Stories from Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Richmond Hill, South Ozone Park, City Line and JFK Airport

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The Howard Beach Civilian Observation Patrol is back on the beat.

Though the patrol’s leader, Joe Thompson, never stopped posting to the group’s Facebook page and responding to various quality-of-life issues, the group resumed its car patrols in early August.

Despite being at the center of the recent COVID outbreak that shut down many of its schools last week, parents in Queens School District 28 have not lost track of its impending diversity plan.

The district’s latest Community Education Council meeting, held last Thursday, revealed that the city Department of Education will not proceed with the effort to increase local middle schools’ racial diversity until the end of the pandemic. Read more

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While some cities around the country have decried the holiday, Middle Village celebrated Columbus Day and Italian heritage last Saturday at Juniper Valley Park.

State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. addressed the gathering, above, as did former state Sen. Serf Maltese, seated, and Councilman Bob Holden, whose birthday fell on Columbus Day this year. Read more

Monday, October 19, 2020
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Following more than three years of legislative parlaying, a dispute between Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo and a lawsuit, New York State’s ban on most single-use plastic bags went into effect Monday morning.

And it still may not be settled yet, with business interests awaiting the outcome of yet another lawsuit alleging recent policy changes ordered by the state’s Department of environmental Conservation leave it unclear as to how stores are to comply. Read more

Friday, October 16, 2020
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The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens has lost its legal battle to reopen churches in areas designated as red zones after a recent increase on positive tests for the COVID-19 virus.

The diocese, in a case before U.S. District Court Judge Nichols Garaufis, also sought to increase the maximum capacities on churches in red zones, which now is at 10 for buildings that in some cases can hold 500 to 1,000 or more. Read more

Thursday, October 15, 2020

A small group of parents and their children fed up with the city’s handling of education during the pandemic gathered in front of a Little Neck school Tuesday afternoon to beg for better planning.

“This is a platform for our families and our parents to be heard ... No one seems to be listening to them,” said organizer and candidate for City Council District 19 Adriana Aviles in front of PS 94. Aviles, who also serves as president of Community Education Council 26, said she has heard an overwhelming number of complaints from families struggling to adapt to the Department of Education’s constantly changing approach to learning throughout the crisis. Read more


Two federal judges last Friday ruled that New York State can continue to enforce capacity limits on houses of worship in COVID-19 hot zones while a pair of lawsuits play out in court.

U.S. District Judge Eric Komitee last Friday, writing in the matter of Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens v. Cuomo, denied a request from the diocese for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction against enforcement, but did write that the diocese may reapply for an injunction as the record in the case may be developed more fully. Read more

A pharmacist took the phrase “waving the white flag of surrender” to a whole new level — he mailed a bag of cocaine to a federal agent who was investigating his pharmacy, officials said.

Dimitrios Lymberatos turned himself in to the Drug Enforcement Administration on the morning of Oct. 9, was taken into custody and charged with obstruction of justice. Read more

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With nowhere else to go, partiers gathered in Cunningham Park Saturday night into the early hours of Sunday morning, but the fun was swiftly shut down by the city Sheriff’s Department.

News of the party had been circulated on social media, where it was stumbled upon by deputies conducting media surveillance. They showed up to street entrances of Cunningham Park at about 1:50 a.m., where they watched patrons be escorted into the wooded area after they were dropped off by two buses. The deputies followed the patrons to discover a horde of ravers gathering inside. Read more

City Councilmember Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens) announced Oct. 13 that he would not seek re-election for a third term in office.

“Being a member of the Council has been, and will continue to be, a hallmark of my public service career, which extends back more than a generation,” he said in the announcement. “After much thought and reflection with family and friends, I have decided that it is time to put a period on this chapter of my life and retire from public service.” Read more

A Rego Park church had been known to serve as many as 1,200 attendees at some Sunday Masses before the pandemic, but can now allow no more than 10 people inside the building at a time.

“Obviously there are health concerns, but we were following the protocols,” said the Rev. Thomas Pettei of Our Lady of the Angelus, a Roman Catholic church that lies in the red zone of the central Queens COVID-19 cluster and whose more typical attendance averaged 400 patrons. “It’s like when one kid in the class is acting up and you’re punishing the whole neighborhood. We were following the rules and we were safe.” Read more

COVID-19 threw a wrench in the American Cancer Society’s annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, but participants and survivors have refused to allow the pandemic to overthrow National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Instead, they’ve turned to multiple socially distant events to raise funds and awareness for the disease.

“After all, it has never really been about the walk, has it? It’s always been about helping to raise life-saving funds to ensure that no one facing breast cancer walks alone,” the ACS site reads. Read more