Queens Honors Councilman Paul Vallone with Heartfelt Bench Dedication


Mohamed Farghaly

Community members, political leaders, and loved ones gathered at Francis Lewis Park in Queens to unveil a memorial bench honoring the late Councilman Paul Vallone.


Community members, political officials, and friends gathered solemnly at Francis Lewis Park on June 14 for a heartfelt dedication ceremony honoring the late Councilman Paul Vallone. The event, organized by the Friends of Francis Lewis Park, paid tribute to Vallone’s enduring legacy of service and dedication to Queens’ District 19.

Formerly a distinguished member of the New York City Council and currently serving as the city’s Veterans Services deputy commissioner, Vallone passed away earlier this year on January 27 at the age of 56. His sudden death due to a fatal heart attack at home stunned the community, leaving behind his wife, Anna-Marie, and their three children, Catena, Lea, and Charlie.

Throughout his three terms in office from 2014 to 2021, Vallone championed initiatives aimed at enhancing education and community development within his district. His commitment to public service and passion for improving local parks were hallmarks of his tenure, making the bench dedication at Francis Lewis Park a poignant moment for all in attendance.

The ceremony, organized by the Friends of Francis Lewis Park, celebrated Vallone’s lifelong dedication to public service and his contributions to parks and education in Queens’ District 19.

The dedication ceremony at Francis Lewis Park on June 14 was a poignant tribute to the late Councilman Paul Vallone, celebrating his profound impact on Queens’ District 19 and beyond. Friends, family, and community members gathered to honor Vallone’s legacy of public service, highlighted by his advocacy for education and park improvements.

Among the attendees, Vallone’s friends and family played a central role, sharing memories that underscored his commitment to community and family. The ceremony commenced with a presentation of colors and a stirring rendition of the national anthem by Police Officer Murray, setting a solemn tone for the event.

Pastor Johnson delivered a heartfelt invocation, emphasizing Vallone’s faith and leadership, while Phil Sparacio, Chief of Operations in Queens Parks, reflected on Vallone’s enduring influence and dedication to enhancing public spaces.

“I’d like to welcome everyone to this day, it’s a very special thing that the Friends of Francis Lewis Park have done to commemorate all of what Paul did for the community,” Sparacio said. “He was a true friend of parks, not just Queen’s parks, but in the council, he pursued many other park initiatives that benefit the people in the city of New York. For me, it’s a little bittersweet. The last place I actually spoke with Paul was here in Francis Lewis Park during one of the summer concerts. But he certainly left a legacy.”

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards delivered a tribute at the bench dedication ceremony for Councilman Paul Vallone at Francis Lewis Park. Amidst a gathering of friends, family, and community members, Richards honored Vallone’s enduring legacy as a dedicated public servant and advocate for Queens.

“First of all, giving honor to God,” Richards began, addressing Vallone’s family and friends present. He praised Vallone’s selfless dedication and remarked on the impact Vallone had left on the community. Reflecting on the park where the ceremony was held, Richards emphasized that Vallone’s efforts were instrumental in its development, noting that Vallone always prioritized what was best for the neighborhood.

Richards fondly recalled Vallone’s character as someone who cared deeply about the community, making decisions not based on political calculations but on genuine concern for the welfare of others. He highlighted Vallone’s initiatives in Veteran Affairs, ensuring housing and services for veterans, and his commitment to improving the lives of residents across Queens.

Expressing gratitude for the commemoration of Vallone with the bench dedication, Richards assured that Vallone’s legacy would endure through future tributes like street renaming and other acknowledgments of his contributions.

“In the future, people will sit at this bench and reflect,” Richards said, concluding with a heartfelt tribute to Vallone’s enduring legacy. “May his legacy live on. He continues to be a blessing. And when time is up, just remember that smile. I love you, Paul.”

Friends and Family Gather to Celebrate Councilman Paul Vallone’s Life at Bench Dedication Event.

Councilwoman Sandra Ung spoke warmly at the bench dedication honoring Councilman Vallone, recalling personal moments that underscored Vallone’s profound impact on her life and the community.

“I have to say those words were so meaningful to me, because it was very contentious, and it was like a difficult moment at that time,” Ung said. “But him giving those words really did a lot to me, and we finished that deal. So, you know, his memory will always live on with me, who he is as a person.”

Ung reflected, recounting how Vallone’s supportive words helped her navigate a difficult legal issue. She shared how Vallone’s reassurance and empathy not only guided her through tough times but also left a lasting impression of his character as a caring and supportive friend.

New York State Senator John Liu delivered a heartfelt tribute at the bench dedication ceremony honoring Councilman Paul Vallone at Francis Lewis Park, acknowledging the profound impact Vallone had on his community and those who knew him.

“It’s hard to see you all out here, but it’s a beautiful day in a lot of different ways,” Liu began, recognizing the bittersweetness of the occasion.

“He still is beloved, and he is sorely missed during so many meetings with him, and now to not have him there, it’s kind of a hole in your heart, which I know is the same feeling that many of you have,” Liu said. “But today is a shiny day, it’s a good day when we take one of the very first steps to remember Paul’s memory, his legacy, with the dedication of this bench. And I know there’s going to be many, many more times for our brother Paul.”

Dorian Mecir, President of the Friends of Francis Lewis Park, spoke passionately at the bench dedication ceremony honoring Councilman Paul Vallone at Francis Lewis Park.

“Today is a bench dedication honoring the life of Council Member Paul Vallone,” Mecir said, highlighting Vallone’s instrumental role in founding and inspiring their grassroots group. “He was the best mentor, supporter that anybody could ever ask for. How fitting that today’s Flag Day, and here we are at the very beautiful veteran memorial that was renovated under his leadership.”

Mecir expressed gratitude for Vallone’s unwavering support and the tremendous turnout of friends and community members who gathered to commemorate Vallone’s contributions. The dedication ceremony, organized by the Friends of Francis Lewis Park, underscored Vallone’s enduring legacy and the profound influence he had on shaping the local park and community initiatives.

“Today, I ask everybody here to be a mentor, to take someone under your wing and show them the way,” Mecir said. “Share your knowledge, lend your wisdom, be a friend, encourage someone to go for it and wear your smile big and live like Paul gave along. We miss you, Paul. We love you. Paul, always.”

College Point Hosts Inaugural Restaurant Week to Celebrate Local Cuisine

Mohamed Farghaly

College Point’s local business week program aims to boost community engagement and support local establishments.


In an effort to highlight its unique culinary scene, College Point unveiled its first-ever Restaurant Week during a press conference at Nonna Delia’s at 18-32 College Point Blvd on June 13. Organized by The College Point Board of Trade, Inc. in collaboration with the Queens Chamber of Commerce, the event aims to showcase the diverse and authentic flavors available in the vibrant Queens neighborhood. This program runs from June 16 to June 30 and visitors can look forward to receiving 20 percent off for customers coming in for in-person dine-in and pickup orders.

Settled along College Point Boulevard, residents and visitors are invited to savor a rich tapestry of international cuisines, from the robust flavors of South American fare to the comforting tastes of Italian trattorias and the exotic offerings of Asian cuisine. Participating restaurants, which include eateries specializing in Chilean, Colombian, Mexican, and other cuisines, are offering enticing discounts and special menus throughout the week.

“So, we’re very proud to partner with Tom Palma and the college point Board of Trade to put together college point Restaurant Week,” George Hadjiconstantinou, Vice President of Strategic Programs at the Queens Chamber of Commerce said. “We haven’t done this before in College Point, and frankly, this is not something that the Chamber of Commerce often does, either, but other neighborhoods in Queens have had very successful restaurant weeks, and we want to make sure that we are providing business support and assistance to businesses in College Point because we want to spur economic development, and we just want to encourage people to shop in their neighborhoods.”

The initiative, spurred by a grant from the New York City Small Business Services, underscores a concerted effort to revitalize College Point Boulevard as a thriving commercial corridor.

“A successful restaurant week is increased sales, not just for the restaurants, but for all surrounding businesses,” Hadjiconstantinou said. “We are operating on the theory that small that folks will come to college point, they’ll park their car or take the bus. Alternatively, they’ll eat at a restaurant and then they might need to buy something else. Maybe they’ll stop at the pharmacy across the street, or they’ll or maybe they’ll patronize any of the other great stores that are in the strip late. And also just, you know, this won’t be their last time they visit College point once they’ll have an excellent culinary experience. And hope that people from outside of college point will come in from Whitestone.”

Nonna Delia’s, a cherished establishment in College Point since 1989 known for its authentic Italian cuisine, is one the local restaurants participate in College Point’s local business week. The establishment embodies a rich family legacy steeped in culinary tradition. Originally known as Cascarino’s and renamed in honor of owner Robert Cascarino’s late mother, Nonna Delia, the restaurant remains a beacon of Italian comfort and hospitality. Delia herself was the heart and soul of the kitchen, renowned for her handmade meatballs, fresh sauces, and traditional pasta dishes.

Today, Nonna Delia’s continues to delight patrons with its signature brick oven pizzas, hearty pasta salads, and flavorful entrees like the Pan Fried Chicken dish. As College Point eagerly anticipates its first Restaurant Week, Robert Cascarino looks forward to sharing his family’s passion for authentic Italian cuisine and welcoming new diners to experience the warm atmosphere and exceptional service that define Nonna Delia’s.

Nonna Delia’s, a fixture in College Point since 1989, looks forward to showcasing its traditional Italian dishes and welcoming new patrons during this exciting community event.


In addition to showcasing the area’s diverse dining options, organizers have strived for inclusivity. As residents and food enthusiasts flock to College Point for this inaugural event, organizers are optimistic about its impact.

For more information and a list of participating restaurants offering exclusive discounts, visit the Queens Chamber of Commerce website at

Suspect Arrested in Kissena Park Assault Case

Courtesy Crime Stoppers

Christian Giovani Landi, a 25-year-old migrant from Ecuador, was arrested early Tuesday morning in Corona, New York, following a week-long manhunt sparked by a brazen assault in Kissena Corridor Park.


Authorities have apprehended a suspect in connection with the shocking sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl in a Queens park.

The arrest early Tuesday morning follows a week-long manhunt that gripped the city after the brazen attack last Thursday. Police identified the suspect as Christian Giovani Landi, a 25 year old migrant from Ecuador who entered the U.S. through Eagle Pass, Texas, in June 2021. He was taken into custody around 1:30 a.m. after vigilant members of the community recognized him from surveillance images released by the NYPD.

According to police sources, the suspect was located at a single-room-occupancy dwelling in Corona, just three miles from the scene of the assault at Kissena Corridor Park in Flushing. Upon spotting him, several individuals intervened, resulting in a physical altercation that left the suspect with minor injuries. He was subsequently transported to a local hospital for evaluation.

Authorities have described the apprehended individual as a “strong person of interest” in the case but have not yet filed formal charges.

The assault, which occurred in broad daylight, sent shockwaves through the community. Police recounted that the suspect approached the two 13-year-olds as they finished playing soccer, brandishing a large machete-style knife. He coerced them into a wooded area, where he allegedly tied their wrists with a shoelace and sexually assaulted the girl before stealing their cellphones and fleeing.

In response to the incident, the NYPD swiftly mobilized, deploying sketches based on descriptions provided by the victims, including a distinctive tattoo of a boar on the suspect’s chest. Surveillance footage captured the suspect on a bicycle, further aiding investigators in their search.

The arrest comes on the heels of a $10,000 reward offered by authorities for information leading to the suspect’s capture and conviction. Police credit the quick identification and apprehension to the cooperation of the community and the bravery of the victims in providing crucial details.

Authorities have indicated that further updates on charges and court proceedings will be forthcoming as the investigation progresses.

Courtesy NYPD

Identified with the help of surveillance images and community vigilance, the migrant man is a prime suspect in the alleged coercion, assault, and robbery of two 13-year-olds last Thursday.

From NYPD to Assemblyman Candidate, Meet Kenneth Paek

Mohamed Farghaly


Kenneth Paek, an experienced NYPD veteran, seeks to become Assemblyman in District 25, focusing on public safety, economic reform, and education.



Kenneth Paek, a seasoned NYPD veteran with a distinguished career spanning precinct duty to specialized units, is now vying for the position of Assemblyman in District 25. His candidacy is defined by a commitment to public safety, economic reform, and educational improvement, rooted in his deep-seated passion for community service and his extensive experience in law enforcement. Paek is one of the candidates seeking to challenge current Assemblywoman Nily Rozic.

Kenneth and his wife, Eun Paek have been married for 20 years and reside in Oakland Gardens, with their children, Katelyn and Brenden. Their personal experiences navigating the challenges of raising a family in New York City inform Paek’s policies aimed at improving community life and securing a brighter future for all residents.

Paek’s journey in law enforcement began in the 5th Precinct and evolved through roles in high-stakes units like the Emergency Services Unit, where he handled complex cases including incidents involving weapons of mass destruction. Paek’s career spans over two decades in the New York City Police Department, where he went on to serve as a Public Safety Sergeant at the 109th Precinct.

Motivated by a lifelong aspiration to serve and protect, Paek entered law enforcement to make a tangible difference in people’s lives. His decision to run for Assemblyman stems from a desire to continue his public service in a broader capacity, advocating for policies that prioritize safety and empower local law enforcement agencies.

Central to Paek’s campaign is his critique of recent bail reforms, which he believes jeopardize public safety by swiftly releasing potentially dangerous offenders back into communities. This stance resonates deeply with constituents concerned about crime rates and community security, despite the challenges of engaging residents wary of recent legislative changes.

“I started feeling like this bail reform, like while I’m putting my life on the line, I’m putting my police officer’s life on the line to catch that person and they are on the street again,” Paek said. “You know, people do make mistakes, but the same time you don’t make mistakes by using a weapon to rob somebody, that’s not a mistake.”

His campaign emphasizes his commitment to ensuring safety in local neighborhoods, drawing on his firsthand experience addressing community concerns and maintaining law and order. Paek believes that with this breadth of experience, it equips him with a unique perspective on community safety and crisis management, crucial skills he intends to leverage in Albany.

“I’m gonna start advocating, I’m gonna be the the loudest voice amplifier in Albany or the city hall trying to educate these people,” Paek said. “At the same time, it kind of boils down to safety, right? Like I want to go to work without getting slashed. I want to go to work without getting shot, whether you’re Democrats or whether Republican. I’m going to educate them. I’m going to persuade them we need to change these rules and regulations.”

In addition to an emphasis on law enforcement, Paek understands the challenges faced by small businesses in New York City. He advocates for reducing bureaucratic red tape and regulations to foster job creation and stimulate economic growth. Paek promises to fight for fiscal responsibility in government, vowing to cut wasteful spending and promote efficient use of taxpayer dollars.

Campaigning actively by personally canvassing neighborhoods, Paek is undeterred by these obstacles. In a district with approximately 7,000 registered Republican voters, he estimates needing around 1,200 votes to secure victory in the primary—a goal he pursues with passion, addressing voter concerns face-to-face and through community outreach efforts.

On criminal justice reform, Paek advocates for a balanced approach that combines tough penalties for repeat and violent offenders with rehabilitative programs aimed at younger individuals to prevent recidivism. His stance reflects his belief in strengthening law enforcement capabilities while fostering initiatives that address root causes of crime.

In navigating political challenges, Paek emphasizes amplifying district concerns in Albany, promising to advocate for regulatory changes based on community feedback and his extensive law enforcement background. His candidacy gains traction through grassroots support and a well-organized campaign bolstered by significant fundraising efforts.

“I want to make city lot safer for everybody that that lives in the five boroughs, in New York State and New York City,” Paek said. “I was telling people, I was telling my voters, don’t just call me on your good days, call me on your bad days. Meaning that, coming from a cop background, people don’t call 911 when they’re having a birthday parties or a good time. People always calls like in emergencies. If you got any worries, concerns and ideas that could make my district and my city better, contact me and I’m all in for it.”

District 25 encompasses a diverse array of neighborhoods in Queens, including areas that have seen rapid demographic changes in recent years. Paek’s candidacy is positioned to resonate with voters seeking a leader who understands local issues and is committed to implementing practical solutions.

The Assemblyman position in District 25 carries significant responsibilities, including voting on legislation, approving state spending, and weighing in on gubernatorial vetoes. Paek’s candidacy underscores his readiness to take on these responsibilities and advocate vigorously on behalf of his constituents in Albany. In New York City, early voting is held from June 15 to June 23. There is a one day break before the primary on June 25.



His candidacy challenges Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, driven by his extensive law enforcement background and commitment to community service.

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