Tag Archives: Ridgewood

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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In Glendale, 104th Precinct looks to improve on crime drop


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photos by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Crime numbers continue to plummet in the 104th Precinct, but the command is looking to do even better.

Capt. Mark Wachter, the 104th Precinct’s commanding officer, came to the precinct’s Community Council meeting on Tuesday at The Shops at Atlas Park in Glendale and reported a 26 percent reduction in overall crime in the past month. This included a significant downturn in domestic violence and felony assaults.

The precinct also experienced a 40 percent decrease in grand larcenies and stolen cars. Wachter credits crime prevention tactics, such as personalized home visits and spreading awareness about scams, with the large reduction.

In an effort to confront quality-of-life concerns, the 104th Precinct also held a successful undercover sting operation last Saturday to combat prostitution along Cypress Avenue and Starr Street on the Ridgewood/Bushwick border. According to Wachter, officers made six arrests and seized one vehicle for illicit activity.

“We put pressure on and basically make it go away,” he said. “We don’t want it to go somewhere else; we want it to go away.”

Despite these victories, burglaries remain an area of particular concern for the command. The Community Council’s Public Safety Committee and P.O. Eddie Collado of the precinct’s Crime Prevention Unit delivered a video presentation and discussion on home burglary prevention.

“The burglar is an opportunist,” Collado said. According to police, perpetrators often gain access to homes through unlocked rear windows, doors and fire escapes.

Collado urged residents to secure windows and doors with the proper locks and volunteered to conduct personalized home safety surveys upon appointment. He also asked that residents register their valuable items such as electronics and bicycles with the precinct’s Crime Prevention Unit. The items are marked with serial numbers that can potentially help identify and recover them if lost or stolen.

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

P.O. Sean Paul Hynes was honored as Cop of the Month for apprehending a suspect wanted for robbing a Boar’s Head delivery truck driver at gunpoint on April 21 on Woodward Avenue at Woodbine Street in Ridgewood.

According to Wachter, Hynes and his fellow officers from the 104th Precinct’s Anti-Crime Unit were able to track the suspect and his getaway vehicle through the use of undisclosed computer resources. Within minutes of the robbery, Hynes was able to track the vehicle to a specific location in Brooklyn.

A brief foot pursuit ensued, after which the male suspect and his weapon were taken into custody.

“It’s one less gun on the street, but we can never measure how many victims the gun could have taken out,” Wachter said.

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A late-night burger run to Duncan’s


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo is courtesy of Galen Duncan / Duncan Burgers

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Next Thursday, May 28, is National Hamburger Day and what better way to celebrate than with a free helping of the wildly popular Duncan’s Burgers. The handcrafted creations have gained a cult following in recent months and have quickly become a late-night fast-food staple in Ridgewood and Bushwick.

Owner and chef Galen Duncan will be hosting a grand opening at 1 p.m. on May 28 for the first Duncan’s Burgers food cart, located at the corner of Bedford Avenue and North 12th Street at the McCarren Park entrance in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The first 250 patrons will get a free burger, and all patrons will enjoy $1 off all cart menu items, as well as specials released exclusively on Duncan’s Burgers’ social media pages during the four-day celebration.

The Duncan’s Burger craze first began months ago during afterhours at The Rookery Bar (425 Troutman St. in Bushwick). When most people are wrapping up their evenings and preparing for bed, Galen Duncan would get to work, firing up the grill in anticipation of hungry late-night crowds seeking his renowned burgers and hand-cut fries.

His two-week dry aged, grass-fed, all-beef burgers became a beloved neighborhood secret, popular among local night owls and bar patrons. Eventually word spread, and Duncan’s cheeseburger deluxe ($6.50) earned a regular spot on The Rookery’s pub grub menu.
“There wasn’t a lot of late-night fare around here, and not a lot of variety for good late-night food,” he said.

Duncan sharpened his knives and skills as a butcher’s intern at Dickson’s Farmstand Meats, located inside the Chelsea Market in Manhattan. All of the meat at Dickson’s is prepared and expertly carved in-house. Their small, family-owned and operated upstate farms are known for their healthy and humane practices.

This emphasis on locally sourced, healthy artisanal ingredients inspired Duncan’s approach to cooking. According to Duncan, his burgers are a mix of “highbrow” ingredients served up in a non-fussy, “old school, fast-food” way.

“The burgers came from a place of really respecting and caring about high-quality meat,” he said. “I figured, why not make the sort of classic style burgers, but use awesome ingredients.”
Duncan continues to use Dickson’s grass-fed, hormone-free, organic dry-aged beef raised locally on a farm in upstate New York.

Prices begin at a wallet-friendly $3.50 for a classic single hamburger served on a potato bun with special savory sauce. For a couple of dollars more, you can get lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles with a side of Duncan’s waffle-style fries. Hungry patrons can choose between the classic, spicy and bacon burgers.

The burgers are available as single, double or triple patty combinations, with prices ranging from $5.50 for a single deluxe on up to $13.50 for a spicy or bacon triple. The Brooklyn Stack ($13.50) is a veritable fast-food feast, packing a mountain of flavor in its generous, three-patty serving.

Duncan’s Burgers will also be available on weekends at Schwick Market, an artisan flea and food bazaar located at Six Charles Place off Myrtle Avenue in Bushwick, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Duncan’s Burgers
425 Troutman St.

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Your guide to Memorial Day parades and vigils in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

The sacrifices of American soldiers will be celebrated across Queens in the days to come at various Memorial Day parades and vigils.

Among the celebrations are the following events, scheduled to take place rain or shine:

Woodhaven
Residents of Woodhaven will hold an early tribute to America’s fallen troops with a ceremony on Thursday, May 21, at 7:30 p.m. The vigil, sponsored by the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation, will take place at Forest Parkway Plaza, located at the corner of Jamaica Avenue and Forest Parkway.

The program includes patriotic music, a color guard, laying of wreaths and remarks from local elected officials and veterans.

College Point
The College Point Citizens for Memorial Day Inc. will begin their parade on at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 24, at the intersection of 28th Avenue and College Point Boulevard. Queens Borough President Melinda Katz is set to appear along with other local officials, and veteran Louis A. DiAgostino will be honored as the grand marshal.

Marching bands, drill teams and dance groups will all be performing at the event, and military servicemen and women will march in the festivities. The College Point Citizens for Memorial Day are accepting donations to offset parade costs. For more information contact parade chairman Rev. Adam Crabtree at 718-640-8840.

Forest Hills
The Forest Hills Memorial Day Parade hosted by the American Legion and the Forest Hills Kiwanis Club will take place on Sunday at noon. The parade starts from Metropolitan and Ascan avenues and will head westward down Metropolitan Avenue to Trotting Course Lane. From there, the parade will turn right and stop at the landmarked Remsen Cemetery between Trotting Course Lane and Alderton Street.

This year’s grand marshal will be Roland Meier, president of the West Side Tennis Club. Members of ROTC, band, and local civic and children’s organizations such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will march in the parade. Organizers of the parade will hold a ceremony at Remsen Cemetery to honor veterans.

Maspeth
The United Veterans and Fraternal Organizations of Maspeth will honor the men and women of the U.S. armed forces who made the ultimate sacrifice during their 31st Memorial Day Parade on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Grand marshals James Desio, retired US Army WWII veteran, and William Aronowicz, retired U.S. Marine Corp. WWII veteran, will lead the procession, beginning at Walter A. Garlinge Memorial Park, located at 72nd Street and Grand Avenue. At 2 p.m., there will be a memorial service for the deceased veterans of WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Middle Village
The St. Margaret Catholic War Veterans Post 1172 will honor those who died for the nation on Monday, May 25, with a special Mass at 9:30 a.m. at St. Margaret Church, located at the corner of Juniper Valley Road and 80th Street.

Then, at 11 a.m., post members and residents will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Middle Village Veterans Triangle, located at the corner of Gray and 77th streets near 66th Road. The ceremony will include prayers, a military salute and the playing of taps.

Glendale/Ridgewood
The Allied Veterans Memorial Committee of Ridgewood and Glendale, a committee made up of delegates from six veteran organizations, will honor the more than 1.14 million men and women of the U.S. armed forces who died in defense of the country during the 77th Memorial Day parade Monday.

At 11 a.m., the parade will begin at the Glendale War Memorial, located at Myrtle and Cooper Avenues, with a short memorial service to honor the war dead of Glendale. They will then march down Myrtle Avenue westbound to the Ridgewood War Memorial, located at Myrtle and Cypress Avenues, where there will be another short memorial service to honor the war dead of Ridgewood.

Howard Beach
The Howard Beach Memorial Day Parade will honor Vietnam War veterans, including the Howard Beach residents lost at war since the neighborhood’s founding.

There will be a memorial day Mass before the parade at Our Lady of Grace at 101st Street on Monday at 9:30 a.m. At 10:15 a.m., there will be a brief ceremony on top of Hawtree-Ramblersville Bridge and the parade will officially commence at Coleman’s Square at 11 a.m. The parade will stop at the Vietnam War Memorial, located at 99th Street and 157th Avenue and then head to the World War II Memorial at Assembly of God Church at 158-31 99th St. They will then march to St. Barnabas Church at 159-19 58th St. before marching back to Coleman Square.

Laurelton
The Laurelton Lions Club will present the 26th Annual Laurelton Memorial Day Parade, featuring The Queens Area Pathfinders Marching Band and The Black and Gold Marching Elite Band, on Monday starting at 9 a.m. The parade begins at Francis Lewis and Merrick boulevards, and will end at the Veterans Memorial Triangle at 225th Street and North Conduit Avenue.

Sponsors for this year’s parade include the Laurelton Lions Club, American Legion Benjamin Moore Post 1946, Garden Club of Laurelton, Federated Blocks of Laurelton and Concerned Citizens of Laurelton in Conjunction with Col. Edward O. Gourdin VFW POST 5298.

Whitestone
The Whitestone Memorial Day Parade will honor veterans and public servants from the community on Monday, May 25. The event will begin at noon at Whitestone Memorial Park at 149th Street and 15th Drive with a ceremony. Following the ceremony, the parade will commence and follow a rectangular route around the neighborhood back to Whitestone Memorial Park. Jim Dunn, a veteran from The American Legion in Whitestone, will serve as the grand marshal.

The parade will feature classic cars, elected officials, children from local sports leagues, and it will also celebrate the 100th anniversary of Whitestone’s Engine 295/Ladder 144 of the FDNY. For additional, information or to volunteer call Devon O’Connor, parade chairman, at 718-757-8546.

Woodside/Sunnyside
This year the St. Sebastian’s War Veterans will host the Woodside Memorial Day Parade to honor fellow veterans on Monday starting at 11 a.m. Parade participants will get together at the St. Sebastian’s School yard located at the corner of Woodside Avenue and 57th Street.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and John V. Daniels Jr. Post No 2813 in Sunnyside will host a Memorial Day event to honor veterans on Monday at 11 a.m. The event will be held at John Vincent Daniels Square, located on Roosevelt Avenue and 52nd Street. During the ceremony, a wreath will be placed at the flagpole in the middle of the park.

Little Neck/Douglaston
This year’s Little Neck/Douglaston Memorial Day Parade, scheduled to take place at 2 p.m. Monday, pays special tribute to Vietnam War veterans. Dr. Loree Sutton, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs, will serve as grand marshal of the march sponsored by the Little Neck/Douglaston Memorial Day Parade Association.

The march begins in Great Neck from the corner of Jayson Avenue and Northern Boulevard, then proceeds west on the boulevard to the yard of St. Anastasia’s Church, located near Northern Boulevard and 245th Street.

Competitors come out for Ridgewood’s first-ever thumb wrestling event


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Locals were all thumbs at Thursday night’s first-ever Ridgewood Thumb Wrestling Competition held at Julia’s Beer and Wine Bar.

Five brave competitors squared off in mini plastic rings in a fight for glory, honor, local pride and a free growler fill courtesy of Finback Brewery in Glendale.

The thumb warriors included The Millionaire, The Russler, Mr. Clean, The Madison Assassin and The Gentrifier. William Reder, co-owner of Julia’s, was the event’s referee. Reder read from the Thumb Wrestling Association’s official rulebook regarding match guidelines, including a strict “elbows on the table at all times” policy.

The winner of each match must also yell, “1, 2, 3, 4 … I have won a thumb war!” in order for the win to be valid.


The first match of the night took place between The Madison Assassin and The Gentrifier. As the only female competitor, The Madison Assassin (a.k.a. Madison Street resident Beata Slazak Zalewski), proved to be a formidable opponent, winning her matches against Mr. Clean (Ridgewood resident Chris Dinon) and The Millionaire, as well as one against The Gentrifier. She donned a dramatic black and red satin cape, gold crown and blue lipstick, as well as one very strong thumb painted to resemble a Luchador mask.

“I just thought that it is the most ridiculous idea and totally fun, plus the fact that costumes were encouraged and that it was being held at Julia’s made it an easy decision for me,” Zalewski said.

She was ultimately, however, no match for The Gentrifier, the neighborhood’s most hated villain, clad in gold brocade and a silver Luchador mask. As he stepped up to the miniature ring, The Gentrifier, played by Cowardly Lot Costumes and Props owner Richard Callender, taunted spectators and his opponent by waving his handkerchief and promising to bring high-end retail to the area. The crowds universally booed the wrestling heel despite his early thumb wrestling victory over the Assassin.

“I thought it would be fun and I like participating in things in the neighborhood,” Callender explained afterward.

The Gentrifier and The Madison Assassin faced off against The Russler in the final rounds of the competition. The mysterious, plaid-clad Russler ultimately took home the championship, with The Gentrifier and The Madison Assassin placing second and third, respectively.

The thumb wrestling competition was held in celebration of Queens Beer Week. Competitors and spectators sipped locally made brews, including Finback’s “Little Buddy” American IPA and offerings from Transmitter and Sixpoint breweries.

Start flexing those thumbs, Ridgewood! Reder hopes the fun will catch on and hinted at the possibility of hosting more thumb wrestling competitions at Julia’s in the future.

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Ridgewood residents wanted to count neighborhood trees


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

File Photo

Ridgewood residents are urged to help take inventory of the neighborhood’s street trees during the city’s Tree Count 2015.

Every 10 years the New York City Parks Department takes a census of all street trees within the five boroughs. Each decade, volunteers are needed to help with this huge undertaking.

Volunteers are trained by Parks staff, and teams of two volunteers are assigned blocks to survey. The counting will take place during June, July and August.

There are 200 square blocks in Ridgewood that need to be surveyed. The Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association (RPOCA) will help to organize training and mapping events in Ridgewood.

To volunteer, register at nyc.gov/parks/treescount. Then, take the 20-minute online course about counting trees.

Once registered, attend the upcoming training event located at 1882 Woodbine St. near Woodward Avenue, on Saturday, June 6, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., where volunteers will have hands-on training in how to count trees.

For questions or further information, call Maryellen Borello at 718-381-3366.

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Blue wall of support at police vigil in Ridgewood


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

As part of National Police Week, the 104th Precinct held a special candlelight vigil on Wednesday night at the precinct’s Ridgewood stationhouse, with residents showing support and appreciation for officers and law enforcement.

Members of the 104th Police Precinct Community Council, the 104th Precinct Civilian Observation Patrol (104COP) and neighborhood residents joined officers and precinct leaders in remembering and honoring the sacrifices police officers have made in the line of duty.

They paid special tribute to P.O. Brian Moore, the young 25-year-old officer who was shot and killed on May 2 while on patrol in Queens Village.

Capt. Gregory Mackie, the precinct’s executive officer, offered a prayer and reflection during the vigil: “Tonight, we remember our city and its police. Day in and day out they protect and serve the community and its property. On Friday, we said goodbye to a young police officer murdered in the prime of his life while doing his job. Officers like Detective Moore bring to life the biblical teaching, ‘Greater love has no man than this to lay down his life for his friends.'”

Deputy Chief Steven Silks also spoke about the dangers officers face on a daily basis.

“It’s not ever-present, but as recent events have shown, you could be in the busiest place or quietest place, and evil could end up on your doorstep. We have to be vigilant,” he said.

Silks commended NYPD officers in Manhattan who, earlier that morning, stopped a hammer-wielding attacker who struck a cop and was believed to have assaulted several pedestrians earlier in the week. The suspect was shot by the partner of the attacked officer and later charged.

“Who knows, if we didn’t get him today, how many more people he would have injured or killed,” he said.

Vigil attendees wore blue and held small blue votive candles and signs that read “Never Forgotten” as a show of support and appreciation for local officers. Capt. Mackie led the group in a moment of silence honoring Moore, as well as officers from the precinct who lost their lives while in the line of duty.

The officers thanked the community for their continued support. Silks explained that such outpouring acts as a much-needed morale boost for officers.

“Usually, people call us when things aren’t so good, so when someone actually says thank you and says something positive, it rings home,” he said. “The recognition when the community comes out like this goes a long, long way.”

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Adding up success at Ridgewood’s Grover Cleveland HS


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Grover Cleveland High School‘s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Academy students have soared with achievements in recent weeks.

Members of the program, competing in two separate teams, earned awards at a recent state competition held in Albany. The academy’s Science, Technology and Engineering Program (STEP) at the Ridgewood school is a collaboration with LaGuardia Community College and operates with the guidance of college instructor Sean Galvin.

Under the guidance of science teacher and team coach Krishna Mahabir, an all-female team comprised of students Samichya Sapkota, Ayushma Panthi, Sumitra GC and Tasnia Rahman won first place in the state for their project on renewable energy sources.

The winning group created a three-part panel presentation exploring three different types of renewable energy sources: wind turbine, hydro turbine and solar panels. They constructed miniature models of homes to illustrate how each type of renewable energy source could power a house while reducing the carbon footprint.

“We were thinking about how the environment has been damaged by all of the non-renewable energy, so we came up with the idea of using renewable energy,” Sapkota said. “We asked, ‘How are we able to protect the environment?'”

A second team comprised of male students Sankalpa Pahari, Alexander Altanian, Fantino Fernandez and Alexander Pena Jr. also competed in the state competition in Albany. They chose to create a nano robot with special 3-D modeling software in an effort to ease and improve cancer treatment.

“We chose it because we didn’t like the way cancer was being treated,” Pena said. “In the nano robot treatment, it would be able to go into the cell and eradicate it from there without all of the side effects.”

Grover Cleveland’s Bridge Building team also garnered awards and praise at the most recent Citywide Science Olympiad competition. According to Bridge Building coach and science instructor Lloyd Kiefer, the students competed against 57 teams of young engineers from all across the city to test their bridge design concepts.

Alexander Altanian garnered a first-place victory for creating a truss bridge that did not break under a certain amount of weight and pressure. Altanian credits learning from past bridge building errors with helping him on the road to victory. Fellow teammate Arafath Hussain earned a fourth-place victory for his truss bridge model.

The Grover Cleveland Science Research Club also earned a first-place victory for the school at the Regional Bridge Building Competition held in March at John Bowne High School in Flushing.

Freshman Tasnia Rahman won the title of 2015 Champion for creating a bridge able to hold a maximum of 96 pounds. Rahman immigrated to the U.S. from Bangladesh just over two years ago. She went on to represent Grover Cleveland at the International Bridge Building Competition in April in Portland, Oregon, and placed among over 56 competitors.

STEM Academy students also took top honors at the annual Envirothon Competition at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, winning first place in Queens and fourth place citywide. As the first-place team in the borough, the students will go on to represent Grover Cleveland at the New York State Envirothon in Geneva, New York, on May 27.

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CB 5 committee considers stricter liquor license rules


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Bar and club owners seeking liquor licenses in Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth and Middle Village may soon need to show Community Board 5 more than just their business credentials.

Members of the Community Board 5 (CB 5) Public Safety Committee met Monday and considered a proposal that would require new applicants to complete a written form stating their intentions with regard to their businesses.

Christina Wilkinson, an active member of the COMET (Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together) and the Juniper Park Civic (JPCA) associations, proposed the idea to the committee. This measure was introduced in response to the recent influx of bars, pubs and nightspots to Ridgewood and Bushwick.

According to Wilkinson, community boards 1 and 4 in Brooklyn have already adopted this practice in response to the rapid growth and popularity of their respective neighborhoods.

“At one point, Greenpoint was in the same boat that we’re in. They didn’t think it was going to be all that bad, and it got bad,” Wilkinson said. “I think we should be better prepared. Let’s learn from them. It’s working for them.”

Public Safety Committee Chair Robert Holden expressed support for the idea and asked District Manager Gary Giordano to discuss the issue with the Executive Committee. “We’re just trying to get more information,” he explained.

Newly appointed board member Alex Maureau agreed. “It’s also a good way for the local owners to get to know us, and vice versa,” he said.

Giordano voiced support for a shorter version of the written form. “I think it has a lot of merit,” he said. “We could certainly work out something.”

According to Giordano, the board can grant recommendations for or against liquor licenses. The board also notifies the 104th Precinct and Lt. George Hellmer, the precinct’s special operations coordinator, of establishments with a prior history of problems. The precinct, in turn, will notify the board of any prior arrests, summonses or felonies committed at establishments seeking licensing.

“I never want to be in a position to be okaying liquor licenses,” Giordano said. “In some cases, we have taken votes at community board meetings related to certain establishments that have been a problem. But we comment to the negative and I would prefer it that way.”

Under the current policy, prospective bar owners seeking liquor licenses must notify CB 5 30 days prior to applying for licensing from the State Liquor Authority.

Holden proposed that the extra form, if approved of by the Executive Board, be made available to bar owners as a PDF document on the board’s website. The agreement would be signed and submitted to the community board prior to seeking State Liquor Authority licensing.

P.O. Charles Sadler of the 104th Precinct Community Affairs Unit explained that he has adopted a “proactive instead of reactive” approach to new nightlife in the area. He said that he had personally visited five of Ridgewood’s newest bars, including The Monk and Onderdonk and Sons, in an effort to reach out to local bar owners.

Owners of each of the five establishments met with Sadler and other officers at a recent nightlife meeting hosted by the precinct. According to Sadler, all of the new bar owners and managers were made aware of the precinct’s regulations and guidelines, and all pledged respect and compliance.

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Queens sitcom ‘Weird Loners’ canceled after six episodes


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Michael Becker / FOX/Copyright 2014 FOX Broadcasting

Updated Monday, May 18, 12:34 p.m.

“Weird Loners,” a new Fox comedy set in Queens, has been reportedly canceled after just six episodes following low ratings.

The sitcom, starring Becki Newton, Zachary Knighton, Meera Rohit Kumbhani and Nate Torrence, debuted to 1.8 million viewers and an 0.8 in the 18 to 49 age demographic, “making it the season’s lowest rated show on a major broadcast network,” according to Entertainment Weekly.

The show focused on four relationship-challenged 30-somethings who unexpectedly end up in each other’s lives and start bonding while living next door to each other in Queens.

Created by Michael J. Weithorn, who also co-created “The King of Queens,” “Weird Loners” was one of only a handful of shows in TV history to be set in the borough.

After setting “The King of Queens,” which ran on CBS from 1998 to 2007, in Rego Park, Weithorn decided to use Ridgewood as inspiration for the backdrop of “Weird Loners.”

Weithorn, in an email to The Courier, said he was disappointed by the cancellation, but believed its success would have been helped by a “promotional effort on the network’s part.”

“It’s very hard to launch a new show if it has no stars, no high concept to sell,” he said. “Character and dialogue-driven comedies like this one take a while to find and build an audience, and that only happens when the network is willing to commit to the show for at least a full season and spend money on its promotion. Six episodes, late in the season, with very light promotion — we never had a chance.”

Weithorn added that he was “thrilled” the show did make it to six episodes, and in this day, people will be able to find the show on streaming services.

As far as setting any future shows in Queens, Weithorn doesn’t have any current plans, but didn’t rule out the possibility in the future.

“There’s probably a good chance that I will if the show lends itself to that kind of setting, but I have no specific ideas at the moment.”

In creating “Weird Loners,” Weithorn had the set designer research the old buildings of Ridgewood for the Los Angeles-shot show, and a Polish delicatessen he visited in the area as a child helped him come up with the background of the two main male characters, who are children of Polish immigrants.

According to Weithorn, though the setting is based on Ridgewood, the show’s initial episodes did not mention the neighborhood directly. There were future plans, however, to more directly feature the neighborhood had the show continued.

To mark the show’s March 31 premiere and second episode the following week, a group of Ridgewood locals got together at a neighborhood bar, Queens Tavern.

Steven Lewis, co-owner of the bar, and Sarah Feldman from Ridgewood Social, who both had the idea to hold a screening party, were joined by about two dozen other people to cheer and jeer at the new sitcom.

Reactions were mixed during the debut episode, as some booed at the large living room of Becki Newton’s character Caryn, called the comedy “corny,” and questioned its portrayal of Ridgewood.

Others had positive reactions and one viewer even said it “had potential” and a “‘New Girl’ vibe.”

“New Girl,” unlike “Weird Loners,” will be on the Fox schedule this fall. Another canceled comedy on the network, “The Mindy Project,” which had previously been in the “Weird Loners” 9:30 p.m. Tuesday time slot behind “New Girl,” is set to be revived on Hulu. “Weird Loners,” however, appears to be a short-lived series.

 

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Map: Where recent college grads can afford rent in Queens


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Minas Styponias

For recent college graduates, living in New York City while juggling student loans and living expenses can seem almost impossible.

Add in the need for fun and entertainment, and most won’t have a dime remaining from their paychecks.

However, a new study released Wednesday by real estate website StreetEasy shows, through an interactive map, in what neighborhoods recent graduates will be able to find affordable apartments as they begin a life of independence in the Big Apple. Some areas in the “World’s Borough” have been pointed out as leading contenders.

“One of our top tips for recent grads moving to NYC is to look outside of Manhattan, and our study shows that several neighborhoods in Queens are especially ‘grad-friendly,’” a StreetEasy representative said.

Astoria and Ridgewood top the list of those Queens neighborhoods, but affordable apartments can be found in many neighborhoods throughout the borough including Kew Gardens, Corona, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Rego Park and Flushing.

The map (below) reveals the availability of affordable apartments in city based on three variables. It uses the average entry-level salaries for the top 10 majors of recent grads moving to the NYC, including business, social sciences, education and engineering, the percent of income one is willing to pay toward rent and the possibility of roommates.

The study found what many have known for decades —  paying NYC rents is actually possible when roommates are included. However, the report also notes, it is possible to fly solo in the city and spend only 30 percent of income, but graduates will have to do serious apartment hunting.

It would also help, if only slightly, not to be an education major.

Zero percent of studio and one-bedroom listings are affordable to solo education majors, according to the study, whereas only 2.7 percent and 5.1 percent were available for social science and business majors respectively.

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