2002-03-02 / Columnists


It seems as if the new lines being drawn for the State Senate add Broad Channel and a piece of Howard Beach to the Tenth District currently represented by Malcolm Smith while subtracting a piece of Jamaica. It just so happens, however, that piece of Jamaica is where Malcolm lives and he would resides outside his district should the new lines go into effect. At the same time, Senator Ada Smith, who previously represented Broad Channel, now picks up pieces north of her old district. The mistake will probably be rectified, however, by redrawing the district so that Malcolm's home is back in the Tenth. The Queens hearing on the redistricting plan will be held at Queens Borough Hall on Wednesday, March 13 at 3 p.m. We hope that the committee changes its mind and allows Malcolm Smith to continue to represent Rockaway. We have had our differences in the past, but things are starting to come together for Rockaway and this is no time to change our representation by a slip of the pen rather than by the ballot box.

Dee Dickason, who is a volunteer senior's mentor at the Peninsula Library, was recently named as Newsday's Queens Citizen. Dickason is also on the advisory board of the Hammel Senior Center and the public relations officer for the Rockaway Emergency Weather Alert.

The Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus is coming back to New York, with performances at both Madison Square Garden (March 21 until April 7) and the Nassau Coliseum (March 12 until March 18). This once again promises to be one of the premier shows for kids and adults alike. Tickets are available from Ticketmaster and from the individual box offices.

Firefighter Michael Redpath has been getting lots of ink lately, not for his firefighting duties, but for his art. Rockaway resident Redpath makes furniture sculpture shaped like well-known objects (such as subway cars) and buildings (Shea Stadium). Redpath is one of 45 artists, writers and performers who are showing the work in a Queens Council of The Arts exhibition at Queens Theater in the Park in Flushing Meadows Park. The exhibition will run through March 13.

Approximately 150 Rockaway residents trooped to St. John's University on Saturday to watch the "homecoming" of Belle Harbor resident Clare Droesch, who has become one of the mainstays of the Boston College women's basketball team. While it is highly unusual for a Freshman to start a game at a high-powered program such as BC, Droesch did start the game and wound up with 19 points, a number of assists and a couple of blocked shots as well. After the game, she and her parents invited all of her BC teammates to a party at their Belle Harbor home prior to going back to Boston. Boston College beat St. John's by a score of 85-43.

The rumor that Bernard Gassaway, the principal of Beach Channel High School, was going to leave the school because a teacher who was accused of corporal punishment was being returned to the school, is not true. Gassaway reportedly told students a week ago Friday, the day prior to the holiday week, that he was definitely not leaving the school at this time, that he would not leave when the school was in extremis. We have been told that the teacher did in fact attempt to assault a student after an incident in his classroom, but that he did not hit him. Union rules require that a teacher has the right to return to his or her home schools should criminal charges not be in the offing.

The Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department held its annual dinner-dance last week and it was a standing-room only affair. The officers were sworn in as usual, but special awards went to the firefighters and EMT's who responded to the World Trade Center (and got buried in debris) and who responded to the flight 587 tragedy in Rockaway. All in all, it was an emotional evening.

Those who are concerned with the development of the Arverne Urban Renewal Area with homes keep calling to remind us that Rockaway can use the "Three S's." a surfing center, a sea aquarium and a school that teaches marine sciences. That does not sound like a bad idea, but the question has to arise as to who would fund those projects and then pay for their upkeep?

Local residents thought that there was a body on the Beach at Beach 78 Street last Monday morning, what with several police cars and a copter responding, but it was only a baby harbor seal that had washed up on the beach. The injured seal was taken away by the Okeanas Center on Long Island. They will nurse it back to health and then either release it or place it in an aquarium setting.

A number of local residents recently received letters from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) asking them to respond to what they saw on the day of November 12 when flight 587 crashed in Belle Harbor. The letters were dated January 9, but most of those who got them did so in late February. In addition, many of those who got them had already told their stories on the NTSB website. It has people wondering just how competent this agency really is.

Nancy Ghales passed along the word that all drugs containing phenylpropanolamine are being recalled. Those drugs include such over the counter medications as Alka-Seltzer, Comtrex, Dexatrim and Dimeatapp. The drug has been linked to increased hemorrhagic stroke and bleeding in the brain among women from 18-49.

The Chamber of Commerce's "After Hours" event this week was a large success with dozens of local business people, civic activists and artists taking part in discussions about Rockaway's future and about common problems. We need more of those kinds of events in Rockaway, where people can simply sit around and talk without the pressure of coming up with solutions to pressing problems.

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