Vaccination site set for Martin Van Buren High School


Martin Van Buren High School in Queens Village will be the first vaccination site in Council District 23, which encompasses the most eastern parts of Queens.

The site was supposed to open last week, but was delayed due to the winter storm, which dropped eight inches of snow and caused City Hall to push back the opening.

“Martin Van Buren High School is a perfect location for a vaccine site here in eastern Queens,” said Councilman Barry Grodenchik. “After working with City Hall for weeks, I am encouraged by the selection of this school and look forward to seeing the site in operation.”

Grodenchik said the phone lines at his office have been ringing “off the hook” as local residents, especially seniors, seek appointments.

Some residents have even traveled outside the borough because the vaccine was not available nearby.

Gennaro sworn in as City Council member for 24th District

James F. Gennaro

You can now remove “former” from Councilman Jim Gennaro’s title.

The eastern Queens representative, who resoundingly won a special election on February 2 with 60 percent of the vote, officially fills the vacancy created by the departure of former Councilman Rory Lancman.

Lancman left the City Council early for a role in the Cuomo administration. Gennaro will serve the remainder of the term, which goes until the end of the year.

If Gennaro wants to hold onto the seat for a full four-year term, he will have to win the primary and general election this year.

After his special election win was certified by the NYC Board of Elections, Gennaro was sworn into office via Zoom.

“I am humbled by and grateful to the people of the 24th Council District who returned me to office with more than 60 percent of the vote in an eight-candidate field,” he said. “I am overwhelmed by their support and I promise to live up to the trust that the people have placed in me.”

Gennaro said he is now hiring staff to serve his constituents, and he has already interviewed some “very talented and committed people.”

Constituents can reach his office at 718-217-4969.

Queens Botanical Garden adds new Board of Trustees members

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Four new members have joined the Board of Trustees for the Queens Botanical Garden.

Anthony Lui, vice president branch manager at Flushing Bank, has been with the bank since 2010. He has managed five different branches in the past decade.

Lui served as a Marine in the Marine Corps after high school, serving three years overseas in Okinawa, Japan. After being honorably discharged, he graduated from Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business.

Rebecca Schmutter, counsel at Farrell Fritz PC, counsels corporations, family-owned businsesses and individuals on domestic and international tax matters.

Prior to joining Farrell Fritz, she was counsel at Pryor Cashman LLP, and also an associate at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. She is an alumna of Columbia College and Columbia Law School.

Lee-Lee Chang works as an attorney specializing in commercial and residential real estate transactions. Before running her own law practice, Chang was an associate attorney at the law firm of Wise, Lerman and Katz, P.C.

Chang attended Taiwan National Chung Hsing University and CUNY Law School.

Finally, Jenny Zeng, a 30-year Queens resident, is president of East Grandview in Flushing. She worked in comprehensive planning and design for national parks.

In 2008, Zeng started her own business introducing traditional Chinese silk embroidery art. She has also worked as a manager in the medical field.

Give your input for the redesign of Captain Mario Fajardo Playground

Screenshot via Google Maps

Screenshot via Google Maps

Tonight, the public has a chance to comment on the renovation of Captain Mario Fajardo Playground in Kissena Corridor Park.

Councilman Peter Koo, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and the Queens borough president’s office secured $3.2 million to redesign and reconstruct the playground area.

The virtual meeting will give residents and community members an opportunity to weigh in on the project.

“Captain Mario Fajardo Playground is in a prime location with subprime conditions,” Koo said. “The equipment is run down, the space is underutilized and the community is ready for a change.”

The meeting begins tonight at 6 p.m. Register at

Register now for next week’s virtual jobs fair


Borough President Donovan Richards is continuing the series of virtual jobs recruitments fair for borough residents.

The next fair is set for Thursday, February 18 at 2 p.m., and will be hosted in partnership with 10 featured employers, which can be seen above.

“Our ultimate recovery and rebuild as a borough must center on connecting our unmatched talent with available employment opportunities as quickly and efficiently as possible, and Queens is grateful to our hiring partners who have stepped up to participate in this critical process,” Richards said.

Applicants interested in participating in the Q&A Zoom webinar must RSVP by Wednesday, February 17 at

Participants will hear presentations from employers and recruiters seeking to fill positions in their fields. You can also livestream the event by visiting

SBS is hosting free small business seminars


The NYC Department of Small Business Services is hosting a series of free seminars for those looking to start their own small business or become a vendor at the Queens Night Market.

The seminars will cover a range of topics, from creating a viable business idea and industry and competitor analysis to branding and marketing, social media and obtaining permits.

Attendees can expect guest speakers, networking and Q&A opportunities.

The first seminar is set for Tuesday, February 23, the second is on Tuesday, March 2 and the last will be on Tuesday, March 9. All run from 6 to 9 p.m.

Hailing Chen launches campaign for City Council on Sunday

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Hailing Chen, center, rallying at Citi Field last year.

Uber driver Hailing Chen is officially launching his campaign for City Council on Sunday at I.S. 237, located at 46-21 Colden Street.

Chen has been active during the pandemic fighting for safety precautions for rideshare drivers and other essential workers.

“We must fight for immigrants’ rights because we are a nation of immigrants,” he said. “We must fight for workers’ rights to make sure all New Yorkers can support their families and live safely during the pandemic and beyond.”

The 28-year-old began driving for Uber shortly after graduating from St. John’s University. He has organized with the Independent Drivers Guild, an affiliate of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which endorsed Chen.

Chen is hoping to succeed term-limited Councilman Peter Koo. The race has picked up intensity as more candidates have joined the fray.

In addition to Chen, other candidates include congressional aide Sandra Ung, Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce executive director John Choe and former CPC Nan Shan Senior Center director Neng Wang.

More recent candidates to enter the race include former Queens borough president candidates Dao Yin and Anthony Miranda.

According to the latest filings, Chen has raised nearly $34,000, and with matching funds, has an estimated $88,000 on hand.

The fundraising leader in this race is Ung, who raised more than $87,000 in private funds and has north of $177,000 left.

Queens College exhibition documents one of world’s oldest Jewish communities

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A new Queens College virtual exhibition is exploring one of the oldest Jewish communities in existence.

“Romaniote Memories, a Jewish Journey from Ioannina, Greece, to Manhattan: Photographs by Vincent Giordano,” features more than 100 photographs of the Romaniote Jewish community.

The millennia-old sect practices traditions dating back to ancient Greece and Rome. They emigrated to the Lower East Side and established a synagogue in 1927.

A virtual opening reception for the exhibition, along with a conversation with the curator, organizers and guests, is set for February 11 at 5 p.m.

Register for the event here.

Grodenchik backs Behar as his successor

Councilman Barry Grodenchik, left, is not running for re-election

Councilman Barry Grodenchik, left, is not running for re-election

Councilman Barry Grodenchik wants his former counsel and campaign manager to be his successor in the City Council.

Last week, Grodenchik endorsed Steve Behar’s bid to replace him to represent District 23 in northeast Queens.

Behar ran Grodenchik’s campaign in 2015, and then served as his counsel for five years.

“Steve knows City Hall inside and out and will be ready to serve our district on day one,” Grodenchik said. “No other candidate has the experience and the knowledge to be ready to immediately fight for our district.”

Behar said he will seek to continue Grodenchik’s legacy of funding schools, libraries and parks, supporting small businesses and addressing hunger in the city.

The candidate spent the last five weeks battling COVID-19, including a week-long stint in the hospital. Now he’s back on the campaign trail.

Grodenchik is not term-limited, but announced last year that he will not run for re-election.

Nearly a dozen candidates have announced their run for office, including Behar, Seth Breland, Christopher Fuentes-Padilla, Sanjeev Jindal, Jaslin Kaur, Linda Lee, Debra Markell, Mandeep Sahi, Koshy Thomas and Harpreet Singh Toor.