2006-01-18 / Seniors

Astoria Seniors Honor Vallone Sr.

At a surprise ceremony last Wednesday, former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. was honored by having a new computer lab at the Della Monica Senior Center in Astoria named for him in recognition of all the city funding he secured for the new facility while he was Astoria’s city council representative.

Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., who succeeded his father in the council, reported the elder Vallone was deeply honored by the gesture from center officials and his son.

“Dad knows how much operating a computer will enrich the lives of the seniors by enabling them to reach out to family and friends near and far,” said the councilmember, who also participated in arranging the honor with officials at the center, located at 23-56 Broadway.

The surprise element of the computer lab renaming came about because Vallone Sr. was at the center to sign copies of his recently published book, Learning to Govern: From Hellgate To City Hall , for some 100 members of the center who purchased the $20 book at a special 50 percent discount arranged by the author.

After the book signing, which attracted a huge crowd, the honoree was escorted to the basement of the center where the computer lab is located. A plaque was unveiled which described the former council speaker’s many efforts to aid seniors over his council career, which spanned nearly 30 years, particularly his securing the funds to establish a computer lab and program at the center.

As Speaker, Vallone was widely recognized for championing the cause of seniors in every annual budget, often going head-to-head with whoever the mayor happened to be at the time to make sure that seniors’ programs were included in city spending plans.

Councilmember Vallone Jr. explained that the computer lab consists of 10 computers and related equipment and peripherals. “I will be monitoring the activity created by this new facility and hope to continue to try to secure funds in the budget to improve and enlarge the operation, as the case may be, so that as many seniors as possible get the benefit of this new lab,” Vallone stated.

The lawmaker spent much of his time at the center that day accepting “thank yous” from many members for a graffiti cleanup after several youths had vandalized the outside walls of the center building. Vallone Jr. organized a Saturday morning volunteer cleanup program and eradicated the ugly markings.

NEW HEAP FUNDING INITIATIVE: Assemblymember Margaret Markey (D–Maspeth) reports that the Assembly has passed legislation to expand state funding of the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) by $200 million.

Markey said the Assembly had acted despite a federal reduction of $15 million in HEAP funds and sharp increases in home heating fuel prices. The HEAP program authorizes grants to needy seniors and low-income families to assure there is no interruption in heating for their homes through the winter.

Markey noted: “With the soaring prices of both home heating oil and the natural gas alternative, some people in New York state are being squeezed into making unconscionable choices of either heating their homes or paying for other necessities.”

She called on the state senate and Governor George Pataki to support the Assembly’s action.

SENIOR HEALTH, INFO EXPO: State Senator Frank Padavan (R–C, Bellerose) recently held a Senior Health and Info Expo at the Services Now For Adult Persons (SNAP) senior center at Creedmoor in Queens Village, featuring a wide variety of health-related tests and information provided by New York Hospital Queens.

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