation, re-contouring and re-vegetation will be implemented by the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to create a self-sustaining system of wave-dampening barriers intended to reduce storm damage.

“Addressing the flooding problem in Howard Beach is long overdue,” said State Senator Joseph Addabbo. “A project like this cannot happen fast enough.”

Low and high level vegetated salt marshes, as well as dunes and elevated grasslands will be used to protect the community against future storm surges, similar to the floodwaters experienced during Sandy, and a rise in sea level.

About 765,000 cubic yards of material will be dug up across the site and reshaped into an elevated area, and 40,000 cubic yards of sand will be imported and spread across the site.

“I am most interested in the timeframe of this major project, since flood mitigation is a serious concern for my constituents, and the scope of this project is to ensure all parts of Howard Beach, inclusive of New and Old Howard, as well as Hamilton Beach,” Addabbo said.

Mitigation will be done along the eastern shore of Spring Creek on the north shore of Jamaica Bay. The site is bound by the Belt Parkway to the north and a series of roadways to the southeast, including 78th Street, 161st Avenue, 83rd Street, 165th Avenue and Cross Bay Boulevard. It comprises the western and southern perimeter of Howard Beach.

 

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Sewage project could impact South Ozone Park traffic


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the DEP

Jamaica Bay is getting a clean-up, but it will require years of work.

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) proposed to spread a citywide project to South Ozone Park next August to prevent untreated sewage from ultimately making its way into the bay.

Combined sewer overflows (CSOs) result from the combination of this domestic sewage and industrial wastewaters with storm water. The project, once completed, will monitor this, and consists of adding higher level sewer separation, wet weather stabilization, drainage basins and more in the event of a future storm.

Currently, plans are in preliminary stages. There will be period for public comment, and the DEP is working with the DOT on road closure potentials.

According to proposal plans, once construction begins, 126th Street between South Conduit Avenue and 150th Avenue will be closed for one year, as will the 150th Avenue westbound lane.

Additionally, the Belt Parkway’s on-ramp near 150th Avenue will be closed for 22 months, and one eastbound lane will be closed for one year during nighttime DOT work hours.

North Conduit Avenue near 150th Avenue will also experience various lane closures for up to two years. A traffic analysis concluded that the left lane can be closed for two months, and the second lane closed at night for two, one-month periods.

The green space between the Belt Parkway and North Conduit Avenue will be closed for two years.

There are also additional flagging areas for trucks, and temporary, short-term closures for truck unloading.

“You do not make an omelet without breaking a few eggs,” said Betty Braton, Community Board 10 Chair. “There are roadway concerns, there will be traffic issues. It’s a lengthy project and they’re trying to do it within a compressed time frame.”

Construction is projected to end by February 2017, and will reduce the volume of CSOs to Jamaica Bay basins by 24 percent.

Despite a busy construction scene, Braton said the benefit in the long-term will be a clean Jamaica Bay after any future storm.

 

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New research center to study Jamaica Bay ecosystem


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

NYC Mayor's Office's Flickr/Photo by Edward Reed

A top-tier research center promoting resilience in urban ecosystems is coming to Jamaica Bay.

On Monday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced CUNY will house the new Science and Resilience Institute. The leaders also laid out progress on the cooperative management of Jamaica Bay parkland and waters.

“The new consortium is an all-star team of research institution and nonprofits who will do important work to protect and preserve urban ecosystems from development and from the effects of climate change,” Bloomberg said. “Jamaica Bay is one of the greatest natural treasures any city has within its borders.”

The Science and Resilience Institute will integrate research efforts from across the natural and social sciences, host visiting scientists and provide lab facilities for students and researchers.

The site will be formally established by fall of this year, with a temporary space on Brooklyn College’s campus.

“Working together, we will develop and coordinate approaches to coastal resiliency for Jamaica Bay that can serve as a model for communities around the world,” Jewell said. “In CUNY and their academic partners, we have a consortium of world-class institutions to advance our understanding of climate change and its impact on our natural systems.”

Bloomberg and Jewell also announced progress on several other park initiatives. Those include the formation of a Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, chaired by longtime National Park Service philanthropist Tom Secunda.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Overcast with a chance of a thunderstorm and rain showers. High of 81. Winds from the SSW at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 70% with rainfall amounts near 0.3 in. possible. Tuesday night: Overcast with a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain in the evening, then partly cloudy. Low of 63. Winds from the WNW at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 40%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Gerardo Contino y Los Habaneros

Come see a free live performance by Gerardo Contino y Los Habaneros at Gantry Plaza State Park at 7 p.m. Gerardo Contino was the lead singer for NG La Banda, one of the most recognized salsa and jazz orchestras in Cuba. Since arriving in the US in 2009, he has led his own group. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Spitzer, Stringer get personal at comptroller candidates’ debate

New York City comptroller candidates Eliot Spitzer and Scott Stringer traded heated barbs Monday night in their second debate. Read more: CBS New York

Paul Vallone gets big nod for council seat from former rival Kevin Kim

Politics is again making strange bedfellows. Former Democratic primary rivals Kevin Kim and Paul Vallone, who faced off in the bitter 2009 City Council race, may soon hit the campaign trail together as Kim formally endorsed Vallone for the open northeast Queens seat, the News has learned. Read more: New York Daily News

New institute in Jamaica Bay will study flooding

Queens will on the cutting edge of global warming research thanks to a new think tank unveiled by federal and city officials Monday. Read more: New York Daily News

New York City firefighter accused of strangling, harassing wife

A New York City firefighter is under arrest, facing charges in an apparent domestic dispute with his wife. Read more: ABC New York

CVS requires ID for nail polish remover

One of the active ingredients in nail polish remover is acetone. Read more: Fox New York

Sewer project set to bring flood relief


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of DEP

Springfield Gardens may soon get relief from years of flooding problems.

Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Carter Strickland announced the start of work to dredge Springfield Lake and double its depth. It will then become part of a new network of Bluebelt wetlands designed to receive stormwater through a new sewer system.

Stormwater will collect in the sewer system from neighborhood streets, sidewalks and roofs; once it is distributed into the lake, it will be filtered before heading into Jamaica Bay.

“[This ensures] we are better prepared for an uncertain future,” said Seth Pinksky, president of the city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC).

The project, managed by the EDC, is part of a $69 million project that will bring three miles of new water mains, storm sewers, roadways and sidewalks to Springfield Gardens. It is the fourth phase in a $175 million neighborhood upgrade, consisting of additional storm sewer lines, water mains, fire hydrants and more.

Strickland said once completed, the project will “improve living conditions for local residents and promote economic growth while helping to protect the health of Jamaica Bay.”

Installation of the water mains is already 95 percent complete and the work on the Bluebelt wetlands is ongoing. Installation of the sewers began in June.

The project broke ground last fall and is expected to be completed by the fall of 2014.

 

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Bikes, kayaks get green light in Jamaica Bay


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC Parks and Recreation

Jamaica Bay visitors are about to get a little bike for their bucks.

The Parks Department announced California-based Wheel Fun Rentals has received the license agreement for much-discussed bike and kayak stands throughout Jamaica Bay.

A site in Queens opened at Rockaway’s Jacob Riis Park over Memorial Day Weekend, according to the Parks Department, with another site at Riis Landing expected to open in mid-June.

“Millions of people visit the parks and beaches at Jamaica Bay and the Rockaways each summer and this concession provides a fun and new recreational amenity,” Parks Commissioner Veronica M. White said in a statement.

Requests for Proposals (RFPs) were released in March to build stands around the park in a pre-Sandy project between the National Park Service and the Parks Department.

Howard Beach residents were upset the Frank M. Charles Memorial Park was included in the proposals even while the park was in dire need of repairs. At Community Board (CB) 10’s April meeting, members asked a Parks representative to consider taking Charles Park off the RFP until something was done to clean it up.

CB10 chair Elizabeth Braton said she’s happy Charles Park was not included in the plan and is hopeful authorities will focus on cleaning it up instead.

“I’m very glad that they took our advice and decided go with appropriate locations,” she said.

Braton added that the board would be open to including Charles Park in future proposals if a clean-up takes place.

 

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Petco, other shops overcome Sandy setbacks


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Terence M. Cullen

As the days and months since Sandy tick by, businesses in south Queens are rising from the rubble and returning to normalcy.

There was “paws” for applause on Saturday, April 27 as the Howard Beach Petco reopened. It had closed six months ago due to damage from Sandy.

Animals both big and small—all the way down to crickets—were evacuated before the storm, according to general manager Victor Aponte. He regularly communicated with his corporate affiliates. They decided to move the animals and their habitats to other locations in Queens and Brooklyn.

By the time flood waters from Sandy had ebbed back into Jamaica Bay, Petco and many other Cross Bay Boulevard businesses were considerably damaged. Aponte said floors had to be ripped up and the whole shop was inspected for mold.

Before the storm, there were 15 staffers at Petco, many of them living in the community. They were not only worried about damage to their homes and properties. They also had concerns about their jobs. However, staffers were relocated to other stores in Utica and College Point.

Now that the store has reopened, staff and community members couldn’t be happier, Aponte said.

Shoppers and their four-legged friends came to the store all day Saturday, making use of special bonuses and grabbing giveaways.

Rich Naimoli of Ozone Park said he had been shopping at another pet store on Cross Bay Boulevard, but it did not compare to the variety and help at Petco. He added that he and his wife, who own three dogs, were thrilled the Howard Beach pet shop was up and running again.

“I’m just happy they’re back,” Naimoli said.

Aponte said while Petco was part of a corporate chain, he and the staff have tried to make it a community place where residents can get one-on-one help. There are now 17 staff members in all. The reopening, he said, was another step toward normalcy half a year after Sandy devastated the area.

“It’s just exciting to get the neighborhood back to where we were before the hurricane,” Aponte said. “We really feel we’re a neighborhood store.”

According to State Senator Joseph Addabbo’s office, eight businesses are still closed on Cross Bay Boulevard. Some were able to bounce back just weeks after floodwater caused thousands of dollars worth of damage. For others, it’s been a major struggle.

It remains to be seen whether 7-Eleven and Jennifer Convertibles will reopen, However, Cross Bay Diner is slated to come back.

Joe DeCandia, owner of Lenny’s Clam Bar, was back in business less than a month after the storm. He worked practically around the clock on repairs. Now, he said, the popular eatery along with most of the boulevard is in good shape.

“We’re doing pretty good,” he said. “We’re up and running. We’re doing okay, thank God.”

 

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