Tag Archives: Queens Courier

The Queens Courier earns honors from New York Press Association


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

The Queens Courier took home first place in overall advertising excellence and other awards in the New York Press Association‘s 2014 Better Newspaper Contest.

The awards were distributed during the NYPA Spring Convention held March 27 to 29 in Saratoga Springs.

“I’m bursting with pride that the New York Press Association recognized our talented, professional and dedicated staff members,” Courier Publisher Victoria Schneps said.

Among those receiving individual honors were Stephen Reina, assistant art director, who earned second place in the Best Special Section Cover category for his “Come in from the cold” Queens winter events cover from last January.

Liam La Guerre, The Courier’s real estate editor, earned second place in the News Story category and third place in the Best News or Feature Series category for his April 3, 2014, story regarding funds missing from a Briarwood school’s PTA treasury, which threatened to ruin the school’s fifth-grade graduation ceremony.

Angy Altamirano received an honorable mention for her July story regarding Donhauser Florist in East Elmhurst, a 125-year-old fixture in the community located next to a motel converted into a homeless shelter.

The Courier’s sister paper, The Home Reporter in Brooklyn, earned an honorable mention for a sports feature by Jaime DeJesus on an amputee baseball game in Bay Ridge during the 1950s.

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Ridgewood and Bushwick featured at first QNS Real Estate Conference


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

Ridgewood and Bushwick were highlighted as up-and-coming hubs of the real estate market during the first QNS Real Estate Conference, hosted by The Queens Courier and the Real Estate Board of New York.

Hundreds of investors, companies and people looking to learn more about the booming real estate market in Queens filled the room at Terrace on the Park, located at 52-11 111th St. in Flushing, for the QNS Real Estate Conference on Thursday, Feb. 26.

A panel of leading real estate experts was on hand to speak about the current state of Ridgewood and Bushwick and the possible future of the neighborhoods.

The panel included Lance Bertrand, licensed real estate salesperson for Halstead Property LLC; Sal Crifasi, CEO, licensed real estate broker, Crifasi Real Estate; Jamie Wiseman, principal, Cayuga Capital Management LLC; Mitchell Rutter, CEO and founding partner of Essex Capital; and Tony Argento, the president of Broadway Stages. The discussion was moderated by Liam La Guerre, the real estate editor for The Queens Courier.

Crifasi, whose business was established in Queens in 1979, knows the area well. When asked about the driving force that attracts people to the Ridgewood area, he said, “The driving force, I feel, is what drives most people, affordability and transportation.”

Ridgewood and Bushwick are growing communities, making real estate more affordable than neighboring communities. The L line runs right through the heart of the communities, giving residents easy access to other areas of the city.

Ridgewood is a unique community with 2,100 historic properties. Due to these landmarked buildings, Crifasi said investors should be careful because “you can’t change the facade, but you can do interior work. They’re still a great investment because of the appreciation value.”

“I think that whole area, both along the L train in Bushwick and up into Ridgewood, is an area of focus, particularly the retail district along Myrtle Avenue in Ridgewood which is actually, I think, going to change rapidly as that whole area continues to grow,” Wiseman said.

Although the area is growing, there are challenges from an investment standpoint.

“The ability to actually make rental properties work” is one of the major challenges facing investors in Ridgewood and Bushwick, Wiseman said.

Rutter, with his company, is working on two sites in Ridgewood at 16-14 and 16-26 Madison St. These old warehouses will be converted into a 90-unit building, creating more apartments for residents.

“We are looking to attract the following: sharers, … new families, or those just out of college looking to start a career,” Rutter explained.

Argento recently purchased a large swatch of land in Glendale for his film production company, Broadway Stages.

“I’m overwhelmed with how great it is,” Argento said of the Glendale community, and Ridgewood as a whole.

Argento said that while looking for warehouse space, his company was priced out of many markets, “so Glendale was a natural place to go.”

Bertrand said that rent is going up across the board in both Ridgewood and Bushwick, with Bushwick having a majority of industrial spaces and Ridgewood having more row houses.

The Bushwick native echoed the sentiments of many of the panelists by saying, “the main attractions for these areas are affordability, a lot of people who were priced out of Williamsburg and Greenpoint are now looking for these areas to find a new home, and transportation is a very valuable point in these areas.”

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More than 600 come out to honor 2015 Rising Stars


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Mike DiBartolomeo and Allen Ngai

The stars were shining at Terrace on the Park on the night of Jan. 29 as more than 40 top young professionals from around the borough were celebrated at The Queens Courier’s 2015 Rising Stars Awards & Networking Event.

During the event, attendees networked with people in various fields, including Karlee Perez, a professional wrestler who used to perform in the WWE and now has a role in a Spanish wrestling show called “Lucha Underground.”

The ceremony was attended by 600 people, a record high for the annual event. Rising Stars is held every year to honor individuals who exemplify outstanding leadership skills not only in their chosen fields, but also in their community.

“This number shows that we continue to grow as a community,” said Josh Schneps, co-publisher of The Queens Courier, to a room of hundreds of people in Terrace on the Park’s dining room. “And I’m very happy to see you all here celebrating the strength of Queens.”

With the help of Perez, Schneps presented awards for outstanding performance to the night’s honorees. Along with Queens Courier publisher and CEO Victoria Schneps, the trio emceed the glamorous event.

“I flew in today just to come here to this exciting event,” Perez said, explaining that she was in the middle of shooting her new show in California. “I didn’t know what to expect. It’s great to be around such a diverse group.”

During the night, the Courier publishers emphasized that, with so many people, the opportunity for networking strengthened the allure of the event. But the night was also about celebrating people’s desire to strengthen Queens neighborhoods.

Also attending the event was Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, who presented the Citation of Honor to Rising Star Ryan Marzullo, Director of Corporate Real Estate NY for Delta Airlines.

Honoree Jennifer Smith’s employer, Investors Bank, is looking to expand into Queens by helping nonprofit organizations that are trying to improve communities throughout the borough.

“Queens is it,” Smith said, adding that she feels Queens is exciting and that Investors is looking forward to expanding in the borough this year.

She continued, “We look for local grassroots organizations and we want to work with organizations that directly benefit communities in Queens.”

A raffle event was also held that night to raise money for two charities. Through the contribution of hundreds of participants, The Queens Courier managed to raise $3,500 to be split between Elmcor Youth & Adult Activities and A-T Children’s project.

This year’s event sponsors were The Mattone Group, Marquis Maintenance LLC, Flushing Bank, Parker Jewish Health Care & Rehabilitation, Elmhurst Hospital Center, NYCB Family of Banks, Investors Bank, Con Edison, National Grid, Delta Air Lines, Queens Chamber of Commerce and the Daily News.

The honorees were: Jessica Akde-Elmazi, Sante Antonelli, Stephanie Belanich, Lissa M. Benton, Jacqueline Javier Burns, Nicole Castriota, Scottie Celestin, Martin Charles, Sal Joseph Crifasi, Dr. Joan Curcio, Tommy DiMisa, Sara Anne Fingerman,James Galleshaw, Jessica Garcia, Jason Hilliard, Daniel Hochler, Ken Holiday, Benjamin D. Malkin, M.D., Stefan Malliet, Ryan Marzullo, Kim Matthews, Carl J. Mattone, Dr. Uchechukwu Megwalu, Marc Michalic, Brian Miller, Jessie A. Molina, Massiel Mordan, Sonia Mylonas, Steven Palladino, Karlee Leilani Perez, Jan Quibir, John Ross Rizzo, M.D., Kareem Saviñon, Lyle Sclair, Monisha Singla, Natalie Serse and Jennifer L. Smith

 

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A year in photos: The Queens Courier looks back at 2014


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Screen Shot 2014-12-24 at 12.35.11 PM

The Queens Courier is taking a look back at the year gone by, from the inauguration of a new mayor to the horrifying derailment of an F train under Queens Boulevard. The year saw more political ups and downs, tragedies and celebrations. Our high school basketball teams were champions and Queens was named the best place to visit in the nation. Looking forward to 2015, we wish our readers a very happy new year.

JANUARY 

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio takes the oath of office from former U.S. President Bill Clinton during his inaugural ceremony at City Hall in New York

Photo via NYC Mayor’s Office Flickr

De Blasio gets to work

New York City’s 109th mayor, Bill de Blasio, was sworn in during a ceremony at his Brooklyn home just after midnight on Jan. 1 followed by a formal inauguration on the steps of City Hall later that day. Telling New Yorkers, “Our work begins today,” in his inauguration speech de Blasio pledged to expand the paid sick leave law, require big developers to build affordable housing, stem the tide of hospital closures, reform a broken stop-and-frisk policy, and provide universal, full-day pre-K and after-school programs for middle schoolers.

Hercules

THE COURIER/File photo

Hercules shows his strength

Snowfall in parts of the borough was reportedly as high as 11.5 inches during Hercules, the first major snowstorm of 2014. The weather event was also the first real test of the de Blasio administration, beginning on his second day in office. The rest of the 2014 winter season would not only challenge New Yorkers’ patience, but also that of the new mayor as he faced criticism over school closings and snow removal.

THE COURIER/Photo by Cristabelle Tumola/ Handout

THE COURIER/Photo by Cristabelle Tumola/ Handout

Avonte search ends tragically

The search for 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo came to a devastating end four months after the autistic teen went missing from his Long Island City school when his remains were found washed up in College Point on Jan. 16. On Jan. 25, hundreds of mourners came out to say goodbye at the Rego Park resident’s funeral where he was remembered as a silent yet always smiling, courageous boy. The medical examiner later ruled the cause and manner of his death as undetermined.

FEBRUARY 

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Biden takes aim at LaGuardia

Vice President Joe Biden, while speaking about infrastructure in Philadelphia on Feb. 5, said LaGuardia Airport was similar to a “third-world country.” The comments immediately went viral and drew some negative reactions, including from Mayor Bill de Blasio, who said it wasn’t Biden’s “finest moment.”

Photo courtesy of Exo Cafe

Photo courtesy of Exo Cafe

Plow damages restaurant 

A Forest Hills restaurant suffered thousands of dollars in damage when a Department of Sanitation plow truck struck a garbage can full of snow, ice and debris, which then hit the eatery, according to police. The Feb. 13 incident at Exo Café on Austin Street was caught on video and the footage quickly spread online. The accident not only damaged the eatery’s winter vestibule and shattered some of its windows, but also injured two customers.
Photo courtesy of Exo Café

THE COURIER/File photo

THE COURIER/File photo

Mayor’s caravan caught speeding

A local TV station said it caught a vehicle carrying Mayor Bill de Blasio breaking multiple traffic laws as it was driving back from a press conference on potholes in Maspeth on Feb. 20. According to CBS New York, which captured the incident on video, de Blasio’s two-vehicle caravan exceeded the speed limit, went through a stop sign and changed lanes without signaling. The incident came on the heels of the mayor’s Vision Zero plan to end traffic deaths.

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

7 train woes

The Long Island City area prepared for another round of No. 7 train suspensions that were slated to start in the end of February and take place on most weekends through the fall. The service disruptions again upset residents and business owners who were fed up with the constant disruptions on the line. Though an impending storm delayed the suspensions and the MTA agreed to help promote Long Island City during the shutdowns, the agency did not agree to a shuttle bus from Vernon Boulevard through the Queens Midtown Tunnel into the city.

MARCH 

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Basketball champs

The Benjamin Cardozo boys basketball team defeated Thomas Jefferson High School to win the PSAL Division AA city championship on March 9. The same day, the Francis Lewis Lady Patriots girls basketball team won its first PSAL Division AA championship. On March 10, the Christ the King boys basketball team won the CHSAA Class AA intersectional championship game, clinching a back-to-back city title.

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Rockwell painting recovered 

A Norman Rockwell painting worth more than a million dollars was recovered months after it disappeared from a Maspeth storage facility, police announced on March 12. The piece, entitled “Sport,” went missing from Grand Avenue’s WelPak Art Moving and Storage on Sept. 13, 2013. Painted in 1939, the work was signed by the artist. It was reportedly recovered in Ohio by a private investigator and no one was charged at the time.

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Kaufman Arts District created

On March 28, Astoria let the world know that is it the place to be for the arts with the announcement of the designation of the Kaufman Arts District, the first of its kind in the borough. It was created in partnership with Kaufman Astoria Studios, the Museum of the Moving Image and the Queens Council on the Arts. Its mission is “to advance and promote the area as a world-class vibrant cultural destination and home for creative industries.”

Photo courtesy of DeAnne Lorde

Photo courtesy of DeAnne Lorde

Cookie Queen

Springfield Gardens seventh-grader Najah Lorde more than doubled her Girl Scout cookie sales from last year to become the top seller in the city with 2,833 boxes. The 12-year-old, who has been selling cookies since she joined the Girl Scouts in second grade, said she is hoping to win next year by selling at least 3,000 boxes.

APRIL 

THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS/Photo by Debbie Egan-Chin

THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS/Photo by Debbie Egan-Chin

Friends killed in Steinway Creek plunge 

Four East Elmhurst friends lost their lives on April 4 when their Honda Accord rolled over into Steinway Creek in Astoria. Jada Monique Butts, 19, Tiani Martin, 19, Jaleel Feurtado, 20, Darius Fletcher, 21, and Crystal Graely, 19, were in the car coming from a birthday celebration. The driver, 20-year-old Andrew Gramm, managed to escape the car and called for help. After the accident, state Sen. Michael Gianaris called on the Department of Transportation to conduct a review of safety measures on the various roads that lead to the water.

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

 First battle of the beards

Face fuzz from near and far made its way to Astoria on April 8 for the neighborhood’s inaugural Battle of the Beards at The Quays. A total of 23 competitors tricked out their facial hair, from full-grown beards to mustaches. Dan Roberts, one of the founding members of the Long Island Beard & Mustache Society, took home first place.

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

‘Hero’ cop mourned 

A funeral was held on April 14 for Officer Dennis Guerra in his hometown of Far Rockaway after he died from injuries suffered in an arson fire in Coney Island. Guerra and fellow housing officer Rosa Rodriguez were critically injured in a blaze at a Surf Avenue housing development when the elevator doors opened on the 13th floor and the officers were engulfed in smoke. Both officers suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning and the effects of smoke inhalation. Loved ones, city officials, such as Mayor Bill de Blasio, and thousands of NYPD officers were among those who came out to say goodbye to the 38-year-old Bayswater resident.

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Kids’ graduation saved

Nearly 170 graduating fifth-graders at P.S. 117 in Briarwood were in danger of losing caps and gowns, yearbooks and a prom, which are usually sponsored by the school’s PTA, because the Department of Education was investigating $30,000 missing from the accounts of the school’s Parent Teacher Association. While the investigation was ongoing, the organization would not be allowed to fundraise and was barred from all financial dealings. However, on April 28 during a school meeting, Jack Friedman, the executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, and Nick Tomizawa, who represented the Briarwood Latchkey Generation Facebook group made up of Briarwood residents and alums of P.S. 117, announced they would contribute about $7,000 together to help save the school and give the students their graduation.

MAY 

SUBWAY DERAILMENT

Photo courtesy of MTA / Patrick Cashin

F train derails in Woodside

On May 2, six of eight cars of a Manhattan-bound F train, carrying about 1,000 passengers down the express tracks under Broadway at 60th Street in Woodside, derailed when an 8-foot-long section of the 19-foot, 6-inch rail fractured beneath it. Thirty straphangers and two train crew members suffered minor injuries in the crash, which caused an estimated $2 million in damages. In a report released on Dec. 12 by the MTA, investigators determined that it was not a single defect that caused the derailment but instead several defects in the tracks that went unreported and unrepaired for at least a year after they were first discovered by an automated inspection. Disciplinary action is being pursued against three maintenance supervisors and a track inspector for their roles in the derailment — failing to identify, document and correct the defects.

Photo by Bradley Hawks

Photo by Bradley Hawks

Astoria Flea & Food opens

The Astoria Flea & Food at Kaufman Astoria Studios arrived with a boom at the city’s first-ever backlot market on May 4, with thousands of people in attendance. The market, a partnership between the LIC Flea & Food and Kaufman Astoria Studios, operated from the studios’ outdoor lot, the first of its kind in the city, every Sunday for eight consecutive weeks. Upon arrival at the Astoria Flea entrance at 36th Street and 35th Avenue, visitors were welcomed by a brand-new, 40-foot-high steel gate, designed by David Rockwell and the Rockwell Group. Visitors found new vendors and also old faces from the neighboring LIC Flea & Food.

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

World’s Fair Anniversary Festival

An estimated 60,000 people flocked to Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the site of the 1939-40 and 1964-65 World’s Fairs, on May 18 to honor the 75th and 50th anniversaries through a myriad of free activities, exhibitions and food, sponsored by the Queens borough president’s office and the Parks Department. Surrounding the iconic Unisphere, there were inflatable rides for children, international food courtesy of LIC Flea & Food, free tours, exhibitions from Queens educational institutions, memorabilia from past World’s Fairs, fireworks and music from various bands — including Beatles tribute band, the Liverpool Shuffle.

JUNE

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Cardozo HS names first black valedictorian

Shanelle Davis graduated as the first African-American valedictorian of Benjamin Cardozo High School this June and in the fall started her first college semester at Harvard University. The Jamaica resident is the first in her family to earn a higher degree and along with studying hard, she also took part in various clubs and activities.

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Elmhurst against homeless shelter 

Hundreds of protestors gathered on June 17 to protest the city’s initiative to house homeless families in the former Pan American Hotel on Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst. Since then community members, leaders and elected officials have spoken against the plan to convert the site into a permanent shelter under a $42 million contract with the city. The shelter is now home to over 700 homeless residents, many of whom are children.

Photo courtesy of Bob Holden

Photo courtesy of Bob Holden

Middle Village boy dies of cancer

After a more than two-year battle against lymphocytic leukemia, 8-year-old Colin Flood, from Middle Village, died on June 22. After a successful bone marrow drive in 2012 and a brief victory over the cancer that same year, Colin experienced a resurgence of the disease in 2013. In March, the U.S. Coast Guard visited Colin in Juniper Valley Park and let him have fun in their helicopter.

JULY 

THE COURIER/Photo by Cristabelle Tumola

THE COURIER/Photo by Cristabelle Tumola

City to fund NYS Pavilion restoration

A total of $5.806 million was included in the city’s capital budget to begin the restoration of the New York State Pavilion, which is a relic of the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. The funds will be used to upgrade its electrical system, rebuild the staircases inside the Pavilion’s three towers and repair the concrete platforms supporting the observation decks at the top of each of the towers.

THE COURIER/File photo

THE COURIER/File photo

LIRR strike avoided

MTA officials and LIRR unions came to a tentative agreement July 17, avoiding a workers’ strike that would have stranded 300,000 commuters daily. LIRR workers will see a 17 percent wage increase over six and a half years with the new agreement. The MTA wanted a 17 percent wage increase over seven years, while the union desired it over six years. The deal settled the impasse between both sides and will allow the MTA to pay for the salary bump while not increasing fares for riders.

File photo

File photo

Eight Queens Library board members cut

Borough President Melinda Katz and Mayor Bill de Blasio removed eight trustees of the Queens Library on July 23. The firings came after a protracted battle over the tenure of library director Tom Galante, who drew fire after a smoking deck was built outside his office in the Central Library in Jamaica as well as revelations that he augmented his $400,000 salary with more than $200,000 in part-time pay from the Elmont, Long Island, school district.

File photo

File photo

Former Councilman Dan Halloran found guilty

Former Queens Councilman Dan Halloran was found guilty on July 29 for his role in a bribery scheme to get Democratic state Sen. Malcolm Smith on the GOP ticket in last year’s mayoral race. It took just over one hour for the jury to reach its verdict following the eight-week trial, and Halloran was convicted of all five counts against him. Halloran faces up to 55 years in prison and will be sentenced early next year.

AUGUST 

Photo courtesy of United States Tennis Association

Photo courtesy of United States Tennis Association

National Tennis Center expansion phase one complete

The United States Tennis Association announced the completion of the first phase of a five-year, $500 million transformation of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Aug. 11, just weeks ahead of the 2014 US Open. The renovations include new elevated seating around Courts 4, 5 and 6 that create a three-court stadium viewing experience that can hold more than 1,300 fans and features a new televised court.

Rego Park School

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Rego Park special needs school abruptly closes

A Rego Park school for children with special needs closed on Aug. 13 and many of the disabled students of the year-round school have nowhere to go. The Life-Skills School, which served 43 students with mental and secondary emotional challenges ages 9 through 21, was the only school of its kind in Queens.

THE COURIER/File photo

THE COURIER/File photo

Demolition begins at 5Pointz

Demolition began at the building formerly known as the graffiti mecca 5Pointz on Aug. 22 after a long battle between the owner of the property and artists, who wanted to preserve the structure. Owner Jerry Wolkoff plans to build two apartment towers with close to 1,000 rental apartments, 32,000 square feet of outdoor public space and 50,000 square feet of retail space at the site.

File photo

File photo

82nd Street BID executive director resigns 

The 82nd Street Partnership announced Aug. 27 that Executive Director Seth Taylor would resign from his position to serve as the head of the NoHo NY BID. Taylor had been working to tackle quality-of-life issues in the community and was hoping to expand the business improvement district, a plan that was met with backlash from some residents.

SEPTEMBER

THE COURIER/File photos

THE COURIER/File photos

Comrie defeats state Sen. Malcolm Smith in primaries, Avella defeats Liu

Leroy Comrie won the democratic state senate primary election over embattled former state Sen. Malcolm Smith in a landslide victory on Sept. 10. Incumbent state Sen. Tony Avella also defeated challenger John Liu, who was the former city comptroller.

Photo by Kelsey Bennett

Photo by Kelsey Bennett

Movie features 10-year-old Middle Village girl

A star was born in Middle Village. Olivia Panepinto was featured in the film “Once Upon a Time in Queens,” alongside Paul Sorvino, which debuted on Sept. 24 in the East Village. The film tells the story of an ex-mafia captain as he comes to grips with how his former life has changed after spending the last 20 years in federal prison.

the wrong man still 2

Woodside street re-named for man behind Alfred Hitchcock film

The corner of 73rd Street and 41st Avenue in Woodside was co-named after Christopher Emmanuel “Manny” Balestrero as “Manny ‘The Wrong Man’ Balestrero Way,” on Sept. 27. Emmanuel was the influence of the Alfred Hitchcock film “The Wrong Man,” and once lived in the neighborhood.

 OCTOBER 

THE COURIER/Photo by Cristabelle Tumola

THE COURIER/Photo by Cristabelle Tumola

Citi Bike finally coming to Queens

The city’s first bike share program will soon become a reality in Queens. Long Island City and Astoria are part of a list of neighborhoods in the city that will receive Citi Bike docking stations in upcoming years, officials announced on Oct. 28. Long Island City was supposed to be part of the Citi Bike’s initial phase, which debuted last May, but was pushed back after equipment damages from Superstorm Sandy caused a delay.

Photo courtesy of Astoria Trash

Photo courtesy of Astoria Trash

Instagram account focuses on trash problem in Astoria

One Astoria resident is getting a snapshot of what some have called an ongoing problem in the neighborhood. A resident of the neighborhood, who wished to remain anonymous, started an Instagram account after noticing how many pictures of trash she had on her phone from around Astoria. The account, “astoriatrash,” features photos taken by the Astoria resident and also submissions from other residents in what the account starter said was, “a community effort.”

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Popular Middle Village ‘Halloween House’ possessed for 10 years

Every Halloween there are traffic jams with people from around Queens waiting to get a glimpse and take pictures of Patrick Kenniff’s house in Middle Village. Kenniff started decorating his house on 75th Street near 68th Road for Halloween 10 years ago with a simple pumpkin head prop with an orange dress-like body. But ever since, he obsessively continued to add new decorations every year until there are now more than 100 decorations possessing the residence like a zombie parade. Viewing the house has become an annual attraction for families in the neighborhood and around the borough.

 NOVEMBER 

Danny Clinch/Flickr Creative Commons

Danny Clinch/Flickr Creative Commons

Crowdfunding effort to bring Pearl Jam to Forest Hills

This year, November could’ve been renamed Pearl Jam Awareness Month. Since Nov. 5, a devoted group of fans have raised almost $100,000 in crowd funds over two months. The fundraiser is a wildly hopeful dash to convince the ‘90s rock band to play in the Forest Hills Stadium. The members of the famous quintet have made no indication on what they plan to do. The group Pearl Jam Forest Hills will be holding a fundraiser in the New Year at Austin’s Ale House.

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Dairy Queen arrives in Queens

Dairy Queen opened in Corona on Nov. 11, bringing its famous soft-serve treats back to the borough for the first time in decades. Located at 37-39 Junction Blvd., the Dairy Queen is one of four locations in the city, joining DQs in the Bronx, Staten Island and Manhattan, which just debuted in May. As many of our DQ expert readers pointed out, the dessert chain once existed in the borough prior to the 1980s, but the Corona eatery is currently the only location in Queens. The restaurant serves more than just dessert. Its menu features familiar sweets, including Blizzards, and lunch and dinner items, such as burgers, sandwiches and salads.

Rendering courtesy of STUDIO V Architecture

Rendering courtesy of STUDIO V Architecture

City Council passes Astoria Cove

After some tussling over this year’s key phrase — affordable housing — the City Council voted overwhelmingly on Nov. 25 to approve the Astoria Cove mega development, clearing the way for the major land use project. More than 460 units of the 1,723 total apartments throughout the 2.2-million-square-foot project on the Astoria waterfront will be affordable housing. The project, which is anticipated to take more than 10 years to complete in four different phases, will also include about 84,000 square feet of publicly accessible open space, a school and some retail.

DECEMBER 

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Tensions erupt in Jackson Heights

Dozens of protesters gathered in Jackson Heights on Dec. 5 to protest Eric Garner’s death at the hands of police on Staten Island and to draw attention to the plight of undocumented immigrants who also fear police abuse. During that rainy evening, the people announced that the streets belonged to them before ending the protest on 82nd Street and Roosevelt Avenue.

Photo via NYC Mayor's Flickr

Photo via NYC Mayor’s Flickr

103rd Precinct gets first police body cameras

The city chose nine officers from Jamaica’s 103rd Precinct on Dec. 9 to wear body cameras while out on patrol. The move was made by Mayor Bill de Blasio at a time when Staten Island’s grand jury hadn’t yet made its decision not to indict the police officer whole killed Eric Garner during a chokehold. The body cameras were an attempt to improve public relations between authorities and city residents.

Photo courtesy of the Queens Tourism Council

Photo courtesy of the Queens Tourism Council

Queens named top tourist destination

Queens ascended to the top of the list on Dec. 10 of Lonely Planet’s Best in the U.S. 2015, promising to be a huge boon for tourism activity. According to the leading travel guidebook company, Queens is a must-see U.S. destination. With 2015 set to be Queens’ year, the borough is expected to be “discovered,” as one writer wrote in Lonely Planet.

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The Queens Courier Photo Contest


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

blake fishing

Send us your best summer photos!

We’re looking for pictures of people enjoying the best Queens has to offer throughout the summer.

The Courier is awarding dinner for two (a $50 value) each week to the reader who submits the best summer shot.

Please send your snaps (high resolution, if possible) to editorial@queenscourier.com.

We will publish the winner in the paper and on our website. Good luck to everyone.

Get your finances and health in top shape


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

The Queens Courier’s Health & Financial Fitness Expo on Friday, May 16, at Towers on the Green in the North Shore Towers, will help keep you keep your body and your bank account in shape.

The featured keynote speaker, William Rockett of Charles Schwab, will discuss fixed income trends for this year and share how to find real return in today’s challenging market. Ronald Fatoullah, Esq. will discuss putting your trust in trusts.

A special guest appearance by Rose A. Scalia, named “Ms. Congeniality” at the Ms. New York Senior America Pageant, will discuss “the chapter of reinvention.”

Comedian and fitness guru Howard Newman will hold a special performance at 10 a.m. to kick-off the event.

There will also be an important discussion panel of experts in elder law, insurance, home care, Medicare, and much more. Information every senior needs to know.

With many new exhibitors seniors have the opportunity to speak one-on-one with representatives. There will also be blood pressure, vestibular disorder and carotid arteries testing, as well as entertainment, free coffee and cake, and the chance to win great raffle prizes.

The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the North Shore Towers, 272-48 Grand Central Parkway, Floral Park in Towers on the Green.

The event is sponsord by Charles Schwab, Aetna Insurance, Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation and Ronald Fatoullah & Associates.

Admission and parking is free. No need to register. Walk-ins welcome.

To attend email aamato@queenscourier.com or call 718-224-5863 ext. 201.

New Queens Courier editor-in-chief takes the helm


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

A Rosedale native with 14 years of journalism experience has been appointed editor-in-chief of The Queens Courier.

William J. Gorta, who comes from the New York Post and DNAinfo, stepped into his new role on March 24.

“It’s an honor to return to Queens to edit a great newspaper,” he said. “I’m looking forward to helping transform the paper in the digital age.”

Gorta, 54, will succeed longtime Queens Courier editor Tonia N. Cimino, who gave 11 years to the company and led the department for the last three years.

Gorta spent 11 years at the Post, covering Brooklyn state courts and general assignments. He also worked as night rewrite and crime editor for the daily tabloid.

Before becoming a city scribe, he spent 20 years in the NYPD, serving as the ranking officer on the COMPSTAT development team and retiring in 2000 as a captain.

Gorta earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Literature/Writing from Columbia University’s School of General Studies and later graduated from Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism in 2001.

The Fulbright Research Fellowship recipient lives on the Upper East Side and has three adult children.

 

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Brooklyn Streetcar Artists’ Group exhibits in Bayside


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Katelyn Di Salvo

KATELYN DI SALVO

Artists of the Brooklyn Streetcar Artists’ Group (BSAG) got a special treat after exhibiting their work in Queens.

Arthur Melnick, director of the BSAG, brought some of the group’s talent from Brooklyn to Queens on March 13, during an exhibition in the hallways at the Bayside office of The Queens Courier.

Paintings and photographs from 18 artists in the group were displayed for all to admire. The artists on view were from all ages and levels of achievement, and all were equally excited to showcase their work. BSAG began in 2007 and since then has been creating opportunities for artists and art lovers of all ages.

Victoria Schneps, president, CEO and publisher of The Queens Courier, greeted the artists and also brought them a treat. Schneps told the artists she had invited representatives from the Queens Museum to judge the artwork and determine the first, second and third place winners.

Divine Williams won first place for her three pieces, called “Photos of Women” and Herb Alwais won second place for his “Riverside Sunset” piece. Harriet Piltch placed third for her work, called “Third Avenue L.” Catherine Marra received honorable mention for her “Family Portrait.”

Although first place winner Williams was not there to receive the recognition, many of the artists present during the show said they were sure she would have been thrilled.

“It’s an honor to be a part of this exhibition, and to win a prize, now I can put this on my resumé,” said second place winner Alwais.

The success of various exhibitions led the group to be part of the nonprofit Brooklyn Streetcar Company, and has since maintained an official gallery space at Coney Island Hospital and also continues exhibiting when appropriate space is available.

“I used to work at Coney Island and that’s where I met Arthur,” said Patrick Rosato, another artist on view at the exhibition. “We started talking about art and he told me about his group and I’m really glad I got involved.”

 

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First Girls World Expo coming to Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

New logo

Attention all preteens and teens!

The Queens Courier will host its first Girls World Expo on Sunday, March 16, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Terrace On The Park, 111th St., Flushing.

This interactive event for girls, ages 11 to 18, will include a variety of activities, such as workshops, demonstrations and seminars.

There will also be displays covering a range of topics, including colleges, careers, developing a healthy body image, bullying, nutrition, self-defense, relationships, self-esteem and staying safe online.

Attendees will additionally hear success stories from creative female leaders from all walks of life, and listen to mentors and experts addressing topics relating to careers and college.

One of those speakers will be Miss New York. Renowned coach Monica Holmes will also be doing sports evaluations for athletes of all levels.

The event offers even more for attendees.

It will feature a runway fashion show with models of all sizes; a “Bright Ideas” middle school and high school science fair; a career and college fair; an art show with dancers and live music; and a vendor marketplace with booths of clothing, jewelry, books, art and salon items.

Evah Doheny, 7, from Binghamton, New York, whose first release is called, “Put Your Hands Up,” will be performing at the Expo. She also dances and acts, has three New York State karate titles.

A Girls of Merit Brunch will honor 15 local girls for their excellence and outstanding work in the community.

To order brunch tickets, click here.

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Rising Stars Awards & Networking Event postponed to Feb. 27


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

The Queens Courier’s Rising Stars Awards & Networking Event , scheduled for 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 13, at Terrace on the Park, has been postponed due to the weather.

The event will now take place on Thursday, Feb. 27  from 5 to 8 p.m. at Terrace on the Park.

All tickets will be honored at that time.

Questions or comments should be directed to Maria Romero at 718-224-5863, ext 226 or mromero@queenscourier.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Queens Courier collecting toys, clothing for holiday gift drive


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Help make the holidays bright.

The holiday season has arrived, and The Queens Courier will once again be collecting toys and clothing to be donated this year to the Queens Centers for Progress’ Apple Preschool in Jamaica for our annual holiday gift drive.

The Apple Preschool program offers children with disabilities between three to five years old a large variety of educational and therapeutic services, including speech, occupational and physical therapy and counseling. The children interact with special education teachers and clinicians who work on language skills, cognitive, motor and social development. After participating in the program, the majority of the children become integrated into the public school system.

Apple Preschool is asking for new, unused and unwrapped donations for their students, 31 girls and 52 boys between the ages of three and four.

Donations can be dropped off at The Courier’s office, located at 38-15 Bell Boulevard in Bayside or at People’s United Bank branches at 8989 Union Turnpike in Glendale or 34-51 48th Street in Long Island City.

 

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Anthony Weiner speaks with The Queens Courier


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo and video by Melissa Chan

A few days after announcing his candidacy for New York City mayor via a YouTube video, Anthony Weiner returned to the Queens community he represented for over a decade in Congress to sit down with several weekly papers including The Courier.

“Community papers have been a fundamental part of the way that I’ve always wanted to communicate with citizens I’ve represented,” Weiner explained. “And frankly, in the mayor’s race it’s going to be the same way.”

The Democratic hopeful also stopped by a Rockaway community meeting the same day he sat down with The Courier.

“There’s really been two times [since] I’ve left Congress that I’ve really felt a sense of real regret, that I’ve missed it, and one of them was when Sandy hit my district,” Weiner said.

“There are some risks that come with living near the water, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do everything we can to mitigate them,” he continued.

Among major issues affecting Queens, Weiner also discussed development including a possible new soccer stadium, Willets Point and the expansion of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Weiner said his default position is the belief “we should be developing and that we should try to create jobs and that we should try to create economic activity in places outside of Manhattan.”

He said he was somewhat conflicted about expanding the tennis center, even voting against the move when he was on the City Council. But Weiner said generally speaking, he is in favor of the three projects and wants to see them move forward. He added he wants to leave himself some wiggle room on details of the soccer stadium.

Addressing issues concerning voters citywide, Weiner expressed a desire to ease health care costs for middle class New Yorkers and help small business owners deal more easily with burdensome summonses.

Weiner outlined those ideas in more detail in his “64 Ideas to Keep New York the Capital of the Middle Class” pamphlet that he put online shortly before he made his campaign announcement.

Describing his philosophy, Weiner told The Courier, “Don’t build a campaign on a foundation of endorsements and money.”

“Good ideas are something people honor, even ideas they might not agree with,” he added.

Below is video of more of what he discussed.

 

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11th Annual Top Women in Business Awards honor leaders and trailblazers


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

DSC_0103

The leading women of the Queens business world came out to celebrate their accomplishments at The Queens Courier’s 11th Annual Top Women in Business Awards & Networking event at Terrace on the Park. Many of the borough’s best and brightest businesswomen received recognition for their diverse achievements.

The Thursday, May 9 celebration opened up with an expo and cocktail hour. During this time guests were able to mingle, networking and exchanging business information with leaders from all different fields.

Sharing her journey to success, from starting out at Penn State University to becoming an Emmy nominated meteorologist, Vanessa Murdock, CBS 2 weekend meteorologist and reporter, was honored as “Woman of the Year.”

“Girl power!” shouted Murdock to her fellow honorees. “It is an honor to be here. I am feeling very privileged tonight.”

Honored with the “Lifetime Achievement Award” at last year’s event, Claire Shulman, the first female borough president, was bestowed the “Woman of the Century Award.”

“When you work hard and try to do a good job, it’s always nice when somebody recognizes that effort,” said Shulman. “I think the time for women has arrived and all the jobs are really opened for women if they choose to apply.”

Showing her support for the businesswomen of Queens, Borough President Helen Marshall offered congratulatory words to the honorees and her honored predecessor, who broke the ground for all women.

This year, The Courier bestowed other special honors, including “Lifetime Achievement” to Ann Jawin, founder, Center for the Women of New York; “Health Hero Award” to Dr. Ann Marie Sullivan, Senior VP, Queens Health Network; “Humanitarian Award” to Lois Christie, CEO, Christie & Co. Salon * Spa; the “Claire Shulman Community Service Award” to Alexandra Rosa, chief of staff, BP Helen Marshall; and the “Con Edison Big Heart” awards went to Betty Braton, chair, CB 10 and Frances Scarantino, president/founder, Reach for the S.T.A.R.S.

Honoree Mary Torres, assistant vice president for M&T Bank and member of the Long Island City Business Women’s Group, received recognition for both her professional and community commitments.

“I was really surprised and happy to know that the efforts that we have with M&T are going to be honored,” said Torres. “I love being a woman in Queens.”

Honoree Marilyn Artis, founder & CEO of For the People Productions and founder & executive producer for the Golden Image Awards, received recognition for her work in celebrating the value of experience and natural beauty among all women. For the past 22 years, Artis has worked on the awards, which celebrates women over 60.

“I am truly grateful and honored,” said Artis. “We [women] are going to turn the economy around and one thing about women is we get the job done all the time. My grandma used to always say ‘whatever you do, do it right,’ and we do it right and that’s why we’re here.”

SEE PHOTOS FROM THE EVENT

This year’s honorees included: Susan Agin, Executive & Artistic Director, Queensborough Performing Arts Center; Marilyn Artis, Founder & CEO, For the People Productions,Founder & Executive Producer, Golden Image Awards; Dr. Mahshid Arfania Assadi, Internal Medicine/Cardiology, St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital, Columbia University; Lori Bono, Audit Manager, Grassi & Co; Liliana Carrillo, Marketing Strategist, Business Promotions; Renu Dalessandro, First VP of Marketing, Sterling National Bank; Kathleen Darmstadt, Director of Finance, Parker Jewish for Health Care & Rehabilitation; Sherita Delgado, Broker and Co-Owner of Rapid Realty Astoria and Rapid Realty Midwood; Dr. Sharon DeVivo, Senior Vice President Academic and Student Affairs, Vaughn College of Technology & Aeronautics; Mary Ellen Duffy, Partner, Duffy & Duffy Law Firm; Virginia Elliott, Managing Director for Delta’s newest hub in LaGuardia; Kertty Bolio, Owner, The Fitness Consultant; Mackenzi Farquer, Owner, Site NYC; Julissa Ferreras, City Councilmember, District 21; Dr. Marilyn Galler, Associate Director of Dialysis Facilities, New York Hospital Queens; Linda Gisonda, President, Tec-Crete Transit Mix Corp; Martha Hirst, Executive Vice President, COO and Treasurer, St. John’s University; Nazneen “Lucy” Hossain, Second Vice President, New York Community Bank/QCSB; Andrea Korahais, Vice President, Controller, First Central Savings Bank; Jeannie Lai, Owner, Precious Window & Door Corp; Elena Litescu, Center Dean, DeVry College of New York; Susan Malise, Long Term Care Insurance Agent, Genworth; Jennifer Manley, Vice President, Government & Community Affairs, Queens Library; Mary Ng, VP, Small Business Banker, Bank of America; Ana Oliveira, Senior Vice President, Regional Manager, Investors Bank; Tanya Ortega, Owner, Silver Gull Beach Club / Breezy Point Surf Club, Theresa J. Osborne, Director of Culture & Tourism for Borough President Helen Marshall; Osanna Ovsepian, Manager, OKG Family Jewelry; Ida Perich, General Manager, Office of Business Diversity and Civil Rights/ The Port Authority of NY & NJ; Dr. Jean Phelps, Director of Student Activities, York College; Taryn Sacramone, Executive Director, Astoria Performing Arts Center, Inc.; Susan Samuel, Founder, It Takes A Community To Raise A Child; Dr. Sherone Smith-Sanchez, Assistant Commissioner, Program Development, Division of Child Care & Head Start, Administration for Children’s Services; Lori Starita, Store Manager, Vice President, TD Bank; Michelle Stoddart, Director of Public Relations & Community Development, Resorts World Casino New York City; Patricia Tiffany, Senior Vice President, Director of Marketing and Communications, Flushing Bank; Mary Torres, Assistant Vice President, M&T Bank; Jennifer Walden Weprin, Director of Marketing, Kupferberg Center for the Arts/Louis Armstrong House Museum; Palmina Teta-Whelan, CCM, MCIOL Senior Project Manager, American Airlines Real Estate Division.

This year’s sponsors included the City University of New York, Delta Air Lines, Vaughn College, Flushing Bank, Con Edison, Investors Bank, Genworth, Queens County savings Bank/NYCB, Sandwire, New York Hospital Queens, Queens Library, M&T Bank and Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care & Rehabilitation.

The evening’s celebration also raised $4,000, with all proceeds going to the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, and the South Queens Boys and Girls Club.

Newspaper legend, former Queens Courier editor-in-chief passes away


| tcimino@queenscourier.com

LOU

Lou Parajos, a legend in the newspaper industry for more than 40 years, passed away on Monday, February 18. He was 64 years old.

A former editor-in-chief of The Queens Courier, Parajos spent 35 years at The Daily News, working his way up from the basement to the managing editor’s chair.

He held the title on September 11, 2001, and, according to the stories he told, “decided to suspend all advertising in the paper until baseball returned.”

Parajos, a third generation newsman, told cub reporters of how, in the days following 9/11, when he parked his car for work, it would be covered in a layer of dust.

“He was an excellent newspaperman and journalist who cared passionately about the paper, his colleagues and his subordinates,” said ex-wife Joan Nassivera.

Of his team, Nassivera said Parajos “had high expectations.”

“I learned an amazing amount from him,” Nassivera said. “I always loved him, admired him and respected him.”

He left The News in 2005 and brought his talent and knowledge to us.

In his years at The Courier, he nurtured and groomed many reporters, including this one.

Beneath a gruff exterior, there was a deeply caring man, “Sweet Lou” to his friends, who had a knack for bringing out talent in his reporters.

I learned much from him. He was a mentor, a coach, and above all, a friend. We shared countless laughs and innumerable storylines. He was always there for me, offering advice, teaching, helping.

To our pages he brought the ideas of enterprise journalism, investigative reporting and article series.

Under his tutelage, our paper won numerous New York Press Association awards, including second place for the Past Presidents’ Award for General Excellence.

“He was a passionate and talented journalist who really cared for his craft and brought years of experience to our company,” said Courier co-publisher Joshua Schneps.

His best friend, Victor Mimoni, with whom Parajos grew up, wrote a tribute on his Facebook page:

“Lou Parajos died yesterday. He was my bestest, oldest friend and my brother. Lou was one of the last of the old-time newspapermen. I miss you Lou.”

He is survived by his daughter, Amy Nassivera Parajos, her fiancé, Anthony Thanasides, and wife Carol.

“The two happiest days of his life,” said Nassivera, “were May 23, 1985, the day our daughter was born, and May 21, 1978, our wedding anniversary.

“He was an outstanding father and Amy was the absolute light of his life. The day she was born he said to me, ‘My life is complete.’”

“He was the most amazing father anyone could ask for,” said Amy.

A wake for Parajos will be held at Van Emburgh Funeral Home in Ridgewood, New Jersey from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday, February 22.

According to his wishes he will be cremated.

 

 

 

 

Best of the Boro Health & Beauty winners announced


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

B.O.B LOGO 2011

You voted, they won.

Here are the winners of The Queens Courier’s Best of the Boro Competition, Health and Beauty.

The competition was a success, collecting over 58,000 votes in such categories as best haircuts, eyebrow treading and many more.

Click here to see the winners.