St. Michael’s dedicates facuty room to Sisters

St. Michael’s Catholic Academy at 136-58 41st Avenue in the Flushing honored the Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood at a plaque dedication ceremony in the school’s faculty room.
The Sisters of St. Joseph maintained a strong presence at St. Michael’s since shortly after the school opened in 1851, where they served as administrators, teachers, and counselors.
Sister Tesa Fitzgerald and Sister Joan Gallagher represented the Sisters of St. Joseph at the ceremony. They were joined by Sister Miriam Blake, the last nun to serve as principal, as well as her former assistant, Sister St. William McMahon.
Sister Blake and Sister McMahon are the last Sisters of St. Joseph to serve on the staff at St. Michael’s.
“For over 150 years while ministering at St. Michael’s School, the Sisters of St. Joseph showed strength and courage to face the challenges of the times in Flushing, and globally in their mission as women religious,” said Principal Maureen Rogone. “Their progressive and inclusive approach, not only in education but in social issues, continues to inspire the teaching staff at St. Michael’s Catholic Academy as we are challenged with educational reforms while preparing our students to be responsible global citizens.”

Asian-owned businesses receive $10K grants

Ten Asian-owned small businesses received a helping hand from Fiserv, a leading global provider of payments and financial services technology.
At last week’s event at Citi Field, which was hosted in recognition of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, each small business received a $10,000 grant to support their ongoing operations and continued recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Minority-owned businesses continue to be disproportionately impacted by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many Asian-owned businesses encountering prejudice in addition to economic impact,” said Fiserv senior vice president Mia Shernoff. ”Today’s grant recipients are pillars in their local communities.”
Grants were awarded as part of the Fiserv Back2Business program, a $50 million commitment to support small, minority-owned business that have been negatively impacted by the pandemic and social unrest.
In addition to the grants, each small business was presented with a Clover Flex handheld point-of-sale device from Fiserv, with built-in capabilities to accept payments, conduct business, and track sales. Businesses also received a customized New York Mets jersey and tickets to an upcoming Mets game at Citi Field.
“We are proud that our home in Flushing is also home to more Asian and Pacific Islander New Yorkers than any neighborhood in the City,” said Mets president Sandy Alderson. “These grants will bring awareness and assist minority-owned businesses to get back to business.”
The small businesses receiving grants included:
• 3N Convenience – Binita Shah’s convenience store serves customers in the Bronx.
• 886 – Eric Sze and Andy Chuang fuse their Taiwanese heritage with New York City to create an ingenious, exciting restaurant experience.
• Big D’s Grub Truck – Dennis Kum offers food influenced by Chinese and Ghana roots. In 2020, his truck served first responders, hospital workers and others in need.
• Coffee Project New York – Owners Chi Sum Ngai and Kaleena Teoh not only serve coffee, they teach others how to make it professionally.
• Contra – Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske’s restaurant showcases New York state’s best produce, with a focus on natural wine.
• Erawan Thai Cuisine – Paul Lim’s restaurant has been part of the Queens community since 1999.
• Heart of Dinner – Yin Chang and Moonlynn Tsai fight food insecurity and isolation among Asian American seniors in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.
• Maxi’s Noodle – Maxi Lau’s restaurant serves dumplings and Hong Kong-style foods.
• Pho Che – David Lee oversees this local Vietnamese restaurant that’s a favorite for delivery.
• Wowfulls – David Chan brings Instagram-worthy 1950’s-style egg waffles, a popular Hong Kong dessert, to New York City.
“The past year has been tough for small businesses in Queens, as we were the epicenter of the epicenter of the pandemic,” said Thomas Grech, president and CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce. “As the most diverse county in America, minority-owned businesses add to the unique character of our neighborhoods, are essential to our local economy and will play a pivotal role in our borough’s recovery.”

New retirement home for park animals

The Parks Department is sending the concrete animals children have been playing on for decades into retirement.
Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver last week announced plans for the creation of the very first “NYC Parks Home for Retired Playground Animals.”
The new grove, located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, will be a contemplative space where New Yorkers can visit these concrete creatures to enjoy a moment of nostalgia and salute some of the city’s hardest working public servants.
“After decades of service to New York City, and with perfect attendance records across the board, it’s time for these Parkies to hang up their hats and enjoy a life of leisure,” said Silver. “Instead of moving down south to Florida, they will get their place in the sun in Flushing.”
Five animals – two dolphins, one aardvark, one camel, and one frog who until now were living out their last years in storage – will be the first residents in the new space, which is set to open this fall.
The animals will remain in their current state, without repainting or touchups. The space will include new plantings, as well as benches. New pathways will allow parkgoers to easily access the area from three separate points.
Most of the concrete animals in city parks were added in the 1980s and 90s under former Commissioner Henry Stern, who tasked Parks designers to incorporate animal art into every new playground project.
While some features were designed by staff in-house, most (like the frog, which can be found in many New York City playgrounds) were prefabricated by manufacturers.
As these playgrounds are renovated, the objects are often removed to make way for new play features and to add more accessible play space.
The concrete animals were discarded when they reached the end of their service, but starting now these worn and much-loved figures will make Flushing Meadows their home.

Permanent ‘Open Boulevards’ coming this summer

Several streets throughout the five boroughs will be permanently transformed into pedestrian and bike-friendly “Open Boulevards” starting this summer, dramatically expanding the limited street closures that currently exist.
“In a year of dramatic changes to our urban landscape, Open Boulevards will transform New York City’s streets like never before,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The recovery for all of us will come to life on these streets, where small businesses, restaurants, artists, pedestrians, and cyclists will gather to create the kind of destination you can only find in the greatest city in the world.”
Permanent Open Boulevards will be established on stretches of Fifth Avenue in Park Slope and Sunset Park, as well as Vanderbilt Avenue in Prospect Heights, all of which are already occasionally closed to traffic under the current Open Streets program.
Additionally, a portion of 21st Street in Greenwood will be designated as a permanent Bike Boulevard.
The Open Boulevards program will expand upon the current provisions made for Open Streets by adding more permanent signage, landscaping, and advertising. The streets will be closed to traffic to allow for outdoor dining, performance space, and pedestrian access.
The Open Streets program has been subject to criticism from some business owners who feel the job of placing and removing barricades has unfairly become their responsibility.
Additionally, some Brooklynites bitterly opposed the Open Streets program outright. In Greenpoint, a feud over Open Streets culminated when multiple street barricades were mysteriously stolen and thrown into Newtown Creek

Wrong address

Dear Editor,
Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato’s recent letter to Department of Transportation Secretary Peter Buttigieg on behalf of restoring Long Island Rail Road service on the old Rockaway Beach branch was addressed to the wrong person.
She should have sent her letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio, Governor Andrew Cuomo, MTA Chairman Pat Foye, and senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.
None of them to date have expressed any serious interest in support of this $8 billion project. They all have other higher priorities.
You also need a transportation agency to serve as the project sponsor, which is necessary to apply for federal funding. Both the MTA and DOT have indicated no interest in sponsoring or pursuing funding from City Hall, Albany or Washington.
Either agency would have to ask the Federal Transit Administration for permission to enter the project into the New Starts/Core Capacity national discretionary grant program.
No one has offered millions to pay for the next step, which is a formal Environmental Review. Without this, the project will continue to be dead and buried.
The environmental review process would also have to follow the National Environmental Protection Act. This would be part of the formal process to become eligible for Federal Transit Administration funding.
Larry Penner
Great Neck

Another shooting

Dear Editor,
The latest mass shooting outside a Florida banquet hall killed two people and injured another 20. When will Congress come to a viable agreement to stem the continued gun violence across the country?
Much stricter gun laws must be passed and enforced at the local, state and federal levels.
Law enforcement and police departments across the country are doing their very best to stop these shootings, but until there is more support from government, there is only so much the police and other law enforcement agencies are able to do.
No civilian needs to possess military-grade weapons. Gun shops around the country need to tighten the requirements for someone purchasing a weapon. Mentally ill people should never be allowed to purchase a weapon.
Our country is being turned into a shooting gallery.
John Amato
Fresh Meadows

Riot refusal

Dear Editor,
How wonderful that both parties were able to unite in celebrating the heroism of fallen veterans on Memorial Day. It’s too bad Mitch McConnell and senate Republicans blocked a bill to investigate the January 6th attack on the Capitol.
They chose instead to laugh in the face of Gladys Sicknick, the mother of fallen Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick. They believe it’s more important to prevent a Mexican from picking your strawberries then it is to investigate Donald Trump’s white supremacists beating a Capitol police officer with a fire extinguisher in an attempt to overthrow the government at his request.
This was the worst attack on the Capitol since the War of 1812 and the worst act of insurrection in United States since the Civil War. Why would Republicans not want to get to the bottom of such horrific violence?
Robert LaRosa, Sr.

Steven Raga, City Council Candidate

Steven Raga, former chief of staff to Assemblyman Brian Barnwell, is running for City Council in District 26, which includes Long Island City, parts of Astoria, Dutch Kills, Sunnyside, and Woodside.
Raga is a Woodside native, which he says resonates with voters.
“What excites them is that somebody that has been in the district longer than a Citi Bike and actually knows the district is running,” said Raga. “If I lose, I am not going to leave to run somewhere else.”
Raga sits on the board of both Woodside on the Move and Queens Pride, and has been a member of Community Board 2 since 2016.
“I would be advocating for people on the ground, not any big entity that would bully this neighborhood,” said Raga. “I’ve been fighting them for 15 years and leading through different organizations.”
One of Raga’s top priorities is affordable housing. He would push to reform the Area Median Income (AMI) to reflect the cost of life in local communities more accurately.
“AMI in New York City is calculated with Westchester, Putnam, and Rockland counties, which if you’re in the South Bronx should not be in consideration of what you’ll be paying for living at your place,” said Raga.
Raga’s proposal is to have the lowest AMI within either zip codes or a 10 to 20-mile radius be the default. He is also a supporter of the Green Roof Policy and making it a key part of any future developments.
Another top priority for Raga is to build a women’s shelter in the district.
“There’s only two in Queens, one in Jamaica and one in Flushing,” said Raga. “All the top rated ones are in Manhattan. I think part of the housing crisis is homelessness and the top reason for homelessness, especially for women, is domestic violence.”
Raga hopes to be collaborative elected official who brings the community together.
“Hopefully, we can have Western Queens be a beacon for civic engagement because that’s the space I come from,” said Raga.

Camp Rockaway returns for summer 2021

Back by popular demand for a fourth year, Camp Rockaway offers sand, turf, and Atlantic Ocean surf during the day and the comforts of home at night from June 11 to October 31, with a possible extension into November.
You can make reservations now for overnight stays in safari-style canvas tents tucked just behind the dunes at Fort Tilden.
Each tent is on a raised wood platform with a deck and two canvas lounge chairs in a family-friendly site that includes fire pits, a picnic-and-grill area, hammocks, a supply store, a phone-charging station, bathroom and shower facilities, and games such as cornhole.
Each tent is furnished with a Queen-size bed featuring a memory foam mattress, side tables, solar lights, pillows, linens, extra blankets, towels, and extra cleaning supplies.
Prices range from $149 to $189 on weekdays and Sundays and $189 to $289 on Fridays, Saturdays, and holidays with a maximum of two people per tent. Families and pods can add on a pre-pitched pup tent for kids or friends. Simply bring an overnight bag.
“It’s going to be a great summer,” said Kent Johnson, an architect who founded Camp Rockaway. “We provide the basics, plus a few amenities that make the experience more comfortable, like hot outdoor showers.”
For more information, visit

Long overdue honor for Vietnam vets

In honor of Memorial Day, we revisited some undated photos we found in our archives. When we first ran them, we heard from two people who actually took part in the event.
From John Rowan, national president and CEO of the Vietnam Veterans of America, founding president of Chapter 32 in Queens, and a resident of Glendale:
This picture is from the May 1985 Welcome Home Parade as part of the dedication of New York City’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial at 55 Water Street in Manhattan.
The flag bearer on the left is John Zimmerman, and behind him is Mike Boyle in the cap, who has since died due to complications from Agent Orange exposure.
To his left is Dominic Yezzon, Esq. I am in the flight suit to the left of Borough President Donald Manes. To my right is Willie Hill. The vet in the wheelchair is Matt Raible. ‎Three men to his left is Ron Renne. The Marine to Ron’s left is Mike Kern.
It was quite a day.
And from longtime Chapter 32 member Don Fedynak:
The photo is actually from the “The New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial Parade” which took place in May 1985. The veterans marched across the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan, past City Hall and down Broadway’s Canyon of Hero’s in a hail of ticker tape.
For most of the veterans it was long overdue. For this was the first time they had been afforded such an honor since their return home from Vietnam.
To Donald Manes’ left is Vietnam Veterans of America National President John Rowan. Directly behind John is me, Don Fedynak. Also in the photo are longtime chapter members Dominic Yezzo, Bill Ellis, Ron Renne, Ken Trautman, John Zimmerman, Bob Delgato, and way too many to mention here.

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