2005-04-29 / Columnists


By Joanie Omeste, Executive Director, Rockaway Chamber of Commerce

Joanie OmesteJoanie Omeste The Rockaway Chamber’s 2005 Bravest & Finest Luncheon was held on April 21st and it was a wonderful event. Attended by over 300 people, it was made all the more special by the participation by the FDNY’s Chief of the Department, Rockaway’s own, Chief Peter Hayden and from the NYPD, Commissioner Raymond Kelly. Both not only spoke from the heart, but stayed to shake hands with the officers and firefighters and mingle with the crowd. Special guest, Dominic Chianese, Uncle Junior from the Sopranos, was a huge hit and posed for pictures with uniformed personnel and guests. Borough President Helen Marshall, Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, Assemblywoman Michelle Titus and Councilman Joe Addabbo were all on hand to say congratulations to the honorees and participate in the program. The room was decorated with lovely flowers from Dragon’s Den Florist and music welcoming the crowd was performed by Dorothy Wagner and Dennis Smith of Aerial Acoustics.

In true Russo’s style the honorees were welcomed into the room with a fanfare of smoke and lights by ascending from Russo’s elevator in the middle of the room. The honorees, EMT Leslie Perez, Paramedic Robert Salvesen, FF Craig Mosia, FF LeRoy McGinnis, Lt. James O’Brien, Capt. Richard McCluskey, PO Glen Lewter, PO John Bellico, PO Shawline Senior, PO Tara Hansen and PO Shaquan Harvin were mobbed by the paparazzi. The Chamber would like to thank event sponsor Allstate Insurance Company along with Keyspan and American Airlines (who donated a vacation raffled off to honorees only).

We’re getting a BigBelly …..and I’m not talking about a reason to diet….. Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer along with the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) and the Rockaway Chamber are pleased to announce a new and innovative initiative for the Rockaway community. LIPA is donating two solar powered trash compactor bins called “ BigBelly. ” This pilot program is designed to reduce the amount of waste and the need for frequent trash pickups. These innovative receptacles are fully enclosed trash compactors and one bag will hold what it would have taken eight bags to hold. When the full bag of compacted garbage is removed, it will be collected with the regular sanitation pickup. The environmentally friendly waste receptacles are scheduled to be delivered to our community in June, just in time for the summer season.

In the first of many joint efforts, the Chamber and RDRC held a business card exchange. Over 50 small business owners were in attendance receiving information on how to form partnerships with the MTA, New York City School Construction Authority, The Port Authority of NY & NJ and Keyspan. Keyspan and The Beach Club also generously donated the raffle prizes. It was an informative evening, but also met the mark as people exchanged not only business cards, but ideas as well. Many of the attendees met each other for the first time, and friendships and business relationships were formed.

In continuing efforts to form a business improvement district, Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, Chief of Staff, Jo Ann Shapiro and myself canvassed the Beach 116th Street business district to hand out a District Needs Survey. This survey is required to be filled out by all property owners and business owners in the proposed BID district in order to plan for the types of services the businesses feel are most warranted. Assemblywoman Pheffer was welcomed into each business and had great discussions with the owners. The one comment that every business owner mentioned, was kudos for the Doe Fund and the good job they are doing to keep the streets clean. We heartily explained to the proprietors how the BID can help keep the Doe Fund in our community. Many thanks to Assemblywoman Pheffer (and Jo Ann too!) for her strong efforts and commitment to the Rockaways.

On April 6th, I joined Councilman James Sanders, Commissioner Rob Walsh of New York City’s Small Business Services, Curtis Archer of RDRC, Chamber Board member LaVida Jervis and other business owners on a walk-through of the Far Rockaway business district. Spearheaded by Councilman Sanders, this walk-through was to ascertain information and come up with a realistic plan to assist the businesses of the Far Rockaway.

It was an extraordinary day, and Commissioner Walsh and Councilman Sanders looked like the pied pipers as the crowd of people grew and grew to walk the several blocks of stores. Commissioner Walsh reiterated his office’s commitment of services to the community. I’ve known him a long time, if anyone can get things moving it’s Commissioner Walsh.

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