Tag Archives: Queens Courier

The Queens Courier Photo Contest


| 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


| 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


| 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


| 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


| 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


| 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


| 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.

 

 

 

 

2012: A year in pictures


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Breezy Point Sandy

JANUARY

Fire bomber charged in hate crime: Ray Lazier Lengend, 40, confessed to a string of five fire bombings, four in Queens and one on Long Island. No one was injured in the attacks and Lengend was charged with a hate crime.

Queens native named Obama chief of staff: Forest Hills native Jacob Lew, an orthodox Jew, was named President Barack Obama’s chief of staff in a ceremony at the White House on January 14. Lew, 56, grew up on Yellowstone Boulevard and graduated from Forest Hills High School in 1972.

Worst landlords named: A list released by Public Advocate Bill de Blasio named the 50 worst landlords throughout the city, including 15 with dozens of properties in Queens. The dishonor roll, based on complaints and violations over the past year, was compiled to warn residents searching for apartments.

Flushing nurses protest: About 200 registered nurses at Flushing Hospital rallied outside the facility after their contracts expired in December. The nurses protested for better healthcare, pay and pension benefits.

FEBRUARY

Giants win Super Bowl: For the second time in five years, the New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. Eli Manning was named MVP of the Giants 21-17 victory.

Con Ed heroes: Four Con Edison employees — John Kane, John McDonnell, Michael Santeramo and Anthony Farmighetti — rushed to the aid of the victim of a violent purse snatching in Bayside before chasing after the suspect.

NY goes Lin-sane: New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin took New York and Madison Square Garden by storm after entering the team’s starting lineup in February. Lin-sanity took over the city as the unheralded, undrafted Harvard graduate played like an MVP and helped lead the Knicks to the playoffs.

FreshDirect heads to Bronx: FreshDirect, an online fresh food grocer, announced they will move their operations from Long Island City and leave the borough for larger facilities in the Bronx, taking with them 2,000 Queens jobs.

MARCH

Heejun Han on ‘American Idol’: Flushing-native Heejun Han sang his way into the hearts of millions of Americans each week on the hit singing competition. Han made it all the way to the top nine before being eliminated.

Peninsula Hospital closure announced: Bankruptcy and instability at Far Rockaway’s Peninsula Hospital forced the medical center to close its doors leaving the peninsula with just one hospital, St. John’s Episcopal.

FedEx moves to LIC: FedEx announced plans to open a new, 14,000-square-foot FedEx Ground distribution center costing $56 million on Borden Avenue in LIC. The facility will be larger and contain more automated package sorting systems than the existing station in Maspeth, allowing the company to better serve the area.

Woodhaven drug ring busted by FBI: A drug ring headquartered in Woodhaven known as the Perez Organization was busted by the FBI for allegedly distributing over 20 kilograms of heroin, possessing a street value of around $2.75 million, to drug dealers in Queens and Long Island.

APRIL

Driver arrested after leaving toddler on empty school bus: A private bus driver was arrested on April 12 after she left her vehicle unattended in Corona with a toddler still aboard. Police broke a window on the bus and removed two-year-old Samantha Bustamante, who they believe was left alone for roughly 15 minutes. Bustamante — who was in good physical condition, according to EMS — was taken back to the 110th Precinct, where she was reunited with her mother. The bus driver, 62-year-old Ana Garcia, was charged with failure to exercise control of a minor.

Hero firefighter saves woman: Firefighter James Goelz became a hero when he made his first on-the-job rescue, saving an elderly, unconscious woman from her Lindenwood apartment, which became a blazing inferno on April 6.

Kung fu fighter thwarts sex assault: Good Samaritan Mike Novak thwarted a sexual assault in Sunnyside on April 8, when he ran to the aid of his female neighbor, who was being groped by a man in the bushes down the block from his house. The 54-year-old kung fu fighter chased the perp away, then pulled the victim out of the bush and stayed by her side until authorities arrived.

MAY

Historic carousel spins once more: The Forest Park Carousel held its grand reopening on May 26 after nearly four years of being shuttered. Hundreds of visitors, both children and adults, were able to take another spin on the historic, century-old merry-go-round.

Bayside cop arrested after heroin bust: Bayside cop Devon Daniels was arrested on May 15 for his role in allegedly aiding drug dealers. The 30 year old, who was assigned to the 111th Precinct, allegedly communicated with the leader of a Jamaica-based heroin distribution organization on numerous occasions to ask for money and to borrow vehicles, authorities said.

Gruesome murder in Bayside home: A Bayside woman was found dead in her basement with lacerations to her neck after the man she lived with allegedly killed her, set fire to their shared home and tried to hang himself in the couple’s bedroom closet. The gruesome scene occurred on May 23, claiming the life of Eun Hee Sin, 57, and sending a 56-year-old unidentified Asian man to the hospital, where he was said to be in stable condition.

JUNE

Queens kid places third in national spelling bee: Bayside Hills whiz kid Arvind Mahankali won third place at the televised Scripps National Spelling Bee for the second consecutive year. The 12 year old’s spellbinding run ended when he misspelled “schwannoma,” a German name-based word that means a type of cancer. Mahankali, a seventh grader from J.H.S. 74, took home $7,500.

First no-hitter for Mets: Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in Mets history on June 1, when the New York team won 8-0 over the St. Louis Cardinals. Santana walked five and struck out eight.

Willets Point development details announced: Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced specifics of the Willets Point project, which includes retail space, a hotel and quicker access to the Van Wyck Expressway. More than 12,000 construction jobs and 7,000 permanent jobs would come from the proposed Willets Point renovation, he said, which is expected to bring $4.2 billion in economic activity over the next 30 years. A new component, Willets West, was also designated from a portion of the Citi Field parking lot to become one-million square feet of space for retail, entertainment and dining.

JULY

Con Ed lockout: As temperatures across the city spiked, Con Edison locked out more than 8,000 workers over heated  contract talks — leaving 5,000 managers responsible for maintaining electric, gas and steam service  for the company’s 3.2 million customers. The power giant blamed the stalemate on leaders of the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) Local 1-2 — the union representing roughly 8,000 Con Edison employees — who refused to accept its offer to extend their members’ contract for two  weeks. After a major push to end negotiations from Governor Andrew Cuomo, locked-out Con Ed  workers returned to their posts following a tentative agreement between the utility provider and representatives from the UWUA Local 1-2, ending the month-long stalemate.

Former pol arrested: Former Queens Assemblymember Jimmy Meng, the father of newly appointed Congressmember Grace Meng, was arrested on a federal wire fraud charge for allegedly attempting to scam $80,000 in cash from a state court defendant. Meng allegedly promised the defendant — who sought the former elected official’s help after being charged with state tax crimes — that his sentence would be reduced to one year if he paid prosecutors $20,000 each in bribes, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. Federal prosecutors said Meng offered to act as the middle man, instructing the individual to conceal and deliver the $80,000 payout in a fruit basket. The government investigation, however, uncovered no evidence the past politician even contacted prosecutors, and officials said Meng planned to keep the bribe money for himself.

Soda ban: Tensions fizzed over when locals expressed their distaste for the city’s proposed ban on large, sugary beverages at a public hearing on July 24.  “Will the government be telling me when to go to bed next?” asked Councilmember Dan Halloran. “Or how big my steak should be? How many potato chips I can eat? After all, it’s all in the name of my health. And clearly the government knows what’s best for me.” The soda ban will halt the sale of sugary bottled and fountain drinks, such as teas, sodas and sports drinks, of more than 16 ounces in every store and restaurant with letter grades, movie theaters, sports venues, delis and food trucks and carts. Diet sodas, calorie-free drinks, and drinks with at least 50 percent milk are exempted from the regulation.

Summer crime wave:  As temperatures soared, so did crime rates. And Queens did not remain bulletproof. Between July 4 and July 7, four deaths occurred throughout the borough, one man critically wounded and an MTA cop suffered a sight-threatening injury. On early Saturday, July 7, three men were fatally shot, and a fourth wounded, in Jamaica. Police said there were two shooters — one of whom fired 63 rounds from an AK-47. This was one of several shootings or stabbings to take place over what was considered the Fourth of July weekend. Councilmember Peter Vallone, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, said this spike in citywide crime was due to a decrease in the amount of on-duty cops and a spike in criminals — mainly due to budget cuts. These factors — along with soaring temperatures — were causing a higherthan-normal spike in crimes, Vallone said.

AUGUST

Sikh temple shooting: The August 5 shooting at an Oak Creek, Wisconsin gurdwara that killed six and wounded four struck close to home for the tens of thousands of Sikhs in Queens. Of the at least 300,000 Sikhs in the United States, between 30,000 to 40,000 live in New York City, with the bulk residing in Queens. Elected officials and religious leaders gathered at the Sikh Cultural Society — where thousands of Sikhs congregate weekly — the day after the shooting rampage inside the Wisconsin Sikh Temple to offer condolences to the community and show support. Shooter Wade Michael Page, an army veteran and alleged white supremacist, was killed at the scene. Post-9/11, the country experienced a large spike in hate crimes against Sikhs, said Amardeep Singh, director of programs at the Sikh Coalition. While incidents have slowed in recent years, Singh said discrimination in schools and the work place still persists.

Fire at home under construction: More than 100 firefighters from 33 units responded to the three-alarm blaze on Tuesday, August 14, at a Douglaston home, which was under renovations. The 39-12 Douglaston Parkway dwelling received 44 complaints since March 2008 from callers saying the ongoing construction work being done at the site exceeded the scope of the approved permit, according to the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB). No one was in the house at the time, and no one was severely injured, an official said. While all complaints made against the home were listed as closed, homeowner David Wei Huang was pinned for two violations from the DOB and 17 from the Environmental Control Board (ECB). Of those violations, nine were still outstanding, according to the DOB, and were related to the ongoing construction. Huang was issued a $2,500 fi ne when construction at the site was found not to be in compliance with approved plans and another $1,200 for failing to safeguard the public and his property. There were other violations for working with an expired permit, the DOB said.

Huntley surrenders: State Senator Shirley Huntley pleaded not guilty to charges of falsifying business records and tampering with evidence in the first degree, which are felonies, and conspiracy in the fifth degree, a misdemeanor, after officials said she covered up the funneling of nearly $30,000 in state funds to a non-profit she helped establish. Huntley turned herself in to the State Attorney General’s regional office on Monday, August 27, and was arraigned later that day. Voters gave Huntley the boot in September, when she decisively lost the Democratic primary to challenger James Sanders Jr., who was elected to the 10th District seat in November.

 SEPTEMBER

Rare tornado strikes Breezy Point: A tornado struck Breezy Point during a late summer down pour on Saturday, September 8. The twister damaged parts of the Breezy Point Surf Club, but many were thankful the club had been mostly closed up by that point. “We’re lucky the storm hit this weekend and not last weekend,” Councilmember Eric Ulrich said, who surveyed the damage in the area shortly after the storm. “Because last weekend the Surf Club was filled with people.”

“Look!” campaign promotes safety: A Department of Transportation (DOT) campaign to promote safety when texters crossed the street was launched in September. The program includes a sign that reads “LOOK!” in crosswalks throughout the city, to remind pedestrians to proceed with caution. “New Yorkers are driven to distraction with their smart phones, and the simple act of looking can prevent thousands of crashes and injuries every year,” said DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “LOOK! is a message to all New Yorkers that safety is in the eye of the beholder and everyone needs to keep an eye out for each other on our streets.”

Ulrich wins primary: Councilmember Eric Ulrich defeated Forest Hills lawyer Juan Reyes in a Senate District 15 Republican Primary on September 13. In the weeks leading up to the election, the Reyes campaign sent out a string of mailers attacking Ulrich’s reputation in the City Council and made anti-gay statements. Ulrich would go on to unsuccessfully challenge incumbent State Senator Joseph Addabbo in the general election. The race became one of the most contested in Queens.

Serial arsonist is nabbed: A suspect wanted for setting 13 fi res in Flushing and Murray Hill during a three-week period was arraigned on September 15. Thien K. Dinh, 43, was charged with two counts of second-degree arson, four counts of third-degree arson, 13 counts of fi rst-degree reckless endangerment and thirddegree burglary. Dinh admitted to the crimes, which included a fire at 143-01 45th Avenue near Bowne Street on August 20 that gutted adjacent businesses and totaled the four-story multiple family dwelling.

OCTOBER

Four Richmond Hill High grads die in crash: Four teenagers from South Ozone Park and Richmond Hill were killed in the morning hours of October 8, when the car they were riding in careened off the Southern State Parkway and threw them from the vehicle. The driver, Joseph Beer, 17, survived the crash and only had a learner’s permit, authorities said. The teen was later indicted by the Nassau County District Attorney on a slew of charges that included allegations he was high at the time of the crash.

Cop, driver killed in deadly rampage: An ex-con fatally shot Nassau County police officer Arthur Lopez near the Cross Island Parkway before fleeing on Tuesday, October 23. Darrell Fuller, 33, then took off and carjacked Raymond Facey, who was shot and killed. The incident resulted in a manhunt throughout southeast Queens searching for the perp, who was later found with a bullet wound in his shoulder. He was then taken to Jamaica Hospital before being transferred to Nassau County to be charged.

Cannibal cop: NYPD officer Gilberto Valle was nabbed for plotting to kidnap and eat more at least 100 women. The six-year veteran, who lived in Forest Hills, was charged with accessing the federal National Crime Information Center database to gain information without authorization, and agreeing to kidnap a woman to sell her to an individual for no less than $5,000, according to court documents.

Sandy strikes seaside south: Superstorm Sandy shut down much of Queens beginning on Monday, October 29 and carrying into the next day. Damage was felt, at different levels, throughout the borough. Trees came down on to houses in the northeast, in one case killing a man; parts of Long Island City’s water front arose and flooded several buildings. Rockaway and Howard Beach were some of the hardest hit areas however. The channel in Howard Beach poured on to Cross Bay Boulevard and knocked out some businesses for weeks. In Rockaway, the ocean poured over and met with Jamaica Bay.

NOVEMBER

Breezy Point residents search for hope: During Superstorm Sandy, the majority of Breezy Point homes received extensive water damage, and 111 homes burned to the ground after an electrical fire sparked. Residents, left at a loss, tried to receive as much relief as possible from organizations such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Red Cross, and many more. Kieren Burke was one of many who lost his home in the fire, and he spent some time searching for anything left behind — namely his wife’s wedding ring. Burke spent the storm in his parents’ house nearby, and ran outside once he saw the blazes engulf the streets, but he was only able to save a few things before his home was gone.

Obama visits New York after Sandy: Alongside New York’s most prominent officials, President Obama surveyed damage in the areas hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy. The President arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Thursday, November 15, and was greeted by Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan. He then surveyed the damage to the Rockaway peninsula by air, and went through Staten Island on foot.

The Kings of Queens: Over 400 guests gathered at Terrace on the Park in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park to mingle at one of the largest networking events in the borough and honor this year’s “Kings of Queens.” The fifth annual Queens Courier event, held on Thursday, November 15 featured special honoree, Steven Lacy, Fox 5 news anchor, and honored dozens of top businessmen throughout Queens.

DECEMBER

Boardwalk future: Sandy ripped mercilessly through the Rockaways, destroying an iconic haven enjoyed by all: the boardwalk. The community came together and urged that their boardwalk be rebuilt better than ever before, so no storm can ever do this again. Mayor Michael Bloomberg responded with a new plan, hopefully to be in place by next summer. Wooden planks will be a thing of the past, and a concrete boardwalk will be put into place. Locals, although pleased, still asked for sea walls to further protect their home.

Bayside murders: A Bayside man was named in an indictment charging him with two separate counts of second-degree murder. Gregory Cucchiara, 36, was charged for beating his mother over the head before submerging her in water, and another 15 months later when he smothered his father to death. He was being held at Rikers Island, and faces 50 years to life in prison if convicted.

Sunnyside vigil: A mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut hit home for Sunnyside residents. Little Benjamin Wheeler, 6, originally from Sunnyside, was shot and killed during the unspeakable tragedy. Dawn Hochsprung, the principal of Sandy Hook, selfl essly gave her life to the shooter while trying to save as many students as she could. Her life was also remembered at the vigil by her stepsister, who resides in Sunnyside. The massacre was the second deadliest shooting in our nation’s history, killing 26 people, 20 of who were children.

The Courier, Queens Chamber of Commerce & Russo’s on the Bay team up to make Christmas bright for kids


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

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Under the sparkling chandeliers and twinkling Christmas lights, seventh grader Maddie McDade smiled brightly.

The St. Francis de Sales student’s Belle Harbor home burned down during Superstorm Sandy, leaving her and her family displaced to parts of Long Island and Brooklyn just weeks before the holidays. She, and students from five south Queens schools, attended a holiday celebration at Russo’s on the Bay on Tuesday, December 18, hosted by The Queens Courier and the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

“We’re all getting together and I’m excited to see everyone,” said Maddie. “And it’s a nice celebration we’re having after everything and everyone being sad. It kind of brings everything up.”

Over 1,000 students in kindergarten through eighth grade gathered at the event hall for lunch, music, entertainment and gifts. Jugglers and magicians travelled from table to table, showing off their skills to students whose mouths dropped to the floor. Nick the Baloonatic – a renowned balloon artist – created swords, hats and animals out of colorful rubber and thin air for the amazed guests. Even Santa was present, making his grand entrance to the sounds of delighted screams and cheers. Students clamored up to Saint Nick’s gilded throne, posing for pictures with the man in red.

Click here to see all the photos from the event

“For us, this was just a simple way to bring joy to children at this time who really, truly need it,” said Russo’s on the Bay owner Frank Russo Jr.

Jack Friedman, Executive Director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, couldn’t have been happier to provide such a wonderful experience for children who have experience such tragedy. The Queens Chamber of Commerce Foundation provided essential funding to give each child a gift at the end of the celebration.

“Many of [the children] lost homes, personal possessions, many were displaced or had no electricity for weeks,” said Friedman. “The impact on children, the stress on children is something that’s rarely looked at, so to put a smile on children’s faces today is just a great, wonderful thing. These children missed out on Halloween so we’re going to make sure they have a merry Christmas.”

Callie Todd, a 3rd grader at St. Rose of Lima, is finally back in her Breezy Point home after the storm. The spirited amateur equestrian hopes to get the American Girl horseback riding set for Christmas, but is just ecstatic to be home again with all her toys.

Kindergartner John Anthony Grimes from Ave Maria Catholic Academy was excited for the day’s activities and to meet Santa Claus. After staying in his grandparents’ house for several weeks after the storm, he said he couldn’t wait for Christmas, and hoped to find a toy dirt bike under the tree.

Theresa Andersen, principal of St. Rose of Lima, said the school has continued to carry on holiday festivities, despite the tragic events of Sandy. She thanked Frank Russo Jr. for his immense kindness, stating that the school even switched the date of their Christmas show so children would not miss out on the party.

“This is a wonderful thing that [Russo] didn’t have to do, but he did it from the heart, and the children were so excited,” said Andersen.

Other volunteers who made this event possible were Archbishop Molloy High School Student Volunteers, Consolidated Bus Transit, Inc., Flowers by Brian, Danielle Michaels of Adrenaline Entertainment, Nick the Balloonatic, Magician Lou Johnson, Jack Lasala of Satisfaction Guaranteed DJs, Nicky Guida of 2+2 DJs, Steven Retas of Classie Sounds, Artie D’Alessio, Dan Drennan, Robert Castellano, Scott Nastro, Julian Nardulli of Express It Video, Susan McVea, Party City in Bayside, Mullen Advertising Agency, Lois Christie and the staff of Christie & Co. Salon * Spa, New York Hospital Queens, John and Colette Roe, the Jamaica Rotary, Dr. Mary Andrea, Benefits Advisory Group, All Car Rental Car, Rego Park Forest Hills Kiwanis, the Giving Tree Family, the New York Daily News, and Heskel and Janet Elias and American Car Wash.

- Additional reporting by Terence M. Cullen

Top headlines from around the web


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Top headlines from around the web

Victims in Connecticut massacre ID’d as police find ‘very good evidence’ that could help illuminate shooter’s motives
The unhinged gunman who slaughtered 26 children and adults yesterday in a elementary school arrived with guns blazing — blasting his way into the building, according to Connecticut State police. Read more: New York Post

Tragedy touches NYPD and Puerto Rico
The nephew of an NYPD lieutenant was among the 20 young children gunned down in yesterday’s Connecticut mass murder at a Connecticut school, a police official said. Read more: New York Post

Hillary Clinton treated for concussion after fall
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was hospitalized Saturday after fainting and striking her head, officials said. Read more: Daily News

Queens kids still struggling after Hurricane Sandy write heartbreaking holiday wish lists
For Christmas this year, kids in still storm-stricken areas of Queens aren’t asking Santa for shiny new toys or expensive gadgets — they just want their homes back. Read more: Daily News

Police Search For Alleged Queens Bank Robber
Police are asking for help finding a suspect wanted in connection with a series of bank robberies in Queens. Read more: NY1

Sandy-Impacted Students Mail College Applications
For students affected by Hurricane Sandy, being able to mail their college applications on time carried special significance. Read more: NY1

Queens Courier in search of the borough’s next Rising Star


| editorial@queenscourier.com

The Queens Courier will once again recognize the “Rising Stars,” a yearly networking event held to honor the borough’s 40 top young professionals.

In years past, the event has boasted attendance of over 400 people and has raised thousands in charity funds. Guest appearances have been made by Borough President Helen Marshall, Former Mets baseball player Darryl Strawberry and just recently, Mike Woods, meteorologist for Fox 5’s Good Day New York. Honorees have included various elected officials and top business leaders. This year hopes to bring that and more, and will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Caesars Club at Citi Field on Thursday, January 31, 2013.

Along with recognizing notable Queens figures, the “Rising Stars” event also provides one of the top networking forums in the borough.

If you know someone you wish you nominate as a “Rising Star,” or are interested in becoming a sponsor, contact Maria Romero at 718-224-5863 ext. 226 or mromero@queenscourier.com. Nominations can also be submitted online at www.queenscourier.com/nomination.

Tickets are $85 per person, or $800 for 10 people, and can be purchased at queenscourier.com/events.