2016-12-21 / Editorials

Letter to the Editor

Happy and Safe Holidays!

To The Editor: As the newly appointed NYPD Chief of Patrol Borough Queens North, I wanted to take a moment to share some thoughts to keep us all safe during this holiday season. As we all know, Queens is the most diverse neighborhood in the world, and that diversity is our strength. Our citizens hail from all corners of the globe and we have many different traditions and religious observances. However we all share Queens as our home. Instead of having those differences divide us, let our shared beliefs unite us. We also share our future hopes for our children and the belief that we should all be safe on our streets and in our residences. Take your elderly neighbor out for some last minute shopping, but remember not to leave valuables visible inside your vehicle. Always remember to safeguard your valuables while you are shopping by not leaving purses, pocket books, and cell phones unattended. As the Chief of NYPD Queens North, I wish all of you a safe, happy and peaceful holiday season.

Juanita N. Holmes
NYPD Chief, Patrol Borough Queens

Safety During Holidays

To The Editor:

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all members of the Western Queens community a very happy and safe holiday season. It is the strong partnership between the residents of Queens and its police that has made this neighborhood such a safe place to live and visit. This teamwork has never been more important. We thank you for your support!

As of last year, a safety plan will be implemented during the upcoming holiday season. Officers will place a strong emphasis on maintaining the quality of life. Violations of public consumption of alcohol and disorderly conduct will be strictly enforced. Vehicular safety checkpoints will be increased, and there will be a zero tolerance policy for drinking and driving. All year long we have worked to provide a safe environment for our residents and this holiday season will be no exception. On behalf of the men and women of the 114th Precinct, I would like to extend our warmest wishes and we look forward to an even safer year in 2017.

Deputy Inspector Peter Fortune
Commanding Officer, 114th Precinct

Made In Queens

To The Editor:

In 1897, Virginia O'Hanlon wrote to Francis Pharcellus Church, Editor of The New York Sun, asking if there really was a Santa Claus. His reply to the 8-year-old girl was an historic essay on the importance of hope and faith.

Around the holidays, we think about hope, faith and tradition. Santa Claus is not part of everyone's heritage, especially in Queens, where within a few blocks there are churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and other institutions where people worship and share fellowship.

We've been thinking of a way to celebrate our multiple heritages and commemorate the holiday season. QEDC clients are truly a reflection of the borough, and so are our staffers. In our little office, I have colleagues from South America, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean and of course, I'm from faroff-and-exotic East Flatbush. These colleagues came here as children, because their parents realized that the United States would offer them opportunities they might not have had in their native countries.

In thinking of a way to highlight our pop-up shop, MiQ – Made in Queens for the holiday, we pondered having a Santa Claus in residence. But why have the standard stuffed red suit that every department store has? This is Queens after all – we're different! We joked at a staff meeting and asked: "Why does Santa have to be an old, heavyset guy with a beard?" Then we looked at Sarah Liu, born in China to Mongolian parents, educated in the United States and Europe, fluent in more than a few languages. It became obvious that our business adviser is the perfect embodiment of Queens. In addition to her background, she is smart, well-rounded, jolly, and plays a mean classical piano. Sarah Claus was born, but there's no beard or stuffing on Saint Nick's sister from another mister...and another part of the world.

On Saturday, Dec. 17, from 1 pm to 3 pm, Sarah Claus – in all her red trimmed finery – will greet shoppers at MiQ. The pop-up is a great place to purchase unique gifts made by Queens crafters. Items include clothes, food, jewelry, and art, all reasonably priced. And in purchasing at MiQ, you are supporting local businesses.

To make the day sweeter, we'll give away Madelaine Chocolate Company treats to young guests who want to take a picture with Sarah Claus. Based in Rockaway, Madelaine is one of the last family-owned candy companies in NYC, and we're proud to have them. The business sustained a great deal of damage during Hurricane Sandy, but the owners rebuilt and stayed put because they are committed to our borough. They kept the faith, and are still an important part of the local economy.

So yes, Virginia, there is a Sarah Claus. Come visit our store on Saturday, meet her, enjoy some Queens-made candy, and purchase some Queens-made gifts.

Seth Bornstein
Executive Director, Queens Economic
Development Corporation

Burial Ground Reclamation

To The Editor:

On November 12th, 2016, there was a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the reclamation, renaming and rededication of the Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground. The cemetery, where the event took place, is located on 46th Avenue, between 164th and 165th Streets in Flushing, opposite Flushing Cemetery. The Conservancy for this 19th century cemetery cosponsored the event with Council Member Peter Koo.

During the last 10 years, the Conservancy has worked to make sure that the burial ground is maintained, that appropriate signage is installed at all of the gates leading into this cemetery, and that fitting memorial stones are erected at the site in order to honor the approximately 1,000 souls resting there. Especially important to the Conservancy is the recognition that is due for four of the people interred there; the four people who actually had headstones on site. Unfortunately, those headstones were removed and destroyed nearly 80 years ago by the City of New York in an act of indifference and intolerance.

A playground and wading pool were built over the cemetery in the 1930s, disturbing graves. Bones were dug up during excavation, and the remains were treated with great disrespect and dishonor. Most buried there are native Americans and African- Americans. Many were buried in this cemetery when their lives were taken during the epidemics of the 1800s. A large percent of the interred are children.

Today, the site is a beautiful, peaceful and meditative area. However, for the Conservancy, there is still much to accomplish, including placement of memorial stones. The Conservancy will be reviewing New York City Parks and New York City Design Commission plans for memorial stones in January, 2017. We are thankful to Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and former Borough President Helen Marshall for setting aside funds for the memorial stones.

The recent ceremony at the cemetery was well attended, with the color guard by Boy Scout Troop 253 and Boy Scout Troop 888. Chief Sonny Little Fox, a Matinecock Tribe leader, gave special Native American blessings to open the ceremony. Andrew Jackson, retired Director of Langston Hughes Library, poured libation and read poetry to honor the departed. There were praise dancers from Community Baptist Church of Brooklyn, and a wonderful dancer from Macedonia AME Church of Flushing. The Rev. Calvin Gibson of Ebenezer Baptist Church of Flushing led those present in prayer. Congress Member Grace Meng, Council Member Peter Koo, Senator Tony Avella, and Assembly Members Ed Braunstein and Ron Kim were among the elected officials who were present. Former New York City Comptroller John Liu gave the compelling keynote address. He was a leading force in making sure that the burial ground was recognized and refurbished when he served as a Council Member. We also cite the contributions of former Council and Assembly Member Julia Harrison. We thank Queens Community Board 7, as well, for their help. We also send a special thank you to PIX 11 TV, who is taking a special interest in the site.

Some descendants of those buried at the cemetery also spoke at the event. Present as well was Queens Historian Jack Eichenbaum and representatives of the Queens Preservation Council and the Auburndale Improvement Association. Also attending was Kenneth Cohen, President of the Northeast Chapter of the NAACP, members of the Queens College Queens Memory Project and Holly Civic members and supporters. The ceremony concluded with special prayers and chants from the Buddhist Light and IBPS. It was an amazing event, with some parts broadcast by New York 1.

The Conservancy looks forward to working with the Parks Department, the Design Commission, elected leaders, local residents and others to ensure that those resting at the Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground are treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve.

Mandingo Osceola Tshaka,
Robbie Garrison
Co-Chairs, Olde Towne of Flushing
Burial Ground Conservancy

LaGuardia In The News

Dear Friend of LaGuardia,

As the holiday season quickly approaches, our campus is bustling with the usual end of year activities: finals, holiday celebrations, and charitable giving opportunities, but that hasn’t stopped us from stepping into the media spotlight. CBS National News featured the generosity of our Pushy Moms (an outgrowth of our President’s Society, a student leadership enrichment program) in guiding students through the process of transferring to a four-year college, on “CBS This Morning.”

As well, two articles in The New York Times captured the magic that is ever present at LaGuardia: students’ determination to blaze successful paths into the future in spite of election uproar; and a faculty’s stunning black and white photo essay on Brooklyn’s legendary Gleason’s Gym. Crain’s New York Business highlighted the success of our Medical Billing

Certificate Program, which is giving students a path to a career that offers economic stability. While the program first began as a way to fill hiring shortages at Weill Cornell Medicine, news coverage about the program’s first graduation got the attention of NYU Langone, Mount Sinai, Northwell Health and Columbia University Medical Center, which have all joined the program as employer partners. Three stories on NY1 News featured our esteemed Commercial Photography program—about the munificence of Astoria Bank’s $8,500 donation that will help purchase supplies and equipment for photography students, and an exhibit of LaGuardia student work featured at Astoria Bank’s new Long Island City Branch. Another story covered our on-campus exhibit of student and faculty work from a month-long trip to Alaska.

I wish you and yours a safe and healthy holiday and a wonderful New Year! Sincerely,

Dr. Gail O. Mellow

Good Neighbors

To The Editor:

We have just had our first snowfall of the season. A few inches, but a problem nonetheless. It may be fun for the kids, but not for those of us who have to shovel it. And especially since this was a mix of snow, sleet and later rain, it was a chore to shovel. But this storm had a good side. I was shoveling my walkway at about 10 am and have a hernia that will be operated on in January. My good neighbor Al saw I was having trouble and came over after he shoveled his walkway to help me. The thing is he is 79 and I’m 67. What a guy! I saw that was happening in many parts of Glen Oaks Village later on – neighbor helping neighbor, which I find to be a beautiful thing. I live in a mixed community of Christians, Jews, Muslims and many different races and nationalities, and I find they all come to aid their fellow neighbors who need help. And finally, to my neighbor Al, I say thank you for your help and kindness.

Frederick R. Bedell Jr.
Glen Oaks Village

Peace, Love & Joy

To The Editor:

As the holiday season swings into full gear, we should remember why we celebrate. Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanzaa all are joyous, festive holidays with a common denominator – light. The Christmas tree is decorated with lights, ornaments and tinsel. The menorah is lit on each night of Chanukah, as is the candlebra for Kwanzaa. All of these holidays represent joy, peace and love, and everyone who celebrates any of these holidays should enjoy them. This holiday season, let's all try to spread some goodwill and good cheer to those less fortunate then us. As we gather to celebrate with family and friends, let's remember that the true meanings of these wonderful holidays of light: Peace, Love and Joy. Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and Happy Kwanzaa to all those who celebrate them, and a Very Happy New Year filled with good health, peace and joy!

John Amato
Fresh Meadows

No Place For Hate

To The Editor:

I am so elated at the editorial written in this week's Gazette. Yes, tolerance and peace are not just for the Christmas season but all year-round. We must accept and adjust to all people. I am surprised that the disabled community was not mentioned in the editorial. Many people with disabilities are targets of prejudice and bias as well as intolerance. Being the only totally blind person here in a senior living community has been an adjustment, not just for me but for the others who are not blind.

I agree with Council Member Constantinides in that we must try to have less carbon emissions; I heard that spraying the upper atmosphere with calcium carbonate may be the answer.

I agree that electricians who work without a licence must be fined.

In addition, it is sad that no longer toll booths exist at bridges and tunnels. These toll collectors are the eyes and ears of all the people passing by. Many people do not have smart phones, nor do they have any EZ-Pass.

I also agree that the transit workers must be given a sufficient pay increase since they are our first responders in terms of terrorism, blizzards, crime and repairs. They provide a necessary service transporting thousands to and from work and school every day.

Cynthia Groopman
Little Neck

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