Tag Archives: Whitestone

Children throw spaghetti at Whitestone librarian in the name of literacy


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

For a moment, Susan Scatena became the meatball in a tangle of spaghetti on Friday.

Scatena is a children’s librarian for the Queens Library in Whitestone and every year she performs some kind of stunt if her young readers finish a certain number of books. It’s part of an effort to increase readership over the summer. This year, children in Whitestone read 6,300 books. Last year, Scatena read to an alligator after they surpassed their goal.

Children chanted “sit in it” in unison as Scatena filled an inflatable pool with spaghetti and sauce. Once she sat in it, they threw spaghetti on her that their parents brought with them.

“OK kids, that’s enough,” she said after everyone had expended their spaghetti supply. “Come back next year.”

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Former Gambino associate’s grandson busted for allegedly shooting friend on Malba jetty


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

A man whose grandfather was reportedly a former Gambino family associate has been charged with attempted murder after he shot a childhood friend multiple times near the Malba shoreline, officials said.

Robert Sasso, 33, and his friend, 39-year-old Dean Oku, were smoking marijuana on a jetty off of Summit Place in the affluent neighborhood at about 2 a.m. on Aug. 29 when, during a conversation, Sasso shot Oku without warning, the Queens District Attorney’s Office said. Oku was struck in the abdomen, left leg and left arm, and taken to a local hospital, where he remains in critical condition.

In addition to being charged with attempted murder, assault and criminal possession of a weapon in the shooting, Sasso, a Flushing resident, was also busted for assaulting his live-in girlfriend, according to prosecutors.

Just two days before the shooting, Sasso is accused of punching his 33-year-old girlfriend, who had recently taken an order of protection out against him. He then allegedly pushed her out of his vehicle as it sat on an East Elmhurst street, causing bruising to her face, the district attorney’s office said.

Sasso has been separately charged with assault, harassment and criminal contempt in his girlfriend’s assault. He is currently awaiting arraignment in both cases and faces a total of up to 29 years in prison if convicted.

According to the New York Daily News, Sasso’s grandfather was a former Gambino family associate who was convicted in 1992 for helping John Gotti get payoffs from contractors. His father was also convicted for gun trafficking.

Sasso was suspected in the shooting of a construction supervisor in Hell’s Kitchen last year, the Daily News also said.

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Little Bay Park body identified as Bayside woman


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Benjamin Fang

A badly decomposed body that was found in Little Bay Park last month was identified as a 41-year-old Bayside resident, police said.

Caroline Maquinghin went missing in early July from her Bayside apartment, according to neighbors.

Maquinghin lived on Bell Boulevard, close to where her body was found in the Whitestone park on Aug. 5, according to police.

Officials have yet to determine the cause of death but they have ruled out any criminal act causing her death.

Cops said that the body was badly decomposed when it was found by a park employee in a wooded area near 14th Road and Utopia Parkway.

Neighbors of Maquinghin said that she used to jog often and in early July missing posters were put up in the building. The posters said Maquinghin had a history of depression.

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49-year-old motorcyclist dies in Whitestone Expressway crash


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

A motorcyclist riding on the Whitestone Expressway Saturday night was killed when he was ejected from his bike, according to police.

The 49-year-old victim was driving southbound on the expressway at the Cross Island Parkway around 10:18 p.m. when the accident occurred, cops said.

The motorcyclist, who has yet to be identified by police, was taken New York Hospital Queens, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

The investigation is ongoing.

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Suspect shoots man four times in Malba: police


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

A tattooed suspect shot a man four times in Malba, leaving the victim in critical condition, according to police.

The 39-year-old victim and the shooter, identified by police as 33-year-old Robert Sasso, were by the shoreline near 141-36 Boulevard at about 2 a.m. Friday when they got into a dispute, cops said. After shooting the victim, Sasso fled in a white Ford Fusion.

The victim was taken to New York Hospital Queens in critical condition.

Police describe Sasso as 5 feet 9 inches tall and 180 pounds. He has tattoos neck arms and face, including one under his right eye that says “$MM.”

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

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18-room luxury Malba home sells for $2.5M


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy MLSLI

A new family will now be able to enjoy the Manhattan skyline after buying  a massive Malba home with big-city views from the second floor.

E&M Real Estate, which has served Whitestone, Malba and other northeast Queens neighborhoods for more than 30 years, closed the deal with the family on Aug. 6 for the Mediterranean brick house at 19 Center Drive for $2.5 million.

So what makes this house so pricey?

The single family residence has 18 rooms throughout 6,500 square feet in three floors, which includes a basement.

There are five bedrooms, all on the second floor, four and a half bathrooms, a theatre, an office and Jacuzzi suites.

A fireplace and an in-ground pool are also features of the home, which was built in 2002.

“It was one of a kind,” said Maryann Stravello founder of E&M Real Estate.

 

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Body found in Little Bay Park


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Benjamin Fang

Updated 4:05 p.m.

The body of an unidentified woman was discovered in a wooded area of a Whitestone park Tuesday morning, cops said.

A park employee found the badly decomposed remains around 10 a.m. in Little Bay Park near 14th Road and Utopia Parkway, according to authorities.

The medical examiner will determine the cause of death.

-With additional reporting by Paulina Tam

 

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87-year-old pedestrian killed in Whitestone


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz


An elderly woman was fatally struck while trying to cross the street just blocks from her Whitestone home, according to police.

The victim, 87-year-old Agatha Tsunis, was at Willets Point Boulevard near 17th Avenue at about 10:55 p.m. Tuesday when she was hit by a Volvo that was heading westbound on the boulevard, cops said.

Tsunis, was taken to New York Hospital Queens, where she was pronounced dead.

The Volvo’s driver remained on the scene and the investigation is ongoing, police said.

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West Nile spraying set for parts of Queens this week


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC Department of Health

On Wednesday, July 30, there will be West Nile spraying in parts of Queens to help reduce the mosquito population and the risk of the disease.

The spraying will take place between the hours of 8:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. the next morning. In case of bad weather, the application will be delayed until Thursday, July 31 during the same hours.

The following neighborhoods are being treated due to rising West Nile virus activity with high mosquito populations, according to the city’s Health Department:

Parts of College Point, Flushing, Linden Hill, Malba and Whitestone (Bordered by the East River, Powell’s Cove, 138th Street and 11th Avenue to the north; Flushing Bay and Flushing River to the west; Northern Boulevard to the south; and 149th Street, 20th Avenue and Whitestone Expressway to the east)

For the application, the Health Department will spray pesticide from trucks and use a very low concentration of Anvil®, 10 + 10, a synthetic pesticide. When properly used, this product poses no significant risks to human health.

The Health Department recommends that people take the following precautions to minimize direct exposure:

  • Whenever possible, stay indoors during spraying. People with asthma or other respiratory conditions  are encouraged to stay inside during spraying since direct exposure could worsen these conditions.
  • Air conditioners may remain on, however, if you wish to reduce the possibility of indoor exposure to pesticides, set the air conditioner vent to the closed position, or choose the re-circulate function.
  •  Remove children’s toys, outdoor equipment, and clothes from outdoor areas during spraying. If  outdoor equipment and toys are exposed to pesticides, wash them with soap and water before using  again.
  • Wash skin and clothing exposed to pesticides with soap and water. Always wash your produce thoroughly with water before cooking or eating.

 

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CM Vallone wins bet against CM Vacca over youth baseball game


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Office of Councilman Paul Vallone


The Whitestone Renegades’ 4-3 victory against Bronxchester on July 17 meant more than just another win.

The Renegades also helped Councilman Paul Vallone enjoy authentic Italian pastries on Thursday courtesy of Councilman Jimmy Vacca of the Bronx, due to a friendly wager between the two public officials on the game. Of course, the Renegades, a local travel baseball team out of the Dwarf Giraffe Athletic League, are now also entitled to bragging rights over their Bronx rivals.

“We would like to thank Councilman Paul Vallone for all his support to the team,” said Renegades assistant coach Joe Alessandro. “And congratulate the councilman on winning his friendly wager with Councilman Vacca.”

When the council members learned that their local baseball teams would play each other in the inaugural NYC Borough Cup tournament, they decided to increase the stakes of the game.

The terms were, if the Renegades won, Vacca would treat Vallone to homemade Italian pastries from Arthur Avenue, which is known as the Bronx’s Little Italy. But if Bronxchester won, then Vallone would treat Vacca to a chicken sandwich from Whitestone staple deli Cherry Valley and an Italian ice from Pesso’s in Bayside.

Vallone said the only downside of winning was that now Vacca will miss out on delicious foods from the Queens eatery and dessert shop.

“While of course I am thrilled that the Whitestone Renegades beat Bronxchester, I’m sad that Jimmy won’t have the opportunity to experience the culinary masterpiece that is a Cherry Valley TCS (The Chicken Sandwich) washed down with a mouthwatering Pesso’s Ice,” Vallone said.

While the Italian desserts were sweet, the story didn’t have a satisfying ending. The Renegades finished 2-1 in the Borough Cup, having dropped their last match in pool play against the NCYA All Stars, 6-1, and were eliminated from the tournament.

 

 

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Queens filmmaker co-creates first ‘TV series’ made exclusively for Instagram


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of “Artistically Challenged”

A Queens man and his fellow filmmakers are hoping their “TV series” is an Insta-nt hit.

Artistically Challenged,” the first “TV series” written, directed, shot and formatted specifically for Instagram, launched on July 1, with seven episodes. Rego Park resident Aleks Arcabascio, and co-producers and co-writers Samuel Delmara and Jeremy Boros, are releasing an episode each day until the end of the month, when all 32 videos will be available on the photo sharing app.

“Instagram is where my friends and family my age spend so much of their time and attention anyway and if that’s where the eyeballs are at, why not make something for them?” Arcabascio said.

The series, shot over two weeks in more than 20 locations throughout New York City, including several in Queens, surrounds the story of Nick Romaine, played by Boros. Romaine is a struggling young artist “who tells a small lie and becomes an overnight celebrity only to find that his success comes with a hefty price.” Among the crazy characters that Romaine meets are powerful players in the New York art world, and the series examines the fine line between art and trash, according to the creators.

One of the biggest challenges for the writing trio was penning the series within Instagram’s 15-second video time limit.

They saw an advantage, however, in the platform’s ability to share content, and tag the entire series with the account name.

“The ultimate compliment is that people are sharing [the show],” Delmara said.

The filmmakers also had to work with a 640-by-640 pixel square screen to fit the smartphone format.

Queens resident Aleks Arcabascio (right) helps set up a shot while directing “Artistically Challenged.”

Arcabascio, who also co-directed “Artistically Challenged” with Delmara, compared the “minimalist storytelling” process to making a silent film.

“A lot of what we knew about film grammar got thrown out the window when we understood the time and space we had to use,” he said.

Filming was made easier by their volunteer crew and others who helped them along the way, including those who lent them spaces to shoot scenes.

One of those locations was Arcabascio’s parents’ Long Island City pizzeria, An Italian Affair, where they filmed episode 2. Episode 21 was shot in the Astoria dentist office of his father’s friend.

His parents also own Redken Saloon Salon in Astoria, and the place was used as a home base when filming the dentist scenes. The salon is also where Arcabascio honed his filmmaking skills. As a young boy he would make flip books out of Post-it pads when he would help sweep hair off the floor for tips on Saturdays.

Arcabascio, who was born in Whitestone and moved to Long Island as a child, turned to animation in middle school and soon discovered video. Shortly after graduating from NYU in 2012, where he studied film and television, he settled in Rego Park. Since that time has kept busy with several production, writing and directing projects, including creating the web series “The Four Thirty in the Morning Show.”

He would like his future filmmaking plans to include another season of “Artistically Challenged.”
Arcabascio also hopes their endeavor will inspire similar Instagram creations.

“The limits are pretty concrete, but the possibilities are endless,” he said. “I can’t wait to see where it goes and I’m glad we’re a part of that.”

Episodes of “Artistically Challenged” can be viewed on Instagram at @actheseries.

 

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Star of Queens: Lauren Elizabeth Cornea, Clinton Club of Northeast Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

IMG_5323

JANAE HUNTER

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Lauren Cornea has been a Young Democrat with the Clinton Club of Northeast Queens, which serves the neighborhoods of Auburndale, Bay Terrace, Bayside, Douglaston, Flushing, Little Neck and Whitestone, since 2010. The club keeps the community updated on local events and politics in the neighborhood. She is also a member of the Bayside-Whitestone Lions Club and does community and volunteer work for the community through the chapter. When she is not doing work for these organizations or volunteering for attorney Paul Vallone, she is a Learning Leader volunteer, where she tutors students at P.S. 21Q in reading, writing and math.

BACKGROUND: Cornea was born and raised in Flushing. After graduating from the Harvey School, Cornea spent some time traveling in Europe. Now, she is back in Queens and works as a realtor at Amorelli Realty in Astoria, and is the single mother of two children, Dominic John, 8, and Violeta-Rose, 6.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “The greatest obstacle I have faced is being a single mother juggling career and family life,” Cornea said. Raising two young children and balancing a job can be hard, but she makes it work. As for her career, being a female commercial realtor is tough when there are so many men doing the job. “This is a man’s world, and I have had to work extra to live in it. I work extra hard for people to take me seriously and value what I have to say. I have worked very hard to be seen as a woman who is knowledgeable and hard working and not just seen as a pretty face.”

GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT: “I have so many achievements that I’m proud of that it’s hard to choose,” said Cornea. “One of my top achievements has been closing the deal on Steinway Mansion. That deal took 18 months and when we finally closed the deal it went for $2.6 million.” But, she added, raising her children, successfully bouncing back from the divorce, having the opportunity to give back by teaching children to learn to read, write and do basic arithmetic, and being a successful woman in a male-dominated profession are also some of Cornea’s greatest achievements.

INSPIRATION: “This may sound corny, but my biggest inspiration is definitely my kids,” said Cornea. “They rely on me for everything. On days when I do not feel like getting up, all I have to do is think about my two children who need me to be a success in order for them to have a better future.” Cornea said she is also inspired by her natural competitiveness that makes her try and be the best at whatever she does.

 

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USPS threatens downsizing Whitestone facility, again


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo


The United States Postal Service (USPS) plans to ship jobs from its Whitestone processing facility as part of ongoing nationwide consolidation of its centers to stay financially afloat.

The mail service intends to consolidate up to 82 facilities, including the Queens center on 20th Avenue, beginning January 2015 to continue its plan to cut losses, which was approved in 2011. The initiative is projected to save the cash-strapped delivery service more than $3.5 billion in the next five years, according to the USPS.

There are currently 1,015 employees at the Whitestone facility, and it’s yet to be determined how many employees will be affected, a representative for the organization said.

“These cuts will be devastating for so many families already struggling to get by and it is unconscionable for the USPS to balance their books on the backs of working class New Yorkers while compromising their service for Queens residents,” said Congressman Joe Crowley, who fought the announced closure in 2012.

When the Whitestone center faced closure in 2012, the USPS planned to send hundreds of workers to a Brooklyn facility, while others would be scattered to other locations throughout the city, New Jersey or Long Island. But the organization halted the closure.

A representative from the mail service boasted the benefits of past consolidations in other areas. In 2012 and 2013, the USPS consolidated 141 mail processing facilities nationwide, which resulted in “negligible service impact, required no employee layoffs, and generated annual cost savings of about $865 million,” a spokeswoman said in an email.

“In the last three years, the Postal Service recorded financial losses of $26 billion,” the spokeswoman said. “As an organization that receives no taxpayer funds to pay for operating costs and derives all of its revenues from the sale of our products and services, the Postal Service continues to face significant financial challenges associated with the decline of First-Class Mail volume and revenue, wage and benefit inflation, increasing operating costs, as well as legislative mandates and significant debt pressures.”

But representatives from Local 300, the National Postal Mail Handlers Union, said the downsizing could affect delivery times, and would be a hit to families that live near the facility, and ultimately impact the neighborhood.

“We’ve had [workers move] from the Bronx to Melville, Long Island,” said Paul Hogrogian, president of the union, as an example. “It’s very inconvenient. What used to be a 10-minute commute is now a two-hour one. People may move.”

 

 

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Annual Tour de Queens draws more than 1,200 riders


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy Transportation Alternatives


More than 1,200 bicyclists from around the city participated in the 7th Annual Tour de Queens, a 20-mile ride that travels through several neighborhoods in the borough.

The annual ride on Sunday by Transportation Alternatives began in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, in the plaza between the Unisphere and the Queens Museum, and took cyclists of all ages through East Flushing, Murrary Hill, Auburndale, Bayside, Bay Terrace, Beechhurst and Whitestone.

While the event bears a resemblance in name to the rigid Tour de France biking competition, the Tour de Queens is not a race. Participants rode through streets at a leisurely pace with the NYPD and volunteers from Transportation Alternatives acting as safety marshals.

Proceeds from the event will go toward advocacy efforts to enhance public transportation and make the streets safer for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists.

 

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Whitestone teen skater lands local sponsor, dreams of making it big


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Stephen Teodoru


Eddie Woychowski’s daily requirements include breathing, eating, sleeping and skateboarding.

And besides his beloved hobby, “I don’t do anything else really,” said Woychowski, who dreams of being a professional skateboarder.

The 14-year-old Whitestone native picked up a local sponsor in Logan’s Café on June 22, adding to his expanding list of supporters. The eatery donated a new board and a hat, and it plans to name a sandwich after the young skater.

Photo courtesy Logan O’Connor 

“The reason we decided to sponsor him is that he’s a good kid, but he’s an amazing skateboarder,” said Logan O’Connor, owner of the café. “He skates in all types of weather and wherever he can. There are no signs of him slowing down.”

During the school year, after the bell rings, Woychowski heads directly to local parks where he usually practices tricks until it gets dark. Another testament to his love of the sport is the 30 or 40 worn boards (there hasn’t been an official count yet) that can be found in his room.

His obsession with skateboarding started about four and a half years ago. After he touched a board, he couldn’t put it down, and now what keeps him going is learning new tricks.

“When I learn a new trick, it’s the best feeling,” he said.

Woychowski, who attends the World Journalism Preparatory School in Flushing, has won four skating tournaments and has several other sponsors that provide equipment and promote his name, including Blind Skateboards, DVS shoe company, Mass Exodus and LICKNYC, a clothing store and skate shop in Long Island City.

Although it’ll be some time before Woychowski will appear in the X Games, he is undoubtedly excited about the thought of skating as a career.

“To get paid money and stuff just for skateboarding like it’s a regular day job,” he said, “that would be the craziest thing, when it finally happens.”

 

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