Tag Archives: Ridgewood

Reward offered for help in finding serial Queens bank robber


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the FBI New York office

Federal agents and the NYPD are offering “a significant reward” for the public’s help in finding the man responsible for at least a dozen bank robberies in Queens dating back to last year — including several armed heists.

Authorities said the suspect last struck in Middle Village on Dec. 9, 2014, robbing cash from the Chase bank at 74-04 Eliot Ave. Many of the other robberies occurred in Astoria, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Maspeth, Sunnyside and Ridgewood.

During each incident, the suspect reportedly passed demand notes to a teller and walked away with various sums of money. In five capers, the perpetrator displayed a handgun in his waistband to bank employees, the FBI said.

Law enforcement agents describe the crook as a black or Hispanic male with a medium to light complexion standing 6 feet tall, and weighing between 200 and 250 pounds. He is usually seen on camera wearing glasses and a baseball cap with the logo of a sports team such as the New York Yankees or New England Patriots. The public should consider the suspect armed and dangerous.

Among the heists in the robbery pattern are the following incidents:

  • June 7, 2014, robbery of a Chase bank located at 77-01 31st Ave. in East Elmhurst;
  • July 22, 2014, attempted robbery of a Santander bank located at 89-01 Northern Blvd. in Jackson Heights;
  • July 25, 2014, heist at a Chase bank located at 47-11 Queens Blvd. in Sunnyside;
  • Aug. 30, 2014, incident at a Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburgh located at 75-23 37th Ave. in Jackson Heights;
  • Oct. 4, 2014, robbery of a Chase bank located at 69-55 Grand Ave. in Maspeth; and
  •  Dec. 6, 2014, heist at a Chase bank located at 60-67 Myrtle Ave. in Ridgewood.

The FBI-NYPD Violent Crime Task Force is investigating the pattern.

Anyone with information regarding the suspect’s whereabouts is urged to call the Task Force at 212-384-1000; all calls will be kept confidential.

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Myrtle Avenue BID pushes for dedicated trash pickup service


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

File photo

Full and overflowing public wastebaskets are a common sight on Myrtle Avenue in Ridgewood, and the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) is looking to do something about it.

In the fiscal year 2016 expense budget, the Myrtle Avenue BID has requested the restoration of six-day dedicated basket pickup service from the Department of Sanitation (DSNY).

Currently, this service is only being provided three days a week within the Myrtle Avenue BID. The present service consists of a dedicated basket run on only Mondays and Wednesdays on the midnight to 8 a.m. tour. On Thursdays, the garbage baskets in the Myrtle Avenue BID often go uncollected because household refuse takes priority.

“Overflowing corner baskets are the first thing shoppers and potential new store owners see along our shopping districts,” said Ted Renz of the Myrtle Avenue BID in a statement to the Ridgewood Times. “They are an eyesore and create an unpleasant shopping environment.”

Comparable business improvement districts, such as the Greenpoint Avenue/Queens Boulevard Sunnyside Shines BID and the Steinway Street BID, have at the minimum five- to six-day corner basket pickup service between the dedicated basket truck and regular household pickup.

The Myrtle Avenue BID, along with the Ridgewood Local Development Corporation (RLDC), is looking for similar service for not only the BID’s area, but for all major commercial retail business corridors within Community Board 5. Those areas include Myrtle Avenue between Fresh Pond Road and Cooper Avenue, Fresh Pond Road between Myrtle Avenue and Eliot Avenue, Metropolitan Avenue between 73rd Place and 80th Street, and Grand Avenue between Flushing Avenue and 74th Street.

Throughout the fiscal year 2016 budget process, the Myrtle Avenue BID and RLDC have testified regarding this need during different capital and expense budget hearings. They have also met with Councilman Antonio Reynoso and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley on the issue.

“Recently we did receive some good news that Myrtle Avenue will receive extra service on Tuesday and Saturday and that corner baskets would be given special attention because on those days there is a dedicated half mobile litter patrol,” Renz said. “Therefore, while we are grateful for this response, we will need to push for dedicated basket routes.”

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Rents in two Queens nabes rose faster than city average: report


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre. Charts courtesy Community Service Society

Maybe “the rent is too damn high” in New York City.

Rents throughout the five boroughs rose 32 percent between 2002 and 2014, according to a report released Monday by the Community Service Society, an organization that tackles the issue of poverty in New York.

The study is based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau and was created to “shed light on the important housing issues facing the New York State Legislature this year,” the report said.

Namely those issues are the expiring laws for rent regulation and the 421-a tax abatement, which currently fosters some affordable housing by giving developers tax breaks for 20 percent of low-income units in their projects. The state has a deadline until June 15 to renew the laws and make reforms.

The analysis of the past dozen years shows that two Queens neighborhoods surpassed the citywide average. Rents jumped 36 percent in Astoria and 35 percent in Jamaica in 12 years, the study said.


Surprisingly, Long Island City and Ridgewood weren’t over the citywide average although rent rates have changed dramatically in those areas as well.

The rental information for different neighborhoods was collected from tenants who have recently moved.

“In order to sensitively assess the changing state of the housing market in different neighborhoods, CSS focused on the rents being paid by tenants who have recently moved,” the report said. “This eliminates the tendency of lower rents paid by longtime tenants to smooth out market changes and mask the changes that affect tenants who are looking for a place to live.”

During the 12-year period, rents in Central Harlem rose 90 percent and those in Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn rose 63 percent, making them the neighborhoods where rent rose the most citywide, according to the report.

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PHOTOS: Hundreds of local artists participate in Bushwick Open Studios


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photos by Anthony Giudice

Over 600 art studios across Ridgewood and Bushwick opened their doors for Arts in Bushwick’s ninth annual Bushwick Open Studios (BOS) weekend, from June 5 through June 7.

BOS is the largest open studios event in New York City. The three-day arts and culture festival brings together visual artists, performers, musicians and designers to share their work with the public through studio visits, group shows and creative events.

Many forms of art, including paintings, sculptures, creative furniture, spray paint murals and much more were on display throughout the studios and streets of Bushwick and Ridgewood over the weekend.

Jeff Fichera is a veteran of the BOS scene, this year being his fifth open studios event, but he still finds the event to be exciting.

“It’s both invigorating and exhausting to share my work with so many people over a few days,” Fichera said. “It’s incredible to get so much valuable feedback from all of the visitors, but it’s also a very unusual situation to have so many people in the studio. The studio is almost always a place of quiet solitude and so the frantic activity is exhausting.”

“I think BOS is one of the best parts about the Bushwick/Ridgewood artist scene,” Fichera continued. “It really defines the boundaries of our community and allows everyone to participate and be seen and focuses the attention of the art world on what is happening here. It brings an enormous amount of attention and cohesion to the community.”

While some artists focused on showcasing their art, others, like Rodney Allen Trice, were interested in reaching out to collectors for their work. Trice is an artist and designer who creates new pieces of furniture from found objects.

“I have been doing this over 20 years,” Trice said. “I’m always inspired by objects I fall in love with and want to make useful again. To get an opportunity for this many people to see [my work] is a chance to find those unique buyers and collectors who find the same love as you do for the things I find and build with.”

Other artists participated in group showings, such as those involved with the Ridgewood Artists Coalition who put their art up at the “Ridgewood Represent!” event at the Onderdonk House in Ridgewood.

“It feels great to have my art on display here with everyone else’s for the Bushwick Open Studios,” said Alison Duignan, who was participating in her first art show. “I’m glad it’s less formal because I’ve never showed my work before, so I don’t feel out of place.”

Danielle Draik, co-curator of the “Ridgewood Represent!” art show has had her work appear in several other art shows, but this is her first time at BOS.

“Being a part of BOS is great,” Draik said. “Having an art show at a historic location in the festival and representing the adjacent town is very important. The Onderdonk House, an active arts staple in the neighborhood, really represents Ridgewood Arts Culture and it means a lot that they would have us local artists here.”


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Rising rat problems on the Ridgewood/Bushwick border


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons/Mira (on the wall)

Aw, rats!

Residents of Himrod Street on the Ridgewood/Bushwick border in Brooklyn have noticed an increase in the number of rats they have seen on their block and are looking for a solution.

Pauline Bruscarino, a resident of Himrod Street for 39 years, says she has seen rats roaming the neighborhood almost every night.

“Every night before I go to bed, I look out my window and I see them,” Bruscarino said. “At first I called 911 because I didn’t know who to call.”

“The thing is, we have a lot of kids on the block,” Bruscarino continued. “Yesterday morning, I was outside at six o’clock doing the garbage, when all of a sudden I see this rat. Four times it passed me. Then it jumped…so something has to be done before it bites somebody.”

Photo by Anthony Giudice

Photo by Anthony Giudice

After going through 911 and 311, Bruscarino said that she was told that she had to wait before someone could get down to the area to inspect the problem.

“See, what we’re afraid of is that they’re going to start getting into the houses,” said Marie Lekoski, a resident of Himrod Street for 10 years.

Lekoski, and several other residents of Himrod Street, have also called 311 and logged complaints about the rats.

“Now I just called again this morning,” Lekoski said. “The woman said the status was that the Department of Health had to determine what to do about it.”

On Friday morning, Bruscarino said that a city inspector was seen on the block, investigating the problem.

Himrod Street (Photo by Anthony Giudice)

Himrod Street (Photo by Anthony Giudice)

After going through the area, the inspector told Bruscarino that the landlords of the residents complaining about seeing rats are responsible for getting rid of the rats. If nothing is done by the landlords, then the city takes its own action to wipe out the vermin, then sends the landlords the bill.

“[The inspector] said she would send a notice to the landlords because she checked and there were some droppings,” Bruscarino said. “She said she would send a notice and if it is not done in a certain time, the city would do it and they will bill the landlords.”

Now, residents have to wait and see if the landlords take action before the city sends out notices.

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Ridgewood group eyes NYPD roster and homelessness


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Hiring more police officers and reducing homelessness were hot topics during the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association (RPOCA) meeting on June 4 at the Ridgewood Older Adult Center.

According to Captain Mark Wachter, the 104th Precinct has witnessed a 9.5 percent drop in the seven major crime categories. Problems plaguing the command include an upswing in identity theft, scams and theft of unattended property, such as wallets and laptop computers left in cars.

Even so, crime is up in other parts of the city, and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley noted the City Council wants funds to hire more police officers included in 2016 fiscal year budget.

According to Crowley, Commissioner Bratton approached the City Council and requested funds to hire 500 extra police officers, primarily for the city’s anti-terrorism task force. However, Crowley estimates the need for more officers to be double that amount.

“It’s rare that you even have a commissioner of an agency that disagrees with a mayor,” Crowley said. “But the truth of the matter is, he could use a thousand more police officers.”

Crowley estimates that the police department spends roughly $700 million dollars in overtime pay to officers each year. “If you add enough resources to pay people straight time…you would save a significant amount of money by not having to pay time and a half,” she added.

She proposed deploying the additional 500 officers Bratton requested to problem areas throughout the city, including troubled neighborhoods such as Brownsville and the South Bronx, which, according to her estimates, have witnessed a 40 percent uptick in major crimes within the past year.

Crowley also tackled the issue of homelessness and rent increases, a topic of particular concern to the growing Ridgewood community.

“Some people are charging outrageous amounts for rent and it’s driving a lot of families out. This is happening throughout the city,” she explained.

As a preventative measure, Crowley announced that she has allocated funds in the budget for the city’s LINK Program. This network of social services is designed to fight homelessness by keeping families out of shelters and helping them stay in their own homes.

In addition to vital resources, Crowley said that she had also allocated funds for local trees and park improvements, as well as other capital requests from Community Board 5. This news delighted former RPOCA president Paul Kerzner, who has been advocating for the planting of more trees throughout Ridgewood.

Kerzner estimates that roughly $300,000 would be required in the 2016 budget for tree planting in the community. Crowley explained that she had allocated that amount in the previous year’s budget for stump removal and the planting of 100 new trees.

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Ridgewood students raise money for wounded veterans


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy I.S. 93

Students from I.S. 93 in Ridgewood raised money for the Wounded Warrior Project through the Penny Harvest Program.

A group of seventh- and eighth-graders from the middle school held weekly meetings focused on finding a charity to support. After much research, they decided to donate $500 to the Wounded Warrior Project, a charity and veterans service organization that offers a variety of programs, services and events for wounded veterans of the military.

In addition, the kids signed up to become student ambassadors for the Wounded Warrior Project. They decided they wanted to help even more by raising additional money. They fundraised by selling Wounded Warrior Project bracelets and pins, informing the I.S. 93 community about the special ways in which this program helps wounded soldiers.

They were able to raise an additional $200, totaling a $700 donation to the organization.

As a special surprise, the group of students were able to meet a true wounded warrior: Sgt. Juan Arrendondo, one of the first soldiers to receive help from the Wounded Warrior Project when it began over 10 years ago.

Arrendondo spoke to the students about his injuries, losing an arm and part of his leg, and gave an inspirational speech on how he considers himself lucky to be alive.

“When you told your story about how you got hurt I wanted to cry,” said Weronika Pawlowska, a student at I.S. 93, in a thank-you letter to Sgt. Arrendondo. “It made me sad at how this happened to you and many other people. I love how you have confidence in telling us about your injuries and how you opened out to people. I learned no matter what happens, life can be amazing and full of surprises.”

I.S. student Anthony Paredes wrote, “Dear Juan, it was indeed a pleasure of meeting you. When I met you I knew that you were a person of endurance and that nothing could stop you. When you told us your story, you couldn’t prove me more correct of how you were a symbol of courage. I hope to be like you one day.”

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Cops collar four alleged Ridgewood home invaders


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Google Maps

Police busted four Brooklyn men late Monday night who allegedly invaded a Ridgewood apartment in search of loot, according to the 104th Precinct.

Authorities said the trouble began at about 11:45 p.m. inside an apartment house on Gates Avenue between Grandview and Fairview avenues.

Reportedly, a 43-year-old man was at home with his family when the four suspects suddenly entered the apartment through a rear window from the fire escape.

The perpetrators — identified by police as Randall Williams, 24, and Rodney Smalls, 25, both of Bradford Street; Arturo Calcano, 23, of Knickerbocker Avenue; and Joseph Goyco, 22, of Lexington Avenue — displayed firearms and demanded cash and other property.

Law enforcement sources said the 43-year-old male victim and other residents then engaged in a physical struggle with the suspects. One of the residents reportedly managed to escape the apartment during the scuffle and called 911.

Seconds later, police noted, the suspects fled out of the apartment through the fire escape. Reportedly, they got away with the victim’s iPhone 5 and a watch.

Officers from the 104th Precinct rushed to the location and conducted a search of the surrounding area, during which all four suspects were apprehended. Two of the perpetrators were reportedly found inside a livery cab at the corner of Palmetto Street and Grandview Avenue.

Police recovered three firearms, a knife and the stolen loot from the suspects. Each was charged with multiple counts of robbery, authorities said.

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Jackie Robinson Parkway shutdowns begin tonight


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Jim Henderson

Portions of the Jackie Robinson Parkway will be closed beginning Monday night as the state Department of Transportation (DOT) begins resurfacing the five-mile-long and winding road between Kew Gardens and Brooklyn.

The work will begin tonight on the eastbound side from the parkway’s Brooklyn terminus at the corner of Jamaica and Pennsylvania avenues to the Cypress Hills Street exit. As reported in the Ridgewood Times, the project will be performed in segments, with the eastbound side completed first.

The $17 million project is expected to be finished in mid-August, barring any weather-related delays. Much of the work will be done during weeknight hours from 11 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. the next morning, but portions of the parkway will be shut down entirely on six weekends, from 11 p.m. Friday to 5:30 a.m. the following Monday.

The first two weekend closures will occur on June 5 through 8 and June 12 through 15. Drivers will be diverted through marked detour routes passing through neighboring Brooklyn, Ridgewood, Glendale, Woodhaven, Richmond Hill, Forest Hills and Kew Gardens.

During the project, crews from Tully Construction Company of Flushing — working on behalf of the state DOT — will remove the existing asphalt pavement and repair the concrete roadbed, then apply new asphalt and re-stripe the roadway with new lane markings. Various traffic safety devices, from reflectors to new signage, will also be installed.

“The Jackie Robinson Parkway is a critical connector between Brooklyn and Queens, carrying thousands of commuters each day and supporting the local economy,” state Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald said in a statement. “[This] project will give more than 82,000 motorists who use the parkway each day a smoother, safer ride.”

“Motorists who use the Jackie Robinson Parkway can look forward to a better road experience thanks to this paving project and infrastructure enhancement,” added Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, who thanked the DOT and Governor Andrew Cuomo “for making the improvement of the parkway a priority.”

Drivers are reminded to travel safely and slowly through work zones; by law, speeding fines are doubled in work zones, and convictions of two or more speeding violations in a work zone may result in a driver’s license suspension.

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Improvements coming to dangerous Myrtle Avenue intersection


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Image via Google Maps

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is about to begin scheduled improvements for the intersection at Forest Avenue, Myrtle Avenue and George Street in Ridgewood.

The plans were originally presented to Community Board 5’s Transportation Services and Public Transportation Committees during a meeting in April.

The upcoming improvements include installing a concrete curb extension on the south side of the intersection on George Street, realigning and shortening the skewed south crosswalk in order to shorten pedestrian crossing distances, installing high visibility crosswalks at all crossings to increase visibility of pedestrians and adding markings to clarify direction of travel for vehicles on Forest Avenue.

The improvements are slated to begin within the first week of June.

This intersection was brought to the DOT’s attention because it is located within the Myrtle Avenue priority corridor and has seen a number of vehicle and pedestrian crashes since it is such a high-traffic area.

“Judging from the frequency and severity of crashes that occurred here between 2009 and 2013, the intersection has been designated a high pedestrian crash location,” said Arban Vigni, project manager with the DOT, at the April meeting.

During that five-year period, there were a total of 18 crashes, six of them involving pedestrians. Two of those crashes led to severe injuries.

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Superstar in the making: Ridgewood boxer headed to Olympic trials


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photos by Anthony Giudice

After hard work, dedication and an outpouring of community support, Ridgewood‘s Mathew Gonzalez will be flying to Colorado this June to compete in the Olympic trials in boxing for Team USA.

Gonzalez’s love of boxing began at just 5 years old, when he would watch and learn the sport from his older brother. At age 8, Gonzalez stepped into a boxing ring for the very first time, and by the age of 10, he knew that boxing was what he wanted to do.

“At 11, I started competing,” Gonzalez said. “I started following in [my brother’s] footsteps. He was already doing it big, at a national level and I just followed his footsteps and it took me here.”

Gonzalez has had an impressive amateur career thus far, winning the Junior Golden Gloves Nationals in Las Vegas and the Ringside World Championships in Kansas City, among other titles and awards. But he had to step away from boxing to focus on graduating from Grover Cleveland High School.

“My favorite achievement is coming back to the sport that I belong [in], coming back to the sport that I love even though I have not been actively competing and still having the support from all my fans and family is just great,” he said.

During his hiatus from boxing, Gonzalez joined International Boxing & Fitness gym, located at 953C Cypress Ave. in Ridgewood, and has been training and volunteering there during his free time. He trains six to seven hours a day as well as training and helping the youth teams develop and hone their skills.

Since joining the gym, Gonzalez has trained and worked hard to become an elite fighter in his age and weight bracket. At only 20, he is “very talented and a force to be reckoned with,” according to Jenny Badillo, co-owner of International Boxing & Fitness gym.

“Everyone knows Mathew from his Junior Olympic credentials,” Badillo said. “When he came to our gym, I knew he needed the support of a comfortable gym to come to. We were more than willing to give it to him because we know he is very, very talented.”

The support Gonzalez received from those at the gym has led to a very close relationship between the boxer and the members of International Boxing & Fitness.

“The gym here is like a family,” Gonzalez said.

That family recently joined together to support Gonzalez and his boxing dreams. Through a GoFundMe page set up by Badillo, members of the gym and parents of the kids Gonzalez helps train have donated the funds needed to send Gonzalez to Colorado Springs to participate in the Olympic trails this June.

“It means a lot to me to display my skills on a national level, and [fighting] the best the USA has to offer is amazing,” Gonzalez said. “It’s a great feeling, being that I know I have support behind me and it’s just makes you want to work harder each and every day.”

If Gonzalez makes it past the opening round of trials in Colorado Springs in June, there will be a second round of trials in the fall which he hopes to be able to attend, and with the support of his local boxing gym and community, his dreams could become a reality.

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Rediscover transit history at Onderdonk House this Saturday


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Vlad Rud

Train lovers and history buffs are invited to visit the Onderdonk House in Ridgewood this Saturday for a special presentation on the city’s forgotten transit system.

Local transit expert Robert Diamond will talk about discoveries he’s made in researching Brooklyn’s past during a special lecture at 2 p.m. on May 30 at the historic Onderdonk House, located at 1820 Flushing Ave. The Greater Ridgewood Historical Society (GRHS) is sponsoring the event.

Dubbed by the GRHS as “Brooklyn’s own Indiana Jones,” Diamond will speak about his discovery 30 years ago of the long-abandoned Atlantic Avenue rail tunnel, which last saw train service in 1861. During the early 20th century, it was believed to have been used by bootleggers as an underground means to transport alcohol during Prohibition.

There were also rumors of the tunnel being used by German spies during World War I and that it may have played a role in John Wilkes Booth’s plot to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln in 1865.

Diamond, who founded the Brooklyn Historic Railway Association, will also speak about his efforts to preserve and promote the Red Hook Streetcar, a proposed revival of trolley lines once commonplace in Brooklyn and Queens during the mid-20th century.

The event is funded in part through grants allocated by City Council members Elizabeth Crowley and Antonio Reynoso through the city Department of Cultural Affairs.

Click here for more information about this event and others at the Onderdonk House.

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Birch Family Services will host hiring event in Ridgewood this June


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

Job seekers who are interested in working in the care service industry are invited by state Senator Joseph Addabbo to attend a mass-hiring event in Ridgewood.

The event, which is co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan and Assemblyman Mike Miller in partnership with Birch Family Services, will take place on June 4 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Greater Ridgewood Youth Council, located at 59-03 Summerfield St. in Ridgewood.

“When we have held previous Birch Family Services hiring events, a large percentage of the participants  were able to move on to satisfying new jobs in the health care field in our area,” Addabbo said.  “During this event, those who are interested in working for Birch will be considered for positions at the Ridgewood and Glendale sites caring for some of our community’s most vulnerable local residents.”

Birch Family Services provides a wide variety of health, education and social services for residents with autism and other disabilities, including preschool special education, special education for people ages 5 through 20, day habilitation, and support for families who are raising children with disabilities, among others.

“Working with disabled individuals and their families is an extremely important and meaningful career path,” Addabbo said. “I can think of few endeavors more rewarding than helping others reach their highest personal potential.”

Individuals interested in job opportunities at Birch must have, at minimum, a high school diploma or G.E.D., experience caring for elderly and/or disabled individuals, and a New York State driver’s license.

Those who are attending the hiring event should bring their resume, two forms of identification, including the required state driver’s license, and proof of their highest completed educational degree. While not required, applicants are encouraged to bring information about any professional certifications they may hold such as HHA, CAN, CPR, AMAP and others.

For more information about the Birch hiring event and other free community events sponsored by Addabbo throughout the year, please contact Frank Fazio in the senator’s Howard Beach district office at 718-738-1111.

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Photos: Queens honors and remembers soldiers with Memorial Day parades


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy Dominick Totino Photography/Gallery by Robert Pozarycki, Anthony Giudice, Liam La Guerre

Nearly a dozen Memorial Day parades were held in Queens over the weekend as the borough paid tribute to military men and women who protect the freedoms residents enjoy today.

Mayor Bill de Blasio marched in the Little Neck/Douglaston Memorial Day Parade, which began at 2 p.m. on Northern Boulevard and Jayson Avenue, alongside U.S. Representative Grace Meng, Borough President Melinda Katz, Public Advocate Letitia James, Councilmen Paul Vallone and Mark Weprin and Assemblyman Ed Braunstein.

Retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Loree Sutton, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs, served as the parade’s grand marshal. Sutton hailed Memorial Day as a sacred time.

“It is a day that we come together to commemorate and remember and to think about all that we share in this great country and to remind ourselves that the cost and price of freedom is never free,” Sutton said. “That we are so blessed to be in the land of the free because of the brave.”

Parades were held in Woodside/Sunnyside, Whitestone, Laurelton, Howard Beach, Glendale/Ridgewood, Maspeth, Middle Village, Forest Hills, College Point and Woodhaven.

New military recruits, veterans in vintage cars, fire fighters, police officers, JROTC members, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and marching bands participated in the borough’s parades while parents and children donned red, white and blue and waved the stars and stripes from sidewalks.

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Four-day Ridgewood street festival back on the calendar


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/file photo

Despite Community Board 5’s disapproval, the four-day Fresh Pond Road Street Festival will happen this September.

Lucy Dolce of the Federazione Italo-Americana di Brooklyn and Queens, which sponsors the annual fair, said Thursday that the Street Activity Permits Office (SAPO) granted approval of its application.

The festival will occur on four consecutive nights, Sept. 3 to 6, along a five-block stretch of Fresh Pond Road between Menahan and Woodbine streets. Back in March, Board 5 voted to recommend denial of a street fair permit for the festival over concerns regarding traffic and various quality-of-life issues.

Following the board’s vote, the organizers appealed their case to the SAPO, which makes the final determination on all street permits citywide. The Fresh Pond Road festival has been a late summer fixture in the neighborhood for more than 20 years, featuring a variety of games, rides, vendors and other attractions.

But the festival’s presence garnered stiff opposition from residents for myriad reasons, from traffic congestion and lost parking spots related to the road’s closure, to reports of disorderly behavior among patrons and refuse left behind on the roadway.

Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano confirmed the SAPO approval, noting that the office indicated the reasons the board gave for the license’s denial weren’t enough to shelve a festival that has occurred regularly since the mid-1990s.

Dolce charged that the allegations of unruly behavior at the fair were exaggerated and that the organizers worked to make sure Fresh Pond Road was swept clean immediately after each night’s festivities.

“We didn’t want any problems with the festival,” Dolce said. “But no matter what we did, it wasn’t right. No matter what I said or what we did to prove ourselves, it was never enough.”

As for parking and traffic concerns, Dolce sympathized with the situation but remarked that the four-day inconvenience was a small price to pay for a festival that helps support the community.

“They should be proud that in our community we can put together a four-day festival without any major incidents happening,” she said. “Do you think the police department would let us go forward if they thought something would go wrong?”

Giordano said the festival itself “has been a benefit in some ways, but members of the Ridgewood community who live near there have difficulties with the fair.”

“The fair, while it is enjoyable for many people, does — in the opinion of many community board members — put strains on the community” with regard to traffic, Giordano said. He noted that Fresh Pond Road, as one of the area’s main north-south arteries, is “a tougher block” to close than most other locations where street fairs are held, such as Myrtle Avenue in Ridgewood and Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village.

“At the same time, the federazione, to my knowledge, has used the funds they have earned for some good purposes,” he added.

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