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Queens Chronicle

Anniversary Edition

Top Story

The Queens Chronicle, Your Choice, Your Voice, Your Newspaper

Along with the entire staff of the Queens Chronicle, I am proud to present our 40th Anniversary Edition to all of our readers. The original Queens Chronicle was simply called “The Paper” and was started by my mother, Susan Merzon, on November 2, 1978. Like most new businesses, the newspaper was a small, two-person operation in the beginning and success was far from guaranteed. Actually, it was started as a hobby because of concern for the local community.A few years later, in 1983, Stanley Merzon joined the company and together they built the newspaper into a multiple edition publishing company. In September 1984, by changing the name to the Queens Chronicle, they set their sights on expanding the paper beyond its Howard Beach and South Queens base. Over the next few years, three more editions of the Queens Chronicle were started to give the newspaper a Queenswide presence.

Thursday 11/15/2018
Son Of Sam, “How’m I Doing?” Mayor Koch: News Events In Queens, 1978
Posted: November 15, 2018

The year The Paper, now the Queens Chronicle, began publishing, David Berkowitz, alias the Son of Sam, stood trial for the murder of six people, including two from Queens. The Yonkers resident, in a killing frenzy that began in 1975 and ended in 1977, also wounded seven people, blinding one and paralyzing another, all with a .44-caliber revolver.

The 24-year-old postal worker committed the crimes in Brooklyn and the Bronx, as well as in Queens. On June 12, 1978, Berkowitz was found guilty of the murders that took place in the Bronx and Queens and was sentenced to the maximum term of 25 years to life for each of the six murders, plus additional sentences for assault and attempted murder.

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Four-Month-Long Bus Strike Causes Commuter Confusion In 1979
Posted: November 15, 2018

In 1979, The Paper continued to maintain a very local focus, reporting on news and issues of concern to those living and doing business in the Howard Beach and Ozone Park communities.

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A Look Back At 1980 And 1981 As Reported In The Paper
Posted: November 15, 2018

Local crime in South Queens got a lot of play in The Paper this year, beginning with the January sentencing of two Broad Channel teens for the fire bombing of the town’s A Train token booth which led to the death of the two token clerks trapped inside.

A rash of brush fires that plagued the neighborhoods bordering Jamaica Bay had local Fire Department officers calling for community help to catch the perpetrators. False alarms and illegal fireworks during the summer months had the Howard Beach FDNY captain, once again, reaching out to area residents through the pages of The Paper.

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Local Lawyer Makes Good In 1982; Cuomo Elected Governor In 1982
Posted: November 15, 2018

The Paper, staying true to its goal of being a source of local community news, continued to report on events of interest to the people of South Queens.

Green Bus Lines employees once again staged a walkout. However, it was short-lived compared to the four-month strike staged in 1979.

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Queens, The Airport Borough; Noise And Safety Complaints In 1983
Posted: November 15, 2018

Residents and local elected officials in South Queens started the year complaining about noise from planes flying into and out of Kennedy Airport, an issue that would be continually reported in the newspaper through the years. In April, airlines were once again given an extension of the waiver that allowed planes to exceed noise levels set by the Port Authority in 1982.

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A Look At Landfills, Pollution, A Plan For Incinerators In 1984
Posted: November 15, 2018

The new year began with The Paper under new management. News coverage quickly expanded to include the South Queens communities of Woodhaven and Richmond Hill.

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Keep Children With AIDS Out Of Our Schools, Said Parents In 1985
Posted: November 15, 2018

When the Queens Chronicle began publishing the Boulevard edition, which covered the Queens Boulevard communities of Elmhurst, Rego Park and Forest Hills, in late 1984, the paper’s news coverage doubled to include Borough Hall meetings and issues of interest to a much wider readership. One major story that garnered headlines periodically throughout the year was the trucking of nuclear waste through Queens.

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From Stardom To Scandal In 1986: The Tragedy Of Donald Manes
Updated: November 15, 2018 - 2:54 pm

The year 1986 was a low point in Queens history, beginning with a major political scandal followed by a tragic suicide. The year ended with an ugly racial incident that resulted in a victim’s death.

Two days after he was sworn in for a fourth term, Borough President Donald Manes attempted to kill himself, allegedly because he was a major player in a wide-spread Parking Violations Bureau scandal. He later succeeded in taking his own life after resigning his post in February.

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Stories Of Howard Beach Racial Incident Dominate 1987
Posted: November 15, 2018

Headlines in the Queens Chronicle throughout 1987 repeatedly turned to the arrest and eventual trial of the Howard Beach teens accused of contributing to the death of the black man they had chased out of their neighborhood prior to the new year.

Other issues of importance during the year included the city’s plans to develop homeless shelters in Queens. Borough President Claire Shulman was fighting Mayor Ed Koch’s plan to establish large shelters housing at least 100 homeless.

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Chronicle Coverage In 1988 And 1989 Serves More Queens Communities
Posted: November 15, 2018

1988

This was a year of firsts in Queens. For many of the borough’s residents, 1988 was the first year they were able to hook up to cable television. Curbside recycling was also introduced in a few Queens neighborhoods.

Although American Cablevision, with mostly underground cables, was introduced in Western Queens as early as November, 1986, and Brooklyn Queens Cable first came to Northeastern Queens in December, 1985, the process of getting the service to everyone who wanted it was slow.

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In 1990, Community’s Fight To Keep FDNY Engine 294 Fails
Posted: November 15, 2018

An issue that came to the front page of the Queens Chronicle in 1990 affected commuters in many of the far-flung communities of the borough. A bill was introduced in the City Council to regulate the “dollar van” industry, which had been booming for the past decade. Use of the unlicensed multi-seat vans greatly increased during the bus strike of 1980. By 1989, the Chronicle wrote, there were 200 of the vans operating in Jamaica alone.

An average of 20,000 riders utilized them daily. However, drivers and owners of the van were accused of recklessness and the bus companies complained that they were taking away fares. The bill established Department of Transportation licensing of the van companies and established routes for the drivers that would not compete with existing bus routes.

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Budget Cuts In 1991 Lead To Talk Of Queens Secession In 1992
Posted: November 15, 2018

One of the biggest stories covered by the Queens Chronicle in 1991 was the March trial of Reverend Floyd Flake, Congressman from Jamaica. Pastor of the 6,000-member Allen African Methodist Episcopal Church, he had been indicted in November 1990 for tax evasion and misappropriation of church and public funds.

Within three weeks, Flake was exonerated and all charges were dropped. The Chronicle had begun publishing an Eastern Queens edition in 1989 and articles about Flake’s activities as a congressman and his achievements as leader of the Allen A.M.E. Church were, and are still, frequent.

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Protests Against Porn Shops, Strip Clubs Get Attention In 1993
Posted: November 15, 2018

On February 26th, a bomb ripped through the underground garage of the World Trade Center, filling stairwells and corridors with smoke. Many Queens residents were among those injured or trapped by the blast, including schoolchildren on class trips to the Twin Towers.

Nearly 40 second-graders from PS 191 in Floral Park were stranded for hours on the 107th-floor observation deck until they were led downstairs to safety. Dozens of third- and fourth-graders from PS 91 in Glendale were trapped in an elevator for more than four hours.

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Two Of Queens’ Finest Made Ultimate Sacrifice In 1994
Posted: November 15, 2018

Through the years, the Queens Chronicle has carried stories about the plight of the borough’s small mom-and-pop stores in the face of the proliferation of “megastores.” In February 1994, small retailers and community activists in Ozone Park lost their bitter battle with a giant when The Home Depot opened its doors on Rockaway Boulevard. The big question on a lot of people’s minds was “What’s next?”

The problem in South Queens was the shaky future of Aqueduct Racetrack, owned by the New York Racing Association. The Ozone Park thoroughbred track had been on questionable financial ground for years and residents of the area were afraid of what might replace it should it be sold. The Home Depot property had previously been owned by the NYRA. It was even proposed in June to put a casino in the Aqueduct clubhouse. In July, a bill was introduced in Albany to allow winter racing at the track.

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Pope John Paul II Celebrates Mass At Aqueduct Racetrack In 1995
Posted: November 15, 2018

Fire Department issues and city budget cuts dominated the news in the Queens Chronicle in 1995. Fire Commissioner Howard Safir proposed eliminating street-corner fire alarm boxes, to the outrage of many communities. But a pilot project removing the boxes from some neighborhoods was approved. This was the year the city’s Emergency Medical Service merged with the FDNY, in spite of opposition from EMS personnel.

Mayor Rudy Giuliani called for cuts in hospital reimbursement rates for Medicaid patients, looking ahead to possible privatization of the city’s healthcare facilities. Queens Borough President Claire Shulman joined civic groups in protesting the MTA’s proposed fare hike from $1.25 to $1.50. Unlike other parts of the city, much of the borough was still in a two-fare zone, another source of ire for Shulman.

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Reign Of Terror Ends In 1996; Zodiac Serial Killer Is Caught
Posted: November 15, 2018

In early January 1996, Queens was hit with a major snowstorm that left between 20 and 24 inches throughout the borough. It was the third largest snowfall in the city’s history, closing public schools for two days for the first time in 18 years. The borough’s two airports were closed for nearly three days.

In February, the first Chinese New Year’s festival was celebrated in Flushing. The colorful, happy occasion was marked by a parade, music and many cultural attractions. The annual event now encompasses all of the borough’s Asian groups.

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Queens Buildings Department Gets Big Shake-Up In 1997
Posted: November 15, 2018

A major story in Northern Queens this year was the ongoing saga of the landmarked RKO Keith’s Theatre in Flushing and owner Thomas Huang’s attempts to circumvent preservation and restoration of the structure. In March,

Huang was charged by the state attorney general with environmental crimes and then, a few days later found to be delinquent in payment of property taxes and water and sewer bills. Huang had purchased the historic theatre in 1987 and closed it down. Over the years he ignored or bypassed city regulations, destroying landmarked sections of the 1928 building and not maintaining it properly. Huang eventually sold the property to a reputable developer.

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Broad Channel Labor Day Parade Sparks Citywide Uproar In 1998
Posted: November 15, 2018

The year opened with Police Officer Hiram Monserrate, of the 111th Precinct in Bayside, filing a lawsuit against the city and the Police Department alleging he was punished for speaking out about racism, discrimination and police misconduct. A second vice president of the Latino Officers Association, the 10-year veteran of the force claimed he was transferred to undesirable assignments after complaining to department brass about several incidents.

In 1999, Monserrate won a judgment of more than $100,000. He has since left the Police Department and is now representing Jackson Heights and Corona as a city councilman.

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Chronicle First Newspaper To Break 1999 West Nile Virus Story
Posted: November 15, 2018

The battle between Queens residents and sex clubs, strip joints and X-rated video stores was fought in the courtroom in 1999. Goldfingers was forced to shut down for a while, but by the end of the year, Wiggles was back in action on Queens Boulevard.

Residents of southern and eastern Queens protested the City Council’s decision to approve plans for what is now known as the AirTrain. The multibillion- dollar project, then named the Train to the Plane, was overseen by the Port Authority. It was to connect travellers to and from Kennedy Airport with the Long Island Rail Road in Jamaica and the A Train in Howard Beach.

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In 2000, Massacre In Wendy’s Restaurant Shocks Communities
Posted: November 15, 2018

Leading off the new year, and the new millennium, was Queens’ f i r st New Year’s Eve bash held at Flushing Meadows Park. Families from all over the borough came out for a night of fun at the museums there and enjoyed midnight fireworks over the Unisphere.

With the new millennium came new major development projects for Queens. The Long Island Rail Road began a multi-million-dollar renovation of its stations in the borough. Long Island Cit y saw groundbreaking for the second building in the long-awaited Queens Development Project there. Plans to site up to six new energy-generating plants a long the East River, however, met with strong resistance from civic groups and local elected officials.

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Looking Back At Coverage Of The Year We’ll Never Forget: 2001
Posted: November 15, 2018

The year 2001 will forever be defined by the day the Twin Towers were destroyed. Marked by tears, the year ended with the incomprehensible loss of thousands of innocent lives. Two months after September 11th, the crash of Flight 587 on the Rockaway peninsula brought the horror of more death and destruction to the borough.

And although those tragic events overshadow memories of 2001, members of Queens communities were hit by the sorrow of other deaths as well. On Father’s Day in June, three firefighters, all fathers, lost their lives battling a raging inferno in an Astoria hardware store. The fire had been sparked when two teens were playing with paint cans behind the store. In August, Eddie Garzon, a homosexual Colombian immigrant, was brutally murdered in Jackson Heights. His death left a festering wound within the borough’s gay community. Queens’ first gay community center had been opened in the area just months before.

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Gotti Left A Complex Legacy; Many Mourned His Death In 2002
Posted: November 15, 2018

Each event in the borough in 2002 was overshadowed by lingering memories of the previous year’s attack on the World Trade Center and the tragic crash of Flight 587 two months later.

Airport security was an ongoing topic as local and federal officials pushed for more screening of both airline employees and passengers. By the end of the year, new screeners and procedures were in place.

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Iraq War And Nation’s Worst Blackout Top News in 2003
Posted: November 15, 2018

One of the defining events of 2003 to date is the war in Iraq. People from Queens protested, were deployed overseas, and some came back in coffins. Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke at the funeral of a Maspeth Marine in March. Corporal Robert Marcus Rodriguez, 21, became the city’s second casualty when his tank plunged off a bridge and landed upside down in the Euphrates River.

Also in March, on a lighter note, Woodhaven native Adrien Brody won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in “The Pianist,” the story of a gifted Jewish musician who survived the Holocaust. After receiving his Oscar, Brody sent a surprise message to Rego Park’s Tommy Zarobinski, a childhood friend who was serving in the Army National Guard in Kuwait at the time of the Academy Award broadcast.

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Political First And Historic Losses In 2004
Posted: November 15, 2018

The year 2004 made for some colorful headlines in the Queens Chronicle. From crimes, surprises and strange events picked up by the national media, to political firsts and historical losses, the borough experienced many unforgettable events.

One that most would likely like to forget the disastrous scandal that surrounded the St . John’s University basketball team in February that year. During an away game in Philadelphia, several members broke curfew, went to a bar and picked up a woman. When they refused to pay her for sex, she threatened to go to police and accuse them of rape. One of the players had taped her threats and police eventually threw out the charges. But the Catholic university imposed its own sanctions: six players were suspended and two were expelled. Additionally, the university did not play in the post season that year.

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