2004-12-17 / Columnists


Steve Stathis, the president of the Graybeards service organization, and his two sons will soon open a surf and skate shop on Beach 92 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard. The new shop will supply our more traditional surfers as well as skaters and skateboarders who use the new skate park on Shore Front Parkway. Stathis is a life-long resident of Rockaway.

St. Rose of Lima Church, at Beach 84 Street, will host a blood drive on Sunday, February 13 in the church auditorium. The last blood drive, held in November, drew 52 pints and the drive coordinator thanks all of those who volunteered as well as those who donated.

The Freedom Alliance has set up a scholarship fund to provide scholarships for the children of those in the armed forces who died in the current war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those interested in contributing can do so at www. freedomalliance.org.

Rumors are rife in the Broad Channel community that the St. Virgilius parochial school will close next year in a move by the Brooklyn Diocese to cut down on school funding. The Diocese announced previously that up to 25 of its schools would be closed in September and that students would be shunted to other, more profitable parochial schools, but it would not say which schools were being targeted for closure. If true, the closing, however, could put a burden on PS 47, the small K-8 public school in the island community. The Diocese has said that enrollment in parochial schools is down about ten percent throughout the city.

Despite the fact that Rockaway has a state-of-the-art ferry terminal at Riis Landing, the chances of getting affordable commuter ferry service between Rockaway and Manhattan seem to be slipping away. NY Waterway, the largest of the ferry providers in the city and who took a look at Rockaway’s needs last year, has effectively gone out of the commuter ferry business and is looking for subsidies from the city and the state. The City Council has asked the Port Authority to kick in $16.6 million a year to subsidize existing service, which would probably preclude them from beginning anything new at the airports or at Rockaway for some time to come. Perhaps it is time to look at the possibility of expanding the present express bus runs to Manhattan and improving A Train service rather than focusing on the elusive affordable ferry service.

It always amazes us how little of history people really know. In a recent survey done in England, for example, nearly half of the people questioned had never heard of the Holocaust. We wonder what percentage of Americans would not be able to identify, for example, Pearl Harbor, The Little Big Horn, or Dien Bien Phu.

The announcement that Wal-Mart will soon begin developing its first New York City outlet in Rego Park has drawn the ire of environmentalists and other activists who do not want to see another “big-box” store in the Queens Boulevard shopping area. The fight promises to be very contentious and very public.

PS 183 is looking to the community for help in keeping its after school music instrumental program alive for the rest of the year. The noted program has won a number of city-wide awards and many of its students go on to play for high school programs. Those interested in helping should call the school office at 718-634-9459.

What do local activist John Baxter and Mayor Mike Bloomberg have in common? Both support the Independence Party and both have run on that party’s line in an election. The Mayor was even the keynote speaker at the party’s recent fundraiser. The head of the party, however, is extremist Lenora Fulani, who has repeatedly made anti-Semitic remarks and whose organizations teach racism to children. For example, her “All Stars Project,” a theater group, has described itself as “revolutionary, not aesthetic” and has used public money to fund tickets to a play that accused Jews for causing the Crown Heights riots. She has denounced other black leaders for the “willingness to pander to Jews,” and has called the 1991 riots, “an exercise in community power.” And, she blamed the 9/11 attacks on “the U.S. foreign policy that has us hurtling towards escalating violence and terrorism.” Bloomberg, when asked why he continues to support her, says that he is proud to support the party. Baxter once told us that none of the things reported in the press about Fulani is true.

The Riverhead Foundation, a organization that rescues stranded marine animals, has put out an alert for those who live along New York beaches. The foundation is worried that sea turtles will soon begin to wash up on our Rockaway beaches and it urges anybody who finds a stranded turtle to call its hotline at 631-369-9829. The foundation will send professionals to safely get the sea animals off the beach and back into the water.

Avon, Connecticut is a big basketball town, with many high school championship teams on its record. When two of the team’s senior starters were found drinking prior to a prep rally in October, Coach Tim Curtis, who had been at the school for 14 years, barred the boys from playing in the first three games of the season. The boys had previously been suspended for drinking at a school dance last year. One of the parents, however, called the school superintendent to complain about the ban and the school district overturned the coach and reinstated the players. The coach, to his credit, resigned. We wonder why some pro players behave the way they do, and this case is one example of the way even young athletes are treated differently than other students.

In a recent Business Spotlight we misidentified the owner of Mocean on Beach 116 Street. The owner of the sportswear shop is the Mastro family, not the Laino family as in the article. We apologize for our error.

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