Tag Archives: Pomonok

Health Department to spray parts of Queens against West Nile


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Images courtesy of NYC Health Department

The Health Department is once again treating a number of Queens neighborhoods, including many across the northeast and central parts of the borough, in an effort to reduce mosquito activity and reduce the risk of the West Nile virus.

The treatment, which will include spraying pesticide from trucks, will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 11, between the hours of 8:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. the following morning. In case of bad weather, the application will be delayed until Wednesday, Aug. 12, during the same hours.

Though no human cases have been reported so far this season, the following neighborhoods will be treated due to “rising West Nile virus activity” and “high mosquito populations,” according to the Health Department.

The treatment will take place in the following areas:

  • Parts of Auburndale, Corona, Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Kew Gardens Hills, Murray Hill, Pomonok, Queensboro Hill and Utopia (bordered by 43rd Avenue, Cherry Avenue, Kissena Boulevard, Elder Avenue, Main Street, Blossom Avenue, College Point Boulevard and Long Island Expressway to the north; Grand Central Parkway to the west; Jewel Avenue, Main Street, Long Island Expressway, 185th Street and 73rd Avenue to the south; and Francis Lewis Boulevard, Hollis Court Boulevard and Auburndale Lane to the east)
  • Parts of Bellaire, Bellerose, Douglaston, Floral Park, Floral Park Center, Glen Oaks, Hollis Hill, Little Neck and Oakland Gardens (bordered by Hewlett Avenue, Hewlett Street, Long Island Expressway, Little Neck Parkway and Northern Boulevard to the north; 223rd Street, Cloverdale Boulevard, 73rd Avenue, Springfield Boulevard, Union Turnpike, and 229th Street to the west; Hillside Avenue, Commonwealth Boulevard, 87th Avenue and 261st Avenue to the south; and 86th Avenue, 263rd Street, Williston Avenue and Langdale Street to the east)

For these sprayings, the Health Department will use a very low concentration of the synthetic pesticide Anvil 10+10, which poses no significant risks to human health when properly used. 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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Queens pols and residents tell city to scrap plans for new express bus service


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Department of Transportation

As the city revs up plans to create express bus service between Jamaica and Flushing, residents and local politicians are throwing up speed bumps and roadblocks against the initiative.

“All they’re doing is shifting the burden of heavy traffic from one group of people to another,” Councilman Rory Lancman said. “And I can’t support anything like that.”

Across New York City there are several express lines that aim to cut down bus travel times by devoting a lane exclusively to express service, or Select Bus Service (SBS). But creating an exclusive bus lane means there is one less lane for regular traffic, a point that is a deal breaker for Lancman.

In a letter written by Lancman and Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz, the officials explain why they oppose the express bus lane to the Department of Transportation and the MTA. The Kew Gardens Hills Civic Association also signed onto the letter.

“No one can tell us exactly what the plan is, and that’s part of the problem,” said Jennifer Martin, co-president of the civic association. “If they’re going to reduce a busy thoroughfare to one lane, that’s going to create a tremendous backup. There has to be a better option.”

In Queens, the city has been slowly moving toward creating SBS along Woodhaven Boulevard. And the same might be happening to northern parts of Queens and Jamaica. The city will be holding a community workshop on Jan. 22 in Townsend Harris High School to engage with communities that would be affected by the bus plans.

But Lancman and others are not buying the city’s claims that express buses decrease traffic for everybody.

“We are opposed to removing any lane of traffic or parking in our district,” said Lancman, whose district covers Pomonok, Hillcrest and Utopia, which includes parts of Parsons Boulevard and Kissena Boulevard, two of the city’s candidates for the bus lines.

City officials originally met with residents in October 2014 at York College to get the community’s input on several proposed paths.

The DOT is considering two routes between the neighborhoods for SBS. The first would travel along Main Street where the Q44 and Q20A/B run. The second route under consideration is Parsons and Kissena boulevards, currently serviced by the Q25 and Q34.

Advocacy groups argue that adding SBS between Jamaica and Flushing would reduce traffic for all drivers, not just buses.

“By reducing congestion, speeding up travel times, and making busy avenues safer, BRT [Bus Rapid Transit] is a win-win for riders, drivers, pedestrians and cyclists alike,” said a spokeswoman for the advocacy group BRT for NYC. “The continued growth of Jamaica and Flushing – two of the borough’s most significant downtowns – depends on the type of improved transit access that provides.”

In addition to dedicated lanes, the express bus service includes other features to speed up service. Passengers would pay their fare at sidewalk kiosks before the bus arrives to reduce boarding times.

“The bus trips are long and slow,” a spokesman for the Department of Transportation said. “And with Select Bus Service we think there’s a solution to improve things.”

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Threats against police spray-painted in Pomonok Houses


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Anti-cop graffiti aimed at a Queens precinct was found in the Pomonok Houses earlier this week, according to police.

The threats were found on Monday in a restricted section of the basement in one of the buildings that makes up the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) complex Pomonok Houses, police said.

The graffiti reads, “PSA-9 [and] 107 Pct R Next to Die.”

The targets of this threat are against the 107th Precinct, which covers a part of Queens that includes the Pomonok Houses, and PSA-9, a housing police unit that patrols the complex. The basement is used as a storage facility for maintenance workers and it is restricted to New York Housing Authority officials who have the key to open the door.

“The cops around here seem pretty nervous about the threat,” said Denise Williams, a resident of the houses. “But then again, the cops have always been on edge when dealing with people here.”

Williams noted that tensions between the community and police have been more strained than usual since the killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown.

Police said that the NYPD’s Vandal Task Force was investigating the case but no arrests have been made. NYCHA didn’t respond to requests for comment to explain how someone was able to get into a locked area.

The NYPD has been investigating a wave of threats against officers in the aftermath of the shooting of two members of the Police Department on Dec. 20 when Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were gunned down on a Brooklyn street corner. The shooter, who committed suicide, had said on social media sites that he wanted to kill police officers.

A Glendale man was arrested on weapons charges Dec. 24 after he was overheard saying that the officers murdered in Brooklyn should have been white and he wanted to kill cops, authorities said.

The threats were reported to cops who later pulled over 38-year-old Elvin Payamps of Glendale while he was driving. A search of his home turned up metal knuckles, a loaded pistol, a shotgun with a defaced serial number, ammunition and two bulletproof vests, according to DA Richard Brown.

In an interview after his arrest, Payamps insisted his comments were misconstrued by whoever reported them to cops. “Whatever happened to free speech? I was only saying an opinion,” Payamps told The Post.

As of New Year’s Day, the NYPD was investigating at least 60 threats against cops, mostly found on social media sites.

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Pomonok Senior Center adds additional parking spaces to meet increased demands


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Title

Senior citizens, rejoice — additional parking spaces have been provided for visitors to the Pomonok Senior Center.

In response to growing demands from residents and local pols, the city has created an extra 10 parking spaces for the senior services center. But the spaces are temporary and will be removed in April.

“The Pomonok Senior Center is extremely important to our community,” said Monica Corbett, president of the Pomonok Residents Association. “Seniors that live in Pomonok and our surrounding community rely on the center for all sorts of resources and social activities that keep our seniors vibrant.”

Corbett was disappointed that the spots were temporary and said she will advocate for making the spaces permanent. But for now, the elderly residents who use the center for their daily activities can park close by.

“Senior citizens can once again visit the center freely without having to worry  if they will be able to park close enough. This is a great benefit to the Pomonok community and the hundreds of seniors who visit the center every day,” state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky said.

Along with Councilman Rory Lancman, the politicians were able to negotiate with the New York City Housing Authority, which runs the center, for the parking spaces. The center serves those over 60 years old, providing them with with case assistance, recreational activities, ESL classes, computer instruction, benefits assistance and breakfast and lunch.

“These additional parking spaces were a project years in the making, and I want to thank NYCHA for finally recognizing their importance to Pomonok’s seniors,” Lancman said. “I hope NYCHA continues to acknowledge the needs of our seniors when these spaces expire this spring, and anticipate a productive working relationship in the future.”

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Police arrest Flushing woman for hit-and-run


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Graphic Image

Police arrested a Flushing resident for a hit-and-run Tuesday nearby Robert F. Kennedy Community High School, according to authorities.

Gina Morales, 41, was arrested in front of her home on Union Turnpike and charged with leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in the injury of a woman, cops said. The car, police observed, had bumps on it that indicated it had hit something. No description of the vehicle was available.

She told police that she was making a turn on the corner of Parsons Boulevard and 75th Road in Pomonok when she felt a “bump” but decided to keep driving.

The victim was taken to Queens Hospital Center with minor injuries.

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West Nile spraying in Queens this week


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of James Gathany/CDC

On Thursday, August 22 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 Monday, August 26, during the same hours.

Parts of  Auburndale, Murray Hill, Pomonok and Queensboro Hill (Bordered by: Northern Boulevard, Sanford Avenue, 156th Street, 46th Avenue, and Holly Avenue to the north; Kissena Boulevard to the west; Long Island Expressway to the south; and Fresh Meadow Lane and Auburndale Lane to the east).

Parts of  Cambria Heights, Laurelton, Springfield Gardens and Saint Albans (Bordered by Linden Boulevard to the north; 170th Street, Ring Place, 171st Street to the west; 125th Ave, Merrick Boulevard, 223rd Street and 130th Avenue to the south; and Francis  Lewis Boulevard, 121st Avenue and Francis Lewis Boulevard to the east).

For the sprayings, the Health Department will 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.

Bellerose residents demand mosquito help after years with no West Nile spraying


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of CDC

Bellerose residents say they live in a forgotten land when it comes to the city’s efforts to eliminate mosquitoes.

“You can’t go outside. You can’t make it from your car to your front door,” said Maria Donza.

The bloodsuckers are keeping residents on house arrest and even alert indoors, said Donza, who added she sits with a bottle of bug spray at home.

The city has not sprayed the area since before 2011.

Pesticide was scheduled for Bellerose in August 2011, but the order was eventually canceled, according to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s (DOHMH) website.

The department recently targeted neighborhoods north of Bellerose, spraying parts of Bayside, Douglaston, Douglaston Manor, Glen Oaks, Little Neck and Oakland Gardens on July 25 and early the next day.

“Everywhere else in Queens has been mostly getting sprayed,” said resident AJ Sonnick. “I don’t understand why Bellerose has been forgotten.”

The 20-year-old said he was bitten four times in the 20 minutes he was in his backyard the other day.

“This is a beautiful neighborhood. It’s a great neighborhood to live,” Sonnick said. “It’s a shame that we just can’t sit outside.”

A DOHMH spokesperson said Bellerose has not been sprayed because no West Nile Virus activity has been detected there.

The virus is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. It can cause encephalitis and meningitis.

Insects carrying the potentially fatal virus were recently found in Auburndale, College Point, Holliswood, Middle Village, Pomonok and the areas north of Bellerose sprayed last week.

The pesticide is taken as a last resort in areas where there is a high risk of West Nile Virus transmission, the department said.

Catch basins in Bellerose have been treated with larvicide twice this season.

“Though there may be an increase in floodwater mosquitoes citywide, these mosquitoes do not transmit West Nile Virus,” the DOHMH spokesperson said.

However, State Senator Tony Avella said the city should take measures before Bellerose makes the infected list.

“Every year, we have deaths from West Nile Virus. Every year, it resurfaces,” he said. “So why don’t we do a much more proactive spraying to reduce that population rather than wait until it explodes on us?”

Mosquitoes “don’t know what a boundary is on a map” and can fly into new nearby territories, the legislator added.

The city urged residents to call 3-1-1 to report standing water, which can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

 

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More security cameras coming to Queens


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Police will install new sets of eyes in parts of Briarwood, Jamaica and Pomonok, according to a Queens lawmaker.

Seventeen NYPD security cameras are coming to the area’s high-traffic locations thanks to $600,000 in funding secured by Councilmember James Gennaro.

They can be found around Rufus King Park in Jamaica, near Archbishop Molloy High School and along Hillside Avenue, Jamaica Avenue and Parsons Boulevard, officials said.

“I am proud to have been a strong supporter of the use of these cameras,” Gennaro said.

Installation is slated to be completed by the city’s police department within two years.

The legislator said the cameras “are an essential part of the NYPD’s crime-fighting and counterterrorism efforts.”

Another 57 security cameras are coming to Queens, Borough President Helen Marshall announced last month.

 

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Local teen designers compete in “Project Runway” fashion competition


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of Queens Library

Local teen designers faced off in a “Project Runway” fashion competition last month at the Pomonok branch of the Queens Library.

Fifteen runway hopefuls, between 10 and 17 years old, took on the task of creating the most stylish woman’s outfit out of men’s clothing. Their handpicked models hit the catwalk in their creations, library officials said.

Queens librarian Frances Grossman said she came up with the idea of recreating the popular television show after local teens begged for a library program centered around fashion.

Grossman, 26, said she called The Weinstein Company, which co-produces “Project Runway,” for permission to use the name of the show. They gave approval, as well as prizes, fabric, embellishments, tailoring supplies, sponsors for the contest and the theme song for the show.

Alyssa Sadofsky, 16, won first place with model Corine Houngninou, 10. They were given $100 gift certificates to MOOD Designer Fabrics and two tickets to the “Project Runway” season 11 finals, held in Manhattan during Fashion Week this spring. Runners-up, designer Katelyn Dougherty and model Victoria Woelfle, went home with a “Project Runway” DVD game.

The judges were Brooklyn fashion designer Michelle McGoldrick, jewelry store manager Madeline Roth, art therapist Meredith Farrell and interior designer and fashion blogger Dahlia Jacob.

 

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OpEd: Ban sex offenders from childrens’ sections of public libraries


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY DAVID WEPRIN

When I heard about the sexual assault of a 10-year-old girl at the Pomonok branch of the Queens Public Library in the middle of the day on Monday, October 15, I was disturbed and outraged that we as a community failed once again to keep our children safe. I immediately called upon my fellow legislators in the State Assembly to pass the bill I introduced last spring prohibiting sex offenders from entering into the childrens’ section of our public libraries.

To me, it is absolutely outrageous that our children are not safe in our libraries, local parks, playgrounds, recreation centers and even our schools. We simply cannot allow any more of our children to be harmed by sex offenders in our communities. This horrific assault at Pomonok could have been prevented. It is a failure of our legal system that these predators are able to enter our public libraries and harm our precious children. We must put a stop to this now.

The bill, A10815/S7823, which I co-sponsored with State Senator John Sampson last spring, would prohibit all persons required to maintain registration under the sex offender registration act from entering the childrens’ section of a public library. Back in June, there was an incident involving two small girls, ages 6 and 9, at another branch of the Queens Public Library and the accused perpetrator was on parole for possession of child pornography at the time of the incident.

To enforce this bill, our libraries would need to create a separate entry into their childrens’ areas and request identification from any adult entering the space. Increased security in the childrens’ areas would also help monitor all activities taking place. Perhaps also the addition of security cameras would help protect our children while they are reading, studying, or enjoying a story time presentation. Our libraries have wonderful programs for children of all ages and parents should not have to worry about their children’s safety when they participate in these activities.

Also disturbing is a situation in South Ozone Park, which borders on my newly-re-drawn Assembly district, where the Skyway homeless shelter, which houses sex offenders, is located just 1,000 feet from PS 124 on South Conduit Avenue. I also co-sponsored a bill, A1947, that would restrict registered sex offenders from residing within 500 feet of a school. This legislation is still pending in Albany. Rightfully so, parents and members of the South Ozone Park community are frightened for their children and angry about the placement of these dangerous individuals in their neighborhood.

Clearly, we must do more to protect our youngest and most vulnerable citizens. Libraries are places where our children learn – from the youngest toddlers to the freckled faces of our delightful teenagers – and there is no excuse for a convicted sex offender to have access to the childrens’ areas of any library. We need to be hyper-vigilant on these issues of public safety and work together to make sure no more children become victims.

New York State has taken numerous steps to ensure that sexual predators do not have access to children, but clearly we need to do more. I intend to work with my colleagues in Albany to ensure our laws do not provide loopholes for predators and that our children remain safe everywhere.

Assemblymember David I. Weprin (D) represents Queens Assembly District 24

After Queens library assault, call for stricter laws


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

BY TERENCE M. CULLEN AND MAGGIE HAYES

Police are looking for a suspect who reportedly sexually assaulted a 10-year-old girl at the Pomonok branch of the Queens Library in the middle of the day.

“There are a lot of little children that are in [the library] by themselves,” said a 14-year-old who lives nearby. “You have nobody watching you. Instead you have people like this walking in, doing things and walking out.”

The suspect, described as a Hispanic man in his early to mid-20s, molested the girl around 4 p.m. on Monday, October 15. Police describe the man as 5’10” and 200 pounds, of light complexion with slick black hair pulled back in a bun.
“In this neighborhood, the library is like a babysitter,” said Patricia S., who lives just up the block from the branch on

Jewel Avenue and also frequents the library. “[Kids] run around through the aisles, no one is looking out for them.”
Police could not release any other details at this time, as the investigation is ongoing.

There are several registered sex offenders living within the vicinity of the library, according to the advocacy website Familywatchdog.us.

The teen noted that she has seen younger children get dropped off at the Pomonok branch by their parents or wait there after school to be picked up.

Joanne King, communications director for Queens Libraries, said the system always tries to ensure that everyone who frequents any branch feels safe and in a good environment.

“Queens Libraries are secure, family-friendly environments for education and enrichment,” she said. “The safety of our patrons and staff is always our number one priority.”

While sex offenders are banned from entering playgrounds, courts have ruled it unconstitutional to ban them completely from public libraries.

Just this summer, a man with a history of sexual-related run-ins with the law was arrested for inappropriately touching two young girls outside of the Flushing Library.

Councilmember Peter Vallone and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio as a result wrote letters to state legislators calling for registered sex offenders to at least be banned from the children’s reading rooms of libraries.

Following the Pomonok assault, de Blasio released a statement calling again for tighter laws against known sex offenders in children’s sections of libraries.

“Today in New York City, a sexual predator could walk into a children’s room at any library, and there’s nothing we can do to stop them,” he said. “We need a tougher law that bans convicted offenders from children’s rooms to deter would-be attackers and empower law enforcement to quickly intervene. We intend to work closely with the State Legislature to protect children in our libraries.”

Suspect wanted for sexually assaulting child at Queens library


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

The NYPD is looking for a man who sexually assaulted a 10-year-old girl at the Pomonok branch of the Queens Library on Monday, October 15, around 4:00 p.m., said police.

Authorities describe the suspect as a Hispanic male, between 20 and 25 years old, about 5’10 tall and 200 pounds with a light complexion and slick black hair pulled back into a bun.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

More West Nile spraying in Queens Thursday


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of James Gathany/CDC

On Thursday, September 13 there will be another round of West Nile spraying in Queens to help reduce the mosquito population and the risk of the disease.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that the 1,993 cases of the disease that have been reported so far this year is the highest number reported to CDC through the first week in September since 1999, when it was first detected in the U.S.

The spraying will take place from 7:30 p.m. Thursday until 6 a.m. Friday morning in the following parts of Queens:

Middle Village, Maspeth, Rego Park and Ridgewood, bordered by Grand Avenue, Long Island Expressway and Queens Boulevard to the north; Fresh Pond Road to the west; Metropolitan Avenue to the south; and 80th Street, Farmville Avenue, Woodhaven Boulevard and 63rd Road to the East.

Parts of Fresh Meadows, Hillcrest, Hollis, Holliswood, Jamaica Estates, Jamaica Hills and Oakland Gardens, bordered by Long Island Expressway to the north; 188th Street, 80th Drive, Utopia Parkway, Homelawn Street and 169th Street
to the west; 90th Avenue, 191st Street and Hillside Ave to the South; and Hollis Hills Terrace, Richland Ave and 210th Street to the east.

Parts of Pomonok, Auburndale, Flushing and Bayside, bordered by 33rd to the north; 162nd Street, Laburnum Avenue, Kissena Boulevard to the west; Booth Memorial Boulevard, Utopia Parkway and 48th Avenue to the south; and Clearview
Expressway to the east.

The pesticide being used, Anvil 10 + 10, poses no health risks when used properly, but 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.

Residents are also advised to take steps to reduce the number of mosquitoes around a home or property, including eliminating standing water in yards. In addition, New Yorkers are urged to:

• Dispose of used tires, tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar containers in which water collects;

• Drill holes in the bottoms of recycling containers that are kept outdoors. Make sure roof gutters drain properly and clean clogged gutters in the spring and fall;

• Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use and change the water in bird baths twice a week;

• Clean vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds; and

• Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs, and drain water from pool covers.

Star of Queens: Sharon Banks


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Sharon Banksw

Sharon Banks

Community Library Manager

Queens Library at Pomonok

Community Involvement:  Sharon Banks has served as community library manager at Pomonok for the past six years.

“I try to make the library visible to the community through neighborhood outreach,” said Banks.  The library has sponsored programs for the Queens Community House and has collaborated with the northeast Queens branch of the NAACP by providing programs of interest to the African-American community.

The library also offers more than 150 programs for children of all ages and includes many activities such as arts and crafts, self discovery through group discussions, board games and electronic games. The library also holds monthly book discussions for adults.

“We have a loyal and lively cadre of adults who come in every day to read the daily newspapers,” said Banks. “We always have time to engage in conversations with them.”

Personal:  Banks was born and raised in Chicago. She graduated from the University of Hawaii with a bachelor’s degree in business education and received a master of library and information science degree from Queens College. Banks also received a certificate of advanced studies in public library administration from Long Island University.

She has been married for 30 years and has two children, two stepchildren and one grandson. Banks is also an active member of St. Albans Congregational Church and works at The Beaded Neck, where she makes jewelry and plans to retire in the next few years.

Inspiration:  As a young woman, Banks was inspired by people who were singled out for making a difference in their communities or professions.

“They seemed so bigger than life,” said Banks. “It’s exhilarating to know that each and every day through what I do at Queens Library I have the opportunity to be the kind of person I’ve admired all my life. That is so soul satisfying.”

Challenge:  “I don’t relate to challenges, only to opportunities,” said Banks. “Challenges give me gray hair; opportunities turn the gray to silver.”

Favorite Memory:  “A favorite, although painful, memory is being in the library at the time I learned that Dr. Martin Luther King had been assassinated” said Banks. “That memory has never left me.”

Children rally to save Pomonok after-school program from shutting down


| sarahyu@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Sarah Yu

Children, parents and politicians rallied recently against the closing of after-school programs at the Pomonok Center at the Queens Community House.

The center offers a free after-school program for children from grades kindergarten to sixth that includes homework help, arts and crafts, fitness, character development and team-building games.

“I worry that without such a program in Pomonok, our youth will begin to fall behind academically and socially, which is something we as a community simply cannot afford,” said Assemblymember Michael Simanowitz.

The Pomonok Center is funded by the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development’s Out-of-School Time Program, which had its funding cut in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s executive budget.

“I call on the city to stop balancing the budget on the backs of our children and young families,” Simanowitz said.

According to Sheena Sukhraj, the youth services director for the Pomonok Center, they are currently collecting petitions and sending it out to the mayor and local officials.

“I think it’s a shame because the majority of our children come from Pomonok Houses which is a low- income housing development, so we know that the parents can’t afford after-school programming,” she said.

They only have six more weeks to fight to keep the after school programs running at the Pomonok Center.

“I’m very devastated because it is right now the only option that I have for child care for my son,” Kimberlee Farrell, a parent and educator said.

Farrell added that she’s always looking for options so that she is ready to face what might happen if their protests aren’t heard.

“I’m touched,” she said. “It takes major issues to bring it out in these communities, but you see from these children, six and seven years old, up to the adults — 50s, 60s 70-year old grandparents — all rallying together for what is right.”