Tag Archives: rockaway

Ferry runs aground in Jamaica Bay


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

Updated 5:20 p.m.

A Seastreak ferry ran aground near the eastern end of Jamaica Bay Wednesday afternoon.

The 65-foot long boat was on a private excursion with 29 people aboard, including 25 local Rockaway residents and business owners, and a few crew members, when it became stranded around 12:30 p.m., according to officials and the ferry company.

There were no injuries and the passengers were unloaded from the vessel and taken to a wharf just west of the Cross Bay Bridge, near where the incident happened, the FDNY said.

The ferry was moving at about 2 knots (1 mile) per hour when it ran aground in the eastern area of the bay after the captain noticed shallow water and slowed down the boat, Seastreak said.

The vessel did not appear to suffer any damage, and remains stuck in the water until it can float freely during the next incoming tide.

“I am told the boat encountered an uncharted shoal.  We are sorry this happened and that our guests were inconvenienced.  Thankfully, no one was injured,” Seastreak Spokesman Tom Wynne said.

Seastreak said the accident’s cause is still being investigated.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

93-year-old Rockaway strongman moves on to next round of ‘America’s Got Talent’


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos by Craig Blankenhorn/NBC

Rockaway strongman Mike “Mighty Atom Jr.” Greenstein pulled off enough yeses from the “America’s Got Talent” judges to earn another appearance on the reality competition show.

The 93-year-old was featured in the NBC program’s season nine premiere Tuesday night, where he pulled a Plymouth station wagon with his teeth.

He impressed judges Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel with his strength, but judge Howard Stern said no.

But three out of four was all Greenstein needed to go to Judgment Week, where he will audition again, and the judges will determine which 48 acts will compete in the live shows for America’s vote. Judgment Week will air in July.

Greenstein, wearing a “Mighty Atom & Sons 1940” t-shirt, in honor of his father, the first “Mighty Atom,” who became renowned for his strongman act, both shocked and amazed the audience when he revealed his talent.

“You might say I have been carrying on his legacy,” Greenstein said during an interview for the show.

Though he never made a career out of his strongman act like his father, Greenstein performed as a hobby, after doing shows during WWII all over the country.

“My dad would be very proud to see me doing things like this,” Greenstein said. “I hope the judges think of me as something extraordinary, especially at my age.”

In his younger days, he would bend iron bars, break chains and pull vehicles with his hair and teeth.

“The hair is no more, so I am still pulling with my teeth,” he said.

Greenstein said, even at 93, his teeth are all his own.

He used those choppers to pull the 3,500-pound station wagon, with his 84-year-old brother, his brother’s wife and his “lady friend,” inside of it.

With cheers of encouragement from the New York City audience, he towed the car a full-vehicle length and impressed the judges.

“That’s amazing at any age,” Mandel said.

But Stern turned him down because he felt Greenstein “needed more showmanship.”

The comment elicited boos from the audience and even host Nick Cannon.

Greenstein said in his next appearance he wants an open-back truck with about 20 to 30 people in the back of it.

If he goes further in the competition, the strongman told The Courier he would like to bend iron bars across the bridge of his nose, something he hasn’t done in almost 40 years.

“I feel with my mental capacity I can do it.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

93-year-old Rockaway strongman to appear on ‘America’s Got Talent’


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos by Craig Blankenhorn/NBC

Don’t let his age fool you.

At 93 years old, 5 feet 4 inches tall and 140 pounds, Rockaway resident Mike “Mighty Atom Jr.” Greenstein can pull a car with his teeth.

He will show off his feats of strength on the Season 9 premiere of “America’s Got Talent” next week.

The grandfather of three and great-grandfather of two is a second-generation strongman.

His father, Joseph, the first “Mighty Atom,” was a Polish immigrant who came to Texas and started working in the oil fields in the early 20th century, where Greenstein was born.

But, Joseph, with a belief that strength was also built from mental ability, a philosophy he passed onto his son, later started performing as a strongman, and became renowned for his act.

Greenstein, along with his four brothers, trained with his father, but he didn’t perform himself until he joined the service during WWII.

After his father performed for the men at a camp in North Carolina where Greenstein was teaching aviation, he was asked if he could do a strongman act.

Remembering his father’s training and borrowing his equipment, Greenstein agreed and continued the shows at other camps and in area towns to raise money for war bonds.

“I enjoyed entertaining and enjoyed the applause,” he said.

Greenstein never made a career out of the act like his father, and went on to be a mechanic for Trans World Airlines and a wedding photographer, but continued to do strongman shows on the side.

Part of his act would include putting chains around his chest and breaking them, lifting weights by hand and his teeth, and bending them across the bridge of his nose. One of the feats he still performs today is pulling cars and trucks with his teeth, which he says are “still his own.”

In recent years, the senior citizen’s strongman abilities have garnered attention through the media. After finding out about his skills, “America’s Got Talent” came calling, and Greenstein went out for an audition.

During the season premiere, at 8 p.m. Tuesday on NBC, he will show off his car-pulling skills in front of judges Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel.

Hosted by Nick Cannon, the reality competition showcases a range of performers, from singers to dancers, to jugglers and magicians. The winner receives a $1 million prize.

“As I grow older I enjoy it more that I can still do certain things,” Greenstein said.

“There is nothing you can’t do if you put your mind to it.”

To see how Greenstein did on the “America’s Got Talent” season premiere, click here

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

FEMA to pay for Sandy-damaged boilers in Rockaway NYCHA buildings


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Rob Bennett for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio

New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents in the Rockaways and other parts of the city will receive a much needed fix to their buildings following Superstorm Sandy.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Senator Charles Schumer announced Sunday that 60 boilers in 110 separate NYCHA residential buildings in the Rockaways, Coney Island and the Lower East Side that were damaged in the storm will be replaced.

FEMA will provide approximately $100 million in funding for the “new state-of-the-art-boilers.” Since Sandy, NYCHA has been spending $3 million per month for temporary boilers in the buildings.

Officials said that instead of repairing the boilers, as is normal, FEMA had agreed to replace them, speeding up the process of restoring regular service to the affected buildings.

“For more than 16 months, bureaucratic infighting and red tape have denied NYCHA residents the most basic of necessities—reliable heat and hot water,” Schumer said. “Today we’re firmly on the path to righting a wrong that has too often left NYCHA residents in the cold during the winter and in the dark at night.”

The final funding agreement is expected to be in place in time so boiler replacement can start later this year, according to Schumer.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Pols push for St. John’s Hospital to be reimbursed for Sandy expenses


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the office of Assemblymember Goldfeder

Local pols want to keep the lone Rockaway hospital from flat lining.

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder and State Sentator James Sanders sponsored a bill to bring $4.3 million to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital to reimburse them for expenses spent during and after Sandy.

“St. John’s is the only healthcare facility available to serve nearly 100,000 families on the Rockaway Peninsula,” Goldfeder said. “We must ensure that St. John’s has the tools necessary to protect its current services and expand in order to serve our community and keep our families healthy for many years to come.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo allocated $1.2 billion in his executive budget for healthcare facilities. Goldfeder requested a portion of that be reserved for St. John’s.

During the superstorm, the hospital worked on “caring for the many sick, elderly and homeless community members who entered our doors seeking shelter and medical assistance, and not the cost or how it would be recouped,” said Richard Brown, St. John’s CEO.

“These much-needed funds would help our recovery and aid us in upholding our mission of service to the people of the Rockaways,” he said.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Rockaway roller rink to get $600K makeover this fall


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy the office of Councilmember Eric Ulrich

The Rockaway Rockies are getting a new rink.

The roller hockey rink, on Beach 109th Street and Shore Front Parkway, will be reconstructed this fall thanks to $600,000 in capital funding secured by Councilmember Eric Ulrich.

“This will be a state-of-the-art recreational space and is just the latest investment in our commitment to rebuilding a strong, more resilient Rockaway,” Ulrich said.

The space will get a new asphalt rink surface, new dasher boards and fencing. It will also feature a new scorer box, lighting and electrical conduits for the first time. New benches, pathways and drinking fountains will be installed around the rink.

The Rockaway Rockies Hockey League had a part in the design process and will be a close consultant for the project moving forward.

“The Rockies are extremely excited that the renovation of the hockey rink is finally happening,” said Bobby Keane, Rockies League board member. “This was a long process and after numerous meetings with the Parks Department and councilman’s office, we are happy to see that our ideas will be incorporated into the final design.”

Keane added this project will allow the league to expand its program and host evening tournaments.

“I am looking forward to dropping the first puck,” Ulrich said.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Little North Pole Christmas celebration


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo by Vito Catalano

The North Pole came to Neponsit Beach for a night and the community celebrated Christmas in style.

Lights showered Joe Mure’s Neponsit Avenue home where he hosted his annual “Little North Pole” event to benefit juvenile diabetes on Saturday. A Christmas display surrounded the house and close to 5,000 people came to see the show, Mure said, including local elected officials, community leaders and thousands of borough residents.

The spectacle raised roughly $200,000 which will go directly to juvenile diabetes research.

Local joints such as VetroLenny’s Clam Bar and Lucy’s sausage and peppers donated heaps of food and local performers sang and danced through the night.

“We put smiles on every single face that was out there,” Mure said. “We put on a show that was both appropriate and great for both kids and adults.”

Then, Santa Claus came to town, riding a sled perched on a flatbed. Several emergency vehicles followed him with their sirens on and lights swirling.

“If you sat out there, you watched Santa Claus show up with the sirens and lights from the sky, you would have a memory of Christmas that will last you a lifetime,” Mure said.

The Little North Pole, a tradition held for nearly two decades, was put on hold last year after Sandy. But now, Mure said they are back, “stronger and brighter than ever.”

“We live in the heart of Rockaway. A year ago, we had nothing,” he said. “I think the kickoff of the Little North Pole was some sort of proof that we’re alive, we’re back.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES:

Retired FDNY lieutenant featured in documentary series highlighting ‘unsung heroes’


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Coyne PR

John Nolan, retired FDNY lieutenant, worked to rebuild homes in Sandy-devastated communities after the superstorm and became one of the area’s many “unsung heroes.”

Now, Shell Rotella, an engine oil organization, has highlighted Nolan and several others in a short-form documentary series, “Unsung Heroes,” that tells the stories of these overlooked saviors and how their work and lifestyles are intertwined.

Nolan’s nearly five-minute clip opens up with the firefighter-turned-contractor pulling up to Breezy Point’s fire zone, which was reduced from over 100 homes to just rubble.

He said the night of the storm, the 500 active firemen in the neighborhood tried to save whatever they could after floodwaters rose high and a blaze broke out, catching quickly.

“Early evening when the fire started, it went to high winds, homes were catching fire one right after the other,” he said.

A shift in the wind allowed the Fire Department to get water on the houses that hadn’t yet started burning, but even still, the day after “it was just massive destruction everywhere,” Nolan said. “The entire community needed help.”

He and others from the fire “brotherhood” worked through the summer to get the beach front community back on its feet.

“We came together as the Fire Department always does and did whatever we had to do to get the people back into their homes,” he said. “It seems like every day is a sense of urgency; there aren’t enough hours in the day.”

He continued, “In Queens, you don’t judge a guy by how tough he is, by how many guys he can knock down. You judge a guy by how many times he can get back up,” he said. “That’s the Rockaway, Breezy community. They’re a resilient group of people.”

Nolan’s story and the other “unsung heroes” can be seen on www.youtube.com/rotellaunsung.

“Working on a project like “Unsung” really opened my eyes to the men and women working tirelessly to keep this country moving,” said Geoffrey Campbell, producer of the documentaries. “I have a newfound gratitude for the many people who put in long hours and work hard in a truck each day.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

Pol asks AG to investigate Sandy contractor fraud


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Sandy brought a wave of fraudulent fixes to south Queens, and one elected official wants them wiped out.

Following the superstorm, many affected residents fell victim to fraudulent contractors who “promised to rebuild their homes, but have either left before completing the job or disappeared with [their] deposit without performing the necessary repairs,” said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder.

Goldfeder wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, requesting he “immediately investigate” and hold all out-of-state and local fraudulent contractors accountable.

“Residents who have spent their hard-earned money and savings to rebuild deserve to have the work done as promoted by their contractor,” Goldfeder said in his letter.

He said this is a “community-wide concern” in Howard Beach, Hamilton Beach, Broad Channel and Rockaway and many are “still struggling to finish repairs left from the storm damage.”

This October, Schneiderman prosecuted a Long Island based organization which “used deceptive practices in an attempt to obtain business from victims” of Sandy.

G.C. Environmental, Inc. of Bay Shore was fined $40,000 after mailing more than 2,000 letters resembling State Department of Environmental Conservation notices of violation to property owners who had suffered petroleum spills as a result of the storm, warning victims of an impending fine if they did not seek repairs.

Additionally, in July, Schneiderman filed lawsuits against four service stations in Kings, Nassau and Suffolk County Supreme Courts for gas price gouging following the storm. The attorney general’s office reached settlements with 25 stations, and additional investigations are pending.
Schneiderman’s office did not return a request for comment regarding Goldfeder’s letter.

“It is of paramount importance that we continue to help homeowners and revive our communities,” Goldfeder said.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

 

Majority of Queens schools score well on progress reports


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

The majority of Queens schools scored high on the Department of Education’s (DOE) recently released progress reports.

Out of the 62 Queens high schools that were issued 2012-2013 progress reports, 31 earned As, 16 Bs, 6 Cs, 5 Ds and 4 Fs.

The highest scoring institution was Long Island City’s Academy for Careers in Television and Film, which just moved into a new building at the beginning of this school year. It received an overall score of 100.9.

Flushing High School, Pan American International High School in Elmhurst, Frederick Douglass Academy VI High School in Far Rockaway and August Martin High School in Jamaica earned overall failing grades.

Progress reports were issued for 239 Queens elementary and middle schools. Fifty-eight of them earned As, 97 Bs, 74 Cs, nine Ds and only one, Springfield Gardens’ Community Voices Middle School, failed.

Waterside School for Leadership in Rockaway was the highest ranking Queens middle school, with an overall score of 90.3, and P.S. 203 Oakland Gardens was the top-rated elementary school in the borough, with an overall score of 86.5.

Across the city, the DOE found public school performance “remained consistent, with 87 percent of schools maintaining their grade or moving one grade compared to last year.”

The reports are based on students’ progress, performance, attendance and surveys of parents, students and teachers. High school progress reports also measure college and career readiness.

According to the DOE, more students are graduating from high school ready for college and careers.

The reports found that the four-year college readiness rate is up nearly 3 points since last year.

“The most important job of our schools is ensuring students are on track to succeed in college and their careers,” said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott. “These results are further evidence that the hard work of our teachers and principals is paying off.”

This year’s school progress reports were the last ones issued during Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s tenure.

They could see some changes when they are issued under the Bill de Blasio administration.

“While Mayor-elect de Blasio supports making overall school progress reports available to parents, he would eliminate letter grades of schools which offer little real insight to parents and are not a reliable indicator of how schools are actually performing,” his spokesperson Lis Smith said.

To find a specific school’s progress report, visit http://schools.nyc.gov/ProgressReport.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Police shoot, critically wound armed man in Far Rockaway


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Police officers shot and critically injured a man in Far Rockaway early this morning, after officials said he aimed a weapon at cops.

The incident started when four officers responded to a 9-1-1 call for assault on the 3rd floor of the Beach 41st Street Houses at 40-20 Beach Channel Drive around 12:40 a.m.

The cops heard screams coming from the stairwell upon entering the building and saw a 25-year-old man with a gun, authorities said.

The officers told the man to drop the weapon, but he fled up the stairs, and then pointed the gun at the cops, according to the police.

One cop fired and struck the man in his torso, officials said, and the man was transported to Jamaica Hospital, where he is still listed in critical condition. Officials recovered a 9mm Hi-Point model “C”gun at the scene. Charges are pending.

Two officers were also taken to local hospitals for minor injuries stemming from the confrontation.

The investigation is ongoing.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

Close race called for incumbent Councilmember Ulrich, Simon not conceding


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Votes were counted down to the bitter end before a winner was declared in City Council District 32, and Republican Councilmember Eric Ulrich has reclaimed his seat.

“This race was a real nail biter,” Ulrich said in front of family and friends on election night.

As the results trickled in, Ulrich and his Democratic opponent, Lew Simon, were nearly 50/50 on votes, according to preliminary numbers.

However, both candidates took to the mic and declared victory to their respective crowds.

“It appears that we have won,” Simon said in Rockaway.

Meanwhile, in Howard Beach, Ulrich assured his constituents that he had “the most up-to-date information” and that he had a “very strong lead.”

“Many of you have been with me since the beginning, and this is not going to end,” said the incumbent.

When Ulrich caught wind that Simon too had called the race in his own favor, he responded, “Rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated.”

However, Simon’s camp came back and accused Ulrich of adapting the ways of the Tea Party where “losing is winning and less is more.”

Simon and his team are still “status quo,” said Doug Forand, spokesperson for Simon. The group plans to wait until all paper ballots are counted and will respond to those results.

“We defied expectations. Few people thought it would be such a tight race. And the race isn’t over yet. We want to make sure every single vote is properly counted,” Simon said. “I’m overwhelmed by the outpouring of support across this district, including from many Republican voters who clearly want a change in leadership.”

According to unofficial results, Ulrich came out on top with 53 percent of the vote and was declared the winner by both the New York Times and the Associated Press.

“I was re-elected by my constituents, and I have a lot of work to do,” said Ulrich, now the only Republican in the Council’s Queens delegation.

He said he will work with the newly elected administration in a bipartisan way, and looks forward to finding out what role he can play in the City Council after a new Speaker is elected.

Regarding any potential role as a Minority Leader in the City Council, Ulrich said it’s “too premature to be talking about leadership roles,” and his time in office still comes second to current Minority Leader James Oddo of Staten Island.

Regardless, during his next term, Ulrich also hopes to revamp the Republican “brand” and work to restore the public’s faith in his party line.

As Ulrich wound down his victory speech, he raised his hands one last time.

“Go to bed tonight and know we kicked Lew Simon’s ass. Let’s have a drink.”

Doctors of the World opens free health clinic in the Rockaways


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Doctors of the World

Doctors of the World has officially opened its doors, and the Rockaways have a new, free health clinic during a time some have called a “health crisis in the borough.”

This is the first and only location in the country for Doctors of the World, which offers services in 79 other countries. Set at 2-30 Beach 102nd Street, it provides free primary medical services.

“We’ve had an overwhelming response so far,” said Dr. Amber Featherstone, medical director at the new clinic.

Featherstone previously worked overseas in Africa with Doctors Without Borders, and is excited to continue work with an international organization. She said she sees some parallels with patients stateside and those abroad.

“Patients don’t have access to good care,” she said. “They wait until they’re really sick to get care, or they care for themselves as best they can, but they are not able to fully fund the medication they need. The problems become more complicated because of that.”

Featherstone hopes that she and her team can get patients “some kind of medical insurance coverage, or help them get more stabilized in care,” she said, and be available to the people who aren’t getting the “continuous care they need.”

Currently, the Rockaway office, aside from Featherstone, has a clinic manager and a nurse manager. They are looking for volunteers, including medical providers, nurse practitioners, nursing staff, medical assistants and anybody who can perform administrative services.

“Especially people who are local and want to give something back,” Featherstone said.

As of now, operating hours are Thursdays from noon to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., but Featherstone expects those days and hours to increase if they maintain the current customer volume. They are already booked solid for the next two weeks.

The majority of their clientele, Featherstone said, are patients needing a full, physical exam. “People who have been out of care, trying to hold it together for medical coverage,” she said.

A handful of patients prior to visiting Doctors of the World were paying out of pocket for things such as diabetes medicine. Now, Doctors is trying to establish partnerships with medical providers so as to ease the cost for patients.

The group has already formed a partnership with St. John’s Episcopal Hospital for lower radiology rates, as well as Rite Aid for Medicaid rates.

However, for the first month of care, Doctors of the World is able to cover medication cost, but they “don’t have the funding to continue to cover long-term,” Featherstone said. They are hoping to get more funding for “that particular cost in the near future.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

 

Rockaway car crash kills two teens


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

A car crash on the Rockaway Freeway has taken the life of two teens, police said.

Around 3 a.m. on Saturday morning, a 19-year-old male was driving on the freeway near Beach 41st Street when his Toyota Corolla struck a cement support pillar.

A 15-year-old male traveling in the front passenger seat was pronounced dead at the scene, according to police. Another 14-year-old passenger was transported to Jamaica Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Charges against the driver are pending investigation. Identification of the victims is awaiting family notification.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Rockaway residents fear losing community’s last hospital


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder.

The Peninsula’s lone hospital is in critical condition.

Rockaway residents fear financial problems at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital will close the last safety net hospital in their community.

“Queens is a healthy borough, but we can’t continue to grow if we continue to lose hospitals,” said Peter Vallone, Jr., city councilmember and borough president candidate.

If St. John’s Episcopal were to close its doors, the nearest hospital, Jamaica Hospital, is more than a 20-minute drive away.

Changes, however, have already been made at St. John’s, which declined to disclose its financial situation to The Courier.

The detox unit has closed and several clinics and nursing homes are being outsourced, according to hospital officials.

Richard Brown, the hospital’s Interim Chief Operating Officer, said the unit’s closure will allow space for “much-needed” medical and surgical beds in the 257-bed building.

Additionally, St. John’s Family Practice, Internal Medicine and Pediatrics clinics have begun collaborative initiatives with the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Centers.

However, St. John’s is “considering all necessary action, including possible layoffs” to maintain the hospital’s stability.

“We cannot let community healthcare disappear from the Rockaways,” said Bill de Blasio, public advocate, mayoral candidate and a staunch supporter of outer borough hospitals. “We have to stop these free-fall closures that hollow out neighborhood healthcare.”

The hospital board is also exploring merger options with other health systems. The community hopes for a merger with major hospital chain North Shore LIJ, but Brown said no overtures between the two have been made.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES