2003-08-01 / Columnists

Beachcomber

Beachcomber

You can be part of an international hunt for rubber ducks. Seems that a flock of rubber ducks, turtles, frogs and beavers were swept off a cargo ship during a storm in the Pacific Ocean in 1992. Nearly 30,000 of the rubber toys bobbed around the ocean for a few years, some showing up in Hawaii and California. The toys worked their way up around Alaska and through the Bering Strait. Now, they are heading our way, moving southward on the Atlantic coast. The First Years Toy Company, a Massachusetts company, is offering $100 in savings bonds for any of the toys found along the East Coast.

The August 5 fireworks display hosted by the 100 Precinct Community Council for National Night Out Against Crime will mandate that the beach at Beach 116 Street and the two adjoining beaches be closed entirely on that day. The fireworks will be shot from the beachfront rather than from a barge offshore.

The Department of Sanitation has printed maps that are supposed to let residents know whether they are "A Week" or "B Week" recycling customers. I suppose that since the program began on July 28, the "A Week" residents will get their recycling picked up on their regular day every two weeks beginning on July 28. The "B Week" customers will have their recycling picked up on their regular day beginning with August 4. With the exception of Bayswater, Far Rockaway, West Lawrence and Wavecrest, it looks like all of Rockaway is on the "A Week" schedule. Understand? We sure hope so, because tickets are promised for those who transgress and put their recyclables out at the wrong time.

As part of the special 110th Anniversary issue, we ran a portion of a remembrance of Theodore Doctor, one of the first African-Americans in Rockaway. What we did not run was the name of the author, Sandra Overstreet. We apologize to Overstreet for this oversight.

We were on the beach on Sunday, working as a judge for the sandcastle contest, and we noticed many of the draconian beach rules being violated without sanction by the police. People rode bikes on the boardwalk and people flew kites without getting tickets from police officers that were present on both the beach and the boardwalk. Police were checking some coolers for beer, however, while other beachgoers drank in the open without police notice. All in all, perhaps officials are getting the word to leave people alone if they are not bothering anybody with their actions. By the way, the people who were making the sandcastles often came up with more broken glass than sand when they dug.

Now that the Beach 129 Street residents have placed flags all along the street, from Beach Channel Drive to the beachfront, the sponsors of the program are moving to the stores on the block-long shopping area. Those stores who sponsor a flag will get an American Flag sticker to place in the window of the store. Coordinators tell The Wave that only a few storeowners opted out of the program.

In 1990, when the streets and sidewalks of Belle Harbor were last torn asunder, the London Pine tress that lined the streets and boulevard were replaced with hybrid pear tress, the theory being that those pear trees would do less damage to the sidewalks with time. It has not worked out that way, however. Local scientist Steve Yaeger says that the pear trees put in more than ten years ago are now pushing up the sidewalks, while those pine trees that remain are not. In addition, Yaeger says, the pear trees are dropping their branches, and there is a distinct possibility that the heavy falling branches will hurt somebody

The special 110th Anniversary Issue of The Wave, which was published with last week’s Wave, has become a big hit and a collector’s item in many homes. Beginning this week, the special edition will be available for $5 only at the offices of The Wave at 88-08 Rockaway Beach Boulevard.

Five years ago, in June of 1998, 1,644 teachers retired from the New York City School System, creating a vacuum that was difficult to fill because of the lack of intereest in a teaching career despite the new and larger salaries. By the year 2000, that number had climbed to just under 2,000 retirements. At the end of 2002, however, more than 5,000 teachers retired from city service, a record by any standards. Now, Chancellor Joel Klein, thinks that an addition few thousand teachers will retire between now and September of this year. For that reason, the chancellor has asked Albany for permission to hire upwards of 3,000 "uncertified" teachers for the coming school year.

Police Officer Tom Courtney, long the 100 Precinct’s summons officer, is now reportedly off the street and working in the precinct’s garage to insure that all of the precinct’s vehicles are kept in working order. We wish him well in his new position. Rockaway motorists, particularly those who park illegally, can breathe a sigh of relief – at least until a new summons officer comes along.

We know there are those of you out there who are confused as to whom to call if you have a problem with the public schools. Don’t call Community School Board 27, although it still exists on paper. Don’t call the local school board, because they will soon be deleted from memory as well as fact. Call the Region Five office (now called a Learning Support Center) at 718-642-5800. By the way, that support center remains at the former District 27 offices, at 82-01 Rockaway Boulevard in Ozone Park.

The annual Sandcastle Contest, sponsored by Barbara Morris of West End Realty, was a big hit this year. The contest, which was once again held at Beach 116 Street, drew more than 65 competitors.

It has been more than ten years since the Golden Venture landed hundreds of Chinese immigrants on Rockaway shores, but the court cases go on and on. A Federal judge ruled last week that 38 of the immigrants who are asking for asylum in the United States will not be deported while they are seeking amnesty from Congress. These refugees are the last of more than 300 Chinese who are still trying to resolve the residency status. All of the other aboard the ship have either been granted amnesty or have moved from the country to avoid arrest.

The Rockaway Museum, which is housed in The Wave building at Beach 88 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard, will be closed for vacation this coming week, August 4 through August 11.


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