2006-06-23 / Columnists


Last week's edition was the third in a row that was 100 pages or more. That is something of a record because it is the first time in its 113-year history that it has happened. Thanks to you, our readers and to our advertisers, The Wave is proud to say that it has published 140 more pages in its 24 editions this year than in 2005 and 200 more pages than it did in its first 24 issues in 2004.

The Wounded Warriors, a group of soldiers severely wounded in battle, will be in Rockaway from July 6 to July 9. Their visit will begin with a parade/ escort from Geothals Bridge to Rockaway. Residents are being asked to line up to welcome the group at Beach 129 Street and RBB on June 6, at approximately 3:15 p.m. There will be a "Meet and Greet Dinner" at the Beach Club (B. 116 St.) at 5 p.m. that evening. There will be an evening bash at Flip and Rita Mullen's Home, Beach 134 Street, on June 7 at 5 p.m. A donation to the Wounded Warriors Foundation is requested for that event. The final public event will be a Mass at the Breezy Point 911 Memorial, on June 9 at 8 p.m. For further information about any of the events, contact the Graybeards at (718) 634-6812 or www.Graybeards. com.

There have been a number of complaints early in the summer that Parks Department Enforcement Officers using dune buggies have been tearing up the beach, speeding nearby beachgoers and running over natural dunes. Last week, two police officers in California who were driving a patrol vehicle on the beach ran over and killed a woman and did not even realize they had done so, continuing on with their speedy patrol. This should be a cautionary tale for our Parks Department supervisors and enforcement officers. Take it easy on the beach. The life you save may be one of ours.

Rockaway caught a break when Airbus Industries announced that it was behind schedule in producing its massive A-380 aircraft - planes that would have, sooner rather than later, been flying over Rockaway with some regularity. You remember Airbus because they produce the A300 - the aircraft series made famous when one of them lost its tail over Jamaica Bay and crashed into Belle Harbor in November of 2001. A production problem has now delayed the new jumbo aircraft by "six or seven months," but experts say it will probably be much longer before they are delivered to airlines for public use. Airbus has planned to deliver 25 of the A-380 next year and then 35 the following year. Some of the airlines that originally ordered the planes are now canceling those orders and turning to an American firm, Boeing, for their new aircraft.

When the New York State Department of Education first mandated their high-stakes reading and math tests, they told the city to forget giving its own tests, that the state results would be ready in plenty of time for promotion decisions to me made at the end of this school year. They lied. Those scores will not be ready until some time in September or October. That has left the city's Department of Education scrambling. A DOE spokesperson told reporters that "promotions have never been all about tests," but that is not strictly true. Teachers and other personnel in local schools have been retesting at-risk kids and looking at their "portfolios" for reasons to pass them to the next grade. One teacher who works in a Rockaway school told The Wave that there was lots of pressure to find that the portfolios held enough good work so that the student could be given a passing grade. Some local teachers have complained that students they failed for lack of work and interest are now being pushed along because an administrator looked at the student's portfolio of work and declared it up to standard.

With the abrupt closing of the Last Stop Caf on Beach 116 Street, the west end lost the last place that diners could go for a quick, reasonably inexpensive sit-down breakfast. Nobody is quite sure of why Last Stop shuttered its doors, not even those who worked there. It just closed one night and never reopened. We would hope that somebody would see the need and look for a west end venue for a new coffee shop or restaurant. We certainly need one.

It is not yet July, and two boaters in Jamaica Bay have already died, one when the craft he was riding on had upsets and one where the boat owner, who was alone, simply fell overboard. Boating is not for those who don't know what they are doing. Unlike driving a car, a boater does not need a license to get behind the controls and take the boat out into dangerous waters (or, waters that can quickly turn dangerous). In last week's accident, four went out, including a young teen, but only three came back. The man who drowned when the boat took on water and capsized nearby Breezy Point could not swim, yet he was not wearing a life jacket, although one was readily available. Nor was the youth, who was rescued by another of the men on the boat. It is hard for us to understand how adults can take a child out on a boat in the growing darkness without insuring his safety with a floatation device. It is equally hard to understand why the non-swimmer did not wear a vest, nor why he did not put it on when the boat began taking on water.

Councilman James Sanders and the Detectives Endowment Association have teamed up to provide a $1,000 scholarship for a student who is planning a career in criminal justice or in public service. The scholarship is based on academic and social achievement and the recipient must be enrolled in a four-year college. The deadline for submissions is November 15. Those interested should contact the Councilman's office.

Penny Chin, the spokesperson for St. John's Episcopal Hospital called to straighten out a small point we made in an article a few weeks ago. We wrote that Peninsula Hospital Center (PHC) is the largest employer in Rockaway. That has always been the conventional wisdom and I have heard PHC officials say that on a number of occasions. Chin, however, says that St. John's actually employees more people in Rockaway. She quoted us the statistics from the industry's 2006 yearbook (which relies on figures from 2003) that shows PHC employees 967 people while SJEH employs 1,440. Chin said that both hospitals probably have less at the moment, but the gap still exists.

The Arverne Civic Association is looking for a large number of residents who care about their community and the problems it faces. The organization's monthly meetings are held on the second Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the Macedonia Baptist Church, 330 Beach 67 Street in Arverne. An organization spokesperson said that each meeting includes a guest speaker from such agencies at the Department of Parks, Education. NYPD, DEP, etc.

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