Tag Archives: The Queens Courier

Two Queens contestants make it to American Idol’s top 24


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of Fox

Hundreds of thousands of “American Idol” hopefuls were narrowed down to 24 over the past month, with two Queens crooners making the cut.

Heejun Han, of Flushing, and Astoria’s Creighton Fraker both withstood the auditions, Hollywood and a trip to Las Vegas to make it to the shows semifinals round, and now have the opportunity to sing live in front of America, hopefully earning the viewers’ votes.

Fraker grew up as a preacher’s kid in South Dakota, finding his voice in church choirs and local boys’ singing groups. He took private lessons throughout the years and eventually joined a touring choir, serenading audiences across the nation.

The 28 year old moved to Astoria eight years ago.

For his turn in front of the judges, Fraker belted out Smokey Robinson’s “Who’s Lovin’ You,” as well as an untitled original piece.

“[The judges] had only good things to say. They were shocked at how unique I was,” Fraker told The Courier.

READ CREIGHTON FRAKER’S INTERVIEW WITH THE QUEENS COURIER

Han, 22, originally from Korea, shocked the judging triumvirate with his audition performance of “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You” by Michael Bolton.

“You have a beautiful tone,” Jennifer Lopez told Han, who said he loves singing Soul and R&B.

Han’s Facebook fan page already has nearly 8,000 likes.

In their final performances before the judges, both Fraker and Han paid homage to their hometown singing Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind.”

The semifinalists will be sliced in half during next week’s round. The men will perform Tuesday night with the women singing for the “Idol” lives on Wednesday. Viewer votes will determine the 12 finalists who will compete to become the 11th American Idol on Thursday.  Each show airs on Fox 5 at 8 p.m.

Additional reporting by Alexa Altman

 

Queens Courier honors Rising Stars


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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ATTEND THE 2013 RISING STARS AWARDS & NETWORKING EVENT

Devon O’Connor had never been to an awards ceremony — much less been honored at one.

So when the 20 year old was named one of The Queens Courier’s “Rising Stars,” he made sure to bask in the moment before it was gone.

“When I was called up to the stage and given the award, it was such a great feeling. It was amazing. Now I can imagine what it feels like to be honored at the Oscars,” O’Connor said. “It was really cool to be honored for doing something in the community. It makes it feel like everything I’m doing is definitely worth it.”

O’Connor — who was recognized for his work as president and founder of Welcome to Whitestone Commercial & Residential Civic Association — shared the limelight with other young professionals, all who were honored for exemplifying outstanding leadership skills in their chosen fields and communities.

Presented by Metropolitan Hospitality, the fourth annual “40 under 40” awards and networking event drew close to 400 people and raised $1,500 in charity raffle funds collected to benefit Futures in Education and Queens Centers for Progress (QCP).

The January 26 event, which took place at the Caesars Club in Citi Field, saw guest appearances by Borough President Helen Marshall, while event attendees networked with top professionals and mingled with representatives from leading businesses in the area, including this year’s event sponsors Con Edison, Flushing Bank, New York Daily News, Parker Jewish Institute for HealthCare & Rehabilitation, PSCH Inc., TD Bank, CUNY, Queens County Savings Bank, Joseph Addabbo Family Health Center, Print Early, Council for Airport Opportunity and NY1.

The “Star of Stars” Mike Woods — meteorologist for Fox 5’s “Good Day New York” — helped honor fellow award recipients, including “Mentor of the Year” Ed Charles, member of the 1969 World Champion New York Mets, and “Rookie of the Year” Justin Lieu, a senior in Francis Lewis High School who recently initiated a project to clean up the Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground.

“It was a great feeling to be honored at the event,” said Lieu. “I’m surprised that my project attracted this much positive attention from The Queens Courier and the Queens community.”

Also honored this year for their community work were Akua Anokye, fund development associate at Jamaica YMCA; Dino Antzoulis, manager and vice president of TD Bank; Sara Banda, public affairs manager at Con Edison; Assemblymember Edward Braunstein of District 26; Marisa Breglio, tournament and fundraising manager at American Golf Corporation; Chaday Brown, consultant at Community Wellness & Benefits Consulting; Adrian Cardona, franchisee and broker at Rapid Realty; John Choe, founding director of One Flushing Community Economic Development; Judy Dular, vice president of Flushing Bank; Mohamad Faroqui, president and CEO of Malak Designs; John J. Glynn, crime prevention officer of the NYPD; Michel Hodge, assistant vice president for enrollment at York College; Jacqueline Herrera, acting director of clinics at PSCH Inc.; Jukay Hsu, founder of Coalition for Queens; Laura E. Imperiale, director of government affairs at Tully Construction Co., Inc.; Irfan Iqbal, president and CEO of Astoria Medical, Dental & Lasik Center; Jorge LaCourt, vice president and branch manager of Sterling National Bank; Greg Lavine, chief of staff for Councilmember Karen Koslowitz; Teresa Lisson, partner at Renaissance Event Hall; Ian Magerkurth, associate at The Driscoll Group; Assemblymember Grace Meng of District 22; Jonathan Morris, president of Quantech Corporation; Assemblymember Francisco P. Moya of District 39; Reena Panchal, consulting manager at Grassi & Co.; Tommy Petridis, owner of Maria’s Greek Fusion Restaurant; Vincent Renda, chair of Sunnyside/Woodside Boys & Girls Club; Rafael Reyes, senior mortgage banker at Advisors Mortgage Group; Nick Roberts, project manager of Flushing-Willets Point Corona LDC; Jennifer N. Santaniello, partner at Abrams, Fensterman, Fensterman, Eisman, Greenberg, Formato & Einiger, LLP; Michael Serao, vice president of Quontic Bank; Dmitriy Shpuntov, private mortgage banker at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage; Matthew Silverstein, democratic state committee person and project analyst of District 26 and America Works of NY Inc.; Michelle Kawka, photographer; Kafui Kouakou, chair of the University Student Senate Trustee CUNY Board of Trustees; Erin Liberti, director of operations at LakeVille Ambulette, Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation; Ross Wallenstein, political consultant and blogger; Tanya Whittmore, Medicare site developer at Healthfirst; Angelica Huynh, chief human resources officer at Queens Library; Jinpin Ying, CIO of the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center; and Robert Fliegel, CFO of the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center.

“I was there until the end. I came early, and I stayed late,” said event attendee Jon Landers of Creative Group, LLC — a graphic design and marketing organization. “It was a good crowd of people and a good venue.”

Delta gave two round trip tickets and Creative Group provided the raffled-off Cancun trip, which went to lucky recipient Sal Bacarella.

Meanwhile, raffle winner Dan James of Tully Construction took home the TD Bank gift certificate, while Erin Liberti won “Broadway Rox at Queens Theatre” tickets and Henry Negron received JetBlue airline tickets.

Courier brings early Christmas to SQBGC


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Melissa Chan and Billy Rennison

Their eyes glistened like Christmas lights as they saw the dozens upon dozens of wrapped gifts that were laid out before them.

And soon, their booming chants of “Santa! Santa! Santa!” would summon St. Nick.

Or at least “Santa Steve,” but still a jolly man in red who came bumbling in with the promise of presents.

On Thursday, December 15, Courier reporters — playing Santa and his Christmas elves — distributed hundreds of toys to the underprivileged youngsters of the South Queens Boys & Girls Club (SQBGC).

“I think that’s the earliest Santa has ever come [to the Boys & Girls club]. It was a really nice surprise for them,” said Denis Dwyer, the club’s program director. “They had no clue. It really made their day.”

Thanks to generous donations from the All American Car Club in Ozone Park, constituents of Assemblymember Ed Braunstein and Courier staff, advertisers and readers, The Courier was able to donate hundreds of toys to the Boys & Girls Club — with sacks of presents left over for the remaining club members at their holiday party.

The first 30 kids — out of a group of more than 50 — to receive gifts were chosen and rewarded based on the high points they accumulated doing their homework at the club, Dwyer said.

“We picked kids who have been hitting the books hard,” he said, adding that most of them were in kindergarten through second grade.

And the excitement of the young group helped to douse any doubts other kids might have had about the real St. Nick.

“They really believed Santa was there,” Dwyer said.

After all the gifts were distributed, each eager child gripped his own as they counted down from three with Santa Steve.

And then off flew the wrapping paper — unveiling Barbie dolls, race cars, board games and more.

“There was a nice buzz about that the whole day, and we had a lot of kids running to their parents at the end of the day to tell them and show them their new toys,” Dwyer said.

Founded in 1957, SQBGC strives to help young people improve their lives by building self-esteem and developing values and skills during critical periods of growth. The group’s mission is to inspire and enable all young people, especially those from at-risk and disadvantaged circumstances.

Best of the Boro voting extended


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Voting on the Best of the Boro’s second category has been extended. Residents now have until January 6 to vote for the best in Queens health and beauty. The Queens Courier’s Best of the Boro competition’s second category received over 400 nominations, and now it is time to vote.

Everyone has a doctor or hair dresser who is “the best.” Now, you have the chance to decide who truly is the best of the best. You vote, they win.

There are 47 categories of health and beauty for residents to vote in: ranging from best gym and massage to best pediatrician and Pilates studio. Each category will have a winner crowned Best of the Boro.  Click here to vote.

Best of the Boro’s first category, bars and restaurants, received nearly 60,000 votes, so be sure to vote for your favorites. All you need to vote is a valid email and live in the continental United States. One vote per email address per day is allowed. The results are tabulated by a third party company.

To stay up-to-the-minute on the competition like the Best of the Boro page on Facebook and follow @BestOfTheBoro on Twitter.

J. Cole earns Best New Artist Grammy nod


| brennison@queenscourier.com

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In a year that J. Cole released a debut album that reached the top of the Billboard charts, the St. John’s University graduate has been recognized for his meteoric rise with a Grammy nomination.

Cole, 26, was nominated for Best New Artist where he will go up against The Band Perry, Bon Iver, fellow Queens rapper Nicki Minaj and Skrillex.  Acts such as The Beatles, Mariah Carey and Alicia Keys have taken home music’s version of Rookie of the Year.

The nominations were announced Wednesday in Los Angeles at a concert hosted by Queens’ own LL Cool J.

The rapper was born in Frankfurt, Germany, where his parents were stationed in the military, but grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina. At 12, Cole began writing his own lyrics. After graduating from high school in 2003, Cole headed to the Big Apple determined to achieve his goals of breaking into the music business and earning his college degree.

In May 2007, Cole graduated magna cum laude from St. John’s and then got a part-time job selling classified ads for The Queens Courier.

The Roc Nation rapper’s debut album, “Cole World: The Sideline Story,” sold over 200,000 units in its first week.

Minaj also received nominations for Best Rap Album for “Pink Friday” and Best Rap Performance for “Moment 4 Life.”

The award show will be held Sunday, February 12.

Fiancee of Sean Bell urges NYPD Chief Ray Kelly to fire officers in beau’s shooting death


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Fiancee of Sean Bell urges NYPD Chief Ray Kelly to fire officers in beau’s shooting death

Sean Bell’s fiancée Thursday urged the city’s top cop to sack all five officers who fired in the shooting frenzy that killed her beau on their wedding day in 2006. Nicole Paultre-Bell made the demand of Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly after an NYPD trials commissioner recommended Tuesday that one of the cops, Detective Gescard Isnora, be booted from the force for violating department protocol while undercover and firing the first shot in the 50-shot barrage. Read More: Daily News

Mayor Michael Bloomberg breaks ground on Willets Point redevelopment 

Mayor Bloomberg broke ground Thursday on a controversial redevelopment that he vowed will transform gritty Willets Point into “a major engine for economic growth.” Bloomberg unearthed dirt with a slew of elected officials just steps from the mix of auto body shops and junkyards that abuts Citi Field. Read More: Daily News

Enter The Courier’s Giveaway of the Day Contest

The holidays are in full swing and in keeping with the spirit of the season of giving The Queens Courier is handing out free prizes daily. Today, four tickets to the North Shore Towers Cinema will be raffled off.  All you need to enter is an email address and your zip code. Click here to enter the contest. Check back daily as new prizes will be offered each day.  Yesterday, Robert Vasquez took home two tickets to the St. John’s Red Storm. Via Queens Courier

21 charged in scheme to defraud NY car dealerships

Members of a New York City auto crime ring busted this week bribed people into applying for expensive automobile loans for Cadillacs, Porsches and other luxury cars, then defaulted on millions of dollars and sold the cars on the black market. One of the 50 cars wrongly procured, a Porsche, was used to dump the body of one of two victims shot in 2009 inside the Long Island condo belonging to pro football player Jonathan Vilma, authorities said. Read More: Wall Street Journal

Disgraced former New York Controller Alan Hevesi will keep rotting in prison as parole board turns him down

 

Disgraced former state Controller Alan Hevesi was denied his first attempt at parole Thursday and will spend at least another year behind bars, the Daily News has learned. The once powerful Queens Democrat is serving a one-to-four year sentence at medium-security Mid-Hudson Correctional Facility in Oneida County for his role in a massive pay-to-play pension fund scandal during his tenure as state controller. Read More: Daily News

Alexander’s Secures $275M Refinancing of Rego Park II in Queens

 

Alexander’s, Inc. has completed a $275 million refinancing of its 610,000 square foot Rego Park II shopping center located in Queens. The seven-year loan bears interest at LIBOR plus 1.85 percent and amortizes based on a 30-year schedule. The proceeds of the new loan were used to repay the existing loan on the property. Alexander’s, Inc. is a real estate investment trust that has seven properties in the greater New York City metropolitan area. Read More: CityBizList

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queens Courier crowns ‘Kings’


| tcimino@queenscourier.com

The 2011 Kings of Queens were honored at Terrace on the Park on November 3

Over 450 guests gathered at Terrace on the Park in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park to mingle at one of the largest networking events in the borough and honor this year’s “Kings of Queens.”

The fourth annual Queens Courier event, held on Thursday, November 3, honored “Man of the Year” Comptroller John Liu and “Woman of the Year” Matilda Cuomo, founder of Mentoring USA, among dozens of other top businessmen from throughout the borough.

Prizes were also raffled at the event, with the proceeds benefiting Life’s WORC and The Rotary Club. Fred Morante of Minuteman Press in Bellerose and Lily Anastasiadis of eboxed won the door prizes from Skyline Cruises and TD Bank, respectively. Linda DeSabato of Vallo Transportation was the winner of the Cancun vacation courtesy of JetBlue.

The event’s sponsors included: Joseph P Addabbo Family Health Center, NY Community Bank/Queens County Savings Bank, TD Bank, Flushing Bank, Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care & Rehabilitation, City University of New York, Con Edison, First Central Savings Bank, St. John’s University, Council For Airport Opportunity of NY & NJ, City Employees Union Local 237 International Brotherhood of Teamsters, HSBC, Print Early, Advantage Payroll Services and The Daily News. A & S Whitestone Nursery Flowers & Gifts provided a boutineer for each of the honorees.

Honored this year, along with Cuomo and Liu, were Eric Barrios, Vice President & Woodside Branch Manager, HSBC; Dominick Ciampa, Chairman of the Board, New York Community Bank; Salvatore DiMartino, Vice President Senior Enterprise Risk Officer, First Central Savings Bank; Gregory Floyd, President, City Employees Union Local 237, IBT; Bill Gianakos, Executive Vice President-Area Director, NYC Region DeNovo Expansion, Citi; Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello, Vicar Development for the Diocese of Brooklyn & Queens; Bill Huisman, Executive Director, Aviation Development Council; Anthony Izzo, Chief of Organized Crime Control Bureau, NYPD; Gabor Karsai, Rotary International, District 7250, Brooklyn, Queens & Nassau Counties; John Khani, Assistant Director of Public Affairs, CSA; Giorgio Kolaj, Proprietor, Valentino’s on the Green; Franck Korzekwinski, EVP Chief of Real Estate Lending, Flushing Bank; John Koufakis Sr., CEO/President, Star Auto group; Anthony Lolli, Founder/CEO, Rapid Realty NYC; Serphin Maltese, Attorney & Counselor at law; Stephen Martin, Vice President, Commercial Lending, Queens, TD Bank; Michael X. Mattone, CFO, Mattone Group LLC; Dr. Peter Nelson, CEO, Joseph P Addabbo, Family Health Center; Jay Parker, President, The Original Bens Best; Tony Raouf, President, Riverview Restaurant; Robert Ricken, President Board of Directors, North Shore Towers; Cruz Russell, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Port Authority of NY & NJ; George Russo Esq. President of the Board, South Queens Boys & Girls Club; Joseph Sciame, Vice President for Community Relations, St. John’s University; Peter Smergut, CEO, Life’s WORC; Jerry Spampanato, General Manager, JFK International Airport; Michael H. Strawberry Sr., Manager, Strawberry’s Sports Grill; Carlisle Towery, President, Greater Jamaica Development Corp.; Robert M. Werner, Vice President of Finance and CFO Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care & Rehabilitation; Steve Wei, Partner, Wei, Wei & LLP; Bhavik Patel and Sergey Shpiller, Vice Presidents of Operations, Doshi Diagnostic Imaging Group, Milo Blair,Vice President Brooklyn/Queens Electric Operations, Con Edison, William E. Fischer, Partner, Grassi & Co., Jeffrey Halperin, Professor of Psychology Queens College & The Graduate Center.