Tag Archives: Kids

Deadly St. Albans ‘DWI’ crash

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

4 Accused in Theft of Aid Meant for Nonprofit

In 2006, a Queens state senator, Shirley L. Huntley, set up a nonprofit group called Parent Workshop that was intended to help parents navigate the inner workings of New York City’s school system. Then she began funneling state aid to the group, whose executives had close ties to her. But the money never helped a single family in the school system, prosecutors said Wednesday. They said four people with ties to Parent Workshop were involved in the theft of nearly $30,000 in state aid that Ms. Huntley had secured. Read More: New York Times


[UPDATE] Cops hunt Long Island City rape suspects

Police are looking for three suspects in connection with the ambush and rape of a woman in Long Island City. According to police, the 20-year-old victim — who is from the neighborhood — was walking along Vernon Boulevard and 10th Street in L.I.C. at approximately 3:45 a.m. on Sunday, December 4 when she was grabbed by two of the suspects and dragged to a nearby parking lot. There, she was held down between parked cars and raped by a third man. Read More: Queens Courier


What Would Judy Say?

Judge Judy Sheindlin answers your questions about problems that trouble you most. Read More: Queens Courier


Kids meet former Mets’ hurler John Franco

Thirteen-year-old Joseph Santana stood in line wearing an oversized striped Mets jersey, clutching a cobalt blue baseball cap. He bobbed excitedly as the line grew shorter, anticipating his turn. When he reached the front of the line, he thrust the cap at former Mets relief pitcher John Franco, who scribbled his signature in black Sharpie marker across the brim. Read More: Queens Courier


Riders on the Q111 bus uneasy about their safety after fatal shooting 

Rattled riders on the Queens bus line where a gunman shot two passengers last week said they are scared that violence may erupt again. After Demel Burton, 34, went on a shooting spree on the Q111 on Friday, straphangers said it underscored the fact that bus drivers can’t protect them. Read More: Daily News

Alec Baldwin apologizes to American Airlines passengers for plane outburst, but not to flight attendant


Actor Alec Baldwin apologized Wednesday to fellow passengers for the cell phone inspired tirade that got him bounced from an American Airlines flight. But the Hollywood hothead remains enraged with airline staff. “I learned a valuable lesson,” he said in a Huffington Post article. “I’ve learned to keep my phone off when the 1950s gym teacher is on duty.” Baldwin claimed that the incident was triggered after “one employee singled me out to put my phone away” while the delayed flight was waiting at the gate. Read More: Daily News

Deadly St. Albans ‘DWI’ crash

An allegedly boozed-up driver was arrested after he slammed into two cars in Queens yesterday, killing a 21-year-old man, cops said. Curtis Dean, 25, was cruising south in an Infiniti on 201st Street in St. Albans when he smashed into a Ford sedan just after 5 a.m., sending the Ford into a resident’s yard, cops said.Three victims were taken to Jamaica Hospital, including a passenger in the Ford who died there. Dean also allegedly plowed into a parked SUV. He was hit with a slew of charges, including manslaughter and DWI. Read More: New York Post


Remembering John Lennon: On the Anniversary of His Death, 5 Iconic Moments (Video) via the Hollywood Reporter

Department of Transportation To Investigate Dangerous Queens Intersection

It’s almost like a game of chicken. Drivers speed through the stop sign on Vleigh Place in an attempt to beat cars with the right of way on 72nd Avenue. And while most make it through the intersection without a problem, neighborhood residents say they have witnessed a lot of accidents. “There have been about four accidents in the past maybe month and a half. People fly past the stop sign like it doesn’t exist,” said one resident. Read More: NY1

Long Island City Residents Urged To Stay Alert After Parking Lot Attack

Police say a woman in Queens was attacked by three men and raped earlier this week, and now residents and local leaders are urging others to stay alert. Watch the Video: NY1

Atomic Bomb Survivors Visit Flushing International High School

Survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings visited the Flushing International High School to speak with students Wednesday. Watch the Video: NY1

Lame defense: Graffiti suspect: I’m crippled

An ex-cop standing trial on charges that he had revived his youthful graffiti-vandal compulsion was walking with a limp and appeared to be incapable of the dexterity required for the avocation, the arresting officer testified yesterday. Steven Weinberg admits that he once was the infamous “Neo” who, during the height of the city’s 1980s graffiti scourge, “bombed” trains and trestles with his bubble-lettered signature. But his lawyer, Patrick Broderick, said Weinberg, with an injured leg, couldn’t possibly make the climb required recently to spray-paint his tag on an overpass. Read More: New York Post


Woman dragged into Hunters Point parking lot and raped by group of men

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Woman dragged into Hunters Point parking lot and raped by group of men

Cops are hunting for a group of men they say raped a woman on a dark Queens street early Sunday. The 20-year-old woman was walking near Vernon Boulevard and 10th Street in Hunters Point when two men grabbed her and dragged her into a parking lot at about 3:45 a.m., police said. As the two suspects held her down between two cars, a third man — who is in his late 20s and about 5-foot-10 with blond hair and blue eyes — raped her, cops said.  Read More: Daily News

Queens rape victim was falsely imprisoned for robberies; now she sues city cops for falling for her attacker’s story

A QUEENS rape victim who was locked up for robberies she didn’t commit is suing city and Long Island cops for falling for her attacker’s “preposterous hoax” of a revenge plot. In a federal lawsuit, Seemona Sumasar claims NYPD cops protected her attacker, Jerry Ramrattan, because he was secretly funneling them information about other crimes while working as an informant. Read More: Daily News

Parents and officials say Department of Education has turned back on Jamaica High School

Even though the Department of Education’s (DOE) decision to close Jamaica High School was finalized in February, current students are still hoping for a quality education. Currently in the process of being phased out, Jamaica High School no longer accepts new students and is expected to close its doors for good in 2014. Read More: Queens Courier

At Top Public Schools, the Arts Replace Recess

All of this concentrated learning — activities parents commonly think of as enrichment — was taking place not after school hours, but during recess, the once-unstructured midday break that for some elementary school students is slowly being squeezed out of the day. Jump rope, freeze tag and the jungle gym have some new competition. At some of the city’s highest-rated public elementary schools, recess is now being seen by parents and educators as a time to pack in extra learning. Read More: New York Times

Giants, Mets Trade: New York Trades Angel Pagan To San Francisco For Andres Torres, Ramon Ramirez

Walking across the hotel lobby, New York Mets manager Terry Collins smiled. “We rebuilt our bullpen in one day,” he said. In a rapid-fire series of moves at the winter meetings that took 1 1/2 days to put together and 1 1/2 hours to finalize, the Mets agreed to trade center fielder Angel Pagan to San Francisco for outfielder Andres Torres and pitcher Ramon Ramirez, and reached agreements with free-agent relievers Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch. Read More: Huffington Post

Ex-corrections officer acquitted of attempted murder charges in Queens

A former correction officer who was facing up to 25 years in prison for shooting two men outside of a Queens bowling alley was acquitted of double attempted murder and assault charges. “His defense was one of self-defense,” said Michael Lavecchio’s trial attorney, Stephen Worth, after a jury cleared his client of all charges on Monday night. Lavecchio, 55, was working as a security guard at the AMF bowling alley on 34th Avenue in Jackson Heights on February 6, 2010 when he asked Justin Donaghy and Gerard Hourigan to leave the building.  Read More: New York Post

MTA forgot about stranded blizzard train

The MTA’s subway boss admitted yesterday that transit officials got so overwhelmed during last year’s Christmas-time blizzard they “forgot” about an A train stuck on the tracks for nine agonizing hours with 500 passengers on board. Read More: New York Post

Eighteen people busted in alleged $1.9M auto loan scheme in Queens

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Eighteen people busted in alleged $1.9M auto loan scheme in Queens

Eighteen people were indicted today for their alleged roles in two auto loan fraud schemes that resulted in nearly $2 million in losses, authorities said. Sixteen people have been arraigned in Queens Supreme Court on charges that include grand larceny and possession of stolen property, while two others remain at-large. Twelve of the accused scammers allegedly purchased luxury cars, such as Cadillac Escalades, BMWs and Porsches, between July 2008 and March 2010, officials said. Read More: New York Post

Help for Home Owners

The city is aiming to restore the homeownership hopes of Queens residents hit hard by the foreclosure crisis. Deputy Mayor Robert Steel and New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Mathew Wambua joined Queens elected officials, as well as representatives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the New York Mortgage Coalition on November 15 to announce the commencement of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2 (NSP2) Buyer Assistance Program. Read More: Queens Courier


Stabbings Take Place Near Manhattan School

Sources say two teenagers were wounded during an attempted robbery of a jacket near P.S. 153 in Hamilton Heights in Manhattan this afternoon. NY1 has learned one was wounded in the stomach and the other was wounded in the hand. Both were taken to the hospital. Police are looking for two suspects, one male and one female. Read More: NY1

Man Who Funded Terror Plotter To Be Sentenced Today

The man who admitted to illegally transferring money to fund the attempted Times Square bombing is being sentenced in federal court today. Mohammad Younis plead guilty in August to giving Faisal Shahzad $7,000 from Pakistan through an illegal money transfer business. Weeks after Younis gave him the money, Shahzad tried to explode a car bomb in the middle of Times Square last year. Shahzad was caught fleeing the country, later pleaded guilty and is now serving life in prison. Younis faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Read More: NY1

Bronx Man Charged With Murder Of East Harlem College Student

Police have made an arrest in connection with the death of a Manhattan woman. Bakary Camara, a 41-year-old Bronx resident was charged with the murder of 36-year-old Rita Morelli. The Italian college student’s body was found last Wednesday in an apartment on East 120th Street in East Harlem with cuts to her neck. Morelli left her hometown in Italy five years ago to pursue a career in design. Read More: NY1

Baby in trash in upper Manhattan was killed; young mom charged with “self-abortion” 

The young mother of a dead female fetus found in the trash in upper Manhattan has been charged with self-abortion, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Thursday. Yaribely Almonte, 20, wrapped the fetus in plastic and dumped the girl in a bin outside her building on W. 191st. St., near Wadsworth Ave. A man sorting recyclables discovered the child’s lifeless body Tuesday, and Almonte was charged Wednesday night. Under state law, a woman can be charged with self-abortion if the fetus is older than 24 weeks. Read More: Daily News

Twenty Charged With Alleged Trafficking Of Eastern European Women

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Twenty Charged With Alleged Trafficking Of Eastern European Women

Immigration and law enforcement officials have arrested and charged 20 people, including five Queens residents and three Brooklyn residents, in connection with a human trafficking operation that allegedly brought women from Russia and Eastern Europe and forced them to dance in various strip clubs in the city. Read More: NY1


Buyer Assistance Program marries first-time homeowners and foreclosed houses
A new city program is offering sweetheart deals to persuade wannabe homeowners to move into parts of Queens ravaged by foreclosure. Homebuyers can earn up to $80,000 in forgiveable loans through the initiative aimed at areas like South Jamaica, Woodhaven and the Rockaways. The program, run with federal funds, hopes to fulfill home-buying dreams and prevent abandoned houses from being vandalized and becoming havens for squatters. Read More: Daily News


Food carts may get letter grades

One Queens politician is aiming to make choosing the right food cart as easy as “A, B, C.” Senator Jose Peralta, who represents Jackson Heights, Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst and Woodside, recently introduced a bill that would require local health departments across the state to evaluate and assign a letter grade to mobile food carts. The legislation, which is expected to be introduced in the coming weeks, would invoke a similar rating system to the one performed on restaurants. Read More: Queens Courier


Man pleads guilty to Brooklyn charges in 28-hour rampage

The man charged with a Brooklyn-to-Manhattan murder spree that started with the slaying of his mother’s boyfriend and ended with a brutal stabbing aboard a subway train pleaded guilty today to four murder counts and other charges. Maksim Gelman, 24, had originally pleaded not guilty to the four counts and a raft of other charges in the 13-count indictment. Gelman’s lawyer Edward Friedman said his client wished to plead guilty in Brooklyn this time. Read More: New York Post


Police suspect murder victims found on Long Island’s Gilgo Beach were murdered by single serial killer

Days before the first anniversary of the discovery of bodies on Gilgo Beach, police said Tuesday that they believe one serial killer is responsible. Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer said there was enough evidence to link the dumping of the remains of 10 people to one killer. Read More: Daily News


Young teen pepper-sprays classmates at Harlem high school

A 14-year-old Harlem student blasted her classmates with pepper spray Tuesday, sending eight students to the hospital with minor injuries. Education officials are investigating the incident, which occurred in an Academy for Social Action classroom around 2:30 p.m. Eight students who inhaled the noxious chemicals were rushed from the W. 129th St. school to St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital. Read More: Daily News


Deaf woman abducted in Brookyln ‘for sex’

A deaf woman who stormed out on her boyfriend after a fight was snatched off a Williamsburg street by two thugs who tried to pimp her out — and beat her when she refused, police sources said yesterday. The 28-year-old upstate woman told cops she was walking back to her grandmother’s apartment at about 2 a.m. Monday when a man yanked her into his car and told her to “work” for him. Read More: New York Post

Queens’ Morning Roundup – 11/21/2011: NYC Man Arrested For Plotting To Kill U.S. Servicemen In Name Of Al-Qaeda

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

NYC Man Arrested For Plotting To Kill U.S. Servicemen In Name Of Al-Qaeda

A Dominican Republic native living in Washington Heights is under arrest for conspiring to build a bomb for terror purposes and possessing a weapon with the intent of waging a campaign of violence in the name of al-Qaeda, New York City authorities announced Sunday night. Jose Pimentel, 27, was arrested by New York City police on Saturday. Investigators say Pimentel had also planned to use a bomb to kill U.S. military personnel returning from active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. He had also allegedly expressed a desire to bomb police patrol cars and postal facilities. Read More: NY1


Queens Driver Charged With DWI

A Queens driver is facing multiple charges including driving while intoxicated in connection with a Saturday crash on the Long Island Expressway. Police say 37-year-old John Gilette was driving a Jeep Wrangler onto the expressway Saturday morning near the 48th Street ramp in Maspeth when he swerved into a tractor trailer. Gilette’s car hit the right side cabin of the trailer before hitting a wall. Read More: NY1

Brawl chaos at Astoria club

A Queens nightclub was the scene of a bizarre string of violence that left four men injured early yesterday, authorities said. Several thugs first jumped a 23-year-old man at Amnesia on Steinway Street in Astoria, slashing his back, at about 4:15 a.m., cops said. As the thugs ran out of the hot spot, other clubgoers fled, too, authorities said. One of the alleged attackers, Orlando Santos, 18, was running when a car — not believed to be connected to the fight — struck him, dislocating his hip. Read More: New York Post

Former Mayor Giuliani Pushes For More Nuclear Energy Use In Astoria Forum

The Queens Chamber of Commerce hosted a forum in Astoria Friday with experts and former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the keynote speaker, to discuss possibilities for clean and sustainable energy use, as the Bloomberg administration estimates the city will have one million more people by 2030. Watch the Video: NY1

Parents rip NYC schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott over ‘chaos’ at Queens high school


A Queens high school where the daughter of city schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott teaches gym is so disorganized that many students don’t know where their classes are or when they start. Some kids at Metropolitan High School in Forest Hills have gotten 10 different class schedules in 11 weeks of instruction, angry parents say. But this is all news to Walcott, because he refuses to talk shop with his daughter. Read More: Daily News

Queens’ Morning Roundup – 11/16/2011: Queens woman describes ‘rape & set-up’ horror

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Suspect arrested for George Gibbons’ hit-and-run

Only two days after Maspeth residents rallied demanding “Justice for George,” the suspect wanted in connection with the hit-and-run that killed George Gibbons was apprehended in Connecticut, according to police. Peter Rodriguez was taken into custody in Connecticut by the Regional Fugitive Task Force one month to the day after the accident.  The suspect was identified by police on October 25. Read More: Queens Courier


Queens woman describes ‘rape & set-up’ horror

A Queens woman at the center of an alleged diabolical plot to discredit her rape allegations told jurors yesterday about the horrific attack and the sick scheme to cover it up. Restaurant owner Seemona Sumasar testified that she spent seven months in jail away from her daughter after her ex-lover, Jerry Ramrattan, roped three cohorts into filing trumped-up theft charges against her. Read More: New York Post

Two Queens men charged with robbery for diversion theft in New Jersey

Two Queens men have been charged with robbery in connection with a “diversion theft” outside a hotel in Lyndhurst, New Jersey in which a woman was run over after her bags were stolen, authorities said. Jesus Ortiz, also known as “Edgar Melo,” 38, of Corona, and Hector Ruiz, 34, of Jackson Heights, were being held in New York City on Tuesday on unrelated charges, pending their extradition to New Jersey, authorities said. Read More: North Jersey.com


L Train Attack Caught On Video, Cops Looking For Suspects

Police in Queens are hunting for three suspects they say are wanted for a vicious assault on a subway train that was captured on video. The video was recorded just after 2 a.m. on Nov. 8. It shows an argument between two men on a Queens bound L train that quickly escalated into a savage beating. Read More & Watch the Video: CBS News


Parents And Students Rally To Save Queens School

Parents and students at PS 181Q in Queens are speaking out to save it from closure after it was placed on the city’s list of struggling schools. Watch the Video: NY1


Northwestern Queens still struggling with recession, reports state Controller Tom DiNapoli 

The state’s top auditor released a gloomy economic forecast for northwestern Queens. The neighborhoods of Corona, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights are still struggling with lost jobs and lower wages after the recession, according to an extensive report compiled by state Controller Tom DiNapoli. Read More: Daily News

Queens’ Morning Roundup – 11/15/2011: Tibetans in Queens mourn recent spate of self-immolations

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Mayor Bloomberg Announces City Will Have Record Number of Hotel Rooms

Overlooking Manhattan, on the Queens side of the East River, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the city will reach a record 90,000 hotel rooms by year’s end – a clear message that people still love New York. The mayor made the announcement on the rooftop of the newly opened Z NYC Hotel in Long Island City, where he was joined by State Senator Michael Gianaris, NYC & Company CEO George Fertitta and Z NYC owner Henry Zilberman. Read More: Queens Courier


Assemblyman Goldfeder Launches Petition To Make Cross Bay Bridge Free

A Queens official is renewing efforts to make the Cross Bay Bridge free of charge. State Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder has launched an online petition for residents of the Rockaways and Broad Channel to sign. He’s urging the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Governor Andrew Cuomo to put an end to the toll on the only intraborough bridge in the city. Read More: NY1


Tibetans in Queens mourn recent spate of self-immolations in their homeland 

About 50 Tibetans packed a small basement on 73rd St. in Jackson Heights on a recent Monday and set up a makeshift altar. A portrait of the Dalai Lama and Snow Lion flag of Tibet flanked an image of Buddha. Then the mantra of the Sangcho Monlam, a prayer for the dead, filled the room, normally a Burmese center. They were mourning two Tibetans — a nun and a monk — who set themselves ablaze to protest China’s rule. Read More: Daily News


Workers put finishing touches on first Fairway Market ready to debut in Queens

Hundreds of workers are putting the finishing touches on the borough’s first Fairway Market set to open on Wednesday. The Daily News got a sneak peek at the new Douglaston store — the largest in New York City — with owner Howie Glickberg as he personally inspected all the aisles on Monday. Read More: Daily News


PS 69 and IS 145 in congested Jackson Heights set to open playgrounds for public use 

A congested community in western Queens that fought long and hard for more parks is about to get a little more open space. The city is transforming two Jackson Heights schoolyards into student-designed playgrounds that will be open to the public after school and on weekends. Community leaders were also optimistic that the city will soon hammer out a deal to buy land from a nearby private school to expand Travers Park. Read More: Daily News

Queens’ Morning Roundup – 11/10/2011:Ex-Queens resident gets 20 years jail term in wife’s death

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Ex-Queens resident gets 20 years jail term in wife’s death

A former Queens resident has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for the choking death and dismemberment of his wife, whose parts were stuffed in a suitcase found by teenagers in a park almost a year later. Read More: Wall Street Journal


Tennis might come back to Forest Hills Stadium

A historic Queens stadium might once again serve up tennis. Reports have revealed the latest bid to save the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium is coming from Stadium Arts Alliance, a nonprofit that wants to redesign the site and convert it into a space for tennis, concerts, art shows and possibly minor league hockey. Read More: Queens Courier


Salmonella cases in NY linked to chicken livers

Dozens of people in New York have been sickened after eating kosher broiled chicken livers that were not fully cooked. Health officials say the liver contaminated with salmonella was manufactured by Schreiber Processing Corp. under the MealMart brand. They say 89 cases of foodborne illness have been linked to the product, including 56 in New York City and 33 in nine upstate counties. The Queens-based company is recalling the product. Read More: Wall Street Journal


Anti-Gang Forum in Elmhurst

Community leaders in Queens say that gangs are a growing influence on teens, so they got together Wednesday evening to give parents some tactical support to help their children. City Councilmember Julissa Ferraras, who organized the meeting, said that gang problem is getting worse and that they are recruiting in middle school and even in elementary schools. Read More: Fox News


Queens Residents Discuss Memories Of Flight 587 Crash Ahead Of 10th Anniversary

It may not look like it at first glance, but Queens’ Belle Harbor is where American Airlines Flight 587 went down. The only recognition is a small plaque that marks the spot, but the memory is still vivid for some. Read More: NY1

Queens’ Morning Roundup – 11/04/2011: Queens Officials To Stand Against Swastika Graffiti

| jlane@queenscourier.com

The Round Up

Queens Officials To Stand Against Swastika Graffiti

Four swastikas showed up on the walls of the Jackson Heights branch of the Queens Library Thursday. At least one more was painted on the library branch in East Elmhurst, and another was etched on the door of a synagogue on 88th Street. Police believe the incidents in three separate locations are related. They are being investigated by the hate crimes taskforce. Local leaders plan to hold a news conference Friday to denounce this kind of hateful vandalism. Read More: NY1


‘Fresh Meadows Rules’ Facebook group unites former residents from around the world in Queens

More than 150 former Fresh Meadows residents reunited last week to celebrate the planned neighborhood many remember as a small utopia tucked away in Queens. The gathering, organized through a Facebook group called Fresh Meadows Rules, brought residents from all over the country and even overseas back to Queens to meet up with childhood pals and revisit local landmarks. Read More: Daily News


Melanie Webb, Long Island City woman, pleads guilty to shooting slay of her sister,Tara, on victim’s birthday

A Long Island City woman pleaded guilty Thursday to fatally shooting her sister on the victim’s 27th birthday.Melanie Webb, 25, also shot Tara Webb’s boyfriend, Terrell Carmichael, on March 26 in the Long Island City apartment they all shared, she admitted. A source close to the case said Webb shot her sister Tara in her bed and turned her gun on Carmichael, hitting him twice in the torso in the shower. Read More: Daily News


Queens high school students to help upstate NY rebuild after Hurricane Irene ravaged homes and businesses

Students at a Bellerose high school will soon get a lesson in what it means to build stronger communities — one nail at a time. The Habitat for Humanity club at the Queens High School of Teaching, Liberal Arts and the Sciences is raising money and supplies for a trip to upstate New York to rebuild homes damaged by Hurricane Irene. The group plans to partner with a yet to-be-determined Binghamton high school by the end of the year. It also plans to donate cleaning and school supplies. Read More: Daily News


FEMA extends deadline for Hurricane Irene victims

There’s a ray of hope for those affected by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in August. On Oct. 31, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced a deadline extension for individuals seeking disaster assistance. The new FEMA registration deadline is Dec. 15. Read More: Staten Island Live

Queens’ Morning Roundup – 11/1/2011: Queens Library’s busy Elmhurst branch set to be torn down

| jlane@queenscourier.com

The Round Up
Queens Library’s busy Elmhurst branch set to be torn  down to make way for new state -of-the-art-facility 

The Queens Library’s second busiest branch is being torn down to make way for a new state-of-the-art facility. The Elmhurst Library, which hosted almost half a million visitors during the last fiscal year, will close on Nov. 7. And even though visitors will have to contend with a makeshift library of modular units for more two years, they say it’s worth the wait. Read More: Daily News



Attacks on NYC subway workers up 16% this year,  mirroring assaults on bus drivers

It’s not just bus drivers who are getting assaulted more frequently – attacks on subway workers also are up this year, officials said Monday. Assaults on conductors, cleaners and other subway staffers are up nearly 16% January through October compared to the same stretch last year, MTA officials said at a joint meeting of the City Council transportation and labor committees.  Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Queens) urged the MTA to ask the NYPD to target the most troublesome bus routes with uniformed and undercover police officers. Read More: Daily News


NYPD combats bullying

The New York Police Department (NYPD) is aiming to take the fight out of bullies.
Officers of the NYPD Community Outreach Division joined Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi at P.S. 144 in Forest Hills on October 24 to present a police program designed to combat bullying in schools across the city. “Bullying is a real problem, and it can’t be ignored,” said Hevesi. “The NYPD did an outstanding job engaging the students in a discussion about bullying. The officers related to the students as they performed, and made them feel the emotional consequences of bullying.” Read More: Queens Courier


Richmond Hill Block Association gives residents a fighting chance against attack

Richmond Hill residents now have a fighting chance against sexual predators who have been terrorizing women in southeast Queens. In light of the recent patterns of sexual attacks in the surrounding areas, Sensei Ricky Singh of Dojo Warriors equipped a little more than a dozen women and men with vital keys to self-defense at the Richmond Hill Block Association’s monthly meeting on October 26. Of the countless sexual attacks in Queens, a 44-year-old female was assaulted on September 22 while she entered her home in Queens Village. Read More: Queens Courier


Downed Trees, Outages Remain After Weekend Snowstorm

New Yorkers were still feeling on Monday the effects of Saturday’s snow storm. Consolidated Edison said hundreds of city customers remained without power, and most of them were in the Bronx.The utility company said the delayed restoring of power is due to the extent of the damage from downed trees and wires in the borough. Meanwhile, tree cleanup was underway in all of the city’s parks on Monday. Read More: NY1


Mets To Alter Citi Field Walls To Try To Increase Scoring

The New York Mets are taking action to increase scoring at their home park, by bringing in and lowering the walls at Citi Field, hoping to turn a pitchers’ park into a neutral one. The new dimensions will add roughly 140 seats to the stadium, including 100 field-level seats in left field. A new left field wall will be about four feet closer to the plate, and the fence in left-center field will be brought 12 feet closer. Read More: NY1

Bayside girl scores 2nd in science challenge

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Discovery Education.

Cheyenne Hua has won national recognition for her innovative inventions aimed at putting the brakes on speeding and getting to the bottom of home flooding — and she’s only 14.

The Bayside whiz kid took home a second place victory in the 13th annual Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge — the leading national science competition for students in grades five through eight — on October 5. She also won a $1,000 cash prize and a trip to Costa Rica.

“It feels really good to have won second place because all the other finalists were very, very smart. To have such a high ranking among them is awesome,” said Hua, a ninth grader at Hunter College Junior High School.

Hua landed a spot in the top 10 finals with her “smart speed-bump” idea. Her model essentially places two undetected bumps inside the road. When a car passes over the first bump, sensors in the road will recognize if the car is speeding. Then, a timed lever raises up the second bump which pops up to slow down drivers.

She said she was inspired by a fatal crash caused by drag racers two years earlier outside her home on Francis Lewis Boulevard — which she says is a problematic zone for speeders.

“I just wanted to come up with a better solution than the current ones. Some models of cars can’t go over speed bumps. The ones that exist now just sit there, and every car has to suffer through the giant bump. With my invention, only the cars that speed have to go over it,” she said.

Hua’s second invention — a flood protection system — was what helped her land the runner-up win. She worked with a scientist-mentor from the program throughout the summer to develop the project before her final presentation in October.

The invention equips new homes with an adhesive based sheet of waterproof fabric that goes around the house foundation. A ring floats around the top, and when water from the flood comes in, the ring rises and so does the fabric, Hua said. It prevents water from entering the home.

“This past summer, there’s been a lot of flooding. Even though I wasn’t affected, I saw around the news that a lot of people were,” she said. “I just wanted to come up with a system that would be helpful and that people could use to prevent flood damage.”

Although Hua didn’t take home the grand prize, Mary Rollins, vice president of Corporate Education Partnerships and also one of the judges, said it was a close win.

“The judges deliberated for several hours. We’re saying very honestly and openly that this year’s competition was tighter than ever,” she said. “Cheyenne was a really amazing young lady — very composed and incredibly equipped with a strong science background. She’s exactly the kind of student we want when we think of these contests.”

Hua flew to St. Paul, Minnesota — the farthest she’s ever been in the United States — to present her project to a panel of Discovery Education and 3M judges. She also had to answer a series of questions about her project at the end of her five-minute demonstration.

“It was kind of nerve-racking, and I was really relieved when it was finished,” she said. “But it was a great experience.”

Hua, who wants to be an engineer in the future, said she missed three days of school, and is just about finished catching up on the heavy work load.

“It was definitely worth it — especially meeting such cool, awesome people like the mentors, the judges and my fellow finalists. I made great friends. I don’t think I would have met anyone like that through the normal process of life,” said Hua, who still keeps in touch with the other finalists via email.

Hua said she has more inventions under her sleeve and hopes to expand and improve her speed-bump and flood protection ideas.

“I could see Cheyenne working in the field of science and really focusing on real world science, looking for a way to come up with real solutions for real world problems,” Rollins said. “I could see her using science to solve some of our greatest world challenges in the future.”

Rockaway resident creating cartoon for kids

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Courtesy of Richard Sirgiovanni

Winston, Mac, Emerson and Moonie — “The Grimps” — may soon be just a band of hairy, scary rock & rollers to the average cartoon-loving kid, but to Richard Sirgiovanni, they’re his two joint passions come to life.

Sirgiovanni — a Rockaway resident who was born and raised in Howard Beach — combined his love for rock & roll and cartooning to create the lovably-grisly quartet.

Cursed by the evil Spectar who was jealous of the band’s music and fame, the four friends are cool and charming musicians on the verge of stardom by night. But by day, they’re nothing but tiny, gruesome creatures.

The kids’ animation show will follow the dual life of “The Grimps” as they battle with only being human from sunset to sunrise, and with always having the evil Spectar at their furry heels.

“There’s bad entertainment out there for kids. We wanted to attract the children to get across positive messages, to give them some fun things to see,” Sirgiovanni said. “We want to reintroduce rock & roll music to young kids. Not that there is anything wrong with the current music today, but music has just changed so, so much. There’s freshness and honesty to good rock & roll music.”

Sirgiovanni plans on luring in more than one generation with his musical monsters.

“We believe that it’s really going to tie in the three generations for kids, parents and grandparents. We have a lot of interest from old pop stars and contemporary comedians that want to do the voiceovers for the characters. It’ll remind the classic rock & roll generation of when they were growing up as teenagers in the 70s.”

So far, musical pop icons and contemporary celebrities that have committed to being voiceovers of characters and making guest appearances are Peter Noone, Keith Emerson, Micky Dolenz, Todd Rundgren and Eric Burdon. Sirgiovanni said other stars like Meatloaf, Ringo Starr, Adam Sandler and Jack Black are being contacted, as well.

In addition to the show, Sirgiovanni intends on producing original rock & roll music to be presented to the public as The Grimps – a music entity itself.

Sirgiovanni recently left his Rockaway digs to fly to Los Angeles and begin meeting with major television producers, networks and writers — including Alec Sokolow, who helped write “Toy Story.”

“The ultimate goal is to now secure a development deal and find a network that is interested in putting the show out,” he said.

He hopes the show will hit airwaves in less than a year. There will also be a possibility that the show will turn into a motion picture, Sirgiovanni said.

“We’re hoping to bring back roll & roll for kids and try to get some really funny, positive entertainment for the whole family,” he said. “The project has a lot of potential. There are a lot of influential people behind the music. I’m just looking to have a lot of fun with it and hope the public enjoys it.”

A musician himself, Sirgiovanni is a graduate from the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. Prior to “The Grimps,” he was a freelance cartoonist for magazines, books and advertising.

To listen to “The Grimps’” theme song — which was written and recorded by Ron Dante and Freddy Cannon — go to www.thegrimps.com.

Astoria school feted for fighting hunger

| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Thirteen hundred pounds of food can go a long way towards easing the suffering of poverty-stricken people.

In an effort to aid those less fortunate, P.S. 17 has held an annual food drive for the past seven years, during which students have collected and donated thousands of pounds of food to their community.

In 2010, P.S. 17 held two food drives and gathered over half a ton of food.

In recognition of their work, the elementary school, located at 28-37 29th Street in Astoria, earned National School of Distinction status from the School’s Fight Hunger program, an initiative focused on uniting schools across the country to combat hunger.

“It is an honor to be recognized, but we do it from our hearts without expecting anything in return,” said Constantina Pilios, the organizer of the food drives and the parent coordinator at P.S. 17. “We hold these drives because they teach the children lifelong lessons and show them how to practice good values, and it’s also satisfying helping someone else who is starving and in need of food. As a community, it is our responsibility to look out for one another.”

National School of Distinction status, which is an honor fewer than 2,000 schools across the country achieved this year, is awarded to schools that exhibit an exceptional effort in battling hunger.

Other activities that may warrant the award are volunteering at pantries and cultivating a garden to donate freshly-grown food.

“The students, staff and families of our School of Distinction schools should be very proud of their efforts and the impact they’re making on the hunger cause,” said Tim Sullivan, the founder of Schools Fight Hunger, which is in its second year of operation. “Of course, the short-term results are impressive, but we also love to see how our next generation of leaders is getting active in their communities at such a young age. In a day when so much news about our kids and our schools seems so negative, these schools and these students are well worth celebrating.”

Queens’ Morning Roundup – 10/20/2011: Suspected groper released from custody

| jlane@queenscourier.com

The Round Up

Former JetBlue flight attendant sentenced to one year of probation

A fed-up flight attendant whose spectacular exit down an emergency chute made him a national sensation completed his court-ordered treatment program Wednesday and was sentenced to a year of probation. Steven Slater avoided jail time for his stunt when he pleaded guilty to attempted criminal mischief and agreed to undergo counseling and substance abuse treatment. Read More: CBS News


Suspected groper released from custody

Police arrested Joshua Flecha, of Queens, on charges of forcible touching and sexual abuse. Flecha was picked out of a lineup in connection with the May 7 incident, but authorities say the woman could not say for certain he was the suspect and police released him Wednesday. Read More: Wall Street Journal


Ex-George Washington Bridge employee pleads guilty to toll theft

A former toll collector at the George Washington Bridge admitted Wednesday that she stole $500 in toll funds to support her prescription-drug abuse. Debbie Rembert, 41, of Queens,  admitted in court that she partly concealed the thefts by falsely reporting that trucks passed through her tollbooth but then turned around and did not cross the bridge or pay the toll. Read More: NJ.gov



Councilmember Van Bramer Announces Plans To Improve Queens Libraries

City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer announced at the Queens Library of Woodside on Wednesday his plans to fund library improvements, including a teen center, in the 26th District. Watch the video: NY1


Man found dead in bathtub in Woodside

Detectives are investigating the death of a Queens man who was found in his bathtub Wednesday with what police described as two puncture wounds to his head. The 62-year-old Woodside man was discovered Wednesday morning after a friend became concerned when he could not reach him, police sources said. Read More: Daily News


Astoria Post Office saved

Following months of apprehension regarding the fate of the post office, the United States Postal Service (USPS) recently announced that Grand Station was removed from a list of branches targeted for potential closure. Read More: Queens Courier

Residents and officials fight for Forest Park Carousel

| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Woodhaven Resident's Block Association

Local residents and officials hope to save the Forest Park Carousel from the glue factory.

The Forest Park Carousel remains dark as the Parks Department has received no viable proposal from vendors to run the historic ride.

The Parks Department said it will conduct “extensive outreach” to find a suitable vendor and plans to re-release the Request for Proposal (RFP), though no date has been set.

The carousel has not been operated since 2009 when its vendor, New York One, did not renew its contract.

As local residents eagerly await a new vendor to operate the ride, they are making sure their message is not forgotten.

The 50 “Save the Forest Park Carousel” T-shirts, at $10 a piece, quickly sold out at the Woodhaven Street Fair on Sunday, October 16.

The hot item is a great way to allow the residents to help support the fight for the carousel, said Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association.

Residents that were not able to purchase the shirts there can order them by calling the Woodhaven Resident’s Block Association’s office at 718-296-3735.

The money raised from the shirts will be funneled back into trying to get the carousel up and running.

“This is three full summers in a row that it has been closed. People are frustrated now that another year has gone by and there is still no closure,” Wendell said.

Assemblymember Mike Miller is working on a plan that would allow a nonprofit take over the concessions. He has scheduled a meeting with the Parks Department to discuss the plan.

“People within the community have fond memories of the carousel and they want to see it put to good use,” the assemblymember said. “It’s disappointing that we can’t find someone to run the carousel.”

Wendell would like to see the carousel running – even if it is just once a month.

“Turn it on once a month; pick a Saturday,” he said. “We can get volunteers that will work for the carousel. The community will support it.

“It’s part of our shared history; it’s part of our community,” Wendell said. “We’ve come close to losing it permanently twice and people are scared that this is going to be it. Could this be the last we see of [the carousel]?”