Tag Archives: queens village

Longtime Jamaica community garden volunteer sees role trimmed back


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Benjamin Fang

BY BENJAMIN FANG

Alberta Crowley was a star in her community, but now she says the city’s Parks Department is trying to restrict her glowing service.

The 71-year-old Queens Village resident has been volunteering at the Bricktown Community Garden on 106th Avenue and 173rd Street in Jamaica for six years. But she claims park officials have restricted her activity to a space next to the garden, called Tree of Life.

“The area here is unleveled, unsafe,” Crowley said. “They locked me out of the garden.” She said workers from the City Parks Foundation (CPF), a nonprofit that works with the Parks Department, took over about a year ago.

In the past, Crowley worked with disabled children and seniors, helping them grow fig trees, cherry trees, blueberries and grapevines. Now she said she’s not allowed to continue because she’s not certified.

“They said I can’t work here with special needs people,” Crowley said. She pointed out that she was previously given permission as a member of GreenThumb, a city community gardening education program funded by the Parks Department.

The Parks Department responded in an email that Crowley was allowed to temporarily use a portion of the City Park Foundation’s original garden, called the Learning Garden, for her workshops with adults with disabilities.

“In order to accommodate the growing demand for CPF’s educational programs, this section of CPF’s garden has been reintegrated with the rest of their garden,” a Parks Department spokesman said. “Ms. Crowley continues to be welcome to help with these workshops.”
Vanessa Smith, who advocates on Crowley’s behalf, said officials from the Parks Department want to close her off.

“They said she wasn’t allowed to go in there because she’s a volunteer and they are paid,” Smith said. “She’s doing this out of love, so why would you lock her out?”

In addition, Smith said officials from the Parks Department are not providing the support Crowley needs to maintain the smaller area she was relegated to.

“They’re not giving her the funding to upgrade it here,” Smith said. “What I think they’re trying to do is eventually take over the whole area.”

Park officials say they are providing the equipment necessary for improvements. “GreenThumb is currently purchasing lumber and soil to allow raised planting beds to be constructed,” a Parks Department spokesman said. Thirty pieces of lumber currently rest inside the Tree of Life garden.

Despite the dispute over certification and land usage, Crowley said she wants to continue what she’s been doing in the last six years.

“I want access to the area and raised beds for seniors,” she said. She hopes to continue working with people with disabilities and seniors who need wheelchair accessibility into the garden.

Crowley and Parks Department representatives are slated to meet in August, where they will discuss use of the space and possibly building a direct entrance to Tree of Life.

The City Parks Foundation did not respond to a request for comment.

 

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Woman killed in Queens Village motorcycle crash


| ctumola@queenscourier.com



A 31-year-old woman was killed Sunday night after she was struck by a car while riding her motorcycle in Queens Village, police said.

The victim, who has yet to be identified by police, was traveling eastbound on Jamaica Avenue around 10:20 p.m. when the accident occurred, according to officials.

A Nissan Maxima driving westbound on Jamaica Avenue struck the motorcyclist as the car was attempting to make a left onto Springfield Boulevard, cops said.

The motorcyclist was taken to Long Island Jewish Medical Center where she was pronounced dead.

The 22-year-old driver, who was not injured in the crash, remained on the scene of the accident and investigation is ongoing, police said.

 

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Sen. Avella questions security at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center


| editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File Photo

By Janae Hunter


After a second patient escaped Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in a six-month period, state Sen. Tony Avella will demand answers about security at the Queens Village facility in a press conference on Thursday.

The NYPD said Tuesday that Clifford Brown climbed over a chain-link fence at the center, located at 79-25 Winchester Blvd., and fled. Brown, 27, who was brought to Creedmoor from Riker’s Island for a psychiatric evaluation, escaped at approximately 2 p.m. during recreational time. Brown was found on Wednesday in good health, police said.

The Courier reported that Raymond Morillo, 33, escaped from Creedmoor on January 28 by swapping clothes with a visitor. Morillo was convicted of manslaughter in 1999 and was transferred to Creedmoor in December of 2013. Morillo was found two days later in Memphis, Tennessee and brought back to New York.

Avella and residents are concerned about Creedmoor’s security practices. Following, the first incident, Avella requested that the Office of Mental Health (OMH) investigate the events leading up to Morillo’s escape. In March, the OMH launched a full investigation of security policies not only in Creedmoor, but in all psychiatric centers throughout New York.

The press conference is at 10:15 a.m. in front of the facility.
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Queens mother-daughter TSA officers help keep passengers safe


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Lois Haynes

Working under the same roof as Mom could make some sons and daughters anxious, but it makes Monique Smith proud.

The 29-year-old Jamaica resident shares the same job, as a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer at LaGuardia Airport, with her mother, Lois Haynes.

“I have been at TSA a little longer than my mom, but she has introduced me to a lot of people at the airport,” Smith said. “Plus, my co-workers are a lot nicer when they find out who my mother is. Sometimes they call me ‘Lois Jr.’ and I don’t mind a bit.”

Smith encouraged her mother to apply for the gig not long after she started working at the airport, about five-and-a-half years ago, according to Haynes.

“It’s funny when co-workers first learn that we’re mother/daughter,” the 49-year-old Queens Village resident said.

They once worked the same shift and at the same check point, but now have different hours and are stationed at different locations within the airport.

“It’s been a pleasure” working with her daughter, Haynes said. She is also thankful that her daughter introduced her to a job she enjoys.

As a TSA officer, Haynes work includes screening passengers and luggage, and checking travel documents. Additionally, she is involved with the recertification of officers.

“I am a people person and I also like to mentor,” Haynes said.

When she’s not at the airport, Haynes spends her free time with her daughter going to boutiques and out to eat.

“We have a very close relationship outside of the job,” Haynes said. “She’s my muse, she picks out my clothes, tells me what looks ugly.”

Though the two have different schedules, this Mother’s Day, they both have off from work.

Haynes, who also has a 15-year-old son, is not exactly sure what her family is planning for Sunday, but she “heard they are going to be making [her] a nice seafood dinner.”

 

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Two teens arrested in attempted abductions of girls in Queens


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

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Two suspects wanted in connection to the attempted abductions of several young girls off the streets of Queens have been arrested, police said.

Joshua Wright, 17, and Andrew Ghulam, 16, both of Queens, have been charged with two counts each of attempted unlawful imprisonment, endangering the welfare of a child, criminal possession of a weapon and harassment, officials said.

The first victim, an 11 year-old girl, was approached about 4 p.m. Wednesday as she was heading home from school near 111th Avenue and 208 Street in Queens Village.

After she noticed a dark-green SUV, with two men inside of it, slowly following her, the passenger, who was wearing a black mask, exited from the vehicle, and tried to talk to the girl, cops said. She then ran away and the suspects fled in the car.

A short time later, around 113th Avenue and 196th Street, in St. Albans, three girls, a 10-year-old and two 11-year-olds, noticed they were being followed by a green Jeep Cherokee. The driver handed a gun to the passenger then pulled a mask over his face before getting out of the SUV, according to police. The girls then hid behind a parked vehicle as the two men drove by them. The suspects circled back and passed the victims again before leaving the area in their car.

 

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ASPCA hosting adoption event at 105th Precinct in Queens Village


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of ASPCA

The 105th Precinct and ASPCA are teaming up this weekend in Queens Village to help some dogs and cats find a loving home.

This Sunday the public is invited to come and meet adoptable dogs and cats from the ASPCA Adoption Center in Manhattan from 12 to 4 p.m at the precinct’s parking lot, located at 92-08 222nd St.

All adoption fees during the event will be 50 percent off and all available cats and dogs will be spayed/neutered, micro-chipped, vaccinated, behaviorally assessed and provided an ID tag free of charge.

Additionally, adoption counselors from the ASPCA will be on-site to help answer questions about temperament and personality in order to make the best possible match.

Potential adopters should bring one government-issued photo ID (i.e. driver’s license, passport, military ID, or non-driver ID), proof of address and contact information for a personal reference. Adopters must be 21 or older.

 

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DOE withdraws co-location plans


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ File Photo

From the 49 co-location proposals released last year for schools all around the city, the Department of Education (DOE) has announced it will be withdrawing nine and revising one.

Two plans that have now been withdrawn included opening a K-4 Success Academy charter school in August Martin High School in Jamaica and bringing a new Career and Technical Education (CTE) high school to Long Island City High School. The rest of the plans involve schools in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

“The previous administration handed over these proposals – and we have had to review all of them under inflexible deadlines. While the circumstances for each proposal are unique, we identified clear criteria and we followed it,” Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said. “We were deliberate in our decisions and, under the circumstance we inherited, believe is the best approach.”

In reviewing the proposals, the DOE identified four “core values” that will be used to evaluate co-locations: new elementary schools should not be opened on high school campuses; the new schools must have the resources needed to provide services the students deserve; depending on capital work to make space for the co-location; and seats must not be reduced in District 75, serving special needs students.

The agency also took into consideration deadlines and the impact some of the proposals would have on thousands of families.

“If there is one thing school communities should know, it’s this: we’re going to do things differently,” Fariña said. “Today, we are turning the page on the approach of the past. We are going to listen and be responsive like never before, and that will be reflected in everything we do.”

The Career and Technical Education high school proposed for LIC High School is now planned to be moved to Murry Bergtraum High School in Manhattan.

“This is a win for all of us in the community, but most of all for the students who only want the resources they deserve to receive a proper education,” State Senator Michael Gianaris said about LIC High School.

The DOE plans to host a meeting for each school community of the proposals that will be implemented. The meeting will help discuss next steps and also allow the DOE to engage with parents and school officials.

Councilmember Mark Weprin said that he is disappointed to learn that the DOE still plans on pursuing its plan to co-locate another school at Martin Van Buren High School in Queens Village. However, he said he has heard that the DOE will work with the local community to make sure the programs at the school meet the community’s needs.


THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan 

“We want to make Martin Van Buren a destination high school once again,” Weprin said.

 

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Security stepped up at Creedmoor after convicted killer escapes psych facility


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

A Queens psychiatric facility has tightened security after a convicted criminal managed to flee the building, according to the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH).

A friend was visiting Raymond Morillo, 33, a patient at the Creedmoor Psychiatric Facility in Queens Village, on January 28, when the two switched clothing and Morillo escaped, police said.

Two days later, Morillo was apprehended in Tennessee.

Raymond Morillo

Morillo served a 14-year prison sentence on a manslaughter charge for a fatal shooting and for assault, but had finished serving his time when he came to Creedmoor, according to published reports.

“Increased identity verification procedures have been put into place at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center, which add a separate and distinct layer of verification apart from the identification passes provided at entrances. For security purposes, OMH cannot detail these additional measures,” Ben Rosen, an OMH spokesperson said.

In response to Morillo’s escape, a coalition of more than a dozen civic presidents issued a seven-point plan of action that called for measures, such as a full investigation into the incident, the adoption of a comprehensive security plan for the entire Creedmoor campus that would prevent a similar incident from happening again, and a similar review and assessment of security at nearby Zucker-Hillside Hospital.

Any escaped patient is immediately reported to local law enforcement, Rosen said. It is also OMH policy to undergo a thorough investigation to determine the causes of such occurrences and require appropriate policy changes be made to prevent them from reoccurring.

 

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Police: Three suspected armed robbers tied to two other Queens crimes


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the NYPD

The three suspects wanted for robbing a Queens Village hair salon at gunpoint last week have been tied to two other store robberies in the borough, police said.

Last Saturday, the trio, each wielding a gun, forced clerks at a 22-06 Hempstead Ave. salon to the back of the store about 7:25 p.m., authorities said. They stole money, cell phones and hair products before fleeing.

Police said the suspects are also responsible for robbing two St. Albans delis, located two blocks from each other.

The first incident took place last Wednesday at 113-27 Farmers Blvd., while the second happened Sunday at 114-25 Farmers Blvd.

Both times, the suspects left with an undetermined amount of money, police said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). 

 

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Police: Suspects steal cash, phones, hair products during Queens Village salon robbery


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

Three suspects are wanted in the armed robbery of a salon in Queens Village, cops said.

On Saturday, the suspects, each carrying a gun, entered the business at 22-06 Hempstead Ave. about 7:25 p.m. and forced the clerks to the rear of the salon, according to the NYPD. The suspects then took money, cell phones and hair products before fleeing.

There were no reported injuries, cops said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

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Convicted criminal who escaped from Queens psychiatric facility caught in Tennessee


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

A convicted killer who escaped from a Queens Village psychiatric facility by swapping clothes with a friend was captured in Memphis, Tenn. Thursday night.

Raymond Morillo, 33, was apprehended about 10:35 p.m. inside a Greyhound Bus terminal by the Memphis Police Department, the NYPD said. He will be held in Tennessee until extradition back to New York.

A friend was visiting Morillo, a patient at Creedmoor Psychiatric Facility, on Winchester Boulevard, Tuesday morning when the two switched clothing and Morillo fled the building, police said. His friend also left the facility.

Morillo served a 14-year prison sentence on a manslaughter charge for a fatal shooting and for assault, but had finished serving his time when he came to Creedmoor, according to published reports.

 

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Man convicted of manslaughter escapes from Queens psychiatric facility


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Police are searching for a man with a reported violent criminal history who escaped from a Queens psychiatric facility Tuesday.

A friend was visiting Raymond Morillo, 33, a patient at Creedmoor Psychiatric Facility, on Winchester Boulevard, in Queens Village, about 11:30 a.m. when the two swapped clothes and Morillo fled the building, cops said. His friend also left the facility.

Authorities  describe Morillo as 5 feet 11 inches tall, 215 pounds with a tear drop tattoo under his left eye, according to police. He was last seen wearing a black baseball cap, white sweater and tan pants.

Morillo was imprisoned for manslaughter in 1999, and was transferred to the facility from jail in December, according to the New York Post.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

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Clyde Vanel latest to enter race for Malcolm Smith’s Senate seat


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

File photo

The race for State Senator Malcolm Smith’s seat is widening with new contender Clyde Vanel.

Vanel joins attorney Munir Avery to try and snag the Senate seat from Smith, who was arrested last April for corruption charges.

“We have zero representation right now in the Senate,” Vanel said of the 14th Senate District, which comprises of southeast Queens neighborhoods, including Jamaica, Queens Village, Hollis and Cambria Heights.

Vanel, a Cambria Heights native, wants to focus on bringing jobs back to the district and straightening out “Albany’s dysfunction.”

“We need to bring more jobs to our state and economic policy,” he said. “I have owned and run businesses before. I’ve had employees. I’m a business attorney, so I understand the policies and regulations that make it difficult for people to keep small businesses in New York.”

Vanel most recently ran to replace the term-limited Councilmember Leroy Comrie, but fell short by two percent of the votes to current Councilmember Daneek Miller in September’s primary.

Since then, the attorney said he has “been trying to get back on my feet” and expand support in the district for this upcoming election.

If elected, he said he would “be loyal to the Democratic Party,” criticizing Smith for associating with the Independent Democratic Conference, a bipartisan legislative branch. He also hopes to find alternative ways to bringing in revenue outside of raising taxes.

“We have to be more creative with respect to how do we generate revenue from the government, and how do we do more with less,” he said.

He added he will soon be releasing a plan of ideas on how to do so.

“I’m the best person that is currently in the race now,” he said. “The thing is, I’m not running against Malcom Smith, I’m running for the seat. The plan of attack is to just stand on the issues.”

 

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Retired correction officer fatally shot in Queens Village


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

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Updated Monday, Jan. 13, 4:55 p.m. 

A 50-year-old retired correction officer is dead after he was shot in Queens Village Friday morning following a domestic dispute with two other correction officers, according to published reports and police.

The shooting occurred about 4:30 a.m. at 108th Avenue near 227th Street, the NYPD said.

The victim, identified by police as Jeffrey Ragland, of Jamaica, was taken to Long Island Jewish Hospital with a gunshot wound to the chest and pronounced dead, cops said.

Ragland, who formerly worked for the Department of Correction, was killed following an argument with two current correction officers, according to published reports.

Sources told the New York Post the dispute involved a “love triangle” between Ragland, his estranged girlfriend and her new boyfriend, and it was the boyfriend who pulled the trigger.

Police said Friday a man and a woman were currently in custody.

As of the Monday afternoon, police said no charges had been brought in the homicide, but the investigation is still ongoing.

According to the New York Daily News, the boyfriend told police that he shot Ragland in self defense, only after Ragland pulled a gun on him.

 

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30-year-old shot to death in Queens Village


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


A man was found fatally shot in Queens Village Wednesday night, cops said.

Officers discovered 30-year-old Earl Jackson inside of 212-20 Jamaica Ave. about 10:50 pm. with a gunshot wound to the back of the head and the torso, according to the NYPD.

He was pronounced dead at the scene, cops said.

There are no arrests at this time and the investigation is ongoing, police said.

 

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