• December 19, 2014
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Queens Chronicle

Western Queens News

Stories from Astoria, Long Island City, Jackson Heights, Sunnyside, Woodside, Corona, Elmhurst and East Elmhurst

Top Story

Residents hammer home Pan Am slam

Opponents of the Pan American Hotel’s transformation into a homeless shelter six months ago have new ammunition in their fight to get the shelter shut down.On Friday, members of the civic group Elmhurst United, other area residents and state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) rallied outside the shelter to shed light on living conditions they described as “horrendous” inside the Boulevard Family Residence in a press release announcing the event.

Astoria homes flood after main breaks
Posted: December 18, 2014

A water main break turned 23rd Street in Astoria into river rapids on Saturday morning, according to officials and residents.

Around 4:30 a.m., residents reported hearing water gushing from under the sidewalk and street near 24th Drive where Con Edison crews had been working the week before.

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New graduates are green with knowledge
Posted: December 18, 2014

While most graduates put their caps and gowns on, the 20 men who completed the The Fortune Society Green Job Training Program put on their construction helmets.

During a special ceremony held last Thursday, the formerly incarcerated individuals were honored for fulfilling the certification requirements to enter careers that require technical training in environmental remediation and construction.

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Hero Capt. Malcolm Rafferty is honored
Posted: December 18, 2014

The Captain Malcolm A. Rafferty Monument at Rafferty Triangle in Long Island City was recently restored thanks to a joint effort from the Newtown Historical Society and the city Parks Department.

Rafferty was a decorated hero who fought in the Spanish-American War and lived in Long Island City, working there at the Barber Asphalt Co.

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Maloney’s women museum approved
Posted: December 18, 2014

It took 16 years, but the bill to form a commission on the creation of a National Women’s History Museum went to President Obama’s desk this week after being passed by Congress.

“When you go down the mall, everything is there,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens), who introduced the bill in 1998, said. “They have museums for postage stamps, for law and order, and yet there is not a single museum dedicated to the accomplishments of women.”

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Reforms to assist mentally ill inmates
Posted: December 18, 2014

New York City will spend $130 million over the next four years, as part of a comprehensive plan to reduce crime, jail re-entry and the number of people with mental illnesses, who are often locked up for minor offenses.

The plan, proposed by Mayor de Blasio’s Task Force on Behavioral Health and the Criminal Justice System, came in response to a number of cases in which mentally ill inmates died under questionable conditions at Rikers Island, the country’s second-largest correction facility.

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Van Bramer sleds down 7 line
Posted: December 18, 2014

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) released his annual holiday card this week. This year, the picture is of the councilman and his staff — Matt Wallace, Jason Banrey, Deborah Tharrington, Andres Villa, Amanda Nasner, Elana Ehrenberg and Cody Reter — sledding down the No. 7 elevated line, something that might very well happen given all the construction lately.

The card, sent to his constituents and mailing list, was designed by Jesse Winter.

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Pink sculpture hits nerve in community
Posted: December 18, 2014

After a rendering of a pink sculpture planned for Jackson Avenue was released, outrage was sparked.

The genderless figure is supposed to be placed on the median of the corridor near the Court Square subway station any day without warning to the community, something the Department of Cultural Affairs said is not true.

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NY Rehab gets into the spirit
Posted: December 18, 2014

NY Rehab: Queens Physical Therapy Rehabilitation on 31st Street in Astoria partnered with the Chronicle for our 20th annual Toy Drive by donating a generous amount of gifts to be handed out to area shelters over the holidays.

The hard work of Mahezabin Shaikh, rear left, Rena Shemberg, rear right, Melvin Ricks, left, Fabiola Caicedo, Eugene Vasilesu, Nidhi Mahajan, Dr. Olga Gazonas, Betpsy Segovia, Dr. Nelson Castro and Jessica Campovere will help homeless children at five shelters in Queens have a great Christmas and Happy New Year.

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Thursday 12/18/2014
Cuomo vetoes Avella bill to save the swans
Updated: December 18, 2014 - 5:11 pm

Gov. Cuomo on Wednesday vetoed a bill that would have delayed a plan to kill or remove every mute swan in the state. The Department of Environmental Conservation considers the birds an invasive species and wants all 2,200 of them in the state gone by 2025.

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Two Astoria men charged in Mexico-NYC heroin pipeline
Updated: December 18, 2014 - 5:23 pm

Two Astoria men and an Astoria business owner were charged with being part of an international heroin pipeline spanning from New York to Mexico that involved six other people, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said on Thursday.

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Menorah destroyed on Hollis Hills site
Posted: December 18, 2014

Chanukah, the festival of lights, has been dimmed in Hollis Hills this year after vandals destroyed a community menorah.

For seven years, the community has been celebrating Chanukah by lighting a giant menorah at the traffic island on Union Turnpike at 220th Street during the eight-day Jewish holiday. But right before the first candle was to be lit on Tuesday night, residents discovered it had been overturned and the lighting mechanisms destroyed.

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Curbside pickups of ‘e-waste’ banned
Updated: December 18, 2014 - 12:25 pm

Beginning Jan. 1 the Department of Sanitation will no longer collect old electronics left at the curbside. That includes computers, televisions, DVD players, keyboards, MP3 players, video game consoles and a variety of other devices.

The change stems from a state law that will make it illegal to throw out such electronics in the regular trash. The goal of the 2010 Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act is to encourage the proper disposal of potentially harmful electronic waste. Residents who leave such items at their curbs may receive a summons and most will have to bring them to designated drop-off sites.

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DSNY authorized to remove illegal bins
Posted: December 18, 2014

The city Department of Sanitation is now authorized to immediately seize illegitimate clothing donation bins placed throughout the city — a process that previously took more than a month — after the City Council approved new legislation last month and it went unaddressed by Mayor de Blasio.

“While we want to encourage New Yorkers to donate clothing and other materials to those in need, we also want to ensure that organizations collecting these items are doing so responsibly, and this bill will achieve both of those goals,” City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan, Bronx) said in a written statement.

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City educators rank highly, report says
Posted: December 18, 2014

More than 90 percent of city teachers and principals were rated as effective or highly effective in the state’s Annual Professional Performance Review in the first year that the five boroughs were graded under the assessment system.

“For our schools to succeed, we need to hold ourselves accountable for the development of our educators,” city Schools Chancellor Carmen Fari–a said in a written statement after the report was released on Tuesday. “At the same time, a well-developed evaluation system — with four, much more nuanced ratings, instead of only two — helps us identify and provide specific support to struggling teachers, as well as identify those who do not belong in the classroom.”

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Toy drive ends soon; gifts still needed
Updated: December 18, 2014 - 12:29 pm

The clock is ticking and soon the 20th annual Queens Chronicle Toy Drive will be over. Won’t you please contribute before the deadline on Monday, Dec. 22?

This year, the Chronicle is collecting gifts for children in four Queens city homeless shelters and a safe house in Eastern Queens for victims of domestic violence.

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Do it for Danny: Boy’s strength still inspires
Updated: December 18, 2014 - 12:31 pm

The star of the St. John’s men’s basketball team is not the tattooed shooting guard with the sweet jump shot.

It’s not the lengthy center with the imposing presence on defense.

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Mayor signs shelter eligibility bill into law
Posted: December 18, 2014

Victims of domestic violence will now have an easier pathway into the city’s homeless shelter system.

At a Friday press conference at City Hall, Mayor de Blasio signed into law Intro 361-a, which grants a presumption of eligibility for applicants to the city shelter system who are exiting Human Resources Administration domestic violence shelters.

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HIV-prevention pill made available to young people
Updated: December 18, 2014 - 12:50 pm

An HIV diagnosis is no longer the death sentence it once was, as patients are now able to treat the condition with medication and live well into their 80s, but there are still 16,000 cases in Queens alone, according to health officials, and young gay and bisexual men are most adversely affected.

Now there is a way to proactively reduce the risk of infection, by taking a pill called Truvada every day. The method is called PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, and doctors say it’s 99 percent effective when it’s done right. Increasing access to PrEP is part of Gov. Cuomo’s three-point plan to decrease new HIV infections. Fewer than 2,000 people are taking Truvada nationwide.

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Crowley butts heads over FDNY women
Posted: December 18, 2014

State Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island) last week dismissed Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley’s (D-Glendale) assertion about gender discrimination in hiring at the Fire Department, instead arguing that most women are simply not interested to become firefighters or aren’t fit for the job.

Savino made those comments in a Facebook post, moments after a City Council Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice hearing, chaired by Crowley, grilled Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro about the lack of female representation in the department. The state senator dismissed Crowley’s claims that the FDNY is using “excessive testing” and rigorous exercises which cause women to drop out of the academy.

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BP Katz hears land use pleas and plans
Posted: December 18, 2014

Just in time for Hanukkah, Borough President Melinda Katz heard explanations from the representatives of an illegally operated synagogue in Kew Gardens Hills at last Thursday’s land use hearing at Borough Hall.

According to Sheldon Lobel, the attorney for Torah Haim Ohel Sara at 144-11 77 Ave., the synagogue’s owners are seeking an extension from the Board of Standards and Appeals in order to give themselves more time to obtain a certificate of occupancy.

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Storm Warning
Posted: December 18, 2014

It’s been a long time since I and many other St. John’s alumni around my age have said we’re proud of our basketball team, since our college squad has energized its fan base like this.

It’s been a few years since Red Storm players have been asked what it’s like to be the best hoops team in the city, if not the best ball club in the five boroughs in any sport.

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Q58 is Queens’ slowest bus, report
Posted: December 18, 2014

For the third consecutive time, the Q58 route between Ridgewood and Flushing Main Street, won the Pokey Awards for what it’s best at: being the slowest bus in the Borough of Queens.

According to an annual report on public transit released by the Straphangers Campaign last week, Q58 travels at 7 mph.

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QUICK HITS
Posted: December 18, 2014

State law: no more tattoos or piercings for Rover and Fluffy

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New lawyers in offing for Halloran, Tabone
Posted: December 18, 2014

Halloran, Tabone and outgoing state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis) were among six people arrested in 2013 in connection with an alleged plot for Smith, a lifelong Democrat, to bribe his way onto the city’s 2013 Republican mayoral ballot.

Halloran was convicted in July of taking bribes to act as a go-between for Smith and GOP officials in the city, who would have had to approve the party switch.

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Holiday tips to keep pets safe
Posted: December 18, 2014

Central Veterinary Associates has released several tips to keep your pets safe this holiday season. The veterinary practice, with offices in Bayside, Forest Hills and Far Rockaway, stresses the unintended hazards seemingly harmless decorations may pose for pets. Among the tips are these:

•Make sure that your Christmas tree is properly secured in its stand so it won’t fall on a pet and beware that the water in the stand may contain bacteria harmful to them.

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Dogged investigator
Posted: December 18, 2014

Something just didn’t smell right recently when a woman arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport from Guyana with alleged bags of powdered milk and custard powder in her luggage.

K-9 Elza, top, an 8-year-old Belgian Malinois was on duty with U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Nov. 21 when she alerted her handler that something was suspicious about one bag.

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