Holiday gift drives for veterans and children

Gift Drive 2017

Tis the season to be charitable and give back to the community.

Assemblyman Edward Braunstein is hosting holiday gift drives to collect presents for hospitalized veterans and toys for hospitalized children.

For the veterans, Braunstein’s office is collecting candy, pajamas, robes, slippers, socks, sweaters, shaving cream, toothbrushes, toothpaste, paying cards and puzzles. These donations will go to the men and women at St. Albans VA Community Living Center and Veterans’ Home in St. Albans.

You can also donate unwrapped new toys for the hospitalized and needy children of Queens.

All gifts should be delivered to one of these locations by Monday, December 18:

  • Assemblyman Braunstein’s office: 213-33 39th Avenue, Suite 238
  • Dr. William M. Duke’s office: 35-01 202nd Street
  • Community Board 11: 46-21 Little Neck Parkway

Holiday house tour trolley comes to Flushing


On Sunday, December 10, from 1 to 5 p.m., seven Flushing and Corona landmarks will open their doors for the 30th annual Historic House Tour.

Visitors can ride the dedicated shuttle to the seven participating sites:

  • Louis Armstrong House Museum
  • Bowne House
  • Flushing Town Hall
  • Quaker Meeting House
  • Kingsland Homestead
  • Lewis H. Latimer House Museum
  • Voelker Orth House

The historic houses will also showcase women activists and civic leaders associated with their sites.

Tickets are $15 in advance, but $20 at the door. Children under 12 can attend for $5.


Here are the winners of the Halloween essay and drawing contest

Halloween Contest 2017
Left to right: Olivia Tran, Isabel Lin, Annette Mary Ajai, Ming Jia.

More than 200 students throughout northeast Queens participated in Assemblyman Edward Braunstein’s annual Halloween essay and drawing contest. And the results are in.

Here are the winners of this year’s competition:

  • 2nd grade Grand Prize: Annette Mary Ajai, from PS 115 in Floral Park
  • 3rd grade Grand Prize: Isabel Lin, from PS 41 in Bayside
  • 4th grade Grand Prize: Olivia Tran, from PS 159 in Bayside
  • 5th grade Grand Prize: Ming Jia, from PS 221 in Little Neck

All winners received an Amazon gift card and a New York State Assembly Certificate of Merit.

Townsend Harris student journalists receive national award

Townsend_Harris_1 copy

Remember how student journalists at Townsend Harris High School were accused of “fake news” during their coverage of the school’s push to remove interim principal Rosemarie Jahoda?

If not, here’s a refresher: The Classic, Townsend Harris’s school paper, was led by editor-in-chief Sumaita Hasan and managing editor Mehrose Ahmad. Throughout their tumultuous year, they reported and published daily stories about student, teacher and parent discontent with their interim principal.

As more and more pressure mounted against Jahoda, a Department of Education official called the paper’s contents “fake news.” But The Classic was not deterred.

They kept investigating and writing, breaking news and getting scoops about Jahoda’s behavior toward students, the DOE’s actions and eventually, the process to pick a permanent replacement.

They filed a Freedom of Information request for the names of applicants. They used live-stream video to share the students’ sit-in and thoughts about Jahoda.

For all of their work, The Classic received the Student Press Law Center’s 2017 Courage in Student Journalism Award.

“These stories were maligned as ‘fake news’ by the subject of these stories and her supporters,” said SPLC executive director Hadar Harris. “We’re here not only to affirm that the journalism done by these young reporters is accurate and in context, but to celebrate it at a national convention of 4,000+ high school journalists.”

Hasan is now a freshman at Macaulay Honors at Hunter College, and Melrose is at Barnard College.

PS 188 welcomes newly renovated auditorium

Ribbon Cutting PS 188-11.15.17

PS 188 in Hollis Hills has officially opened its newly-renovated auditorium.

Councilman Barry Grodenchik and former Councilman Mark Weprin were on hand to help cut the ribbon. Upgrades include an improved sound system, lighting and seating.

“This new auditorium is beautiful, and our children deserve nothing less,” Grodenchik says.

Student Council President Ihsan Yumak also helped cut the ribbon, and even gave a speech at the event.

Rozic’s office to host agency resource fair


Tomorrow afternoon, Assemblywoman Nily Rozic’s office at 159-16 Union Turnpike is hosting an agency resource fair from noon to 3 p.m.

Representatives from the following city agencies will be available to answer constituent questions and concerns:

  • Department of Buildings
  • Department of Environmental Protection
  • Department of Finance
  • Department of Transportation
  • Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings

If you are unable to attend, call Rozic’s office at 718-820-0241 to share your questions or concerns in advance.

Three northeast Queens buildings are among the 10 worst in Queens

150-15 Sanford Ave. Screen shot via Google Maps.
150-15 Sanford Ave. Screen shot via Google Maps.

Public Advocate Letitia James has released her annual worst landlords watch list, which includes the 10 worst buildings in Queens.

By worse, we mean these buildings have the most housing code violations.

Three buildings in northeast Queens appear on this list, with a staggering number of violations.

Second on the list is 150-15 Sanford Avenue in Murray Hill, which has a whopping 244 HPD violations. The head officer listed with this property is Nada Gracin.

Third on the list is 139-29 34th Road, right along Union Street near Leavitts Park. This building has 204 HPD violations. Their head officer is Lucia Chiao.

Finally, ninth on the list is 116-01 14th Road in College Point. This building, with head officer Norman Mirsky, has 135 HPD violations, according to the public advocate’s office.

“No New Yorker should be subjected to live in a hazardous home, yet bad landlords in our city are forcing too many tenants to live in dangerous and indecent conditions,” James says.

Traffic signal coming to intersection near Kissena Park

Screen shot via Google Maps
Screen shot via Google Maps

The Department of Transportation has approved a long-requested traffic signal for a busy intersection.

Parsons Boulevard and Rose Avenue will have the new traffic signal installed by February 28, 2018.

“I am happy I was finally able to help residents of the Kissena Park community obtain action by DOT  to make this intersection safer for motorists and pedestrians,” said State Senator Tony Avella.

City Council incumbents hold onto seats


In a general election that had few surprises in New York City, all council members in northeast Queens won another term in office.

In the 19th Council District, which runs from College Point and Whitestone to Bayside and Douglaston, Paul Vallone retained his seat. He defeated Republican challenger Konstantinos Poulidis and Reform Party candidate Paul Graziano.

Vallone tallied 14,284 votes out of 24,880 total votes cast, good for 57.41 percent, according to unofficial returns from the BOE website.

Poulidis took home 6,121 votes, or 24.6 percent, despite not running a real campaign.

Perhaps the most shocking result was Graziano’s distant third. In September, the land use consultant and civic activist challenged Vallone in the Democratic Primary and fell only 600 votes short, roughly 45 percent of the vote.

In the 23rd Council District in eastern Queens, incumbent Barry Grodenchik fended off a challenge by Republican Joseph Concannon and independent John Lim.

Grodenchik collected 14,837 votes, or 64.67 percent in an easy victory.

Other winners include Rory Lancman, who cruised to victory of Reform Party candidate Mohammad Rahman, and Peter Koo, who ran unopposed.

Kaboom! A new playground is built at Pomonok


If we told you a group of volunteers built an entire playground in six hours, would you believe it?

Well, that’s exactly what happened over the weekend at Pomonok Houses.

KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit organization that collaborates with partners to build playgrounds, worked with NYCHA and the Fund for Public Housing to build the colorful play space.

“We demonstrated what’s possible when a community comes together to put kids first,” said James Siegal, CEO of KaBOOM! “Play is how kids learn and grow, and also how they feel valued, protected and loved.”

Last September, KaBOOM! worked with local groups to build another community playground at the Samuel Field Y. Read more about that here.