Tag Archives: Middle Village

Star of Queens: Ed Shusterich, president, Pullis Farm Cemetery Historical Landmark


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

_2Ed Shusterich

BY ASHA MAHADEVAN

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Ed Shusterich is the founder and president of Pullis Farm Cemetery Historical Landmark, a nonprofit organization that handles the upkeep of the Pullis Cemetery in Juniper Valley Park, Middle Village. Shusterich founded the association in 1993 to transform the decrepit site into a beautiful garden, firmly believing “we could do better than what we have.” Over the years, he planted trees and other foliage on the barren wasteland and even built a utility house. He believes that it is part of the culture and heritage of the community and it is the community’s civic duty to improve it. Most of the volunteers involved in the project are above 50 years of age. Shusterich said that one of the unintended benefits of the project is that it also helps senior citizens connect with each other. On Oct. 18, his organization is holding a drive, calling volunteers of all ages to plant more flowers in the park.

BACKGROUND: Shusterich was born to Slovenian immigrants in Brooklyn but moved to Queens more than 50 years ago. He was in the army for two years during the Korean Conflict before working in the private sector. He lives in Middle Village.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “Getting funding and support from local elected officials is the biggest challenge,” said Shusterich. “They support us but it takes time. Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. has been a great supporter.”

GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT: Shusterich recalled, “I had a flag pole installed in 2003. It cost us $17,000. On the occasion I dedicated the flag pole and the plaque to the heroes and victims of 9/11. I invited the fire department, veterans and the general public to the installation.”

INSPIRATION: “Self-inspiration,” laughed Shusterich. “I am a self-starter.”

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Suspect wanted in Queens mini-mart armed robberies


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Cops are looking for a suspect who held up two gas station mini-marts in Queens this month.

The first robbery occurred at a Mobil gas station on Elliot Avenue, near 69th Street in Middle Village on Oct. 4. Police said the suspect entered the station’s mini-mart at about 7:35 p.m., brandished a gun and demanded money from a store employee. The suspect then fled with $800.

Three days later, the same suspect allegedly robbed a CITGO mini-mart on 101st Avenue near Rockaway Boulevard at gunpoint. An employee at the Ozone Park business handed over the cash and the suspect left with $3,000 around 10:00 p.m.

Police have released a photo of the suspect from the Oct. 4 robbery.

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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Serial Queens bank robber strikes again: cops


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the NYPD

Police are searching for a suspect wanted in eight bank robberies and two attempted heists around Queens over the past two years.

The latest incident occurred on Saturday at approximately 2:50 p.m. at a Chase Bank on Grand Avenue in Maspeth, cops said. During the robbery, the suspect passed a demand note while displaying a firearm. The suspect left with $5,170.

A previous incident happened on Aug. 30 at 12:40 p.m. when the suspect entered The Dimes Savings Bank, located at 77-23 27th Ave. in Flushing, while similarly passing a demand note to a bank teller and displaying a firearm. He walked away with $1,300.

The other robberies, which date back to July 2012, took place in the Kew GardensLong Island CityAstoriaEast Elmhurst and Middle Village areas of the borough, officials said. In the suspect’s most successful theft, on Dec. 12, 2012 at a Chase Bank at 77-01 31st Ave., he fled with $12,400, cops said.

Police describe the suspect as Hispanic, 30 to 35 years old, 6 feet tall and 200 pounds.

Authorities have released a photo of the suspect from the July 22 attempted robbery and a June 7 robbery at a Chase Bank at 77-01 31st Ave.

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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Group against proposed Glendale homeless shelter hosts first meeting


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Hundreds of residents came out Wednesday evening to the first meeting of the Glendale/ Middle Village Coalition, a group formed to combat a proposed homeless shelter in a former warehouse on Cooper Avenue.

The meeting at Christ the King High School was held to inform locals of the group’s plans for action against the shelter and to show them the ways they can help the cause, organizers said.

“We want to prevent the warehousing of the homeless,” Kathy Masi, president of the Glendale Civic Association, said.  “We are asking residents for help.”

The Glendale/ Middle Village Coalition has raised more than $30,000, which it intends to use to challenge a declaration by the city that said a homeless shelter would have no adverse effect on the community.

“[The city] just went through the motions,” Chris Murray, the coalition’s lawyer, said. “If we win, the city will have to go back and do an Environmental Impact Statement. This could then take them up to three years to complete and will prolong the process.”

But to continue the legal action the coalition asked locals to kick in money and for at least one resident on each block to become a “block captain,” who would keep neighbors informed and collect donation pledges.

By the end of the night, more than 70 people signed up to become block captains and more than 50 checks were collected, organizers said.

The coalition estimated that it will need about $100,000 more to fight the proposed shelter effectively.

Sal Cafasi, one of the originators of the coalition, said the group will continue to hold meetings and update residents.

The coalition has asked for the community’s continuing support throughout the process.

“This is a battle and we will win it,” Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, said. “The neighborhood is united against this. We need [residents] to spread the word.”

The Department of Homeless Services did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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Middle Village, local 10-year-old featured in soon-to-be-released movie


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos by Kelsey Bennett

Middle Village is ready for its close-up.

The neighborhood is the backdrop for a soon-to-be-released film focusing on an ex-mafia captain (“capo”) as he comes to grips with how his former life has changed after spending the last 20 years in federal prison. The movie also features a 10-year-old actress from the neighborhood, Olivia Panepinto, in her debut role.

Director, writer and producer David Rodriguez was inspired to make “Once Upon a Time in Queens” after seeing a program on the Investigation Discovery channel about an FBI agent who went undercover in the Gambino crime family in the Bronx. There was one member who was recently released from prison and came home to reclaim his old rackets, but most of the people from his former mob life were dead, in prison or informants.

“In his mind it was still the early 90s … where you could still survive in this world and be untouchable, and what he didn’t realize was that it was the opposite,” Rodriguez said.

In the film, Paul Sorvino plays Joseph Scoleri, who was sent away for racketeering and conspiracy to commit murder. After his release, he goes to live at his Middle Village home, with his 43-year-old daughter Rita (Renee Props). In addition to leaving his gangster lifestyle behind and being forbidden to speak to former associates, Scoleri must reestablish his relationship with his daughter and come to terms with how she has been living her life.

He also becomes reacquainted with his neighbor Bobby DiBianco, played by Michael Rapaport, whom he last saw as a teenager.

Bobby now has a family of his own and runs his father’s deli, and agrees to help run errands for the ailing Scoleri. The character represents a progressive, professional lifestyle, instead of a wannabe gangster, according to Rodriguez.

“He speaks to [Scoleri] like nobody has ever spoken to him,” Rodriguez said. “That is another shocker to him.”

Part of Bobby’s family man image is his daughter Liv, played by Olivia.

Olivia

The current fifth-grader landed the part after three impressive auditions. She was so good that her part was changed from a boy to a girl.

“She really knocked it out of the park in the audition,” Rodriguez said. The part was also changed to make the film less male-centric and more heartfelt.

Olivia’s dream of acting started at two years old when she was watching TV and asked, “How can I be in the box?”

After a trip to Los Angeles where she visited the Hollywood Walk of Fame and asked her parents how she could “get one of those stars,” Olivia started taking acting lessons, and landed her first part in “Once Upon a Time in Queens.”

“It was like my dream come true,” she said. “It was even more cool that we shot it in my neighborhood.”

Filming was somewhat challenging, but mostly fun, Olivia said, especially when Sorvino would sing opera between takes.

The young actress has also appeared in a web show called “Mona in Manhattan” with her older sisters, Alessandra, 14, and Emmanuela, 12, and will be filming a movie with them in LA this January called “Marilyn Monroe Zombie Hunter.”

Olivia  during a scene at a Middle Village deli with actor Michael Rapaport (far right).

Olivia during a scene at a Middle Village deli with actor Michael Rapaport (far right).

Olivia’s father Ignazio was also involved in “Once Upon a Time in Queens,” receiving a co-executive producer credit for helping find most the locations for the film, which was mainly shot in Middle Village and Ridgewood. Some scenes were filmed at Juniper Valley Park and Village Gourmet on Eliot Avenue, a stand-in for Bobby’s deli.

Though the film was shown at several film festivals around the country last year, including the 2013 Austin Film Festival, its official premiere, with its new name, will take place this Wednesday in the East Village.

In February, Lionsgate purchased the movie, which was originally called “Last I Heard,” and renamed it “Once Upon a Time in Queens.”

It also will have a Los Angeles premiere on Thursday, which will be followed by a seven-day theatrical run in the city. On Nov. 11 it will be available on DVD, iTunes, Netflix and Amazon Instant Video.

Rodriguez hopes audiences “see the film for what it is.”

“I don’t want people to see the movie and think it’s a mob movie,” he said. “It’s a slice of New York life.”

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Stavisky, Markey, Sanders win primary


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photos

Three incumbent Queens elected officials have easily taken the win in the Democratic primary.

State Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky, who was first elected to the state Senate in 1999 and is the only female member of the state Senate from Queens, won the race with 4,981 votes, holding onto 57.3 percent of the votes, according to unofficial results.

The Forest Hills resident ran against S.J. Jung, a Flushing resident, activist and president of the MinKwon Center for Community Action.

Assemblywoman Margaret Markey also won the primary with 1,880 votes and 75.2 percent of the votes, according to unofficial results. She has represented the 30th Assembly District, comprised of Maspeth, Woodside and parts of Long Island City, Middle Village, Astoria and Sunnyside, since 1998.

In the race for the 10th District, state Sen. James Sanders Jr., who was elected in 2012, took the win with 5,898 votes and 74.5 percent of the votes, according to unofficial results.

Photo via Twitter/@tobystavisky

Photo via Twitter/@tobystavisky

In other statewide elections, incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo easily defeated his two competitors at 61.7 percent with 93.2 percent of the precincts reporting, according to unofficial results. His running mate, lieutenant governor candidate Kathy Hochul, also took the win with 59.7 percent of the votes. 

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New group formed to fight proposed Glendale homeless shelter


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo by Jeff Stone

The fight goes on.

A new group named the Glendale/Middle Village Coalition has formed to combat the proposed homeless shelter site on Cooper Avenue.

“Instead of everyone doing little things on their own [to combat the site] we will form one group to make a stronger argument,” said Salvatore Crifasi, co-founder of the coalition.

The group was formed just a couple of weeks ago. Its main argument is that the site will serve better as a school campus than a homeless shelter for the most overcrowded school district in the city, Crifasi said.

They also believe the city did not properly assess the site as a homeless shelter for its impact on the environment and have hired a lawyer to help them in their argument.

Whenever a government agency proposes a project they must go through State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR), which requires an environmental impact assessment.  A “negative declaration” is given to a site, such as the one on Cooper Avenue, when it is determined that whatever is proposed for it would not have a significant impact on the environment.

“The negative declaration that was issued for the site does not accurately depict what the homeless shelter would do,” said Chris Murray, the attorney hired by the coalition. “The city was just trying to rush this thing through.”

The coalition is still trying to raise enough funds for the legal fees in order to bring this case to the state Supreme Court. The negative impact statement was issued on June 12 and by law there is a four-month window to file a legal challenge, Murray said. This gives the coalition about a month to raise money for their lawyer to bring a case.

“There are other alternatives that we feel will have a better impact [on the community],” Crifasi said. “We are trying to raise enough money [for legal fees] and find a better solution for the site.”

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Petition: turn proposed Glendale homeless shelter site into a school


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo by Jeff Stone

A petition has been started to turn the proposed homeless shelter site on Cooper Avenue into an educational facility to better accommodate the overcrowded School District 24.

“We are not happy about the shelter,” Kathy Masi, president of the Glendale Civic Association, said at a Community Education Council meeting on Tuesday. “We are asking the DOE to take a look at the location of Cooper Avenue and the two adjoining properties [for a possible school].”

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

All residents at the meeting were urged to sign the petition, which was started by residents of Glendale and Middle Village, with the help of the Glendale Civic Association, asking for a school in the already over-saturated district. Residents believe that turning the site into a specialized school that runs from pre-K to high school would be the optimal usage for the site, whereas if it were turned into a homeless shelter, the child-to-school ratio in the district would grow even more.

“I just cannot comprehend the logistics,” said Nick Comaianni, president of the Community Education Council for District 24. “Doesn’t the city take a look at this?”

A “green light” was given for human habitation of the land after concerns were voiced about a former chemical complex on the site, according to the petition.

The petition urges the the city instead to acquire the site and build an educational complex there, citing a “dire need of school seats for children of District 24, the most overcrowded school district in NYC.”

“The location would serve as a good site to alleviate problems already present in District 24,” Masi said. “Building a school would be a great alternative for that site.”

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West Nile spraying to target areas of Queens this week


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC Department of Health

On Wednesday, Aug. 27, there will be West Nile spraying in parts of Queens to help reduce the mosquito population and the risk of the disease.

The spraying will take place between the hours of 8:15 p.m. and 6 a.m. the next morning. In case of bad weather, the application will be delayed until Thursday, Aug. 28 during the same hours.

The following neighborhoods are being treated due to rising West Nile virus activity with high mosquito populations, according to the city’s Health Department:

Parts of Auburndale, Murray Hill and Flushing (Bordered by 25th Avenue to the north; Murray Street to the west; 45th Avenue to the south; and 192nd Street, Francis Lewis Boulevard and Utopia Parkway to the east).

Parts of Elmhurst, Forest Hills, Forest Hills Garden, Forest Park, Glendale, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park and Woodhaven (Bordered by 63rd Avenue, 80th Street and Long Island Expressway to the north; eastern boundary of Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Metropolitan Avenue, 73rd Place, Myrtle Avenue and eastern boundaries of Mt. Lebanon and Mt. Hope to west; Park Lane South to the south; and Metropolitan Avenue and Alderton Street to the east).

For the application, the Health Department will spray pesticide from trucks and use a very low concentration of Anvil®, 10 + 10, a synthetic pesticide. When properly used, this product poses no significant risks to human health.

The Health Department recommends that people take the following precautions to minimize direct exposure:

  • Whenever possible, stay indoors during spraying. People with asthma or other respiratory conditions  are encouraged to stay inside during spraying since direct exposure could worsen these conditions.
  • Air conditioners may remain on, however, if you wish to reduce the possibility of indoor exposure to pesticides, set the air conditioner vent to the closed position, or choose the re-circulate function.
  •  Remove children’s toys, outdoor equipment, and clothes from outdoor areas during spraying. If  outdoor equipment and toys are exposed to pesticides, wash them with soap and water before using  again.
  • Wash skin and clothing exposed to pesticides with soap and water. Always wash your produce thoroughly with water before cooking or eating.

 

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Residents nervous about Glendale homeless shelter impact on schools


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE QUEENS COURIER/ Photo by Salvatore Licata


Hundreds of residents voiced concerns of potentially overcrowded schools at a forum on the impact of a proposed homeless shelter in Glendale.

It would be irresponsible to put kids in a shelter that you cannot fit into its zoned school district, said Nick Comaianni, president of the Community Education Council for District 24 at the Wednesday meeting at P.S./I.S. 28.

“District 24 is already the most overcrowded school district in the city,” Comaianni said. “This is not a strategic place to house these children.”

Thirty-one of the 39 schools in the district are already over capacity, ranging from about 110 to 150 percent saturation, according to Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley.

Adding the 125 families that are proposed for the Cooper Avenue shelter would mean the children living there would have priority to go to school in the area.

Increasing the number of seats to accommodate these families would be too much of a burden on the schools in the area, Crowley said.

“We need to find nearly 5,000 high school and elementary school seats for children already going to school in the area,” she said. “We have to do everything we can do to make sure [the proposed shelter] turns into a school to house these 5,000 children already overcrowding the district.”

The site was looked at two years ago by the School Construction Authority (SCA) but was deemed inadequate because of its proximity to busy Cooper Avenue and because there was a chemical plant  next door, among other things, according to Mary Lease, a representative from the SCA.

However, because Independent Chemical Corporation would now like to sell, adding that land to the land of both the vacant factory and the Hansel ‘n Gretel meat processing plant, which is for sale, means the SCA is re-considering the nine acre plot for a school, Lease said.

To buy the land, the SCA first has to do environmental assessment tests on all three of the sites.  At this point, only Hansel ‘n Gretel has agreed to let the SCA on their property to do an environmental review, with the owner of the vacant factory and owner of the Independent Chemical Company denying access, according to Lease. Without all three sites, the SCA will not build a school there, according to Lease.

Samaritan Village, the nonprofit organization looking to build the homeless shelter on the site, wants to lease the vacant factory for 60 years.

The proposed lease has not made its way to City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office yet, according to Crowley.

“We have to keep pressing upon the mayor’s office and continue our fight,” state Sen. Joe Addabbo said. “We have a serious issue regarding the overcrowding of our schools and this is not an issue that will go away.”

There is one possibility that may alleviate the further overcrowding of schools in the area if the homeless shelter is built. The school of origin program is one where children who move from one district to another can stay in the school they attended previously. This is a condition that parents of the homeless children may consider which can help some of congestion.

But considering that District 24 schools are already at 30 percent higher capacity than any other district in the city, adding even a couple of children to the schools would be too much, Crowley said.

Residents of the district asked both Crowley and Addabbo what the plans are going forward.

Crowley said she would make sure the chancellor of New York City Schools, Carmen Fariña, is aware of the issues that are already facing the district even without children from the shelter. Addabbo said he will continue to fight and send letters to the mayor’s office about the negative impact this shelter will have on the community.

But both agreed that residents also need to voice their concerns to the comptroller’s and mayor’s offices to show there is great concern for their children’s education.

 

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Cops searching for Queens serial bank robber


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD


Police are looking for a suspect wanted in five bank robberies and two attempted heists around Queens over the past two years.

The latest incident occurred on Tuesday around 4:30 p.m. at a Santander Bank on Northern Boulevard in Jackson Heights, cops said. During the robbery, the suspect passed a demand note but left without any money.

The other robberies, which date back to July 2012, took place in the Long Island City, Astoria, East Elmhurst and Middle Village areas of the borough, officials said. In the suspect’s most successful theft, on Dec. 12, 2012 at a Chase Bank at 77-01 31st Ave., he fled with $12,400, cops said.

Police describe the suspect as Hispanic, 30 to 35 years old, 6 feet tall and 200 pounds. He was last seen wearing a baseball hat with a New York Yankees symbol on the front, a button down short sleeve shirt, tinted eyeglasses and a black wrist watch on his left wrist, and had a light beard connected to a goatee.

Authorities have released a photo of the suspect from the July 22 attempted robbery and a June 7 robbery at a Chase Bank at 77-01 31st Ave.

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.

Middle Village resident named Yankees’ All-Star Teacher


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of William Termine


Physical education teacher William Termine is an “All-Star” with his students who will be honored at the Mid-Summer Classic.

The Middle Village resident was selected as the Yankees’ All-Star Teacher and will be recognized in a ceremony before Tuesday’s All-Star Game at Target Field in Minneapolis.

The 40-year-old Queens native has loved the Bronx Bombers since he was a child.

“I became a Yankees fan because my older brother and father were Mets fans,” he said. “Being the younger son, I felt I had to be independent and go my own way.”

Termine was one of three Yankees fans who were selected as All-Star Teacher finalists, after one of his students sent in an essay nominating him and he penned his own essay, explaining how he’s helped out his school and community.

He started his education career as a paraprofessional in 1996, and since 2000 has been a physical education teacher at P.S. / I.S. 87 in Middle Village, teaching fourth through eighth-grade. 

Termine’s passion for getting children to be active goes beyond gym class.

He also teaches kids fitness classes at Vigorous Fitness Clubs on Metropolitan Avenue, and coaches soccer and softball for his 8-year-old daughter’s teams at Our Lady of Hope on Eliot Avenue.

Termine is additionally involved with CHAMPS (Cooperative, Healthy, Active, Motivated and Positive Students). He started working with the program, which brings fitness activities and sports to students outside of middle school hours, after he pledged to bring it to his own school.

“Exercise is something kids should want to do, not something they should have to do. That is my goal,” he said.

Despite all the hard work Termine has done trying to achieve that goal, he still said he was “shocked” when he was selected, through online voting, as an All-Star Teacher.

“I looked at some of the other teachers’ resumes and some of the fantastic things they were doing and felt honored to be part of that group,” he said.

Before Tuesday’s ceremony he was honored with the other two finalists at Yankee Stadium on June 17.

Termine (second from right) with Yankees manager Joe Girardi when the team honored the Yankees’ All-Star Teacher finalist at the stadium.

“It was a dream come true to meet all these players. I’ve been a Yankee fan all my life so to actually get to stand on the field, it was surreal,” he said.

As a kid he was a fan of Don Mattingly, then in the 90s it was Paul O’Neill, and today it’s Derek Jeter.

“It makes it that more special,” Termine said of being able to attend his first All-Star Game, which will be the Yankee captain’s 14th and final one.

“I’m looking forward to the whole experience,” he said. “This is a once in a lifetime thing.”

 

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Middle Village crematorium to commemorate famous people it cremated


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Queens’ oldest crematorium takes a look back at its history this summer with an exhibit that memorializes the many celebrities that have been cremated there.

Fresh Pond Crematory plans on opening the exhibit this summer. The project is lead by the crematorium’s nonprofit corporation president Joseph Peter Troia. Since opening in 1884, the Middle Village establishment has processed celebrities like the rapper Biggie Smalls (full name Christopher George Latore Wallace) and the banker John Pierpont Morgan. Troia wants to commemorate this by establishing a series of pictures and symbolic urns for these people.

“We’re doing this to let people know that [cremation] is an option and that many people have chosen it before,” said Troia, who has been working at the crematorium since 1964 when he started as an office clerk.

With only three furnaces, the crematorium holds about 40,000 people in 16,000 niches. These niches are a crematorium’s version of a plot.

“These are not just ashes,” Troia said. “They’re human cremated remains.” And the layout of the facility reflects this belief. Most of the rooms are lined with these niches and given names like Hall of Serenity and the Gothic Room.

Some other notables that made their last corporeal stop here are John Savage, Lou Gehrig, Ringer Lardner and Bruno Richard Hauptmann, the convicted kidnapper and killer of the infant Charles Lindbergh. All of these people, and more, will be memorialized in the crematorium’s exhibit.

While most of these people don’t have their remains in the crematorium, Anton Seidl, a Hungarian composer who worked with Richard Wagner, is placed high in a huge urn in a room that smells like the Metropolitan Museum, with all its age and history.

The crematorium is located near a highly dense area of cemeteries.

“New York City can only hold so many of our dead in the ground,” he said. “We’re conserving land here.”

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Former Woodhaven resident pens play about Sandy


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Pavel Voz

The Flood,” a play written by then-Woodhaven resident Daniel McCabe as Superstorm Sandy roared into New York City, premieres this August at the New York International Fringe Festival.

In the aftermath of the storm, his family in Queens helped with relief efforts and he was reminded of the importance of family and his neighborhood.

“They’re the unsung heroes of New York City,” said McCabe, 34, who also stars in the play. “They’re the people who keep the lights on, who run the trains and give the city life.”

The other actors and actresses in the play came from around the world to live in New York City and Queens. John Duddy, a former boxer from Ireland who now lives in Middle Village will also be starring in the play. And Emma Ishta, McCabe’s wife from Australia, is featured in the production.

McCabe went to Saint Elizabeth School on Atlantic Avenue and 85th Street, where he was surrounded by the Irish working class. And he credits the characters in the neighborhood with influencing him to become a writer.

“I was surrounded by storytellers, real characters that just knew how to tell you about things,” he said. “It’s an interesting conversation dynamic when you have the train [on Jamaica Avenue] going overhead every five minutes and you just have to stop talking for that time.”

“The Flood,” which McCabe will also direct, takes place in the East Village just as Sandy begins to loom over the city. Charlie, his character, is a bartender dealing with family troubles and a suicidal brother.

“A lot of the conflict of these characters has a lot to do with growing up in working class neighborhoods,” he said.

Though McCabe, who has relatives in Forest Hills, Woodhaven, Bayside and Richmond Hill, now lives in Brooklyn, he and his wife often go back to Woodhaven, where his mother still lives.

“Woodhaven will always be my home,” he said.

 

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Stats show universal pre-K’s limited reach in western, central Queens


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo by Rob Bennett for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio

Only 30 percent of 4-year-olds in parts of western and central Queens got into the pre-K of their choice, the lowest percentage of matched applicants in all of New York City.

Parents in Queens District 24 — Corona, Glendale, Ridgewood, Elmhurst, Long Island City, Maspeth and Middle Village — must now search for an alternative to public schools.

According to the Department of Education, the majority of parents with 4-year-olds — 70 percent — in the district recently received letters informing them that the public pre-K of their choice was already full.

In comparison, in Manhattan’s District 1 only 10 percent of applicants were unmatched and, overall, 38 percent of applicants throughout New York City were unmatched.

“Every single school in this district is overcrowded,” said Nick Comaianni, president of School Board District 24. “In the past we’ve actually had to get rid of pre-K seats to make room for kindergarten to fifth grade.”

As the city changes gears for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s aim to make pre-K universal, the DOE is using community-based organizations like local YMCAs and mom-and-pop pre-K programs to scoop up the applicants that didn’t get into a public school pre-K.

But Comaianni, who has been president of the board for 11 years, believes that the mayor’s office and the DOE are moving too fast.

“Someone should’ve done their homework before pushing pre-K through so quickly,” he said, noting that since the schools in the district are already overcrowded, there is no extra space for more students. “You can’t have pre-K if you don’t even have second grade.”

The DOE is opening up 53,000 full-day seats through community-based organizations in time for the new school year in September. While this will still leave some toddlers behind, by next year there will be 73,250 seats, enough to put every 4-year-old in New York City in school, according to education officials.

Which is just fine, Comaianni said, but warned: “In our haste to open these seats let’s hope we have qualified people who can teach pre-K and it’s not just a baby-sitting center.

Queens by school district:

Source: Office of Student Enrollment

 

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